Allow me to rant here. I began playing 40K in the last year of 4th edition, so I had enough games under my belt to know the rules. When 5th came out it seemed the world went up in arms saying that it was designed with kids in mind, dumbed down rules and a simpler system. These are the same words that have been ushered almost any time Games Workshop decides to do a full version update. Now that Fantasy’s version update is looming I see people hoping it won’t go the way of 40K 5th and become geared towards kids, a simplified system that’s easy to learn.
Now, I never played 40K back in the early days but Kamui and Dark Heart did and I recall that their games would last weeks if not months. Granted, they weren’t sitting down for an entire day to play, though they may have had some of those days, and so would leave the board set up and return to it when they had time. The fact is you could not throw down a game in a few hours. The rules were complicated and required a lot of time to deal with. Fast forward to 5th edition and we have a game system that allows you to knock out a 1,500 game in 1.5 hours or less depending on your experience. 5th Edition sped up the game overall compared to 4th edition, as each progressive edition seems to do.
Now, the cost of gaining a faster game in the eyes of many is a game built for kids. The rules, to them, become simple and in turn the game becomes more simple. Having only seen the 4th to 5th transition I can agree the rules became simpler but not at the cost of the experience of the game. The version change made things easier because they dropped a lot of extraneous rules. No last man standing checks, no leadership checks for shooting target priority, no outnumbering rules for assault resolution, a single vehicle damage chart instead of three, etc. A lot of stuff that only served to complicate the game and increase the time it took to play were removed. Losing those things did simplify the game, no doubt, but more importantly it streamlined it. The game did not become dumber. It did not become so simple that you can throw tactics and strategy out the window. The game gained strategic assets, not lost them. We were given the ability to run, outflanking was introduced, jump packs gained deep strike, reserves became the norm for missions, etc.
Is it that those who cry would prefer a game with complicated rules for the sake of complexity? Would they rather clutter their minds with rules that only serve to create a longer game and are so conditional they rarely occur so they can claim the game is so complex it’s not for kids? Does their ego need to be patted by being able to claim the play a complicated game system? I believe so.
What’s wrong with a simpler game really? A game that’s easy to learn means it’s more accessible and in turn more people will play it. You show someone a rule book for a game that’s a novel in length and I assure you that most people will be put off. Someone who is mildly interested in a game system isn’t going to jump at the chance to try it out if it’ll take them a week just to read the rules, never mind fully understand them. I would rather have a game system that fosters new players than one that shuns them. Chess is a very simple game to learn, children learn it, but it’s a game that few will ever master.