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DesignXception

The "Meta" of Miniature Wargaming

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An interesting topic for conversation is that of "meta" when it comes to tabletop miniature wargaming. In my opinion, the "meta" surrounding a traditional miniature wargame such as 40k, AoS, Bolt Action, etc. is much different than that found in competitive LCG/CCG card games or even games such as X-wing or Armada designed to be highly competitive. The "meta" in LCG/CCG or Xwing/Armada can change very rapidly with each new cycle release. The result is that the game evolves overtime at a relative rapid pace and older cards and units become obsolete in favor of newer unit/card combos and abilities. This eventual leads to the need to introduce cycle rotation in card games or a total reboot in games such as X-wing as the playing field will eventually need to be reset. Traditional miniature games typically do not behave in this manner as a high competitive environment is not its focal point. Partipants are typically more interested in the painting and artistry aspect of the game or historical recreation of armies and battles rather than the gameplay itself. Armies typically have a finite amount of units released for them that each serve a specific purpose and any "meta" that develops is slow and relatively narrow. For example, some armies in 40k have not seen a new unit type released in years and units that have been released at the beginning of the game are still viable many years later. As a result many LCG/CCG players or even X-wing players who never played a traditional miniatures wargame before can find the gameplay in traditional miniatures games to be stagnant or boring after a short period of time. Most traditional miniatures wargames focus on the recreation of battles and/or are reliant on objective based gameplay rather than "meta manipulation" gameplay found in X-wing, Destiny, or other LCGs. It will be interesting to see how FFG handles Legion in this department and how the community reacts. Thoughts?

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Posted (edited)

I'm not sure I agree about your points on resets/rotation.  7th came out in 2014 and 8th in 2017.  XWing first and only edition came out in 2012.

The competitive scene for minis has been fickle as well, in the cases of warmachine/hordes especially, but even in Warhammers fantasy and 40k.  It doesn't change as quickly as card games, but it doesn't have as quick of a release schedule.

 

This isn't always true; casual players continue to play whatever they want without getting the newer and more competitive models, but as someone who played grey knights from when they got an updated book and my full army of halberds was neither cost effective nor dread Knights and my storm shield Termies were invalid, minis meta has painful changes too.

Edited by profparm

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1 hour ago, DesignXception said:

Traditional miniature games typically do not behave in this manner as a high competitive environment is not its focal point. Partipants are typically more interested in the painting and artistry aspect of the game or historical recreation of armies and battles rather than the gameplay itself.

I honestly don't think you've ever watched anyone other than possibly yourself actually play WH40k with a statement like that.

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Miniature wargaming companies such as Games Workshop and Warlords release new editions frequently as an avenue to generate refreshed interest in their product lines and generate new revenue. The huge difference with GW, Warlords and the like is that releasing a new edition of the game does not require you to have to rebuy your entire miniature collection. Yes you have to repurchase a new rulebook and codex for your army but for the most part your existing miniature collection will be compatible with the new version.  Yes, some units will get "nerfed" and no longer be considered a smart choice to field but you *can* still use them.  In games like X-wing and Armada a new version will certainly require you to repurchase everything because the way the game mechanics are introduced into the game through unit and upgrade cards and the cardboard templates placed on the bases...all of which require you to purchase the miniature to acquire and not a simple rulebook repurchase. Sure FFG can offer conversion kits for the older system but that is highly unlikely since their business model is much different and relies on actual product/expansion purchase to generate their revenue.  Yes, I agree the casual player doesn't factor into this as much but the huge success of X-wing and other FFG LCG card games relies heavily on the competitive player even if its just at the local level to drive sales. That competitive player thrives on the "meta game" and its analysis to one up their opponent.  Each new expansion in those games significantly impacts the meta and hence the way the game is played. If FFG only released 12 unit expansions for both the Rebellion and Empire then said the armies are complete and nothing more will be released will the game still survive based on peoples desire to paint and field Star Wars miniature armies and be content with objective based game play or will the game die because it will be seen as no longer being progressed forward and having a stale "meta"?  That is the big difference as I see it between traditional miniature wargames such as 40k or bolt action that rely on new rulesets to evolve the game and maintain sales rather than mechanics that consistently change the meta such as seen in X-wing and Armada or LCGs.

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I'm not stating 40k is not competitive. It can be very competitive. I'm stating the mechanics that drive competitiveness can be different. Also, there are a lot of hobbyists that companies like GW and Warlords make income from that by models just to paint and never play the game because they enjoy the modeling aspect of the genre.

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@DesignXception

I think you make a very good point. This probably has deep roots. GW is a miniatures manufacturer so of course the primary focus of their business model is selling miniatures. By contrast, FFG is a game design studio and game publisher. When a design calls for miniatures, FFG signs a manufacturing contract with another company. FFG's main focus is on designing games, usually in terms of a product line consisting of a core entry and expansions. That is basically the same premise as a CCG or LCG.

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Posted (edited)

On the tournament scene, yes to a degree (mainly squad and command upgrade cards by the looks).....

 

That said the core rules of most of their titles turn up as online downloads (from ffg, not bootlegged) from the website. You cite xwing and armada, and this is true for both of those titles. Heck the Legion page specifically states the rules are coming in the support tab..........so straight up i doubt there will be a case like the "$80 just a book you need for the basics" from the likes of gw.

Edited by Ralgon
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One downside with cards is if things happen like xwing and a lot of cards in play as originally printed are no longer valid, we will have to have a FAQ printed as a mini book for reference.

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Play depends entirely on the culture of the players. without a large group of competitive players a meta won't really develop.

warmachine is a game where meta effects things quite a bit. granted it used to have a much smaller barrier to entry in terms of painting so many players who enjoyed the tactical and strategic elements of miniatures could get into it and develop a meta. 40k was so broken that competitive play was boring so competitive players quickly moved on.

Also there are alternatives to 2nd editions and cycle rotation. x-wing is doing this pretty well and that is power creep.

Power creep is a "soft rotation" where the overall pool of options keeps growing but the "viable" pool shrinks when new cards are released with increased power levels. in x-wing the developers attempt to keep the miniatures viable with new cards but the cards themselves may as well be disposable or on rotation. 

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40k, Armada, Flames of War and X-Wing are all tabletop games.

We have though one set of games that expands their games unit book by unit book. With the release of each book, I believe, that the meta would lean towards that book. Many would suggest power creep, I prefer to just to say I saw it as a lack of understanding. As such to meta game a tournament one could expect a fair number of lists from the new army book, a fair number of players that had their pet list and one or two lists that would exploit the meta somewhat.

For the most part a book changes the meta by adding or changing the contents of the book. A German Army book or Imperial Guard Book would only modify the meta for as far as there were changes in those books. The British and US or Space Marine and Tyranids would be unaffected.

With X-Wing and Armada the process evolves a lot more like a CCG/LCG because FFG delivers the core rules in the core box and adds content to the armies by producing unit cards and upgrades that give the units their own special rules and abilities. So the meta that develops in Wave 1 will be upended and changed in Wave 2. As such the meta is a lot more point in time than other games. A friend I play with Armada still can't understand why we were telling him Motti was a waste of points in Wave 1 when clearly he is awesome in Wave 3!

Also, like a CCG/TCG the upgrade/unit cards create effects that build and combo with other upgrades and units. Which also, makes some interesting effects on the meta as old cards work their way back into meta and other leave. So you end up with a meta that starts new with the release of a new wave, that starts with the investigation and experimentation of what that implies, then as the meta ages eh variety diminishes and steadies. Then it matures and players either stick with the meta they know or build into it, I think building a non-meta army is a lot of fun and can break up an unchanging meta if it works well.

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Hmm... I thought this was going to be a topic covering how game mechanics have evolved/changed from the 40K book-and-chart days to FFG's custom dice and rules-on-cards ease of play.

 

Recently I've gotten into a debate on BGG at the Ogre forum about that game's need for innovation, because it feels a bit like a dinosaur clinging to it's Combat Results Table. In almost every other way it's a modern game except for that, and to get new fans I think they'd have to innovate. With Legion here about to hit the market and challenge 40K for the best miniatures combat game, we're about to see a genre shift of how to play wargames. X-Wing is already wildly popular, can Legion further disrupt 40K's fanbase with a game that is easier to play and cheaper?

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1 hour ago, Norsehound said:

Hmm... I thought this was going to be a topic covering how game mechanics have evolved/changed from the 40K book-and-chart days to FFG's custom dice and rules-on-cards ease of play.

 

Recently I've gotten into a debate on BGG at the Ogre forum about that game's need for innovation, because it feels a bit like a dinosaur clinging to it's Combat Results Table. In almost every other way it's a modern game except for that, and to get new fans I think they'd have to innovate. With Legion here about to hit the market and challenge 40K for the best miniatures combat game, we're about to see a genre shift of how to play wargames. X-Wing is already wildly popular, can Legion further disrupt 40K's fanbase with a game that is easier to play and cheaper?

Hold up yet, given the material and setting it'll have it's day in the sun no doubt, but calling it a 40k killer yet is a bit premature as is calling it cheaper right now. It's not like this is the 1st time this sort of thing with a star wars logo has tried and failed. ( I'm hugely optimistic though :D)

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I'm afraid FFG is not the company known for player friendly policy. As far as it was in Xwing, we have seen op releases that were supposed to be bought in triples (Jumpmaster) replacing existing miniatures pool and up releases (Scyk) that are later fixed forcing players to buy usless and expensive toys (Gozanti). Not to nention important multifaction cards packed to only one ship of one faction (engine upgrade). 

For Warma/hordes, developer do his best to keep all models balanced. To the point that we have open beta for new releases before they are released and when old models/units are fixed (up or down, because this is norma some old skillsets become less or more viable with new releases), their cards are published as printable pdf. This way, I still buy new releases, sometimes in multiples, but I do it, because this expands my options. I don't feel forced and if I choose, I can still use my old, favourite model and he is never out of the loop.

I'm sure I'll buy initial releases here, but I hope FFG will soften the Xwing moneygrab policy or I feel I'll drop this game fast.

Also I hope 1-2 other factions will be released asap. 2 faction game feels terrible in tournament enviroment.

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Posted (edited)

11 minutes ago, Guest Bohun said:

I'm afraid FFG is not the company known for player friendly policy. As far as it was in Xwing, we have seen op releases that were supposed to be bought in triples (Jumpmaster) replacing existing miniatures pool and up releases (Scyk) that are later fixed forcing players to buy usless and expensive toys (Gozanti). Not to nention important multifaction cards packed to only one ship of one faction (engine upgrade). 

For Warma/hordes, developer do his best to keep all models balanced. To the point that we have open beta for new releases before they are released and when old models/units are fixed (up or down, because this is norma some old skillsets become less or more viable with new releases), their cards are published as printable pdf. This way, I still buy new releases, sometimes in multiples, but I do it, because this expands my options. I don't feel forced and if I choose, I can still use my old, favourite model and he is never out of the loop.

I'm sure I'll buy initial releases here, but I hope FFG will soften the Xwing moneygrab policy or I feel I'll drop this game fast.

Also I hope 1-2 other factions will be released asap. 2 faction game feels terrible in tournament enviroment.

It's a tricky one. You're right, two faction games do feel odd at tourneys. I've always felt that rebels vs rebels and Imperials vs Imperials was not what the games of X Wing and Armada were designed for and sometimes just look ridiculous (Darth Vader on both sides???).

Then again Scum and Villainy ruined X Wing for me and my play group of mainly 40 and 50 something year olds, turning the game into a generic space game with little connection to Star Wars that we could see. The Emperor  in a space dogfight just seemed silly and the blatant gouging of having to buy epic ships or out of faction multiple ships to get cards you need finished it off for us. From what I can see why even bother with TIE fighters now when you can field S + V uber warriors who never appeared in any film that this 51 year old has ever seen.

I'm interested in Legion but cautious. It won't be cheap when it comes out in the UK and I'm a historical wargamer really. I'll just have to wait and see.

Edited by Bolshevik65

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27 minutes ago, Bolshevik65 said:

 From what I can see why even bother with TIE fighters now when you can field S + V uber warriors who never appeared in any film that this 51 year old has ever seen.

 

Star Wars is a much larger IP than the first 3 movies. Most of the newer, so called unrecognizable ships, are pulled from older games, comics, books, and cartoons. I love that they do this. Tie Fighter is still my favorite PC game of all time and I'm so stoked for the Gunboat to come out. 

If you're looking at Legion with the same limited mindset, you might be in for the same issues. Knowing FFG, they're going to expand this game fast and continue to pull from a wide array of IP sources for units. 

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, NervousSam said:

Star Wars is a much larger IP than the first 3 movies. Most of the newer, so called unrecognizable ships, are pulled from older games, comics, books, and cartoons. I love that they do this. Tie Fighter is still my favorite PC game of all time and I'm so stoked for the Gunboat to come out. 

If you're looking at Legion with the same limited mindset, you might be in for the same issues. Knowing FFG, they're going to expand this game fast and continue to pull from a wide array of IP sources for units. 

I think that may be the problem for some of us older guys. We don't read comics or watch cartoons. I saw a bit of Rebels and frankly found it childish and the incompetence of the storm troopers irritating. I will say though, in the interests of balance, I don't think I saw enough of it to make a wholly considered judgement. I may be being unwittingly unfair.

My group are historical gamers with an interest in SW that extended as far as the films for most of us. For the reasons I outlined earlier the way X Wing went it just killed all interest. I have about 30 Imperial ships and 25 rebels that haven't seen a game for months and so I stopped collecting. I don't recognise any of the new ships anyway so don't feel like I'm missing out. Fortunately Armada has a player base here in Northern England. I play that now and really enjoy it. Sadly X Wing is looked on as a collectible card game here now, collect the best cards, usually available in scum packs and the guy who puts together the best Uber combo with cards from a ship that might have appeared in a comic once in 1983 or whatever and you've won. Arc dodging in a TIE fighter is an irrelevance when confronted with a "Dengaroo plus Manaroo mindlink" card combo or some such. You've got 2 red dice? Well good luck with that!!!! 

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that the above is ACTUALLY the case, but it's the PERCEPTION and that has a big influence on whether people will buy the new game. I'm interested but I got my fingers burned with X Wing, 55 ships or so that I don't use and have little resale value. I'd be very cautious about Legion because it looks great but FFG's handling of X Wing has put me off somewhat.

Edited by Bolshevik65
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Yeah, X-wing does have problems now. If it were another IP, where everyone weren't so attached to the wave 1-3 ships, the game balance might be perceived as better. However, as it stands now if you roll up to your flgs with your favorite list of screen used ships, you'll get trounced by lesser known scum or rebel options. 

I personally don't mind it as much, but I totally see how its hurt the overall community. 

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1 minute ago, NervousSam said:

Yeah, X-wing does have problems now. If it were another IP, where everyone weren't so attached to the wave 1-3 ships, the game balance might be perceived as better. However, as it stands now if you roll up to your flgs with your favorite list of screen used ships, you'll get trounced by lesser known scum or rebel options. 

I personally don't mind it as much, but I totally see how its hurt the overall community. 

Yeah and I've seen people point that out over on the X Wing forum and get ripped to bits by some of the "internet warriors" that bizarrely seem to inhabit that forum whereas the Armada forum is full of friendly helpful people. Very odd that.

My view is that would Joe Public walking into a game store recognise S + V versus E Wings and K Wings as a Star Wars game? I'd say "no" and that's the problem. It may be fun, if you can afford to buy the ships you don't need just to get the vital cards, but Star Wars frankly it aint, at least not much. It's a collectible card game with a generic space battle game tacked on as a front.

So what are FFG's plans for Legion I wonder......

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I find it interesting that you consider affordability with x-wing. As a minis game (or even a CCG like x-wing has morphed into) its still fairly cheap. Also, the boxes aren't blind draws, like a true CCG would be. But again, I guess thats because I'm completely unbiased when it comes to ship source or faction. I buy and love them all equally. 

In other traditional war games, you pretty much pick a faction and stay there. To stay competitive in X-wing, you've got to be willing to jump around. Imps are in a real tough spot right now and you're screwed if you're only a single faction flyer.

However for Legion, they have stated they are going with the Runewars style distribution model, where all cards and upgrades relevant to your chosen faction will be available within packs for your faction. The hard part for me will be picking a side in the beginning and sticking to it. With the added work of paint and assembly, switching factions will take far more effort and cash. 

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2 minutes ago, NervousSam said:

However for Legion, they have stated they are going with the Runewars style distribution model, where all cards and upgrades relevant to your chosen faction will be available within packs for your faction. The hard part for me will be picking a side in the beginning and sticking to it. With the added work of paint and assembly, switching factions will take far more effort and cash. 

Anything else would, I dare say, be very unpopular and counterproductive with tabletop gamers generally. The expectation would be that if you need a card for gameplay it would be include in the box with the relevant minis.

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11 minutes ago, Bolshevik65 said:

 

So what are FFG's plans for Legion I wonder......

At least it should be fun for 1-3 waves.. I have hope in army composition system. I can live with some strange vehicle or nevervknown before unit as far as evry army needs to have 3+ regular stormtroopers.

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20 minutes ago, Bolshevik65 said:

 

So what are FFG's plans for Legion I wonder......

At least it should be fun for 1-3 waves.. I have hope in army composition system. I can live with some strange vehicle or nevervknown before unit as far as evry army needs to have 3+ regular stormtroopers.

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I have hundreds of painted historicals. Most of them were painted by painting services or by fellow gamers for cash. But they do get used. Here in the UK the fighters are about £13 each with the bigger ships around double, maybe more. That's pounds, not dollars. So that's a lot of money on a game that, amongst my group at least, FFG killed stone dead. Legion may actually take some of the disillusioned X Wing players away from the game. X Wing has to peak at some point after all, nothing lasts forever.

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10 minutes ago, NervousSam said:

However for Legion, they have stated they are going with the Runewars style distribution model, where all cards and upgrades relevant to your chosen faction will be available within packs for your faction.

Where was this said?

30 minutes ago, NervousSam said:

Yeah, X-wing does have problems now. If it were another IP, where everyone weren't so attached to the wave 1-3 ships, the game balance might be perceived as better. However, as it stands now if you roll up to your flgs with your favorite list of screen used ships, you'll get trounced by lesser known scum or rebel options. 

I personally don't mind it as much, but I totally see how its hurt the overall community. 

What's the alternative? Release three waves of ships and then axe the game? New releases are what keep games fresh, and while latter ships might be more niche than earlier ships, better to have them than not.

Lots of people are thrilled to have the Assault Gunboat, but that certainly meets the criteria of being a mostly unknown EU ship.

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Posted (edited)

Hey, I said I don't mind the EU ships one bit. I just acknowledge the large section of the community who thinks Star Wars only happened from 1977 to 1983.

 

And I believe the Team Covenant video asked the question, could be wrong. I've watched a ton of coverage.

 

Edited by NervousSam
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