Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Fast forward to today and we'll see if things have gotten better for the community. My hometown had at least one dedicated, still solvent game store with GW support, last I knew. That's an improvement over what I had. FLGSs are a great resource for novice players, giving an environment where staff and patrons can teach game systems, show you assembly, and give painting tips. In a brief and completely unscientific survey, it looks like most moderate sized towns have some kind of game store within a reasonable distance. That's pretty good considering the average FLGS is hell bent on running itself out of business.
Like me, many players may have friends and family to help them get into the game. I think I beat that topic into the fucking ground last week, so we'll walk away from it here.
Now let's assume that you don't have product support or friends and family. What are you to do? Buying a starter set would look like a good place to start. It jump starts your mini collection and should have some kind of a quick start guide, right? Right? Yeah, so look at Island of Blood and tell me if you can find a quick start guide. But I have a booklet that says "Read This First" on it. Well good luck with that, it contains approximately 0 units of useful data (which will henceforth be know as datons).
From the hobby side we've got a paragraph or two and a couple of pictures on assembly. Not to helpful there, but it should suffice for the simple minis in the IoB box. Things look grimmer still for painting. In the fine tradition of WD and some of the more recent GW supplements, there isn't actually ANY info here, but rather a thinly veiled advert for the How to Paint Citadel Miniatures book. Thanks GW, I just spent 6 months of my allowance on a $100 box set and now I need to cough up another $30 to learn painting basics. I've seen a lot of talk about the price of admission being too high for GW games, discouraging new players from starting up. Shit like that isn't helping any.
How about the game play? Well there's the rulebook, that should help us get started. Except if you've never played anything like this before, the size and scope of the rules would be a little overwhelming. Think back to your 12 year old self and imagine trying to learn all of the concepts of wargaming from the ground up- learning new jargon and concepts, while trying to keep it all together to get your first few games in. Not an easy task, is it? Wouldn't a quick start guide be useful? Well tough shit, you don't get one. You don't even get a basic scenario for your first game; you just have to dive right in.
GW didn't even have the courtesy to give you rules for what's in your box. Hidden somewhere in the endless marginalia is a note telling you to go to page 154 of the rulebook for unit stats. That's all well and good, but what does this warpfire thrower do? Are there special rules I should no about for any units? Well tough titty for you; none of those questions can be answered with anything provided in the set.
Buried in the labyrinthine structure of the GW website is a series of articles on the Island of blood. Here you can find the stats and quick start rules you need. Why do I know this? I stumbled on it by accident actually. Nothing in the "Read This First" book tells you to check out a specific URL to get all you need to start playing. Wanting to see the kind of information was available in the half dozen or so guides on line, I clicked on the unit stats guide. Imagine my surprise when the GW US website directed me to a guide published entirely in Spanish! Puta Madre! It looks like all of the necessary rules and info is there, but I can't for the life of me make heads or tails of the documents, since my Spanish isn't so good. So I'm sorry
Ingeniero Brujo Ratachitt, but it looks like I'll never know what you do- I hope you have fun on LA ISLA DE SANGRE, though. Would it really have been that hard to print a usefull quick start guide book and put it in the box instead of the catalouge disguised as a quick start guide you've provided. You've done it in the past, why break from a good tradition now?
To wrap this all up in a neat little bow, the IoB, while full of great minis and still a fairly good value, does not succeed in helping new players out. Without proper support from family, friends, FLGSs, and most importantly GW, I can't honestly see how a novice player would cope with any aspect of getting started with WFB, from hobby stuff to gaming. As far as I'm concerned GW really dropped the ball on producing a product that would make a great game system accessible to a new audience.