Saturday, June 5, 2010

Guess range = skill?

I don't know how many times I've seen this topic come up.. but would you guys consider guessing ranges to be a skill?  I think it is.  To guess distances in your head and plan your moves accordingly is not only a sign of veteranship at table-top gaming, but also a demonstration of true wargaming skill.

For example, I move a unit in position to charge next turn.  His charge distance is 14".  I'm eyeballing this game-changing maneuver a turn in advance so I can force my enemy's next move into a check.  I know that if he gets in my charge range, my flank charge will win the game for me, but can he judge range as well as I can?  Another scenario can arise when I need to make a critical shot from a Stone Thrower.  I need to guess the correct distance to stop that Stegadon from charging and breaking my units.  My aim has to be true and I must not miss.  Luck is not a dependable factor to justify victory or defeat.  The last example would be that I need to make the correct game winning activations with Cygnar.  I know my Stormclad's charge range is 8" + reach but do I really need that extra 2" from Telekinesis or Temporal Acceleration or can my focus be better spent to boost my Defender's ranged and damage dice.

All these things are mere examples of what veteran wargamers consider a skill and what amateurs consider luck: It was pure luck that you moved your units 2.5" back and made me fail my charge!  It was pure luck that you hit my Bloodthirster with a Stonethrower from 28" away!  It was pure luck that you moved your units 2" away out of my 14" range and I wasted 3 focus on my warjack!

Guess range is an art gathered from years of seeing that measuring tape extend and retract.  It's like watching a pianist play a masterpiece with his eyes closed.  He has done it so many times he has it in his mind.  Sadly, from what I hear about 8th Ed. Fantasy, guess ranges are out of the picture and you can measure anytime when determining charges.  No further comment.


Anonymous said...

It's an unnecessary barrier to entry for newer players, and doesn't really add to the game. If the game is less about guessing inches on a table, then the game becomes more tactical and a more level playing field. I'd rather beat an opponent not because he made a mistake on a range guess, to me that's like beating an opponent because he forgot to use a psychic power or psychic hood.

I'm not saying its not a skill, but it just seems like it's a silly skill to equate with wargaming, which should be more about strategy and tactics than ones skill at carpentry.

OTOH, if you let people measure all the time, you will encounter THAT guy, who measures EVERYTHING every step of the way, and slows the game down to a crawl.

HERO said...

I like it because it's one of those things that separates the veteran wargamers from the non. Sure, it might be a little tedious for the average gamer and very unfriendly for the newbies, but it's still a skill earned through experience. Give the examples above, would you say you would enjoy the game more, strategically and tactically if you could pre-measure in all those situations?

Anonymous said...

Yes. Pre-measuring just takes out guesswork and estimation and places the emphasis back on strategy and tactics and making smart moves. One shouldn't be relying upon an opponent to make range related mistakes to win games anyway.

It also means there is less dickery and bickering over ranges and odd end-runs around measuring rules, like this:

Maine said...

I don't think veterancy has anything to do with it. There are veteran gamers who can't estimate for crap over 12", and there are newbies who could estimate 36" within 1" accuracy.

Guessing has absolutely nothing to do with strategy or tactics - it's a gimmick that dates back to the early days of the game which was VERY different from now.

A general shouldn't be telling his cannon crews how they should aim. He has more important things to worry about.

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