Thursday, July 9, 2015

Philosofelt: Skyhammer Anhilliation Force

Beyond the reaches of what you know, there wait terrors that may be glimpsed from afar.  Wailings upon the warp-ways bring hints, damned souls babbling of powers incomprehensible.  Do you really think that all that can be known is contained within your little books, lying impotent upon a dusty shelf?  Nay, there wait secrets within the darkness between the stars that may only be glimpsed by those willing to pay the ultimate price: ~$700 USD.

The Skyhammer Annihilation Force has led to a lot of internet babble.  Since you're down into the deep niche blogosphere, I'm going to assume you know what this thing is, and what it supposedly does.  Wait, supposedly?
Lets look at the facts.  Limited webstore exclusive, consisting of a PDF (or similar) document emailed to purchasers if they bought two drop pods, a tac squad, four boxes of assault marines and two boxes of devastators.  200 copies worldwide.  What are the chances that one of those 200 copies fell into the hands of someone who, I don't know, enjoys sharing things in the realms of piracy?  Someone who (1) has $700 to waste on what are probably redundant figures for their collection, (2) cares enough about removing the exclusivity of ability that said $700 dollars has purchased them, and (3) wants the internet to have free and open access to what they paid $700 for.  Hmmm.....1,2 & 3 seem a bit mutually exclusive.
The existence of this formation is not in question - but what it actually does is, for me, completely in question.  We have the words of some bloggers - Charlie was the first that I saw give us a report on the capabilities.  Now, a busy 40k hobby site could be willing to pay $700 for what amounts to a "scoop" in this cuthroat journalistic world of hobby reporting.  The rules have been parroted in several places since, notably on Frontline, which gives it a bit of a veneer of legitimacy.  But, nowhere have I seen anyone say they flat out bought the thing, and, like the rumor mill, the same source gets cited, if one is cited at all we trust Charlie?  I don't see a reason not too; I don't see a reason too.  We have an easy-to-forge digital document, with an easy-to-fake digital signature, an easy style to ape....we can't say for sure what the rules are.
I'm willing to play this in casual games, just to put down the spectre.  Lets ignore for a moment the total shite rules that will cause some real arguments.  But is it legal for tournament play?  You'll see me rockin' the PDF always, but that's a document that is physically verifiable.  The 100 MBs of fluff pages also make viewer just as slow as thumbing through a book.  Are you willing to trust the veracity of an imgr document?
One of the things I love about tournaments is seeing the things that are only myth and rumor in my local sector.  Green Tides exist, sure, but here's an actual stack of greenskins with some crazy formation super bonuses!  Triptides in Farsight Enclaves and Harlequin courts!  With beautiful books that hold all the secrets.  SAF is just a possibly-real screen turd.
Same goes with the Blood Oath book.  Haven't even seen a full scan of that one.  But, if someone wants to produce the physical document, I have no problem with it.  Until then, all the <spoilers click to view> are just possibilities.  Those formations might not actually exist.  Because we love our rules.
The rules are what hold us together even as they push us apart.  We don't have some apologist digitally updating ruleset.  Our rules are legitimate until they replace them, and even then we aren't willing to admit it.  We played old Eldar until the new copy showed up.  But show up they did, bound and dated, shiny, so shiny.  What's between the hardcovers doesn't change, damnit.  The rules of war were set a millenia(of seconds) ago and this is how we will fight!  That temporary immutability of the book makes us spend months hobbying for a few skirmishers with the correct special weapons.  The ones that use those juicy RULES.
So yeah, SAF doesn't exist in my galaxy.  A big part of the game for me is the tactile experience, the beautiful model spreads, the BOOK.  The temporary piece of law that covers 98 square inches of my playing surface and always gets in the way.  We trust the book.  We don't trust the internet.

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