Elsewhere, I was lamenting a general, pervasive lack of effective technical writing. It’s something I deal with professionally and, uh, it’s frequently an issue encountered with rules writing. It is vital to be able to communicate complex concepts clearly and effectively. I know folks who have Masters degrees in it (I am not one of them).
Anyway, that Kill Team Balance update came out, and I complained about it, because I think it’s an example of this. It could be less clear, but it’s not perfect. And really, maybe that’s OK: when you design a game where ▲ = 1 and ■ = 3 you’ve made an active, conscious decision to reject clarity.
I’ve been converting up Genestealer Cults Enforcers while we watch Inventing Anna, and doing it with the idea of running them in Kill Team has given me some guardrails. Unfortunately, although I think Kill Team list construction is Really Good the way it’s expressed is Really Not. Some of the rules read like they’re an eight year old telling you about Minecraft: just a stream of consciousness ramble modifying everything that’s already been stated.
Which is how I ended up reformatting the GSC KT list construction rules, which I figured I’d reshare here:
BROOD COVEN KILL TEAM
- A BROOD COVEN kill team must contain consists of 2 fire teams selected from the below lists:
- NEOPHYTE HYBRID
- ACOLYTE HYBRID
- HYBRID METAMORPH
- (1) LEADER operative must be selected from one of these fire teams.
- (0-1) ICON BEARER operatative may be selected from one of these fire teams.
- Options indicated as UNIQUE are limited to 1 instance across the entire Kill team.
NEOPHYTE HYBRID FIRE TEAM
ARCHETYPE: SECURITY / INFILTRATION / RECON
(7) A NEOPHYTE HYBRID fire team includes 7 NEOPHYTE HYBRID operatives selected from the following list:
- (0-1) NEOPHYTE HYBRID LEADER equipped with one of the following options:
- Gun Butt and either Autogun or Shotgun
- One Option from each of the following:
- Chainsword, Power Maul or Power Pick
- Autopistol, Bolt Pistol or Web Pistol
- (0-1) NEOPHYTE HYBRID ICON BEARER
- (2-7) NEOPHYTE HYBRID TROOPERs each separately equipped with a Gun Butt and one of the following options:
- Autogun or Shotgun
- (0-2) NEOPHYTE HYBRID GUNNERs each separately equipped with a Gun Butt and one of the following:
- (UNIQUE) Flamer
- (UNIQUE) Grenade Launcher
- (UNIQUE) Webber
- (0-1) NEOPHYTE HYBRID HEAVY GUNNER equipped with Gun Butt and one of the following:
- (UNIQUE) Heavy Stubber
- (UNIQUE) Mining Laser
- (UNIQUE) Seismic Cannon
… and so on. There are Acolyte Hybrid and Hybrid Metamorph Fire Teams that follow the same pattern… but I think the Neophyte rules are the hairiest and prove the point.
This doesn’t change anything from the actual creation rules, and it’s probably not perfect… but I think it’s an improvement.
- It collapses the Gunner and Heavy Gunner options into single entries each: it doesn’t make sense to me to give each variant their own entry in some cases but list them as options in others…. especially when they all refer to the same profile.
- This is also important because there are rules that govern selection of the profile, not the loadout.
- It pulls the breathless, run-on paragraph about those rules in-line with the other list construction rules. You can see how many of what options you can take instead of having to look at the list to see the entries, look at the paragraph to see what the constraints are, then back to the list to see which entries you can’t take.
- Enumerate options. If you can take up to two: say 0-2. If you’re going to have to have minimum 2 of something, say that: 2-7.
- I’m using digits instead of text numbers in most places. I probably should be fully consistent with that, but am not.
- The “you can only take one of these per Kill Team” rule is pretty common. I know that GW’s current design rejects USRs and emphasizes rewriting rules as many times as they need to reference it, but I think that’s bad. Why repeat yourself like that, and why not make it clear that this constraint applies to the Kill Team and not the Fire Team (which are terms that are similar enough to only help this be confusing). So: the “UNIQUE” designator.
- The constraints about only being able to take one LEADER is best expressed in the context of the overall Kill Team, not the Fire Team. Ditto ICON BEARERS. You could almost use UNIQUE on these, but if you simply relied on it you’d be able to take a NEOPHYTE HYBRID LEADER and an ACOLYTE HYBRID LEADER.
- I capitalized the equipment names. They’re in-game terms, so I don’t think they should be lower-case.
- Man “Gun Butt” is in there too many times. Be nice to just nuke that and return to a default melee weapon. Too many butts!
I’m not a technical writer or a game designer… but I think this is a significant improvement over the readability of the as-published text.