Friday, August 1, 2014

Wizards of the Coast is sending a damaging message

When the 5th Edition D&D .pdf was made freely available, like many others I was pleased to see the sidebar on how gender is handled in-game. I missed this, however, and to be honest wasn't even aware of these two individuals (RPGPundit and Zak S). I'm unhappy that our hobby still retains enclaves of people with social ideas like these two. Given that a lot of us in hobby games are both intelligent and experienced with social marginalization, you'd think we'd be a lot farther along on this kind of thing than the general community.

From what I've seen, we've got it better than most here in VT, but we can do better. I'd encourage all of you to take a look at this article, and speak up. Until Wizards makes a real statement addressing their failure here, they won't be getting any more of my money.

And if this doesn't seem like a problem to you, it's because you're one of the lucky ones. Think about whether or not these guys would represent a problem to anyone you care about. It's not enough to ignore people like RPGPundit and Zak S; they need to know that these ideas are unwelcome and damaging to the community that they profess to care for. The original content is here.

We deal with negativity in the hobby community on a regular basis.  It's just part of socializing, and when your social activity of choice is competitive and contentious, conflict will arise.  Nerd rage over rules interpretation is a disagreement on equal footing. Doxing your detractors and having your followers send them late-night phone calls, outing trans folks, publicizing the school your detractors' children attend, these are not the behaviors of jerks. These are existential life-or-death threats. They do not deserve your defense.

Do I think Zak should not work in the hobby at all? No, I hope that's not what came across. It's not up to me or anyone else what he does for a living. However, what he, and by association Wizards, needs to face is the fact that there are consequences for certain actions. One of the consequences of engaging in noxious behavior is being cut out of the social contract; that's how it works pretty much anywhere. If you're a dick, people don't want to associate with you. If he and his ilk find it difficult to find work in a particular industry, then that is a direct result of the action he as a consenting adult chose to engage in. It's not my job to feel responsible to protect the job opportunities of a flagrant asshole. This is 100% about the prevailing social environment and what is wrong with it, in that in feels the need to be more protective of people being assholes than people who are being hurt.

A frequent misapprehension by people who decry "political correctness" is that those of us doing the calling-out are pushing for some kind of policy change through firing, litigation, blacklisting, or whatever. And some overzealous social justice crusaders actually are doing that, but that's far more the exception than the rule. I'm not trying to get these guys banned from anything (they seem to do a great job at achieving that themselves). What I'm trying to do is further the dialogue where we can make the hobby more positive, friendly, welcoming, and open for everyone who chooses to abide by that specific social contract. We don't waste time on those who don't, other than to portray them as examples of a cautionary tale.

By choosing to hire these guys as consultants, Wizards got Asshole on them. As I've stated before, what I'm looking for is for them to publicly admit that they fucked up. Bringing these guys into their house sends a message, intended or not, that there is a place in this community for people being hateful.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Getting caught up

My last post from some months ago focused on what I had hoped were some new insights into the Tyranid codex.  Naturally, my experience with the list over the last few months has proven me 100% correct.  Please forgive my gloating; I don't get to be this emphatically correct this often.

Strategic redundancy really is the name of the game here.  I played a small, local tournament in April and took first place with a list that focused on this to a tee.  3 one-beast Carnifex Broods supported by 3 one-beast Venomthrope broods; massive Synaptic coverage thanks to the Synaptic Swarm formation, and strategic response in the form of a Devil Flyrant and a Hive Crone.  There was clearly some other stuff in there too, like a couple little broods of objective-grabbing Ants.  

Now I have no idea how this will hold up under the new 40k rules, as I have yet to actually sit down and play a game, but that's going to be corrected on Tuesday.  I'm bringing Daemons, because I want to explode the Malefic Daemonology list and see where the pieces land.

What I've been playing a LOT of lately is Hearthstone.  I've always loved Blizzard's intellectual property.  Blizzard have done a fantastic job of translating their world into a really crunchy bite-sized game.  I'd like to think of myself as a fairly competitive player; one of our local game stores is hosting an invitational championship and I managed to qualify in the second round.  Now really, all this makes me is a big fish in a small pond; in ranked play I really can't seem to break into rank 6.  Given that the Naxxramas expansion has dropped some fresh cards into the pool, the metagame-beast is twisting in evolutionary agony.  

My stated goal with Hearthstone is to climb the ladder clear to Legend rank, which is daunting...  My plan right now is to ladder as effectively as I can for the rest of this season (2-3 days) and then come at it hard with a simple, aggressive Shock Paladin deck.  I've gotten good with that, and it manages to be an effective Zoo-like deck without being completely vulnerable to the anti-Zoo meta.  That's the theory, anyway!

Monday, January 13, 2014

I've got the Tyranid codex figured out!

...or I'm a delusional apologist, who has mastered the art of self-deception....

Whether it was deliberate or not, the design results of this book is to make the Tyranids not particularly stellar at anything, but for them to be very abundant. This thesis hides in plain sight, given how rapid internet analysis seems to myopically focus on individual unit types but failing to see the bigger picture beyond a few unit synergies. The points cost of (almost) everything is discounted, sometimes deeply, and the specialist units are just not as good at what they do as their counterparts are in other armies. It has a lot of players pretty disgusted and frustrated, but it has me intrigued.

I think what Tyranids are going to do especially well is strategic redundancy and contingency plans. Building a lynchpin army around a series of very specialized gimmick units will not work, and that is precisely the way most 40k players think about this game. What will work is a large army full of many models, made up of generalist troop types that can fill each others' roles as casualties mount. Tyranids are not robust, with a deficit of 2+ or Invulnerable units, and an absolute lack of Eternal Warrior. Things are going to die, and that idea is repellent to many players in this age of superhero squads.

Thinking of them as the classic NPC army is not far off the mark. These guys are designed to die, and die a lot, and die some more. Carnifexes are back, 20 points cheaper, but D-cannons and Nemesis weapons abound. They are monsters for the Space Marines to kill, and they are meant to make the other armies look good by comparison.

None of this is to imply that they are incapable of winning games. There is probably as much competitive potential buried in this list as any other, but it is definitely buried in here. Winning with Tyranids is going to mean more than spamming sweetheart units and ignoring others. They have no Heldrake, Riptide, Wraithknight, or Night Scythe. But the implied advantage when you lack the Deathstar is there's no one place for the Rebels to fire their missiles. I'm looking forward to seeing what that means in 40k.

Ultimately, this fits into the current 40k universe by marking the Tyranids out to be a unique and alien species whose combat doctrine flies in the face of the accepted methods of other species.

So that's what it is, and Tyranid players can, as always, adapt or die. :)