Sunday, November 9, 2014

Affording Agency

Sorry, no new models worked on the past two weeks - in adequate motivation and horrible discipline. But I wanted to discuss the importance of ensuring all players in a game have a sense of agency.  It also is a chance to vent.

Agency: 3. action or intervention, especially such as to produce a particular effect.

Importantly, when I lose a game I want to have lost because I failed at something I could correct - short of total army book/codex change!  The only way to fix a loss should not be to scrap an army and start over with a "better" army.

This means identifying tactical errors - poor deployment or committing the wrong unit to combat - or even identifying holes in the army list - a few more Gyrocopters or a unit of Hammers instead of Slayers.  If a loss is assured even if the game goes perfectly, then it is not going to be a fun game for anyone.

My local gaming store's Fantasy Narrative campaign has concluded another story arc.  We have come off the mountain, chased away by the High Elves (Tess).  This left the remaining five of us to fight over objectives.  The Chaos Dwarfs are abandoning the quest (to be replaced by Undead Legions). This left four of us to fight over objectives (starting with Uberhero plus 500 pts).

1. Dwarfs move slow - my only real option is to attempt to prevent others from scoring.  A losing proposition.

Going into the scenario, it was clear the scenario was stacked against me, but it as it developed it only became hopeless for me to achieve any kind of victory and I lost all sense of agency.  The ability to cast spells (I am playing Dwarfs, we have no magics) became critical as successfully casting resulted in victory points.

2. No magic to cast.   I could spend the game attempting to run back and forth while an opponent successfully cast buffing spells and still lose the game.

Now, back to the Uberheros.  My hero is a Dwarf Lord on shieldbearers rocking magic items in excess of the points limit - all good!  However, plenty of other Uberheroes are mounted on Emperor Dragons and in some cases these Emperor Dragons are themselves Wizards.

3. Others have multiple Wizards on the table with the potential to cast spells.

Before the end of turn 1, I was frustrated with the game (anger curse included!).  One opponent had 3 wizards in the starting force and mobility I cannot achieve (dragons are faster than Gyrocopters)

All of this lead to intense (heated) conversation about the lack of fun being had and frustration from those of us who had not done as well in the campaign.