OK, so our next Tourney subject is at hand - Random Game Length.
Most of your regular thought processors in Warhammer 40k now know the meaning of the phrase "Alpha Strike." Most people will use it to refer to armies that gain an enormous advantage if they go first, due to the intense firepower they possess. Imperial Guard "Leafblower" variants and Space Wolf / Marine "Overdrive" variants come to mind. Some people will use it to reference reserving your army so that each of your units can pull off an "alpha strike" when it arrives from reserve (shoot before being shot at), but I'm going to avoid this usage here for the sake of getting the point across.
At the NOVA Open, games will end at the bottom of Turn 6 (or, at the bottom of a Turn the players both are aware of going in, should time remaining dictate a regrettable sooner-than-6 finish ... this happens often in a tournament setting).
Or will they? As always, I am persuadable :)
Nevertheless, allow me to present my why. It should be fairly fundamental.
The counter-balance, in 4th edition, to the very notion of an Alpha Strike (not that there were as many armies who could pull it off back then) was the Omega Strike. You *knew* with every shred of conviction you had exactly when the game was going to end. There wasn't a 33% chance it would end on you "early" or a subsequent 50/50 roll that it would go "late." As such, the person who went 2nd had an antithetical advantage to the alpha strike. For every action, there is an equal and opposite ... you get it.
To demonstrate, with fixed game length during a CLOSE game for objectives or victory points or whatever, the person that goes first as a general rule will receive less return fire throughout the game, b/c they begin to apply the negative modifiers to their opponent's force from the get go. Nevertheless, the person who goes 2nd gets the "omega strike," that bottom of the last turn affords the opportunity to make a last ditch stab at your opponent ... this requires the person who goes first to play with the integrity of not ever leaving themselves completely exposed - objectives need to be "truly" secured, and the power of the alpha strike needs to be properly taken advantage of, b/c the 2nd player is going to get to go all out at you on the bottom of the last turn (if he has anything left!) ... make a stab at an objective, and/or extend out to score some vital final points.
It could be argued ad infinitum that this is unfair to the person who goes first! Well ... let's table such an opinionated pursuit - there's no proof in that one. Suffice to say that there is a clear, reliable advantage to going first (alpha strike), and a clear, reliable advantage to going second (omega strike). Whether one is better than the other largely depends on the match-up ... is your opponent Eldar to make last ditch cross-board objective grabs? YES? OMG Omega Strike is too good now, right? Well, not if his opponent is guard, and got to shoot everything at the Eldar on Turn 1 before he could put up Fortune to protect those fragile and expensive transports and jetseers (even if he reserves, the Eldar doesn't get to fortune himself the turn his farseer arrives on the board). In fact, not being guaranteed of going first is the major downfall of Jetseer at a tournament level - any good army doesn't struggle to kill 10 3+ 1 wound cover saves a turn ... it's the 3+ re-rollable.
So let's leave the "omega vs. alpha" power curve out of it ... the point is, that with fixed game length, he who goes first has a reliable advantage, and he who goes second has one also. Whether one is better than the other is tied to match-up, and so is everything else in 40k ... so that's a moot point.
What now? Well, of course to prove an advantage I have to show that the status quo (random game length) LACKS that advantage.
In random game length, the person who goes first has a guaranteed alpha strike, and the person also has a 67% chance of getting to REACT to the 2nd player's Omega Strike. You see, when a single dice roll of 1-2 may end the game, the 2nd player can't just sit in his transports and rely on the strategy of Hope at the Bottom of Turn 5. Hope is not a strategy. He has to go for VP to counter the Alpha Strike, or he has to go for clearing the Alpha's top 5 objective grabs. Well, this requires just as much extension as any other "bottom of last turn," but it might just go to the next turn anyway. The greater risk is with the Omega now ... and it's a 67% chance of not being great for him.
Lots of situations arise where the extra turn doesn't matter ... or where it doesn't arise. The feeling we've seen in a lot of tourney and practice play is that a) lots of games end on 5 anyway, with the opponents agreeing before they start that turn that it will be the last due to time remaining, and b) guaranteeing an advantage to the person who goes first and the person who goes second accomplishes the removal of TWO "single dice rolls" from the game's major determining events. The roll to go first, and the roll to end the game. This shunts more of the game to player skill and maneuver, and less of the game to "lol my leafblower gets to go first."
PS - as usual, your $.02 please! My opinion is ever swayable :)