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Chikout

Terrain and the immersion question.

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There has been a lot of talk about the new terrain pieces in the rumour thread and I thought it was worth breaking it out into its own topic. 

From my point of view I think the terrain pieces are fantastic. 

I remember when the lizardmen and Brettonian box came out. I was really compelled by the idea of the lizards living in Lustria, so I decided to make my own pyramid. Despite the simplicity of the build,  the results were terrible. It looked nothing like the terrain piece in my imagination. 

For a long time GW rarely made any terrain at all that wasn't empire themed. Now we have a wide variety of terrain kits represent any number of factions. The loonshrine and the new forge in particular are fantastic looking models. I don't have a fyreslayers army (yet) but I am definitely going to pick up the forge as a terrain piece. 

The controversy around these pieces seems to be their rules. The first thing I would say is that GW has finally found a way to make terrain kits sell. If these pieces didn't have rules few people would buy them and GW would probably make far fewer of them. 

Ultimately though the biggest complaint is that the kits break immersion.  I genuinely find it difficult to understand this point if view. 

Almost every aspect of this game is abstracted to some extent. Look at scale.  If we scale up a  6 by 4 table we get something that is about 70 metres across. A Duardin with a 4 inch move can move less than 10 metres without getting tired. A real gunpowder cannon could fire hundreds of metres. A medieval longbow could easily shoot 200 metres. 

So we can assume that an aos battlefield is abstracted in terms of scale. We take turns moving so the game is abstracted in terms of time. Every army has one basing scheme. My ironclad is flying over the same broken pillar for ever, so the game is abstracted visually. So why is a scenery piece so hard to imagine?

For me I don't imagine that the FEC carry a throne around with them. I do imagine that they would find a high place on the battlefield and use it as a throne. The throne model is a representation of one of those places.

Real armies brought whole towns along with them on campaign. Is it so hard to imagine that fyreslayers bring the equipment and materials to build a forge along with them especially as hammering hot gold into their flesh I'd such a key part of their identity?

It is has been suggested that there are situations were the scenery doesn't fit thematically;  raids,  being ambushed etc but that is not how we actually play Aos. Armies deploy opposite each in a traditional manner, arriving on the battlefield in drips and drabs before agreeing to take turns hitting each other. 

So is terrain the immersion breaking tipping point for you and if so,  why this and not anything else? 

 

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Posted (edited)

The terrain pieces are great, they look nice, and this isn't really the game where immersion is that big a deal.  We have a game where you can drop a castle onto combat and only hurt one side, dragons flying around, demons flying around, and terrain doesn't really give much cover or act intuitively at all.  Basically the terrain not being immersive is just another chunk of ice bobbing in the sea of AOS aint built around immersion, its built around gameplay mechanics and combo synergies. 

Its not a simulation and it has very little to do with actual military tactics.  And thats perfectly fine.  So fine in fact that its selling exponentially better than its predecessor ever did.

The Flesh Eaters carrying a throne in every game is as acceptable as a castle landing into combat and only hurting your guys because I threw it, and its as acceptable as dragons flying around and its as acceptable as demons being summoned.   Its there as a vehicle to push the game forward as a game mechanic.  Same as tapping mountains and swamps in magic the gathering gives you mystical power.  Its a game mechanic.  

 

tldr:  the terrain pieces are great because they are FUN.  Thats all a game needs to be.  FUN.  

Edited by Dead Scribe
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Personally, I'm on the fence with obligatory terrain for all armies.

They look so good on the table, and they are great and special when they make sense, but don't like them too much when they feel forced or shoehorned.

Also and not least, they are usually BIG, and unwieldy to transport.

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The transport issue is a very valid one. It stops me playing my Sylvaneth.

The counterpoint to this is that I rarely play on tables that feel appropriately themed with their terrain. They just feel like a random collection - adding more to that doesn't really do anything negative to me.

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The models are good but the fact that it’s now going to be tied to every faction allegiance ability (along with some shoe horned fluff reason) making it a must buy is rubbish. It turns something cool that some factions had into just another cost of getting into the game, as not buying your 0 point faction terrain piece is needlessly hamstringing yourself (I’m surprised it’s not the competitive matched play guys moaning about this more).

The immersion factor I can kind of see your point that it just stacks onto other abstract factors already present and accepted, and I guess it will always be a matter of taste. Two armies of slathering monsters reining in their base instincts to kill each other while they let each other build and decorate their own terrain features on a desolate volcanic plain is just way more jarring to my immersion than the realistic representation of a dwarf’s cardiovascular capacity, but that’s obviously subjective. 

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While I like the "mandatory" terrain, I'm one of those who would like them to cost points as the endless spells do. 

 

Also, I would like for the "normal" terrain pieces (walls, realmgates, etc) to have points to include them as "fortifications".

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I think the disconnect from the battlefield happens partly because the vision of armies battling it out has been lost on some; coupled to the fact many people have little to no idea of the baggage that a typical army would  traverse the land with. This isn't helped by the fact that the post-child army for the game  - Stormcast - who featured heavily in much of the stories; don't actually require supplies. They can march in full armour for days on end with very little food nor water. They don't need to bring carts to carry the heavy armour; nor large amounts of food and water; nor tents; or siege materials. Heck they likely don't even have camp followers looking to make money off the army through sale, trade and pleasures of the flesh.

Heck most armies would travel with a forge (a mobile one at least) and smiths to repair and keep armour in good order; they'd have skilled people on hand to help establish the camp, repair what got broken etc.... Basically there is more than just the warriors in their armour and this is before we've even got to the point of feeding mounts and tending to their care and upkeep. An army moving with a dragon or a magmadroth might well have to take extra food, have handlers on hand, they might even have to carry large chains so that the hydras can be chained up at night when not in battle so that they don't threaten the rest of the camp. 

 

Armies on the move should come with a lot of baggage and supplies so bringing along a throne or a forge isn't actually that hard to envision. A few of the terrain items are a bit harder like the great stone from the beastmen, but overall you can easily envision it happening. 

 

Even in games like Total War Warhammer the idea of supplies and army followers is basically missing; you tend to only get it in epic fantasy stories where the author spends time going into detail about the mundane end of army structure.

 

 

Of course some armies in AoS cheat - Skaven can bore gnawholes so they don't have to traverse the land with all those supplies; whilst the undead might well not need to carry half as many supplies due to the nature of being, well, dead. Then again you can well envision a Flesh Eater Courts army travelling with a full entourage of camp followers and carts laden with supplies as well as grand tents for the King and his lords - that most of it would jsut be more ghouls and rotting corpses lumped onto rickety carts pulled by monsters and such - well - that's all just part of being one of the Court. 

 

 

 

Personally I hope that GW uses this to springboard terrain rules and depth. I think that too many AoS boards are still modelled after fantasy of old; big open areas with few bits of terrain and a low number of features. I think the simplistic and bare-bones terrain rules we have now for the core game has compounded this. I'm not looking for every bit of terrain to be magical, just for terrian to have more detailed and fleshed out rules and more impact on the game. I think boards need to have more of it to break the game up some and present more choices to players and AoS allows for this because we don't have rank and file movement. Old Fantasy had to have casual levels of terrain because you were wheeling and doing arc turns and the like with formations that couldn't blend around a terrain feature

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It’s not that anyone thinks armies don’t need a lot of logistical support, it’s the fact that it’s set up on the front lines that is daft.

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That goes back to simulationist vs game.  We're interested in a game.  The simulationist stuff is not as important, or in AOS case I'd say doesn't even really register consideration.

 

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Ok well I’m interested in a game that makes an effort to simulate a battlefield. Otherwise I could just play with tokens or scraps of card instead of expensive miniatures that take a lot of time to assemble and paint. It’s all a question of preference.

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I hear this a lot or read it a bit on forums  and really the only thing I can tell you is it's good to find a game you enjoy.  There are other fantasy games on the market that do a better job of what you are looking for and I think you'll be happier with one of those games.  AOS is the farthest thing from a battlefield simulation that can exist, and its making money hand over fist for it, and I don't think its going to be changing and you'll likely get a lot of resistance from the playerbase to incorporate these simulationist pieces in because a lot of us don't want anything to do with that.

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11 hours ago, Chikout said:

So is terrain the immersion breaking tipping point for you and if so,  why this and not anything else? 

 

Its the inclusion in the allegiance abilities for me. Because I either have to drop the allegiance abilities or drop the theme of a table if they clash. 

Or as I summarised it earlier: If it’s to theme the table to the army I shouldn’t have to take it for gaming reasons. Or it should have a reason to be on every table. 

Of course its also down to taste and where you draw the line. I find a herd of beastmen that bring their totem okay, trees and gnarlmaws growing with the army amazing, but the thrones and now the forge do break that line for me in a lot of cases. 

Also the last three feel forced. It should be a good addition to the playstyle as well as a great model. Not a simple hero boost and thats it. (And that includes a good reason to appear everywhere, like the ships for another example). 

So I don't personally dislike the scenery as a concept, I do dislike the execution on several of them. All that said some great models, that I will get even without playing those armies. 

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Posted (edited)

Deadscribe; I like AoS a great deal so there’s no need to change systems, I’m just loathe to see it change too much to pander to people who couldn’t care less about the world or setting and would be just as happy / happier playing a card game.

It’s always risky to speak with finality on the thoughts and feelings of others. ‘A lot of us’ is not the same as ‘everyone’ and is coloured by your own experience, you’d get a very different answer from the guys I play with.

 

Edited by Luke82
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4 minutes ago, Dead Scribe said:

I hear this a lot or read it a bit on forums  and really the only thing I can tell you is it's good to find a game you enjoy.  There are other fantasy games on the market that do a better job of what you are looking for and I think you'll be happier with one of those games.  AOS is the farthest thing from a battlefield simulation that can exist, and its making money hand over fist for it, and I don't think its going to be changing and you'll likely get a lot of resistance from the playerbase to incorporate these simulationist pieces in because a lot of us don't want anything to do with that.

In the same manner there are a lot of games out there with better balance and need a lot less money and time to invest ;) AoS strikes a good middle ground I feel. 

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I like the terrain in AoS, what I don't like is that FEC got one (I probably won't like it when they drop SCE terrain, but that is all about transportation issues)
What I would like to see is better fleshed out rules for movement across and inside said terrain, because atm I see those simplistic rules being abused on game-breaking level.

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11 hours ago, Chikout said:

 A Duardin with a 4 inch move can move less than 10 metres without getting tired. A real gunpowder cannon could fire hundreds of metres. A medieval longbow could easily shoot 200 metres. 

A) The accuracy of medival weapons has been greatly exaggerated. Bows worked because they were used en masse and blanketed the sky/area with death.

B) I never imagine each model as an individual model, but as several hundred dudes that were the same dude.

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27 minutes ago, Luke82 said:

Deadscribe; I like AoS a great deal so there’s no need to change systems, I’m just loathe to see it change too much to pander to people who couldn’t care less about the world or setting and would be just as happy / happier playing a card game.

It’s always risky to speak with finality on the thoughts and feelings of others. ‘A lot of us’ is not the same as ‘everyone’ and is coloured by your own experience, you’d get a very different answer from the guys I play with.

 

I can understand your perspective.  However, the game was designed as a game that focused on mechanics first, and then they pair that up with the setting after.  

I have seen polls and have been in enough conversations on a global scale where I am comfortable saying a lot of us because the overwhelming majority of people that don't care about immersion are usually the overwhelming result of the polls and online discussions.  

The people that get angry or upset with it are usually removed from the groups or forums if they continuously complain about it in a detracting manner which speaks to me that the moderators of those groups are also of the same mindset.  

As AOS has been in the midst of its most successful financial gains in pretty much ever from its fantasy days before AOS, I have to think that them going back to a simulationist immersion game would be to the detriment of their sales and the popularity of the game.  The world today in terms of games is simply heavily slanted towards games over setting or immersion.

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5 minutes ago, Dead Scribe said:

I can understand your perspective.  However, the game was designed as a game that focused on mechanics first, and then they pair that up with the setting after.  

I have seen polls and have been in enough conversations on a global scale where I am comfortable saying a lot of us because the overwhelming majority of people that don't care about immersion are usually the overwhelming result of the polls and online discussions.  

The people that get angry or upset with it are usually removed from the groups or forums if they continuously complain about it in a detracting manner which speaks to me that the moderators of those groups are also of the same mindset.  

As AOS has been in the midst of its most successful financial gains in pretty much ever from its fantasy days before AOS, I have to think that them going back to a simulationist immersion game would be to the detriment of their sales and the popularity of the game.  The world today in terms of games is simply heavily slanted towards games over setting or immersion.

I too have wasted plenty of time on forums and never ever encountered anybody that said setting and immersion were unimportant. The boost to AoS sales has been a result of the rules and reinvigorated setting, which is why working on both has paid off so well for GW.

I do agree that AoS is very ‘gamey’ and it’s great for it, but lessons from the past show that disrespecting the setting does not go well. Whether a forge on the frontlines is disrespectful to the world’s internal logic is a mater of opinion of course, and I’m glad we have a nice place to discuss it.

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10 minutes ago, Dead Scribe said:

I can understand your perspective.  However, the game was designed as a game that focused on mechanics first, and then they pair that up with the setting after.  

 

Can I ask you where you source for this is? Because I've seen this argument before. And it could be true. But in every podcast with game designers they talk about models first, rules afterwards as their method. 

And to be fair, your conclusions would be correct but the basis of your argument is flawed according to all sources I find. 

 

13 minutes ago, Dead Scribe said:

 I have seen polls and have been in enough conversations on a global scale where I am comfortable saying a lot of us because the overwhelming majority of people that don't care about immersion are usually the overwhelming result of the polls and online discussions.  

 

Also i'll source the podcast as well. According to the GW they found that the most vocal part of the community were not representitive of the whole. So I wouldn't take those online polls as gospel. GW certainly say they don;t. 

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Posted (edited)
Quote

Can I ask you where you source for this is? Because I've seen this argument before. And it could be true. But in every podcast with game designers they talk about models first, rules afterwards as their method. 

I go by what actions are, not what people tell me. 

Actions are what their rulebooks show.  Their rulebooks show that the designers care little for their setting or immersion as it pertains to the game rules and mechanics.  Thats not saying they don't care about their setting, thats saying that as far as their rules go, their actions are for the past four years or so that there is no correlation between the setting and immersion and the rules that the design team produces.  

So if the online community is very vocally in favor of game mechanics over immersion and the rules that the design team has produced over the past four years reinforces game over immersion, I have to draw the conclusion that game mechanics come over immersion and that that is intentional, despite what someone may say because actions are concrete and the actions here are plain.

Edited by Dead Scribe

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Posted (edited)

     I envision the terrain being built near important places of the realms.   The 'objectives' in each battleplan have been deemed strategic places that need to be captured and controlled.  Armies of the realm have scouted out these areas and have sent out their builders etc. to begin building important structures that will help the armies take and hold these strategic places.   Low and behold, as one side has begun building their throne, the other side has been found to be building their forge nearby as well.  Or the scouts have found that unfortunately, the Gitz have been living nearby already, as their bad moon loonshrine is just on the other side of the hill.   After the scouts return and give news that the enemy is trying to shore up their defenses, the general gives the command that the troops must rally and start the attack, before the opposing army takes and holds the strategic points (objectives).  As the troops muster up and get in their formations,  the other army can be seen across the battlefield forming up as well.  One army finishes forming up first (lowest drops), and the General decides to take this moment to begin the battle, hoping the other army isn't as prepared.

The close proximity of these special terrain features may be a little too close in peoples minds, but that part is abstracted.   Just as the armies themselves are.  If you can handle an army of mutant rat people, orcs that grow as they fight, dragons, trolls, goblins, etc....then you should be able to wrap your mind around a throne being over there on the battlefield.

Edited by Superninja
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If you can handle an army of mutant rat people, orcs that grow as they fight, dragons, trolls, goblins, etc....then you should be able to wrap your mind around a throne being over there on the battlefield.

Precisely.  

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1 hour ago, Luke82 said:

I do agree that AoS is very ‘gamey’ and it’s great for it, but lessons from the past show that disrespecting the setting does not go well. Whether a forge on the frontlines is disrespectful to the world’s internal logic is a mater of opinion of course, and I’m glad we have a nice place to discuss it.

There is a lot of travel via realm gates/portals in AoS - the new setting means that transporting such immense structures is probably not an insurmountable feat.

I mean heck, Gloomspite Gitz use giant spiders that can create their own temporary realmgates, so it's not an improbable thing.

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For people who are worried about the immersion being broken but also want to take advantage of the in game rule, why not find a piece of normal-looking similar sized terrain specific to the battlefield you are using and then use that as the terrain piece?

Alternatively if you are more narritve you can convert most of the terrain pieces so far into something less monolithic, e.g mount the FEC throne on the backs of some ghouls or bigger griblies. 

The duardin forge can probably be combined into a more "normal" looking house/building.

For narrative games, simply designate the ingame rules to a terrain piece  that works for your narrative! 

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52 minutes ago, Dead Scribe said:

I go by what actions are, not what people tell me. 

Actions are what their rulebooks show.  Their rulebooks show that the designers care little for their setting or immersion as it pertains to the game rules and mechanics.  Thats not saying they don't care about their setting, thats saying that as far as their rules go, their actions are for the past four years or so that there is no correlation between the setting and immersion and the rules that the design team produces.  

Going by the actions, very good. Agree with you there. 

But this:

1 hour ago, Dead Scribe said:

However, the game was designed as a game that focused on mechanics first, and then they pair that up with the setting after.  

is a about the motivation behind decisions, right? You judge the actions of the company, and conclude that they focus on mechanics first and connect it to the setting after. Correct?

Because I see the above mentioned rulesbooks, books, communications and the other actions & choices by GW and I see a company that doesn't put rules before setting. They could have made a super tight game of AoS but they decided to limit the rules to four pages, only open play and create fluffy rules like the longbeards one where you gained an advantage for having a longer beard and grumbling. 

Since then they have removed those rules and added points, allegiance abilities etc. And made it more of game. But I still see the models first, rules second in the choices they made.  But I agree, that's down to interpretation of their motivation behind their actions. 
Not to mention that's how they themselves describe their proces, again listen to their podcasts to hear them describe their proces. 

But thanks for your answer 👍

 

27 minutes ago, Superninja said:

If you can handle an army of mutant rat people, orcs that grow as they fight, dragons, trolls, goblins, etc....then you should be able to wrap your mind around a throne being over there on the battlefield.

You do realise suspension of disbelieve is a personal line? That's what makes this discussion interesting. 

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