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Author Topic: "If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"  (Read 1621 times)

Benoist

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« on: September 07, 2013, 01:42:05 PM »
I've seen this remark, knee-jerk reaction, no matter how you want to call it, crop up in RPG debates: This idea that if you are playing by the rules, and look at your character sheet for abilities and such, then it's really "just a wargame."

I find this argument quite bizarre, because that doesn't fit with my experience playing wargames. I can see how that reaction could come up if what you'd have in mind is, say, an hex and chit wargame only involving two players with no referee, but that's not all wargames are, really.

In fact, the refereeing tradition that gave birth to the Dungeon Master as we know it comes in part (with Diplomacy variants etc etc) from miniatures wargames involving referees. Back in those days (late 60s/early 70s), rules were passed on from referee to referee and a large amount of ad hoc adjudication was expected, with amendments to the rules and so on, to the point that in effect, no two miniature war gaming groups were using the exact same rules in play. Chainmail was a fruit of that tradition, and an attempt to create a standardized set of rules for miniatures play.

So each time I see the argument that playing by the RAW equals wargame, I raise an eyebrow. Do you feel the same?

jadrax

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2013, 01:57:08 PM »
I known that we never stuck to the RAW in wargames.

Benoist

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2013, 02:06:15 PM »
Quote from: jadrax;689332
I known that we never stuck to the RAW in wargames.

*nod* I remember playing Tank Leader for instance when we were teens and changing the stats of some particular tank models or infantry units because they somehow didn't make sense to us.

P&P

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2013, 02:15:25 PM »
I think the question conflates two very different things, Ben.

1. Are you playing by the RAW?
2. Are you looking to your character sheet to decide your skills and abilities?

Rules as written

Playing by the rules as written affects the game on the GM's side of the table.  When the GM doesn't intervene to save dying characters or put the plot back on track, it removes story as an agency within the game; if you play by the RAW story might be the result of the game but it's not a process within the game.  Thus to someone who's interested in story or character in RPGs (and the two often go together), playing by the RAW can lower the fun quotient and remove one of the things that, for them, distinguishes RPGs from other games.

Relying on character sheet

Relying on your character sheet affects the game on the player's side of the table.  When the player uses only the manouvres and options that are actually written down, it eliminates creative play; at that point, character creation and dice rolls take more of the driving seat on whether player characters succeed or fail, and in most games live or die.  Thus to someone who's interested in the freeform, imaginative aspect of RPGs, relying on the character sheet can lower the fun quotient and remove one of the things that, for them, distinguishes RPGs from other games

My personal bias is that I don't like being made to rely on my character sheet but I do prefer it when the GM plays by the RAW.  I certainly don't mind the occasional GM-imposed dice modifier or situational bonus, even when these are outside the RAW, if it makes sense in context.  I do object to GMs interfering with the rules to save characters or for story- or plot-based reasons.
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Benoist

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2013, 02:21:29 PM »
I understand, Stuart. I'm not so much concerned about condemning playing by the RAW or not in a RPG with this thread, though. I'm more interested in wargames here (hence the thread in Other Games as opposed to the Main RPG forum). What really puzzles me is the equivalence being made between "playing RAW" and "wargame". That's just not how I envision wargames at all, not that you can't play some RAW and all, but that's just not what all wargames can be, or really are, to me.

Do you play all your wargames RAW, and/or do you play wargames involving referees, ad hoc adjudication, house ruling and the like?

P&P

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2013, 02:49:43 PM »
Right now my main wargame outlet is PBEM games of Steel Panthers: World at War, which is computer-moderated.  Face to face, I'm generally an Avalon Hill sort of person.  My fave games are Panzerblitz and Panzer Leader, but if that's not an option I'll happily take you on at ASL.  These are two-player games without a GM (although ASL is also fun with a GM and a bit of fog of war).

PB and PL I play RAW.  ASL we generally ignored, well, quite a lot of rules.

I've got a mate who was well into Warhammer at one stage.  I'm not and I've always found Warhammer to be utterly pathetic as a wargame.  I like the miniatures and have a small collection of them, which we were using to develop an alternative game using 28mm miniatures that sucks less than WH, but that failed when my mate moved house, so now they just gather dust.
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CRKrueger

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2013, 03:11:37 PM »
I think Mistwell has a point, however, he was ranting. :D

Personally, I would say the "character sheet mentality" is more a MMOGism then a wargamism.  

You can claim CharOp started with what sword you bought, or with Kits and 2nd Edition, but the concept of a build, a planned character advancement path that maximizes damage, defense, healing, control, whatever was introduced by MMOs and picked up by 3e players, the first post-EQ version of D&D.

Those Enworld threads that were driving Mistwell nuts?  Look at the WoW threads, they're exactly the same.
Even the the "cutting edge" storygamers for all their talk of narrative, plot, and drama are fucking obsessed with the god damned rules they use. - Estar

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Benoist

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2013, 03:19:06 PM »
To be absolutely clear I'm not complaining about Mistwell or anyone in particular with this thread. I've really seen this type of remark about "RAW equals wargame" crop up in various discussions lately, at least three four times in the last few days, that pinged on my radar more than it usually does, and I thought I could start a thread about the reason it puzzles me. That's all there is to it.

Benoist

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2013, 03:22:33 PM »
Quote from: CRKrueger;689359
Those Enworld threads that were driving Mistwell nuts?  Look at the WoW threads, they're exactly the same.

How about arguments on the Games Workshop's forums? Are people arguing about the RAW of Warhammer Fantasy Battles a lot? Maybe that perception that wargames are necessarily played RAW comes from that type of tournament-style hobby-shop organized events that basically rely on a strict application of standardized rules nowadays because "marketing"?

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2013, 03:27:56 PM »
When I was playing wargames - 60s and 70s - I learned how to *not* play by the RAW. So much so that the first time I ran an RPG in 1977 - and every time thereafter - I edited the rules before I ran the game.

That's all I can say about this.

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CRKrueger

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2013, 03:33:56 PM »
Quote from: Benoist;689365
How about arguments on the Games Workshop's forums? Are people arguing about the RAW of Warhammer Fantasy Battles a lot? Maybe that perception that wargames are necessarily played RAW comes from that type of tournament-style hobby-shop organized events that basically rely on a strict application of standardized rules nowadays because "marketing"?


Yeah there are threads on RAW interpretations and lots of threads on list building, but also a lot of threads on tactics, stuff that is more emergent rather then predetermined.  The RAW stuff is definitely there, because official tournaments don't deviate from it.
Even the the "cutting edge" storygamers for all their talk of narrative, plot, and drama are fucking obsessed with the god damned rules they use. - Estar

Yes, Sean Connery's thumb does indeed do megadamage. - Spinachcat

Isuldur is a badass because he stopped Sauron with a broken sword, but Iluvatar is the badass because he stopped Sauron with a hobbit. -Malleus Arianorum

"Tangency Edition" D&D would have no classes or races, but 17 genders to choose from. -TristramEvans

robiswrong

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2013, 05:28:33 PM »
Quote from: Benoist;689329
I've seen this remark, knee-jerk reaction, no matter how you want to call it, crop up in RPG debates: This idea that if you are playing by the rules, and look at your character sheet for abilities and such, then it's really "just a wargame."


Depends on the rules, doesn't it?  If you play a more rules-light game RAW, I don't think it's fair to call it 'just a wargame'.

I think the real difference is how much you pay attention to "the world", "theater of the mind", or whatever you want to call it vs. how much attention you pay to the physical artifacts of the game.

Quote from: CRKrueger;689359

You can claim CharOp started with what sword you bought, or with Kits and 2nd Edition, but the concept of a build, a planned character advancement path that maximizes damage, defense, healing, control, whatever was introduced by MMOs and picked up by 3e players, the first post-EQ version of D&D.


I think the build/charop stuff has been going on for a long time, far longer than MMOs.  Outside of D&D, GURPS and Champions have been the poster-boys for 'builds' for decades.  Magic: the Gathering had a *huge* focus on deck-building, and it's not surprising that some people transferred that desire to RPGs.  I'm still not convinced that the level of optimization available in 3.0, at least, was really *planned*.

And at any rate, EQ is a poor scapegoat for bringing builds to D&D - given that, at the time 3.0 shipped, it didn't have anything resembling builds - just classes and races.  The first thing that resembled 'builds' was Alternate Advancement points, which were part of Shadows of Luclin - the third expansion.  And I don't even think those were limited, so it was mostly a matter of which order you got them in.

CRKrueger

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2013, 09:41:31 PM »
Quote from: robiswrong;689413
I think the build/charop stuff has been going on for a long time, far longer than MMOs.  Outside of D&D, GURPS and Champions have been the poster-boys for 'builds' for decades.
GURPS and Champions had a small fraction of players of D&D.  It's only after MMOs (and you're right MtG had an effect as well) that you see the real Build mentality come to D&D.  

Quote from: robiswrong;689413
I'm still not convinced that the level of optimization available in 3.0, at least, was really *planned*.
A build is a planned character path planned by the player, not by Monte Cook.

Quote from: robiswrong;689413
And at any rate, EQ is a poor scapegoat for bringing builds to D&D - given that, at the time 3.0 shipped, it didn't have anything resembling builds - just classes and races.  The first thing that resembled 'builds' was Alternate Advancement points, which were part of Shadows of Luclin - the third expansion.  And I don't even think those were limited, so it was mostly a matter of which order you got them in.
There wasn't WoW level building, the tools weren't in place, the building was all through stat levels, which were done through gear, attained through proper Raid progressions, etc...  I used post-EQ as it was the MMO with the biggest early impact, and also because the notion of Tank, Healer, DPS, Controller, Buffer, DeBuffer, etc... came from EQ and was carried forth in later games.
Even the the "cutting edge" storygamers for all their talk of narrative, plot, and drama are fucking obsessed with the god damned rules they use. - Estar

Yes, Sean Connery's thumb does indeed do megadamage. - Spinachcat

Isuldur is a badass because he stopped Sauron with a broken sword, but Iluvatar is the badass because he stopped Sauron with a hobbit. -Malleus Arianorum

"Tangency Edition" D&D would have no classes or races, but 17 genders to choose from. -TristramEvans

Gronan of Simmerya

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2013, 12:20:27 AM »
"You're just playing a wargame" has replaced "It's rollplaying not roleplaying" in the trollish lexicon.

The correct response in either case is "Tongue my pee hole."
You should go to GaryCon.  Period.

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TristramEvans

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"If you're playing RAW, it's really just a wargame!"
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2013, 02:11:11 AM »
All I know is every wargame I've ever played is way less complex than any edition of D&D released in the last decade.
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