Revision Creep: D&D's Cautionary Tale
Rampant Revision Creep can ruin a game. This is arguably what happened to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Things got very complicated and the attempt to coalesce the new ideas (the 2nd Edition fiasco) just made things worse. The 3rd edition, the D20 rules, were IMHO a great improvement. When it started. But hoo-baby, the Revision Creep from Wizards of the Coast has increased at a bizarre cancerous velocity. It could just be me, but EVERY SINGLE BOOK they publish (and they seem to have a new book every few weeks) has 20 new feats, 20 new prestige classes and at this point the game is almost unrecognizable.
This may be a bad test procedure, but in one of the D20 D&D books I have there is no listing for playtesters in the masthead (and no mention of them in the acknowledgements). It's almost as if the Wizards are trying to wring out as much money from their audience before nausea sets in. It's the Summer Blockbuster methodology - open with 3000 screens, make 50% of the gross on opening weekend before word of mouth renders your high-budget stinkeroo into celluloid oblivion, and then move on to the next blockbuster. No content, just flash.
Revision Creep in Car Wars
Anyway, this unchecked Revision Creep is possibly what happened to Car Wars. I'm not talking about 5th Edition... I have 100% no interest in a new play system. The old system would be fine with a little tweaking. But I think so many of the new devices that have been introduced have upset game balance in entirely preventable ways:
1. All new devices must be *extensively* playtested (a few months, at least, just to see how they affect game dynamics)
2. Until they're tested, they must be declared as optional and will not be arena/tournament legal
3. One playtest test is to see if an older device becomes obsolete. If it does, fine, then REDEFINE the old device. A good example is RR HESH ammo. It doesn't weigh more, is crazy cheap (175$), and rips off metal armor half the time. And if it's not obviously unbalanced by a simple smell-test, look at car designs since the device was introduced... who DOESN'T use HEAT or HESH in their RRs?
Same holds for HTM (which I've ranted about before). As I said:
back in '37 you needed to have a big engine to get consistently high acceleration. In years hence they invented High Torque Motors and instead of balancing weight-space-cost in engine size you just pay $400 and viola! Grrrr. Yup, I think HTM is a bad idea. Massive changes in game dynamics require more than just a few hundred bucks! Space and weight are much more difficult to manipulate and have much more of a design "cost" (ironically). Once HTM was introduced was it any surprise that almost every duelling car had them installed. Heck, they didn't even make you enter a new price range!My Self-Applied Rules
If I introduce new rules, rule-tweaks, new weapons etc (which I've done already on this blog), assume that they are optional and untested until stated otherwise.
I enjoy Car Wars; it fires up my imagination like no other game and indulges two great loves (design creativity and violence). I want to help fix this game, the original game, that I played 20 years ago. I'm mainly introducing tweaks. But like any fanboy, I would like to see new equipment if it fits in.
Next: what game mags should be doing (and why they get it wrong).