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theIronSoldier

Make An New Official Rulebook Or Quickstart Rules!

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Lets be honest:

The rules for Dystopian Wars are in total disarray.

The basic outline is in place, and we can all fumble our way through some games if a healthy amount of house rules are in place and everyone is ready to compromise. Even still, every game I have played as been lengthened by an hour or more as we try to sort out what exactly the rulebook means.

But one read-through the current material is enough to know that something is terribly wrong with the "official" literature.

Missing clarification, bizarre organization, details hidden in fluffy sidebars, and mass confusion in the world of online answers... we could go on and on...

Spartan Games: PLEASE make a fluff-free, easy-to-reference rulebook for this wonderful game that isn't dependent on buying a new errata sheet with every new scenario book, or combing pages of convoluted forum arguments about whose house-rule is the most functional.

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Lets be honest:

The rules for Dystopian Wars are in total disarray.

The basic outline is in place, and we can all fumble our way through some games if a healthy amount of house rules are in place and everyone is ready to compromise. Even still, every game I have played as been lengthened by an hour or more as we try to sort out what exactly the rulebook means.

But one read-through the current material is enough to know that something is terribly wrong with the "official" literature.

Missing clarification, bizarre organization, details hidden in fluffy sidebars, and mass confusion in the world of online answers... we could go on and on...

Spartan Games: PLEASE make a fluff-free, easy-to-reference rulebook for this wonderful game that isn't dependent on buying a new errata sheet with every new scenario book, or combing pages of convoluted forum arguments about whose house-rule is the most functional.

I feel your pain brother... I've already ranted about this on other threads.....us sheep will have to continue blindly following the herd.

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Guest Delboy

All points made by folks here are pretty valid.

With the game broadening out and more and more diverse nations and rules being included, there is a real danger of overload.

Its something the testers have talked extensively about.

MARs provide an excellent method for creating differentiation within a reasonably restrictive vessel-stat distribution, but with more and more nations in the pipeline, its true that including even more MARs to make these vessels appear and play in a definite playstyle is less accessible to both new and older players alike.

We have been looking recently at both MAR use and Game Card use and a means of creating fleet differentiation and should hopefully have something concrete to submit to Spartan soon.

Its nice to see other members thinking along the same lines as we are...... . :unsure: ...otherwise all our suggestions for where D-Wars could travel might seem a bit of a seismic gaming shift too far.....

I'll keep folks posted.

Delboy

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As much as I would like a new updated rule book, I would prefer to wait until the last of the major powers(Ott, Ital and Chinese????) are in the mix.

Hopefully we will then have 99.99% of the rules and how they interact sorted out.

The game is very playable as it is, its just not perfect. If anyone can list a game system that is almost perfect, I would be surprized.

We can all think of game systems that have had many many rewrites, modifications and FAQ's that totally change the way the rules were written.

Armies that rule the world in edition 3 and are wet sponges in edition 4 (depending on the mood of the author at the time or perhaps their favourites).

PS I'm not just talking about GW. This has been going on for longer than they have been arround.

BE HAPPY....the game is developing, growing and expanding.

We can now atleast help with the development of a game we love.

You can still buy the rule book and both campaign supplements for less that the cost of the basic book from GW.

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One approach would be to do periodic updates to the 1.1 Errata and to the exhaustive list of MARs document. Perhaps 3x per year? (2x would probably be enough.) And then, once the Chinese, Italians, Ottomans, Russians, and Covenant are complete, do rulebook 1.2 with those five nations in the back. Reprint 1.1 with the original four nations but with all errata incorporated.

Same rules (errata incorporated++) in both. Less fluff in 1.2 (to make room for five nations of stat pages).

++But whatever else is done: chase the gremlins out of the LOS diagrams and print the Fully Blocked diagram with the three red dots where it belongs.

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They could just ask us the fans to make the MAR pdf to start with.

Something I've realized is there are now a very large number of versions of the DW rules:

- Rulebook v1.0, hopefully no one still plays this

-Rulebook v1.0 and the update booklet, a few people on this who understandably don't want to have to pay because spartan had issues with supplying a useful rulebook first time round, or just can't afford it.

-Rulebook v1.1, I guess most players would describe themselves as using this version, I would have expected this and the version before to be the same but they aren't which leads to fun on the forms.

-Any of the versions above with some to all of hurricane season thrown in

-Any of the versions above with some to all of storm of steel thrown in

-Any of the versions above with some to all of hurricane season and some to all of storm of steel thrown in

So DW now has six different rule sets, we can discount v1.0 but that still leaves us with five and that isn't a situation that should continue.

Entire 'factions' such as the Canadians being in their own book makes sense to me but you need storm of steel to field the lord hood and that makes no sense to me at all.

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With the game broadening out and more and more diverse nations and rules being included, there is a real danger of overload.

The problem is with the CORE RULES, not minor additions (MAR's etc.)

I am sure the play-testers and staff of Spartan know exactly how to play DW. The problem is they haven't told the rest of us in a clear, straightforward manner.

Have you ever been to a game group where the person explaining the rules to a new game can't put things in order and keeps contradicting themselves? Its incredibly frustrating, even if you know the game is really worth playing. This is exactly what using the rule book is like.

The fact that a veteran player can say this is exactly my point

++But whatever else is done: chase the gremlins out of the LOS diagrams and print the Fully Blocked diagram with the three red dots where it belongs.

How can LOS still be confusing?! Its LOS! Its totally basic to every wargame ever made. And yet every single game I have played has ground to a halt while we try to figure out what all those conflicting diagrams really mean!

I am fairly certain that someone could produce a clear, tidy CORE rulebook for this game that is under 20-30 pages long. What I (and I am sure many other players at this point) would like is something like that.

- Make it a PDF (at least available free for those of us who already bought a rulebook)

- Make it fluff free (I love the back story, but not while trying to actually play)

- Make it well organized (explain everything in the right order, keeping similar topics together)

- Make it with a totally comprehensive index

- Make it with quickstart rules for introducing new players

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Guest Delboy

The problem is with the CORE RULES, not minor additions (MAR's etc.)

I am sure the play-testers and staff of Spartan know exactly how to play DW. The problem is they haven't told the tell the rest of us in a clear, straightforward manner.

Have you ever been to a game group where the person explaining the rules to a new game can't put things in order and keeps contradicting themselves? Its incredibly frustrating, even if you know the game is really worth playing. This is exactly what using the rule book is like.

The fact that a veteran player can say this is exactly my point

For the most part I agree with most of the comment on this thread and with your concerns in particular. Remember I'm a Vanguard too, and so run gaming events including demos every week. Teaching someone D-Wars is a real skill as the rules can seem pretty daunting and complex.

I was merely commenting on the general state of play regarding MARs and their evolution over the last year and a half, along with the challenges of rules design that the present release schedule dictates.

Regarding rulebook layout - I'm certain that plans are afoot regarding a pooling of knowledge (because Andy and I talked about it last month). Personally I'm in favour of a General MAR Amnesty where ALL model assigned rules are presented as a pdf for folks to download and keep as a point of reference.

Regarding a quickplay set, I have to be honest, I'm not really a fan of that idea, as I've always felt that D-Wars was a game you should learn more and more about as you play. Its complex and has lots of nuances that take long-term gameplay to get right. That said, a streamlined rulebook would help considerably in breaking down the gaming barriers that the game's complexity might create in new-starts. So I will think about it and I've no doubt that the folks at Spartan Towers will do the same.....getting more people to play the game is obviously one of our core aims.

Many thanks,

Delboy.

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They could just ask us the fans to make the MAR pdf to start with.

Something I've realized is there are now a very large number of versions of the DW rules:

- Rulebook v1.0, hopefully no one still plays this

-Rulebook v1.0 and the update booklet, a few people on this who understandably don't want to have to pay because spartan had issues with supplying a useful rulebook first time round, or just can't afford it.

-Rulebook v1.1, I guess most players would describe themselves as using this version, I would have expected this and the version before to be the same but they aren't which leads to fun on the forms.

-Any of the versions above with some to all of hurricane season thrown in

-Any of the versions above with some to all of storm of steel thrown in

-Any of the versions above with some to all of hurricane season and some to all of storm of steel thrown in

So DW now has six different rule sets, we can discount v1.0 but that still leaves us with five and that isn't a situation that should continue.

Entire 'factions' such as the Canadians being in their own book makes sense to me but you need storm of steel to field the lord hood and that makes no sense to me at all.

I have collated all of the current rules errata from spartan, and what has been clarified in SoS and the fourm. Along with an FAQ.

Like for example, i added the Heat Lance/Lancette interaction with Ablative Armour into a French FAQ.

I also replaced Combat Drops wording to what it really should be.

But its all in 1 PDF.

That took me a couple of hours to make.

I have asked spartan if i can post it on the forum as i used the errata they made for a lot of it.

Theres still a lot more i could add to the FAQ section, but i dont remember many of the frequently asked questions on the forum.

Even so. It took me a few hours to make a PDF. Not months. Hours. Spartan could have easily done this themselves.

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The real problem with the rules is that the rulebook is a worse mess than my campus after a two-days long country-wide party. There's rules for everything, everywhere. There's a logic behind it (if action B has an influence in phase A, said influence is described in phase A's part) but it's not the logic of someone who wants to know the rules (if action B has an influence in phase A, said influence is described in action B's part).

That's the main reason behind why we need a detailed tactica on boarding for people to get it. Since most actions done in a turn have an importance in the boarding phase, the boarding chapter of the rulebook has rules for everything and their mothers, with logical order kept to the bare minimum.

The point on MAR being online is nice, but a truly tidy and comprehensive rulebooklet is so much more needed. I've been to tournaments where no one, not even the host, understood LoS or torpedoes.

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Its complex and has lots of nuances that take long-term gameplay to get right.

No. It isn't complex, it's complicated.

Something is complex when it has a large volume of rules producing a large volume of effects. Something is complicated when it has a large volume of rules producing a small volume of effects. Complicated is the opposite of Elegant, and that's where DW lives. It's a beer and pretzels game which is buried under mountains of cruft, one-off rules, poorly defined and incoherently worded explanations, rules loopholes, and all manner and variety of errata.

There are all kinds of problems with the core rules. The LOS/LOF rules are incoherent and ridiculous, and I can only assume that nobody outside of Spartan's main office actually uses them correctly, either because they can't be bothered and/or they are unable to determine, by reading the rules, how they are supposed to be used (or they're doing it wrong and are unaware of it, which I wouldn't be surprised to find was the most common case). There are terrible rule decisions all over - snaking, linking/splitting fire. There are loopholes galore due to poorly worded rule definitions. Every rule has an exception, usually many exceptions, usually for no apparent reason (Success is always 4+ except all the times it's not, and if you're trying to repair then it's 1-3?). The whole thing is badly ordered, poorly explained, and for the love of all that is holy, where is the index?

On top of that, there are layers of errata, of dubious legality; Spartan has inexplicably put a section in SoS which explicitly states that all of its errata is optional. I mean, I don't know what to say about that. There are rules included in odd places in campaign books, online downloads, and fleet guides that only come in fleet boxes. New models are released for which there aren't any official rules to be had, anywhere.

Then there's the MARs. A proliferation of named special rules is a crutch of bad game design. The whole point of a named special rule that's defined in a rulebook is that you're trading off the cost to your player to remember the rule in exchange for not having to define the rule on the card. This is obviously limited by the number of rules that a player can remember, and therefore should be used for rules which are widely employed, to get the maximum benefit from that cost. I don't think there's a magic number on how many there should be, but 15-20 is probably the outer bounds. I don't even want to think about how many DW has; I mean, just trivial variations on "this model is good at boarding" takes up four or five. There actually are MARs that are only used on one or two models.

There were way too many MARs in the 1.0 rulebook and Spartan has been adding them with a firehose ever since. Right now there are way, way, WAY too many, and they're adding more almost with every model release. The way that special rules are handled, how many special rules are doled out, and how information is presented on rule cards needs to be redone from the ground up. I really wonder how people manage with the original cards; I assume they forget about a lot of the MARs, which in itself is no bad thing, as the game works perfectly fine without most of them, and that ought to tell you something.

These are major, systemic problems. The rules have always been the weak point of DW. I can't count how many reviews I've read that say, interesting game, awesome models, shame about the rules. Spartan is in the business of selling models so it's in their best interest to keep turning the crank and I'm fine with that. But they've never been good at the rules thing and sooner or later people are going to stop waiting for them to figure it out.

So, tl;dr: Players coming up with gaming aids is only going to work if the core mechanics are sound. They aren't.

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You Look Like A Nail........nailed it. I to love the background and the models but the rules problems have got to be addressed. I've lost 3/4 of our local players becuase of the way new model rules are released. I would like at least one person from Spartan to address this issue. Not saying anything is just making resentment grow. They need to man up and admit there is a problem and that it's being worked on or tell us to get stuffed and let us move on.

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I understand where Spartan's side on the business end. They probably have a small warehouse full of printed materials that are basically worthless if we don't need them.

The problem is they don't do what they are supposed to.

A set of quickstart rules could start the fix, though.

It would be very possible to iron out all the CORE kinks with a simple rule set, while still being able to sell big books for the campaign/fluff.

Build it around a naval fleet box, and make it playable in an hour or so

- Player 1: Battleship, some frigates

- Player 2: x3 Cruisers, some frigates

Play area: roughly 2sq feet (standard table, but enough for at least 3 range bands)

Put a couple of coffee mugs in the middle for terrain to create LOS, movement issues

Starting from this you could teach every CORE aspect of the game, ESPECIALLY the stuff everyone is still arguing about

- Activation

- Movement

- LOS

- Combat Sequence

- Damage

- Etc.

If this were available as a free PDF it would settle a lot of existing issues AND be a great tool for introducing new players.

It would be enough to get people playing, solve the most common problems, and leave room for wanting more info.

Heck you could include them in the Fleet Boxes (plus the nation specific MARs) and start advertising the game as playable straight-out-of-the-box... It might actually get MORE sales in the long run if people knew they could play right away and that the rule situation was sorted.

Plus, if you gave it the official endorsement it could be used to trump anything screwed up in the printed material.

AND if you crowd-sourced it, you could have this up and available before the end of the week. Think about what that would do for Christmas sales!!!

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To add to that, some MARs are just duplicates.

For example, Air Hunter and Water Hunter. Both of these do the same thing, and the list of MARs can be condensed if they just made one MAR for both of these.

It could be called "Hunter Of (condition, weapon)"

and the description could be "Gives a +1 bonus when attacking or counterattacking a model in the listed condition" the conditions being submerged and obscured of course.

Another example would be quick dive and swift asent.

There are some rules they could condense and combine.

Just my 2p.

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:blink: I did not intend to kick up such a dust storm by commenting about an updated Comprehensive Model Assigned Rule list....

The lack of a master MAR list is simply incomprehensible.

4x to Nail's observations on LoS/LoF & 4+ always being a success, except...

Line of Sight would be pretty clear if the correct diagram was mated up with the correct caption.

... if you crowd-sourced it, you could have this up and available before the end of the week. Think about what that would do for Christmas sales!!!

There is something useful we could do as a crowd sourcing project. The rules questions section is not very searchable using the forum's own search function. But it could be. It just needs keywords. If each thread had a post added to it with a string of searchable keywords that thoroughly represented what was covered in the thread that would help a lot. Obviously we could not do the locked threads - but we could get the rest.

The key to making it work is to have a unique spelling used only in the indexing post. It could be "KEYWRDS" or "RULEDEX" and its function would be to limit the search only to threads that had been carefully keyworded. A keyword post might look like this:

RULEDEX, mines, bombs, bombing, targeting, mine, bomb, linking, dropping.

All the keywords would need to exceed the minimum length for search terms (I think it is four characters minimum). In the search field somebody wanting info on dropping mines as bombs could enter: "ruledex bombing mines" and the relevant thread should be in the first few results.

Locked threads: not sure what to do with those. Some action by Spartan would be needed and they probably have enough on their plate ATM dealing with Christmas and getting the gallery functional again.

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@Pendrake: There is nothing wrong with having a better online database, but the fact is as long as there isn't a functional, paper set of rules the problem isn't solved.

What do we tell new players? "You have to go online to find that rule.... " or "Yeah, spend 60 quid on rulebooks that you basically need a constant connection to the internet to use."

Are we supposed to have a laptop handy at every game so that we can paw through a page of search results to find... a bunch of forum goon arguments?

That sounds like more time wasted than less.

I hope Spartan Games is hearing this loud and clear: Awesome game, we want more people to play, and your company to make you all enough money to be happy, BUT WE NEED A SINGLE FUNCTIONAL RULEBOOK

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@Pendrake: There is nothing wrong with having a better online database, but the fact is as long as there isn't a functional, paper set of rules the problem isn't solved.

...

Are we supposed to have a laptop handy at every game so that we can paw through a page of search results to find... a bunch of forum goon arguments?

...

That sounds like more time wasted than less.

...

At the moment Spartan's problems are: 1) the online forum is not admitting or will not admit new members 2) the online gallery is not allowing new pictures to be added or old ones to be found 3) fulfilling all Christmas orders by Christmas.

And there are assuredly more I'm not privy to.

Long term: How does Spartan balance having a game that is dynamically expanding and at the same time having a single, definitive paper rulebook?

In order to expand the game:

  • they will add new factions,
  • those factions will add some new rules,
  • some of those new rules no one at Spartan has yet thought of . . .

Getting the existing forum based rules questions indexed better might even help Spartan find clarifications they have issued that they'd want to incorporate in the improved book you are hoping for.

Looking to the future a bit: (This is not true of cave dwellers like me but...) all the Kool Kidz at the games stores have iGadgetry or Tablets and the stores have WiFi hotspots and this will only become more prevalent, not less.

In fact I can see a future point where if a game wants to stay "in print" and keep attracting new player/customers it will have to become and primarily be an electronic resource. (Of course this makes my pet brontosaurus Rufus, sad ---very sad--- but what can you do?)

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I don't think new factions will be an issue as people will have the a5 books, which as much as we complain about them are understandable, I do like the factions being in the campaign books also.

A version 1.2 rulebook that is easier to read, like the v1.1 was over version 1 and contains all of the clarifications made on the forum would be nice, issue is many people complained about having to buy the v1.1 rulebook and this would be that all over again...

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Simple. For all starter packs include a core, always updated, A5 format rule booklet. All the rules, MARs, exceptions, etc of this game, if condensed right, fit into a booklet not bigger than the fleet ones.

Errata booklets in PDF THE MOMENT A NEW RULE COMES OUT.

PDF MAR list (with reduced MARs, we dont need 4 boarding ones).

Hard/softcover rulebook with more fluff for those weo want to buy it. I seriuosly doubt that the books thmesleves are a big source of income for Spartan.

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