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Re: (TFT) a survey of Melee and Wizard editions

I have this same kind of issue over at the Heroscape board. 

When it comes to creating new, custom cards for Heroscape that site is 
overrun with what I call the "tournament legal style" of customs 
creation. Every little detail, from wording to comma placement, is 
hashed over repeatedly. There are currently two main groups that design 
these types of cards, and they've created hundreds of them. Personally I 
find that the figures and squads they create tend to be over complicated 
and, quite frankly, soulless. I'll call them "rules gamey" if that makes 
any sense. 

On the other hand the superhero custom cards that I've been creating 
still fit into the rules of the game, but are much easier to understand 
and, in my opinion, better capture the personality and theme of a 
particular superhero. I've been told my cards are dripping with theme. 
However, because of that the vast majority of the people on that site 
have dubbed my customs to be "casual play" cards. Which means that they 
are interesting, but not to be taken seriously. 

I get the impression the same kind of conversation is happening here.

Without being inflammatory - it seems to boil down to the analytical 
math nerds vs the creative geeks. (And just so you'll know I have many 
friends who fall into both camps! Nothing wrong with these broad 
classifications.) Over the years I've seen this difference in gaming 
style happen in so many types of games that I've often asked myself if 
I'm even playing the same game as the person sitting across the table 
from me. So much in fact that lately I've been asking my Heroscape 
friends if they consider that game to be A.) a board game (analytical), 
or B.) a miniature combat game (creative). How they answer that question 
speaks volumes to me as to their preferred style of play. Perhaps a 
similar question could be asked of TFT.

Applying all of this to TFT I personally tend to sit in both camps. For 
the past few years I've been calling TFT an RPBG. That stands for "Role 
Playing Board Game". You tell a story (the RPG part), and you resolve 
conflict or battles using (basically) a board game. My creative side 
comes out when running the RPG side of the game. My analytical side 
comes out when playing out the combat side of the game. 

And I really feel that TFT strikes such a great balance between both of 
these sides. While it does accommodate players that are heavy on one 
side or the other (analytical, or creative), in all honestly, the game 
really shines when you can strike a balance between the two. But, if you 
only stay on one side of the fence with TFT I feel you might be missing 
the really cool, total experience that this game has to offer. An 
experience that is so lacking in most games on the market these days.

(On a personal note I also enjoy bringing TFT into a 3 dimensional 
gaming experience, using not only figures but custom terrain as well. I 
know this isn't for everyone but I get a lot of fun out of this aspect 
of our hobby. Another way to be creative with this game.)

As a side note it's really been interesting to watch the hobby attempt 
to create something similar to a RPBG with games such as "Descent" and 
many others. All of these, in my book, have failed. But all of us have 
already been playing that type of game now for over 30 years. TFT is a 
high standard that I hold all these other wannabe games to.

Anyway, just some rambling thoughts from a tired, over worked artist.

David O. Miller
Miller Design/Illustration

2 Dean Court
East Northport, NY 11731
(631) 266-6875

Board game? Miniature combat game? RPG? Simulation vs realism? Rules vs 
creative play?

On Mar 16, 2016, at 2:45 PM, Jeffrey Vandine <jlv61560@yahoo.com> wrote:

> This particular exchange raises an interesting point. To my mind (and 
I sin
> cerely doubt I'm being original here) there are two kinds of players 
-- the
> "completionist/realism/detail oriented guy (or gal)" who WANTS rules 
for t
> hings like where people land when they fall so they can get into the 
> of realism in play; and the "play's the thing/'close enough'/ let's 
get on
> with the imagination guy (or gal)" who wants rules that work well but 
> simple enough to learn and run in a few hours at most so they can get 
> to the "meat" of having an adventure.
> I think that's the only real dichotomy here.  We all, I think, felt th
> at TFT could have been made better, especially if Steve had stayed 
> with it.  But our definition of "better" is where we hit our differen
> t strides.  Personally, I focus more on improving mechanics for things
> like wilderness adventures and how to run town events and so on (more 
of a
> GM's perspective, maybe?), where others want to massively re-work the 
> and bolts of combat or magic -- which seems a bit more player-centric.
> Really, there's room for both of the types if we take a moment to 
> d where each of us is coming from.  For example, I really appreciate R
> ick posting all of the excellent food for thought he's been putting up 
> lately (really, "re-posting" I guess), but at the same time, he's 
> g a problem that doesn't bother me as much as it does him, so I read 
his st
> uff, and then say; "Hmm, that's interesting..." and then tend to go on 
> to MY stuff.  Once in a while, someone will post something that hits 

> MY sweetspot and I'll get all enthusiastic about it; but a lot of the 
> of you come across somewhat negatively to that information (it's not 
of int
> erest to you, and you make that clear -- not saying you're "hostile" 
to it;
> I've never seen much hostility here), and so it kind of goes away 
after a 
> while...
> As a recent example, I prefer to run with Wizard and Melee as my basis 
> h only a few of the Advanced Wizard or Advanced Melee rules in play at 
> given time), but someone (sorry, I forget who, now) basically demanded 
to k
> now why anyone would think that was better.  I chose the soft answer (
> much to the surprise of some who know me, no doubt) and simply said 
> ent strokes for different folks" even though, frankly, I felt somewhat 
> acked" for not doing it the "right" way.  But that just serves to illu
> strate my point -- that person was firmly convinced that AW and AM 
were far
> better than the earlier versions, whereas I remain unconvinced; to me, 
> pler is better and AW and AM merely focused on edge cases (though with 
> notably useful exceptions in both) at considerable length and 
increasing c
> omplexity.  Now, were I a "realist" player, I would be much more enthu
> siastic about all of that than I am -- but I tend more towards the 
"close e
> nough" kind of play, at least in my RPGs.  Maybe I spent too many year
> s as a wargamer arguing with rules lawyers about comma placement in 
the ove
> rrun rule to get much joy out of complexity any more.  Heck, I haven't
> touched Campaign for North Africa in thirty years, now... ;-)
> Anyway, just thinking about what DMGII and PvK had to say.  
>      From: Peter von Kleinsmid <pvk@oz.net>
> To: tft@brainiac.com 
> Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 8:49 AM
> Subject: RE: (TFT) a survey of Melee and Wizard editions
> Interesting. It is true I haven't very often read much ITL recently, 

> but I nearly memorized it back when I ran campaigns with it, but 
> decades ago. I have a very good memory, but not so much for word and 

> phrase use. If we can run a count of pairs of words, though, I think 

> "GM discretion" ought to appear a lot. ;-) My copy of ITL is worn 
> soft like a broken-in shoe, and has plastic side tab labels I added 
> for quick reference (same for AM and AW). Cidri is my sentimental 
> favorite fantasy setting, and my actual favorite for generic "let's 
> do some fantasy gaming" setting. My original TFT campaign flows out 
> from the map of the Duchy of Dran in the back of ITL, stretching out 

> several further maps in all directions until you need a fairly large 

> empty room to lay it all out (using the same 12.5km hex map format 
> and extending the map key).
> TFT was my first RPG (when I was 11), and remains one of my favorite 

> games, but after my friends and I had played it extensively for about 

> 7 years, we could often predict how combats would play out, and we 
> were more and more sensitive to the limitations, so that it started 
> to feel more like an abstract board game that wasn't satisfying in 
> its representation of how violence might really play out, so we 
> started inventing new rules, and then GURPS came out and covered 
> everything we were trying to improve, but in a much more elegant, 
> playtested and complete and ready to use way (than our own rules).
> Many years later, from time to time I have also played TFT, and found 

> that I still like it but that I still think it's missing several 
> things (that I prefer and am sensitive to, which I know not everyone 

> is) from GURPS, but (I was surprised to find) that it's also possible 

> to add fairly simple house rules that do some of the same things in a 

> fairly satisfying (to me) way.
> I think I'm just a detail&realism-oriented simulationist player, and 

> that has me always looking for detailed realism-oriented rules. It 
> was only about 4 years after switching from TFT to GURPS that I 
> started adding all sorts of detailed house rules to GURPS, too. I 
> also show up on GURPS forums and talk about details like how I'm 
> working on more detailed house rules for where characters should land 

> when they fall down, etc., and how 4e GURPS dumbed down several 
> things compared to 3e GURPS.
> I certainly don't read and participate here to be negative. I didn't 

> realize I was rubbing anyone the wrong way. I don't mean to be coming 

> across as saying "GURPS is better", and I think I rarely if ever say 

> that. I think when I do mention GURPS, I'm trying to offer something 

> I think may be interesting or useful.
> PvK
> At 07:26 AM 3/16/2016, David Michael Grouchy II wrote:
>> I'm sorry for delurking,  PvK always rubs me the wrong way.  For
>> instance; in the word-count-analysis of ITL, the word "will" is 
>> ranked as the most frequently appearing at 590 occurrences.  The 
>> book is full of phrases like "the GM will", "the Player will", 
>> But PvK asks "I wonder why 'will'? "  Causing me to wonder if he 
>> has ever actually read ITL.  Which has now triggered me.  As I h
> ave 
>> always felt he was anti-TFT.  Like another contributor who's answer
>> was always "g.u.r.p.s. is better".
>> I have no stomach for a flame war with such hard headed negative 
>> minded people.  I return to radio silence.  /grouchy's submarine
>> sinks back beneath the surface.
>> David Michael Grouchy II
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