I’ve been following this thread on DakkaDakka quite closely, since while it’s a simple question it’s one that really interests me –
If you were forced to choose, would you rather have a game a) that gives lots of options in the variety of units and way they to equip those minis but sacrifices some game balance, or b) with fewer options but gives a more balanced game experience?
I know that everyone’s going to have a different stance here, and it’s been very interesting reading some people’s replies to the thread. And, of course, we thankfully live in a world where a game isn’t as black-and-white as ‘OPTIONS OR BALANCE CHOOSE NOW’, so this is only a hypothetical situation.
Personally, my choice of the two would be for B, fewer options but a more balanced game experience. Balance creates options, whereas an influx of options can eventually stifle some of the options it provides through an over-abundance of options (and the award for cramming the word ‘options’ into a sentence the most times goes to….). Let me try and explain my logic behind that.
To my mind, balance offers a better game experience in this hypothetical scenario no matter what sort of game you’re after – casual, relaxed, narrative, competetive etc. By having a more balanced game, it ensures an easier overall gaming experience. This is obviously of benefit in competitive play, but also equally important in casual or narrative games – when each player is on a more equal starting field, it’s easier to develop the game as you like and even try out new ideas (‘What if the Grave Spirit makes a bid to take over Seamus’s mind? So his necromantic powers are amplified, but he loses his flintlock…’). I should mention that this is coming from me as a self-confessed casual player – I haven’t participated in an organised tournament in years, and am at the point in my life where wargaming is something I want to do with friends to relax.
Another point I’ve been mulling over on this subject is the idea that balance creates options, whereas options don’t necessarily create balance. For example, in a game that has more balance than options, there’s less likely to be any units or models that are an ‘auto-take’ or ‘auto-avoid’ since each one will be more balanced when compared to another. I’ll try and explain this a bit better – if each unit / model is balanced against the rest of the faction and the rest of the factions in the game, even if (a la Malifaux or Warmachine) there are few or no upgrades for them, it makes each unit a suitable tool with its own strengths and weaknesses. Canine Remains, for example, aren’t a particularly great offensive unit outside of a McMourning-led crew, but are fast enough to make good objective runners. So while I wouldn’t take them as a priority in Reckoning, they have a very solid use for A Line In The Sand, for example.
Conversely, unfortunately more options over balance can’t easily do the same. I don’t want to say that more options ill inevitably lead to less balance, as that’s a ridiculously sweeping statement to make(!),and of course a large number of options can be balanced against one another. I just believe that the more options you inject in a game, the harder it is to ensure that the game balance remains. It’s great to have variety, and of course I wouldn’t want to play a game with no options (I think that’s called Chess!), but from my limited experience of writing bits and bobs for games, it’s hard to keep things balanced once you add in so many variables.
This has probably been quite a ramble of a post, but – as you can probably tell – it’s an interesting question to me. Of course, as always all of this is only one man’s opinions, so I’d love to hear yours. Leave a comment! :)