Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Up On A Soapbox: (non)-Rules Part 2 of 1

When I wrote my little rant a few weeks ago about house rules one of the suggestions that Darren made was to address the issue of out-of-print or older games not being viewed as good by virtue of not being current.  At that time I really didn't feel like I had a lot to say on that issue but since then three things have happened that have made me circle back around:
1.  I'm currently playing an RPG from the 80s
2.  Games Workshop announced a new edition of Warhammer 40,000
3.  Wizards Of The Coast has their new edition of Dungeons & Dragons right around the corner
So let's take a step back and look at old games and why some of us don't love them as much as we should.

One of the beliefs that has long existed in hobby gaming is that if rules are not in-print or game systems aren't being supported this somehow makes them less worthwhile than games that are living and flourishing.  The first thought that came to me that highlighted the absurdity of the situation was I got a mental image of Hasbro announcing that they were discontinuing Monopoly and would never bring it back to the market again followed by literally every household in North America pulling their copy of Monopoly out of a closet somewhere and throwing it in the garbage.  That would never happen, why?  Because Hasbro not selling new copies of Monopoly doesn't change how the game box you already have in your home works.  Which is obvious.....but somehow we can't apply that same logic to an RPG, or miniature game or CCG......

My own unfortunate bad experience with this mentality came a few years ago.  I was never a huge fan of D&D 3 or 3.5 edition so when 4th came out (which I still like a lot) I got rid of all my 3rd edition books.  I happily embraced 4th edition and never looked back.  Then I found out how great Pathfinder was....and realised I could use all the 3rd edition D&D source material I had gotten rid of of because it was "old".  Live and learn I suppose.

My recent positive experience with this was when I started playing Top Secret S.I.  A few friends have asked me to describe that game and for current gamers with a strong GW foundation I have described it as a less crunchy version of Dark Heresy.  To be clear I've played Dark Heresy and I enjoyed it and have nothing bad to say about it but; is a less crunchy version of those same type of rules lower quality by simple virtue of being 20+ years old and out of print?  I certainly don't think so.

A lot of just general rambling this time out but if there has to be a moral to the story I guess it's simply the fact that if you like an old game it being old shouldn't lessen your enjoyment.  And once a game is out-of-print don't think of it as dead, think of it as complete.



  1. Well you know my thoughts on Out of Print games. Many, many, many of them are alive and well (All the GW Specialist Games, Space Hulk, HeroQuest, etc.) because players still play them. I've personally played Warzone ten years after Target / Heartbreaker folded and still have a Neo Soviet army for VOR that I need to get around to painting.

    I think the thing some people miss is that for a lot of us, the rules are secondary to the Miniatures. I will always find a way to use models I like (ALWAYS). It might take a lot of years, but those UNA figures for AT43 are still getting played with. My Warzone figs are still getting painted and I have six more Mordheim warbands to finish to have the whole first run of Perry figures collected and finished. I've still got three missing figures from my Necromunday collection and haven't yet tracked down an ARES Battlesuit for VOR.

    Rules only matter if you're playing strangers and never collect more than one army. If anyone wants to come over and play some Necromunda I'm happy to host. :)

  2. I think a lot of it comes down to outside influence, as well as the mentality of "disposability".
    For the outside influence, I mean "the internet" and your local retailer. Speaking from a retailer's point of view, the newest editions of games are the ones we sell - so we're going to tout them as being the best, with the old ones being "worse" as we want to sell more of them. A lot of retailers forget though, that it's the customers who decide what they like and what they want to buy. Will I promote 7th as the best 40k ever? Yes. Will I tell people they can't play 6th (or older)? No, never. But I'll damn sure try and sell them some more models to play with their old rules.

    As far as "the internet" goes, I can't count the number of times people come in and tell me Codex X and Army Book Y is "garbage" or "terrible", and it's ALWAYS the "old" ones. They think that new means better, so why even play? Then they play people who are competent with those old rules, and get wrecked. But "the internet" says they are bad, so obviously it was the dice, and the book still "needs" an update.

    And finally (sorry for the essay), the idea that we can throw out stuff because it is old is so embedded in our society now, we don't even notice it. I've thrown out a $400 phone because it broke after 3 years - why would I keep rulebooks for a game that was printed 10 years ago and been updated twice in that time? Or, like half the stuff Ash mentioned, no longer supported officially?

    Vive le classiques!