Super sweet article about “failure” in rpgs and why Dungeon World makes that concept always awesome. I recommend that all my players read it: it has good advice for any rpg, really.
I would write that experience off as just being just 3.5 or just that GM, but I’ve had similar issues with other systems that present tactical combat for tabetop. Often a miss mechanically means “nothing.” A good GM will give you some narrative fluff, but functionally, you’ve still got “nothing happens.”
I suspect the designers of many of these tactical games see nothing as a neutral result. As a player who suffered from social isolation as a kid, I see “nothing” as the worst punishment I can receive. I want to be a part of what’s happening, and “nothing” cuts me off, erasing me from the scene while others fill the narrative space.
Accepting that success and failure are a pure dichotomy and resource management is the only available challenge implies that the traditional way tactical games were made challenging is the only way games can be designed. Accepting those restrictions seems like a trap. It limits how you can potentially build systems in tabletop games immensely.