Recently an age old point was raised by a fellow casual game Magic player in our group. Could one make his own art for Magic cards by using one of the many software programs out there and include these cards in a deck?
My personal initial reaction was `no` as I`m of the kind that believes that if one wants to play with the top value decks, one should invest.
It is an intresting point to think about, because where does one draw the line?
So I`ve been pondering over the whole thing for a few days now, and as I see it in a wargame background, there are two sorts of `proxies` in my mind set. I call them the `alternate models proxy` and the `lame-ass proxy`.
Mind you, the following ideas are completely my own, and are to be `induced` by myself, and myself alone, when building my forces, and are in no way any sort of forced rulings for people I could play against, we all seek in the hobby what we want in the end and I am not God. No matter how close to that I might be ;)
The Alternate Model Proxy
You know the phenomena. You like a set of rules but hate the accompanying miniature range, or like certain models but don`t get all wet over the ruleset they come from. So you start looking for other ways to still get that game played.
I actually encourage this sort of thinking, as it sets one outside the lined boundaries of thing a or thing b, and I have been known to do this on many an occassion not sticking with official figure lines, playing Future War Commander with my Gundams as the huge walkers comes to mind for one.
I think that, as long as one sees to use `count as` models and link them to the relevant and closest list in a game, this HAS to be applauded. Take for example that you have a fleet of Klingon Bird of Prey`s, and you want to play Call to Arms in the Babylon 5 set. Exchanging them for fast but fragile lists like the Centauri or the Interstellar Alliance is more then okay in my book. However, I would have a serious frown on my face if those small and agile vessels represented flying bricks like the Narn or Pak`ma`ra (and yes, I probably wouldn`t fight that game).
Alternate models are in my opinion a great way to visually enhance your games and to post around on the internet, showing other people perhaps the umpteenth game of Dwarf vs Elf, but in a visually more intresting way then all the things they have seen time and time over again.
Supporting creativity is a great thing, and if that creativity makes for an improved visual appeal as well as the fact people think and reason about how the given models can be best represented ruleswise without having to make up Uberunit X or Cheeselist Y is an added bonus that avoids discussions at the gaming table.
The Lame-Ass Proxy
You want to test a unit or model before you buy and HOPEFULLY paint the models in question. This is all okay in my book, but once again, when is a test ended and begins the real force?
You can have said unit overperform in it`s first game, giving you a great feel about them, buy and paint them, and then have them whiped off the face of the earth each and every time afterwards. Opposite, how many times should a unit be tested before it might actually do something satisfying to your tastes?
I don`t mind personally that a unit of nappies suddenly shows up out of the blue in an army to try out some new unit, but if that unit keeps popping up and over in the same scifi game as the same old same old unit, I once again start frowning...
If you like the unit THAT much, I am of the opinion that you just as gladly want to buy the models, and give them HOPEFULLY a lovely paintjob as they apparently are the hingestone you`ve build your army on.
So when said unit keeps being absent and stays represented by a unit of unrepresented, painted for something else, and just grabbed along models, I call that a rather lame approach, and won`t be personally fighting that force for long.
Then again, I`m an adherer of generel WYSIWYG, in that you build a character for example in a skirmish game with the gear on the model, and not to build an ubercharacter on paper and then just pop down a model for it... I have seen Ghouls with clubs represent zombies with SMG`s in Pulp games (isn`t that so Looney...), not my kind of gaming at all. But the whole WYSIWIG viewpoint is for another post in the far, far future...
So concluding this to the Magic case, I personally would have no problem with altered art on the ubercommon cards and things like basic lands, but as soon as one starts with cards from the `Power Nine`, I doubt I would play the matches. Alternate vs Lame-Ass you see...
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