-By: Scott (PG_Sc077y)
Privateer Press is a company that cares about their game. They truly do. If they didn’t, people like Will Hungerford, Ed Bourell, Matt Wilson, Jason Soles, Doug Hamilton and the rest of their staff wouldn’t engage in the community as much as they do. It’s a game, by gamers, made for the enjoyment of everyone else, and they want it to be the best possible game they can make it, not just because of an obvious vested financial interest, but also because they love the game.
But sometimes, things don’t go according to plan.
Sometimes, in an attempt to try new things, and discover new directions, or even just redesign models so they are not the one dimensional models we have seen in the past, they can go too far, or not far enough.
Not long ago, PP released an Insider talking about the things they wanted to fix in the game right away. It was a litany list of things they felt need corrected, based on community feedback, their own internal development, and tournament results. These changes will come by means of an errata document, which will be released twice a year going forward, to improve the health of the game.
So as a new player, errata can be a difficult pill to swallow. Often times, when we are new, we don’t necessarily have the developed skills to immediately see a model as being too good for their points cost, or too weak to be effective. Also, when we are new to the game, we may not feel that models are too powerful because we are struggling to get wins in, even with these “OP AF” models so if they nerf those, we feel like its hopeless to try and win a game because we weren’t winning before, or weren’t winning “all the time”.
In this, we know that there is an errata cycle due out sometime before SmogCon. PP has already advised that they are going to look at Skorne as a faction, the top 5% and bottom 5% in the factions, Cryx dealing with gun lines and the rules for throws as well. With this errata, we don’t know exactly what will change, and if you have had your ears to the grindstone, you have probably heard rumors that many potential changes are being play tested and maybe even what some of those changes are.
As a new player, it’s frustrating. Errata cycles take all the models you have learned to play with and could potentially change how they work, either making them stronger, or weaker, based on your model selections. Errata cycles can feel like a kick in the stomach, especially after you have just finished painting that army, only to have it “nerfed into the ground” or something like that. What I want to do today is discuss reaction and attitude towards errata and how to make the best of an errata cycle.
The first thing I want to address when dealing with errata is simple: it’s the attitudes of the players. #Playtestedfor3years and #designspace are common derogatory terms that are thrown back at PP when discussing changes to the game, typically followed by voiced concerns. For someone new to the game, this can be very difficult to blot out. It’s easy to get into the rhythm of just slamming PP for everything they do, and criticizing their every decision.
We see it happen all of the time on line, on the forums and on the Facebook groups. The next time you find yourself falling into that category, just take a deep breath and a step back. What almost all of the armchair game developers out there, who could do the job better than PP if they would only listen to them, fail to realize is that sometimes sweeping changes are very bad for the game, and there are unintended consequences for changes that can’t be foreseen. In short, be patient and relax. Don’t let your attitude sink, even if your favorite model is on the chopping block. It’s hard to do, especially with the echo chamber of the internet, but just getting salty about changes to the game won’t help you, and it won’t help anyone else you play the game with. Check your attitude.
If your favorite model ends up on the errata list, the next thing I recommend you should do, after deciding not to have a thermo-nuclear meltdown online decrying PP as the devil themselves, is to logically think about what this does to how the model plays. Do the changes fundamentally change the way the model plays? Do they change how effective he is at his given role, or in any role? What about playing the game with the model? Do the errata on that model significantly affect how it plays on the table top, or was it a small erratum just meant to being him more in line with his points cost? Stop and try to look at things objectively. Many times, you will find, when it comes to errata and re-balancing, that there are answers to those questions, and while your favorite model may not play exactly like it did before, you may find that it is still very good in its role.
So let’s equate this in real world terms. Let’s say Behemoth (The big scary Khador Jack) losses his Rate of Fire 2 on his big guns, and instead goes to Reload 1. (Bear in mind this is by no means a spoiler, I’m just laying out an example here) Now, in order to get Behemoth to deal as much damage as he would have before, you would have to likely allocate one additional focus to Behemoth to get him to make two fully boosted shots. (One for the initial powerful attack, one more for the second shot, and then one more to powerful attack that shot too). While this is a net decrease in overall focus efficiency (he can currently throw out two shots, with powerful shot, for 2 focus, meaning you have to allocate one focus to him) does it really change the game that much if you have to allocate one more? Does it make him “unplayable trash” because he needs one more focus?
One great example was with Major Victoria Haley (Haley 2) in MK2. In MK2, if you didn’t know or weren’t playing at the time, her feat not only used to make people give up their movement or combat action, but she also got to choose the order in which her opponents got to activate their models. This was considered the best feat in the game, or one of, and she was easily the most powerful caster in the game, save for maybe Lich Lord Asphyxious, for years. She was changed close to the end of MK2 to remove the part of her feat where she could no longer choose the order in which people activate.
And the internet blew up.
I couldn’t tell you how many posts I read where she was unplayable trash, one of the worst casters in the game now, and just generally really weak. The reality is that she went on to continue winning events even in this new “garbage” form because she was still very strong. People just wouldn’t accept that and they wouldn’t put her on the table to find out.
And that is a wonderful Segway into my last point. If an erratum hits one of your models, then you need to play the damn model! Don’t listen to the internet tell you they are terrible and unplayable garbage, and don’t listen to the FB groups become an echo chamber of negativity. Put the model on the table, play some games, and decide for yourself. Look for different ways to play the model and see if they just don’t work anymore or if they are just different. But just complaining and never putting it back on the table is a great way to short yourself out of your hard work and money, and maybe even a win or two by playing the models you like to play and have enjoyed and gained experience with.
Nobody bats 1000. It’s impossible. PP is a great company, and they fix problems where they can see them, but mistakes will happen, and the game will change. Are there models that need errata now? Of course there are, and I have every faith PP will deliver on those changes, but when they do, we have to be a player base willing to suck it up and play the game with the rules they have given us, and give them at least the benefit of the doubt.
Just the fact alone that PP is now doing regular errata cycles to improve the health of their game is a huge leap forward.