Monday, September 27, 2010

MSU, Mission Design, etc.; Analysis and Observation



It's been too long since I wrote an article, sorry about that - call it the hectic story of my last few weeks of life.  The Lost Days of Mike Brandt

Bachelor Party this weekend went off largely without a hitch.  We lost a man at the strip club at the end of the night's bar hopping revelries.  Fine, though, left more room in the Limo for the final ride back to our point of origin.  I hope he's ok, he was a cool fellow.

It's not a successful bachelor party if you don't misplace a person.

In other news, 40k stuff ... I've been building/painting/playing getting ready for my lil trip up to White Plains for the Battle for Salvation.

There's been lots of talk of MSU armies and their presence in the game.  The Battle for Salvation strongly encourages MSU by inclusion of the "pick 5 KP" mission.  It would actually be better done to select the 5 KP *after* deployment and mission selection, etc., but when it's done prior to that you reward people with the greatest amount of redundancy and spam ... if you nominate 3 vet squad chimeras and 2 of the included vet squads, for example, a guard player with 6 vet squads in chimeras can readily afford to reserve 1 or 2 of them to hide 2-4 kp from you altogether.  The more redundancy a player's list contains, the easier it is for you.  They even further add an amendment that you can only nominate 3 dedicated transports; this obviously even further rewards people who spam out ded trans and min size units.  The more you have, the less your opponent can materially target by nominating them as KP *(since the more you have, the more you can afford to reserve/hide them).

This is a spin somewhat off the YTTH 5x5 mission.  To be truthful, I've never been a huge fan, simply b/c an opponent can so materially alter the flow of the game with his KP nominations before deployment or side selection even begins.  I'm not a fan of that, nor am I a fan of unnaturally promoting MSU; it promotes itself with the game "as is," and is relatively balanced within a variety of mission archetypes (including NOVA quarters, VP, 5-objective, regular book KP, HQ, d3+2 objective, the 5 side of 5x5, etc.).

That said, the 5x5 is one of the better missions out there if you're looking for some to play.  Within our group, we've actually slowly gotten away from book missions, b/c there's a pervasive opinion that several tournaments have simply put out BETTER missions for the balance of the game (and we have our fair share of players who do NOT MSU), and for fun / tactical depth.

For better or worse, if you're playing amongst a group of veteran players, the three book missions are simply TOO shallow to actually be competitive.  Kill Points becomes a crap shoot even among similar-levels-of-kp armies, and the other two are easily drawn; basically, unless you crush the other guy, you wind up with draws.  Blame me playing in a group of players who ALL run mega optimized, highly effective lists.

All this said, it's important to acknowledge a couple of things about why MSU is popular, and why mission design doesn't really have anything to do with that ...

Reasons why someone should/does take an MSU-oriented list ...
  1. Redundancy
    1. Offensive Redundancy - 40k is not a game where the more expensive or filled out a unit is, the more things it can shoot at; if every unit in the game gained the ability to split fire like long fangs once at double "base" strength, quadruple it at quadruple base strength, etc., there'd instantly be less value to MSU.  Sadly, such is not the case.  If I have 2 squads of 5 with 2 meltaguns each, I can more effectively kill things than 1 squad of 10 with 2 meltaguns total.  There are some cases where MSU is not as effective BY DESIGN in certain codices, but as a general rule where it makes sense, it's sensible to act upon it.  There's also the ability to spread fire, which is of course important for dealing with OTHER MSU forces.  In the above example, even if the 10-man squad could carry 4 meltaguns and the 5-man only 2, you'd still want 2 5-man squads.  Why?  You can't seriously be asking why.  Shooting two targets if you need to is always better than only being able to shoot one with the same # of models and points.  Advocating for a game where you can't do this by design is advocating for a less tactically flexible game.  If your opponent can hurt more things, you need more things for him to hurt, and the more complex moving parts you have to manage, the more difficult to manage properly ... games that tend toward MSU tend toward more tactical depth.  But I'll get to that.
    2. Defensive Redundancy - Similar to the Offensive Redundancy issue, MSU provides Defensive Redundancy.  If my opponent was foolish enough to take a bunch of big hammers, his big hammers may be able to kill a 10-man unit with 4 meltaguns readily.  They also therefore can kill a 5-man unit with 2 meltaguns readily.  Regardless, in the case of 2 squads of 5 I know he generally can't use that one megaunit to kill both of my units in one turn.  Defensive Redundancy means splitting yourself down into less easily targeted and destroyed subcomponents.  This is why you combat squad in non-kill point missions ... and this is why ONLY in Kill Point missions does anyone NOT; an artificial punishment to good common sense is the only real inhibitor.
  2. Tactical Depth - This one isn't as complicated as some people would make it out to be.  What do you suppose Chess would be like if you had 2 pawns, 1 queen, 1 bishop, 1 rook, TOTAL?  Do you think the game would be just as tactically deep?  There comes a point in time in game design and balance where too many units is a bad thing; not because it isn't more tactical, but because it's too unwieldy.  Trying to manage 30 pawns, 5 queens, 10 bishops, etc., on the board would be obscene, b/c the game would take too long.  Nonetheless, there's a sweet spot of time invested vs. tactical depth that needs to be hit for a game to really hit its stride.  If my opponent has 20 threats and I have 20 units to manage toward those threats, the game is going to require more forethought, planning, placement, etc., than if my opponent has 5 threats and I have 5 units to manage them with.  You can apply real world examples to this from 40k - it is WHY some people get so frustrated with MSU armies ... because if they take a list with 2 big nob biker hammer units and they have to manage an opponent with 20 units firing at them, all of which have the tools to harm them, it just becomes frustrating.  This is where human habit of blaming others comes into its own ... instead of pondering the weakness in their own approach, a person will go "YOU HAVE A STUPID MSU ARMY RAWR."  Or whatever.  Truth is someone brought a knife to a gunfight ... instead of wanting missions that allow you to knife gunfighters to death, maybe you should just play with other knife-fighters ... not a bad idea, right?  Either way, I don't personally tend to play "pure" MSU armies; I tend to play a lot of MSU with more expensive investments placed in "enablers" that help my MSU perform better.  This leads into point #3.
  3. Skill-Based Points Escalation - If someone with BS4 shoots a plasmagun at a 40 point regular terminator in ruins, he needs a 3+ to hit, a 2+ to wound, and the terminator gets a 4+ cover save (unless he goes to ground).  If someone with BS4 shoots a plasmagun at a 5 point regular guardsman in ruins, he needs a 3+ to hit, a 2+ to wound, and the guardsman gets a 4+ cover save (unless he goes to ground).  By placing a guardsman in ruins (a tactically wise move if you want him to survive shooting), you make him as durable vs. heavy weapons fire as a TERMINATOR in ruins.  This sound obvious?  Most people don't get it.  The cheaper and more utilitarian a unit is, the more you can stretch out of it by playing with SKILL.  While sticking a guardsman in ruins is at best a rudimentary demonstration of "skill," it is a good starting point analogy for the general thesis here.  Expensive, antithetical-to-MSU units can readily have their advantages (that you've invested in) stripped away by a clever opponent.  If you spend 40 points on a terminator, and someone levels a plasmagun at you ... CRAP.  If you spend 5 points on a guardsman, and someone levels a plasmagun at you .. WHO CARES.  While all units, regardless of their cost, can be played above their investment by the application of skill ... cheaper units cost you far less when your opponent outwits you at a given point or time.  While it can be enjoyable to carry around a beatstick that willfully gives YOURSELF an Achilles Heel, I wouldn't call it tactically deep gaming if everyone ran around with such things.
 I'm rambling, but that's what I do.  The general point I'm going to now tie this to is as follows:
MSU isn't bad.  MSU is really, really good, as a *general* tactic in gaming across the board.  In the STANDARD version of Warhammer 40k, the STANDARD rulebook, MSU is a great idea still as a GENERAL rule.  Do I think every component of your army should be MSU'ed out?  No, it tends to not be a good idea to, but this isn't an article on list-building finesse ... simply on the "general" use of MSU and small unit redundancy in your standard army build (and almost every codex can do this to varying degrees).

Kill Points is often espoused as a balancer of MSU, but it's not.  Not at all, in fact.  When you attend a tournament, there are a couple of things in play.  1) If they are truly playing 100% by the book, you only have a 33% chance per round of having to deal with kill points.  2) Since MSU is far more useful in the other 67% of the missions, far more players have higher kill point totals than not.  3) 1+2 means that you're not likely to run into a majority of missions being kill points, and mean that if you DO have a kill point mission you are more likely to draw someone with a similarly high number than not.  To that end also, you are fully capable of pulling someone with FEWER KP than you either way.  While you COULD artificially alter the # of kp you'd normally bring in the HOPES that it didn't hamstring you for non-KP missions, and the HOPE that you ran into someone with MORE KP in the KP mission ... it's not wise.  This is why *most* people don't really do it.

If you aren't doing standard book play (which means if you aren't randomly generating the mission at every table every round, and yeah ... nobody does that), you're doing a different form of 40k than the book according to the wild bunch of crazies out there who scream that unless you do book missions you're not playing "real" 5e 40k.  Seriously ... nobody does this anyway.  If you firmly fix 1 mission as KP, 1 mission as capture and control, and 1 mission as loot counters ... you're playing 40k "your way," according to those who scream that the missions suggested in the book are the ONLY legitimate ways to play "real" 40k, and you're NOT playing "real" 40k.  This becomes tiresome quickly.

So, do people win tournaments with kill point optimized non-MSU low-unit-count lists?  Yup.  Often they are really good players.  I'm not saying it's impossible or wrong or bad or whatever.  BUT it's not the norm; go ahead and analyze the average lists winning tournaments around the country, ESPECIALLY tournaments with enough rounds to pit players against a wide variety of opponents (aka, not 3 rounds for 240, or really 3 rounds at all).

Unless every mission or at least the majority of missions are KP, you aren't pushing away from MSU with your mission build-outs.  So what happens if you remove KP ... do you alter the list building of players who win major GT's with lower KP totals?  Well, no; they themselves have been seen to claim that MSU doesn't threaten them at all and they'd build their non-MSU lists that way anyway.  OK, what about the players who are winning GT's with higher KP totals ... more MSU?  Are you altering the way they play?  Again, no, rather obviously on that count.

What about the rest of the tournament fields, then, what happens to those if you remove KP as a mission / remove other artificial limiters of MSU?  Well, take a look at the Open, or WGC, or numerous other tournaments that have eschewed KP.  You see - generally - a higher level of tough list building at the middling and lower tables.  Frankly, given the above data about how some level of MSU is good for you and the game tactically, I think this is a GOOD THING.  Encouraging players who haven't developed enough confidence to build their lists how they want "regardless" of mission formatting to actually develop more tactically flexible lists is a good thing to do.

There is a flip-side to this as well ... and that's the utilization of missions that actually ENCOURAGE MSU by their very design.  This is bad also.  Wait, why?  Well, as a general rule there are some codices that cannot MSU as well as others, just as their are codices that can't go super low on KP as well as others.  When you start screwing with the mission format you start to imbalance codices against each other, and that's not a very strong thing to do.  Seriously, other than DA and Necron, every codex out there right now has full capacity to field highly competitive lists with HEALTHY doses of MSU in the 1500-2000 point ranges.  The problem is, what does an Ork player do in a KP setting?  He could take nob biker armies, but they get obliterated by guard and wolf armies that spam S8 weaponry and MSU.  He could take trukk/kan/buggy/wagon spam armies that use mass redundancy to overcome Ork weaknesses vs. mech/MSU but get crushed in the KP setting b/c of open topped AV10 kill points.  Lose lose.  ONE of the reasons why some people consider Orks to be crap in the tournament setting.

What about things like the 5x5, where an opponent nominates 5 units and only those can be scored as KP?  Here's my one little issue with this mission type.  If an army has NO lynchpins, is just pure MSU, it's advantaged in this mission.  Why?  Simply leave the nominated score-possible parts in reserve, and still have all of the same tools (sans a few) for the early parts of the game that you would have had anyway.  What about armies that need to have a couple of larger point investments present and functional to get things going for them?  Well, they get potentially screwed, don't they?

Every codex, literally, has POTENT builds that operate well in a VP style or simply non-MSU-balancing setting.  They carry healthy doses of MSU/redundancy, and then either go heavier or lighter on it at their owner's discretion, for NATURAL advantages and disadvantages either way.  It's when you add in artificial bounds that you start to fuck with CODEX balance, and therein lies the rub.


One thing is for sure ... I would generally contest the claim that every component of the rulebook needs to be in play for the game to be a "true 5e" game of 40k.  Might as well claim campaigns and campaign rules need to be used in a tournament setting, and that the games need to occur at multiple points levels throughout (since a points range is what's recommended).  The RULES of 5th edition, and the CODICES that guide army build, are the core of the game.  By hook or by crook, with few exceptions, both the rules and codices are pretty damned well balanced right now.  It remains true, however, that EVERY army needs a certain level of MSU and redundancy to best compete, and NOT every codex can compete equally well when bounded by punishments for taking too few or too many units.  These are powerful things to consider when building/designing missions, and when building/designing army lists.

Believe it or not, these things WERE considered in terms of building and playtesting the NOVA missions.  We still probably have tweaking and work to do moving forward, but each mission rewards fluctuations from an "average" amount of MSU and punishes those fluctuations.  Smaller units are easier to kill, and thus easier to score full VP off.  Larger units score more VP IF killed, but are harder to kill, and can better capture things like Quarters at half strength.  Unit size is well balanced by VP as standard, and the Quarters mission (which many people misplayed and mis-analyzed) slightly advantages a player who has more than just straight MSU, and can field a couple of stronger/higher points units that are able to survive sustained fighting at the center of the board, where shuffling their larger points value even at half strength can actually materially alter the results of the game.

Probably our biggest "fault" is the 5 objective mission, which while contestable at all probably punishes lower-MSU just a little too much.

Regardless, this is all food for thought.  Kill Points and 5-KP-nominate missions ... I don't agree with either, b/c they fundamentally screw with the basic balance and concepts of the game right now.  Kill Points itself, well, let's subject it to some serious ass analysis and an open mind, eh?  We used KP in our tournaments and leagues for over 2 years before we dropped them, and then playtested non-KP-inclusive missions literally thousands of times across playergroups as widespread as Australia and Alaska.  We're still trying to make the right choices here, but I encourage ya'll to do the same.  GW has made a ton of mistakes before; why give them too much cred here, especially when their next-released ruleset actually eschewed KP altogether?  Furthermore, why apply critique to MSU without giving it a fair shake?  Everything in moderation, perhaps.

I was tempted to go back and "refine" this, but it's my style to be a little unpolished when blogging, and maybe it'll help stir up some conversation as well.

 - Mike

28 comments:

  1. Thank you for the explanation. I had been trying to follow the discussion over at YTTH but the general unpleasantness of the whole thing kept me from reading it in depth.

    This is a good explanation and analysis of MSU how they interact with missions. In weeks after NOVA, I had felt that the missions were in fact geared toward MSU. It seemed to me that the missions favored MSU on the whole. Quarters doesn't though--having a couple expensive, tough units really helps you win quarters. VP, I feel, benefits MSU because each unit, while easier to kill, doesn't cost as much and therefore doesn't yield as many VPs, whereas bigger units that get killed yield a lot of VPs even if wittled down to half strength. the 5 objective mission, I felt favored MSU as they have more units to claim and contest toward the end of the game.

    Sort of off-topic but related-my feedback on the NOVA missions-Next time, don't go with fixed objectives. Allow for tactical objective placement. The Tau Empire demands the right to place our own objectives! :P

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  2. In a GT setting you have the ability to use both VP and KP as the primary objective in their own game. While each mission type has it's strong-points and draw-backs, incorporating them both in a GT may smooth over some of the army list "skewing". However, I think most tournament players don't build their lists around "Kill Point Numbers" regardless of the missions.

    Recently we've tried the combo of KP with Objectives and have each objective = 2 KP. It adds another element to the game, but I'm under the impression that the person winning on straight kill points also will have the most objectives.

    As I've mentioned in the past, we have a sizable RTT scene, and the most feed back I get is about "5 fixed objectives". Folks get bummed out they can't place their own objectives. Be it due to terrain, style of army, opponent etc., and the more I think about it, the more I agree. Fixed objectives does take some strategy out of the game. However, I'd insist they remain on ground level so anyone playing bikes don't instantly get fucked.

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  3. Where there is smoke there is fire... So where is the fire? Seriously.

    Let's face facts. The NOVA missions promoted the use of MSU armies and there is no getting around that fact.

    Comparing 40k to chess is always bad. Chess has a rigid set of rules that have not changed for centuries. Chess is not going to change either. 40k on the other hand is always in a constant state of change to promote sells. That's how it is. So saying if we played chess with one queen, on rookk and five pawns is meaningless. 40k the TOs can design missions however they see fit. If they stink you'll hear about it.

    I think the mission for the NOVA was good but obviously it can be improved. You seem to want to do this and I commend you. As you have stated kill points by rulebook is only roughly one third of the time. If you are playing multiple games in a tournament then I think the missions should balance each other out. That is the purpose of kill points and Capture and Control. Since there was basically one mission for NOVA there was a lack of overall balance and we saw lots of MSU armies. This is obvious. Transparency is best but maybe in the future it will be better to publish some sample missions to give your audience a good idea of what to expect. This has been the philosophy at Adepticon and I think it works well for them.

    It's good to see you are open to change and improving your system.

    G

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  4. -- Probably our biggest "fault" is the 5 objective mission, which while contestable at all probably punishes lower-MSU just a little too much.--

    I like your article but would you re-write this sentence or explain it. forgive me... I'm slow... and live in a corner...

    I think it means that the 5x5 objective mission is usable in contests/tournements but it punishes players who do not use MSU whole-heartedly.

    CK

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  5. @Mike

    Excellent article. I still think that KP's as a win condition would benefit you. Running a large event like you guys did very well does give you the chance to add another win condition which will mute the very limited negative feedback and add in a part of the game that GW did want in there.

    I had a hearty laugh at people who thought the table quarters favored MSU. I won because my "big" hitters were still alive in that one. But 5x5 does benefit MSU heavily "if" objectives are fixed. If they are placed then it turns into something different. Those 2 switches I think deserve some playtesting. And KP's are more noticable "limiter" on MSU which is why people jumped on it so hard.

    @BBF

    Jesus sometimes.....Mike did post sample missions. Months out. Tournaments around the country were run with those rules and with support from Mike's group. And those sample missions were almost exactly the missions that were used in the Nova. And it was 3 different missions. Different deployments and different order of win conditions to ensure no tie. 2/3 of the missions did promote MSU but that's pretty much how many in the main rulebook do as well. And a lower percentage than most normal GT's I attended this year. A few facts help when your making an arguement.

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  6. @Captain

    Basically fully MSU armies will have a much greater ability to hold and contest objectives thru out the game due to sheer numbers. They'll be able to force the enemy on the defensive from the start and can afford to leave a unit or two to hold rear objectives while still putting 90% of their power into pressuring the enemy unlike a non-msu list.

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  7. Yeah, black, I don't think you read my article or kept up with the way the NOVA worked.

    Also, in terms of promoting MSU, you'll have to do more than just say "let's face it."

    No beef man, but Hulk is correct - you basically made a bunch of statements that were hardline in direct opposition to actual fact.

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  8. Kellen - Hulk hit it; the 5x5 missions aren't what I was talking about, since we didn't run those. They promote MSU on two fronts - fixed objectives (when they are run that way) x 5 spread across the board, and 5 kill points nominated, which as shown in the above article advantages armies with MORE units, and thus more ability to marginalize/reserve/hide the units nominated.

    Allowing people to place at least 4 of the objectives themselves will help a lot. While KP doesn't *actually* have a material impact on top tier player kill point totals (whether they take 10 20 or 30, whatever), it does have a perception value, and that's where we get into thinking about it. Possibly as the "always 4th/final" tiebreaker, with VP at a 250 point margin being just a goal. You'd still have to have a "5th and final" if somehow KP were tied also, but ... it would keep it from screwing either low or high kp players on luck of the draw, and add it in there for players to keep an eyeball on.

    /ponder

    Good comments so far :)

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  9. I need to find a way to get an edit feature in here; any web gurus willing to help me w/ the NOVA and Whiskey sites?


    Final note - Hulk, totally; people looked at the Quarters mission at the NOVA and thought, for whatever reason, that it was pro-MSU ... in reality it's much more advantageous to have some MSU (b/c it's always good to have redundancy and repetition in your army anyway), but you want to have some big heavy hitter units also, again for the reasons mentioned - they can last in the center better typically, under fire/combat, and are worth more points for firmly shifting quarters late game.

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  10. Thank you both for the explanations Hulk and Mike.

    CK

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  11. As always, i enjoy your articles and the responses they illicit.

    Pat
    11th Company

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  12. I think your analysis of VP vs KP as conducted through research and play testing was fascinating. Your third bullet point is precisely why I think Orks can be competitive.

    As usual, a great post.

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  13. Sorry if my reply came across as implying/stating your missions werent transparent in advance. I know you posted them ahead of time and spent lots of time playtesting them. I dont think though that you can say your missions didn't favor MSU armies though as the results speak for themselves. I have seen the latest missions that were used at an AWC tourney in Chicago and supposedly are what Adepticon is planning to use in 2011. Two of three featured killpoints as an objective and whoever wins the most objectives (three in total) wins the mission. I found this approach interesting and like the use of kill points over victory points. Again my apology for coming across as implying your 2010 missions were not transparent, my bad .

    :-)

    G

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  14. Just reread my original post - must have had a brain fart when I wrote the part about transparency.

    G

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  15. Yeah; the missions followed the book's standard of having two missions that simply didn't punish MSU, and one mission that slightly favored armies that took time to include higher-VP / more durable units.

    If you re-read the post as a whole, you may find the point true or well made (or not) that the game in general favors MSU, and that MSU to a healthy degree is a GOOD thing for the game in terms of improving tactical depth/etc.

    The missions didn't ENCOURAGE it, but they certainly didn't DISCOURAGE it either ... something KP, and 5-nominate-KP both do (one discourages, the other encourages, respectively).

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  16. Mike are you going to use KPs for next year? It's not as bad as you think.

    ; )

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  17. I'm thinking the term MSU is a mis-nomer as well for what is being talked about here. Although I think, being a BLOG lurker, that I conceptually understand this, I know for certain that anyone who isn't wouldn't understand the definition of MSU in use here. Also, that would likely lead me to believe there is also a pit of mis-communication on this topic as well.

    Here's an example of what I mean.

    MSU = Multiple Small Units.

    An army of 5 man Space Marine Squads (no razorbacks) and a Captain is certainly multiple small units.

    The game does not favor such an army even in the slightest, nor does any scenario. (An assertion of course)

    So, MSU actually has multiple elements beyond its name sake, not the least of which is the implication of Transports.

    However, a space wolf army consisting of 5 man squads in Rhinos across the board is certainly also not competitive nor favored unless you started adding more elements like Melta Guns, Wolf Guard, etc. etc.

    See where I'm going?

    Really, the concept of MSU is having many units who have the greatest capacity for efficiency for the lowest possible price, otherwise known as Min-Maxing.

    Where this line of thought will lead is to what I would pose to this entire subject is that "MSU" is not necessarily favored by the game.... Space Wolf, Blood Angel, and Imperial Guard MSU is what is favored.

    Certainly, Black Templar and Dark Angels probably do "better" as an MSU style list, but are not favored by the game. Their capacity to Min/Max is not even in the same ball park as the new codices' ability to Min/Max.

    ---------------------------------------------

    That being said, here's my point as it relates to the conversation.

    I'm not really sure how balanced or unbalanced the missions are towards MSU or non-MSU, book, NOVA, whatever... because the assumption of what MSU is, if MSU is favored by the game at large, that the antithesis of MSU is elite, small units (ESU???) is even true, or that I could honestly even make an assertion that Kill Points favor either particular list.

    For example, one of the common arguments that MSU don't suffer in Kill Point missions that I have read is that MSU lists can withstand a 2v1 trade where the ESU list can't withstand the losing of units. This argument holds water provided we aren't talking about Dark Angels MSU which doesn't have the killing capacity necessary to make the 2v1 trade work... more like 3-4v1 which puts them at a serious disadvantage.

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  18. Clarifying my point above!

    If the major issue here is that your middle tier army can't compete with the upper tier armies, it's because the book aren't balanced, not because the missions themselves are necessarily to blame.

    They might be "part" of the problem, but they aren't the significant part. This is where the mis-communication about MSU comes in. You tell a hardened Space Wolf (upper tier) vet that his MSU is at a disadvantage in a Kill Point mission, he disagrees vehemently.

    You tell the same thing to a Black Templar player and he is likely to have an entirely different opinion on the subject.

    Likewise, you tell the Space Wolf player the game itself favors MSU, he agrees. You tell the same thing to a Dark Angel player and he's left scratching his head simply wondering WHAT the game favors, period... forget the MSU bit.

    You have to understand though that my bias on the issue comes from the fact that I quit trying to pretend that this game is balanced a while ago and safely admitted to myself that, no, Necrons can't win a truly competitive event.

    Random though. Why can't we put lower tier armies in a different tournament bracket? This might help alleviate the "scenario balance" jazz.

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  19. All good points, though I disagree on the balance front, OTHER than DA and Necron.

    When 2 out of what 15(?) aren't balanced, that's actually pretty balanced, given the heterogeneity of the game.

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  20. I'm not sure I would agree that Necrons and DA are the only non-balanced lists. Certainly the worst though! (well maybe not DA. Demonhunters....) In all honesty, I would probably peg about 7 out of 15 as having fallen into the 40k black hole at this point, and that's usually because I don't want to argue about some of the middle tier dexs, due to the level of hostility that is invariably generated when you peg someone's favorite army as "not so good". Fortunately, though, of my 7, 4 of them are rumored in line for new dex's, and they need them! :)

    I realize the prevailing 40K competitive blogosphere "wants" there to be balance, because the assumption that there is less balance implies serious threats to the competitive scene. So, I freely admit that I do not hold a popular opinion... thus increasing the likelihood that my opinion is wrong! :)

    I think we can admit, though, that we don't expect a Black Templar to go 7-0 next year. Same with at least Demonhunters (pre-new dex of course). I also realize that Tau have some serious fanbois in the blogosphere, but we can admit we don't expect that either. Nor, Chaos Space Marines.

    We could probably also agree that the majority of the most "known", "competitive" individuals at the NOVA this year weren't seen carrying non-top tier armies. That should also tell us something. (Granted I don't know who in your local area is "known competitive")

    Arguing balance though is really a different conversation (albeit a fun one!). My point is, usually when I hear someone complaining about scenario balance, not far behind that complaint is either a not-so-competitive dex or a not-so-competitive player. Generally, I think that is because, except for in some extreme examples, most of us recognize that the scenario itself is probably one of the "least" variables in play in determining a winner... far far behind things like dice luck, player skill, codices in play, terrain, etc.

    Take it for what it's worth! (nothing.... wish it was worth more though... could use some extra cash to drive all over the country to more tournaments )

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  21. Ever think of making the KP a range of points like most do with victory pts? "Need to win by 2 or 3 or more kill points?

    I hated kill points the moment I lost a game due to me losing 450 points of razorbacks to his 1000+ points of nob biker ork shit

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  22. What you are kind of breaking here though is the balance in the missions:

    Objectives - favors MSU

    2 objective mission - impartial mission

    Kill points - favors smaller # units

    VP's is a fine mechanic - but it favors MSU - and breaks the balance above - giving MSU's 2 out of 3 favors in missions.

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  23. Catch is that MSU is generally favored anyway, to a healthy degree. If you MSU *too* much you get run over, *too* little you get run over, "just right" and most codices actually wind up in roughly similar spots (exceptions are the dexes that can't take dedicated transports, tbh).

    Also, keep in mind that Kill Points doesn't *really* favor smaller # of units in a tournament setting, b/c not only must you have a smaller # of units, but you must go up against someone who doesn't ALSO have a smaller # of units, or vice versa ... if you run a SW army with 23 kill points, KP doesn't hurt you one bit when you draw another SW army with around 23 KP.

    That's where people tend to see it as "stupid," most often IMO ... you can argue that it encourages balance and army variance a lot, but it tends not to really have an impact; instead, a pair of players with roughly similar KP may have a totally lop-sided game on the killing of valuable things or who is really in the lead, but the one person ganks an immobilized rhino on a board edge somewhere late, and the win resulting feels somewhat "arbitrary."

    I would argue the missions DON'T balance MSU vs. non-MSU, and again - to the point of the thread in general - it's BAD for the competitive/tactical-depth/balance of the game to try and discourage MSU anyway.

    Answer THAT question perhaps first of all - WHY do you wish to discourage MSU? We all are pretty aware that there CAN be too much of a good thing; as Neil points out, MSU doesn't really mean just spamming a bajillion units; truth is just that if you can take a large quantity of redundancy and tank + infantry killability you're in better shape than if you don't, which can lead to some application of MSU and MSU principles in order to insulate yourself from "ope I lost that big key unit and now I'm screwed."

    WHY is MSU something we should discourage? DOES KP as a mission actually discourage it at all in material ways (other than discouraging it among people who think they should be, which are often worse players who resultantly get crushed more in non-kp missions at tournaments)?

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  24. Nothing against MSU armies - just think it's more of the balance thing. Do you want ONLY MSU armies in the tourney on the top tables - or do you want variety? Ultimately you want the best GENERALS - and they will bring armies that best favor the missions. Some people are average with MSU armies but top shelf with Deathstar type armies. I like scenarios that balance this out.

    Variety is the spice of life and makes for a more "interesting" playing field.

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