Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A to Z: Proxies

Proxy minis are one of the more contentious topics in miniatures gaming.
On one hand, it is just a game. 
The point is to have fun.  Minis are fancy playing pieces.  Take what you have and just play.

(found here: very impressive minis & battle!)

On the other hand, it is a miniatures game, a lot of the fun comes from the visual appeal.  Like a movie, the visuals help you get immersed in the story.  Nice minis, appropriate for what they represent is part of this.

On the other other hand, each player could say it is their own army they can do what they want and the other player has no place to voice an opinion.  What?  You can't have three hands? Why not? It's a proxy.

Just to be clear, I think there is a difference between Proxy and Counts-As

Proxy is using some minis because you don't have the minis you need.
Counts-As is using alternate minis because you prefer them or want to create a unique theme.  
I have no issue with Counts-As at all, provided it is understandable after described. I've made lots of 'Counts-As' forces, such as my Bayou Elf wood elf army, Narnia Pact chaos pact team, Lizardmen of Venus ork army,  Circus of Evil necromantic team, and many others.  

But Proxies? 
I can find myself having all three of these opinions, depending on the circumstances and the proxies in question.

If everyone is having fun, then why not allow proxies?  For one, it's a great way to get multi-use out of a limited resource.  Hard to argue against that.  It can also be a great way to take an army out for a test drive before committing to purchasing minis that you might not want if the test doesn't go well.  When people first start out, it should be expected that proxies will be used. 

But proxies can get in the way of having fun, especially when one person has nice minis and the other has proxies that are not nice.  I don't have a problem with someone using fantasy humans for historical or vice-versa. I wouldn't have a problem with human rangers being used for wood elves, or a Troll being used as an Ogre on a Blood Bowl team that can only field a Troll, not an Ogre.  But when you find that one skaven is an elven hero with a bow, or this halfling with the hat is an Ogre, or the halftrack with a mortar is a Tiger tank, then it can break down. When proxies are the source of confusion in the game, it is a problem.  And it only gets worse when people's phones become tanks and empty bases hold invisible troops.

Sometimes it can get ridiculous. Humorous, but ridiculous.

I once saw a guy at a tournament play with a squad of marines that were nothing but unpainted legs on bases: that's it: just legs. 

The worst case of proxies I ever experienced was my first game in my first tournament. 

It was Warhammer Fantasy Battles, 3rd edition. I had a Dark Elf army and my first opponent was Wood Elf. 
Up until this point I'd only played games against friends, I'd never played in a tournament or against a stranger, so I didn't know what to expect or what was commonplace. 

We set up and the game started.  
I had spent a lot of time on my army, and I thought it was pretty nice.  It wasn't as nice as I thought it was then, but I've seen a lot worse.  My opponent's army confused me.  I had a hard time telling what was what.  
For one thing, most of the army was based on pennies.  For another thing, a good portion of the army was the same Ral Partha elf with a spear, repeated about 60 times. 

Suddenly a unit of 10 of these Ral Partha Elf with Spear shot at me with bows.  "What?" I ask, "they have bows?" -Yes. he says flatly and starts to roll his dice. 

Later, an identical unit of 10 Ral Partha Elf with Spear moves forward... haha! I know what to expect now!  I ask if they have bows.  Yes- they do.  And they proceed to fire about 150 arrows at me! What??? How the hell do they do that?  Why, they are all level 10 heroes with hail of doom arrows! I'm stunned.  How is this permissible? Wouldn't I know? Maybe not that they're packing magic arrows, but shouldn't the minis indicated that they have bows, and that they are heroes? 

The worst was when he began to slyly move the smallest mini I'd seen... a tiny lump of painted metal on a penny.. I couldn't even really tell what it was. But I had already learned not to trust him.  I asked "what is that?" -What? he asks.  "That- that.. whatever that is there that you just moved." I look at it closer.  It's some kind of hunched court jester. His answer? "It's what it represents".  What the hell does that mean?  
I found out soon enough, for the mage- which is apparently what it represented, fired off the nuke of the game: the vortex of chaos spell.  Hope you're proud of yourself prick. 

Really, what is that? Proxies are bad enough, but to hide behind them for a game advantage?  
Just stay at home and make yourself a paper king of the world crown to wear to your imagination coronation.
I thought I'd come to play some games with human beings.  

Luckily I had a couple great games after that or I might have given up on the idea of the whole thing altogether.

I say figure out what you and your opponent are most comfortable with and have some good games.

So what do you think about Proxies? Good, bad? When is it fine and when is it not? 


This has been an A-Z Challenge post. 
For the month of April there will be an update for each letter within the theme of: Things that influence and inspire me, or the converse: things which I find distressing or make me want to rail at the world.
Some of these will pertain to the miniatures hobby, but many will venture off to atypical territory for the duration of the challenge, then it will be back to normal with mostly minis and an occasional blithering.
You can find out more about the A-Z challenge my clicking the logo at the top left of the page. 


Mr Saturday said...

Great post. It's one of those subjects that gets people's dander right up. I have a limited tolerance with proxies, but for counts as, no problem. Some of my favourite armies have been themed armies with counts as models. Hell, my own Warriors of Chaos army won't have a single chaos warrior in it...

Thomas said...

Proxies suck, that's it.

Nothing against using proxys to figure out if a unit fits into your army or not. BUT: you do this at home. With your friends and for heavens sake not on a tournament or somewhere else. And after you figured out, whether the unit fits or not, you go to your local store and buy the right models for it! (or at least you convert your proxy to something that can clearly be identified..)

Just my 2 cents,

The Angry Lurker said...

At club and friends in the shed level it's fine as long as everything is clear beforehand but beyond that no, the guy you played against really was a prick!

Mr. Lee said...

Proxies in Tournaments are a huge no no..

Though in this part of the world, it can sometimes be frowned upon for Counts as, or even Unit Fillers! Even when a lot of effort has been put into them to fit the style and theme of the army.

Agree with Mr Saturday here.. can really get the dander up depending on who and when you ask this question :)

Speaking of which.. I will have Ultraforge Greater Deamons in my next independently run tournament instead of the GW variety. Still get asked why I want to bring proxies... ugh..

Paul of the Man Cave said...

I'm with the masses here: Counts as is great, as long as its clearly marked and detailed before hand.

I'm OK on a friendly shed/club level with Proxies to test some units before buying the lead, but again being very clear about what is what before hand. In a tournament I'd be amazed if it was allowed.

As yes your opponent was a tool who hid behind his crappy army to hide the fact he was a poor excuse for a human.

shintokamikaze said...

one or two Proxies are ok, but a whole army of them is takeing the piss, but you should of got that guy to write and place pieces of paper beside his units, so he could not cheat, thats what i demand if i face Proxies

nutschell said...

never heard of the term used in gaming til now. Thanks!
Happy A-Zing!

S. L. Hennessy said...

HAHA! Is that an alien playing a predator in that picture? That's amazing! Love it.

Michael Awdry said...

Well the things I learn reading your blog! I have to confess that I'd not heard the term before but I can see how it my seem frustrating at tournament level.

knobgobbler said...

I'm not a tournament player so it's not nearly as big an issue for me. Generally I'll swap out a mini I don't like the looks of for something better, but just about always in an obvious way... vampire for vampire, not halfling for giant robot.
The same goes if I'm wanting to try a new unit I haven't got an 'official' mini of yet. I'll do my best to find something with a visual clue towards what it is meant to represent.

The guys I play with are the same way and nobody is a dick about it.

Bill said...

F@#%ing Gumby!!

kingsleypark said...

My memory is pretty bad (old age probably) and I have a hard enough time remembering what my own models do never mind what the opponent's ones can get up to and so if he is using models that don't do what they say on the tin then that's a downer as far as I'm concerned. I'd rather they played with unpainted models which at least are WYSIWYG

Laughing Ferret said...

Shinto: Yes, that's a good point: with 2 units proxied using the same minis (without bows) one being 10 archers the other being all heroes, he could easily have cheated by changing his mind about which unit was which before shooting with one of them. Or even if not cheating, could simply forget, since there's no visual clue for which is which.

Thanks for the visit nutshell!

SL: yes, they're playing chess in a parlor. Love that picture. i have a desktop sized version if you or anyone else wants a copy of it

Bill: Didn't think you;d forget that guy ;)
-Bill was there that day, after finishing his game early came to watch my game finish and in seeing what this guy was like and what he was doing, started dropping humorous not-very-subtle hints about how dangerous the hotel stairwells were and how it'd be so easy and maybe funny to trip someone down the stairs. I loved watching this guy start to sweat and wonder if he was serious.

I don't play a lot of tournaments now other than Blood Bowl, so proxy isn't much of an issue. The local group I play most often with has a 'painted or it doesn't play' policy, but pretty flexible for proxies, as long as it's pretty reasonable and identified before the game starts. Seems a good system to me.

Anne said...

As you know, I don't play, I just paint, so I don't have an opinion on proxies. But I have an opinion on The Who. Love these old vids before Roger figured out what to do with his hair and Moon was so young. Miss that guy still.

You picked a perfect video for proxy. I gave you two P's today!

Alfrik said...

Tournament WRG Ancients battle, 3rd round, I deploy my Succesor Greek army and face.....

Palmayran army


none of the cav had riders

Bases were hand torn cardboard cereal box material

His dice were well worn and hard to see the colored spots

It was hell, but hung on to pound them into the ground.

Was VERY dissappointed that group was allowed into the tournament...

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