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Author Topic: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"  (Read 1207 times)

Offline Gabbi

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"Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« on: October 18, 2019, 11:30:03 AM »
I fear the title isn't very descriptive... What I would like to discuss are pros and cons of "closed" or "complete" miniature games with defined army lists and a line of associated models (Warhammer, Warmachine, Malifaux, etc.), and the so-called "generic rule-sets" that allow for more freedom: from choosing whatever model you like to represent a type of soldier/creature (i.e. Frostgrave, Broken Legions, OGaM) to those that allow the creation of model profiles from scratch (Song of Blades, Fistful of Lead, Ares, etc.).
This is for obvious reasons true for fantasy, sci-fi and the like. Historical games don't have this distinction.

To me, pros and cons of the first group are:
The army lists are ready made and often have a well-defined playstyle.
You can usually rely on some attention to playtesting and balancing.
If interested, the background is often more developed and the models have a good characterization, with often short stories dedicated to them in the pages of the books.
Each entry in the army list has its own specific model in the catalog, you can buy it and you are set.
It is often easier to find opponents.

On the other hand we are tied to the line of models produced by those who develop the game (except for the rare case of WH40K where exists a multitude of alternative makers).
If you like the game but not the models (or how they're engineered and divided in parts, or the material they're made of) the modeling aspect can be a pain (I for example hated to assemble the majority of my Warmachine models).
A company that publishes a game with this formula needs continuous revenue, which means a continuous flow of new releases. Keeping everything balanced definitely becomes a problem. Power creep is often an issue.
Another issue is that to keep new models flowing, all the factions tend to have access to all the possible options, losing a bit of the individuality they originally had. (i.e. everyone gets Endless Spells, including Khorne).
You can feel "forced" to buy a model that you dislike aesthetically just because it is strong, or synergic with other modles you want to field, or for some other reason it feels as "necessary", even in "for fun" games (i.e. the horrible Khorne lollipop bearer for AoS).

Pros and cons of the second group:
Freedom to create a band / army by choosing the features of the models it will be composed of, equip them and guide them in battle. This reaches its peak with "campaign" games.
Lower cost: often with a manual and some accessories you are good to go forever. If you have been playing for a few years it is possible that you have not to buy a single model because you already have enough stuff (now, probably you'll want to do it anyway, but it is a completely different story :D ).
Many of these rule-sets are adaptable to multiple variations of  a given setting, or even completely different settings: I call the bows laspistols, the magic psi powers, the zombies become alien parasites and ta-dah Frostgrave in space!
Another advantage, already mentioned, I can recycle models for more games.
But above all: I buy, paint and field whatever models I want/like!

On the other hand, these rulesets are often very generic and sometimes bland (so much so that I can change the name of things to change settings), they require extra work (which is also an advantage, but for someone it may not be).
Less differentiation between teams/armies (everyone has access to everything, it is difficult for someone to voluntarily self-limit) and they lack those "unique" models with a rule/characteristic/ability that nothing else have in the whole game.
They are more difficult to balance (I feel that any model building system -that is also usable without the aid of a computer- is prone to "break" if abused by a waac player).
Also, it is more difficult to find players. People seem morbidly attached to the "official" concept, and what the faqs say (understandable for Warmahordes, insane for AoS, where GW itself tells you on almost every page of GH to play whatever way you like).
They are games that -for the necessary preparatory phase- see an ideal fruition in a defined group of players who agree on the details. They are "club games".

As the years pass, I'm more and more annoyed by the restrictions imposed by "closed games". On the other hand, the general "dullness" of open rulesets often leave me unsatisfied. They are good for putting on the table those 10 random models that I bought and painted on a whim, just because I liked them, play a couple games, but then I quickly lose interest. SBH for example, which has at its core a really good mechanic that makes the game engaging, sees play two or three times a year. The bulk of my games is still played with "closed rulesets", albeit this attitude is slowly changing...

Sorry for the wall of text, for the inevitable typos and the non native grasp in the language.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 01:19:14 PM by Gabbi »

Offline Dentatus

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2019, 01:03:27 PM »
All of those are good and valid points, and I agree for the most part. I just figure the responsibility to enjoy my games falls on me, not the game makers. They're out to sell more miniatures, rules and accessories; I'm in this to have fun with friends over a table of toy soldiers.

Big hobby companies seem to get proprietary not only with their rules, miniatures, components, but also their players. It annoys the hell out of me. Fact is, I don't owe them anything beyond the $$$ I paid for the product.

Perhaps that's why I prefer open, generic rule sets - I can use whatever miniatures I want, borrow from whatever setting I like to create my own stories. I can enjoy a company's game without playing their "game" so to speak. 
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 01:05:35 PM by Dentatus »

Offline Gabbi

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2019, 01:18:04 PM »
Big hobby companies seem to get proprietary not only with their rules, miniatures, components, but also their players. It annoys the hell out of me. Fact is, I don't owe them anything beyond the $$$ I paid for the product.

Agree. This is often paired to the will from a part of players to own to a group. This is especially true for the younger players that often act too much like fans and not enough as customers.
This without negating the emotional link that everyone can grow for his preferred rulesets, periods, model lines, companies, authors...
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 01:29:26 PM by Gabbi »

Offline Mick_in_Switzerland

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2019, 01:36:02 PM »
I buy figures that I like and I play rules that I like.

I should say that I am much more driven as a collector and painter than as a player.
The gaming is a long way secondary to the modelling and painting.

Specifically, I have generic rules and a variety of figures for historical games
- Lion Rampant with Perry plastic figures, and some older metal figures from many sources.
- Rapid Fire with a variety of 28mm figures from Artizan, Crusader and many others.
- Force on Force with modern figures from Empress, Mongrel, and Spectre.

I do have some periods where I collect the rules ant the figures from the same source - usually because of film franchises.
- Games Workshop Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, but mostly bought several years ago.
- Star Wars Legion - I like the figures, but actually have not played the rules yet.

« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 01:58:32 PM by Mick_in_Switzerland »

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2019, 01:41:55 PM »
Good post and interesting question.

I prefer open, generic games by far. I'd go so far as to argue that they're typically better-designed games. And I think they tend to be more thoroughly playtested and better balanced too.

Obviously, these things are subjective. But if you were to try to argue objectively, I think you could go quite a long way by comparing Hordes of the Things with Warhammer. I first played HoT as an alternative to Warhammer 3rd edition and immediately found it far superior - just a better, smoother and more absorbing game all round. And quicker too: we could get through three or four HotT games in time that would not even guarantee a single Warhammer game played to completion.

Now, if you were trying to argue objectively, you could say that while Warhammer has been through sundry rule changes and editions since 1991 (when HotT came out), HotT has had a second edition and one or two rule changes that are so small as to be essentially first-edition errata (swapping the move rates of warband and spear elements and a couple of recommended base-depth changes). And - while it's less widely played than Warhammer/AoS - HotT is still going strong. It's lasted as a game in a way that 3rd edition hasn't (I know people still play it). I've got the 3rd-edition rules on my shelf, but I've never been tempted to play it with my kids; I think they'd find it incredibly slow and clumsy compared with HotT or Mayhem or Of Armies and Hordes. It just hasn't stood the test of time as well as its near-contemporary (I think HotT came four years later than 3rd edition).

Another vaguely objective test you might apply would be this: how many people used "closed" rules to play "open" games? I'm sure some do, but I think it's comparatively rare. But it's very common for people to use HotT or SoBH or Fistful of Lead or Rogue Planet (etc., etc.) to play in the Warhammer universe. That suggests both something unsatisfying about the "closed" rulesets and something compelling about the "open" ones. If the Warhammer/Warmachine/etc. rules were of similar calibre, I'd expect to find more evidence of people using them to play in other settings. As another example, I've seen lots of blog posts about people doing Gloranthan gaming with HotT, etc., but I don't recall ever seeing anyone decide to use Age of Sigmar or Warhammer 3rd for it. (It may well have happened!)

When you say "You can usually rely on some attention to playtesting and balancing" in "closed games", I'd disagree. I think they're more often inherently unbalanced. And if they're not to start with, they tend to become so as more and more gets added to the official army lists.

I don't really understand the point about being "tied to the line" of official miniatures for any particular game. When I was a kid, Warhammer armies tended to be full of Grenadier, Ral Partha and Prince August miniatures. That didn't affect the quality of the game in any way. I have played 40K Kill Team a few times recently, and I used a complete mix of manufacturers' miniatures without any problem whatsoever. I did use some GW ones, but they included converted lizardmen and skaven. So I see the argument about official miniatures as a sort of figleaf for "closed" rulesets. An orc's an orc, whoever makes it (unless it's a converted lizardman or a Ral Partha bugbear ...); either the rules stand up on their own or they don't.

I'm also a bit surprised by your finding "open" games dull. The most recent skirmish games I've played have been Fistful of Lead: Galactic Heroes. With its unpredictable activations and card-based special rules, that seemed more exciting to me than Kill Team (for example). What makes "closed" games more exciting?
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 02:05:20 PM by Hobgoblin »

Offline Gabbi

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2019, 02:09:05 PM »
Wow, lots of stuf to consider. Thanks for reply.

So, in no particular order:

Regarding HotT, I have a very limited experience with it (and DBA) but if I recall correctly, it relies on "classes" it doesn't have specific profiles for different kind of troops with similar roles.  i.e. a shooter is a shooter, be it a base of orcs with spears or elves with bows. I have to say that I'm not a big fan of this kind of game (armies feel too samey to me). Also, it's obviously easier to balance things if you have a handful of profiles, good for any army; so the comparison between HotT and WH seems a bit unfair to me.

When I wrote that "closed" games are usually more playtested and balanced I had in mind Warmachine, Malifaux and Infinity, games with an active publisher that puts efforts in keeping the game balanced for a healty tournament scene (with different degrees of success), more than GW (I have near zero experience with pre-AoS Warhammer).
To the other hand, I was thinking about SBH regarding unbalance. When I pointed out to Andrea one balnce problem with point costs calculation he replied that point costs system is there just to provide a guideline, and that the game should be balanced by scenarios. Or Fistful of Lead, where the abilities you can pick for your team and models don't even try to be balanced. Game is balanced by it's multiplayer nature. Moreover, SBH and FoL are games that are focused in telling a story, more than in creating a balanced fight where one armchair general can prove to be smarter than his opponent. So in the end it's a very relative issue.

You'll hardly find people using Warmachine rules to play other settings because there's no open formula to make your own troops (if such formula ever exists. I am of the idea that they get final point costs from playtesting) and the game is heavily focused on combos and competitive play. Tampering with the rules and unit profiles without a deep playtesting following would easily "break" the game.*
Its core mechanics are some of the best I have encountered, to me, but this is subject for another thread.
*Actually I feel that warmachine is in a delicate point: not everything is equally powerful, mostly due to the insane catalog of models, which count keeps increasing; and the strongly combo-oriented playstyle, so the very same model can be overpowered or near-useless depending to what other models is fielded with, making defining a single final point cost very hard.
But its playstyle is very rewarding, its attitude very in-your-face and playing a game rewarding as no generic ruleset I have experience of is to day.

Regarding the "dullness" I could have be used an improper term? I don't mean they're dull to play. FoL is a great game and a very exciting one. I'm in the process of making a handful of ready-to-play warbands to keep it ready to be played when there's the chance. Gaslands is like one of the most exciting games I played. Ever.
The "dullness" (feel free to provide a more proper term, I will be grateful) to me is the lack of differentiation between the various armies, where in "closed" games they're usually more characterized (they can have rules written exclusively for them).

One final word. These are just my -current- opinions (in some cases more feelings than opinions) I'm not saying one kind of game is overall better than the other. No interest in defending or attacking one or the other. I play both type of games. Just wanted to express these ideas and get opinons in return.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 04:00:36 PM by Gabbi »

Offline levied troop

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2019, 02:23:43 PM »
Not sure I even understand the question (unless itís solely about manufacturer-run competition games).  A rule-set is a rule-set and Iíll use whatever figures seem appropriate. Or cheaper.

All rule-sets are generic, regardless of what a few manufacturers might claim in their advertising.
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Offline Gabbi

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2019, 02:38:49 PM »
Right. This is a point discussed by Hobgoblin, too.

Sometimes the setting is so characteristic (i.e Malifaux) that if you replace models it will spoil it.
Don't misunderstand me: I'm a big fan of customization and love to see alt models, where their look and feel is appropriate. I also see no issue in WHF armies full of Greanadier models, but that was generic fantasy.

If you're talking Warmachine, for example, I bet you'll hardly find similar models for most of the catalog. So we're speaking of playing a band of generic Orcs in place of Farrows (hog-men), something I'm not a fan of - unless you come out with some VERY awesome idea.

Would my opponent be happy to play a Flintloque game against my army of fantasy orcs? Just let's say they're savage Britocs.

Also, I would not be overly happy to play someone who is using Grenadier models to represent his PanO in Infinity, as model style and proportions are very different.

Moreover, in games like Malifaux, Infinity or Warmachine, where models have usually very specific rules and abilities, and one model can have multiple of them, using the "official" model is crucial to allow your opponent to instantly know what model is what (in games where remembering every ability on every model is already something people struggle with).

But in the end, this is more tied to people who you play with. If it's a circle of friends, eveything's easier: everyone knows that you're using a repainted Dreamblade miniature as a Metal Gamin and everything's fine. But if you like to play the occasional in-store game with people you barely know, having the proper models makes things easier for everyone.
I don't mean I'm happy with it (I've listed this as a "con" in first post),  but if you play a game with an associated line of models, don't be surprised if people expect that you use those models (of course, exceptions exists, i.e. Frostgrave).
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 02:55:06 PM by Gabbi »

Offline levied troop

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2019, 03:22:21 PM »
Thanks for the explanation, it clarifies the argument.  I think generally figures should look broadly as the rules say, but one generic pulse rifle looks much like any specific laser cannon. I  suspect I wonít be playing with any of the people you describe :)

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2019, 04:18:34 PM »

Regarding HotT, I have a very limited experience with it (and DBA) but if I recall correctly, it relies on "classes" it doesn't have specific profiles for different kind of troops with similar roles.  i.e. a shooter is a shooter, be it a base of orcs with spears or elves with bows. I have to say that I'm not a big fan of this kind of game (armies feel too samey to me, and the ruleset feels overall "lazy"). Also, it's obviously easier to balance things if you have a handful of profiles, good for any army; so the comparison between HotT and WH seems a bit unfair to me.

That's certainly true about balance - and I think it's why HotT is such a well-balanced game. And yes, it does rely on classes.

But I don't think the armies tend to be samey; I've played in a couple of HotT tournaments, and the armies I faced were all very different from each other. The point, I think, is that the flavour and differentiation comes from the combination of element types rather than the element types themselves. So, an orc army consisting mainly of hordes and riders but with a blade general will feel very different from another orc army consisting of warbands, beasts and flyers with a magician general. The approach to terrain will be different, as will the tactics and the uses to which command points are put. And, as there are 20 unit types, you can easily field opposing armies that have none of the same units in common.

It's also worth noting that games that superficially distinguish between (e.g.) orc spearmen and elf spearmen can in fact be mathematically identical (pretty sure this happens in Warhammer, as when high toughness on one side offsets high weapon skill on the other, so that the odds end up the same).

The other thing that's worth noting about HotT is that while you can field orc archers as shooters, you can also field them as hordes (or warbands). So Tolkien's Uruk-hai (who are armed with bows) would probably be warbands, while smaller northern orcs might be hordes (even though they're all armed with bows). The game's sufficiently 'zoomed out' that missile combat is often just factored into melee. Even with shooters, bow range is only 8 cm in 28mm scale.

When I wrote that "closed" games are usually more playtested and balanced I had in mind Warmachine, Malifaux and Infinity, games with an active publisher that puts efforts in keeping the game balanced for a healty tournament scene (with different degrees of success), more than GW (I have near zero experience with pre-AoS Warhammer).
To the other hand, I was thinking about SBH regarding unbalance. When I pointed out to Andrea one balnce problem with point costs calculation he replied that point costs system is there just to provide a guideline, and that the game should be balanced by scenarios. Or Fistful of Lead, where the abilities you can pick for your team and models don't even try to be balanced. Game is balanced by it's multiplayer nature. Moreover, SBH and FoL are games that are focused in telling a story, more than in creating a balanced fight where one armchair general can prove to be smarter than his opponent. So in the end it's a very relative issue.

Interesting - and I confess I've never played Warmachine, Malifaux or Infinity. You're right about SBH - but surely the point there is that two 300-point warbands will usually give you a nicely balanced game unless someone's actively trying to find and exploit loopholes (in which case, why play with them?). I often use the points system in SBH to create unbalanced games - e.g. 500 points of Q2, C3 elite troops against 1,500 points of low-quality monsters with leaders, as those are lots of fun.

Regarding the "dullness" I could have be used an improper term? I don't mean they're dull to play. FoL is a great game and a very exciting one. I'm in the process of making a handful of ready-to-play warband to keep it ready to be played when there's the chance. Gaslands is like one of the most exciting games I played. Ever.
 The "dullness" (feel free to provide a more proper term, I will be grateful) to me is the lack of differentiation between the various armies, where in "closed" games they're usually more charachterized (they can have rules written exclusively for them).

Maybe "blandness"? But I don't quite see it, given the vast range of traits in SBH and FoL. For example, a Q3, C3 figure with Savage, Big, Heavy Armour and Leader is entirely different from one with the same stats but Hero, Combat Master and Free Disengage. Or Q3, C3, Magic User, Mounted, Long Move, Steadfast. And so on. It's just up to the players to come up with interesting combinations.

Offline Dentatus

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2019, 04:42:24 PM »
As was stated in the first post, armies in "closed" systems tend to homogenize over time,  regardless of their aesthetics or initial play style, or succumb to power-creep. It strikes me they grow bland much faster than generic systems that provide a variety of options.

There are six regulars in our group and we could come up with very different war bands using the ASOBH rules - even if we had identical sets of miniatures.

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2019, 04:44:45 PM »
Sometimes the setting is so characteristic (i.e Malifaux) that if you replace models it will spoil it.
Don't misunderstand me: I'm a big fan of customization and love to see alt models, where their look and feel is appropriate. I also see no issue in WHF armies full of Greanadier models, but that was generic fantasy.

If you're talking Warmachine, for example, I bet you'll hardly find similar models for most of the catalog. So we're speaking of playing a band of generic Orcs in place of Farrows (hog-men), something I'm not a fan of - unless you come out with some VERY awesome idea.

I just looked at the Farrows, and they seem to be be bulky, ugly tusked humanoids with cleavers and bones (or bone weapons). If someone were to use GW savage orcs with the same gear, what exactly would bother you? I mean, they're kind of the same thing. If the savage orcs were nicely painted, wouldn't you prefer those over badly painted (or unpainted!) Farrows? And what if someone used pig-faced orcs? I mean, I'd think it very odd if someone were to object to the Farrows being used as orcs!

Would my opponent be happy to play a Flintloque game against my army of fantasy orcs? Just let's say they're savage Britocs.

Isn't there a slightly different issue here ("what you see is what you get" or WYSIWYG)? If your orcs were statted for Flintloque with swords and shields and so on, rather than muskets, why do you think your opponent would mind? Wouldn't it make for quite a good game? I always find low-tech vs high-tech games great (so long as the low-tech side has the numbers!).

Also, I would not be overly happy to play someone who is using Grenadier models to represent his PanO in Infinity, as model style and proportions are very different.

But what if those Grenadier models were fully WYSIWYG? With suitable armour and weapons for the game profile? I mean, a high-tech rifle's a high-tech rifle, just as a sword's as sword, no? I can understand annoyance if it's not clear what each person has, but if the model matches the profile, then what's the problem? Why do matching styles of figure matter in Infinity but not in SBH? I honestly can't see why they should.

Moreover, in games like Malifaux, Infinity or Warmachine, where models have usually very specific rules and abilities, and one model can have multiple of them, using the "official" model is crucial to allow your opponent to instantly know what model is what (in games where remembering every ability on every model is already something people struggle with).

I can see your point here a little more. Again, though, isn't it just a WYSIWYG issue? Last year, I played a game of GW's Shadespire using 1980s ogres as Steelheart's Champions (Sigmarines). As the ogres had roughly equivalent weapons, they could all be easily identified, so there was no problem - and indeed it helped, as someone else was also playing Steelheart's Champions with the official figures (it was a four-player game).

For example, the Infinity Pan-O figures seem largely to have the same sort of rifle and some sort of hard armour. I looked at them and immediately though that I could use GW Eldar as proxies, as they have both rifle-type weapons and hard armour. The leader with a (power?) sword would be easy to proxy too. So I wonder: isn't this just more about habit with games with official miniature lines? I can't see that it makes much difference whether you use Eldar profiles for your Pan-O figures in Warhammer, or Pan-O profiles for your Eldar figures in Infinity - so long as it's clear to everyone. And I can't see how "shuriken catapult = pulse rifle" could be unclear to anyone.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that there's an element of the emperor's new clothes about the assumption that you need certain figures for certain games. When we play Mutants and Death Ray Guns with Eldar, they get ablative armour and laser rifles on their profiles, and no one worries that they really have Aspect armour (I didn't know that's what it's called until googling it just now!) and shuriken catapults. And the only difference I can see between MDRG and Infinity is that the latter has official miniatures.

I do think that WYSIWYG is a very good principle, though - so I'd baulk at a shuriken pistol being classed as a laser rifle. But whether a bolter is a sub-machine gun or an assault rifle doesn't seem a problem to me as long as it's established before the game starts.

Anyway, great discussion - especially for a gloomy Friday afternoon!
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 04:46:44 PM by Hobgoblin »

Offline Gabbi

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2019, 06:32:11 PM »
Wow, lots more to consider.

First of all, you're making me willing to give HotT a second chance, that's not good: I already have too many projects running :D

Regarding the "blandness", I agree that players can come with widely different armies/warbands, but games like Warmachine can have special rules written for that specific model or factions. Rules that break the normal flow of the game and that no other faction has.
You can achieve something similar in "generic" rulesets, but, again, you have to play with a defined group that agrees on things like "nobody besides the guy who plays the alien bugs can take the regeneration perk, nobody but the players who plays the space marines can take heavy armor and plasma weapons" and so on...
OR you can pre-made army lists following your vision or a book/movie background for people to use. That's what I'm currently doing with FoL/GH: I already have a handful of painted Space Marines, Space Orcs, Tyranids, Mantic's Forge Fathers, plus models for a squad of Space Dinos (Reaper Bones) that I have yet to clean and base before painting. Creating every model profile myself, I can decide to characterize warbands as I see fit (i.e. Forge Fathers will be all slow).
But I hardly see that a player, in an environment where each player would have access to the ruleset and will be free to create his own warband, would deliberately handicap himself by restricting choices.

Regarding the Farrow-Orcs debate, sure they're similar, but Immoren (Warmachine setting) doesn't have orcs, so they will break the magic. As fantasy orcs in Flintloque would break the quasi-napoleonic setting, with chainmail and weapons built out of bones. It's not a wysiwyg issue (pretending savage orcs are armed with rifles would make things worse, of course), it's a matter of wanting to play in a given setting. Would you like to have the goofy AoS orcs in a LotR game? Or would you consider to play against an army of greek hoplites equipped with roman shields?

Regarding the painted vs unpainted, it's not an easy question. Of course I prefer painted, but how much you (me, others) are willing to stretch to get painted models? Orcs in place of Farrows seems a reasonably trade to play against a fully painted army. But what about Elves? And Space Marines? (of course I'm exaggerating to get to the point).

Regarding the "why do matching styles of figure matter in Infinity but not in SBH?" question, I never said it doesn't. Infinity has, along its rules, a defined look that I like and I would like it is kept in my games, in SBH we can choose whatever models we like, but I'd like there will be some consistency among them. I don't see me playing a realistic proportioined warband against a "chibi" one anytime soon.

Regarding your warband in WH:U, there's quite some difference in proxying 3 models, that have different stats but near no special rules (in Shadespire most models have none and some have just one) or in Warmachine where you field dozens of models and even the lowliest of trooper has a couple. Again, it's a matter of who play with. In may group we have some proxy / alt model, but they are few, we play often together and know these. So it's not an issue. A Warmachine army of proxy models would be a nightmare to play against.
For Shadespire I've seen warbands of beastmen used to proxy Bloodreavers, and Nurgle to proxy Stormcast. They're fine. Even more they're cool.

Look, it's not even a matter of what I like/accept. I'm fine with proxy. If someone would come up with an entire army for Warmachine where every model is replaced with something else and everything is coherent within the army and each model is easily recognizable (i.e. same armament, same size/proportion, same "nature" i.e. I can tell apart warjacks from troops) I would gladly play against it.
But my point is that "closed games" are usually played using the dedicated models, people expect that everyone do it.
This doesn't mean that you cannot use your Stormcasts to proxy a Khador army, no Privateer Press staff member will came to your place to stop you, it's just that usually when you buy into a "complete game" you're willing to use official models for most of the profiles. Often models are a major selling point.

Regarding the Emperor's New Clothes part... I don't see the point. I mean I agree with you. I myself use models across different games, and change not only equipment: what in a game is a rat-ogre, in another could be a huge wasteland mutant.
Regarding the differences between MDRG and Infinity, Infinity has more "granularity". More different kind of weapons for example, and each one has a different and well defined look (as for bolters, shuriken pistols or plasma weapons in 40K). So using official models make easier to tell at a glance what a model is armed with.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 07:41:01 PM by Gabbi »

Offline Dentatus

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2019, 11:03:46 PM »
I have no problem holding to a specific game-verse aesthetic. I want a consistent look and feel to my games. (I also insist on painted miniatures and terrain) Then again, I'm always delighted when someone achieves that visual consistency and tone using a variety of seemingly disparate models. Or scratch-builds "unofficial", but compatible terrain. I recall someone modding Frostgrave to an Arabian-style desert setting. I thought that was fantastic. It captured my attention way more than the 'Frozen City' backdrop.  Then there was the HoTT army (DBA maybe?) made entirely out of rocks with painted faces.     

Regarding 'Special Faction-Specific Rules': It's only a matter of time before Power Creep sets in, right? To keep the factions competitive and sell more and more of an ever expanding miniature range, eventually every army either gets a unit/leader/monster with a parallel ability, or some counter-feat that negates the opponent's special ability. This arms race grows exponentially until the first edition rules break under the weight of exceptions and the company forces a reboot with cool new 2nd edition. Oh and some snazzy new models/factions/leaders to go along with it. Lather - Rinse - Repeat.

I agree no one with access to a rule set would deliberately handicap themselves - in a competitive setting. But that's not the only kind of game, and even then players accept restrictions that are consistent with their models/faction. You choose Dwarves/Forge Fathers, a reasonable player expects they'll all be slow. That's more like flavoring than a hindrance.

I know what you mean when you say 'complete' games, but they never really are. There's always another 'latest and greatest, special must-have hotness' coming down the pike. To me, that's why most of the big 'closed' systems come off as proprietary, commercial, and competitive, and despite the flash and fanfare, ultimately tedious. I gave up on WM years ago because every battle had devolved into a race to pop the Feat, every force composition a contest of wallets for the newest special model/ability.

Oddly enough, I keep expanding my miniature and terrain collection because of the open, generic systems. With them, there's always room to create a new war band, incorporate a different setting, come up with an unconventional but consistent army composition. I really enjoy the opportunities they afford.     

*whew* I'll shut up now.

Offline levied troop

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Re: "Generic" rulesets vs "complete games"
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2019, 07:21:17 AM »
Would you like to have the goofy AoS orcs in a LotR game?.

As long as they were painted green, why not? :)