Jamie the Jasper

Suggestion regarding the forum

34 posts in this topic

There is a 'Narrative & Open Play' section but no 'Matched Play' section. By relegating narrative and open play to a separate and lesser-visited sub-forum with the assumption that matched play discussion belongs in the main 'Age Of Sigmar's Discussion' sub-forum, does this not send a message that matched play is the 'normal' way to play, and does it not risk giving the more casual visitors the impression that narrative and open play are lesser options that are somehow 'other'?

General matched play discussion (aside from rules questions and events) currently defaults to the most popular and visible sub-forum that most visitors see first. Narrative and open play discussion specifically belongs elsewhere and so will for the most part not get the same exposure, continuing the cycle of negative reinforcement.

Personally I think it would be fairer and healthier for the community if we could kill the idea that matched play is 'normal' by presenting all ways to play equally and even-handedly. I think it would be more in the spirit of AoS to structure The Grand Alliance Community section in the same way as the Generals Handbook:

General Age of Sigmar Discussion

Open Play

Narrative Play

Matched Play

Age of Sigmar Boxed Games

 

Thoughts?

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Lets see what @Ben thinks but I suspect that Matched Play is the most popular way that people use and all this sort of discussion would end up in the General Discussion area anyway. 

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33 minutes ago, Gaz Taylor said:

Lets see what @Ben thinks but I suspect that Matched Play is the most popular way that people use and all this sort of discussion would end up in the General Discussion area anyway. 

 

I suspect the same to be honest, but the logic of that is pretty circular - 'Matched play is the most popular way to play. Therefore it makes sense to structure the forum in a way that puts matched play in the default discussion area. Matched play becomes even more entrenched at the expense of narrative and open. Matched play continues to be the most popular way to play. Therefore it makes sense to structure the forum in a way that puts matched play in the default discussion area.' ad infinitum.

Structuring the forum in the way I've suggested may not make much immediate practical difference, but it could be an important symbolic move and over time it might help to redress the imbalanced perception between matched and narrative. The most important change might be psychological rather than practical.

I also suspect (but can't prove) that it's subtle but easily addressed things like this that contributed to the gradual sidelining of narrative play in WHFB.

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Ultimately, the Narrative and Open Play subforum came out of a specific request for it. Here are some discussions from around that time. It seems that most of the posting naturally gravitated around matched play, so a number of people felt it necessary to create a specific narrative section so such posts wouldn't be lost amidst a sea of matched play topics.

 

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Posted (edited)

Indeed, we wanted a specific open play forum because when everything was lumped together, it was really hard to find the 10 threads relevant to open play among the 10,000 relevant to matched play.

 

I disagree about narrative play being sidelined too, I still get plenty of narrative games (although we tend to use points to build the armies, but they are often not balanced, but we know which army needs to be bigger). The fact that GW brought the NEO community in to discuss GHB 2 shows that they are still very commited to it, and I am hopeful that this means that GHB2 will have some better content about the kind of things you can do with a narrative event.

 

 

Edited by KnightFire
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4 minutes ago, KnightFire said:

GW brought the NEO community in to discuss GHB 2

Man, my first thought was that NEO stood for NorthEast Ohio and I thought I missed out on something amazing locally. 

Then I realized what you meant. Damn.

Hopefully the 2nd edition of the General's Handbook does indeed increase the visibility and ease of playing narrative.

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34 minutes ago, rokapoke said:

Ultimately, the Narrative and Open Play subforum came out of a specific request for it. Here are some discussions from around that time. It seems that most of the posting naturally gravitated around matched play, so a number of people felt it necessary to create a specific narrative section so such posts wouldn't be lost amidst a sea of matched play topics.

I completely agree and that was the right step to take IMO, but the stuff I talked about in my OP is a side effect of doing that. I don't think it's good for anyone to have all 3 ways to play lumped together, but I also don't think it's good to present any one way to play as deserving of or requiring special treatment - either to its benefit or to its detriment. That's why I think at the very least a separate sub-forum for matched play makes sense.

 

25 minutes ago, KnightFire said:

I disagree about narrative play being sidelined too, I still get plenty of narrative games (although we tend to use points to build the armies, but they are often not balanced, but we know which army needs to be bigger). The fact that GW brought the NEO community in to discuss GHB 2 shows that they are still very commited to it, and I am hopeful that this means that GHB2 will have some better content about the kind of things you can do with a narrative event.

I don't think narrative play is necessarily sidelined out in the real world at the moment - in fact it's probably healthier than it's been in decades. But the competitive part of the community is very vocal, gets a lot more coverage, and is often seen as the arbiter of the game/hobby in general. My concern is that anything that reinforces this is bad for narrative play and open play in the long term. New people coming into the hobby won't even look at them, which is exactly what happened with WHFB.

I believe the community was handed an absolute gift when we went through a period without points, because it created the space for other voices and attitudes to experiment and thrive. I don't want to denigrate competitive players at all, but I don't think it's healthy for any one voice or attitude to dominate, and that's what I see potentially creeping in when the structure of the forum reinforces the idea that matched play is the default/normal mode of discussion while narrative play and open play are (albeit unintentionally) presented as a niche pursuit.

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12 minutes ago, Jamie the Jasper said:

 

I believe the community was handed an absolute gift when we went through a period without points, because it created the space for other voices and attitudes to experiment and thrive. I don't want to denigrate competitive players at all, but I don't think it's healthy for any one voice or attitude to dominate, and that's what I see potentially creeping in when the structure of the forum reinforces the idea that matched play is the default/normal mode of discussion while narrative play and open play are (albeit unintentionally) presented as a niche pursuit.

So I agree with some of that (the stuff about being handed a gift etc), but I think that for most people, matched play is the default/normal way to play and that has nothing to do with the structure of the forum. In fact I think the structure of the forum is a reflection of that, rather than a cause. If you created a specific forum for matched play you would find that 99% of the discussion in General AoS Discussions is about matched play, purely because thats how 99% of players play.

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3 minutes ago, KnightFire said:

So I agree with some of that (the stuff about being handed a gift etc), but I think that for most people, matched play is the default/normal way to play and that has nothing to do with the structure of the forum. In fact I think the structure of the forum is a reflection of that, rather than a cause. If you created a specific forum for matched play you would find that 99% of the discussion in General AoS Discussions is about matched play, purely because thats how 99% of players play.

Again, this is circular logic. Matched play is the default way to play because for many years forums, commentators and various media have presented it as such, so it continues to be the default way to play, so forums get structured in a way that recognises that - it's constantly reinforced as the 'normal' way to play without anyone really giving it a second thought. A loooooong time ago, narrative/open was the default way to play, and in time it could be again if given the chance - it's a question of presentation.

All I'm suggesting is, where it's simple to do so, let's put all ways to play on an even playing field and see where it takes us.

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As someone who is new to AoS, I've heard talk that there are multiple ways to play, but my initial impression was that matched play was the norm when it comes to the game.  That it was the real game.  To the point where I had missed the implications of three ways to play when it came to assessing whether or not the game was for me and almost gave the game a pass as a result.  I stopped playing Warmachine/Hordes regularly because of the total domination of tournament gaming as the defacto approach to the game (among other reasons).  If not for some patient people who explained AoS to me, I would have assumed that AoS was the same sort of thing, but with broken rules-- not realizing those rules were not broken but were there to support another way of playing.

So I think Jamie the Jasper might be on to something.

 

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3 minutes ago, Jamie the Jasper said:

Again, this is circular logic. Matched play is the default way to play because for many years forums, commentators and various media have presented it as such, so it continues to be the default way to play, so forums get structured in a way that recognises that

I don't think its as simple as that, I think matched play is the default way to play, because for most people who play tabletop wargames, its about competing - the same reason people play/watch sport or play computer games or do crosswords. Narrative gaming is more like spending your evening sitting down to write a book, and there is a reason that isn't what most people do in the evenings. 

For most people, setting up a game of AoS that you know you will never win doesn't sound like fun, (I enjoy it, but I don't feel I have a right to expect others to, or that competitive players are somehow brainwashing people). There are probably quite a few players out there who would enjoy narrative if they gave it a try, and I know for a fact that most of my usually competitive local gaming group enjoy occasional narrative games, but I don't think that the structure of this or other forums is somehow keeping narrative play down.

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Posted (edited)

35 minutes ago, KnightFire said:

Narrative gaming is more like spending your evening sitting down to write a book, and there is a reason that isn't what most people do in the evenings.

I would characterise narrative play vs matched play more like reading a book vs watching sports. Both very popular pastimes. But people who prefer to read books can't help but be exposed to sport constantly in the media, whereas people who prefer watching sports on TV can quite easily avoid books if they choose to. Sport gets more exposure and more resources are pumped into it year on year, while book reading is in decline. Perhaps that decline wouldn't be happening if books and sports had the same exposure and resources.

Not something I firmly believe necessarily, just a thought experiment.

 

35 minutes ago, KnightFire said:

I think matched play is the default way to play, because for most people who play tabletop wargames, its about competing.

For all I know you may be right, but this is pure conjecture. Maybe tabletop wargames attract competitive people because they're unduly represented as a competitive hobby. I don't think players of historical wargames can be characterised in this way, for example.

 

35 minutes ago, KnightFire said:

For most people, setting up a game of AoS that you know you will never win doesn't sound like fun, (I enjoy it, but I don't feel I have a right to expect others to, or that competitive players are somehow brainwashing people).

I really don't think this is a fair or accurate characterisation of narrative play, and is exactly the kind of misinformation that bias that risks turning people away from narrative play who might otherwise enjoy it. There is no reason why a narrative game needs to be unbalanced or unwinnable. Narrative play is about valuing storytelling and imagination over competition - that's basically the only requirement and within that there are a multitude of approaches you can take. If anything, it's matched play that's restrictive and penalises the enjoyment of players who don't naturally gravitate towards a competitive mindset.

Anyway, my intention isn't really to get into a debate about the merits of one way to play vs another - I'm just arguing that it's worth making an effort to present all options as equally worthy without bias, whether that bias in unconscious or deliberate.

Edited by Jamie the Jasper
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I personally think Matched Play or the competitive side of the hobby is a good thing for the Narrative side as well as it helps to balance out the individual units, spells, and powers so that they play well and fairly (hopefully).   Coming from the mid '80's onward with Warhammer, I honestly had trouble looking at the game without points even from a narrative side, as it was hard to equate power levels, strengths, and such while getting back into the hobby after an extended hiatus.

In my opinion, without those type of balances, play testing, and whatnot, you almost would need a Game Master type situation where players control their armies but the adversaries or big potentially unbalanced threats are controlled by a unbiased 3rd party whose sole goal is to craft the narrative and not necessarily win.  When I used to DM and create scenarios, if I see the players are not able to deal with an adversary as well as I predicted, I can fudge rolls and abilities to not wipe them out and send them back to character creation as that frankly has destroyed some of our campaigns by "letting the dice fall where they may" for this type of play.  Obviously with Narrative play in a wargame, it is slightly different but I think you get the gist of what I am saying... of course this all comes down to your "opponents" as if they are in the same mindset, certain things can be ignored, modified, or whatever to create that epic story together.

 

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In my local area, we pretty much just use the points as presented in Matched Play as guidelines for how big to make out armies, and then we just try to get within a hundred points or so of each other.  We will use the other aspects of Matched Play from the General's Handbook (artifacts, Allegiance traits, mission types, etc) as ways to add variety to our games, but for the most part we focus on having fun.  Several of us in the group have been burnt out by the over-competitive nature of the local 40K and Warmahordes players and their tournaments; we are trying to have fun, not make gaming a chore.

As I write this, I am actually putting together a quick little Narrative Campaign for us with a "level up" component as the armies gain experience points.  One of my ideas for how to spend their XP is to have a one-battle bonus of making your units cost fewer points to allow for a bigger army in that battle.

Regarding the original post, I kind of agree with the new ordering of the sub-forums.  Mostly because it lists the different playstyles in the order presented in the General's Handbook, but that order fits how it was presented to us in that book.

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My problem with this argument whenever it comes up is that it assumes more people would be playing Open or Narrative if it weren't for all these things scaring people away. However, let's face facts. There was an entire year for the Open play mindset to establish and propagate itself within the playerbase, but within months of the GHB Matched had eclipsed that progress, the original players are now a minority, and it sucks for them, I know. 

However I don't think a token extra section is going to really do anything about that, though it might tidy up Discussions a bit. Given the current trend, Matched looks set to take over anyway.

If you want to give a voice to Open or Narrative, then it needs actual content. Matched Play content writes itself, but I see such slow traffic in Open/Narrative, and few who have put effort in to provide new players with ideas for narratives they can play. 

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18 minutes ago, CoffeeGrunt said:

My problem with this argument whenever it comes up is that it assumes more people would be playing Open or Narrative if it weren't for all these things scaring people away. However, let's face facts. There was an entire year for the Open play mindset to establish and propagate itself within the playerbase, but within months of the GHB Matched had eclipsed that progress, the original players are now a minority, and it sucks for them, I know. 

However I don't think a token extra section is going to really do anything about that, though it might tidy up Discussions a bit. Given the current trend, Matched looks set to take over anyway.

If you want to give a voice to Open or Narrative, then it needs actual content. Matched Play content writes itself, but I see such slow traffic in Open/Narrative, and few who have put effort in to provide new players with ideas for narratives they can play. 

You make a lot of valid points, but I take issue with your premise that the first point-free year of AoS and the subsequent community expansion after GHB proves that open and narrative can't have wide appeal. There were a lot of reasons people stayed away in that first year, and lack of points was just one of them. Nevertheless the community was growing, and open play was gaining support. The big jump in the player base after GHB was almost certainly caused by competitive WHFB players returning to the game, not genuinely new players who made a conscious decision that they preferred matched play to narrative. I'm glad those people have (re)discovered the joys of AoS, and it may even be true that AoS needed them to survive, but it would be a shame if they inadvertently stifle what was shaping up to be a unique and very positive movement in the wargaming hobby.

I agree that much more can be done to promote narrative play with quality content, support and events. Some great work is being done already and I hope that we can continue to build on that. If any kind of shift in the perception and quality of narrative play is going to happen it certainly isn't going to happen overnight - we need to ensure that we create spaces in which the kind of people who jumped onboard with AoS in that first year can continue to feel welcome and relevant. Restructuring the forum to present all 3 ways to play as equally valid would be a small but symbolic gesture towards that.

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Posted (edited)

We live in the age of Competitive play. We, the narrative folks, should take our place, among the legends of the past...

Edited by Galas
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3 hours ago, Jamie the Jasper said:

I agree that much more can be done to promote narrative play with quality content, support and events. Some great work is being done already and I hope that we can continue to build on that. If any kind of shift in the perception and quality of narrative play is going to happen it certainly isn't going to happen overnight - we need to ensure that we create spaces in which the kind of people who jumped onboard with AoS in that first year can continue to feel welcome and relevant. Restructuring the forum to present all 3 ways to play as equally valid would be a small but symbolic gesture towards that.

While the stalwart podcaster and tournament organizers have been doing a better job of promoting narrative, they are also the first people to say "no square bases" and "no compendium warscrolls". It's not helping to build a better community and the few saying it need to stop being hypocritical and counter productive.

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18 hours ago, Jamie the Jasper said:

Personally I think it would be fairer and healthier for the community if we could kill the idea that matched play is 'normal' by presenting all ways to play equally and even-handedly. I think it would be more in the spirit of AoS to structure The Grand Alliance Community section in the same way as the Generals Handbook:

General Age of Sigmar Discussion

Open Play

Narrative Play

Matched Play

Age of Sigmar Boxed Games

 

Thoughts?

I think that most players who use the forums actively are also looking to inform themselves of what's going on with matched plays. By large because without it you don't really need to discuss things with players you don't know. As I feel that Open and Narrative play are most certainly more (meta) community related as global community related.

Now what most certainly should/would help is using the tag option to inform the reader if he's dealing with lists/ideas that are related to Open Play, Narrative Play or Matched Play. This basically allows other posters to comment as they see fitting for one of the three. If someone intends to win a tournament with X list my critiques are different from someone who's trying to build up a list largely with Narative Play in mind. 

Final thoughts, use the tags, keeps things more clear for everybody. 

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16 hours ago, Jamie the Jasper said:

 The big jump in the player base after GHB was almost certainly caused by competitive WHFB players returning to the game, not genuinely new players who made a conscious decision that they preferred matched play to narrative.

This is nothing more than a gut feeling on your part, though so you have any evidence to back it up? 

Locally WHFB never had a presence, AoS had a couple of players, but after the GHB we're now filling the store each time we run an event day. All but a couple are new players who've come across from WarmaHordes or 40K.

I feel that you're conflating those who derided AoS in its first year with those now playing Matched because it makes a convenient continuity. 

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Posted (edited)

I'll just chime in to agree with the echo chamber... Matched Play, competitive play, tournament play has always been by and large the vastly most discussed part of wargaming since I can remember joining the internet in the 90s.  I don't think its circular logic at all.

When AOS was released and the primary focus was entirely on narrative and open play, it was largely a ghost town on forums compared to when the GHB dropped and they endorsed competitive play again.  

Thats just the nature of the beast.  The narrative and open formats will always be relegated to the corner with that other strange game called The Hobbit.

(and I am 99.9% a narrative campaign player)

That being said I wouldn't be opposed to seeing a "COmpetitive" sub forum.  In fact in my days on warseer I used to ask for something like that, or a way to tag a post as "competitive" or "narrative" or whatever so that we knew the mindset of the questions being asked.  Just don't be surprised if the competitive sub forum is the king of the sub forums loll

Edited by Auticus
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Posted (edited)

39 minutes ago, CoffeeGrunt said:

This is nothing more than a gut feeling on your part, though so you have any evidence to back it up? 

Locally WHFB never had a presence, AoS had a couple of players, but after the GHB we're now filling the store each time we run an event day. All but a couple are new players who've come across from WarmaHordes or 40K.

I feel that you're conflating those who derided AoS in its first year with those now playing Matched because it makes a convenient continuity. 

I'm not going to get into an argument with you - this thread was never meant to be about which way to play is better or more popular. We've both made points based on instinct and conjecture. None of this fundamentally devalues my original suggestion for changing the structure of the forum, in fact it's an unfortunate distraction.

I've made my suggestion and set out my case. I'll leave it there now.

Edited by Jamie the Jasper

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It's not instinct and conjecture if you can point to Facebook groups, forum attendance and forum traffic to prove it.

I'm just saying that I feel it'd be a token thing to do. 

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I had reservations about jumping into Age of Sigmar when it was first released.  I bought the Starter Set, read the rules, and went back to the other games I was playing.  I didn't want to play it because of the potential abuse that a no-points limit game could allow, as a large percentage of players in my local area are WAAC, ultra-competitive in 40K and Warmahordes, and they have to budgets to keep up with the latest and greatest releases in order to stay competitive; I could just see them coming to a pickup game and bringing a HUGE army that I would not be able to play against, so I and others held off.

But when the General's Handbook came out, I jumped in.  Whether balanced or not, here are the points costs as determined by GW (I do appreciate the efforts of all the fan-made points and balancing attempts).  These points give a baseline, a simple structure that gives an idea of what size a game can be and how long it takes to play.

I much prefer Narrative play to competitive, but I am giving you my story here, however anecdotal:  the Matched Play system brought me and several other players into the Age of Sigmar to play Narrative games.  I know, that's probably some heresy right there, but it's the truth.  Just having that structure and limit on summoning gave us the confidence to have a better game should the WAAC players join in.  They haven't yet, and I kind of like it like that (not that there is anything wrong with competitive and serious tournament play, but it's just not for me).  I am working on starting up an Age of Sigmar club in our area, and we are all more interested in Narrative Campaigns than tournaments.  We will likely be using the Matched Play points limits throughout our events and pickup games just as a structure for army size.  If nothing else, having the addition of the Leader, Batteline, Artillery, and Behemoth keywords adds in extra potential layers for framing possible campaign bonuses or story ideas.

The issue, in my eyes, isn't in Matched Play vs. Narrative Play from the General's Handbook, but Competitive games versus Narrative games.

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While the stalwart podcaster and tournament organizers have been doing a better job of promoting narrative, they are also the first people to say "no square bases" and "no compendium warscrolls". It's not helping to build a better community and the few saying it need to stop being hypocritical and counter productive.


I'm a narrative player who hates seeing square bases or unpainted models on the field, and dislike compendium, it breaks the immersion and doesn't fit with the new lore



Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

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