There's something out there that many of you are probably aware of, but some may not be, called WYSIWYG. There are merits to using it, the big one being it allows avoiding a ton of confusion, cheating and misdirection in tournaments. Due to the nature of competitive players though and the type of people that Rule Lawyers
often are, I'm not a big fan of it. Friendly / store matches should be fun, but WYSIWYG seems to be expected during many of these matches as well.
The other aspect of WYSIWYG that sometimes occurs to me is it's a way to exclude people from competitive play. Odds are that new guy who may not know the rules so well probably doesn't have a WYSIWYG army list; and therefor won't slow down tournaments or "get in the way" at stores when people just want to play and not be bothered with new people. This is a horrible way to look at it of course, but it wouldn't surprise me if many of the competitive players looked at it this way. (Don't we all know eliteists who don't have patience for new people?)
For those not familiar, it stands for "What You See Is What You Get" and is applied to how you build and modify your models compared to what your army list looks like. Some people apply it stricter than others and there seems to be no end of debate on the correct way to do so.
The idea is that if you purchase a piece of wargear for a model, that should be reflected on the units you field. For instance, if a squad of Devastators have Lascannons in your army list, they should all actually be carrying Lascannons on the models, rather than just any heavy weapons. So, if you want to try Lascannons one game and Rocket Launchers another game, you either have to have extra models or some way to swap arms/hands/weapons. (tiny pinned equipment, etc) Some people feel that small upgrades, like melta-bombs, don't need to be modelled while others feel they better be hanging off your belts if you want to be able to use them in game.
Larger units, like vehicles, monstrous creatures and dreadnoughts, aren't as much of a problem as you can use magnets in larger areas, and most kits come with all your required options. (while a box of Devastator marines aren't going to come with 4 of each type of heavy weapon) There's also plenty of wargear upgrades that don't exist, and will require modding for you to display things on the models.
Because of the option to loosely model certain things, you run into Tyranid and Ork players who feel they don't have to WYSIWYG because they think they can say anything is really anything. ("That orc with the shotgun looking thing is actually a machine gun.. it's just orky.") Of course swarm armies require a ton more modding to pull off WYSIWYG than the average Marine army.
Another aspect of WYSIWYG is only allowing Citadel (Games Workshop) models because it avoids confusion over what's what. There's plenty of other designers making models out there and can be great for the player looking to add some style points to their army. Chaos can pretty safely pick from any number of demons and people know they're demons. A friend of mine had someone freak out on him for using a non-Games Workshop model of a witch hunter with an awesome wide-brimmed hat, sword and pistol, as an army leader that was equipped with a power sword and pistol. The really competitive player though wants to be able to look at his opponents army and know exactly what's going on, even in a "friendly" game or at the local gaming store.
Now when it comes to base and height sizes it is pretty important to stay consistent. Larger base sizes are easier to hit and more difficult to get into cover, while smaller bases are easier to hit with templates and can't cover as much ground.
As I wargame because I want to have fun and enjoy what I'm doing, WYSIWYG seems like an extreme system to apply to most games. While it helps avoid confusion and arguments, I think demanding it isn't in the spirit of the game. It's certainly a good personal goal to set so you know exactly what you're fielding, and hiding nothing from your opponent.
Wargaming's expensive though and it costs a lot to have every option available. Think that one day you might be in the same position; wanting to try out a new unit, model, equipment, tactic and be asking for the same consideration from your opponent.
Below are my "Friendly WYSIWYG" suggestions for non-tournament play, or relaxed "newbie"-tournament play to assist the spirit of the game, while staying true and trying to avoid disagreements.
Friendly WYSIWYG:- Your army list is at your opponents disposal.
There's nothing wrong with being open about what your units do, and what their capabilities are. You can't expect everyone to learn every codex or what each piece of wargear does and looks like.- Models should be used with the unit they belong to.
If you must represent something, a written marker next to models/units can resolve many issues.
eg: A unit of Fire Dragons should be comprised of Fire Dragon models. If you need to fill them in, maybe use a couple Guardians (until you get more Dragons) and remove them first as they're killed.
eg: If your opponent wants to field an entire unit of Fire Dragons using only Guardian models, go along with it from time to time. This can be fine now and then to see how a unit someone wants to buy works, but can get old if they always play like this, and very confusing for both sides if your entire army is represented by other models. (And can lead to many an argument)- Squads should be modelled to represent their role on the battlefield.
The important things to be displayed on a model are the things that define who that model is on the grand scheme of things.
eg: Assault troops should have their jump packs, heavy weapon teams should have some form of heavy weapons.
eg: Grenades, bolters vs plasma pistols, etc... don't impact who or what the squad are. If that Fire Dragon Exarch has a Firepike instead of just a Fusion Gun, it doesn't have a drastic effect on the squad, and can be seen by asking to look at the opponent's armylist before the game.
eg: Singular upgrades, like 2 guys out of a 20 man unit who have Flamers, should be obvious.- Base sizes and model heights should be kept true.
This becomes very important when checking range, line of sight, using templates, cover and (dis)embarking. (Especially now that LOS is "true")
eg: Terminators should be on the new larger bases, and not represented by smaller models, and vice versa.
eg: Monstrous Creatures, Walkers and Dreadnoughts should be on appropriately sized bases and not intermixed with smaller units. They should be roughly as tall as the normally available model. (A cool looking greater demon should still be a large model, and not just a little one on a large base)
eg: Rhinos can represent a lot of vehicles, but not Land Raiders.
eg: You can fit many more Gaunt bases around a drop pod than Warriors - very important in situations when those who can't fit are destroyed.- Disagreements should be ruled against the person creating the confusion.
While this can seem harsh, keep in mind that you're the one being allowed to field things you don't actually have. Arguments are the primary reason WYSIWYG is implemented. Players usually aren't intentionally deceiptful, but simply forget things.
eg: A represented Carnifex (that might be too small) shouldn't get a cover save from a single small model or low fences (Monstrous Creatures and Vehicles need 50% cover) and should be assumed to be in unobstructed line of sight when it's unclear.
eg: If a squad is too unique or too simple to determine who's holding a flamer, and neither player can come to an agreement, ("But last round he shot the flamer!") then either fail the shot or put the flamer in the hands of the guy your opponent claims shot it last time. (either way, switch in a model to clearly represent a flamer)
eg: Attempting a drop pod army using CDs as drop pods instead of spending $300 to test a strategy, means when checking line of sight, assume the drop pod can be shot at in most cases.
Suggestions:- This shouldn't be used as a guide on confusing your enemy.
eg: Try modelling those 2 Guardians out of 20 who have flamers with flamers, instead of just marking their bases.
eg: If Fire Dragons are almost always in your army list, plan to buy enough to fill out your list in the near future, instead of always relying on a couple being represented.- Avoid representing powerful / key models with something else.
eg: If your strategy appears to revolve around the fact that your opponent thinks an unassuming unit is harmless, and you just happen to forget to mention you attached a couple independant characters in the unit as well, don't be surprised if your opponent ends the game right there.- Use written markers when representing full units or large amounts of models.
eg: Turning an Imperial Guard army into a Tau or Ork one is great to try out a new army you want to play... but don't honestly try to keep everything straight in your head.
Feel free to leave your comments if you have some constructive thoughts on WYSIWYG.