So not long after I put out my view on the new ITC 2016 Q1 poll, the results came out, and now, like so many talking heads staring at primary results, I get to ask the fundamental question: “What does this all mean?”
The quick answer: We’re forked.
First of all, a fun and kind of introspective question: How well do my views represent those of the ITC community as a whole?
The answer? Not well. I agreed with the eventual outcome in 6 of the questions, and disagreed on 6 others. Essentially, a coin toss. Not sure what that says, but there it is.
But what’s more interesting is some of the places where the results are things I disagreed with, particularly four questions:
- How many detachments do you wish to play with in the 2016 season?
- If we increase the detachment limit for the 2016 ITC season, how many would you like to use?
- Per RAW, if a Gargantuan Creature with any part of its base is in a piece of terrain which grants a cover save, the Gargantuan Creature gains the save even if no part of it is actually obscured. Do you wish to play this rule this way?
- The Eldar Corsairs Reckless Abandon special rule allows them to move after making a shooting attack. Does this apply to overwatch?
In all of these cases, I think there’s a clear RAW answer. The book never makes any sort of argument in favor of restricting the number of detachments – this is purely an artifact of the tournament’s rules. The GMC “Toe in Cover” question directly admits there’s a RAW answer already. The Corsair’s one might be ambiguous, but in my opinion isn’t – Reckless Abandon says shooting attack, with no mention of phase, and the rules for Overwatch say:
An Overwatch attack is resolved like a normal shooting attack (albeit one resolved in the enemy’s Assault phase) and uses all the normal rules for range, line of sight, cover saves and so on.
What follows after that is a few “excepts…” mostly about Morale and weapons that can’t fire snap shots. I can’t see any credible reason to argue that, RAW, Reckless Abandon doesn’t work that way.
Now, I’m going to leave whether the outcome of these votes is a good or bad thing as an exercise to the reader.
What’s interesting is what this actually means – for some time now, and in some very obvious and blatant ways, the ITC Tournament Rules have diverged from the Warhammer 40K rules.
In other words, there is now a new “fork” of the 40K rules (to borrow a term from software development). There’s a decent overview of this concept here, but this is very much what the ITC has done – they’ve created a new, alternative version of the ruleset, with no expectation of it ever really being incorporated into the main ruleset (because lets face it, that’s never going to happen). Again, this isn’t a judgement on the merits of doing this – I use things that were forks of other projects all the time in my professional life, and have done it at least once myself.
We really should give it a name. ITCK? Reecehammer? Maybe a nice version number?
But this does mean a couple things:
First, stop calling it an FAQ. It’s not an FAQ, even if it’s referred to as that. It’s not clearing up rules ambiguities, it’s making new rules. If that’s what we as a community want to do, own it. If you’re a TO who wants to use the ITC rules, know that that’s what you’re doing – you’re not just inheriting some clairifications, you’re inheriting how some people (sometimes but not always a clear majority of people) have decided they’d like to play the game. Essentially, you’ve outsourced house rules.
Second, know that forking invites more forking. If you follow the crew over at Preferred Enemies, you’ve heard they’re considering a tournament pack that is “ITC…mostly…kinda…” If I ran an event, it would be “ITC…mostly…kinda…” Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – my preferred operating system is, again, a fork of a fork of Linux (a shiny nickel for the first person to guess it correctly). But it does invite fragmentation. Consider this picture – again, this is forks of a particularly visible software project:
Imagine each of those nodes is a tournament. Maybe you start with a couple big rule sets (NOVA, AdeptaCon, ITC…). Then people go their own way, and then go their own way again…what you end up with is essentially a non-transportable ruleset. Your army doesn’t work the same way at NOVA and the LVO. It works…close to the same, but some fundamental behaviors might be different. At worst, your list might be illegal at one or the other. Each of these decisions to split was made for a reason. Maybe a good reason, maybe a bad one. Some of them supported by plenty of data (GMCs…), some of them I’d assert with very little (Corsairs).
It’s also in marked contrast to what the folks at ITC have talked about wanting for 40K – there are very few forked eSports. No one is playing major, twitch-streamed Starcraft 2 games where Marauders are slightly different. There’s no community vote on whether or not Feral Druids are OP in WoW’s arena that ends up changing how arena matches work for some games – but not all of them. League of Legends doesn’t have its source code change based on whether you live closer to Chicago, DC or San Francisco.
What does this all mean? I don’t honestly know. My previous post on the LVO suggested that, at the moment, the meta is in a pretty unhealthy place. It may very well be worth the loss to portability, and the fragmentation that comes from these kinds of votes to help try to address that. But decisions have consequences, even when they’re the right ones, and we’re well served as a community by discussing them.
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