Saturday, 2 May 2015

The curse of WYSIWYG?

Okay, maybe the title of this post is a little over the top, but I was thinking about how figures are armed and the impact (if any) on the game for two reasons recently. 

Firstly, there is a paragraph in the Warhammer Armies book which sets out a quite different approach to the one commonly accepted today. Here's a picture:

The above paragraphs generally state that as long as both players know what a unit is armed with, the absolute details on the figures don't matter so much. As long as several of the figures in a unit are armed in the way listed in the army roster, it really doesn't matter if the rest are armed differently. A good suggestion given is to put the 'appropriately' armed or armoured figures in the front rank for easy identification, and remove others as casualties first. 

All of this is really about common sense and fair play, an agreement and understanding between two like minded players. 

I like how it mentioned that the guidelines given are meant to help make things easier and specifically "not to restrict players, or make them use specific models." Compare and contrast that to attitudes from other times as you will!

I think the only line that really matters is:

"The important thing is that all players know what armour and equipment troops have. So long as both sides are happy in this respect, other restrictions are superfluous."

A good example of this is shown in the pictures of the Bretonnian army. Compare these two knights:

Without checking the book, can you tell me with absolute certainty which is classed as +4 Shock Elite and which is +1 Shock Elite? Probably not. 

In fact the whole of the two units pictured look pretty interchangeable. But you know, if your opponent says that the chaps with a particular banner are a certain unit, what more do you need?!

The second reason I was pondering this topic is more directly related to this blog. When you play with 28mm it is fairly easy to get close to the enemy figures and see what they are carrying. This becomes a bit more tricky with 15mm! Also, a lot of 15mm figures come in bags of 8 with some variation between them. So you need to think, does it matter if one guy in my unit looks like he has a two handed axe? Personally I am pretty sure no one would notice during a game unless you pointed it out them them.

I put a question mark at the end of the blog title for the reason that I don't even know whether "What You See Is What You Get" is even significant enough to be called a curse. Sure, in a tournament setting it helps, I guess, but unless you are trying to substitute goblins for ogres or something similarly daft, a quick consultation with the other player should still be able to sort it out. 

So how strongly do you feel about this issue? Do you adhere rigidly to WYSIWYG or is it not so much of a problem for you?

Personally I think the paragraphs in the army book sum it up nicely for me and reflect how I'd want to play. 

Comments welcome as always!


  1. Oooh, controversial! 😊 Totally agree with the oldhammer way of doing things though. So I'm glad we're of one mind in that regard 😃

    1. I figure it just needs to be 'close enough'. So no saying a sword and shield unit is armed with greatswords, or bows. I like the 75% suggestion mentioned in the book.

  2. Depends in 25/28mm I run strictly WYSIWYG without fail even in WhFB3 as it all adds to the visual effect and allows oneself to get sucked into the setting without worring about what that unit is and armed with when a quick look will do.. For smaller scales and particular mutli-basing I quite like the mixed unit look and little dioramas in the units as it makes them look for interesting and again allows me to get sucked ins maller scales you tend to have to tell people what everything is anyway so WYSISWYG doesn't tend too matter.

    1. Hi! Thanks for your comment. That sounds fair enough to me. Like I mentioned in the reply i just left above, I think I'd personally run with a 75% minimum on how troops are armed. There is a lot to be said for WYSIWYG when it comes for ease of play, and also it is a bit daft to call bow armed troops flagellants, for example. But I wouldn't stress over every single figure.

  3. Completely agree that 100% WYSIWYG is unnecessary. I've been making some 1:72 DBA hoplites up. Lots of these models have swords, and I've swapped a few for spears because they are supposed to be "Spears", but I'm only aiming for at least 50% with spears in any given element. It's pretty obvious what they are. If you put all the correct ones in the front rank that helps to flag up what they are supposed to be.

    1. I think a little variation looks good and adds character. And like you say, as long as everyone knows what they are there's no problem really!