Friday, 16 December 2016

Confrontation or Confrontation?

Whilst having a chat with the other Wipster's (as we do on an almost constant basis, seriously we are worse than 14 year old girls when it comes to mobile communication) the subject of Confrontation came up. Some of my illustrious brethren were discussing the impact that the original appearance of Confrontation in White Dwarf all those many moons ago. We were also discussing the game in general. Now, it is important as this point to note that there were a varied amount of opinions and they can be broken down into the following basic groups.


  1. Confrontation is a fantastic background but I wouldn't touch the game with a Captain Crooks's floppy barge pole.
  2. Confrontation is a unique creation and I'd love to play it as it was originally intended.
  3. Confrontation should be completed and published in a form as near to a finished item as possible.  
Let's examine these in a little more detail




  1. Confrontation is a fantastic background but I wouldn't touch the game with a Captain Crooks's floppy barge pole.
Confrontation was published in several White Dwarfs in the early '90's. It painted a picture of life in the hive cities of the Imperium and focused on the ultra-violent gang warfare that went on between the inhabitants. The writing and the images were the first in depth look at life beyond the front lines of war. There were no aliens or wide open battlefields, just claustrophobic corridors and steel roofs. The range of gangs and the concept sketches gave a new vision of conflict in the warhammer universe. The rules, on the other hand, stunk. They are based on Laserburn and were hampered by endless numbers of modifiers to shooting and combat. Using a percentage base numbers were added or subtracted for range, weapon, injuries, ammunition, cover etc. A large part of shooting was a long list of multiplications and subtractions before you got anywhere near rolling a dice and some people cannot stand the idea of having a calculator anywhere near their game of toy soldiers. The method was resurrected in Inquisitor and the same maths based fury has afflicted other gamers with that game (oddly enough they mind it less in RPG's -go figure). The basic issue is that despite some people loving the background of the game the ruleset itself just turns them off big style. Some would happily play a Confrontation game using a different ruleset but that leads us to another question. Is it a game of Confrontation if you use Confrontation figures and background but use (because it's current) Rogue Stars as rules? Furthermore, is it a game of Confrontation if you use random Copplestone Future wars figures and Rogue Stars but set it in Palatine Hive?



2.Confrontation is a unique creation and I'd love to play it as it was originally intended.

The second point of view is that Confrontation had such an effect on it's release that it has stayed with us for all these 25 years or so. At the time we have dabbled at playing it and tried to get a hold of the figures but we never quite got there. Now that we are older and wiser and have been able to hoard our little collections of classic/limited/unreleased Confrontation figures and been able to gather copies of the unreleased rules, we want to give it a go. We want to have a go at playing the game that has stuck with us all these years, that we have sweated over ebay for, that we have made clandestine deals in the back allies behind Frothers for. We know that it'll be a bit of a pain and that it'll be slow and probably have large chunks that don't make sense or don't work and that we'll have to use our considerable intellect to solve basic problems but we don't mind. We relish it in fact, we are like gaming masochists, reveling in the pain of a complex and painful system in order to get the game we have dreamed of. Struggling through modifiers and charts that are 25 years old with smiles on our faces in way that totally belies our total impatience of multiple modifiers and charts that have been published in the last week or so (hello again Rogue Stars!). Playing a game of confrontation is an extension of our extended nostalgia trip. An extension into a game we desperately wanted to play but were never quite able to manage. Wish fulfillment for grey hairs.



3. Confrontation should be completed and published in a form as near to a finished item as possible. 

There is of course a third view which is an extension of the last. Some people feel cheated by the lack of development that went into Confrontation and feel that, in these days of laptop publishing and photoshop experts living on every street corner, it should be possible to complete the rules. Using the playtest copies that float around the ether and the existing illustrations alongside pictures of painted miniatures from various fans around the world, it should be possible to put together a product that is as near to the intended item as possible. Recreating a set of rules that were never completed or published in the style of the time is like the holy grail of old school gaming, a product of it's time but never actually available. Will somebody ever go as far as carrying out this daft wish? I doubt it. Unless someone has enough money and enough time I can't see it being anything but a pipe dream but it's a lovely pipe dream to have.



So there you have it. Not a definitive view on the subject but a rough idea of how some of the Wipsters view Confrontation and hopefully the start of a debate about this odd, dormant, beast of a game. So come on. Lets debate.  

42 comments:

  1. Leave my barge pole out of this, Whiskey. It's versatile, prehensile and not remotely designed for this kind of work.

    I vote for the second one - lets see how far into a game we can get before Cheetor snaps, takes off all his clothes and runs screaming into the night. My bet is 5 minutes.

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  2. Well, it's a nice sum up, I'm firmly into the 3rd category for some reasons :
    - I do love the aesthetics and background of the game so I want to have that as much as I can
    - I don't believe in pure black or pure white, just in countless shades of greys so that means despite the obvious flaws of the game play, I just can't reject 100% of it.
    - Having played an intesting game of it with people (who were to become friends) I hadn't played with before and with small and simple modifications. I have th efirm beliefe that it is possible to play this game and enjoy it.

    Now seems I'm only 80% a dreamer and I do want to have games, I find falling back to Rogue Stars, Rogue trader (or any later edition) or any ruleset actually a good thing if it allows me to play the game I want (and I see that as partly independant to the rules set used).

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  3. I never realised it was based on the much earlier Laserburn rules!

    I had one of the issues with the rules way back in the day (when you could actually buy the issue brand new for it's cover price), can't remember the issue, but it was one of the first I ever brought and I so wanted to get the other issues, but evn by then, they had sold out of them :(

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  4. Wasn't the developed version of Confrontation called Necromunda? There you go, little conversation hand grenade for you.

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  5. I'm an option 1 veering to option 3. Setting and appropriate (not necessarily vintage) figures make it work for me. I have a dream of a cleaned and polished production of the game too though!

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  6. Nice article.

    I've very firmly always been in faction two, although there's a part of me that's long considered option three as a wistful pipe-dream.

    To be honest, I've never understood the griping against the game system: sure, it's unwieldy, particularly when viewed from the perspective of later tabletop systems, but the system was designed as a tabletop RPG, and (as you mention above) people never really have much of an issue with tables and complexity in those. I think - in many ways similar to Inquisitor - people very much wanted it to be a different game than it was actually designed as, which is where much of the animosity comes from.

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    1. Hm. Even as an rpg it's clunky & dated. Inquistor has the same problem. They're based on the 80s idea that good rpg rules are all about complexity & detail, when really they should be about stimulating creative narrative play. Nothing in the actual rules system does that.

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    2. Honestly, I'd respectfully disagree. But it's all horses for courses.

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    3. sure, was just chipping in with my thoughts :-)

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    4. Fulgrim, I'm curious which part(s) of the statement you disagree with (this is meant as information seeking, not argument generating).

      Playing some of the new rpgs that are coming out with cool (but simple) mechanics to drive thematic game play and give opportunities for players to influence events in a meta way, you really can see new interesting features arising to allow for frameworks that take all players input into situations.

      Being a fan of old rules sets, when I go back to read them (thinking about playing/running them), it's obvious just how unbelievably numbers crunchy they are. Simulation over taking the game.

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  7. Definitely option 1. If I had my way, I'd run it using the Rogue Planet rules. Seriously. Someone ought to create a modpack.

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    1. Really no need for a mod pack, a bit of ingenuity and imagination will allow you to transfer Hive warfare into most games.

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    2. yeah, that's true. Still it's useful to put some genre specific guidelines on paper. especially if you're using rules where weapons & fighters are created from the ground up.

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  8. I`m with Saturday, Necromunda or your fave version of 40k with any appropriate scenery and figures.

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    1. I was out of the hobby for Necromunda so it's always been a game others people played. I have played it since but the combat system really bothers me.

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  9. WP great post! I had not heard of the Rogue Stars rules but quickly looked them up! So here is what I think is the best part of the Confrontation rules; they were free in the WD! They harken back to the days of the WD being more than just a fancy catalogue of GWS products. It was truly a source for gaming material. So I have to plead ignorance since I'm in category #4 "I vaguely remember them but didn't pay too much attention to them in the day", is there a more complete version floating around on the web? Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thank you very much, i'm glad you enjoy my blethering

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  10. Wait me an Lopez aren't the only ones who chat nonstop all day like 14 year old girls?

    Oh yes the point of the post....Uh this is Oldhammer so Option 2. ;)

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    1. We are proper bad, it's non stop. It's an addiction.

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  11. I favour simple rules in all my hobby games. It doesn't matter whether it's a boardgame, RPG or tabletop game, needlessly complex rules are a turn off for me.

    Increased complexity doesn't necessarily make a game better or more cerebral. There are ways to convey theme alongside rules that generate fun and satisfying games without a huge burden of modifiers, tables, ifs and buts.

    If weighty systems somehow actually made games more realistic (assuming for a moment that realism is the goal) then that would be one thing, but they don't. At all.

    Flipping a coin is just as likely to get you a representative determination of a Scavvy shooting a Bratt through a chemical fog. And at least flipping a coin will take less time.

    The only purpose that reams of dull modifiers serve in a tabletop game - in my opinion - is to give a certain sort of anal retentive geek a feeling that his toy soldier gaming is somehow more worthy than simpler games.

    The Confrontation background and imagery is wonderful. It is utterly distinct from the awful rules.

    Why play a bad game in a good setting when you could play a good game in a good setting?

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    1. It's not really a 'bad' game, just overly complex. We did shave it down to lay and it worked pretty well even with multiple players.

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  12. I remember doing the miniature concepts and working on some of the illustrations and commissioning others - they've lived on - the game did indeed morph into the more streamlined necromunda so it still exists in spirit - I have a folder with those early rules - it's a maize of background and rules most of which never made the WD article - mi favourite was the weird and baroque Byron gang where they all had a club foot - there's an illustration around somewhere but I cannot remember where

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    1. A club-footed gang eh? In the cutthroat world of gang fights and hit and run tactics i can't see a bunch of hobbling misfits getting far... literally... ;)

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    2. Personally, I love the setting, so I'm happy to play a simplified version. Nostalgia makes me want to play the rules as written, but I'd love to see them refined and finished.

      I am, however, NOT good not going anywhere near Crooksie's barge pole - it scares me!

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    3. Club foot is a mutation and becomes a weapon - however it's all about atmosphere and colour depicting a pretend world where there might be all sorts of advantages bi having mutations .....

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    4. I'd love to have a look through that folder of yours, just to see the process and what secrets it still holds. I assume the club foot mutation would mean that they could literally use their mutated foot as a club? They'd have excellent balance and the an extra kicking attack or some such. No need to bring along extra weapons, some bizarre creepy walking methods and deadly ambushes. Nice concept.

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    5. My bargepole is like the club foot mutation, pixi, I will beat you down with it in short order.

      What other ideas were floating about back then JB?

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    6. My bargepole is like the club foot mutation, pixi, I will beat you down with it in short order.

      What other ideas were floating about back then JB?

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    7. These chaps are they, no?

      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-rfDIKrCvzY8/UVS9Hlhy_EI/AAAAAAAABKA/vjl2u_uHbiM/s1600/tumblr_lqbfie39BZ1qhslato1_500.jpg

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    8. Huh! Never even noticed their feet before. They're like trotters.

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    9. You could definitely do some damage with that hoof.

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    10. Would love to see the missing rules.

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  13. Intersting discussion WP!

    I haven't looked at 'Rogue Stars' so I can't say how it stacks up to the Laserburn / Confrontation engine. The complexity of rules allow you to tell different stories. An action point system allows you to tell a different story and make decisions based on different factors than an I-Go-U-Go mechanism. Similarly a system that identifies which bits of a body get injured by a shot, or how much more difficult it is to hit a moving target than a stationary one, or how much ammo you have left, let you tell different stories, to make gameplay decisions about different things, to think differently about what's going on on the tabletop, it's just a question of focus.

    For me, an ideal Confrontation 2017 or deeply-mathematically modelled narrative game engine would be better suited to a mobile app, so players don't have to battle with the maths, with a stronger visual and more flavourful interface than tables of modifiers in a book. So.. erm #3.5 gets my vote!

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    1. I quite like the idea of an app to do all the calculations for you. You could tell it if successful and it could work out the damage as well.

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  14. Personnaly love this game and when it first came out we ran games of it at the local Grantham games club with people of all ages from 8 to 55 and initially we had a few mods to cover the missing bits from Rogue Trader as both D100 based. But we were lucky to get a full working copy after sending a letter of thanks they sent a copy, (Best day of ones life then.) The game plays well and once you get used to the rules and (also made a few cheat sheets to speed up play) made or used cheat sheets its a simple game to get going.
    Combat is not as complex as it seems as it seems more often as not as you never get going into it with limited ammo.

    The game was and still is great in ones opinion and am thankful to the community to get ones hands on a full copy again as its still fun to play. Would love to see it redeveloped and released, maybe even under the Oldhammer crew. Be nice to see stuff never released.

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  15. Option 5: Take much of the background combine it with tried and tested 40K and publish it with some nifty plastic miniatures and cardboard scenery. If only...

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    1. Isn't that exactly what was done with Necromunda Erny?

      The plastic figs were a bit primitive sure, but beyond that that's exactly what Necromunda did at the time.

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    2. Oh yeah....if only I'd thought of that.

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  16. What I really would like to see would be an art and background book based on Confrontation.

    Background information in the various charts but not covered in the background written to date could be included.

    I expect that such a book would please everyone else that has commented here, regardless of their rules preferences.

    Such a book, presented like the recent Goodwin Eldar sketches perhaps, is very appealing.

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    1. Oh yes would love that. Be nice, though keep meaning to look at the copy one has of Confrontation and add bits we added years ago to bulk out.

      Though saying that back to the Book, and books of art would love to see a re-released Mordheim game (use the fractured planetscape and lost village/towns with John Blanche art.

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  17. I tried playing Confrontation as a teen when the riles were originally published in White Dwarf. Still remember the fun of creating gangs and rolling for all the random stuff. Still remember trying to play the game too though - oof. Too much, far too much. The more a game has players/GM searching through charts and rules passages during a game, the less fun it turns out being. Necromunda was a boon to my gang-war games and I wish I could have enjoyed it more so (Damn you beer and women for interrupting!).

    Will say though that I far preferred the Confrontation minis to the Necromunda. Much less over-the-top cartoony design wise.

    (I plan to pick up Rogue Stars some time next year for my =I=munda games. It sounds very easy to get along with.)

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