Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Codex Creep

A recent post on Bell of Lost Souls got me thinking about this.  Actually I've been thinking about it for long while, but the BoLS post inspired me to finally write about it.

Give people something they don't need, and they will be temporarily, mildly happy.  If you then take it away from them, the rage will erupt in a paroxysmal conflagration.  The fact that it was unnecessary to give it to them in the first place is irrelevant.  They had it, they owned it, it rightfully belongs to them, and may anyone who would dare take it away be damned to burn in a fiery hell for all eternity.

It's a fact of human nature that something is valued more when it is taken away.  If you give someone a gift, you will earn their temporary gratitude.  Take something away, and you will earn their undying hatred.

This is certainly not limited to 40k.  Rather it exists in anywhere there is competition and there is the opportunity to tweak the situation.  Everything from MMORPGs to entitlement programs to the salaries of CEO salaries.  It is not my intention to make this political, but rather to illustrate the pervasiveness of the attitude throughout society.

So Games Workshop has found itself in another death spiral.  It wants to make new codices and new miniatures attractive, so they up the ante with each release.  Just a little bit.  Enough to get people excited.  I can think of instances when they tried to redress the balance with a release of the previous edition of Codex: Chaos Space Marines.  The complaints came from all over about how C:CSM was nerfed, how it couldn't compete, so why bother playing them?  The next time around GW "fixed" it, and now we're stuck with things like Lash of Submission.  How do you think CSM players will react if for the next release Lash is removed?

The fix to the problem comes at the expense of the hordes of tournament players who would howl with rage at the injustice of balance being restored to the game.  Since GW releases a new library of codices over a span of years, it would take that long for balance to truly be restored.  In the meantime, the simmering anger of spurned players would grow, and many would leave the hobby.  As each new balanced codex is released, more players would abandon the game.  After all, who wants to drop money on a new codex and hundreds of dollars on new miniatures when the tagline is "Try this army:  Not as badass as last time!"  GW wants new Codex releases to spur sales of the new miniatures, and releasing balanced codices would result in the opposite. 

There is no obvious solution.  As soon as GW went down that road, their fate was sealed.

Like entropy, Codex Creep is going to happen, whether you like it or not.  It sucks, but it's unavoidable.  That's why in the end, Chaos will win. 


eriochrome said...

Nice Post. GW is perfectly happy to take old stuff away to give you new stuff. They actually like to over fix most balance issues just creating new ones. With the print rules and codexes and the structure of the games they will never get it close to well balanced.

suneokun said...

Come over to the M42 project and lets fix it Arcadia. I, like you, am disenfranchised from 40k. I own 4 armies, only one of which is competitive. I build for fun and love of the genre and game.

Somehow the other producers out there seem better at balancing, maybe because they're not as loved up about launches and sales spikes?