Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Deep Thoughts: WYSIWYG?

For the uninitiated WYSIWYG is shorthand Warhammer geek speak for, What You See Is What You Get, which means that if the model has an item of wargear, a weapon, a type of armor or a tooth ache – you gotta represent it on the model. Lots of major events publish rules that say WYSIWYG is the law of the land, but who actually plays WYSIWYG these days?

But before we ask who, we should ask why? Why would you spend hours on end making sure that everything in your army is precisely modeled exactly the way you are playing it? If you are going to a major tournament and write a list at a given set of points for that specific tournament and your list is not going to change, sure I guess it might make sense. But for the average gamer who changes their lists like my kids change favorite cereals, why go through the pain of changing minis all the time?

I think we all recognize that in friendly games, played by the vast majority of us, in our local game stores; our fellow gamers will be fairly forgiving of substitutions and other modifications as long as they are explained before hand. That being said there is a huge difference between saying that your Grey Hunter is armed with a meltagun even though he carries a plasma gun, and pulling out 5 Ogryn and calling them Ratlings. Some of us would also agree that using the Space Wolf codex to build a Deathwing army, while probably not the best application of fluff, is perfectly acceptable.
So why have WYSIWYG in the first place? Well, to establish a common set of rules to depart from when playing games. WYSIWYG is used to provide the most basic of reference point for everyone to start from, creating a commonly understood baseline that can be modified based on the players and what they agree on. The rule was written to represent the most draconian way of playing and can be relaxed as players deem necessary or appropriate for themselves. Because the rules are written in this way, we can organize world wide tournaments with players from countries across the globe and everyone knows the rules and can play within them.

When looking at the rules provided by Games Workshop remember that the rules were generally written so as to provide no room for interpretation by gamers so that a standard exists that everyone understands. That being said, remember that in your normal gaming circles sometimes understanding and applying the essence of the rules, don’t plop down Ogryn’s in place of your Ratlings, is more important than applying the letter of the law, like switching your special weapons every time you build a list.



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