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Sandbox / Broken Base Tabletop Games

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Edition changes, rule changes, and splat additions are all known to break the base... sometimes even amongst the same gaming group.

  • In nearly any Tabletop Game, any character you make might offend someone. The classic debate is over how strong you should make your characters and whether or not it has any correlation to your roleplaying abilities. Expect screaming from every possible side of the the debate. It does not help that Tabletop Games are inherently subjective (No two people will ever have the same experiences playing them).
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  • For board gamers, there is a fairly wide schism (which has blurred greatly in the last five years or so) between "Eurogamers" and "Ameritrash" gamers. European-style games (which emphasize relatively short play time, no player elimination, simplistic rules, little to no luck, unremarkable themes, and very little direct conflict) effectively re-popularized board gaming in the mid-90s, but they weren't to everyone's tastes. Ameritrash games (the name is derogatory; "Thematic" is probably a more neutral term) tend to emphasize conflict, theme, luck, and generally more complex rules. For about a decade and a half, board gaming was largely split between the two camps; people enjoyed most games, of course, but gamers tended to clearly favor one style over the other. Thematic gamers would call Eurogames bland and unexciting, while Eurogamers would consider Ameritrash games mindless luck-fests with no sense of accomplishment upon victory. In the last few years, enough releases have blended the two genres that the distinction is becoming meaningless, as the best of both games (along with genres that don't easily fit on the spectrum, like co-ops or deckbuilding games) have produced enough solid hits that the base might have settled down.
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  • The base of Traveller couldn't be any more broken if you fired a meson gun at it. First we had the Rebellion, in which the Imperium fell into civil war. Everyone either loved or hated this. Then came the New Era, 70 or so years after the "virus" (actually a race of Omnicidal Maniac artificial intelligences that hijack any computer in their vicinity by means unexplained, with deadly consequences) did a number on civilisation. Everyone either loved or hated this. The next edition was plunged into had lower quality by its lousy editing and the fact that the new publisher didn't really care about it. Then came a lot more stuff. It's amazing that you can find enough Traveller fans who agree with each other to make a gaming group.
  • Magic: The Gathering. Almost any semi-significant change made to the game is sure to provoke both sharp criticism from some players while simultaneously receiving major accolades from others. Recent examples:
    • The new card frame introduced with Mirrodin. Basically split the fanbase between "It doesn't look like traditional fantasy anymore!" and "It's cleaner and easier to read when playing!". (There was also an "It's too easy to confuse artifact and white cards now!" for a while, but that was addressed two sets later by giving artifact card frames a darker shade of grey.)
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    • The Time Spiral block, which reprinted dozens of old and powerful cards, introduced or brought back more card abilities than any before, and experimented with shifting abilities between colors to an unheard-of degree.
    • The storyline-related decision to kill off and/or depower the godlike planeswalkers around whom most plots center, which has had numerous fans of the books shouting bloody murder. Literally.
    • And who can forget the lovely shenanigans that happened (and are still happening) when Wizards decided to add a new rarity? And change the boosters? And decrease set size? Simultaneously?
    • The set Coldsnap was introduced as the "lost third set in the Ice Age block" that had been unearthed and would be sent to development for release in an article on the Wizards website. The article was either a funny joke or a malicious lie, depending on who you ask. No middle ground.
      • And then the set was actually released as part of the Ice Age block.
    • The removal of Mana Burn in M10 annoyed some players. Mana burn was never particularly significant, but there were some strategies that took advantage of it. (back in my day, you had to explain yourself for wasting some perfectly good mana!) It is probably not a coincidence that the rule was retconned mere months before Zendikar, which involved spamming ridiculous amounts of mana to cast Olympus Mons like Emrakul and Ulamog
    • The Shards Of Alara Block introduced colored artifacts, essentially redefining what an artifact card is. This did not go over well.
    • What in the world are all of you talking about? I still can't get past this newfangled "stack" business. Give me back my interrupts! They made perfect sense. And why in the world did they get rid of the "bury" effect? If you were too stupid to know the difference between "bury" and "destroy" you shouldn't be playing games endorsed by Mensa!
    • The new Sliver design in m14 has been seen as rather abrupt and not well explained. Some old fans are upset with "them wannabe predator-xenomorphs with dreds", while newer fans dislike the original "two-tailed wobbly phallus snakes" Either way a lot of people are mad about them returning PERIOD.
    • Wizards just announced a massive change to the combat rules. Oh shi-
    • Trap cards? There goes the neighbourhood...
      • Meh, no one's even mentioned Arcane and Traps ultimately the same damn thing (instant/sorcery subtypes).
  • This has happened numerous times with Dungeons & Dragons. First, there was the change to Second Edition. Then the change from Second Edition to Third Edition, then 3.0 to 3.5, and now massive Flame Wars are raging over the comparative merits of Fourth Edition vs. Third Edition and 3.5. Like all the previous edition changes, 4E is replacing a thriving 3.5 fanbase. Add to that the anger over Fourth Edition no longer operating under an open license, and the further setting shifts that accompanied the new edition, and the entire mess has angered the usual suspects.
    • In addition to the anger caused in general by the switch in editions, the change from Third Edition to Version 3.5 caused a large and rather vocal segment of the population to declare 3.5 nothing more than a bald-faced attempt to squeeze money out of the player base by issuing a "new edition" that had minimal changes from the last one, rather than being an attempt by Wizards of the Coast at plugging some rules holes.
    • And now, Fourth Edition has released new books for starting players called the "essentials" series, and the classes therein are somewhat different from those in the original starter book. Of course, this has resulted in three camps, one that uses only the new books, one that uses only the old books, and one that doesn't see the big deal and uses both. The second camp tends to call this set "4.5", which gravely offends the first camp.
      • In addition, a lot of Wizard's fans of 3.X who disliked Fourth Edition simply moved over to Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder RPG, which was created specifically to allow those fans to continue playing 3.X. So while Wizards is correct many D&D fans are converting to fourth edition, others simply jumped ship. And those fans are still somewhat broken between calling Pathfinder a distillation of 3.5 (often called 3.75) or just "better than 4th." To be fair to Paizo, while the core rulebook of Pathfinder is an adaptation of 3.5's Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide (and let's preempt the argument by not saying it's better or worse), they have most certainly expanded far beyond just rehashing 3.5 in promoting original content.
    • The biggest gripe about Fourth Edition is that it plays too much like an MMO. While it is true that almost every fantasy MMO in existence was itself inspired by D&D, the people who make this complaint usually point out that a pen-and-paper game should offer options an MMO cannot. "If I wanted to play World of Warcraft, I'd play World of Warcraft" is a commonly heard complaint.
      • Those making this gripe seldom actually make any significant comparison other than "marking = aggro" or "roles = tank/dps/CC/healbot" - regardless of the fact that marking is a fairly weak mechanic (probably weaker than it should have been) that doesn't actually *make* the DM do anything and that roles have been in the game since at least AD&D first edition (and "cleric as healbot" was actually weakened in 4th Edition since all healing actions take place either as a minor action or part of an attack).
      • Also, thanks to the powers system, a common complaint is that character classes are almost identical to each other. There is disappointingly little that makes playing a rogue feel different from a fighter feel different from a ranger in 4th edition when in 3rd edition these were each very different.
      • There is also the gripe that the simplification (or outright removal) of many mechanics like the Craft skill that puts emphasis almost exclusively on combat and renders practically all other plot scenarios dull, pointless, or irrelevant to the game itself. As such, it is difficult to make an adventure that can't be duplicated in a given MMO.
      • Daily powers. On one hand, having a very powerful ability once per day is better than not having it at all, and every edition had something similar. On the other hand, it's a needlessly radical departure from how both casters and non-casters used to function, with little explanation.
      • And even on here, the edition wars reign as editors point out flaws in their least favorite form of the game.
    • Added to this, there is now a 5th edition on the horizon, which is being touted as an attempt to Win Back the Crowd by returning to the roots of D&D. Though the playtest is ongoing, the Unpleasable Fanbase has already started coalescing into factions in yet another Edition War...
    • And let's not forget the vitriol over the Psionics debate, or the related war between those who find fault with Vancian casting in general and Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards and those who don't believe the phenomenon exists.
    • Currently, the fanbase is broken over Pathfinder (D&D 3.X) and 5E, with one side asserting that 5e sacrifices tactical complexity in favor of role playing and the other side saying exactly the same thing. 4E seems to be as forgotten as the second Highlander movie.
    • Things get even worse when you talk about individual campaign settings:
      • Forgotten Realms fans are violently divided over the "100 years later..." Time Skip for 4e, and before then there was the Time of Troubles.
      • To elaborate, the Time Skip involved killing off a whole bunch of gods via Idiot Plot, then wiped out most arcane spellcasters as a result of that Idiot Plot. The argument isn't that the new setting is bad, just that it shouldn't have been dropped on a thriving existing setting.
      • Dragonlance fans have endured more than most in this regard. It started with 2nd edition retconning a lot of setting details from 1st ed. Then they blew up the settting with the Chaos War, moved 50 years into the future, killed off all the gods and replaced them with über dragons, killed off magic, killed off most of the nations, invented a bunch of new orders for a new world and finally invented a whole new game system with cards instead of dice to make sense of all this new stuff. When WotC finally realised it was all a bit too novel, they then brought back all the old stuff and mixed it in with the new. Ironically, this latest hybrid setting of new and old is seen by many as something of a Golden Age for Dragonlance, as it was recognisably Dragonlance, had moved past the stifling setting of the novels and received the best gaming support it ever had through Sovereign Stone's license.
      • Eberron fans get into bloody wars over whether the setting should be allowed to move forward in time, and whether or not anything not written by Keith Baker "counts."
      • Greyhawk fans are mostly super pissed that their setting never got a real book for Third Edition (and was dropped as the generic setting for Fourth). Anyone who's not super pissed is potentially in league with the enemy.
      • Planescape fans are divided over whether the Fourth Edition cosmology is boring and yet another slap in the face by Wizards of the Coast, or worth looking at and trying to use for a "real" Planescape game. The 4e Manual of the Planes brings it back from the dead, albeit in brain-in-a-jar form, but then so did the 3.x books.
      • Meanwhile, Spelljammer and Dragonlance fans are still sitting in the dark arguing over who turned out the lights.
      • Thankfully subverted with the 4E release of Dark Sun. Thanks to the Continuity Reboot and removal of the Prism Pentad, fans agree that they've replicated the setting perfectly well.
      • Fans of Ravenloft have a minor point of contention as to whether their line of products was better with TSR/WotC producing it or if the 3rd edition White Wolf sourcebooks were more worthwhile. Most put any disagreements aside with the simple thankfulness that it was reprinted at all. The Kargatane, who have published several internet supplements for the setting and whose members were leaders of the Ravenloft online community who could have swayed the issue one way or the other, were disbanded in October 2003, though several alumni then went on to write many of the White Wolf releases.
  • Any time a new codex or edition of the Warhammer 40,000 rules is released, expect the tabletop game fans to draw chainsword and holy bolter over it. It should be noted, though, that the section of the base that focuses on the lore is actually quite civil and polite.
    • Except when anything written by Matt Ward is concerned.
      • Incidentally Ward has managed to reverse some of the rule shenanigans as most of his stuff is pretty balanced, if wacky fluff-wise. However, GW's spellchecking isn't exactly stellar, leading to massive broken bases on the meaning of the rules, sometimes even with people acknowledging that the rule is missing a few lines, but would still play it by the strict wording, which hilariously led to a conclusion that "vision does not equal seeing note ".
    • There is an enormous ammount of hate from the entire fanbase directed against Ward himself for his "liberal" treatment of the fluff. However, there is a broken base over whether or not he has any redeeming value due to his (general) ability to write a solid codex. Some say Yes, some say no, and some say he can't write a codex well, which leads to some of the loudest arguments in Warhammer 40,000 history.
    • Matt Ward alone may be genuine Flame Bait, but under supervision he made the very decent and much more sensible Codex that is Necrons 5th Edition, redeeming himself from such things like the Blood Angels / Necron alliance in one of his books earlier by making it actually plausible.
      • Of course then there's the separate debate over whether or not the changes to Necron fluff were good or a Jump the Shark moment for the faction.
    • As a demonstration of just how broken the fandom's view of Ward is, 1d4chan (Warning: Some content inside is NSFW) has split the most common viewpoints into a number of different factions: the "Old Guard" note , the "Vet Gamers" note , the "Crunch Defenders" note , the "Counter-Culture" note , the "Converted" note , and "The Wardinites" note 
    • Ultramarines players have a fair few internal divisions - did Mat Ward rewrite the Ultramarines as god mode sues, or simply incorporate the "greatest of all Space Marine chapters" shtick into his work. Should the Ultramarines be paragons of virtue, or flawednote  but highly competent marines. How to deal with Ultra-hate is another one: ignore, debate, or Pay Evil unto Evil ("Your chapter wants to be like mine, suck it right up"). And don't even mention how the Codex Astartes is supposed to work...
    • The Dark Eldar Codex miraculously averted this for possibly one of the first (and only) times in recent 40k history, being largely praised for it's flavorful and balanced rules, and it's expanded story. While there were some complaints, most generally agree it's one of the better codexes GW has put out in a while. It did end up falling into this when certain models (which were expected to be made in plastic) ended up being made in resin, making them cost substantially more than they should have.
    • The whole "Citadel Finecast" incident nearly split the fandom in two, and one of the few non-codex related base breakers. Most praised it for how non-plastic models are now much more workable, didn't shatter into a million pieces when you dropped themnote , and were no longer as vulnerable to paint chipping due to the resin holding paint better. Others were appalled at the fact that the price of the resin, which supposedly should have cut down costs, were MORE expensive than it's metal counterparts, warped under hot temperaturesnote  and the initial batch were plagued with some of the most disgusting miscasts the modelling industry has ever seennote .
    • Ollanius Pius was a Badass Normal Guardsman who stood against a psychotic galaxy-bestriding demi-god to protect the Emperor in a beautifully poignant and spectacular display of heroism and love which ended up costing him his life and possibly indirectly saving the galaxy. Fans were very happy. Then Games Workshop cut him out of the story entirely and replaced him with some random Adeptus Custodes Red Shirt. Fans were not happy at all. So they brought him back... as a 30,000 year old Highlander-esque immortal. Fans don't really know what to make of the change.
  • Warhammer Fantasy had a few of its own. Yes there are the big discussions about every new Army Book and Edition, but it has a few unique ones too:
    • The Power Creep of 7th edition was disliked by a lot of fans. After a big powerful update to Daemons of Chaos, making them the unquestioned king of the tournament scene. Every subsequent army was jacked up to 11 to try and make something equal to Daemons. This not only left any army that hadn't gotten updated in the dust, but also didn't fucking work; Daemons remained nearly completely unbeatable. Eventually 8th edition came along and shook the rules up so much that the game was rebalanced, but that was nothing if not a base breaker itself.
    • The end of Storm of Chaos was... controversial to say the least. Put quickly, the ultimate bad guy and the ultimate good guy are having a big fight, bad guy is winning and then suddenly... a third guy ( an Orc who's faction has been in dead last the entire time) comes out of nowhere, kicks the bad guy in the back, declares himself the best and bugs out before the bad guy can stand up and pull his arms off. And then the undead leader shows up with an army to attack what basically is a broken city and is ready to kill everything... until the leader of one of the good guys says 'My daddy beat up your daddy so I could beat up you,' and the undead leader up and left. Needless to say a lot of players were not happy (even if they could accept the Status Quo Is God aspect where good has to win) mostly among Chaos players, whereas Orc and Empire players were usually a little happier. It remains a point of contention to this day.
    • Fans are similarly split on Warhammer: The End Times. Massive Spoilers 
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar took the broken base and ensured it would never unify. Let's be as objective as possible.
    • It replaced Warhammer Fantasy with armies being canceled, armies being folded into each other, and all the background details of the old setting simply swept away with a new background setting.
    • The hundreds and twenty pages of basic Warhammer rules were reduced to four pages. Army books detailing each army's method of play were scrapped for an online PDF for each army which details its units and...that's it.
    • Warhammer Fantasy used to restrict armies to moving similarly to a block of marching infantry; they stayed in ranks and had to swing about to face enemies. Units could thus be flanked or surrounded. In Age of Sigmar, the game is a skirmish game where models move willy-nilly.
    • Warhammer Fantasy used a point-buy system to attempt to balance the game, but it barely worked since Games Workshop would often fail to update armies. Likewise, limitations on what an army could include forced players to think carefully about army construction. Age of Sigmar did away with it. When released, there was no way to balance an Age of Sigmar game. Rules as written, your force composition was limited only by you needed to have a model on hand. Likewise, there was no limit that said you couldn't just field the best models of your army's list. If you were outnumbered by a third, you could impose a highly abusable alternate victory condition.
      • This is the biggest base-breaker right here. Fans say it allows the players to use anything in their collection and allows them much more choice. Detractors say it makes game balance utterly impossible and is trivially easy to abuse. Both are right. And as of April 2016, Games Workshop has announced points are coming back.
    • Games Workshop instituted a lot of silly rules based on player appearance and behavior, some of them intentionally embarrassing to players with older models. GW staff were quoted as saying they wanted people to be embarrassed to use old models. Others take a player's appearance into account. In one particularly stupid and inexcusable case, it took into account a player's beard length (under Thane With Battle Standard. Apparently Games Workshop forgot not everyone grows a beard. Especially the women and children gamers.
    • The Tomb Kings and Kingdom of Bretonnia being "squatted"; their model lines and rulesets were completely discontinued, and the lore was reworked to exclude all mention of them. This news has not been well received (especially by the fans of those factions).
  • The Warhammer fandom also split right down the middle concerning their treatment of Total War: Warhammer. A large portion of the fanbase (especially those disillusioned with The End Times and Age of Sigmar) hailed it as "the real 8th edition" and applauded the developers for making a better Warhammer game than GW. The Vocal Minority split evenly into those who consider a Warhammer video game to be heresy of the worst sort, those who consider it a poor attempt by GW to earn a few extra bucks from a dead franchise and those who consider this particular videp game to be an excuse to milk extra cash for DLC out of poor deprived "True Fans".
  • Palladium's Rifts RPG fanbase is split between whether the Coalition States should have won the Tolkeen War, or if it was just a cop-out by the writers. This has resulted in a three way split between the players: PA-101 to Pre-Tolkeen era, Tolkeen War with whatever spin the GM decides to use, or Post-Tolkeen War (PA 109) with no mention of the war at all. Don't even get into which cyberknight was better, the original or the post-Tolkeen version.
  • Legend of the Five Rings has a variant, being divided between the RPG and CCG fans (though a sizable number play both). The RPG players have started to get extremely tired of the metaplot, which is conversely one of the big draws of the CCG: the ability to affect the storyline of the setting. There's surprisingly little actual rancor between the two groups, since both sides are well aware that the game is made for the CCG players first and foremost, but that doesn't stop the RPG fans from repeatedly bitching about the meta-plot on RPG-focused forums (and often dropping most of it straight into Fanon Dis Continuity).
    • Since AEG sold L5R to Fantasy Flight Games, the base is set to be broken again. The new FFG versions of the CCG and RPG are both very different from anything AEG produced.
  • BattleTech has the problem in spades, due to the leaps in continuity in the franchise, with each leap adding on new technology and new mythos and inevitably alienating at least some portion of the fanbase. There is still a sizeable group who refused to admit the existence of anything post-first edition. BattleTech Fandom hasn't broken, it's shattered.
    • Anything Jihad or Dark Ages related tends to raise hackles. Fans didn't take too kindly to the "Agriculture Mechs", essentially industrial machines pressed into military duty.
  • Just ask fans of The World of Darkness "So, old WoD or new WoD?" It's the equivalent of trolling real life. Unlike many of the games listed here, old WoD fans are still often busting out their old rulebooks rather than switching to the new versions. To be fair to White Wolf, they had run their original setting to ground and were running out of ideas, but fans did feel somewhat betrayed at the sudden introduction of completely new Spiritual Successors of the "same" games. It took the new WoD some time to establish an identity other than "that game that looks vaguely like the game I really liked" with fans. And some folks are still confused and think the new WoD is just WoD 4th edition, and hate either it or the old WoD on that basis alone.
  • This usually happens with every game, and it would probably be faster to list exceptions to the rule. The Fudge to Fate transition, which many people didn't do was probably one of the smoothest in the history of Tabletop Games, to the point where it could be considered a subversion.
  • During the last days of Heroscape the new figures were rebased D&D miniatures. Many fans called for the return to "Vanilla" 'Scape, some preferred the fantasy figures, and some were fine with both.
  • Dominion: Alchemy does this to the Dominion fan base. Many fans consider it to be full of overpowered cards or found that the potion mechanic increased the variance of the game too much.
  • In a similar vein, Stone Blade Entertainment's decision to add a third, randomized resource to year three of Ascension Chronicle Of The Godslayer has had mixed reactions. Making a mechanic cribbed directly from the previous year's Magic: The Gathering set (Transform) the signature mechanic of the following set didn't go over well, either.
  • Exalted has a sort of three-way war going on between the "early 2e was the best and the Ink Monkeys have ruined it", "the Ink Monkeys rock and early 2e sucked", and "all of 2e sucks, 1e was the best" factions. There are also sub-wars, especially over whether or not Lunars 1e, Lunars 2e, both, or neither are broken, overpowered, and/or underpowered and in need of rewriting.
    • And now 3e is coming to play. Just the announcement of 3e and the various changes to system and setting that are about to take place has shattered the fanbase.
  • In 2010 Mattel caused serious controversy over the rules of Scrabble. Specifically, whether proper nouns should be allowed or not. Mattel changed the rule in order to allow people to play more easily. Die-hard Scrabble players refused to accept the change, claiming it was a sign of dumbing-down and pandering to the populace. Completely ignoring the fact that plenty of families have completely ignored this rule for years anyway.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has a split between Pre-Synchro, Pre-Xyz, and Xyz (In dueling networks, some players in lobbies won't play with the newer card types); in addition, people tend to complain about Exodia and similar decks, as well as Fire Fist/Bujin/Six Samurai.
  • Any collectible card game that's developed a competitive scene will inevitably have its own Johnny vs. Spike conflicts. Two of the three player archetypes categorized by Mark Rosewater, the Spike is the competitive player whereas the Johnny is the nonconformist creator. Due to their enjoyment of deep analysis and refinement of existing deck ideas, Spikes prefer stasis, but Johnnies, who create disruptive new decks by studying the cards as they come out, prefer change. Hence, Johnny believes in It's the Same, Now It Sucks! and the Spike believes in They Changed It, Now It Sucks!.note 


Example of: