Friday, 23 July 2010

The Impossibility of Reason

Let's face it one of the great thing about wargaming is rules lawyering.

I do it, everyone does it, it's part of the game.

And a sub genre of rules lawyering is forumhammer - other games systems have rules lawyering too but forumhammer is such a good phrase it is a shame to waste it.

Listening to the Gamers Lounge podcast they had a recent discussion about how they increasingly don't use forums, prefering instead to read blogs. Having been a blogger for about 7 or 8 years now, I found myself being slightly skeptical of some of their reasoning - not least because when all is said and done I do kinda like forums.

However over the past couple of days I can well understand why anyone who values their time and sanity would prefer a blog to the kind of discussion one gets on a forum.

Now let's face it, a lot of people use forums simply to be argumentative - e-peening I believe is the word. And much of what passes for informed comment is simply recycled nonsense - Americans are particularly bad with this regard, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly something appearing on BoLS gets spewed around the internut as if it is gospel truth.

Just such a gobbit of crap is the notion that 8th edition is poorly written, and unsuitable for competative play. This was being spread around long before the book ever appeared. And frankly must be music to GW's ears, since they as a company they have always said that they don't produce games for tournaments, and that the hobby is wider than the narrowness that the 'competative' naturally imposes.

Which brings me to this discussion I have been engaged in.

Let me ask you this question, Do you understand the difference between direct and indirect fire?

You do, good - put it this way I asked the missus who is not ill informed about wargaming, she is best described as mildly interested, and she knew.

Therefore because you understand the concept, do you therefore require a legalistic description, probably running to several paragraphs, covering every exemption and possibility? If you understand the concept then surely the answer is no.

Nurse wheel in the numpties.

This is the wording for direct fire from a stonethrower in 8th edition...

"To fire a stone thrower, take the small round (3") template and place it anywhere completely within the war machine's line of sight, outside of the stone thrower's minimum range and within its maximum range."

One thing to note straight away that this is not a rule, but a description of how the rule works.

According to the society for the Terminally Stoopid this means variously, that by placing the template anywhere above the table, so that a LoS can be traced to it, it is possible to shoot directly at any target - that all targets are indirect because the the models temselves are blocking LoS between the template and a nominal impact site on the table - that the model cannot fire unless the template is tilted towards the warmachine when determining casualties in order that the entire template is in LoS to the crew - that the warmachine cannot fire because the 'rule' says to place the template anywhere, and that whereever you place it, it will be somewhere and somewhere and anywhere are not the same thing - that you can't place it on a unit unless all of the potential casualties are in LoS to the firing unit - there were others....

The problem I have with all of this is that when trying to pick through this nonsense and explain the reality - that you pick a spot in LoS, place the template calculate the damage and move on - and the reason for the word completely is because if firing at a model the template is centred on that figure and that it is possible for a figure to be partially visible - i.e the tip of the base, a foot, a sword, wings etc - and therefore by using this partial, you would be converting an indirect shot, with a greater chance of scatter, into a direct shot, with less chance - how hard is that to grasp? - it was necessary to refer to over rules, such as LoS, the rules for templates etc.

Apparently in the world of Terminally Stoopid using the rulebook as it is meant to be used - i.e. creating a logical framework in which various rules are used to make sense of a situation - is called 'making up your own rules' - apparently the rulebook is not intended to be used in such a fashion - rather players are expected to select and dissect words and phrases in isolation and then create metaphysical reasons and situtions as to how the rules work - none of which would ever be used in real life, because the opponent would simply call them a cheat/twat and have them thrown out of a tournament if they tried it at such an event.

What is even more laughable is that supposedly this is an FAQ.

Which I guess explains why whenever there is an FAQ there are always those questions that you look at and think,'who the fuck wanted to know the answer to that?'

I guess we now know the answer - no one.

The problem is that forums do have a role in game design because the developers at GW do check them out - so the more idiotic you are the more likely it is that you moronic viewpoint will be reflected in GW's thinking, if only in their FAQ's.

btw - perhaps the most amusing thing to come out of this discussion was when one of the chief literalists - and an legend in his own bedroom (no doubt) - claimed that a toe is part of the leg and is therefore subject to LoS. Here is somone who claims that for metaphysical reasons a stone thrower cannot shoot - and we are not talking Thomas Aqinus's maths here - yet does not see the irony of being able to shoot a toe, because it is part of the leg (no doubt some genetic experiment), and yet not the wings, because GW specifically exclude them. I realise the Warhammer World reality si slightly warped, but I suspect being hit on the toe whilst walking is rather less dangerous than being shot through the wings whilst flying - or put another way - 'Look at that peacock, shoot it in the toe, because we can't hit the wings'

I'm not saying blogs are better than forums - but I do know one thing, that blogs don't trade in the same kind of bullshit for long and hope to keep readers.


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