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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

True Line of Sight: The real take


I'm going to do a snowmobile! iamaddj over at BoLS wrote an 'editorial' on TLoS and how it's killing the games we love. Whilst he tried to make the article humorous whilst also looking at the topic in-depth...well let's see for yourself. My comments will be in blue because apparently pink scares you people. The full article (with pictures) can be seen here.

Lately a new menace has begun to threaten the games we know and love so much. Oh, 5th edition is new? What's this new threat you ask? FORUMS! Well its greater than the religious nuts not possible or the rising price of metals and there's a big hint in the title about it, so read on for more.

True line of sight is the new big thing. I can't wait for "TLoS is the new black" Both 40k and Warhammer Fantasy have in their most recent additions moved to this system and it seems to be the new up and coming thing. It's the new black afterall It is a very simple concept at heart. You've hit on something here...you should of run with this. Basically, if the model can "see" what is trying to see, then it can in fact see it. Simple, easy, effective, realistic, at least at first glance. Bingo until your after-thought! True line of sight has begun to replace more abstracted systems that GW and other games systems used in the past. Again, you've hit on something here, you should of run with this. Gone are rules like size categories and only being able to see through 6 inches of woods. Now what you see is what you see, its simple. But its killing our games, it is overall one of the worse things to happen to wargaming, ever. No no, it's forums good man!

Why True Line of Sight In the First Place?
 
Legend (or possible a White Dwarf article?) has it that one day some of the design big wigs, walked in a game store. While they where going around watching some of the games being played they saw something they couldn't stand. They some guy trying to shoot at his friends Land Raider. I assumed what happened afterwards was this: What does assuming do to us again?

"Ah ha!" the designer thought to himself "He's got him now, that Land Raider will never survive being shot at by a missile launcher!" terrible example btw. What game designed would think a LR wouldn't survive a ML? Seriously? Even in 4th ed.


He was however surprised when the owner of the Land Raider calmly stated "I'm sorry my good man, but you just can not do that at all. You see my Land Raider is behind these woods hear, and according to the by-laws of our game that means you cannot see me."

Our startled designer looked down and saw that between the dreaded missile launcher and the doomed Land Raider was a base, WITH ONLY A SINGLE TREE ON IT, This is key to this guy's argument. meant to represent a whole forest. Aghast at this turn of events he swore to himself that he would fix this glaring problem in the next edition. Wait, what problem? You mean the problem of a bunch of extra rules, hiding huge tanks being easy, taking 10 minutes to decide what models could shoot, which models could die, which models had a cover save and then rolling this all? Oh no, you mean your imaginative abstraction of what a game designer thought was the problem with terrain...
 
 So in short we have true LoS because the powers that be got tired of people playing with bad terrain and wanted to force players, and stores, to get better terrain. That was their intent? Are you sure? Not to make the game easier to play? Like, 5 models can shoot, you get cover. Compare to the above. Terrain that was accurate and really represented the battlefields. On top of all this true LoS was seen as a simpler way of doing LoS and required less thinking than an abstracted system. I'm pretty sure this was the main reason. Look at their army releases. Streamlined, easier, quicker. Remember, people aren't all of average intelligence nor is GW really out to get us and make us pissy and stop buying their product as much as the majority of the internet would like to think (looking after my bottom line right Dethtron :P?). Finally they wanted to make the game more "cinematic" and thought it would be cool for guys to shot through units, gaps, windows and whatever. How is this cinematic? All of this sounded like a good idea, but in the end it back fired. Actually, 5th edition is great. Didn't you get the newsletter?
 
Whats so bad about true LoS anyway?
 
First off, true LoS causes the most arguments of any rule in the rule book, period. I've never had an argument with TLoS and I've never seen an argument about it. Cover or not, yes. Can you see or not, no. This is not just a problem for tournament players, in comes up in friendly pick up games just as much as in major events. In fact I would say that about 80% of all games of 40k or WFB 8th, have at least one LoS argument. I must account for 20% of all games then. Don't we love egoistic comments. Where's that silly stats 'quote' about 90% of statistics being made up... I'm sure many of you have seen this happen, or even had it happen to you. Nope. In an abstract system it's easy to make sure things are hidden, Hey maybe GW didn't want this! Those pesky Land Raiders should be in the open and waving to their opponent. Rather than "forcing" you to get "awesome terrain." There is also a lot more room for arguing about an 'abstract' system unless the rulebook accounts for EVERY possible scenario. Here you just get down and look, which is easier? or that you can't see through some random window or under a tank. But in true LoS it's possible for all of that to happen. Players constantly argue over whether or not they can see a target. No they don't. They constantly argue over cover or not. How hard is it, bend over (*giggle*), look, see or not? Continue.
 
Another strike against true LoS is that it is a pain for modeling. No it's not. You want to model for advantage or not model for disadvantage, go for it but I thought BoLS was all about warm and cuddly 40k? Balancing between competitive and hobby is delicate and if you want awesome display bases, etc. then you're less likely to get cover or be able to hide, etc. Who gives a flying tahooney? If it were all of my models, than ya that'd be a PITA but can't say I've seen a full-scale Marine list on the table. In an abstract system models can do pretty much what ever they want with their model and its cool. Mine are invisible, is this cool? Want to make a super tall Dreadnought? That's cool all walkers are size x anyway. But don't worry it can see over hills cause it's so tall but we can use our imagination which apparently this guy thinks GW doesn't think we have... Want to model all your guardsmen as kneeling, or only show their heads sticking our of a swampy base? Then I'd have the pieces for my headless Zombie army! Genius That's awesome, all infantry is size x, so it doesn't matter. But it true LoS all of these are actually problems. Your super cool tall Dreadnought? Well it's going to be seen by everything. Get to see everything, too. Your kneeling guardsmen? Well that's kinda cheating since it makes them a lot easier to hide. As an example of this in the Marcharian Crusade Campaign we put on a while back I played the Barac Pioneers. The special character for the Pioneers was supposed to have some kind of floating throne, so I modeled him on a giant floating command throne. Unfortunately this made him taller them a Lemon Russ Battle Tank, due to the flying base I put him on. Now my mediocre Guard character can be seen over a giant tank, very annoying. Solution: use Vendettas lol, finally they give cover to something! Your little character dude also gets to see most things clearly, etc. This is the exact same 'issue' with large flying models, etc.
 
True LoS insults our imagination
 
True LoS, is simply put, an insult. Don't get me started on what's insulting. Remember how all this started, that whole one tree on a base is a forest thing? Objection! Hear-say. (can I get a lawyer degree to go with my Psych one now?). Well see those players were using their imagination to fill in that base with a full woods. But according to the rules makers that's no good, we can't do that, we can't actually imagine those things, everything has to be exactly as it looks, or else it won't work. Could I imagine a argument which makes sense from you? But this is only with terrain. Gamers are really good at imagining things. For instance we can imagine that this: some fancy pictures. Of course, the game designers couldn't of made 40k/fantasy easier to play by making the system very much "I can shoot or I can't" compared to the knowing model sizes, terrain sizes, terrain rules and figuring out which individual models can be shot, can shoot and what gets cover, etc. No, that would be sensible!
 
True LoS is actually less realistic
 
Part of the attraction to true LoS, is that it is supposedly more realistic, after all if your model can see it then it would be able to see it in real life right? Well not really. See our model battlefields are supposed to be abstract representations of a real battlefield, not perfect copies. A lot of things that real battlefields have are lacking from the table top. No. Way. For instance the average gaming table might have raised portions to represent hills and the like, but they only rarely can have depressed portions. Real battlefields have dips and gullies and all kinds of places to hide that the table top doesn't. It's like we are playing a game or some such nonsense.

It gets even worse when you start talking about lighting and smoke and dust. Table tops are generally well lit and free of smoke and dust, unless you play in a cigar club (which could explain a lot). How dare you insinuate such things! Battlefields are not. the philosophy behind true LoS seems to think a battle looks like this: more pretty pictures

Notice how there is a lot of smoke that makes it hard to see things? No, there's smoke obscuring my vision. Yeah that happen in a battle. Abstract terrain can sort of simulate this effect, that's why for instance you wouldn't be able to shot through woods, they are smokey and fully of shadows and hard to see through. Not when there's only ONE TREE. True LoS ignore this. The previous systems did this how? You want to know what's really funny, 4th edition was king for gunlines yet you could hide your models easier. Ya, ironic much. True LoS also lets your models do stupid things they wouldn't actually do. Now some of you army types out there might correct me, but as far as I know shooting through open doors in your own tanks is not actually a tactic that people use regularly in real life. But this is actually something that true LoS allows, shooting through drop pods is a very common thing. I have even seen a guy depoly his troops out of a Rhino, open the doors so he could shoot through and then close them so he couldn't be shot back out. Luckily he got what he deserved for that. A kick in the fucking nuts? Pardon my French. Let's go back to how you try and talk about modeling for advantage. Ding-ding, we have a winner! Last time I checked modern armies do not have orbital Drop Pods either but if I could see the bloody enemy through something, I'd bloody well shoot! (unless it was my buddies I was shooting through...)

Let's be clear here, TLoS represents an 'unfolding' battlefield. We know we are playing a game (well you do now!) and that a turn-based system can only depict a real battlefield so much. (omg baby hippo on TV. this needs a pic). Er sorry, side-tracked. Anyway, infantry and tanks are constantly on the move and whilst I'm sure there are case when you couldn't see the whole squad/tank/etc in real-life, this is a game and attempts to be as easy and fun as possible to play. Remember 2nd ed with a billion rules? 3rd became even more streamlined yet between 3rd and 4th there were cover saves for this model, these models couldn't even hit but this one could, you can't see through this terrain or this terrain gives me this, etc. etc. Streamlining is the point of TLoS, not some super secret conspiracy to make you have awesome terrain. The exact same as combat rules. Everyone can die and combats are quick messy affairs. IT MAKES THE GAME FASTER AND EASIER TO LEARN. Good things for business as more people are willing to get into it.

So that's just a few reasons why true LoS is killing our games. I could go about other reasons, about how it hasn't made us get better terrain, just made the terrain we have useless. Operating under the assumption of: there must be lots of LoS blocking terrain is a fallacy. Your terrain is perfectly fine, you generally just get a cover save instead. Also it's not that hard to make cheap and easy terrain which blocks LoS more. About how it is costing major tournaments, a bunch of money to replace their old non-true LoS friendly terrain. About how it makes the game harder to get into because you can't just throw down some book for hills and felt cutouts for forest any more. Yes you can. Less rules and easier to understand/grasp rules = good for the game because it's EASIER to get into. I just read the Fantasy rulebook for the first time ever, that's a ton of information to take in and that discourages new players. Imagine a bunch more rules to cover all of your 'abstract' system. Turn off for newbies. I could go on about a ton of reasons, but I won't, not this time. Cause you can't think of any? See remember we gamers can't imagine things well or reason and I really don't want to cause anyone any pain from trying to think to hard or anything. I'm going to be cliche. Emphasis on trying. Oh wait, he was trying to be funny.

Maybe I'm just over reacting to a trend I see, maybe I'm the only one who see a lot of arguments, maybe, heck almost certainly, I'm totally crazy. Or you're imagining it. You should get help...nevermind. But as far as I am concerned True LoS is a needless and harmful addition to wargaming. It only makes the game easier to play but you're right, it sucks. It's a greater threat to our continued enjoyment of the games than a wife and kids or even the Leafblower. Spouse/kids threaten the enjoyment of our game how? My missus hates 40k but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it and she knows I need my own activities just like she has hers and I know countless individuals who play games with their kids. Some nonsense called bonding or something (not bondage you sick freaks!). Oh and Leafblower affects my enjoyment because it's not a top IG list, yawn. Now all we need is Horde Orks for this post to reach rock bottom. I know a lot of gaming groups have already begun to house rule things to help with some of the problems, such as not being able to see through forest and the like. But these are only temporary and not very good, fixes. At the end of the day I see a problem, but don't have a solution's yet, maybe you guys can help? Go play a different game and stop complaining. People have way too many hold-overs from previous editions. You have to adapt because you can't hide your Land Raider anymore. Boohoo. The game is much faster and easier to play and whilst some terrain has to be changed, when you play with your friends USE YOUR DAMNED IMAGINATION. When you play at stores/tournaments, they have the resources and nous to actually build those bigger pieces of terrain but then I bet you want those LoS blocking pieces right in the middle don't you? L2play and get over 4th edition.

These are the type of articles I really dislike from BoLS. Worse than the complaining about leafblower, worse than the meh tactics articles, etc. but the articles that try and understand the state of the game by putting down opinions and not really contributing anything to the game. The stupid "meta" articles and analysis of 40k is just...well wrong and more whiny than analysis. It's part of the game, even if it does suck, deal with it or quit. If you want to propose a new system or some ideas about how you think your perceived problem can be fixed, better. I may disagree with you and argue with your ideas but at least you're trying to "help" the community rather than whining. Opinions are part of life but how you go about expressing them says a lot about you.

31 pinkments:

Wallshammer said...

I couldn't like this more.

Chumbalaya said...

My brain is full of hatred.

Falk said...

I couldn't be bothered reading the original article on BolS. Read it here and your additions are about the only reason why anyone should read this.

The original text is awful, I don't understand we they don't even proof-read over at BolS. Maybe they are happy to publish something at all after losing all their "see-it-here-first"-Kung Fu.

BolS is dead. Let's bury the corpse so we don't have to watch it rotting away anymore.

What we actually need is something like a unified web-portal for Blogs like this. A side I can visit to check who put up something new, and where I can like and dislike articles to recommend them to others.

Heretic said...

I know I've only played in 5th edition, but it just seems simple and fun to me. I know a 6th edition will come out, assuming that GW is still in business long enough for that to happen, but I really like 5th. Things are straight forward and simple.

Yeah there are a lot of questions about cover, sometimes. But when that happens, my mates and I generally just decide "Fuck it, 5+ cover" and be done with it. That was one of the best parts of the BRB, ending the arguments before they begin by telling players to compromise. It's not a hard system to learn and that seems to be helping at least my gaming group grow.

Raptors8th said...

Yeah BoLS has been steadily becoming shittier and shittier, never thought they'd go quite this low with an actual article though. I mean seriously, edit much? lol at least it means we'll probably get an entertaining FNIF over on dick move this week...

Hudson said...

Your commentary is right on. I didn't bother with commenting on the original article over at BoLS as I didn't feel it was worth the effort.

Auretious Taak said...

Man in all that bitching about TLoS the original author (who was it? I kinda skimmed parts and haven't read BoLS for close ona year, too many advertisements in the way of their shitty shit these days lol) failed to mention such classic moves by players both being dicks but also having a laugh about shooting a vehicle or unit through one of those pin prick holes in the side of GW redy made terrain that the missile itself would NEVER fit through. RAW and canny use of a laser pointer saw me blow that landspeeder up in lulz worthy win. There is a reason why GW sell Laser Pointers, maybe in all the bitching about whether shit can see or not and modelling for advantage a mention of the humble laser pointer to level the playing field would have been wise. meh.

Very nice response Kirby, I was disappointed you didn't post your thoughts in pink, it confused me who was who here and there lol!

Marshal Wilhelm said...

I thought you were lining up a new Tyrannofex for TLOS in the article picture.

+++

I think it is just someone who likes what he is used to. It doesn't matter if that way is good, bad or something else, he likes it.
Getting him to change is like pulling teeth.
I call it old-thinking: old men are renowned for it and people who have a pronounced sense of self in the old way (like this chap) embody it.

He is free to get stuck in the past and feel hard done by.
Just like the guys who were upset about SW not having Leman Russ tanks anymore, or the inclusion of TWC.

Get over it, love it, and you'll do us (and perhaps more importantly) yourself a favour by enjoying the parameters we have to hobby within.

Agama said...

Morons. TLoS is one of the best things that came across with 5th. I personally couldn't stand the old 'this is level 1 terrain' BS each game. Heck for most of my gaming group we used to use TLoS because it just made more sense.

To sum it up... BOLS is just getting worse and worse. :(

Thud said...

Saw it on BOLS and quickly ran away. On here I got about half way through and now my left hand keeps poking me in the eye, it's like I've completely lost control over it.

If I finish it I think I may have to build a tree-house out of BL novels. And then I'll be the crazy cat-lady without cats who is blind and lives in a tree-house made out of second-rate sci-fi novels and has a penis.

I don't see this ending well for me.

Evil-Termite said...

Kirby, you made some entertaining comments. I don't see why pink comments would have been bad though. I certainly appreciate how your comments are a different color and that you stated the colored comments were your own.

There are a lot of BoLS hater comments here. I like the BoLS site for it's news, rumors, and pictures. I also like reading their tactical articles, even if they are wrong, because they make me think about the game.

I disagreed with the writer of the TLOS article and I stated it in the comments section on BoLS. I was actually surprised how many of the comments agreed with the article though. Oh well, someone is going to complain about almost all of the rules. I'm sure there is someone out there that thinks there are problems with the rapid fire rules. (oh yeah, it's me!)

Ishamael said...

I feel bad that I even followed a link on our gaming club's page to even read that drivel. It seems that bols' only desire is to put up useless articles that don't even give a decent reason as to why he/she is complaining...let alone that "how historical figure X would play our little game" crap.

<3 baby hippo!

Dethtron said...

baby hippo < heart-seeking stingray

0range said...

If I can't have 20+ pages of rules on visibility, I'm not happy!

To be honest, I'm speechless. How does this even make sense? The game is waaaaay easier to learn, a lot more streamlined, takes less time, etc, thanks to TLoS (no, no thanks to BoLS).

I'll admit I never had to wrestle with 3rd/4th ed visibility, but just skimming the old rulebooks is enough to know that it's needlessly complicated. That's better? How? Because people enjoy learning lots of rules on which units sizes do what, can cover what, etc, bog down the game and get more rules arguments?

Now if this was some kind of primer to a "TLoS - yay or nay?" discussion, I wouldn't mind, it could bring in some interesting views, but he's all like "TLoS is ruining the hobby! It's the end of the world, WORST THING EVAR!"

It doesn't make any sense.

Old Shatter Hands said...

Thanks for posting this. That article was the second lamest thing I've ever seen from BOLS. I hated the article and now I know why.

The Harrower said...

Well said man. I don't know why you wasted your time though. You should have just put up the picture of the baby hippo and called it a night.

Kirby said...

<3 the love. I'll try and write up a post which looks at TLoS more objectively rather than with overtures of ramming my head into a brick wall and see if we can't get a discussion going with the whiners. I imagine it will be futile but...what the hell :P.

In regards to the lack of pink comments, last time I did pink people complained it was too bright lol.

@Old Shatter Hands; I hate to ask but what was the most lame thing?

@Harrower; go the hippo :)

Tyler said...

Lol hippos have a code pink!

Roland Durendal said...

Kirby I can never forgive you for the twenty minutes I wasted at work today reading that BoLS stupidity. Then again...I did waste twenty minutes at work not doing work...

In comparison to what we have now, 4th ED LoS sucked massive pink Kirballs. Really, the whole, "This is a size 2 hill! and your rhino is size 3 so I can see it over the hill!"...wait WHAT? Really? So vehicles are LARGER than natural terrain features? This guy likes throwing out real world references, so as an Army guy I must say Hills > Tanks. I have yet to see a Tank that is taller than a hill (well there is Metal Gear Rex..)

In real life, on a battlefield that has terrain (forests, hills, buildings, etc), those items actually do indeed block TLoS to Soldiers and equipment. Hell you can hide a Bradley (with exception of the turret) behind an 8ft wall. Hell even those extremely high profile pieces of..I mean MRAPs can be partially hidden behind a 8ft wall and fully hidden behind a 15ft wall. So this guy REALLY wants to argue realism and compare it to a battlefield, I'd say he'd have to go fight on one first.

So, in summation: 40K is not real life. It tries it's best to bring a level of simplicity and realism to the table top. TLoS meets both these requirements. While at times it does push the realism envelope (firing through trees/woods for example. In real life, depending on how large those trees were, how deep they went, how dense the foliage and cover is, where the troops/vehicles are located within the woods, etc. dictates whether you could see and shoot the target. Compare hiding behind a copse of trees - which I feel most 40K tree terrain represents - vice hiding behind an actual full on forest.), in the end it successfully balances the designers intent for a fun, simple. semi-realistic GAME.

Arggggg Army rant over.


PS Kirb: I'm doing a fluffy series this week on bringing Codex: Catachan into 5th ED. Cuz I love me some Deathworld Veterans.

Kirby said...

I'm glad you commented Roland, I really wanted to not insult his er views on what a battlefield really was seeing as all I do is paintball (pink balls only...I should of thought before I typed that!...and then didn't delete and posted it!) so it's nice to hear your thoughts :P.

What happened to the campaign you and BroLo were running? :(

Von said...

If 80% of fifth edition games involve TLoS arguments*, 80% of fourth edition games involved - shall we say 'heated discussions'? - to establish what level, type and sub-genus of terrain every hummock, shrub and pebble on the battlefield was. Especially if the most vocal of the local gamers were big Necromunda/second ed. fanboys who hadn't quite come to terms with the idea of 'large games need more abstraction' - oh me oh my, those were not happy days at all.

TLoS is a much more game-friendly approach and I approve of it wholeheartedly, not least because it cuts out that whole tedious pre-game harangue-fest, as well as the bizarre scale issues with many people's terrain collections (what do you mean, the tree is taller than the hill?).

I just wish it didn't involve so much bending double and squinting over the table...


* - I'm not sure that 'gentlemanly discussion over whether or not these dudes can see those dudes, and whether the learned opponent would be so good to check from his dudes because his are in a tall building and it's easier for him to take a model's eye view' = 'argument' either, and that's about as intense as I've found things to get with TLoS, but whatever.

Roland Durendal said...

Kirby: I have returned! Work's been crazy busy so I had to put the breaks on the Campaign. The initial map is done, so I'll post it this week for some feedback, and then put it out there for players. Looking for 6-8 right now, primarily for IA:8 Elysians and IA:8 Orkzes. My goal this week: Do my quick series on "Codex: Catachan in 5th ED" and then do the Campaign roll call. As I told Sir Chumbsalot last night, if I can get the Catachan piece done and get some good feedback, I may have a NPC Deathworld Veterans Recon company appear....


And I still hate BoLS for posting this trash (the article above).

rosvojaska said...

Seriously, has ANYONE here ever had an argument about wheter you can or can not see a unit?

It's like arguing about pink being a color or not.

Chumbalaya said...

Pink isn't a color.

It's a lifestyle.

Kirby said...

Now that's a quote Chumby :P.

Stormy said...

I'm pretty sure that the lads oer there are skulling this stuff before they're let loose on the keyboard:

http://www.vin.is/upload/images/medium/11-7-2007-403.jpg

The_King_Elessar said...

:/

At least I read that disgusting tripe here, instead of sans-Snowmobile.

Frankly, it's depressed me so much I may go to sleep right away.

Only real comment - 'Infantry' are not Fitz Hall. Gretchin =/= Wraithguard size, and yet WG =/= 'Walker' size. Killa Kans aren't the height of a Deff Dread, or a FUCKING DEFILER!

Ugh.

Apologies Kirby, but his article is a piece of shit by a dickmonkey cockweasel with shit for brains.

:'( :'( :'(

HolyCause said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

I kinda agree with the bols aticle. sorry... :P

Back in the days cover was more.... hmm ... realistic and natural. This seems awkward due to TRUE line of sight, but in regard to modelling creativity and flying bases of skimmers it doesn't seem right in my opinion. Why does we have to imagine everything EXCEPT line of sight? I have to admit that TLOS adds a nice concept to 40k, but i just don't feel the rule complements the game. It just limits the creativity of modelling (my tau suits really 'fly' and thus can be shot 99% of the time :( ) and makes a skimmer really static due to its static flying stand instead of flying high and/or seeking cover...
Also TLOS generates more discussions to an alreay argueable game...

William said...

The only person limiting your modeling is in your own Mind ;)...

Kirby said...

Back in the days cover also took a long time to allocate and discuss because you could have different cover saves on different models in the same unit. Want to add that to wound allocation as well? I'd like one shooting at a complex unit not to take 10 minutes.

Now it's either yes or no? Confusion? Call over TO or dice off or call it a 5+. Move on.

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