We often get many questions on the forum, and in person from members of our community about where we are planning to go with T9A, now and in the future.
To help explain some of these things in a single news post we will share the EXT Mission statement, explaining in detail (so much detail... ) what we are planning to do as a project.
Executive Board Mission statement 2019
We often get many questions on the forum, and in person from members of our community about where we are planning to go with T9A, now and in the future.
The Founders’ Statement for T9A
The Game Itself
The target of T9A: Fantasy battles is to create a rank and file war game that is a unique blend of competitive gaming, immersion, modelling, social interaction, and most-importantly that appeals to a broad gaming audience of varying skill. The game should feel fair and balanced at beginner and advanced player levels, with victory typically awarded through a combination of careful strategic planning and tactical finesse despite being in a dice-based setting.
The “Old” Player Base:
The player base can be roughly divided into 2 different subgroups aka (with vast overlap between both halves), the tournament-focused players and non-tournament-focused player sections. The target for both groups is to foster a symbiotic relationship between the tournament-focused and non-tournament-focused players. Tournaments drive interest, inspire innovative tactics, and motivate most players to hone their skills. Casual games invest people in the setting, provide a draw for future tournament players, and place to develop new concepts to be explored.
The “New / Untapped” Player Base:
Equally important than the “old” player base, however, is the game’s accessibility to a broad pool of new players, particularly those unfamiliar to tabletop war games. To this end, T9A should strive to refine and focus its ruleset to be accessible, while simultaneously seeking to maintain or increase tactical depth of play. It should be easy enough for people to pick up, and yet challenging for the more experienced players master.
Maintain Our Current Player Base And Seek To Expand Game Reach:
It is important that T9A adopts a balanced approach of retaining our tournament prominence (e.g., ETC) in Europe as a premier competitive game, while striving to attract new players, particularly in the non-European markets. The favored methodology here is a Core + Add-On system that can accommodate different styles of game play.
Growing The Setting:
Background should play a key role in attracting and sustaining interest. We need to boldly explore new and exciting ideas that are wholly our own, because this will also inspire more immersive and creative internal design, not to mention appeal to hobbyists. We should be fearless in sharing our material with the community, and aim to widely promote our content. This could and should mean we should seek to expand the unique T9A setting to products outside of regular war gaming (RPGs, Novels, Card games etc.).
Keeping It Real:
While striving towards lofty goals, we must remember to be pragmatic in our expectations, particularly given that we are a volunteer organization. Thus, although we should aim to support, innovate, and promote whenever possible, let’s employ our resources (manpower and money) and precious goodwill wisely.
Obviously, this is a very broad range of topics. Some of these issues will be dealt with in the ExB Direction and Objectives, while some of the remaining issues will be dealt with in the ExB Operational Statement. With these areas we set the following actions in motion for 2019 and onward.
9th age purpose, scope and governance structure
The 9th Age is a volunteer organization founded by 6 persons with the specific purpose of developing The 9th Age: Fantasy Battles. The scope of the organization has evolved to be a range of games using the unique 9th Age background and art but with different rule sets developed for games targeting different player profiles, game durations and dynamics. The 9th age: Essence of War is one example of such a new game.
The Founders elect and empower a group of fellow community members to bring to life their vision for the organization, the Executive Board (ExB). The Founders retain full right to decide the composition of the ExB and reserve the right to overrule strategic decisions by the ExB.
The ExB comprises members from different branches and skillsets of the T9A staff and is overall responsible for the performance and affairs of the 9th age organization in accordance with the direction set forth by the Founders. The ExB is responsible for setting the goals for the organization and for the hiring and firing of all management positions and all members of Rules Team (RT), Legal, Human Resources (HR), Advisory Board (AvB) and Website Administration as executed by HR, while all other non-management positions are on the discretion of the team heads in collaboration with HR.
The ExB has recently discussed project direction with the Founders and specifically solicited their personal visions for the game and the project as a whole. The Founders provided the following conceptual direction to the ExB to steer the project.
ExB Direction and Objectives
The preferred management style by the ExB is to focus on empowering team leads, and coordinating between them. Avoiding micromanagement where possible is a priority.
Create a stable high-quality ruleset for years to come
Purpose: Obtaining a stable ruleset will allow for a broader group of players to master the game and allow for the production of high quality produced gaming materials. In addition to stability, a reduced barrier of entry is one of the desired high qualities to obtain.
Action: Once the main rules are completed around the end of 2018 and released as 2.0 they will be frozen (i.e. no changes to be made) for a period of no less than 4 years and more preferably, for 5+ years. With the movement of all items and spells to an Arcane Compendium, there will be no pressure to update the main rules for item costs, spell casting costs, etc. It is anticipated that the Arcane Compendium may be subject to annual updating.
Construct unique army books for all current factions
Purpose: For the project to develop, it is important that we solidify our legal rights to produce and distribute all material for The 9th Age. Writing new army books based on The 9th Age lore will ensure the longevity of the organization and broaden our ability to interact with commercial partners to produce models, boxed games and gaming accessories.
Action: It is a priority to rewrite the army books to give each rewritten faction a period of time under the 2.X rules. Emphasis should be placed on the quality of the army books rather than being driven by arbitrary schedules. That said, we want the army books to all be redone as soon as is practically possible, but we do not want to compromise quality for a quicker release date.
To that end, the ExB has approved a group of staff members taken from many different positions on the project to determine how both efficiency and quality can be improved. The ExB places a great deal of value on inter-team communication and strongly recommends that teams have at least one person that is tasked specifically with communication to ensure time and work is not wasted. We, of course, leave it to the various teams to determine the best means to implement this.
The army books are to be systematically rewritten by the task teams based on determined need including a balancing of the following: rules considerations, background considerations and community expectations. None of these issues should be ignored or relegated to a position of unimportance. Obviously there are times when certain criteria are going to be diametrically opposed to each other. In that case, a determination must be made as to which direction to go, which is the decision for the design team to make. However, to the extent possible, all of the above three-listed criteria should be weighed in decisions.
Each faction should have an immersive place in the Ninth Age world and a unique place in T9A – Fantasy Battles filling a niche in the game unique to the faction. This does not mean that there needs to be complete separation of one faction from another relating to faction differentiation. Rather, rules for the factions should be built around the background for that faction keeping in mind the place that faction serves in the world of T9A.
This means the army books are to be inspired by the background, which will serve as the basis for rewritten and especially completely new rules. Making T9A – Fantasy Battles truly a background-driven game provides the safest place for our game to exist as it will ensure that the game is solidly built on new material that we have created and written.
Clear direction and governance for Background and Art
Purpose: Background is the foundation of The 9th Age. Having rich and immersive background is a key factor for players to fully embrace The 9th Age FB. Although great work has been produced, it is still difficult for players of some factions to fully understand and make use of the background of their respective armies.
Action: With this concept of background in mind, there should be increased attention on making T9A background more accessible for the wider community. Likewise, every effort should be made to include the background materials in a grouped and easy to find format that allows players to find both basic and in-depth information on any faction.
The background information should provide not only a basic understanding of a faction, but should provide detailed information that allows players to understand the factions place in the Ninth Age world, and also enable players to understand the motivations that drive a faction. It is the background that should serve as the foundation for T9A – Fantasy Battles.
The guiding principle for the background development should be new and creative and take into consideration community expectations. For example, factions that exist in the army books from 1.3(x) should exist in the 2.(x) version of the game. Likewise, those factions should feel familiar to the players. However, these factions should follow their own unique story.
In order for the Background team to achieve the above, the ExB has delegated all background development to the Background Team who have been empowered to oversee the development of all background and art for the project in accordance with the objectives set forth by the ExB. This is a critical role in the project because it forms the foundation for T9A – Fantasy Battles and all the other games developed.
Clear governance and process for the Rules Design area
Purpose: The rules design area has suffered from a high turn-over of qualified staff and very low effectiveness despite a tremendous amount of high quality work-hours being allocated to this part of the process.
Action: It is clarified that the RT is empowered by the ExB to steer in accordance with the objectives set forth by the ExBfor the development of 9th age - Fantasy Battles. Also, it is clarified that the main focus of the RT should be to provide Development Guidelines that ensures a consistent and effective translation of background material into a coherent game that meets the expectation of the global community and oversee the produced rules according to the same Guidelines.
It should be noted that legal issues need to also be taken into consideration. Any legal issues identified by the Legal Team will be brought to the attention of the Design Teams and the Rules Team. The Design Team should listen to and implement adjustments to designs based on advice from the Legal Team. The Legal Team cannot dictate or decide what design will be accepted, but rather can provide input to the Design Team as to whether something is legally problematic. The Rules Team will closely monitor any legal issues and work to ensure that any designs are cleared by the Legal Team.
To avoid legal issues, the ExB has submitted that the Design Team should implement a Background-driven design approach. This means that the rules designs provided by the Design Team should spring from the background of a faction. The Development Guidelines should outline how to develop and implement rules; the place each faction maintains in the game; and provide guidance on how to develop rules aligned with the background for each faction. To that end, the ExB has stressed the need for the Background team to ensure adequate production of the background needed for rules design for production and release of army books incl. auxiliary armies and games.
The Development Guidelines, incl. any supplements, should be shared with staff and it is encouraged that they be shared with the wider community. It is expected that the RT will delegate power in a transparent manner to various teams to allow those teams to exercise their own judgment and creative power. It is emphasized that the RT should facilitate an effective process while ensuring that the rules are consistent with the Development Guidelines and meets the high standards set by the RT. It is moreover clarified that initiation and composition of army book teams and the intended pace of release of army books are ultimately governed by the ExB as it is involves a wide variety of teams and is part of the overall strategy of the organization.
Many additional teams have been formed to carry out the various parts of production of the T9A – Fantasy Battles. Some of these include the Background Team, the Art Team, the Balance Team, the Army Design Team, the Army Community Support Team, the Conceptual Design Support Team and the Legal Team. While various team structures (and names) may change over time, the functions of these teams carry through in meeting the criteria listed in the Founders’ Governing Statement, including rules considerations, background considerations, legal issues and community expectations.
Preserving ability to use existing models and ability to play existing armies
Purpose: Uncertainty of the ability for players to keep playing their armies following the implementation of new army books has been a barrier of entry and demotivated players who put much effort into the hobby aspect of the game.
Action: Many of the T9A global community are using models that they previously had when they played Warhammer Fantasy Battles (WFB). While it is understood that T9A – Fantasy Battles needs to be its own game, efforts should be made to ensure that most of the models that were used in WFB are also usable in T9A – Fantasy Battles. This does not means that all models should find an exact equivalent use in T9A – Fantasy Battles. However, it is recognized that many existing and untapped players have existing model collections. Efforts should be taken to ensure that these can be used in T9A – Fantasy Battles.
Additionally, the issue of list invalidations is a topic of concern to a number of community members. T9A needs to be free to adjust the army books, items lists and so on to meet the needs of the wider global community. However, in order to do that, a balancing of the pros for a particular change should be weighed against the potential cons of causing models to become unusable due to the implementation of a restriction. As such, please tread carefully with the use of restrictions.
Balanced learning curve of new army books
Purpose: A top concern for the new army books is to ensure that the new books feel fair and balanced regardless of player skill to the extent possible. This means that army books should endeavor to avoid having a “steep learning curve” while introducing new and immersive rules that are built upon the background for each faction. It is understood that this is challenging and will not always be fully achievable. However, efforts should be made to achieve this where possible
Action: The ExB will work with RT to ensure that the learning curve of new army books are evaluated for a broader group of players while ensuring a high level of balance, immersion and strategic depth.
The main rulebook, the Arcane Compendium and the army books will form the “core” products of T9A – Fantasy Battles. These core materials should be highly balanced while at the same time they should accurately represent the background of the factions. The four considerations should drive the army book rewrites, namely, rules considerations, background considerations, legal issues and community expectations.
Expanding the reach of the game
Purpose: It is a goal of ExB to extend the reach of T9A – Fantasy Battles rather than have it only cater to a relatively narrow audience. It is therefore desired to introduce auxiliary materials for each faction that add immersive content, rules and narrative play. The addition of campaigns is also something that will be part of the project. The goal behind these various materials is to allow for modes of play that, while not being as highly balanced as the core materials are for tournament play, are balanced fairly well with a view of being used for non-tournament play.
Action: the ExB will support new initiatives and suggestions by staff and, when practical, by other community members, for how to drive auxiliary materials and will ensure that such initiatives are given the autonomy and support needed.
Grow global reach trough transparent communication and support to local entities
Purpose: T9A is supported by a large global community and is run entirely by community members. With that in mind, the staff should endeavor to engage with and understand the wants / needs of the global community.
Action: The various teams will take community expectations into consideration to be heavily weighted in decision-making processes. This does not mean that community expectations will be met by community suggestions. Rather, the teams should seek to understand the spirt of the community input and then seek to implement the rules in the core products in a manner that captures the spirt of the input but still results in a coherent and balanced game. Good judgment on the part of the RTis the key here.
A specific goal for the period of army book rewrites is to help the various global communities grow by providing a stable game. Certain communities are very well established, while other communities are quite small but have large as yet, untapped potential. It is our goal to build up these smaller communities while at the same time, supporting our larger and more well-established communities. As a schedule will be put in place for updates that is provided to the wider community so that a clear and easy to see update schedule is outlined from year to year. Every effort should be made to focus on completing the rewriting of the full army books, however, rather than focus on modifying the current “old” army books that will be replaced by the “new” rewritten army books. The schedule that is adopted should take into consideration the needs of the major global tournaments to negatively impact those as little as possible.
Website overhauled to be more appealing and easier to navigate
Purpose: the current website highlights the most active discussion threads usually most suited for very active players, and puts a lot of focus on the most vocal members of the community, which may confuse and discourage new players.
Action: The ExB has also approved of a redesign of the website to make it more visually appealing and easier to navigate for newer players. It is also understood that while the project is 100% volunteer and all materials will be provided free of charge, it does cost money to run the website on a server. Efforts will be made to increase donations so that adequate server space and speed can be secured for the foreseeable future. In other words, we need donations to keep the lights on.
In particular, the ExB wants to say, “Thank You!” to the staff and the wider community for all the work, time and attention that you have put in on the project. Regardless of what anyone says, keep saying to yourself, “T9A is our game.” We on the ExB will continue to seek to balance the interests of our wonderful and diverse global community of war gamers.