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AoS complexity/rules bloat


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So, I've seen a bunch of folks say that the game is getting too complicated and/or succumbing to rules bloat. I don't see it.

Trouble is, I've played 40K for 20 years and Magic for nearly as long, so tracking twiddly bits is kinda second nature to me now.

Therefore, if someone could elaborate on where these complaints are coming from, that'd be awesome! Because every time I see them it confuses me.

Dragonlover

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Unless you're talking about the rules *in total* I don't really see a case, unless people are referring to (as an example) warscroll abilities that are functionally identical but are worded differently or ambiguously.

Beyond that, I think it's actually a very streamlined system.

You have the core rules, FAQ, any rules relating to the play mode (e.g. matched), scenario/time of war rules, and then the specific rules on each unit's warscroll.

So yes, the "total" rules available for AoS must now be approaching the thousands of pages.
But the amount you *need* to play a game is very small.

Better semantics on rule wording is needed, though.

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3 minutes ago, Dragonlover said:

Therefore, if someone could elaborate on where these complaints are coming from, that'd be awesome! Because every time I see them it confuses me.

They come from people unable to track all the new rules for all the new releases (and its interactions and relevant FAQs)

You have the basic rules and basic warscrolls, but you have battalions on top of that. It's a different sort of complexity than, say, Infinity and it's zillion pages of special rules but the result is the same: A lot of ahms and oohs when the opponent tells you what his stuff does, which they have to repeat several times per battle.

Kinda like X-wing. I pity anyone taking Xwing right now.

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30 minutes ago, karch said:

They come from people unable to track all the new rules for all the new releases (and its interactions and relevant FAQs)

You have the basic rules and basic warscrolls, but you have battalions on top of that. It's a different sort of complexity than, say, Infinity and it's zillion pages of special rules but the result is the same: A lot of ahms and oohs when the opponent tells you what his stuff does, which they have to repeat several times per battle.

Kinda like X-wing. I pity anyone taking Xwing right now.

And no one should have to know anyone's army beside their own.  One of the things I like about Age of Sigmar is that I don't know exactly how each army works, but I do have a good idea just from looking at them; large blobs can be tarpits, ranged units pick off things from a distance, and big monsters can smash things.  In other wargames I have played (Warmahordes in particular) sometimes I couldn't tell what a unit or model could do just from looking at it, and that bugged me.  Granted, I didn't have this problem with 40K, because I made it an effort to study each and every Codex to come out to see what each unit could do (except I didn't study the points costs).  I should be able to trust my opponent to know the rules used by their army, and I like not having to study all the armies to prevent cheating (good opponents help with that).

That said, their is starting to be some perceived bloat on Age of Sigmar, but you don't have to play it with the bloat.  I played a game last night that took three books to contain all the rules for my army:  Forces of Destruction, Ironjawz Battletome, and the General's Handbook.  I took something from each of those books to make my army, but I could just as easily not played my Battalion from the Ironjawz book, and I didn't have to use the points, Allegiance abilities, and points costs values from the General's Handbook.  Heck, the models come with their rules in the box anymore, so I could have dropped all three books and still been able to play the game.

My point is that Age of Sigmar is a simple game, designed for cohesive and stackable rules and supplements that can be applied or not, because if you don't want to play a certain way, you don't have to, and that is, to me, the strength of Age of Sigmar.  Don't like the extra abilities and items given out by the Battletomes?  Don't play them!

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When the allegiance abilities debuted with the first GHB my immediate response was that they were unnecessary. I still find this, even more so with the recent Sigmarine and Khorne books and their banners and prayers and what you, but... they are fun. They add that little bit extra to matched play to make list-building rewarding.

i would say that all four sets of Alliance abilities need redoing from the ground up, whether its the worthlessness of Chaos' Unpredictable Destruction and most of the artefacts, to the brokenly overpowered nonsense of The Destruction Battle Trait and Battle Brew, to the Death trait and command ability that is essentially a crutch for any Death army.

Also I dont use Allegiance Abilities in narrative play as there is already enough interesting stuff going on with the scenario and whichever Time of War rules are being used, as well as the removal of the Rules of One allowing for way more craziness.

Short version, I also like that you can pick and choose how many layers of rules to use, so the bloat isnt an issue like it has been in 40k!

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I think there is a tendency to add more and more rules, which might lead to the bloat perception. Each new faction adds another layer and every unit can stack several modifiers/rerolls/specialrules/etc......

I don't think it is particularly complexe as you just need to remind and practice to make it fluid. BUT it does make the game longer and tedious. I loose interest when people spend half the battle checking what bonuses and modifiers their units get each turn with 20 dice markers on the table.

 

And it's clear AoS gets more complexe. Just compare the state of the game at launch and now. 2 different games. Not saying which is better or worse, but can't look over how much longer it gets to play a game.  I think a lot of the changes are quite unnecessary.

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basically there levels of rules.

base game, play with anything. 

alliances, bit restriction some more rules

matched, various additional rules

battalions more rules and restrictions 

allegiances more special rules and restrictions

 

this is why the game is good, the basic level of the game is so easy to get into and there is increasing levels of requirements and power curves where as you look at 40k and its. you need to know everything to be able to play a basic game. 

 

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18 minutes ago, Auticus said:

Auticus today 100% agrees with you sir.

Auticus 15 years ago 100% disagrees with you.

The difference in the two Autici is that 15 year ago Auticus competed heavily in tournaments, and part of being able to compete and place and win tournaments is to know all the rules.  Otherwise you will encounter something you did not know and thus be open to being exploited and failing to create a proper strategy (and lose).

I enjoy uncertainty in my games today because it makes my gaming replayability rather high... every game isn't the same.  However uncertainty and random is vile and repulsive in competitive games if one wants to seriously compete.

This is massively accurate. 

Playing games, shooting the ****** with your buddies? You probably just want basic-ish rules. But that's really up to your and your friends to discuss it and decide what that means to you. Does that mean no battalions? Does that mean no fancy Allegiance Abilities? Maybe it just means you ease into it over time so you add a bit more complexity as you get used to it.

But, on the other hand, there is a huge portion of the community that likes all the aspects and is ok at the current level of depth. The type of players who will look up every rule that comes out and memorize the most powerful ones they expect to see on the table, so they don't get caught by surprise.

Neither group is wrong, both are having fun in their own ways, which is pretty easy thanks to AoS's system. 

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Without the warscrolls, battalions, allegiance abilities etc, this game would be a tad on the boring side. If you had the pleasure of playing AoS on launch, can you imagine how dull the game would be if it was even less than even that?

In complete fairness, the game isn't asking you to remember everything like 7th edition 40k, its asking you to know 4 pages of basic rules, a further few FAQ tweeks and for you to know your own units.

Personally I think they have nailed the complexity and rules for AoS, which has been massively successful since the GHB. We can see it already influencing the 40k 8th edition stuff by the looks of it which goes to show you how popular the streamlining has been.

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As a semi-competitive AoS gamer, I'm pleased with the way GW has kept supplementing the base rules of AoS. The GH and new battletomes add depth to the game when it's played and make it more fun to fantasise about and build army lists.

I do understand how these layers might be perceived as 'bloat' but definitely agree with the gist of this thread. The beauty of AoS is that there's no need to play the extra rules if you don't want to.

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I love AoS, but it is too bloated for me to keep up with. If I made the gaming part of it more of a constant hobby, it would be okay. But I mostly just paint and at this point don't even read all the new artifacts/etc. that come out.

That said, I'm all for things that differentiate armies and units, and I'm all for tweaking the rules to be more clear and incorporating community feedback. 

As mentioned above, I'm definitely in the casual, just like to see painted models on the tabletop mindset. 15 years ago I was writing army lists every day and very into the stats side. Tough for any game to cater to both but I think AoS does a pretty good job at it.

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1 hour ago, Auticus said:

Auticus today 100% agrees with you sir.

Auticus 15 years ago 100% disagrees with you.

The difference in the two Autici is that 15 year ago Auticus competed heavily in tournaments, and part of being able to compete and place and win tournaments is to know all the rules.  Otherwise you will encounter something you did not know and thus be open to being exploited and failing to create a proper strategy (and lose).

I enjoy uncertainty in my games today because it makes my gaming replayability rather high... every game isn't the same.  However uncertainty and random is vile and repulsive in competitive games if one wants to seriously compete.

Myself from 5 years ago is identical to yourself from 15 years ago.  I was playing in the local tournaments in 5th edition 40K, and loved it.  Sure I studied up on the Codexes (Codices?) to avoid being cheated after a few experiences with cheaters, but I was loving playing in the tournaments.  Why?  Because the guy running them would come up with unique scenarios for everyone to play!  I got tired of the (then) 3 mission types to play.  Nobody in pickup games wanted to try anything that wasn't in the rulebook, and there wasn't any interest in the Planetstrike, Cities of Death, or Battle Missions books.  So these tournaments were the best way to add flavor to my games and try new ways of playing the game that I couldn't get anywhere else.  For some reason, it seemed that only a wargaming "offiicial" of the local area was allowed to come up with new and creative mission types.  And now, Age of Sigmar has dozens of mission types in the army books and main rules, plus the General's Handbook and Campaign books are all adding in more mission types as well, and no one bats an eye when coming up with custom rules, and it's awesome!

Since then, 7th edition 40K has driven me completely out of tournaments and into AoS, though that has much more to do with the local player base really taking the game seriously (which is fine).  To compete, I HAVE TO get a bunch of new books, new models, and chase the carrot-on-the-stick "best army choices" in order to play at an even level.  That forced complexity made the game a chore for me, while the modularity of Age of Sigmar give the options to play at any level.  It's okay to compete at that level, but it's just nor for me.  I am much more of a story teller and creative mind than a tactical, hardcore strategist.  And Age of Sigmar easily handles both types of players, and everyone in between.

(This is also why I am super excited about 8th edition 40K coming!)

27 minutes ago, polarbear said:

I love AoS, but it is too bloated for me to keep up with. If I made the gaming part of it more of a constant hobby, it would be okay. But I mostly just paint and at this point don't even read all the new artifacts/etc. that come out.

That said, I'm all for things that differentiate armies and units, and I'm all for tweaking the rules to be more clear and incorporating community feedback. 

As mentioned above, I'm definitely in the casual, just like to see painted models on the tabletop mindset. 15 years ago I was writing army lists every day and very into the stats side. Tough for any game to cater to both but I think AoS does a pretty good job at it.

And you don't have to keep up with it, that's what makes the game awesome!

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48 minutes ago, M J Gherardi said:

do understand how these layers might be perceived as 'bloat' but definitely agree with the gist of this thread. The beauty of AoS is that there's no need to play the extra rules if you don't want to.

I appreciate that position,  and don't mean this to be directed at you personally,  but I feel that this is a cop out.

While it is true that we can play as we see fit,  we pretty much have to go with the majority if we want to get games in - and the majority seem to prefer a post-GHB bloated version of the game.  Speaking just for my locals,  suggesting play without battalions,  points, rules of one, base to base, magic items, spell lores, and so on sends potential opponents running to the hills. 

So,  if I want a game of AoS at all, I need a lot more complexity than the 4-pager lets on. 

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1 minute ago, Sleboda said:

I appreciate that position,  and don't mean this to be directed at you personally,  but I feel that this is a cop out.

While it is true that we can play as we see fit,  we pretty much have to go with the majority if we want to get games in - and the majority seem to prefer a post-GHB bloated version of the game.  Speaking just for my locals,  suggesting play without battalions,  points, rules of one, base to base, magic items, spell lores, and so on sends potential opponents running to the hills. 

So,  if I want a game of AoS at all, I need a lot more complexity than the 4-pager lets on. 

No worries, no offence taken.

It's a shame you're in that position. I think I'm lucky in that I play regular games with a group that is happy to accommodate different styles of play.

Evidently this has informed my opinion on the rules!

This thread has got me thinking - even though I play regular games I'm still not able to keep up with or remember all the new rules. Maybe the battletome rules could do with some paring down? I'm all for more fluff in the books but 18 artifacts might be too much.

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The "bloat" IMHO came from Sylvaneth and after, when GW went back to the idea of Battletome as Codex and added special things like artefacts, special traits, special spell lores, etc.  that added an additional layer of complexity to the game and, intentionally or not, also led to what seems to be a fair bit of power creep with each new tome.  The original game, with just the grand alliance books and battletomes providing small additions (reworked scrolls or battalions) was fine.

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2 hours ago, Arkiham said:

basically there levels of rules.

base game, play with anything. 

alliances, bit restriction some more rules

matched, various additional rules

battalions more rules and restrictions 

allegiances more special rules and restrictions

 

this is why the game is good, the basic level of the game is so easy to get into and there is increasing levels of requirements and power curves where as you look at 40k and its. you need to know everything to be able to play a basic game. 

 

This is it. The game remains accessible but with as much complexity as you and your opponent choose to add.

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26 minutes ago, BunkhouseBuster said:

And you don't have to keep up with it, that's what makes the game awesome!

To be honest, you don't have to keep up with the rules in any game if you don't want to.  In that sense, when playing any game you can apply the rules you want, house-rule a few things and decided to ignore many others. 

But that's usually in a friendly/fun/casual environment (I only stick to that btw). If you play a tournament or a pick up game against some randoms, you will be inclined to use the "offical" rules because it serves as common ground between everyone. 

In that sense, the AoS experience isn't that much different than WFB, 40K, lotr, etc.... Sorry for being a killjoy :D , but the "that's what makes AoS amazing-attitude" seems a bit self-congrulatory to me. It's been like that since forever, it's nothing new!!

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3 minutes ago, VBS said:

To be honest, you don't have to keep up with the rules in any game if you don't want to.  In that sense, when playing any game you can apply the rules you want, house-rule a few things and decided to ignore many others. 

But that's usually in a friendly/fun/casual environment (I only stick to that btw). If you play a tournament or a pick up game against some randoms, you will be inclined to use the "offical" rules because it serves as common ground between everyone. 

In that sense, the AoS experience isn't that much different than WFB, 40K, lotr, etc.... Sorry for being a killjoy :D , but the "that's what makes AoS amazing-attitude" seems a bit self-congrulatory to me. It's been like that since forever, it's nothing new!!

You are absolutely correct, you don't have to use the rules in other games either.  But when you are trying to pick out certain special rules out of pages and pages of a thick, dense textbook of a rulebook, it becomes harder to do, and can lead to potential imbalances when something is taken out with looking at how it works with everything else.  For example, in 40K (7th edition), I could make the house-rule that Pistols no longer add the extra attack in combat when used with regular close combat weapons.  That would be a minor change, but it would greatly change the effectiveness of some units that count on that extra attack.  But that is taking something away from the base rules of the game.  When used to playing with the full rules, taking something out like that can be very confusing and game-altering.

I also stick to friendly/fun/casual games, because I am must more interested in relaxing and coming up with stories than getting prizes and trophies.  (In my book, just playing a game is a a victory in itself!)

I agree, tournaments should use a set of rules and stick with it for the day, because the nature of tournaments is the competitive side of the hobby, with prizes and trophies presented to the winners.  Whatever rules they use, they need to make sure that everyone knows what to play and what they are doing in each game.

And not to also be a killjoy, but the experiences of any wargame are going to be identical - moving models around and rolling dice to determine outcomes with the goal of having fun.  To me, it is the bottom-up modularity of Age of Sigmar's rules that is it's strength.  House ruling, or a more top-down approach of rules changing can fix some issues, but it can make the game confusing and a little bit more difficult to remember the changes.

I know Age of Sigmar has always played this same way as I am enjoying, but I didn't play it until recently.  I didn't play it until the General's Handbook came out, and I have been in love ever since.  I tried it out when it was first released, but it just didn't grab me; it was too simple for me.  The rules were fine, but it felt that something as missing.  The added-in complexity on top of the base rules provided by the General's Handbook (mostly just army construction guidelines, points costs, and battle missions) was just what I needed to really enjoy it.  Now that I have, I have been enjoying playing around with more and less of these very rules that made the game better for me, and I am greatly enjoying it.

I played a pickup game last night, and our pre-battle planning consisted of asking each other "how many points?",  "are we worried about Battlefield roles?", "what mission type?", and "are we using allegiance abilities and artifacts?".  It was never that easy in 40K and Warmahordes, or any other game I have played, and this is what I am talking about when I say that Age of Sigmar is awesome.

I do wish that I had kept on playing Age of Sigmar from the beginning.  But I am here now, and catching up quick! :)

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40 minutes ago, Sleboda said:

I appreciate that position,  and don't mean this to be directed at you personally,  but I feel that this is a cop out.

While it is true that we can play as we see fit,  we pretty much have to go with the majority if we want to get games in - and the majority seem to prefer a post-GHB bloated version of the game.  Speaking just for my locals,  suggesting play without battalions,  points, rules of one, base to base, magic items, spell lores, and so on sends potential opponents running to the hills. 

So,  if I want a game of AoS at all, I need a lot more complexity than the 4-pager lets on. 

This. Most people will use all layers of rules and it will be difficult to find players, that will play with less rules ("the rules are there, why should we not play with it?") - and the person, who wants to play with less rules has to defeat his position, not the person who wants to add rules (at least in my own experience)

so in theory it's possible to play with less rules, in reality most game will tend to be played with full rules.

I don't play often due to a lag of free time (family/work etc) and it's not easy to find people in the same situation, who just want to have a easy relaxing game with limited rules. People who play regularly and with  more time for a game against me tend to use all rules, so I have to use them too to have a game at all.

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1 hour ago, wayniac said:

The "bloat" IMHO came from Sylvaneth and after, when GW went back to the idea of Battletome as Codex and added special things like artefacts, special traits, special spell lores, etc.  that added an additional layer of complexity to the game and, intentionally or not, also led to what seems to be a fair bit of power creep with each new tome.  The original game, with just the grand alliance books and battletomes providing small additions (reworked scrolls or battalions) was fine.

I think AOS worked better gameplay wise when it was just warscrolls and battalions.

I get why players like the extra as it gives a lot of strategy to list building, but then again I do see most of the same artifacts keep popping up.

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2 minutes ago, chord said:

I think AOS worked better gameplay wise when it was just warscrolls and battalions.

I get why players like the extra as it gives a lot of strategy to list building, but then again I do see most of the same artifacts keep popping up.

I totally agree. I am really struggling to play Sylvaneth because I keep forgetting my extra spells, artefacts, etc. I think I need to get some card stock and make reference cards but my local GW said that is printing off copyrighted material and they won't let me bring those cards into the store.

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1 minute ago, Oppenheimer said:

I totally agree. I am really struggling to play Sylvaneth because I keep forgetting my extra spells, artefacts, etc. I think I need to get some card stock and make reference cards but my local GW said that is printing off copyrighted material and they won't let me bring those cards into the store.

Um, I'm pretty sure that you can do just that.  You would be printing off a personal copy of something that you purchased and own for personal use and not for-profit.  Plus if it is a rule that they have released to the public for free, then you should be able to legally do that without them being able to stop you.

I mean, this stuff was figured out in the 90s with VHS tapes.  Not for profit and just personal use?  Copying something you have purchased is legal.

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I feel honestly once we get a document or book or whatever (plz in next 2 months or less!) giving every faction unique allegiance, command and artifact abilities at the very least (lores if applicable or maybe an unbinding thingy for us midgets) then this will all even out. You may say MOAR RULES...bloat! But chatted with a local about this earlier and it came down to some having the full suite over the rest of us without a post-GHB tome.

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29 minutes ago, Veterannoob said:

I feel honestly once we get a document or book or whatever (plz in next 2 months or less!) giving every faction unique allegiance, command and artifact abilities at the very least (lores if applicable or maybe an unbinding thingy for us midgets) then this will all even out. You may say MOAR RULES...bloat! But chatted with a local about this earlier and it came down to some having the full suite over the rest of us without a post-GHB tome.

I don't see how creating more things will cause less bloat?

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