Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rules Transparency

I left an over excited voicemail, well two, to the D6 Generation a second ago and while I hope they play it I had way too many thoughts going on in my brain and the voicemail was so much better in my head before I picked up the phone. I want to put my thoughts more clearly here, and then talk a little bit about rules transparency. So what I wanted to convey:

Attacking Russ:
1) All in good fun.
2) The craziest thing about his comment on rules transparency was that I can't even remember when he said it the first time I heard it or the last time. It could have been 2 years ago but it just hit me recently and it hit me hard.
3) I intended to say something cool like "the words slowly, insidiously crept into my psyche" but oh well. At least I got my Lovecraft reference in. I play Arkham Horror because of those guys.

About Dakka Dakka:
1) I much less meant to talk about my degree in Linguistics seriously and meant more to talk about how I'm qualified to comment on imaginary onomatopoeic words.
2) This is something that despite the poll on the Dakka Dakka forums saying that it should be pronounced Russ' way I'll never accept defeat.
3) /æ/ really is a vowel less likely to be used in Cockney and most British English accents. Also while it's impossible to determine the actual ability of an Ork to produce certain vowels, it is my belief that an Ork would not be able to pronounce this vowel and would likely produce an /a/ as in Waaagh!.

Ok so enough of my silly poorly spoken voicemails, I love D6G and my collection of boardgames can attest to it, boardgames that I didn't have before I started watching the show.

Rules Transparency

For those who haven't heard Russ talk about rules transparency, it is the understanding of the rules of a given game such that all players of the game have an equal grasp of the rules. A game such as checkers or chess has a very easy set of rules and so after a quick read of the rules and maybe a game or two you and your opponent both understand the game equally so chess could be said to have great rules transparency. More complicated games like miniature war games and many board games have low rules transparency and elements such as experience with the game and aptitude for learning rules can really make a difference between two opponent's ability to win the game.

That being said, I'm the friend that you look to when you get a new game, the friend that you look to in a rules dispute, the friend that practically knows the page numbers of the rules. I've always been this way and I do not have photographic memory just good memory and a good grasp on language. Especially now that I've been gaming for years the mnemonic devices and ability to compare rules I know to other rules lets me devour new rulebooks pretty easily. So enough petting my own head because this seemingly good thing has led to a pretty heavy mental melt down recently. It stacked in there with a lot of other problems that I've had with enjoying the game but this one hit hard because there were no external problems to blame. My problem became if people can lose because they forget a rule here or there, what if I've only been winning because I remember rules here or there? What if I never had any skill at all in these games and I've just been really good reading?

So I was talking about these feelings with my friend at a club, not a game club mind you but a night club with a band that was using power sanders to shoot sparks into the crowd. Really can't tell if that makes me kind of cool or supremely lame but he gave me the old pat on the back and since he is a long time opponent of mine that I am indeed a good gamer based on my skill. I just don't know though, since he would want to consider me a good gamer because I'm able to beat him and he is a really good gamer himself. That's where paranoid-schizogamer comes into play.

It's easy to tell me that knowing the rules is part of the skill of being a good gamer but think right down to the core of the idea. If the a guy's tactics are incredibly sound and his maneuvering is on point but he gets caught on something that is a small rule, easily overlooked and that move turns the game in your favor after what looked like a solid loss did you really out play him or just call him on something. So while I still work out if I've ever had a fair win in my entire life that's my little rant.

To put somethings clearly, I almost always talk through important moves with important rules with my opponents when I see them doing something to their disadvantage. Maybe not in very competitive tournament play but I like to try and help people understand the game more than anything. I'm also exaggerating a bit because I do have a number of opponents who do know the rules to my level and I get to have great argusations with them so my thanks to them for keeping me slightly sane. It's just those games against more casual players where I know there must have been so many games where rules played a major factor.

Once again....Thanks Russ....


  1. Joe, it's Luckee by-the-by I've no idea how else to identify myself. The thing I focused on when reading this post is that your main concern seems to be focused around casual games (others being ruled out by playing equally qualified players and or your ability to annalyse your opponent and find when they are about to blunder, ensuring that this was intentional and not a rules slip).

    Because they are these casual games, I find it difficult to apply your quality as a player to these situations. A casual game, as I define it, is marked by a jovial and often laxidasical application of tactics. Often between 'hobby' lists and players who are relaxed and enjoying the interaction over the game itself.

    These are not exhibitions of skill on skill and thus the determination of a winner and loser is secondary to the enjoyment of the game.

    I suppose this was just an attempt to hedge out the non issues as opposed to confronting your issue directly; but I also don't have an awesome show to lend my words gravitas.

    Regardless, I don't think it cheapens a win by winning through rules. If that were the case then you should just play chess. Chess, in this sense, is two dimensional. The players work in the bounds of the rules and the bounds of their skill with the game. You can win by outplaying your opponent, or when against your six year old nephew by rules lawyering him.

    Conversly 40K is three dimensional (or there abouts). Rlues knowledge, experience and dice play important factors. Now is your win any less a win because you rolled high and killed a deamon prince and a greater deamon with one tactical sergeant with a power fist? No, it is still a win and your rules knowledge and tactical acumen brought that sergeant to where they needed to be.

    Saying that a win is cheapened by knowing rules more than your foe belies the other 99.8% of the game where their were dice, proper rules applications and tactical skill.

    Basically I guess I'm saying: a good general is a combination of all three dimensions. you apparently have them (with your well aimed lasguns and miss-iles). Some opponents may not have all three.

  2. I can say, from experience, that you are a well skilled player of the game. your one of the few people who play a guard army lacking army and supreme numbers who can manage to win with out surmountable casualties. knowing the rule books in and out is just a result of playing the game for so long, not only that but mostly touching on every army in the game.

    all i can say is just gather your guard and look at "sang" nothing in the rules says that his stat line and that damn shotgun should down a greater daemon and leave him to sing the tale lol