February 15, 2011

FanDex Insight

Hello again, ladies and gents. From the emails I've received I know you all are eager to see the upcoming version 2 of the beta for the Adeptus Mechanicus, and I have to say I'm just as excited if not more so. But before I'm finished up here, I'd like to go a little in depth into how I've come across the changes I've made for the next version of my fandex, and what other fandex creators can do to help themselves along into making their project even better. More info after the jump.
I played (and lost) a 1250 teams game with the AdMech the other evening, and that game really opened up my eyes to what final changes need to be made. Currently I'm in the process of getting everything sorted out and it's coming together nicely. Recently I've spent a lot of time list building; putting units together to create a unison to success on the battlefield. This has really helped me shape how I'm wanting this codex to work. In the beginning, the very early stages of my version of the AdMech I wanted them to work like IG more or less. This may not have been my thought process at the time, but my creation was slowly becoming this idea. To a certain extent, that is how they work with the current version out right now with perhaps a bit more focus on infantry than the standard tank-guard list. And for this, I apologize.
In the latest update, I believe the feel of IG is still there to some extent. Any time you have focus on vehicles, there's going to be the ethereal presence of IG somewhere. It's inescapable. So what can you do? I'll tell you one thing, IG is simple. Anyone who attempts to argue with this point will be on the receiving end of a slap-session. IG roll in, they shoot. That's it. There are tons of units in the dex that float outside of this simplicity, but for competitive lists, IG win games because of superior firepower. This is how one can separate one's fandex focused on vehicles from IG. Instead of superior firepower, reduce firepower and replace it with tools and work-arounds . Make sitting still an inconvenience. Force the player to think outside the box with the tools at hand that compensate for lack of firepower. This works, it truly does, but to an extent. The toys and tools I had in the first beta were quite convoluted to say the least. I went to extremes on some things to see my ideas in action. But this can be the problem with a lot of fandexes.
Sometimes Do-It-Yourself Isn't The Way To Go.

Let me jump up on my pedestal here and mention my thoughts on other fandexes. There are a lot of fandexes out there, a lot. Even for AdMech. I can think of 4 off the top of my head that are in a somewhat finished state. A lot of these are quite good, phenomenal even. Breaking new ground is what a fandex is all about, and there are people capable of pulling this off. But, the main issues I see are:
  1. Lack of organization
  2. Convolution
  3. Too many items filling the same role
Lack of organization is a major issue I have with other fandexes. Those of you that know me personally know that while it's not as bad as it used to be, I still have some level of obsessive compulsive disorder. If something in my house is moved an inch off center, I can spot it within 10secs of stepping into the room. While I won't jump over a table to correct the "problem" anymore, I'm still aware of the change in placement. Every single person on the planet has this awareness to a certain extent, and I think this carries over to more events in life than people realize. We'll use 40k as an example here, if you open up a GW codex, everyone knows the order of things. Units, weapons, equipment, fluff, FOC, point costs and stat lines are all more or less in universally the same place within each and every codex. This is oft overlooked by the fandex creators, and personally I believe it can cripple an entire project. The ease of finding what you want has to be there or people just won't bother. If a 30min session of list creating turns into an hour just because there's a lack of understanding where things are, it won't take long before your testers give up on it. My current version of the AdMech FanDex as an example; it's modeled after the setup that GW has used throughout 5th Edition. When someone pics up my fandex, I want them to feel 100% at home, and I think the format I've followed has pulled this off.
My next issue with the other fandexes out there is convolution. Needlessly complicating things. This is something that happens when you create a fandex, it's unavoidable. If you're creating something that's 100% new, you'll step beyond usual bounds to accomplish your goals and ideas. My issue is when it's not toned back down. The realization I've made, quite recently, is that dice rolling is fun. But too much dice rolling is the opposite of fun. This may seem quite obvious to anyone who hasn't attempted a fandex before, but there's something to be said for getting lost in your dreams for a project. The way a fandex works in my mind, and I assume others, is picturing a unit, vehicle or character out there on the battlefield doing his or her thing (whatever it may be,) and then taking everything your brain has come up with and explaining it within the realm of dice and numbers. These ideas you come up with can be as wild and astronomical as you want them to be, but translating those wild ideas to a 40k numbers scale is where the convolution begins.
For example, we've all read about Space Marines doing amazing things in battle. A unit in power armour decimating a hive world's Nids all by their lonesome is just the tip of the iceberg. If we were to use that example in game terms SMs would have to be WS5+ BS5+ S6+ T6+ W3+ I6+ A3+ Sv2+/4++ by rough estimation in order to overcome a hiveworld of Nids. Astronomical differences like this can easily exist on the tabletop, unfortunately 40k is based on a scale of 10 for most stats. This limit pigeonholes a lot of translation that gets lost between fluff and the tabletop. So why would GW limit themselves like this? Exactly my point; convolution. 40k used to be based off many kinds of die and all kinds of stat ranges. It was just too complicated; needlessly complicated. There's something to be said for streamlining when it comes to any kind of gaming, simplicity is what gets more people to start up a game easily as well as keeping them coming back for more. This is an important lesson I believe all fandex creators should keep in mind during development. 
That "Too Much Of A Good Thing" Crap Can Go To Hell!

Lastly, something I see constantly is the overabundance of items and units in fan-made codices. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. If you look at the Codex: Space Marines for example, there are a ridiculous amount of choices out there. The thing of it is, few units step on each others toes if they're in the same FOC slot. Time and time again I see fandexes with two or three units that are in the same FOC slot, filling the same roles for similar costs and sometimes even with similar rules or stats. This is only one example. Another I see a lot of is Special Rule or Wargear choices, and I have to look at myself on this one as well. Choices are great, no one is going to argue that, but bringing in 47 Wargear choices for anything but an Eldar Autarch (/giggle) is asinine. This comes back to convolution, putting your ideas in rule form. If the HQ you're thinking of has access to endless Wargear, then you may want a large list of choices for him/her. But there comes a point where people will stop caring. And when it comes to 40k, there's typically a cookie cutter way of doing things according the tourney players. To sum it up; 30 Elite choices is too many, period.
My list of three there is what I find to be the biggest mistakes a fandex creator can make, and I'm trying my best not to make any of those mistakes as I press forward with this project. So what changes am I making in the new version? A major update I know everyone is waiting for is point cost adjustments, namely scaling them back up to reasonable values. When running the math on how much each unit should cost, I found that everything was very expensive for the most part which might lean people to run infantry rather than vehicles in order to get the firepower they needed to be competitive. This was the opposite of what I wanted, an IG infantry list. So, by removing specific aspects of vehicles without them losing their role in the codex I could lower their costs and make them worth taking even in 750-1000 point games. This is something I'll continue to test throughout the month and I've still got my eye on the end of February for v2.0's release.

Well, I intended this to be a short post, but scrolling back up it appears I've turned it into 8 paragraphs. Keep a lookout this month for the next release and as always...

Later days.


  1. For what its worth I enjoyed playing against the new army. It has a very distinctive flavor that we haven't run across.

  2. Great pointers there Lantz, I'll try to keep them in mind as I work slowly oh so slowly towards completing my Fandex.

    As always I watch the Admech Fandex progress with interest and no small amount of awe.

  3. Thanks to you both. I've got a few more days to work on the fandex and a couple of them to playtest. I'm pretty damn excited about this next version.

  4. I wanted to comment earlier, but there were so many words that I didn't want to add anymore. On your next post include more pictures and less words. Or, make your post rhyme like Dr. Seuss. Now, there's a man that makes reading fun.

    Other than that, those are great recommendations. Quality over quantity is good advice for any project.