My last post brought some discussion on the WarEngine Yahoo group about whether my vision of a WarEngine v3.0 as presented wouldn’t break the “play anything” concepts that have always been at the heart of the WarEngine. Without further elaboration, it might appear that way, but let’s explore it further.
There are really multiple layers of building out your force. At its most basic level, you have the charts of point costs for attributes. When you work at that level, you can do most anything.
Next you have the process of building out a force selection structure. At this point, you add some restrictions like how many elites you are allowed as compared to troopers or how many hero points you may distribute. (In the rules, these are presented as global rules, but people routinely agree to suspend those, like modeling GW’s Warhammer 40K system, where all Space Marines are elite [something I am not particularly endorsing, a caveat I put forth based on experience.] Suspending the point system, though, would mean just building an entirely new system.)
You also restrict the “play anything” principles of the point system with force selections by defining troop types, restricting (or expanding or renaming) tweaks, defining specific armories, and so on.
Finally, using the force selection structure, you pick out an actual force. You’ve now restricted your selections even further: “I have these troops.”
Put in a more PowerPoint style:
- Points cost tables, turn sequence, concepts like tweaks, hero points, etc <- The WarEngine
- Limits on elites vs. troopers, default tweak lists, default special powers, etc <- “Official” WarEngine game structure
- Specific force lists designed for a given genre or story and grouped for balance <- Settings, e.g. Shock Force
- Force selection, house rules and exceptions, actual game play <- Games, e.g. “Bob fights Joe”
The parts of my previous discussion on WarEngine v3.0 pertaining to aspects like base profiles, racial profiles, force-level armories and the like are actually guidelines at the second of these levels intended to help players create better settings and not specific to a particular version.
As long as the system includes access to the infrastructure that is The WarEngine, any layers built on top of it by definition can’t limit the “play anything” nature of the game because anyone can develop alternatives to the ways those layers are presented.