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Enoby

The Scattering of AoS's Ruleset

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There is a bit of a problem I've noticed  becoming larger in AoS, and that is how difficult it can be to get a full collection of the rules in one place. When AoS first began, all you needed was a 4 page rule book and your warscrolls, now to get a complete version of the rules you need the CRB (for realm rules and grand alliance rules), Malign Sorcery (for realm artefacts), the GHB (for updated points and some allegiance abilities), your army's own battletome (if it exists, for your allegiance abilities, battalion, and other specials), the FAQs (as they can have a major effect on everyone), and the Designer Commentary. Obviously, you don't need to use all of these rules, but they seem to be what is considered standard in matched play.

My major issue isn't necessarily the number of rules, but rather how difficult it can be to navigate them. Don't get me wrong, I really like that the FAQs exist, but it's a pain in the butt to trawl through all of them to find out the answer to a niche question. This has lead to quite a few scenarios where either my opponent or myself have spent a good deal of time trying to search for a rule we *know* exists but have no evidence of. For example, I was in a tournament and used an ability which allowed me to pile in 6", and be chosen to pile in from up to 6" away. My opponent didn't think that was write (believing an FAQ had said you could never pile in from more than 3" away). I couldn't find the FAQ to support this and so we had to call a judge, which took a lot of time.

 

I'm not here to be negative, though, I'm here to try and start a discussion as to whether other people have this issue and what can be done to aid it.   

I play a ttrpg called Pathfinder, which is rather renowned for its complex and excessive ruleset, but it is usually very easy to find and answer to a rules question due to all of the rules being searchable online. Perhaps AoS could benefit from this - some sort of repository where you could search all rulings attached to a keyword. E.g. 'pile in' may come up with a clarification on how pile ins work in relation to the closest enemy model, what pile in distances above 3" mean, and what can and can't move during a pile in. It would be an awful lot of work to compile, but I think this would make the game much smoother and also far easier to learn for newer players.

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I think the core problem is the layout, wording and LACK OF INDEX in the core rules. Coupled to this is the fact that some rules are not where you expect them to be. 

Take Endless spells. If you read the big page in the book or in the core rules the page suggests that you can use as many spells of the same type as you have models. No mention is made of different game forms or of any limits beyond the models to play. However if you go to army building for Matched Play (many pages later/in a different book) the page stats that you can only use one model of a specific endless spell at a time per side (that paid for the spell of course). 

 

This is a classic example where the lack of an index and information not being where you expect it can easily lead to confusion and I'm sure its not the only one. The best you can do is log them and make your own index. Indexing speeds things up as it can give you a fast page and reference for info you regularly need. I started a thread up on it on the forums (I'll try and dig it out). 

With a working index you can have as many sheets of reference material as you want because the index guides you to where you can find the relevant information (or at least to all sources of relevant information on a subject). It's something I really wish GW would get back into the habit of including; as well as getting someone intelligent on the team who doesn't play Wargames to ask all the basic "how does that work, where's the rules reference, why isn't it there, where is the index" questions. 

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Seeing as even the newly expanded core rules only run to 18 (I think) pages, and could easily be condensed more,  it seems pointless to not just include them in the GHB every year. Fair enough new edition came out this year but going forward in years without big new editions it would make sense, to me, to include that at the front (with any updates/revisions from the past year) plus updated design commentary at the back.

Then the usual GHB stuff, though I can think of a few ways it could be better ordered to make easier to read and use.

From next summer it would probably be worth including any extra additions from Malign Sorcery (minus fluff, battleplans etc), anyone buying the MS box is buying it for the models not the rules now, surely. So it won't cannibalise any sales having them in the GHB too.

All of that would only add an extra 30 pages tops to what isn't a massive book and mostly just editing existing copy. I'm sure, in between new editions launches, most people would be happy to pay a couple of quid extra to have a printed, annually updated living rulebook like that and would be more likely to buy it each year too. 

Actually you know what, I'd been thinking keep it clean and lean and lore free, but nah, maybe chuck in 3-4 page bit at the beginning just updating the current status of the storyline as well. 

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The thing is I think one thing GW realises is that if you make lore optional, many people won't buy it.

Consider how many actually read BL books vs those who only ever read the army and world background in the "required" rules and codex/battletomes. Whilst some might not like the idea (and those with years of experience in gaming might just want the rules); the idea of matching lore and rules together is quite a sound business idea. It means that customers are required to get some lore along with the rules that they are going to buy anyway. This not only helps reinforce their like and identity of the faction(s) and world they are playing in, but it serves to tempt them to go deeper into buying things like Black Library books. 

 

I realised this was part of GW's plan when I realised that I like art and lore and yet often rarely get art books (even digital) for computer games that I play. It's the kind of thing that I tend to leave until its on steep discount. Whereas even without buying any BL books I'm already casually versed in the lore of 40K and AoS as well as the background of the races I play as in those games.

 

I think fully separating rules and lore would work for a short time and those who already have years of lore reading and just want the rules would call it a great idea. But long term new people to the game would start to lose that lore connection. Heck look at Magic the Gathering, where rules are fully separate from any lore they've got going on. Most people just about know there's planeswalkers that walk between worlds and that's just about it. 

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It's probably just to make more money.🤐

9 minutes ago, Overread said:

 Heck look at Magic the Gathering, where rules are fully separate from any lore they've got going on. Most people just about know there's planeswalkers that walk between worlds and that's just about it. 

 

Actually I think it's a tad annoying how much continuous story they injected into the game ever since they started to focus a lot on the playable planeswalkers.

"Ooooh look its Jace and his Planeswalker Power Rangers. What wacky events will they get into this time?"

Compare that to old MTG where it's really only the Hardcore people that knew about Urza, Yawgmoth, etc. And half the time they go to a different Plane, the other Plane stories rarely bleed over.

Whoops too much mtg talk there!

 

On separate fluff with rules, they could always do a End Times and force a bundle where you get 2 books.

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Completely agree that it's a bit of a minefield as it currently stands.  The format of the FAQs I find a bit of a pain too as you have them for every publication you're using (so potentially 4).

Personally I'd love to see the format of the General's Handbook change and instead become 2 publications (sold together).  One publication (staple bound and small) contains the most upto date version of the core rules (inc FAQs), realm rules and such like - basically everything you need to actually "play" during a game.  The other publication contains the rest of it - stuff for list building, battleplans, campaigns etc.  Combined with gaming aids (e.g. battleplans on quick reference cards) I think this would simplify the whole process.

I do think that GW is becoming more aware of how cumbersome games are starting to become.  In Blackstone Fortress, the rules have actually been split into separate booklets so it's super quick to find what you're looking for.

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1 hour ago, RuneBrush said:

Completely agree that it's a bit of a minefield as it currently stands.  The format of the FAQs I find a bit of a pain too as you have them for every publication you're using (so potentially 4).

Personally I'd love to see the format of the General's Handbook change and instead become 2 publications (sold together).  One publication (staple bound and small) contains the most upto date version of the core rules (inc FAQs), realm rules and such like - basically everything you need to actually "play" during a game.  The other publication contains the rest of it - stuff for list building, battleplans, campaigns etc.  Combined with gaming aids (e.g. battleplans on quick reference cards) I think this would simplify the whole process.

I do think that GW is becoming more aware of how cumbersome games are starting to become.  In Blackstone Fortress, the rules have actually been split into separate booklets so it's super quick to find what you're looking for.

This doesn't completely solve the problem, but is hugely helpful, so thought I'd drop this in. The wonderful AoS Shorts website has a compiled pdf document that contains all of the FAQs in one place and it's searchable. If you know a ruling exists, you can, for example, search "pile in" and skip through the entries until you find the one you're looking for.

https://aosshorts.com/?s=FAQ

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This might be an unpopular opinion, but i actually think they should keep the "three rulebook" (or at least 2 books) system, but definitely alter which content is in each:

The ghb doesn't need open play or narrative rules or scenarios, as it primarily exists for matched play purposes. So the ghb becomes solely the matched play rulebook with points, allegiance updates, and generic wargear & spells.

The core book is massive on fluff, so that's where the open play and narrative scenarios and rules should be in their entirety. The players that dig that stuff will buy it and the players that don't, don't need to.

Supplemental books like malign sorcery, are awkward. It's basically a wargear book when you strip the fluff away, and it's probably the size of the skirmish supplement at that point too. The endless spells could easily be sold separately, and the wargear supplement could be added directly to the ghb or core campaign book depending on which player base it's aimed at.

 

That's my opinion at least. 😅

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Yeah, I agree that having to keep track of the rules on 3 different books (and a lot of PDFs of FAQs) is just stupid.

I did a copy/paste of all the needed rules into a single document that I then got printed in a booklet form for all my friends. This condensed rulebook contains all the matched play rules, battleplans, realm magic and core rules (and for now I'm at almost 50 pages of stuff).

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I think GW were sensible with Maligan Sorcery and how they released it. It's clear that they wanted Endless Spells to be part of the new AoS game scene and they wanted to make a big noise with their release. Thus they put rules, equipment, lore and models into a box and priced it lower than a getting started set. The idea clearly was to present the gamer with a seriously good deal and the result would be many would buy into it. It's clearly worked well and it gives AoS a unique flavour on the tabletop. 

I think it also left GW a bolt hole in that if the reception was really bad they could fix that one book error or they could just keep it as a short term product and drop it later. I'd fully expect in the next round of books to have all the MS content wrapped into the Big Rule Book and/or the Generals Handbook. 

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I disagree about Malign Sorcery being a sensible release.  By putting the most powerful/cool artifacts in it, they are pushing people to buy it even if they didn't want (or can't use for some factions) the endless spells.  

I believe the rules are too scattered, just had a game last week where, we had a question we knew it was answered somewhere, but were like oh ****** it, just agree to whatever cause we couldn't be bothered to look through multiple files/books.

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I mean it's a obvious business decision to split everything you need to play into 4 books, so you sell 4 books. I personally don't mind that, business is business but I do really wish the books were laid out better. Everything is everywhere, nothing is easy to find and it's just a mess. 

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I'm with @chord on this, malign sorcery was not thought through properly. I have friends who just use the artefacts. If they go to a tournament they'll need to buy the entire set, to get access to 6-7 pages of artefacts. Some of the artefacts in the book are broken and it's very much a case of pay to win compared to players who don't have the malign sorcery book. 

I'm playing some 2k games today and have had to take the CRB, Malign Sorcery, GHB18 and my battletome, plus warscroll cards. It's a lot of book keeping, especially if realm rules are being used, as half of it is in malign sorcery and half of it is in CRB. Why? Now I don't mind all the book keeping too much, if it leads towards a better play experience but when playing on a 6'x4' board you need another 2'x4' section just to rest all of your books on. 

Last thing I'll mention is why the F-bomb GW don't offer free digital download codes when you buy the hardback copy of the books in incredibly greedy and unhelpful, as the digital versions update the guaranteed print errors and mistakes that appear in every book they release. So by buying the physical copy I'm subjecting myself to having a faulty product from the start. 

 

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Chord the Endless Spells in the MS boxed set are universal - any faction can use them. The faction specific ones (which are limited to being cast by specific faction wizards only, which means if you take an allied wizard you gain access to that wizards faction endless spells) are sold separate. So in theory anyone can use them.

The only part of the set you might not use is the realm spells and artificats, but at £40 honestly the book is almost for free as you've got warscroll cards and endless spells in there. Plus most of the time you don't actually need to consult that book except in army building. For battle you can write out the spell details and take the Endless Spell Warscrolls with you (plus many of the artifcats are fairly straight forward bonuses) 

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Just now, Overread said:

Chord the Endless Spells in the MS boxed set are universal - any faction can use them. The faction specific ones (which are limited to being cast by specific faction wizards only, which means if you take an allied wizard you gain access to that wizards faction endless spells) are sold separate. So in theory anyone can use them.

The only part of the set you might not use is the realm spells and artificats, but at £40 honestly the book is almost for free as you've got warscroll cards and endless spells in there. Plus most of the time you don't actually need to consult that book except in army building. For battle you can write out the spell details and take the Endless Spell Warscrolls with you (plus many of the artifcats are fairly straight forward bonuses) 

Yes I know that 🙄 .  But maybe you don't realize several factions have no spell casters.  (Sure they could ally in one, but many don't fit the lore) so thus the endless spells are not useful to all but those artifacts are.

Or maybe like myself I'm not interested in the spells even though I have casters and I also think several of the models are just plain ugly.  But I'd like the artifacts.   

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Ahh true I forget that, however I figure factions with a lack of spellcasters or the ability to case things like Endless Spells is. in GW's view, a short term issue that should be resolved at some point. Sadly like a lot of things AoS is still very incomplete as an entity so some things aren't working as they should. 

I agree it would be great if they could speed up Battletome Releases and I really hope that 2020 is the year they clean house with AoS and get the armies functioning as they should. A lot of the rules issues and the whole back end of the game is caught on the fact that its not all working as it should

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I'm not entirely sure that it is  a short term issue, for example no Dwarf faction has ever had a spellcaster, though I do admit that's a bit of an exception.

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Personally, the Core-Book vs GHB is the only issue for me.

I'm fine with expansion like Malign Sorceries having a separate book but there are rules inside the Core Book that have no business being there INSTEAD of the Generals Handbook. It would be fine if they were just copies but why. e.g. are Grand Alliance abilities only inside the Core Book...

The GHB should remain the concentrated rule book for different types of play, while the Core Book could have been something like "Guide to the Mortal Realms", focusing on Fluff and other things that would unnecessarily bloat the GHB.

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55 minutes ago, Tropical Ghost General said:

I'm with @chord on this, malign sorcery was not thought through properly. I have friends who just use the artefacts. If they go to a tournament they'll need to buy the entire set, to get access to 6-7 pages of artefacts. Some of the artefacts in the book are broken and it's very much a case of pay to win compared to players who don't have the malign sorcery book. 

I'm playing some 2k games today and have had to take the CRB, Malign Sorcery, GHB18 and my battletome, plus warscroll cards. It's a lot of book keeping, especially if realm rules are being used, as half of it is in malign sorcery and half of it is in CRB. Why? Now I don't mind all the book keeping too much, if it leads towards a better play experience but when playing on a 6'x4' board you need another 2'x4' section just to rest all of your books on. 

Last thing I'll mention is why the F-bomb GW don't offer free digital download codes when you buy the hardback copy of the books in incredibly greedy and unhelpful, as the digital versions update the guaranteed print errors and mistakes that appear in every book they release. So by buying the physical copy I'm subjecting myself to having a faulty product from the start. 

 

I emailed them about this. Especially in combination with unlocking battalions in the app. 

Their reason... because the printed books and digital are processed through different companies/departments. An understandable problem, but definitely not unsolvable. 

Seems to me it’s a matter of time. Maybe with an additional fee where needed. 

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3 hours ago, chord said:

I disagree about Malign Sorcery being a sensible release.  By putting the most powerful/cool artifacts in it, they are pushing people to buy it even if they didn't want (or can't use for some factions) the endless spells. 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't "pushing people to buy" sound like the most sensible thing ever for them to do?  As in, it would be criminally negligent to do otherwise?

 

Regardless.  Sign me up for something more contained, with an index, that is KEYWORD SEARCHABLE IN THE APP.  Something where all the rules for something are in the same place, and not hidden in the bottom of a peripherally related paragraph in a different book.

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19 minutes ago, amysrevenge said:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't "pushing people to buy" sound like the most sensible thing ever for them to do?  As in, it would be criminally negligent to do otherwise?

Maybe its different in different nations but in the US that is a falsely held belief.  https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Stout_Corporate-Issues.pdf

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16 minutes ago, amysrevenge said:

Sign me up for something more contained, with an index, that is KEYWORD SEARCHABLE IN THE APP.  Something where all the rules for something are in the same place, and not hidden in the bottom of a peripherally related paragraph in a different book.

Oh heck yes... And consistent terminology across all abilities and effects. Quite frankly i feel like the current rules designers need to go back and actually read the old rulebooks, specifically with an eye to layout, indices, and appendices; when you have a game that works around the interaction of several key terms, its very important that those key terms mean the same "insert expletive here" thing for every interaction, not case by case.

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Thanks for that article, I started reading it, then saved it for later because I have to run.  Seems interesting.

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Just now, Waiyuren said:

Oh heck yes... And consistent terminology across all abilities and effects. Quite frankly i feel like the current rules designers need to go back and actually read the old rulebooks, specifically with an eye to layout, indices, and appendices; when you have a game that works around the interaction of several key terms, its very important that those key terms mean the same "insert expletive here" thing for every interaction, not case by case.

They made a major move in this regard with AoS2, redefining normal move/charge move/pile-in move, and not using "move" on its own.

 

The next major disambiguination required is around "wound" and "damage".  Specifically, the "to wound" roll is actually a "to damage" roll, and including the word wound in that mechanic adds no end of confusion about when damage turns into wounds, when effects triggering on saves occur, when effects triggering on suffering wounds occur, and when effects triggering on a model being killed occur.

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My main issue with rules scattering is that only 50% of what you need to know to play against an opponent is in the rules.  The other 50% is in army books. Warscroll app helps a little but the core stuff is still in the army Books which themselves are 50-60% unrelated to playing.

If GW really wanted/want to push the game in its own merits they need to do what most gaming franchises do and give you everything you need to play anyone without complication without all of the frills currently attached.

Edited by Nos
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