Monday, September 28, 2009

[ 09 / 28 / 05 ] You'd hit it.

One of the old annoyances has come back around in the noise this week - chaos power-specific rosters. Has a new face ever appeared in the community that didn't quickly attempt to ingraciate itself to us all by bringing a quartet of chaos rosters down from the mountain to fill the void no one else had ever had the foresight to fill?

Still, the new guy flogging the unregenerated troll is, while a nuisance, excusable. On the surface it is an obvious step no matter how pointless and unneccessary it may be, but it really gets my jock in a wad when an old fart suddenly brings it up again. He really should know better by now.

We 've been over this, people. The answer is no.

The reason for such obstinance on this subject is simple enough, first of all, daemon rosters have yet to appear which aren't deficient in game design terms and second of all, they're already in the game.

Team design is always the first stumbling block to a daemon team. The response is always to either introduce new, overdeveloped daemon players or to give existing players a mutation. Either option is a major increase in potency of the chaos roster as it stands, and is thus utterly inadmissable on grounds of poor design. Even the most insightful and balanced approaches have ultimately found no widespread interest in the community as a whole. While it may be true that this is most largely due to the general indifference to unofficial rosters through most of the audience, there is also a clear undercurrent of specific indifference to this concept among those with even the faintest shred of creativity and understanding of team development because in the end, attempts to create power-specific rosters come up against one insurmountable barrier, stated or otherwise - star player points.

It is simply the case that any regular chaos team can become a fully-realized chaos power team in just a handful of games. Skill selection shapes a team, and by choosing skills that reflect the traditional characteristics of the desired power, a coach can quickly put the appropriate stamp on his squad. A coach trying to create a nurgle squad can load up on Foul Appearance, one going after a Tzeench motif can get a few players with Big Hand.

Thoughtful team development, coupled with good modelling, can achieve the entire aim of daemon rosters, and can do so without introducing any new complexities or imbalances to the game. The appreciation and understanding of this fact is a constant subtext in discussions of power-specific rosters, and underlines another unstated aspect of the widespread dislike for such rosters - the clear presence of the aroma of cheese.

Whether they realize it or not, what people are trying to get to with this sort of roster creation is a head start. They are trying to "get back" those first couple of skill rolls to use them on more tactically-desirable skills such as block and guard rather than the skills which would provide a connection the daemon concept which they cannot intellectually make without an entry on the roster sheet. Unable to either reach satisfaction with achieving the concept through modelling alone, or through modelling and targetted team development, these people either have a profound lack of immagination, are secretly powergamers, or are just exceptionally slow to pick up on game design concepts. The rosters they design rely upon specific skills, rather than modelling or simple roleplaying, to convey the character of the specific chaos variety they wish to emmulate, yet they are not willing to sacrifice traditional development lines to get to them. They are unable to realize a chaos power team without specific mutati _
s, and too greedy to just take those mutations in the normal course of development.

The rest of us, even when we can't put it into words, seem to sense this essential lack of character which so often drives daemon rosters, and are wise enough to steer clear of such notions. While there may be a place for such concepts in leagues with the doors blown off roster options and very loose standards for balance and logic, in the much more narrow conventional world, and especially in the world of officially-recognized choices, there is just no effective niche for these rosters.

And a niche is what is required. A new roster is not a matter of realizing a development platform, it is a matter of introducing a new tactical design idea to the game. Designing a roster, for example, that is founded upon a highly-mobile, larcenous team with many players possessing pass block and strip ball is a style of play niche which was not explored by the initial set of rosters, and is therefore ripe pickings for an acceptable new roster. The chaos power rosters always fail to measure up to this niche standard because they do not explore a unique concept in team play, they simply allocate advanced development steps or at their most innocent are an attempt to convey an aesthetic idea through a roster, which is folly in itself, as all aesthetic considerations should be left to the models alone. It is indeed true that should someone craft a roster that suits an unexplored game idea which also satisfies the misplaced aesthetic needs of a daemon roster, then they would have a valid argument for the valid _
y of the roster - but how often has this actually occurred? Can such a niche be found for every one of the four powers without a suspension of at least some level of rational evaluation? not likely, and less likely when every attempt begins and ends with the limited Chaos roster to begin with.

Ultimately, power-specific rosters just cannot find a reasonable foothold in the game. They cannot be created without being overdeveloped, kickstarting development, expressing aesthetic ideas best left to the miniatures instead, or realize a nuiance of the game not yet explored in other rosters. Daemon rosters just cannot be introduced in a manner which improves the game, and cannot be justified as anything other than poor design, developmental greed, or a basic lack of creativity.