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A shift from Historical Wargaming to Casual Wargaming


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I'm sure we've all seen the discussions on armor marks raging through the various threads here, on reddit, and in the Facebook groups. I'm not looking to start that argument over again, but I am hoping to see what the community here thinks about the impending shift from a small historical wargame to a mainstream tentpole casual wargame.

With the huge number of new players the plastic kits are bringing to the community it seems inevitable that the majority of people participating in HH2.0 are going be lean towards pickup games and casual experiences that are largely not narratively driven. At least not in the sense of 'we are reenacting the battle of such and such' more than, hey let's have a game and see who's marines come out on top.  Especially when most of the visual reference lore is contained in the HH1.0 books, which are OOP and insanely hard to get ahold of! I personally am way more interested in painting my armies up and playing occasional pickup games than trying to sign up for a narrative event so that probably colors my opinions.

I've been absolutely FLAMED on reddit in particular for daring to suggest that a more casual approach to immersion would benefit long time players. A puritanical approach to armor marks, and plastic vehicles and list building isn't very encouraging to potential newbies who are curious about using their chaos knights or excited to try out rules that aren't 9th edition 40K's obscene rocket tag.  I'm lucky enough to live in a large enough city that has all types of players available to me.  But i'm saddened for the guy living in the American midwest who just got an Age of Darkness box and picked up some devastators not knowing the difference only to be shunned by the 2 guys in the only store for 50 miles who have issues with MKVII armor.

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Awesome post! I'm glad you brought this up because I'd love to get into HH 2.0 but it is so darn intimidating with all the "this is a historical war game" stuff going around. If I didn't have to drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars on slightly different looking marines because my 40k marines have too many purity seals or the lip on their helmets is slightly off for the setting I'd be a lot more eager to get involved. 

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My opinion on the matter is that the 'historical wargaming' idea, when it comes to Heresy, has always been a bit silly. Heresy is far less rigorous with specific units and battles than, say, Bolt Action is. In truth, the setting is and has been in flux or contradiction for its entire existence. The playerbase should come to terms with this, not deny it. If they do, a world of creativity awaits.

That said, there should be a modicum of care taken with armor marks. The only one that should be totally taken off the table, save for Siege of Terra, is Mk VII. The rest are fair game in my eyes. 

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If anything, I’d say all the new plastics and the reboxing of the older ones make it much easier to get into the historically accurate side of things. 

I know Heresy has a reputation for wanting historical accuracy but I’ve genuinely never met a player who would refuse to allow someone to use at least some proxies. 

That said, I think it’s important to understand where people are coming from. I can only speak for myself but I’d be surprised if I’m alone, what I enjoy most about the games is the spectacle on the table. Moving and playing with well painted armies makes you really feel like you’re immersed in the heresy, as opposed to 40K and them being the correct models really helps with that. I do prefer the heresy ruleset to 40K but I’m not going to say it’s the ruleset that attracts me to Heresy, it’s the models, the lore, the visuals etc and the accuracy is a big part of that. 

I think new players are a great thing for the game and people should make the effort to welcome them in and accommodate their collections. However, you also wouldn’t start playing a World War 1 Wargame and then be surprised people would prefer you didn’t use World War 2 models. 

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I've said it before, I'll say it here and I'm sure I'll have to say it again; 30k has never been purely a historical/narrative focussed wargame.

Anyone who tried to maintain that's what it is, and is what "the community" thinks, is deluded.

People have always used fire blade fulgrim, forge breaker perturabo, or alive ferrus, in their respective lists. 

The various army lists have so much freedom and room for creativity that trying to artificially limit factions based off a cherry-picked campaign or battle is ridiculous.

Edited by SkimaskMohawk
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I think the main thing is verisimilitude, not "historical accuracy", strictly speaking. 

At the end of the day when people choose to play 30k, setting, aesthetic, and immersion in that imaginary world does play a role as to why Heresy, versus say Age of Sigmar or Bolt Action or Infinity or Malifaux, or Drop Commander, etc.

Of course there's a certain leeway and "fuzziness" in list building and games and models and painting schemes compared to the strictly "in-canon", "historical" accounts. And any :cuss: who says something like "Nuh-uh, Sanguinius never fought Lorgar in person, so you can't play those lists!" is probably not worth engaging in prolonged social activity (AKA playing a game) with.

But by the same token, somebody who just shows up whole cloth with a Primaris army might get some sidelong glances - in the same way that if I showed up to a Normandy Beach '44 scenario with a bunch of DEVGRU models in GPNVG-18s and tricked-out 416s, I might well expect some disgruntlement from other players who wanted to experience a period-accurate spectacle.

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3 minutes ago, A Melancholic Sanguinity said:

Of course there's a certain leeway and "fuzziness" in list building and games and models and painting schemes compared to the strictly "in-canon", "historical" accounts. And any :cuss: who says something like "Nuh-uh, Sanguinius never fought Lorgar in person, so you can't play those lists!" is probably not worth engaging in prolonged social activity (AKA playing a game) with.

This is the demographic that I've been having the most trouble with online.  Their own personal vision of Heresy is sacrosanct and there is ZERO room for any leeway.  It's unfortunate because they also tend to be the most vocal online and I'm worried about them scaring away newer players. 

I personally have been a pretty hardcore competitive 40k player, but as I've gotten older life responsibilities have made me unable to participate in the competitive scene. I really want to be able to take my Ultramarines to heresy events at the cons so I can keep having awesome con trips with my buddies, but the flameout I get online for suggesting not everyone wants a hardcore narrative game is daunting.  

10 minutes ago, A Melancholic Sanguinity said:

But by the same token, somebody who just shows up whole cloth with a Primaris army might get some sidelong glances - in the same way that if I showed up to a Normandy Beach '44 scenario with a bunch of DEVGRU models in GPNVG-18s and tricked-out 416s, I might well expect some disgruntlement from other players who wanted to experience a period-accurate spectacle.

If it's an event with specific guidelines I totally agree. 

But for casual games (which are going to increase significantly in the coming months as newbies finish up their armies) I strongly disagree. I'm not on board with a horde of primaris being proxied for tacticals, but having Mars Pattern vehicles or MKVII heavy weapons shouldn't be a warcrime.  It feels unreasonable to me to expect every pickup game to follow the those standards when you're at a FLGS looking for a weekend game of Heresy.

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42 minutes ago, Cruor Vault said:

This is the demographic that I've been having the most trouble with online.  Their own personal vision of Heresy is sacrosanct and there is ZERO room for any leeway.  It's unfortunate because they also tend to be the most vocal online and I'm worried about them scaring away newer players. 

I personally have been a pretty hardcore competitive 40k player, but as I've gotten older life responsibilities have made me unable to participate in the competitive scene. I really want to be able to take my Ultramarines to heresy events at the cons so I can keep having awesome con trips with my buddies, but the flameout I get online for suggesting not everyone wants a hardcore narrative game is daunting.  

1 hour ago, A Melancholic Sanguinity said:

 

If it's an event with specific guidelines I totally agree. 

But for casual games (which are going to increase significantly in the coming months as newbies finish up their armies) I strongly disagree. I'm not on board with a horde of primaris being proxied for tacticals, but having Mars Pattern vehicles or MKVII heavy weapons shouldn't be a warcrime.  It feels unreasonable to me to expect every pickup game to follow the those standards when you're at a FLGS looking for a weekend game of Heresy.

Adapting something I wrote in another thread previously:

One of the prime overarching "objectives" of any match to play in such a way that others want to play with you again.

Thus, there's no one size fits all answer. Some nuance and social deduction and communication needs to go into it; some people you play with may not care what models you use nor what color you paint them, or if they're painted at all, or if you just show up with scraps of torn paper roughly the size of corresponding model bases. Other people may care a great deal. It's up to you as an individual to figure it out with prospective gaming partners - whether that's for a single game on a whim, or if you're joining a long-running group, or if you're trying to get a narrative campaign going.

You need to figure out who you can and cannot play with, what you will and will not accept or tolerate, and communicate that to others. At the same time, you have to deal with the reality that the other player is not just there to play a game for your enjoyment; you also are there to play a game for theirs. The wise man conducts himself accordingly.

There's always some kind of negotiation, explicit and implicit, in any sort of social activity.

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@Cruor Vault I found the most rigid of "Heresy/legion has to be like X" tends to come from Reddit; if it ain't exactly how people think it should be, it's wrong. People on there have asked me if I tried using a darker blue for my night lords for example. 

 

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Man, social media is such poison. I recently learned that the backpacking groups on FB have issues with 'gatekeeping' when people post images of hikes, but don't tell people where it is because they don't want to reveal their special spots. Heresy gatekeeping conversations immediately came to mind.

At the end of the day its all dumb imo. Like some of you are saying the game has always been a social contract, its not an anonymous game of League or Fortnight. If the people around you don't want to play games a certain way you have no right to force them to conform to make room for you. Likewise, if you want to play a certain way its your game and your group, play like you want with like minded people. Even within groups different people like to play different ways. I think we all know this.

Here's the gatekeeping I do: I want to play fully painted armies and unless we agreed to it ahead of time, I don't want to play against an unfun army that skews the game one way. Even between those lines I'm flexible, especially towards new players. I haven't met anyone in my community that doesn't really feel the same, but we're the same league.

In summary, I think most of these recurring debates are just echo chambers shaking their fists at each other. I don't really think this is an issue.

Edited by Brofist
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If you build up a new army I would fine to proxy some units with MKVII stuff. But after some time I would try to replace the MKVII stuff with MKII-VI stuff. After all its HH and not all Legions had access to MKVII so I would try to be in the timeline with my models.

And in my opinion its one of the most fun aspect of the setting to create an army or force with a specific timeline or campaign in mind. And such things can be talked together and you can give new player ideas or advices which armor mark would fit best for the army he wants to represent. Sry for my bad english^^

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I am upfront with everyone I play.

Casual games I absolutely don't care what you bring, if you have a bunch of mark 7-8 you want to put down, cool. If you just want to tey the rules and substitute primaris in them, whatever.

If we are playing a campaign, narrative, or Canon battle, I very much prefer you to invest into 30k and not have count-as models everywhere. I've played warhammer for a long time, I want to be inclusive to a point, and if it's the only way you feel like you can get enjoyment out of your Firstborn I will happily just play older editions of 40k with you. 

If you decide that 30k is for you, I want you to bring 30k models to our future games. I don't feel like th a t is gate keeping, nor asking too much.

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30 minutes ago, A Melancholic Sanguinity said:

Adapting something I wrote in another thread previously:

One of the prime overarching "objectives" of any match to play in such a way that others want to play with you again.

Thus, there's no one size fits all answer. Some nuance and social deduction and communication needs to go into it; some people you play with may not care what models you use nor what color you paint them, or if they're painted at all, or if you just show up with scraps of torn paper roughly the size of corresponding model bases. Other people may care a great deal. It's up to you as an individual to figure it out with prospective gaming partners - whether that's for a single game on a whim, or if you're joining a long-running group, or if you're trying to get a narrative campaign going.

You need to figure out who you can and cannot play with, what you will and will not accept or tolerate, and communicate that to others. At the same time, you have to deal with the reality that the other player is not just there to play a game for your enjoyment; you also are there to play a game for theirs. The wise man conducts himself accordingly.

There's always some kind of negotiation, explicit and implicit, in any sort of social activity.

You put it so eloquently!

The negotiation part is the thing I think a lot of the more vocal parts of the old guard are having issue with.  And personally I think it's detrimental to the community as a whole for them to be stating how things MUST be because thats how it's always been.

A casual, non-narratively driven HH community springing up in most FLGS is almost a certainty IMO.  I just worry that the Dogmatic approaches of some community members will either alienate them from the store communities or worse scare off newbies.

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Now mk VI exists, how to integrate Mk VII is much clearer. Mk VII weapons like dev squad or assault squad w/ jump packs? sure great and would look distinct and still fit combined with mk VI. Some mk VII helms on mk VI bodies? sure plenty of reasons that happened. Bought indomni termi's (SM or CSM) and modelled them to fit the era as counts as tartaros? Fantastic show me. Respect is a two way street for the opponent, the setting and the lore. Its not unreasonable to have minimum standards for a gaming group. Its not unreasonable to expect some research done into the setting to see how much a concept would make sense. "Gatekeeping" is thrown around far too readily these days anytime some accountability and standards are required for something. 

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As mentioned, it has never purely been that way. 

My opinion is that if you participate and just do it, a lot of people will join you. Right now, it's going to be difficult for them to do it fully because so many kits are not available, like Rhinos. But if you get them involved and have armies in period, they'll go along with the momentum and you won't really have to worry about it.

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Just my $0.02--I've casually collected Games Workshop stuff over the years (Space Hulk, Dreadfleet, Dark Vengeance box etc). The Horus Heresy struck me as a very interesting setting and since space marines have always been my favorite, I decided to get the box and build and paint the guys to actually play the game with them. I've always been kinda interested in the grand scale of the Warhammer 40K lore, but not that into the details. My goal is to make an effort to build and paint my models accurate to the Horus Heresy setting (at least my vision of it from the rulebook), and I hope most players would try to do the same as I think it adds to the fun. Personally, I don't like playing against proxies that much (in any game) as it can be confusing, and definitely removes some of the immersion. I can see why players who have made an effort to make their models setting-accurate and done a lot of work to paint and customize their forces accurately might prefer to play against players that have made similar efforts. Now I am not as good a painter or kit basher as a lot of people, but I hope that my effort is enough to be accepted as a player who is taking the setting "seriously enough". That being said, I'm really most interested in having heroic battles with cool-looking minis, not recreating scenes from the books. This is all science fantasy, after all. Setting accurate: fair. Specific story accurate: no. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk.

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Yeah as said above, the Heresy community has never been any one thing, anyone claiming its a purely narrative system is trying to sell you something or trying to drive people off. Once things settle out again you will have the same mix of competitive/narrative/open players and hobbyists as any other GW system and unfortunately just as many folks lacking social skills or ranting into the void online.

Its possible a local scene could go toxic (In a number of ways) same as any other game but its not any more likely, odds are you will have folks happy to have someone else to play against and chat toy soldiers with.

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I think with these things, no matter the game or setting, really rely on effort and intention, everything else I find falls by the wayside.

A good example, few years back I was heavily invested in Bolt Action, where, according to the internet and people who don't like historicals, is just full of people complaing about what colour grey a German's trousers should be etc. 

I made an army and list based around my favourite tank (was terrible in the game but who cares) the Tiger II. Not common at all in the scope of the war and only came into it quite late. Not only that, I found schematics and blue prints of upgrades that where going to be rolled into production later '45, which obviously wasn't a thing for the Germans. Either way I modelled up a King Tiger with all these prototype gear, some panels still being in red primer etc. The whole list was built around the fall of Berlin, Hitler Youth, Volksturm, Advanced protype King Tigers, Infra Red Assault rifles etc. Much of this never existed off of paper, or in such small amounts that it functionally didn't exist. The reception from the community was it was aok and a super cool idea and no one had an issue playing the list no matter what 'era' their army was set in within WW2. 

Now I feel although my army was essentially a mix of complete fantasy (but grounded in 'realism') and hard, gritty 'correct' stuff, the fact research had went into it, I wrote a little fluff piece explaining it in the form of a Signal (German propaganda mag) article etc, factored in the list wasn't particularly good, but as said above it was well recieved as I had put in a heap of effort and my intentions were good!

Similar people built completely 'plausible' armies that were well painted, but completely leveraging broken rules and they got ripped pretty hard. 

Then we had newbies who may not have had the right back packs on their US Riflemen, that then clashed with the MK of M3 Stuart tank that was on the field, that was all painted in the not quite correct olive drab and no one complained a bit, because they had put in the effort and their intentions where good. Skill shouldn't factor into it IMHO.

Now after all the ranting about 30k, which I feel is in a similar boat to the BA community when I was involved. 

You bring a workmanlike marine force, using ideally earlier marks, but some later marks sprinkled through, some Diemos, some Mars tanks in there, but all painted in a heresy theme and can do what it needs to do on the battlefield. Go for it! 

You bring a weirdly converted list, with leagues of supporting fluff, or theme about it, that is well painted and pretty rough on the battlefield. You'll get stick for the roughness on the tabletop, but if the effort is put in, even if the intention is a bit on the leaf blower side, you're still good. 

If you bring a face stomping, primaris-heavy list, half coloured in heresy schemes and often say 'whats a fulgrim?' then there really is no effort there, or good intention...and when you get told to bugger off will cry 'gate keeping' at the top of your lungs. 

I suppose the TL:DR of this is as long as the intention is reasonable and you've done your best, most people (in person! Not on the internet as its  just various echo chambers of keyboard warriors causing :cuss: for :cuss:s sake) will be happy to roll some dice and talk some :cuss:. As many above have said there is no hard and fast rules as to what is and isn't reasonable. 

I suppose it just comes back to the golden rule of wargaming DBAD ;) 

(As a side note with the armour bull:cuss:, as long as some weapons/armour/vehicle models existed at some point in some way during the heresy, our armies are such tiny, itty bitty 'slices' of a legion as a whole that most reasonable  stuff is also readily plausible with a little bit of elasticity in ones mind.

Hell if somehow you managed to get 200 basic beakie boys painted up and on the battlefield (lets say 1ksons at apparently 10k strong being the smallest pre-heresy legion), thats still only 2% off their oddly small legion in beakie armour which is fine which I don't think is particulalry unreasonable as everyone was given prototypes and a testing amount of 2% would be stupidly small to actually get decent data on I reckon!)
 

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There should be a bit of sanity when it comes to armor marks.

Some of the specialized kits only come in 1 or 2 armor marks. Example, if I want an Apothecary from FW, it has mk2 and mk4 in the pack. If I want a different mark, I would have to convert something....Basically adding expense to an already expensive game. Add in the fact that some kits still don't exist or are out of print.

Intent is key. What is your opponent trying to do? New players or players trying to test something is okay. But I cringe when flavor-of-the-month players are trying to flex something.

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As someone who is into history, part of the appeal of HH is the 'future history' aspect of it. So much cool background from FW and BL makes the setting really appealing. That said, it is all made-up and imaginary. (Though largely very well written). 

In my local group, I am the big HH fan, but with the release of the new box a few people are getting into it. Discussing the game with a friend, the issue of Primaris and Mk.VII came up, as he has a large collection of both. 

My response was that they are his models to do with as he liked. I would personally like to see 30K minis being used, but I wouldn't say no to other people using what they have. I'm not going to force someone to buy a new army to try out the system, nor gatekeep everyone out unless they do it 'properly'. I will try to encourage people and offer advice based on the lore or background. At the end of the day it is just a game, we shouldn't take it too seriously.  

6 hours ago, SkimaskMohawk said:

I found the most rigid of "Heresy/legion has to be like X" tends to come from Reddit; if it ain't exactly how people think it should be, it's wrong. People on there have asked me if I tried using a darker blue for my night lords for example. 

 

Far too often in historical games people get hung up on uniforms and colours. The fact is wars are very hard on fabric and armour. Colours get bleached, stained, changed between production batches and a whole lot more besides. Trying to claim that every soldier in a galaxy wide conflict would have exactly the same colour armour is patently ridiculous. 

Some possible explanations:

"You're looking at them under a yellow sun, but I painted them to be fighting under a white sun."

"Their last campaign was on an irradiated battlefield, which bleached the colour of their armour."

"Due to the massive logistical nightmare of trying to get resupplied during a galactic civil war, they were accidentally supplied with paint meant for the Ultramarines."

"Really? Could you give me the official RGB values assigned to this legion as outlined in the Principia Bellicosa?"

"The Legion serfs messed up. Punishment was swift."

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The lore has changed quite a bit over the years.

 

Different things inspire different people.

 

Personally I really like beakies, and so most of my forces will be MKVI.

 

With my Sons of Horus, my Veteran and Dispoiler squads are made from CSM kits, as are my apothecary and HQ units. No one, in person, has said anything about them being not lore correct, most rather like them, and one guy wanted to commission me to paint him some. I declined as I am not that good, and don't have the time.

 

I think a lot of the saltiness exists in echo chambers online, and in the real world, most people are gonna be ok with armies that are at least trying. 

Edited by Marshall Mittens
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Great to see the replies here! My own gaming group features some long in the tooth like myself, but also a good deal that are new to the game, i.e. only picked it up in 8th/9th edition, so as one of the more experienced with 6th ed/heresy, I'm trying to gently nudge in the direction of fun gaming, and not the arms race that 40k is. Similarly, people have 40k armies, and the newer guys a few times have said 'just proxy your army...' which makes me wince internally, but largely people have gotten on board with the heresy style models, which is great. I wouldn't force anyone to collect a whole new army, but by the same token, it's a respect thing - they want to play a historical game system, so they should at least try to build an army with the right aesthetic - though @TheTrans's comments above encapsulate my thoughts on this - it's more about effort than actual models. 

There will always be gatekeepers, however I think they will eventally get drowned out as more people come into the hobby. There was a lot of, er, backlash, even on this forum when plastic heresy came out. It wasn't even about armour marks, it was about plastic users v resin. A few 'senior' hobbyists/forumers even quit the game, never to return, seemingly.  

Things have got better since, though I'm sorry you're getting flamed. There will always be die-hards, but the chance of 1) you ever meeting them 2) them actually acting like that in real life, and not from behind the safety of a keyboard is slim.

I think the best things is to stay on B&C :happy: Reddit's a bit of a hole. 

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Well I'll add this.

Prior to investing into 30k I dove into the deep end on what is expected, and how the game is usually treated. I obviously found some of the echo chambers, and watched a ton of bat reps and 30k substitute videos. Some of those guys got real beardy, while others were much more constructive with what you can field and not get hazed for.

My best example is the Proteus pattern land speeder. I had a couple land speeders sitting in my untouched pile for quite some time. I do not like the flying two-man toilet seats, and wanted to know if the slicker 40k model would be okay, turns out it is overwhelmingly accepted with minimal work. No I'm not going to square up the seated legs, but I've made sure to add mark VI everywhere else I could, and painted their beaks bronze as that's how vehicle crew are depicted. I've also added recon badges to their open shoulders as since land speeders are meant to be recon boats. The Multi-meltas and heavy flamers are the new pattern, and Iif anyone has a problem with that, I will tell the truth, I didn't want to do any major converting on these models, but they are lore accurate everywhere else.

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