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 Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim

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wyldhunt
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PostSubject: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Tue 12 Jan 2010 - 18:48

::steps up on soapbox::

I hope to present and join in this discussion without raising hackles. Mods, I ask even before saying anything else that if this topic gets out of hand, please just lock it.

I have noticed that there seem to be two extremes of gaming styles in Mordheim, with everyone actually between these two poles. It's interesting to note how these styles look at the rules of Mordheim, as well as other aspects. Please allow me to lay out my perceptions of these two extremes, and ruminate how these can help each other.

What the powergamer sees in Mordheim: a potentially great set of rules for a game with plenty of atmosephere. However, this is a game, not a toy, and the game sessions are to be won. Without striving to win, there is no reason to play this as a game.

What the fluffgamer sees in Mordheim: a wonderfully great setting in which to play with models and story. The game aspect gives some structure to the toy-playing and stories to tell. Without the models and story, the rules don't mean much.

The powergamer isn't so interested in the modeling/story aspect of the game unless the rules give a reason to care, such as requiring WYSIWYG or rewarding modeling/stories with Fate Points.

The fluffgamer isn't so interested in the game balance and omissions/state of the official rules, unless a powergamer joins the group and proceeds to win in what he considers a disproportionate amount – that is, enough to spoil his fun.

The powergamer - on his best behavior - is frustrated by the state of the official rules, and wishes to balance them so that all have a fair chance to win, all while pursuing his goal of playing the game to win himself. He doesn't want to have to “throw” games in order for others to have fun, as it ruins his own fun. The powergamer at his worst doesn't care about the state of the official rules, and just uses them to win game after game without regard to the others.

The fluffgamer - on his best behavior - is frustrated by the powergamer's playing to win (he'd rather the powergamer throw the dice and let them tell the story), and wishes to broaden the powergamer into a fluffgamer. He doesn't want to have to go through rounds and rounds of rules analysis and changes - that just ruins his fun in modeling and storymaking. The fluffgamer at his worst will just kick the powergamer from his group.

This is because Mordheim is a hybrid product - a game allowing one to play with cool toys in a great story, but one that is incomplete and unbalanced.

So, how can the two groups reach out to each other?

First, understand each other's desires when they're on their best behavior. Understand that the fluffgamer wants to concentrate on the models and story, and the powergamer wants to concentrate on the rules.

Second, see the game from each others eyes. Fluffgamers, understand that balanced rules help the story along by giving worthy options - a close game played well and excitedly by all involved will write its own story, and a rules benefit from well-modeled figures and buildings will involve more people and more creativity in making them. Powergames, understand that the fantastic models and stories are part of winning the game - participating in making them creates enjoyment for all involved, and making the best ones is just as important to “winning” as the number of scenarios won.

Third, help each other have a great game. Powergamer - paint those models; make that building; write that story! Fluffgamer - give some time to rules discussion and be open to balancing changes - don't be tied to the rules as-is and expect the powergamer not to use them to his advantage!

You may have a completely different perception on the situation - if you can share these perceptions, and ideas for how the two groups can help each other, rather than just “I'll shove my wins down your throat” or “get out of my club if you use the rules imbalances against me,” I'd really like to hear them.

I'll brag a bit here - the rules compendium and revisions we've pursued locally have begun to bear fruit. Not that I'm the only one, but ours is going well now. There's still a hell of a lot to do, but the work is beginning - just beginning - to pay off. I'm painting and modeling now. Last Sunday, for the first time, the other two in our group wanted to stay and play for 6 hours straight, going through three scenarios and campaign moves in between, all after doing some initial preparatory setup (before it was just two scenarios max and they were done). My two young sons were glued to our activities, and my younger (almost 4 years old) later that evening told me that he was sad that he couldn't play his favorite game – Mordheim (I gently explained that he would have to wait until he was five, just like his older brother did).

If we can get Mordheim to satisfy both powergamers and fluffgamers, we'll expand our audience, and be able to more easily include more people in this game.

::steps down from soapbox::
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Tue 12 Jan 2010 - 22:36

Hear hear. I agree to one hundred with what you are expressing here. And even if your point is still made either way, I just cant help but to think of the ones you described here as sort of extremes?

A Fluffgamer can be totally into the ruleset too, right? But instead of exploiting them (one man henchmen groups) he modifies them to stop such from happening. I would call the Flufgamer a Fluffmodder in many cases. Myself, for example:

I strive to win, but by doing fair and square and by rules and regulations that reflect fluff. NO one man henchmengroups, NO vampire with bow, NO clan eshin skaven with flails etc. It is more in line with a powerfamer in a way that you tinker with the rules, but instead of doing it to win or exploit, you do it to PREVENT exploiting or correcting some bad fluff issues.

That said, I'm a proud Fluffgamer/Fluffmodder Smile

And once again, great article!
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Wed 13 Jan 2010 - 9:09

I'll add one more to the list, the lazygamer:

The lazygamer is an amalgamation of the ideals of both the powergamer and the fluffgamer, without the drive to meet either set of ideals. The lazygamer is disheartened with the state of the rules and wants to make them better, but can't be bothered to do it himself. The lazygamer wants it to be fair for everyone but doesn't want to relearn what he learned in advanced statistics to do so. The lazygamer loves a fully painted warband and table overflowing with cool scenery but never finishes any projects he starts. The lazy gamer wants to write cool background material and battle reports but ends up playing PS3 instead.

The lazygamer is me!!

Seriously though, i can only see this discussion getting out of hand the moment someone starts naming names.
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Sat 23 Jan 2010 - 3:19

Nice writeup, wyld.

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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Tue 26 Jan 2010 - 18:47

Indeed, nice writeup. However, I personally don't think Mordheim is a game that suits the powergamer. To say Mordheim's rules are vague and unbalanced is an understatement. Certain warbands excel where others fall by the wayside in terms of improvements etc. But we can look past this because of the incredible background, the evocative imagery and the potential for a great narrative.

E.g My witch hunter captain dies in his first game (an occurence that became something of an epidemic for me in several campaigns). To the powergamer who sees only odds and probablilty, this is one of his best tools gone and now a sub-standard element must take over as leader - there is no upside to this, only a downside.

To me, a self-confessed fluffateer, this is a great excuse to thrust greatness onto my unsuspecting warrior priest. Whole stories will develop around his efforts to lead the warband, his struggles to act in a role he was not trained for, and look into the way his men might react to him.

There are plenty of other games that the powergamer can play to pit his wits against other powergamers. Warhammer is one - it's just about as unbalanced as Mordheim but the competetive element is more more prevalant.

Maybe I've just been influenced by the group I play with, who luckily share my mindset about creating tales and legends rather than winning at all costs.

I'm not trying to rock the boat here. I can't see this thread getting out of hand as it really is a point that I think can be discussed intelligently by the forum and has great scope for debate. I'm not saying I'm 100% correct, maybe I'm wrong, and I'd like it if we could hear from the other side of the fence - from these 'powergamers'.

All the best, and happy gaming.
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Wed 27 Jan 2010 - 5:53

Interesting stuff!

I'd have divided gamers into three categories personally: Fluffgamer, Powergamer and Hobbygamer.

The Hobbygamer is the one interested in the models, scenery and the other visual aspects of the game. Your division of Fluffgamer is actually made up of what I would call Fluffgamers and Hobbygamers.

It's possible for one person to made up of elements of two or all three divisions (I'd call myself a Fluffgamer/Hobbygamer) but they are not mutually-exclusive. It seems quite possible for someone to be into the story and the rules but have no interest in the modelling side.

The one thing I worry about though is someone from one division looking down on another and feeling superior because they aren't a Powergamer or whatever. This sort of finger-pointing and name-calling is not productive and not good for real life or online communities! Andy is right about the Flame On Luncheim group too - all players have at least enough of the fluffgamer to make our campaigns a lot of fun for all.

I like the article's intent though - taking the "other guy's" point of view will give both of you a better game and a more enjoyable experience. We only play for fun after all.

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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Wed 27 Jan 2010 - 8:43

That's a good point, Saul. Didn't think about the hobbygamer.

I can see powergamers also sharing traits with the hobbygamer in that they love to see great painted models and scenery. I just can't see them sharing the traits of a fluffgamer though. If there comes a point where an opportunity for victory presents itself, but it would go against the fluff of the warband, the powergamer would be compelled by his very nature to take the winning alternative. Powergamers can fit with fluffgamers only as far as they are not asked to pick between the two.

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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Wed 27 Jan 2010 - 8:46

Oh, and just to say I don't find myself superior to a powergamer. The three mentioned 'gamers' all find different aspects to enjoy about the hobby, I just think Mordheim doesn't lend itself well to powergaming, being a game driven by narrative.

If they enjoy it then they should do it, it's just from my point of view there are other fields of battle for them to indulge in this.
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Wed 27 Jan 2010 - 11:24

This is a very interesting discussion. In a sense, I can see all three (hobbygamer, fluffgamer, and powergamer) in myself. While I'm generally drawn to gaming of any kind for fluff reasons, I find that I'll want to start new warbands based on a conversion idea I came up with, and sometimes when I read the rules for a warband I think to myself "those guys would kick ass in a game, I want to try them out!"

It's funny, because some of the things I do I've learned are typically associated with powergamers (single-man henchmen groups), but on the other hand I do tend to go for specialized equipment, I almost never have max warband size (only in cases where I can amass a large number of non-xp gaining henchmen), in fact my warband sizes tend to hover in the 7-10 range. They have enough money to hire more guys, but I don't have the time/motivation to buy/convert/paint up 5 more henchmen to a warband, and I like the feel of a smaller warband anyways.

I do think that, in its own ways, Mordheim does cater to powergamers, though. To me, a game where the best options available are blatantly obvious, and you have to consciously decide not to take them, is practically built for powergaming. How many of us don't try to get as large of a warband as we can? How many of us give henchmen light armor and a halberd instead of hiring another henchman and giving him a club? How many of us buy armor at all, because realistically our warriors would want to protect themselves even though the in-game benefits don't reflect that very well? I think the fact that the "max out on models, buy cheap weapons" strategy is commonly accepted as the best way to play Mordheim only goes to show that even the mildest of powergamers have found the biggest problems with the rules - numbers win and equipment prices aren't balanced.

I guess in the end, I most closely fit Pathfinder Dubstyles's Lazygamer category...
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Wed 27 Jan 2010 - 15:39

Myntokk wrote:
I do think that, in its own ways, Mordheim does cater to powergamers, though. To me, a game where the best options available are blatantly obvious, and you have to consciously decide not to take them, is practically built for powergaming. How many of us don't try to get as large of a warband as we can? How many of us give henchmen light armor and a halberd instead of hiring another henchman and giving him a club? How many of us buy armor at all, because realistically our warriors would want to protect themselves even though the in-game benefits don't reflect that very well? I think the fact that the "max out on models, buy cheap weapons" strategy is commonly accepted as the best way to play Mordheim only goes to show that even the mildest of powergamers have found the biggest problems with the rules - numbers win and equipment prices aren't balanced.
Oh good Gork! Embarassed

I do this! I hadn't remotely thought about it as powergamey, but your are right - it could be seen like that!

That's it! No more clubs for me!
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Wed 27 Jan 2010 - 15:52

WarbossKurgan wrote:
That's it! No more clubs for me!
Yay!

Did Myntokk mention that trolls, magic and having a warband size exceeding five is also powergaming. You should cut down on those too.
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Wed 27 Jan 2010 - 16:47

WarbossKurgan wrote:
Oh good Gork! Embarassed

I do this! I hadn't remotely thought about it as powergamey, but your are right - it could be seen like that!

That's it! No more clubs for me!

Haha, well, I wouldn't change your playstyle unless you want to, and if it still fits your campaign's overall playstyle. What's considered powergaming in one group of players may be the norm in another - you should play whatever type of warband is the most fun for you in your group.

Andy wrote:
Did Myntokk mention that trolls, magic and having a warband size exceeding five is also powergaming. You should cut down on those too.
Razz

I don't think that there's anything inherently wrong with large warbands or avoiding armor or taking cheap weapons. I'm simply putting it out there that most people I've talked to play these strategies primarily for their in-game value, not for "fluffy" reasons. To some that defines powergaming, to others it's just common sense. Realistically, a warband is probably going to have a medley of arms and armor, but the rules of Mordheim favor large numbers and cheap stuff. So in that sense, you can't blame players for that fact.
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Wed 27 Jan 2010 - 19:06

In my group (which has dwindled considerably and unfortunately maxed out in middle school) most of us play very competetively, but there is a variety. I realized in reading this forum over the past year or so, that I turned from a fluff gamer to a pwer gamer

I do a lot of modeling and have converted enough guys to make most of the warbands, I am also the one in my group who finds and catalogs the rules we use, proposes any new articles and makes any changes to existing rules. I do this because I want the game to be more fair and balanced, but also in an attempt to give the game some variety. For the first five years I made tons of stories for my characters I would start with heavy armor and halberds and shields and all that good stuff ( I even used the pavise for a while) and then my friends caught up with my tactics and I had to change my choices to keep from getting slaughtered (I like the story part of the game, I don't like losing). Recently Ive been adapting rules as much as possible to keep fluff from getting in the way of competativeness.

Anyways there is one thing that irks me and its pure fluffgamers who try to take a high ground and decide trying to win by doing something "non fluffy" is wrong. Mordheim is a game. Yes there are other aspects to it but if you want to make models and write stories you can do that without ever playing the game. I like my warband to have character and backstory and I'm all for balance, but once my models get on the table Im playing to win.

Also who gets to decide whats fluffy?

There's one guy in my group who is just awful at the game. He does things like make 4 man averland warbands that start with a hunting rifle. Is that fluffy? who is going to mordheim with 4 warriors? Someone who's looking to get killed, so its only appropriately fluffy for him to get slaughtered. Games with him in them are a lot less fun than against the better players
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Fri 29 Jan 2010 - 19:37

Thank you all for the responses on this! Yes, the division between the story and the hobby aspects should be noted.

One purpose of this post was to call out that some people are more interested in one (or two) aspect(s) of Mordheim than other(s): the rules (gamey aspect); the story (fluff); the hobby aspects.

While I'm interested in all three, I have the most facility with rules (which doesn't translate into tactics, I'm afraid!), secondly story, and I want be much further along with modeling than I am.

The follow-up purpose was to show that the different aspects can be used to help - or hinder - other players. It's not just those who focus on rules who can ruin fun, and all players - all players - can help each other.

To me, the primary reason to play/write/model Mordheim is for the fun! To me, we should understand all three aspects of the game in their place, and be willing to bend and mesh with the other aspects, in order to increase the fun. Obviously, this is my opinion, and others may feel a different way.

One of the wonderful aspects of Mordheim is its ability to be molded to fit these different interests - and of course the group playing it will take Mordheim in the direction of their collective interests. However, when I see one aspect beginning to overpower the others, I'm personally not going to be in favor of that.

hmmm, how to end this post in a suitably cheesy way?

Play on!


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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Fri 29 Jan 2010 - 23:56

Good points, wyldhunt. Fair and concise.

wyldhunt wrote:
One of the wonderful aspects of Mordheim is its ability to be molded to fit these different interests - and of coure the group playing it will take Mordheim in the direction of their collective interests.
I think this is the defining statement of the whole debate, and it's a good one. If a player's group prefers a certain aspect and it makes them happy then why can't they indulge in it I say. I'll never see the appeal of rules taking precedence over fluff, but if other people do and find it fun then who am I to tell them they're playing it wrong? I guess it's about what you like best.

So happy gaming to all fluffies/hobbies/rulies.
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PostSubject: Re: Powergaming and Fluffgaming and Mordheim   Sat 30 Jan 2010 - 3:12

Amen to that!
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