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 Post subject: 9th Age Sustainability
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:37 pm 
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I occasionally see comments to the effect that T9A won't or can't last because it just lacks the mass support and backing which GWs warhammer had. I hope that isn't the case - it's a great game which picks up where 8th Ed left off when End Times and then AoS fractured the scene, but here's the take on it from some of the big wigs within the project - would be interested to hear your thoughts on it :)

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In view of the release of Version 1.0 and questions that some of our members have run into in discussing T9A with potential members, we decided to provide some input on a few areas relating to sustainability of the project and questions relating to T9A being "official" or not.

How does The 9th Age (T9A) plan to be sustainable seeing as there is no “company” running the project?

This is a question that comes up quite often. Many, at least initially, have a view that a game cannot be sustainable over the long run without a company backing it up. The idea being that people will not donate their time in the long run.

From an organizational standpoint, The Ninth Age does have a functioning Operating Agreement and is set up a nonprofit association. The Operating Agreement allows T9A to function in a very real sense as a legal entity, for example, to enter into contracts for events, or advertising, or even promotional products, etc. However, T9A is and will remain a nonprofit association that uses unpaid volunteers.

From a strictly work flow perspective, yes, there is a ton of work up front to put the game together: balancing the ABs, writing the fluff, creating the illustrations, etc. However, once the game is put together, the ABs are out with stabilized rules and the B&A Team have put out the new stories and illustrations, the work load will tail off significantly. It is a lot of work, but there is a very dedicated group of individuals who are putting in the time and energy to get the job done. It's also interesting that, as the work load ramps upward and new members continue to join the project, members are being added to the staff and management positions to handle the increased work load. We have also set up the project in such a way that we rely on teams rather than on single members. So, frankly, this has just not been a problem for the project.

With respect to there being no “company” running T9A, we see this as an advantage rather than as a problem. The rules that are made are not dictated by which models the project wants to sell. T9A does not sell models. Rather, the whole focus is on achieving the best balanced game possible. Multiple model companies have already approached T9A (we have a hidden forum on the site for collaborating companies to discuss and plan their product releases) and have indicated to us that they want to support T9A. Some, in fact, are actively advertising T9A on their websites (e.g., shieldwolfminatures.com). This is great because we don't have all our eggs in one basket. Likewise, we are in the process of updating the Wiki with different manufacturers so people building new armies can just click on the unit and be navigated to a company's website where they can buy a model that is a good representation of the unit.

But T9A is not “Official”, how can a community driven project ever be viewed as an officially supported game system?

It’s difficult to determine what “official” means in this context. Is a game put out by a company more “official” than one put out by the community? Just because a company puts out a game does not mean they will actively support it continually (I think you all know where I'm going with that). Likewise, because a community puts out a game does not mean it is unsupported (T9A will continue to work on and improve the system). In any event, we can say definitively that T9A is the “Official” game system for ETC 2016. Of course, ETC is a community project too, but who cares? The real question should be: is T9A a really good game? If so, people will play it for a long time. Keep in mind, just because a company "supports" something does not mean it will last. To illustrate the changing landscape of company supported products versus community supported products, think of Wikipedia versus Encyclopedia Britannica. If you recall at first there was quite a bit of resistance to use of Wikipedia. Why? Mainly because it was not viewed as an "official" encyclopedic resource. But that opposition has faded away over time. Where are all the "official" encyclopedia companies now? They are pretty much gone while the community project remains and is thriving. This is similar to what we are seeing in the table top gaming industry. The industry is adapting to the Internet community and companies that follow the old business models are struggling. Better to let the community make the game system and for the companies make the pieces for the game.

T9A will continue to be a nonprofit organization. It will maintain its independence and high standards. While T9A will not sell or distribute models, T9A will cheer on the many companies that are stepping into areas vacated by other companies. In fact, our hope is to revitalize the table top gaming industry to create higher demand for high quality models.

How will T9A attract new players seeing as there is no marketing division like you would see in a company?

The answer lies with the community itself. The more each of us actively supports and talks about T9A to our friends, to LGS owners, to TOs, etc. the quicker the word will get out. Europe has already largely embraced T9A. This is due in large part to the reasons stated above, good community involvement with advertising the game system. Other geographic areas may take more time, but each of us can help.

An additional item on the To Do list for T9A is the creation of a simplified starter version of the game to teach new and younger players the basic game mechanics with simplified rules. This would be geared to lower-point games making initial model purchases for new players more manageable. The Wiki is also intended to help new players find models that are affordable, but still look great.

T9A also has a new PR team that is starting to work on contacting local games stores and through social media. They are working on putting together printed advertising materials such as full color posters for use in LGS, and advertising literature that can be handed to customers. Likewise, the Content Team is working to produce content for T9A headed up by the legendary Oncebitten360. As more Content Team members post Battle Reports and report on GTs, the more the word will get out about T9A.

Now that a stabilized rule set is here, it is expected that T9A will grow even quicker. Many potential players have appeared to be waiting to see if the project could actually produce a stable rule set. But that is happening now this month with Version 1.0. The first AB (UD) was already released and the next one (SE) will be following in the near term. Each army will receive a full AB complete with the rules, storylines, maps and artwork. Likewise the BRB is going to be provided with at least some fluff and a stunning full world map.

As people see the project extend year after year, the fears of non-sustainability and not being “official” will fade because T9A is one of the best war games available and it is just too fun not to play.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 8:25 pm 
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Thank you for posting this insight into the thought process of the 9th age team. It's good to read the T9A is thinking long term and not just about getting some rules out.

My view is that being a company has little to do with it. It might have been true 20 years ago. But there are a lot of open source projects out there run by volunteers which are thriving. Also, most WH related forums out there are run completely by volunteers and many of them are still going strong.

The main thing is having an active core group and having critical mass. Once you have enough people participating then the amount of work each member needs to do is limited. And a game mainly becomes interesting when you have people to play with. As long as you have that then the game can thrive.

In my view the main threat to T9A is the rules complexity. The game is made by hard-core gamers and tournament players. And it's made for them. But it's not a simple game to start with. It doesn't answer the problems WH had (and why GW felt the need to change). If anything, it's more complex then 8th ed. So, getting new players is potentially an issue. And the only way to grow and prosper long term as a game is to get new players in.

Rod

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 8:58 pm 
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See for my money the joy of the game is the complexity. I dabbled briefly in KoW before I found a local T9A group, but didn't enjoy it as much as 8th Ed. I recognise that a game like warhammer or 9th Age potentially has a high barrier to entry for beginners, but I'm already invested. I guess I'm kinda the audience it was developed by/for.

That said, there are internal discussions about releasing a beginners ruleset now that there is a stable core ruleset. The form, nature, structure etc of this is not yet determined though, with various visions and ideas being brainstormed.

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 10:20 am 
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Ferny wrote:
See for my money the joy of the game is the complexity. I dabbled briefly in KoW before I found a local T9A group, but didn't enjoy it as much as 8th Ed. I recognise that a game like warhammer or 9th Age potentially has a high barrier to entry for beginners, but I'm already invested. I guess I'm kinda the audience it was developed by/for.

That said, there are internal discussions about releasing a beginners ruleset now that there is a stable core ruleset. The form, nature, structure etc of this is not yet determined though, with various visions and ideas being brainstormed.


I love the complexity - its the reason i never really took to 40k which is far more a game of paper rock scissors.

A beginners rule set sounds like a good idea.. even Magic the Gathering did that (Portal). A few simple scenarios etc.


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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 11:30 am 
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Prince of Spires wrote:
So, getting new players is potentially an issue.

I think clubs are the key here Rod. Outside of the UK (with it's heavy density of GW shops) I suspect clubs have been a substantial part of getting players into Warhammer. If you turn up to a club there's a big incentive to play what most of the guys there are playing.

This thread, for me, gives an insight:

http://warhammer.org.uk/phpBB/viewtopic ... &start=210

Now, that's when things go wrong. But it shows the ETCness of the game (for better or worse) and the highly competitive mindset of the stronger players. Some of the top guys went to AoS of course but there seems something a little more laid back about that scene, recent developments notwithstanding. The current 8th scene is definitely less about winning, KoW I don't know. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 2:55 pm 
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SpellArcher wrote:
...But it shows the ETCness of the game (for better or worse) and the highly competitive mindset of the stronger players...
For me this is the biggest concern with 9th Edition, has it become and will it remain too ETC focused.

For those of us that primary play or only play High Elf, this will make playing under such rules somewhat one dimensional.

At this time, the ETC slant of the current rule set seems to be there, but hopefully over the next 3-months the data will show that the drastic reduction in competitive list composition options is a real problem.


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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 3:12 pm 
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What is an ETC slant? I never played ETC comp in 8th so I'm not that familiar with it (I started playing SweComp towards the end and loved that). Is it things like one of a kind or max 2 etc? Or does it go beyond that sort of thing? I assume it must, but I don't really know what we're talking about with the term :).

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 9:04 pm 
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The recent trend of posting up all the lists for an event beforehand and getting the players to find each others' mistakes is very ETC. Perhaps this is a logical consequence of open lists being the default. With closed lists I guess it's more work for the TO, though I'd imagine he'd have a duty of care here anyway. A closed list event might see a mistake slip through now and then but really, it's no biggie for a more laid back event.

On the one hand, I admire the intent to make the rules watertight, obsoleting FAQ's for example. But in a way that kind of shifts some of the detail from those to the basic ruleset, complicating that. Again, a question of taste perhaps.

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 10:48 pm 
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I prefer playing closed list tbh, but I'm finding I've adapted to open list well. I think probably with all the changes it's just been easiest to swap lists and go through everything at teh start etc than try to keep secrets...there's so many 'secrets' even in open lists when you don't really know how units perform ;)

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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2016 11:16 am 
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Ferny wrote:
I think probably with all the changes

Solid point Ferny. At this stage there's definitely utility in open lists. I've played open in 8th and it was fine. I guess my main point is that peer-checked lists can result in people feeling under pressure and it places extra focus on lists and the competitive side. This could be a good or bad thing depending on how you like to play.

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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2016 11:20 am 
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I've never found that personally, but I guess different folks respond differently so I can see that it could be a con. I like it as a process, it saves work for the TO =D> and it means more eyes to catch the embarassing accidental cheat lists :oops: . I just prefer the secret of having a surprise magic item up my sleeve...or the poker face of not having it :).

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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2016 2:31 am 
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I can't see this (or KoW) for that matter attracting too many new players. Try out a game like x-wing and see how simple yet tactically deep it is and you'll see why new players aren't really coming to games like WFB any more.


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