Sunday, March 4, 2012

Returning to the battlefield, part 2

This weekend I went to both Dagorhir and Amtgard. I had a pretty good time at Dagorhir, although unfortunately the "new angle on the action" had to be postponed due to technical difficulties.

My experience at Amtgard was far more mixed, however. The play-test had to be cancelled because the people who were supposed to be running the play-test were coming down from Wyoming, and it was too windy for them to make the drive down here (apparently part of the interstate was closed, because the wind was so powerful there was a risk of blowing cars off the road). Fortunately there wasn't much wind down in Fort Collins so we were able to do some fighting. Unfortunately there weren't that many people there, so all we could do was some ditch fighting (melee only). So that wasn't my favorite. Apparently this Amtgard group mostly doesn't like doing battlegames unless there are lots of people there, and they rarely get that many people except during the summer. But I did tell them about some of my ideas for some battlegames that you could do with fewer people, and they thought that my ideas could be good and that I should run for Champion so that I can put my ideas into practice (currently there is a bit of a "power vacuum" and they don't have any Champion at all).

I also got to look at some of the new 8.0 rule changes (even though I didn't get a chance to play with them) and there are lots that look interesting. Arrows are much less effective against armor, but archers also get lots of special arrows and powers (like "Reload", which lets them "go insubstantial" and go around the field unhindered to retrieve their spent arrows) that make up for that. Another big difference is that they are planning on removing most, if not all, of the abilities that require you to pretend not to notice things. For instance, in the current version there is a "Teleport" spell that allows you to move to somewhere else on the field, and you "cannot be noticed" while in transit. I strongly dislike these abilities for the following reasons:

1. There is too much room for interpretation regarding what is and is not permissible. (If you see someone teleport, and they are moving toward a game objective, are you allowed to go toward that game objective to defend it on the assumption that even though you didn't notice him, you could guess they are going for the objective? Or can you not go defend the objective at all?)

2. There is too much room for argument on whether a particular action was legal. (Did he go over there to get away from the teleporting guy, or because he was going to attack someone else?)

3. It's actually very difficult to behave exactly the same way as you would had you actually not noticed him. (If you hear someone behind you, you'll naturally start paying attention that direction just by instinct.)

4. It rarely leads to interesting game play. For me, at least, the interesting game play part of these types of "secret movement" mechanics is the guessing and keeping you on your toes: Where do you think he went? What could his plan be? how can you protect yourself from all the possibilities? But if you actually know where he went and just have to pretend not to, that whole "mind game" aspect is lost. The question becomes not "Can I anticipate what he will be doing" but rather "Can I justify doing what I want to do without reference to knowledge of where he is moving towards?"

In general the whole thing makes me think of those philosophical paradoxes about what it means to "intend" to do something (because you can't move somewhere for the purpose of responding to the teleport, but you can do it for some other reason). Which isn't necessarily what I want to think about in the heat of the action.

I'm really looking forward to Crusade of Legends next weekend. I think that they will do a lot more of the things that I actually like (with spellcasting and powers and such) and they are more story-based, so it's more likely there will be interesting things to write about on this blog.

1 comment:

Dan Mont said...

I agree with you Alex. Having to pretend not to notice what somebody is doing is really impossible. And getting to retrieve arrows is great; it should save you time in making lots of extra hours. And were these Amtgard people nicer than the last Amtgard group you went to in Colorado...or is it the same group but it just went better this time?