Friday, January 7, 2011

I suck at learning new games.


So, Murl & I have been trying to wrap our heads around the rules to Heavy Gear Blitz with mixed results. The rules for the game itself are only about 20-30 pages in the rule book, with the rest of the book, being devoted to army lists, fluff, pretty photos, etc. However the way that its worded is very...cumbersome? Unclear, confusing, non-user friendly, I don't know its just not sinking in with me. Murl is connecting the dots better than I am.

Now admittedly I'm not good at learning a game by just reading the rulebook. I do much better if I can watch something get played several times, and then read the rulebook & it all kinda clicks, however it's just the two of us starting the game cold so that's not an option. That's always been one of my quirks, like learning to find my way around when driving. Dad drove me from my house to grandma's countless times as a kid, but until I actually made that drive myself, I never really knew how to get there, I just kinda recognized stuff along the way.

Primarily (though by no means exclusively) over the years I've played GW created games, and I've gotten used to their writing style. The online gamer community loves to scream about GW's ambiguities, but after trying & failing repeatedly to figure out Heavy Gear, I've really been given a proper appreciation of the care that GW puts into writing its rules. Murl describes it as reading like a technical manual in some ways, and we all know how much fun those are to read...

The game does have its merits though. I like the fluff (I have most of their RPG books which are in the same setting & provides an inordinate amount of background material), I like the minis (like my hover tanks above), its relatively small scale needing only a handful of units to build an army, and it strikes me as much more realistic (at least as much as hover tanks & piloted walkers can be).

For example:

What does a recon unit do in 40k? Well, it probably has some cool fluff & in-game gets to infiltrate, or a scout move and/or outflanking, regardless of race/faction. In Heavy Gear recon units (usually Gears) are smaller, lighter, faster, and have primarily just defensive weaponry that are only used in desperate situations. Instead they're primary use is to act as forward observers and/or provide target designators for rearguard fire support units, as well as providing ECM/ECCM (electronic warfare) support friendly units while disrupting the enemy's efforts. Those abilities/qualities also vary greatly by which particular recon vehicles in a unit are used, of which there is a bedazzeling array of variant vehicles (just as there are for the other battlefield units).

Yeah, that kinda sounds kinda like the modern battlefield. Hell, the option of electronic warfare is probably one of the best variations from 40k, which doesn't even mention it. Best you can hope for in a 40k parallel to Heavy Gear's recon units is a Tau marker light.

Another problem I'm having with the game is the endless array of acronyms. ABM, AGM, MRP, LGPL, LLC, HGM, list seems endless. They are listed out as full words in the back of the rule book with their stats, but to quote a rebel pilot from Star Wars 'There's too many of them!' The listing of the weapons stats are pretty simple to use, but the perks & flaws of equipment, not so much. Everything has a stat card, and these acronyms are used to make everything fit onto said card. Now I know one day it'll all make sense when we get used to the game, but combined with the clunky writing style of the rules, it makes for a frustrating nightmare scenario for a new player.

Okay enough ranting, on a different note... Below you can see my new game room which just a week ago was my almost never used spare bedroom (it was used on average about once a year).
My grandparents gave me the tables that are under my game board for Christmas. Not only do they fully support the board (which is foam & had about a 6" overhang all the way around on my dining room table) but there's room on either side to set up the army off of the table, or put drinks, or casualties, etc. This was taken after last night's bout of Heavy Gear. My hover tanks are scattered about, along with my paper terrain.

Its so nice to finally have a proper game room, it's geekdom at its finest!


Martin said...

I kind of had the same experience when first reading HG Blitz. For me it wasn't that the rules were really that confusingly written or the acronyms (although there are a LOT of them) but simply that they're so radically different from your standard GW fare. Just getting to grips with how detection works and that you can "see" through buildings etc took a while to come to grips with.

You might want to have a look at the latest few issues of Gear Up as there are some updated/alternative rules for movement, defense and weapons.

Papa JJ said...

I like the background and look of Heavy Gear but I remember feeling overwhelmed when I tried figuring out the game a while ago. Good luck to you and Murl, I hope you guys get the hang of it.

Congrats on the new game room, that is such a fantastic luxury for this hobby. I had one in my previous house and have really missed it the last few years. Enjoy the space! Nice artwork for the room, too. :)

Da Masta Cheef said...

Overwhelming is another good word for it. However I ordered a platoon of CEF FLAILs today, so I planning on sticking with it.

Yes the room is really nice to have! Granted I rarely eat @ the dining room table, I often left it as a game table as I got tired of breaking it all down every week. Now its not a concern.

As for the return of the Jedi concept pictures, I've had several friends (Murl included) threaten to raid my place to take them!

b.smoove said...

Solidarity. Unlike some people, I simple cannot sit in front of a rulebook and perfectly visualize what is meant to happen on the table. My brain just isn't wired that way. I feel a bit better knowing that I'm not alone. Cheers.

Da Masta Cheef said...

I would say that you seem to have overcome that to an extent though given the efforts you've put into creating killzone.