Should Players Police Game Rules?

By James Rodriguez | October 17th, 2017 | Categories: Editorial, Tabletop Gaming

hor of space marine and chaosWho’s job is it to police the games we play? The manufactures? The players? The Tournament Organizers? Let’s talk about it…

I’m going to go ahead and start this off by saying PLAYERS SHOULD NOT POLICE THE GAMES THEY PLAY! At what point in time did it become the decision of Tournament Organizers to change the rules, and override the manufacturer’s ruleset that make these games?

Hobby Police

But why do they feel the need to change them? What’s their gain?

Sure they have a financial stake in these tournaments, it helps them gain more entrants into their competitions, and continue to stay relevant. Who wouldn’t want to play in a tournament where the rules were tailored to what they felt they should be, and you get the perfect dream version of your game for your army or deck?

We live in a world of I want, I want, I want, give me, give me, give me…. It’s a cold world out there ladies and gentlemen, and I really hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you won’t get everything you want, even in your hobbies.

Most, if not nearly all, game companies take a very active stance making rules adjustments, fixing overpowered cards or models, and giving us updated FAQ’s every time we turn around.

Making a la cart event rulesets is making it harder for the casual players who make up the base of the hobby or card game pyramid, the manufactures that make these games, and even the stock holders.

Plus in a lot of cases it leads to power vacuums of either intended or unattended results.

tabletop gaming

Let’s face it folks, for a hobby to survive, we need casual players! If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have a game to be competitive with. If you’re using a different set of rules at the extremely competitive levels than they’re using at the store, eventually those rules are going to make it down to the bottom of the hobby or card pyramid, and it’s going to ruin the fun they’re having.

In the tabletop hobby, specifically Warhammer, a lot of the Tournament Organizers have insider information on what’s coming out, early access to them, and even provide their “expert” opinion, to include playtesting, before the release of the new rules.

So at the end of the day it’s lead to players from all levels of the hobby pyramid to ask why change said rules? If you didn’t like something when you test drove them, then perhaps you should have changed it then.


Instead, we’re seeing events take existing rules for a game, such as Warhammer 40k, and then mix it with rules that are coming out in the future (like Chapter Approved) to change the fundamental structure of the game before we have all the other supporting pieces of said rules or codex meta in place.

Back in June, we had this big boom of new players, easy to understand rules, a core rule book, core FAQ’s, etc. Now you can argue that since the TO’s have come in and started making their own rules, after they trickle down to the local store, it’s no longer fun for your casual players.

It can be said that a lot of folks don’t want to play the competition ruleset that was created to tailor to a  small percentage of the gaming community, and just like other bigger game systems these players want the rules and FAQ’s directly from the manufacturer, not another player’s interpretation (which as we discussed above can be made from various standpoints, some good, some bad).

Now, if a manufacturer can’t keep up with the policing of their game systems, then we have a totally separate issue. But, as of right now, all of the major companies out there are doing an amazing job at keeping these systems updated, and clarifying whatever questions arise. From FFG to WoTC and even Games Workshop, they all seem to be on top of their game’s game so to speak.

tabletop gaming ruleBut how can all this player policing affect the Manufacturer you ask? These game companies listen to the community’s gripes, complaints, and praises alike. They know what people don’t like about the rules, and they’re constantly working to change them. They want people to have as much fun as possible, because that means what?! MORE SALES! Changing the ruleset can also change the meta too fast for the manufacturers to keep up with the demand of certain products. Which may or may not matter to card companies like WoTC as much, but for physical sales of unique SKU items it may mean far more.

These “yo-yo” effects of changing the meta messes with restocking times and the production of new/future products. Now a manufacture has to weigh going back and revamping production on existing items that now have a false demand created for them by a changing rules meta that they had no advance warning on internally from their studio team. Done often enough, this has the potential of hurting a companies value stock wise, causing even more of a financial burden. Why? Well stock levels can fluctuate wildly when a manufacturer struggles to keep up with basic production off their projected budget forecasts, as well as production of new product for false meta swings. In turn investors can run the other direction when they see constant fluctuation.Plastic Injection Machines

These companies have a vision for where they want to see the games go. Four months into Warhammer 40k 8th Edition’s release, a lot players seem to be confused about which vision of the game they should follow; the competitive circuit or the original vision of Games Workshop. And the frustration seems to grow more and more each day online.

We all know there’s going to be some rules that players don’t agree with, no one game is ever “perfect”. What may be perfect in your opinion is not perfect in my opinion. Should we all stop worrying about our own selfish desires, stop changing and adding rules, and play the game with the ruleset from the manufacturer?

Should we trust that the manufacturers are listening to our ideas, complaints, questions, and they’re doing everything they can to improve the game for us?

Go to you FLGS, find that kid sitting at the table with their mom or dad, and look how mesmerized they are by the models and artwork on the cards. They don’t care about changing the rules, they just want to play and have fun… so should we?

Barclay Nurgle Wrapper

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About the Author: James Rodriguez

I'm a huge fan of anything tabletop. I play strictly Chaos in Warhammer, and Imperial in anything Star Wars. I spent 8 years in the military. Now I'm happy to be a civilian working with a great group of people. "We are all tyrants. Do not fool yourself. We were bred for nothing else." -Mortarion
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