Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's Our Primary Selling Point?

A Pedlar selling Spectacles Outside A Cottage, Jan Steen
Howdy! Sandwyrm here. Caulyndarr asked me the other day what our game's primary selling point is. After thinking about it carefully, I finally have an answer.

It's not any particular game mechanic. We'll have a hundred carefully thought out and assembled variations on established rules. So the play experience will be well crafted. But as a project that seeks to appeal to existing 40K players, I don't see us embracing anything too radical. Like custom dice, cards, or whatnot. There's an established essence to what a successful Sci-Fi game is that we'll do our best to fit within.

It also won't be the fluff. Although having a good story to tell will count for more in the end, IMO, than almost anything else we do. If you tell a great story, people will flock to your game regardless of it's problems. Heck, it's what has kept 40K afloat all these years.

It's also the reason, IMO, that Warpath has failed to capture the imaginations of the 40K populace at large. I only got interested in them at all when they started telling their stories. I don't think they're particularly interesting stories yet, but the lesson they (and we) learned is clear. You need a universe to set your game in.

Even Doom had a story for why you ran around killing things. :)

But none of that is a simple sales pitch. None of that lends itself to a tagline. So let's think about why we started this project in the first place. It was because of 40K's balance problems.

Balance though, is an abstract concept that's difficult to convey the advantages of. But if we boil it down to why Balance matters, I only end up with one thing. Which has informed my thinking all along.


Flames of War doesn't have aliens and robots. Infinity doesn't have many, if any aliens at all. Just funny looking humans. Malifaux has weird stuff aplenty. But it's not a wargame. Dust Warfare is just Weird War III. Warmachine has beasts, robots, and weird stuff, but the nations are all human as far as I know.

Only 40K has Aliens aplenty. But the game has drifted away from them. They're not competitive. Folks love their Eldar, Orks, Tau, and Necrons because they're DIFFERENT. Fluff-wise, they're interesting and cool. But even the newest books struggle to be both different and competitive in a game who's every mechanic favors guys with a Marine's stat line and armor save.

So that's it. That's our primary selling point. Come help/play us because our Xenos won't suck. In fact, the big alien armies will have a slight competitive advantage in reliability on the table. It's the pure Knight armies, and not the Grün that will be more reliant on the rolls of their dice for success.

Not to an extreme amount. But just enough to matter at the top tables. Such that the competitive Knight forces will mix plenty of other troops in with their supermen to raise their reliability on the table. That will reward players for going pure Imperial Army, or for picking up a Xenos force as they gain skills in the game. Because doing so will give you a competitive advantage and make the game more interesting for others.


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