Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rules Design Failures - Marbo's Leap of Death

I was having a brief chat w/ Chip Boyd of Torrent of Fire, and Bob Roda of Blood Skulls and Fire (Blog) ... independently ... and up came the subject of Death Leaper.

When Games Workshop made the rule in 6th Edition that you could not assault out of Reserves/Outflank, I understood that from a logic / "fluff" perspective (even if I disliked it from a gameplay perspective). The World in which you are gaming does not end at the edges of the Playing Surface. If a big formation of Chimeras led by Al'Rahem is rolling down on your army from the flank, you ARE likely to see it coming the same way you see things on the Playing Surface. So the notion that your tanks or units or whatever would just obligingly ignore them until they were being assaulted is unreasonable from a fluff perspective. Preventing assault on the arrival turn still permits some element of surprise, but circumvents the fluff conundrum.

Now, I don't approve of making decisions in a fantasy tabletop game full of monsters and daemons based on fluff, but I'm going to get a little hypcritical here at first and then explain why my complaint is from a gameplay AND fluff perspective.

My issue is why they did not simultaneously with 6th Edition (and really, earlier as well) invent rules for units like Guardsman Marbo and Lictors that PERMITTED them to Assault on the turn they arrived.

Let's look at this from both gameplay and fluff perspectives.

Let's create a combat-capable, fragile unit that relies on secrecy to surprise your opponent, and doesn't sustain being shot very well, but make it so that when it DOES arrive, it can't use assault to prevent being shot at.
Game Design Fail. At this point, if you're insistent upon not having them assault when they arrive, DON'T INCLUDE THEM IN YOUR GAME.

Here's where it gets stupid. Let's just use the Lictor.
Let's create a super scary chameleonic super critter that hides in wait before STABBING THINGS when they walk by its ambush. Then, let's make it so it actually turns off its perfect camo, flings a couple of fleshy ropes, and screams its position out to the world, while giving all those nearby and far away a chance to shoot it, and THEN try to stab things.
Fluff Fail.

There are a lot of rules in 40k that are weird b/c of Fluff. There are a few rules that are weird because of Gameplay. Can someone please explain to me the rules that fail to pass the smell test regardless of whether you are playing a game OR forging a narrative?



  1. Completely agree, though I don't really agree fluff wise with not assaulting out of reserve (I get if for say Alrahem and chimeras) for most units with special deployment. The list is pretty long

    Especially with interceptor and overwatch existing I see no reason to not allow it. As it stand a unit with sneaky reserves has too many chances to die. I pop up eat interceptor, if I live, I eat regular shooting, if I still live, I eat overwatch.....
    Snikrot and Kommandos - Sneakiest ork ever, and he walks up and says hey over here shoot me in the face.

    Wolf Scouts (heck any space marine scout unit)- I'm good enough to sneak behind enemy lines, only to present myself to the firing squad.

    Lictors/Deathleaper/Marbo - covered

    Callidus Assassin- I am supposed to impersonate the enemy and murder people, but instead I pop up and die.

    Genestealers outflanking- these guys are supposed to be fast and fairly stealthy, but no (Y-stealers are the only ones that still work)

    Such an easy rules fix- Only Infantry units (non-transported) can assault from reserve. Covers all the really sneaky units, and prevents things like Khorne Dogs outflanking 24" into an assault.

  2. Mike, I don't want to alarm you, but I think that your Reality Distortion Field is failing.

    Seriously, take a break from 40k and GW. Play some LCGs like Dominion or Thunderstone. Perhaps a Eurogame or two. Get a sense of what else is out there.

    1. I take my break from 40k to play flag football, get outside in general, and take care of life as a general whole. At some point I'll find the time to try these other things more completely :)

  3. Subterranean Assault rules for the Trygon: whine post here: http://midlifegamingcrisis.blogspot.com/2012/08/subterranean-assault-revisited.html

  4. No assault out of reserves makes the same amount of sense as not being able to shoot the flank or rear of tanks when you come in from reserves. Is that not the way the rules are?

  5. I feel exactly the same about Webway Portals. We have this dimensional shift from the Webway into reality, which has been developed for the express purpose of our pirate raids, but when we pop out all RAWWWR!, we then have to, what, take a breather and eat a scone before making with the stabby? Bah.