Thursday, April 29, 2010

SACRILEGE! I'm building a Hobby List

My creative juices have been unused lately, and so I bought a couple packs and started up a hobby project. This will be a longterm list ... kitbashing Wolf and Blood Angel packs to create a "Blood Pack" ... still figuring whether the fluff will be an actual chapter, or a conglomeration of BA and SW who've been stuck in the field for an excessive amount of time together and thus begun co-working / sharing armor bits / etc.

List is intended to cater to what I want things to look like, not be competitive. I have guard for that.

2,000 Point Blood Pack

Mephiston, Lord of Death (will be renamed / heavily converted / not look like BA Mephiston at all)
Reclusiarch w/ Infernus Pistol, Jump Pack
Honor Guard w/ Jump Packs, Sanguinary Initiate, 2 x Honor Guard w/ Flamers, 2 x Honor Guard w/ Power Fist / Storm Shield

Chaplain w/ Infernus Pistol

5 x Assault Marines w/ Power Fist / Storm Shield Sarge, Flamer, Twin-Linked Heavy Flamer Razorback
5 x Assault Marines w/ Power Fist / Storm Shield Sarge, Flamer, Twin-Linked Heavy Flamer Razorback

15 x Death Company w/ 2 x Infernus Pistol / Thunder Hammer Marines, 4 x Power Weapon Marines
Land Raider Crusader Dedicated Transport w/ Multi-Melta Pintle

Death Company Dreadnaught w/ Interchangeable Talons/Fists, Drop Pod

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Picking Favorites - Sportsmanship @ the Open

Ah, sportsmanship.

A lovely subject, don't you think?

Last year, at our "biggest" tourney of the year (not too big, an outdoor affair), we went with a different approach to sportsmanship, and it's one that I think we'll echo this year at the Open so far - but I want some input.

First, I'm going to (again, hope they aren't thinkin' I'm picking on them) use Adepticon results (those that were available to collate) to highlight a GOOD example of "typical" sportsmanship playing out.

What Adepticon does, for those that don't know, is present a "list" for players to check through. In the case of the 40k championships, 12 questions about your opponent ranging from "were rules arguments resolved amicably" to "would you voluntarily play this person again?" You scored your opponent "1" point for each, to a max of 12 per round. If you finished the Championships with perfect sportsmanship, you scored a 36.

Let's take a look at the scoring spread for their various 40k events, utilizing that scoring format (I would have analyzed Fantasy too but their site didn't have the results independently viewable).

Combat Patrol - Friday (Max Score for Sports - 9)
59 participants (ringer musta played)
50 scores of "9" (Max)
5 scores of "8"
3 scores of "7"
1 score of "6"

We see that the "average" sports score, then, by far is the "max" ... you have no idea who the true best sportsman is, and they no doubt broke it by some arbitrary tiebreaker (in the case of Adepticon, presuming same as other tourneys, they broke it by giving it to the LOWEST battle point scorer). It's also clear who probably the worst sport is ... at least one of the two superlatives is highlighted, discouraging being a "bad" sport. Let's see if it's the same for the rest ...

Combat Patrol - Saturday
54 participants
52 scores of "9" (Max)
1 score of "8"
1 score of "7"
Yup, one arbitrary guy of the 52 gets best sportsmanship award

OK, but that's just combat patrol, what about the "big" events ...

40k Championships (Yellow Heat) - Sunday
109 scored participants (presume ringer played) ... max sports score of 36
72 scores of "36"
10 scores of "35"
9 scores of "34"
5 scores of "33"
3 scores of "32"
2 scores of "31"
1 score of "30"
1 score of "29"
1 score of "28"
1 score of "27"
4 scores of "24" (these could be terrible games, you got 0, or "score sheet not turned in properly, no idea obviously)

40k Championships (Blue Heat) - Sunday
110 participants, Max score of 36
85 scores of "36"
5 scores of "35"
4 scores of "34"
7 scores of "33"
2 scores of "32"
1 score of "28"
5 scores of "24"
1 score of "19"

So, with 219 players, 72% of them were tied for a prize and "best sport" ...

Now let's take a look at something really interesting ... the Team Tournament ... 110 teams, 440 players ... max score of 56

52 scores of "56"
20 scores of "55"
8 scores of "54"
4 scores of "53"
7 scores of "52"
4 scores of "51"
2 scores of "50"
5 scores of "49"
2 scores of "48"
3 scores of "45"
1 score of "44"
1 scores of "41"

So, results and interpretation ...
For combat patrol net ---> 90% tied for best sport
For 40k championships net ---> 72% tied for best sport
For Team Championships net ---> 47% tied for best sport

What can we glean from the Team Championship scores being more varied, and perhaps (arguably) more realistic? I'd like some folks to guess, b/c I just have a theory. My theory is that sportsmanship via a checklist done in front of your opponent is a PRESSURE GAME. When it's just one on one, you're far more likely to give max sports to AVOID CONFLICT. When you're with a full team of your friends, however ... strength in number. There's far less pressure to give an opposing team "max score," b/c conflict is actually less likely when you have friends around (or the fear of conflict, rather).

That's a side note, though, the team vs. singles score phenom ... and not relevant to what we do.

What I think happens in this scoring system is not a bad thing, but it turns Sportsmanship into a consolation prize very often. Almost everyone (or at least a significant majority) is going to get max sports, and so you give to the person(s) with the lowest battle points. Yay, you get a prize, you nice people you! Especially in a major GT where you have to explain the tiebreaking and scoring procedures, this can actually be more than a little insulting.

So what do we do?
Well, at the end of the day, we have you rate your opponents. Yup - that's right. You'll each get a sheet that has your 4 opponents listed on them, plus a note about the codex / army they played as a reminder. You'll have to rate them, 1-4, 1 being the highest, 4 being the lowest.

NOT EVERYBODY LIKES HAVING TO RATE SOMEONE A 4! That's ok ... you're not rating someone "worst" and someone else "best." Well, you're rating someone most fun, and the other people "almost but not quite AS fun." You can shake it however you want, what happens is this in practice:
The "Median" becomes a middling number, where your average score was 2.5 if you're in the middle of the pack - a good, decent human being who was sporting and enjoyable enough to play with. This shunts those GIANT number accumulations to the MIDDLE of the scoreboard, and makes the people who get all or almost all 1's a much smaller population total, and a truly "class act" bunch of folks. It's also a smaller crop to have to filter out ... if you're lucky as a TO, it's a REALLY small crop (as little as "1" person to get all 1's).

Similarly, this helps you identify the problem folks to backtrack and record on in the future. In the 40k championship games above, I can guarantee you they weren't all fun. I know we scored some opponents with most of their points who were total jackasses in one team round ... downright dicks. Maybe they thought the same of us too, but we all got max points - I know, I saw both score sheets. In the rate-your-opponents format, where one person has to get a "1," one gets a 2, one gets a 3, one gets a 4, and they can't all get "max," the jackasses filter to the bottom too, instead of using peer pressure or other "sportsmanship gaming" tactics to keep themselves at max points.

AND HEY, at the NOVA Open we don't connect sports to competitiveness, so they have a right to be sporting, fair, non-cheating players ... but they're not required to make a "sappy sweet" game of sportsmanship. Again, separate but equal - the people who ACTUALLY are good people get the right and recognition of competing for best sportsmanship, and the people who aren't, aren't as pressured to do MORE than "play fair, don't cheat, respect your opponent."

Remember, at ANY tournament ... terrible sportsmanship is noticed, punished, and managed, regardless of a "sportsmanship" score.

Ya'll's feedback?
- Mike

The Softer Side of the NOVA Open - Importance of Soft Scores / Rewards, Presence of Them @ the Open

It's important to note our feelings about SOFT SCORES amidst all of this discussion about primer stress test tourneys, and evaluating the balance/importance of KP vs VP, etc.

So, what's the dealio ...

Well, first off, let's highlight a key difference between the "average" GT format, and the format we're using, in terms of play.

"Average" GT:
3-5 Rounds, Ties Permitted, Numerous "we won all our games" finishers at the top of the rankings after a few rounds
1 "Best Overall" award combining battle points, record, appearance, sports, etc. (this almost never goes to a person who loses any games)
1 "Best General" award going to the 2nd place finisher, and/or the top battle points (unless the best overall won that also)

Typically, your odds of winning "Best Overall" (the part that includes soft scores most often) is going to be about 60-70% based upon your GAMING, and the rest split between sportsmanship and appearance scores. To take, for example, Adepticon ...
59% Battle Points (how well you game)
6% Rules Knowledge (how well you KNOW the game)
16% Sportsmanship (your quality as a person in the eyes of your opponent, presumably)
19% Appearance (self-explanatory)

So that's 65% gaming, 16% sports, 19% appearance

This almost guarantees that a "3-0" finisher in this 3-round tournament as example is going to win the overall. There will be "soft" prizes only, such as best painted and players' choice, for those folks, but they can't win a Golden Ticket to Vegas unless they're also hardcore competitors with "I can win every game" lists. Hmmm ... OK, hey I have no beef.

HOWEVER, to help highlight the fact that we are not a "Hardcore Competitive" tourney but simply one that renders a more "Separate But Equal" view at the game vs. hobby side of things, here's how our scoring works ...

33% Rating (this is a score combining record + % of goals scored per round, basically battle points)
33% Sportsmanship
33% Appearance

So, 33% gaming, 67% soft

We don't call this "Best Overall." We call it the "Renaissance Man."

Well, OK Mike you throw one bone to the soft crowd, what about the fact that you give FOUR awards to the 4-0 finishers?

We also give 4 awards to the hobbyists: best converted, best painted, players' choice army, best sportsmanship

What we do to differentiate things is keep the competitive side separate from the soft side where possible. The 2nd Vegas Ticket, for Tournament Champion, will not go to the guy who scored higher on a quiz, or whose opponents loved him more (while beating them), but to the single guy who finishes the tournament undefeated.

Does this work for you softer fans? For you harder fans? Is the equal acknowledgment of the softer side of the hobby critical in a GT setting? Is it not?

Next up is a discussion of how we're planning on scoring sportsmanship ... yet again different from what is "normal," and another thing I'll look for input on.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kill Points vs. Victory Points - Impacts in a Tournament Setting

The age old debate of KP vs VP is one that I'll never cease to run into, so long as we utilize VP even a little in our tournament formats.

In the past, every tournament or league we've run has been the trio of book missions and deployments, with the VP tiebreaker option from the back of the rulebook in use.

We did this in large part as a deference to those who prefer it that way, and in contrast to tournaments who designed their own scenarios using up to 6 missions "per."

We also kept track of all of the games played ... and the armies used ... and the # of kill points these armies had vs. how many were scored off them ... and whether VP (which we tracked as well) were a generally better barometer of balance and competitiveness than KP.

Here's where my brain is at in the matter ...

What are the advantages of the kill points mission? GW states numerous times in their book that you are not required to nor should you limit yourself to the 3 standard book missions, so I'm going to avoid a discussion direction that goes "YOU SHOULD USE THE STANDARD BOOK MISSIONS," b/c that's not based in anything other than personal preference. Our goal for the NOVA Open is as much competitive balance as we can muster - we want the best general with the best all-comers list to win, not the guy who gets a few lucky opponent draws on the key missions. As much as we can avoid it, of course ;)

So ... advantages of kill points ...

1) The chance for kill points coming up at the least makes people think about their armies as they are building them ... do they want to tool their individual squads up more, or spam as many as possible? Do they want to go for a MSU style approach, or do they want to minimize kill points altogether? I can say that for my own part, I've never tailored my list with kill points in mind, and yet have never lost a kill point mission (even against lists with 10+ KP less than me). I will also say that I've collected statistics that show no routine advantage to low kp armies over high kp armies in KP missions, in actual practice.

So does having fewer kill points give you an advantage, if both lists are still optimized?

Ah, now we bring in the word "Optimized." I think it can be said that the more a list is optimized, the better it will perform in the hands of equivalent generals. Are intentionally "reduced" kill point armies optimized? Do they perform better in objective missions? Lots of questions.

What we can generally say with accuracy is this (and I think this one is hard to argue): There are some codices that CANNOT compete right now with "low" kill point totals. Examples include Witch Hunters and Dark Eldar. Low KP WH and DE armies might as well not bother playing, b/c their builds that are still competitive so many years after codex release are all VERY high in KP (we're talking 17+). There are other examples of armies that don't perform AS well with fewer KP. Guard is NOT one of these armies - they can build potent lists at LOW KP (platoon blobs and artillery spam) or obviously high KP (we've all run into and many of us own a mech guard army).

So, there are at least a few armies that cannot be expected to field moderate or low KP armies and remain competitive in non-KP missions.

What about the reverse? Are there armies that can't be expected to or even be able to field high KP totals and be competitive? Well, possibly. What about Orks? High KP Ork tend to win tournaments ... low KP horde ork and nob biker ork have lost their luster now that people know how to manage them ... they aren't "optimized" armies ... regardless, they are low KP ... so Ork can field arguably competitive armies at both low and high KP totals. What about Necron? Well, the "best" Necron armies are pretty low KP, we can all agree there. Does KP in a tournament then make Necron competitively capable of winning tourneys? Ah ... unfortunately, not really.

OK, still digging here. What about Tyranid. There's a winner, right? It's a common and reasonable argument that one of the best Tyranid armies and certainly one of the most common that people have invested their time and money in is the Tervigon + Hive Guard army. Oh ... crud ... that army actually loses most of its advantages in fear during a KP mission, b/c the Tervis can't risk creating 3-gaunt kill points each turn.

Well crud ... so what army NEEDS kill points to be competitive? What codex cannot field armies that will win at all w/out the kill point mission active? I don't know ... it's clearly an argument, a discussion to be had ... and one steeped heavily in opinion. As soon as you try to make "non-optimized" lists competitive, or argue for KP in light of army builds that would only be able to win KP anyway (and wouldn't be able to win obj/etc. missions), you're running into dangerous territory as well.

Let's get off that track for a bit ... it's a morass known as the KP argument. Suffice to say that not every codex is normalized around a general kill point total, especially not some of the old ones (the ones you would think should be most considered, since the newer codices are more flexible in competitive build variety). How, then, do you account for "luck of the draw" in a tournament setting?

What's that? Well, Players 5, 7, 10, and 22 are playing. Their numbers represent their # of kill points.

In round 1, kill points is the mission. Players 5, 7 and 4 have all intentionally built their armies at the LOW kill point level so that they can try to compete against mech guard and mech DE in the tournament.

5 plays vs 22
10 plays vs 7

What's fair about this? Regardless of the "balance" of the game, how is this mission fair? Five has lucked out and needs only kill 23% of his opponent's units, while losing no more than 80% of his own. He can win by losing 80% of his units ... and only killing 23% of his opponent's.

What about Mr. 10? He brought a well balanced list that has enough units to realistically tackle big 22 kp armies without getting tabled. But crap ... he drew Mr. 7. Mr. 7 can lose 87% of his units and only have to kill 70% of 10's if he loses that much. So much for Mr 10's plan to bring fewer kill points and improve his odds. Lucky day for Mr. 5 (unless he gets outright tabled).

What about Mr.'s 18 and 21 on Table 3? They both brought higher kill point armies, and they are vs. each other. They each have tons of fragile transports, and some seriously potent units ... is it a competitive and appropriate game if they spend the entire time targeting the most fragile things, and ignoring the actual threats? I don't know ... you tell me.

That's luck of the draw in a tournament setting. If you are using VP, every one of those people becomes Mr. 2000, and the only argument remaining is "codex balance." We all know how opinionated and impossible that argument is.

Ok, so let's take VP vs. KP. The argument of "MSU" ... that some armies without kill points to "reign them in" just rock others ... let's get real about it for a second.

At most, 1/3 missions takes KP into account, if you go straight from the book. This means that whatever glorified low KP armies that "can't compete" against mech armies are literally HOPING that they get "lucky" and only run up against a mechanized army in the KP mission. Is it REALLY a *tournament* balancer to have people hoping? Any advantage argued for the high KP army vs. low KP army is erased when you consider that not every mission is going to be KP.

Let's compare this to a "real" tourney format in the sports world. Just b/c Team Cindarella has the magical ingredient to beat one of the Giants on their way to the Final Four, doesn't mean they should or deserve to win the tourney ... and unless they are genuinely the better team on all fronts, they're going to lose to another Giant eventually anyway.

Off into argument land again ... I'm enjoying rambling on this one, and will enjoy no doubt the different opinions in the comments ... so let's hear them, but back on track.

What does every army in a 2,000 point tournament have?
a) About 2,000 points, or at least as many as that
b) At least 2 scoring units, by requirement
c) At least 3 total units, by requirement

So if a tournament organizer is trying to put on an UNBIASED EVENT, where he is leaving out his OPINION about the competitive game, how best does he manage it? Does he throw his hands up in the air and utilize kill points from the book? Or, does he ensure an even and unbiased field by measuring off the variables that are steady across every army?

VP enables everyone to score the same number of points off every opponent. If their army is not built to tackle the all comers of ANY opposing codex's optimized build, they're going to get steamrolled by armies they can't handle. Are there any codices that SIMPLY CANNOT HANDLE optimized lists from other codices? You all know that our experience-based stance on this is NO. Even Necron (probably the most hamstrung right now) *can* build a list that can compete with most other codices. DH, WH, and DE *certainly* can, though their best builds are nailed in the face by KP. Tyranid are the next closest to hamstrung, due to their limited spread of anti-tank capacity ... but a solid Nid build has very hard to score VP concentrated on very hard-as-nails units, and is exceptionally capable in capture missions where the objective is to contest or take territory and objectives. Every other army? Their best builds tend toward higher KP anyway.

Lots of thoughts here from me ... but let's take it this way - I want ya'lls feedback.

It's critical to me that our event be competitive, balanced and fair. It's not critical to me that we follow ANY conventions in accomplishing this. What actual games have you played where you could not have competed if not for the 33% chance to roll a KP mission? What tournaments have you been at where dozens of competitors would have been trampled upon if not for one of the rounds having KP? What tournaments have you been to where a superior general LOST b/c his opponent had way fewer KP and targeted his transports instead of his key units?

Blah blah blah ... ya'll's turn. Know that I am not attached to any result here, and our primer rounds/missions are just that - primers. The combination of mission+deployment will NOT be the same for the Open, and the missions themselves can still change by then ;)

- Mike

PS - for any interested, our primer tourney packet is up:

Friday, April 23, 2010

8 on the 8th in Detail - FREE STUFF

OK, so I've posted about the fact that I'm doing this, but wanted to make it super clear so everyone has a free opportunity to join in.

On May 8 we're having an 8-person mini-event to stress test the mission and scoring format for the Open. As part of this, I've decided to open up the countrywide field and allow other people to participate by hosting their own 8 on the 8th. I will provide about $100 worth of stuff for this (eghads!) for anyone that does it properly. Here's what's required ...

1) 8 people + Organizer
2) Each person needs a 2k list - any amount of proxying/etc. allowed wherever you'll play is fine, this isn't a formal tournament, it's a mission stress test
3) 4 gaming tables (duh) with appropriate terrain (5-6 pieces/table, mission packet will explain how to use the terrain for each mission)
4) Camera, and basic typing skills / intelligence
5) Mission packets and scoring program (ms excel), which I will provide

What you have to do ...
1) Host an 8 person, 3 round tournament utilizing the primer missions and format for the Open; there will be no sportsmanship, painting, etc., just the missions and the scoring format to "stress test" the system
2) Host it on May 8
3) Talk to me obviously leading up to make sure all is in order
4) Communicate via a blog post for comments during the day as able to see how things are going

What I will provide ...
1) A "Best" and "Worst" humorous pair of trophies, shipped to you the organizer's door
2) One free pass to the NOVA Open, for the winner of your 8 on the 8th

I'm not going to have more than about 4 other people doing this, to keep personal expenses manageable - comment here and contact me ( to set this up formally

- Mike

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Many thanks to R.C., a good buddy of mine with some serious career video game and extra-game graphic arts background ... The NOVA Open has a prelim banner logo ... central circular image will be worked to be our letterhead/etc. logo.

Just a nice thing to have.

NOVA Open - Primer Tournament! + How You Can Run One

Ok, so we're hosting a Primer Tourney for the Open at the site of Whiskey & 40k nights to test drive the missions and the scoring system in a "real" situation.

It's 8 person, and we're calling it 8th on the 8th, as we'll be hosting it May 8th (Saturday).

3 rounds, natch, and THERE WILL BE TROPHIES! Unfortunately, there won't be any half eaten doughnut trophies (sadface).

We've built the proper scoring excel format for this (thanks Vaden) so we're ready to go on the plug and play front. We'll probably test drive facsimile results for a full 64 across 4 rounds numerous times leading up to make sure we're smooth and steady on the turnaround of scores and new match-ups, but this will be our only real playtest of the tourney format with "real peoples."

I'll take lots of pics, give you all full battle reports on each engagement, etc. I encourage you ALL who are attending or planning on attending to test drive the primer missions as well. Nobody, besides me, will know the ACTUAL mission/deployment combos for the event until very close in, if not the morning before - so no worries. Not only are you all free to test drive the primers, nobody else is going to do anything other than test drive the primers ;)

Our attendees (last names preserved to protect the innocent!11) will be ...

Vaden - Space Marines
Mark - Orks or Space Wolves
Mark(2) - Crimson Fists (either Marines, or BA)
John - Sisters of Battle (yes, we have a SoB player named John here also ...)
Ryan - Imperial Guard
Joe - Blood Angels or CSM
Rhett - Eldar
Dave - Blood Angels or Tyranid (I think)

If ya'll would like to run a mini-"Open" amongst your friends utilizing / test driving our missions and format, let me know and I can hook you up with the excel "program" that manages it.

- Mike

Monday, April 19, 2010

Warhammer Fantasy - 8th Edition Announced - How it Impacts a Tournament

So, 8th edition is incoming.

The expected release date at present is July 10, exactly 5 weeks prior to the Open. That also means preview copies are probably out 4 weeks before that per usual, for a 9 week period of people looking at and adjusting to the new Fantasy rules prior to the Open.

So, what do we do?

Option A
Play it safe - go with 7th edition, a system generally unpopular and requiring an extensive composition system (with 2250 points level played by some armies at 2600 and some at 2000), but where people for the most part don't have to rebuild their armies to fit the tournament (except that to fit into the comp many may have to).

Option B
Play it new - aggressively study and react to the 8th edition rulebook, put up a FAQ for any of the likely errors / etc., and go with 8th edition, loosening the painting/wysiwyg requirements just a little to encourage people that they'll have their army changes ready

There are pros and cons to each of these, and it presents an interesting question for a tournament organizer

7th edition Pros
Safe and known - we don't have to come up with much of a FAQ, we have a "tested" comp system in the form of ETC, and most people know exactly how to build an army in 7th rules and how their army books work; pro of "don't have to change their armies for tourney" is mitigated somewhat by the fact that we have comp, so that's not really a "pro" or a con

7th edition Cons
A widely unpopular Fantasy edition is now replaced, with the rulebook viewable for 9 weeks prior to the tournament, meaning people may not want to waste their time and $50 + travel going to a tournament to play a defunct, disliked edition that uses a comp system to boot

8th edition Pros
New system used in a major GT may generate interest and sign-ups from people eager for something fresh and new, and eager to put their new army list ideas and armies to the test in a system where less people have number crunched it into the obvious power lists / etc.; most probably will be a better liked edition due to any glaring problems not yet fully realized (or maybe there won't be any)

8th edition Cons
People not wanting to sign up for a tournament so soon after edition releases; more rules questions the day of if the tournament organization team doesn't properly evaluate them all and address in a FAQ; again though somewhat irrelevant due to use of comp for 7th ed, people have to build new armies due to deep structural changes to the game

What do ya'll think?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The NOVA Open - Primer Missions

Good Afternoon all,

In response to yesterday's comments, I made a tweak to the primer missions and added a 6 Turn random ---> 7 format to each of them.

So, before you go in and critique these - here's the caveat. Playtest them. These have been run through a few times now, and as a general rule the primary mission takes precedence.

One important note - terrain should be set up so that it covers the tables EVENLY "regardless" of what side you end up deploying on. We'll be making sure this happens creatively in the actual event.

Feedback welcome ... opinion based on no actual time investment? Critical analysis, please :)

NOVA Open 2010 40k Primer Missions

Rules for ALL Missions
Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Missions
  • In each game, there will be a primary, secondary and tertiary mission
  • The Primary mission is always the win condition
  • The Secondary mission is always the first tiebreaker
  • The Tertiary mission is always the second tiebreaker
  • When all time and turns are up, simple Victory Points are the third/final tiebreaker
  • Game Length and Winner Determination
  • All games go at least 6 turns unless time runs out
  • At the end of the 6th game turn, roll a d6; on a 1-3, the game ends; on a 4-6, play a full 7th turn
  • Do not begin a new game turn (6th, 7th, or otherwise) if there are less than 30 minutes on the total game clock; if you begin a new game turn regardless, keep in mind that time may be called on you without both players having the opportunity to play their portion of the turn
  • When the game does end, perform the following:
  1. Check the status of the Primary Mission; if one person is winning it at the end of game turn 6, that person wins the game; if it is a tie at the end of game turn 6, then …
  2. Check the status of the Secondary Mission; if one person is winning it at the end of game turn 6, that person wins the game; if it is a tie at the end of game turn 6, then …
  3. Check the status of the Tertiary Mission; if one person is winning it at the end of game turn 6, that person wins the game; if it is a tie at the end of game turn 6, then …
  4. The winner is determined by a simple Victory Points preponderance (meaning, you could win by 0.5 VP)
  • At the end of any game, fill in ALL of the blanks of the associated round’s score sheet, obtain your opponent’s signature, and hand in your sheet to the score desk with your opponent

The 3 Primer Missions – All rounds will use a combination of these missions – refer here for how each works
  • Primer Mission #1 - Annihilation
  1. Victory Points (VP) – In order to win this mission, one opponent must outscore the other by 250 or more VP; if the difference in VP scored is 249 or fewer, this mission is tied
  2. VP are scored for completely destroying units (when in doubt, if a unit would count as separate for purposes of Kill Points, it counts as separate for purposes of VP; ask a judge if you have questions)
  3. 50% VP are scored for bringing a unit BELOW half strength
  4. 50% VP are scored off vehicles by inflicting at least one weapon destroyed or immobilized result
  5. With regard to vehicle squadrons, score each vehicle independently for purposes of Victory Points (so, for example, 1 Vendetta killed in a squadron of 3 would be worth 130 victory points, even though the entire unit still resided above 50%)
  • Primer Mission #2 - Capture and Control
  1. Place 4 objectives (40mm each) in each corner of the board, 18” from the closest short table edge, and 12” from the closest long table edge (resulting in 4 objectives each “centered” in one of the board’s quarters)
  2. Place a 5th objective (40mm) in the exact center of the board
  3. In order to capture an objective, a scoring Troop unit must be within 3” of it at the end of the game
  4. If any enemy unit is also within 3” of a captured objective at the end of the game, it is considered to be “Contested” and captured by neither side
  5. When determining if an objective is captured or contested, ignore all height measurements – for example, if an objective is on the top floor of a ruin, and a Troop unit is 2 floors down but 1” from it otherwise, it is considered within 3”
  6. The opponent holding the most objectives at the end of the game wins this mission; if each opponent holds the same number of objectives, this mission is tied
  7. For the purposes of Capture and Control, all 5 objective markers must be placed BEFORE any dice are rolled to determine who goes first / which deployment zone is selected (or any other dice)
  • Primer Mission #3 - Dominate Territory
  1. The purpose of this mission is to capture Table Quarters
  2. A quarter is captured when you own a victory points preponderance in the specific table quarter; for all calculations, follow the format for the Annihilation Mission – units below half strength count for only 50% of their VP total
  3. If a unit is partially in multiple quarters, it is considered to be in the quarter containing the MAJORITY of the unit or vehicle
  4. If a unit is evenly divided between quarters, or there is no majority of the unit or vehicle in a single quarter, randomly determine which quarter it is in at the end of the game when determining the result (arbitrarily nominate each quarter 1, 2, 3 and 4, then roll a d6 for the unit in question, and simply continue to re-roll any result of a 5 or 6)
  5. The opponent controlling the largest number of table quarters at the end of the game wins this mission; if each opponent controls the same number of table quarters, this mission is tied

Primer Round 1 – Annihilation
  • Before determining sides or anything else, place 5 OBJECTIVE MARKERS (40mm) per Mission #2
  • Primary Mission – Mission #1 (Annihilation)
  • Secondary Mission – Mission #2 (Capture and Control)
  • Tertiary Mission – Mission #3 (Dominate Territory)
  • Deployment – Pitched Battle

Primer Round 2 – Capture and Control
  • Before determining sides or anything else, place 5 OBJECTIVE MARKERS (40mm) per Mission #2
  • Primary Mission – Mission #2 (Capture and Control)
  • Secondary Mission – Mission #3 (Dominate Territory)
  • Tertiary Mission – Mission #1 (Annihilation)
  • Deployment – Spearhead

Primer Round 3 – Dominate Territory
  • Before determining sides or anything else, place 5 OBJECTIVE MARKERS (40mm) per Mission #2
  • Primary Mission – Mission #3 (Dominate Territory)
  • Secondary Mission – Mission #1 (Annihilation)
  • Tertiary Mission – Mission #2 (Capture and Control)
  • Deployment – Dawn of War

Scoring – Record the following
  • # of quarters captured / 4
  • # of VP scored / 2000(even if opponent is a little shy of 2k)
  • # of objectives captured / 5

Your Rating for purposes of seeding by round =is

(Win Rate x 10) + (Objectives Scored / Possible) + (Quarters Captured / Possible) + (VP scored / (2000 x # of games played))

Note to anyone utilizing this – score sheets, polished mission data and instructions, etc., are all forthcoming; this draft is intended for format familiarization and playtest for feedback only.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Random Game Length in a Tournament - My Argument Against It

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."

- Mike

PS - as usual, your $.02 please! My opinion is ever swayable :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quick Notes ... Tourney News and Data

Hello all,

As I'm settling back into the desk after the weekend, I figured I'd take a moment to drop some key notes for you all to digest ...

FIRST, if you are attending / planning on attending the Open, especially for 40k, sign up!

SECOND, if you are attending / planning on attending the Open, and would like to help playtest the Mission Primers, let me know - I'll be releasing them with fancy presentation soon enough, but am happy to share the basics with whoever first.

THIRD, if you have ANY game / rule questions relevant to your own personal army that you would like us to specifically address w/ our FAQ, let me know.

FOURTH, more comprehensive and insightful posts coming today.

- Mike

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Few BA Lists to Digest

Well, I was putting together a few BA lists for my buddy to try out (a longtime BA player whose location / work schedule has prevented him from having enough time to digest the book himself yet) .... and I figured I'd share them with ya'll

Also, there's a certain SOMEONE known for posting lots of lists for people to browse through who has been spending too much time on Ard Boyz stuff and old, dated Tyranid catch-up, so maybe some random users who can't come up w/ their own lists will get a head start from these.

I jest, mostly ;)

"Assault Marine Spam" ...

Astorath the Grim
Honor Guard w/ Lightning Claw/Meltagun, Meltagun/Bolter, Powerfist/Stormshield/Chapter Banner, Powerfist/Stormshield, Initiate

Sanguinary Priest w/ Jump Pack, Power Sword, Hand Flamer

6 x
10-man ASM w/ 2 x Meltagun, Power Fist

That's it ... unless it's KP, you combat squad the ASM into 12 squads, and wind up with 13 squads of guys with FNP, FC, half of which (or more than half of which, statistically) are also Fearless, and the rest of which re-roll failed morale/pin tests (banner). 14 Meltaguns to back it all up, and lots of kick butt in combat. You'd probably at least consider attaching the Sang to one of the squads that rolls fearless, and NOT combat squad that one, so that you had a storm shield heavy fearless (b/c of Astorath) Honor Guard providing one FNP bubble, and another Fearless squad of 10 w/ the Sang hiding in it providing the other FNP bubble.

Caveat - I don't think you want to run a jump pack based army, I think you want your guys in transports still in this edition, but if you are GOING to go that way, I think this works pretty well.

"Termie Spam"

This list's achilles heel is taking lots of objectives, but I think it should be able to always take at least one and contest or table the rest ... again not one of their strongest lists, but if you want to simply spam FNP terminators ... another rock ....

Librarian w/ Storm Shield, TDA, Sanguine Sword, Blood Lance
Sanguinaries x 3 w/ TDA
8 TH/SS Terms + 2 LC Terms w/ LRR MM Pintle
4 TH/SS Terms + 2 LC Terms w/ LRC MM Pintle
5 x Scouts w/ Sniper Rifles, RESERVED
5 x ASM w/ bp/ccw (reserved if poss) w/ LRR MM Pintle

one of the combat squadded TH/SS squads gets into the ASM's LRR if you want
Trips raiders full of FNP S9 charging terms, hf if that kinda list works in your area ....

AV13 spam? OK

Librarian w/ Sanguine Sword, Shield of Sanguinius
Honor Guard w/ 2 Flamers, Rhino

Librarian Dreadnaught w/ Wings of Sanguinius, Might of Heroes or Blood Lance
Librarian Dreadnaught w/ Wings of Sanguinius, Might of Heroes or Blood Lance
Librarian Dreadnaught w/ Wings of Sanguinius, Might of Heroes or Blood Lance
YMMV on psy powers, but I think you need Wings to keep up

5 x ASM w/ Melta, Power Sword, Rhino
5 x ASM w/ Melta, Infernus Pistol, Power Sword, Rhino
5 x ASM w/ Melta, infernus Pistol, Power Sword, Rhino

Baal Predator w/ TL AC
Baal Predator w/ TL AC
Baal Predator w/ TL AC

Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons
Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons
Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons

9 AV13 vehicles, all of them able to move 12" and fire weapons ... 3 scoring troops units that can safely bunker up behind the AV13 all game and capture objectives, or if the opportunity presents itself can still throw 21 guys with power weapons in every squad, melta in most squads, and feel no pain / furious charge (thank you Honor Guard)

As with most of these types of lists, the "fast" threats should allow the trips preds to knock out transports with impunity all game long, and should keep most fire off them ... the Baals are as usual throwaways, and should have no trouble finding side armor on anything they really want to

You can refer back to my earlier post on BA to see a list I think is more on top of the power curve, but these offer some variety ... the prior one was 2 libbies in honor guard rhinos, 5 asm rhinos with dual melta + psword, 2 baal preds, and 3 of the trips preds above

Just rambling BA options for ya'll ... what input do you have on the lists? What would you change? What are you planning on using for BA early on?

- Mike

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In Pursuit of Perfection

I am sure that you all are familiar with Mike and his rants on 40k (and sometimes beer) and are most likely familiar with the details and mission of our tournament this summer. To date there has been much scuttlebutt about the 40k side of this tournament while Fantasy has been mostly in the dark.

Today I get to address the other half of the tournament. Most of you will not know who I am and will probably wonder how I got the illustrious job of organizing the fantasy side I am Rhett Austin and needless to say I have been primarily a fantasy player till late when I put it aside due to its “issue’s”. Despite some of its issues, I love Warhammer Fantasy and follow it diligently hoping that maybe with 8th Edition some things will get straightened out (yes, daemons, that mean you). Until that time I get the pleasure of overseeing a comp system for this year’s NOVA Open.

When this task was first put before me I got kinda giddy thinking about this perfect opportunity to fix the game and stake out the comp system to end all comp systems. So I set about this task by first investigating what was out there. I’m a regular tournament player and participated in many comp systems over time, but none of them seemed to fit what I thought one should be. It was my thought that my task would be immensely easier if I had a good starting point, though, so digging through the vast number of them out there began.

It seems like the first choice you have when running a comp system is whether to do a points based comp system (like this) or use penalties and caps to limit or expand certain armies (like this). They both have their pros and cons and both systems can work. The big deciding factor for me was that the points system was pretty complex and I prefer to keep it simple wherever possible. So I decided to proceed down the penalties and caps route to create my perfect comp system.

This is where it got dicey. I spent many long days trying to create this perfect system and in the end I decided that I couldn’t do it alone. Not that I am incapable of making good judgments on the current rule set, but rather if I did craft my own comp system I would just be adding to the dozens of questionable, home-grown systems that currently exist. It might have even been amazing but there would be no reason for anyone to take my word on this working.

There still lies the problem of having a comp system though, and it is my job to put it forth. During my research of popular systems out there I did find one that had most of what I was looking for. Though its rules aren’t perfect in my opinion, it is crafted via the input of a large community of players all seeking to build a better system. One could easily say it’s impossible to craft the “perfect” system, but I think you’ll find this one brings Warhammer Fantasy 7th Edition well into the realm of being absolutely worth playing and competing in.

So without further delay, here it is.

SWISS IS FOR CHOCOLATE! Seeding and Pairing in a Tournament Setting

So, here's another tournament subject ...

In most 40k tournaments, opponents are paired off in rounds (after the first round) by similar strength. So, the person with the highest net score plays the 2nd highest in round 2, 3rd plays 4th, 5th plays 6th, etc.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but I'm not really going to cover them - mostly b/c I don't care for the approach. What I will do instead is present my rationale for why we use Elimination Pairing until the final round(s), and then open the comments floor for input.

In our system, here's what happens ...

64 people are randomly paired up
With no ties, 32 will be 1-0 and 32 will be 0-1
They will be "seeded" with the following rating system:
Record x Factor (let's just "pretend" 10 for the sake of example making) + %Objective1 + %Objective2 + %Objective3

So, let's take a hiatus from pairing and talk about this rating system so it's super clear to everyone:
"Variables" being set as constants for EXAMPLE'S sake =
Our 3 objectives that will be active in every round as primaries or tiebreakers, and used for seeding, will be "VICTORY POINTS" (Objective 1), "LOOT COUNTERS" (5 of them, Objective 2), and "QUARTERS" (4 of them, Objective 3). Just so you all can feel "connected" to the situation here, we'll say that Quarters is captured by VP preponderance in a quarter, VP is straight VP, and Objectives are just like the book mission where you've rolled 5 or 6 on your d3+2

Let's presume after Round 1 that Player A has the following tallies ...
He is 1-0
He scored 1,000 VP
He captured 4 of 5 Loot Counters
He captured 3 of 4 Quarters
In our example (again, keep this as sample, and not fixed for the Open yet), his rating would therefore be:
((1.0 (record %) x10) + (0.50 (VP%)) + (0.80 (loot counter%)) + (0.75 (quarters%))
So 10 + 0.5 + 0.8 + 0.75 = 12.05 ...
in theory his "max" rating possible would be a 13, and would require him to table someone (therefore netting him 100% VP, 100% loot counters, and 100% quarters)

OK, so this guy has a rating of 12.05, and there's how the rating system works

After 1 round, our 32 1-0 finishers each have a rating, which nicely and quickly seeds them #'ed 1-32
This rating is apt to change dramatically each round within the span of 10.01 -> 13.0, which is always going to be your "undefeated" rating range.

In a swiss system, the higest seeded would play the second highest seeded
In an elimination system, the highest would play the lowest within bracket, so #1 would play #32, while #33 (0-1) would play #64

Wait a minute, you ask ... isn't that kind of unfair for #32? Isn't that kind of going easy on #1? NO, it's not, and here's why ...

In a real tournament, where you are an impartial tournament organizer, you theoretically want the best player to win. More importantly, you want the best player to win by beating the 2nd best player in the very last round(s). At the very least, you want the best to make it through to the end.

What is the "best?" Well, in the case of a tournament, it's the best for THAT TOURNAMENT. This isn't a season or league, and you don't have time for a "best of" series for every round. As nice as that would be, it's for our area leagues that we hold, not for the NOVA Open.

So, after Round 1, you've got a #1 and a #32 ... they both "won" their games by vastly different margins (presumably). What does that mean? Does that mean #1 is the best player at the tournament, and #32 is only the 32nd best? Not at all. Your first round is RANDOM paired (I'm not going to go through and try to evaluate the skill of 64 people, hell no). For all we know, #1 went up against #64 (in fact, by the ratings, he probably did, since 64 lost by as much as 1 won by, if they played each other in round 1). For all we know also, #32 went up against #33 (best loser), and #33 could have been #2 if he'd drawn #64, and ... GASP ... a dizzying amalgamation of possibilities.

Well, how do you enable 32 to climb the ladder, and how do you enable 1 to be "proven" without punishing ... say ... #2 unfairly? How do you ensure that #1 and #2 don't knock each other out of contention right away? How do you ensure that people don't game the system and "skim" to the final round undefeated by "barely" beating everyone and thus pulling easier draws in subsequent rounds (i.e. 31 playing 32)?

Well, the answer is elimination pairing.

If #32 is a player who will always win his games, but by his army design win them by smaller margins or eeking out bare wins, that doesn't mean he's not a winner. If he's a crappy player who got an easy draw and still barely won, he shouldn't get the easiest possible match-up. So, he plays #1. Now, if #1 really is #1, he'll crush 32 and stay #1 by rating for round 3. If he's not really #1, he might barely win, and drop to the middle of the undefeated pack. He might lose, and now you've learned that #32 simply had a really tough first draw, or has an army that wins that way. Lots of possibilities, NONE OF THEM BAD.

What you don't want is #1 to play #2 in round 2, have #2 lose, and have the 2nd best player in the tournament (if he really is) playing for an "at best" 5th place on pure competitive record (best 3-1).

This is a morass, it can be. If you think it through, things are "fair." By Round 4, the 8 undefeated are almost always going to be the best 8 there. So, do you do 1 vs 8? Well, in this case, you actually don't. If we had 6 rounds in one day, where everyone played, I would say yes you do. But here, you want the whole field to be present for 1 playing 2, 3 playing 4, 5 playing 6, 7 playing 8. Unfair to 1 and 2? Well, no, not really. The next day the winners all play each other through in the Final Four, but you also have swiss paired the round that determines the top commander award.

Got you thinking, don't I? Now, all this logic seems to imply 1 vs 8, doesn't it? Well, maybe it does :) ... food for thought, for sure.

- Mike

PS - Rhett Austin has settled on ETC Comp for our Fantasy Side, and he'll be guest authoring on the blog about it shortly.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TIES ARE BADDD!!! Or are they? Splitting it down the middle at a tournament.

So, I've been fielding a lot of questions and discussion in our tourney thread at dakka, and I think the attention is a positive thing. is the thread

Riddle me this - are ties good in a tournament setting? Defend your case.

For my own $.02, I think that it muddies the waters in terms of evaluating a winner. Suppose for the painting competition we simply had a tie? Consider how with a lot of sportsmanship scoring there are ties, and they are broken by arbitrary unrelated numbers ... consider whether there are ties at events like the NCAA Tournament.


Ties are, on the other hand, "nice." By that I mean they congratulate people on a close game. Again, Duke scores 61, Butler scores 59, this is within the margin of draw for NCAA rules, it's a tie! They both win! What a great game!

It's heart-breaking to lose a close one ... but it's thrilling to be involved in it. Should we as a wider gaming community encourage people to love ties, or discourage it? Is winning all that matters, or should it be the fun of the experience - win OR lose? You have to remember that the large impact of a tie on the psyche is that "both people won." I find it interesting that in such a situation, where you say it's "too close to call," it's typically those who claim to be the opposite of WAAC who advocate for the value of a tie. They don't want to "lose" a close game. Or maybe I'm misreading it.

I'd be interested to hear opinions here, as we do NOT utilize ties in our events. We roster an appropriate number for bracketing down toward clear winners in the least rounds possible without awarding byes.

PS - I participated in a podcast with the guys at the Gamers Lounge, here:

Sorry for any ear straining, I spent the first half too far from the mic, and he had to fiddle with the settings. Good guys, with different views on the hobby from me ... I think it made for a positive discussion.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Perils of Composition - Broken Comp

There's been some chatter around the web today about comp here and there, and I thought I'd do a little thought experiment to help highlight what I feel are the perils of the system.

Let's get a couple of assertions out of the way ...

Let us presume that 40k is a relatively balanced game, where almost every codex can put a list together that will enable a SKILLED player to compete at a tournament level where they don't know their opponents and the missions are "fair." I think this isn't an unfair presumption ... and I challenge someone to put forth a dex that doesn't fall under this category. Trust me when I say that demonhunters and necrons are both able to do this. Demonhunters most especially due to the allies rule (for better or worse, my point is not theme here at the moment ... just competitive capacity).

The problems with codex creep and balance are not that older codices cannot compete, just that with each new dex, the older dexes have FEWER builds that can compete. This number will never reach "zero," it will just shrink ... at this point, some of the very old dexes are already at the "1" point where they have one competitive build and that's it. Dark Eldar come to mind. While lamentable, this doesn't represent a broken situation - just one where if you choose to use an older army, you'll be more limited on your competitive builds until your codices are revamped and you can join the rejoicing crowds of wolves, guardsmen, and angels who can field 20 competitive builds each.

Onto my point, while there are many different rationales for instituting composition restrictions, the long and short is that they represent an amateur (in the form of a tournament organizer or organizers) attempting to restrict the game in a way that will enable older codices or less "potent" list builders to be on more of a level playing field.

An example of a composition restriction I ran into recently for a 1750 event restricted the players to 200 points for Heavy and Fast choices, 250 points for Elite and HQ choices, and the rest to Troops. You also cannot duplicate a FOC choice outside of Troops (weapons regardless, meaning you can't have 2 of the same unit, period). The intent is obviously to "rebalance" peoples' limitations and thus improve the "fun" for all - including noncompetitive list builders.

Alright, fair enough, but what if someone brings this ...

Company Command Squad w/ 2 Meltaguns, Chimera (Multilaser and Heavy Flamer) - 125
Lord Comissar, Chimera (Multilaser and Heavy Flamer) - 125

4+Overseer Psyker Battle Squad, Chimera (Multilaser and Heavy Flamer) - 115
Ogryn Squad - 130 (goes in Lord Com's Chimera)

Veteran Guard Squad w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera (Multilaser and Heavy Flamer) - 155
Veteran Guard Squad w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera (Multilaser and Heavy Flamer) - 155
Veteran Guard Squad w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera (Multilaser and Heavy Flamer) - 155
Veteran Guard Squad w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera (Multilaser and Heavy Flamer) - 155
Veteran Guard Squad w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera (Multilaser and Heavy Flamer) - 155
Veteran Guard Squad w/ 3 Meltaguns, Chimera (Multilaser and Heavy Flamer) - 155

3 x Armored Sentinel w/ Autocannon - 120

Hydra Flak Tank w/ Heavy Flamer Hull - 75
Basilisk w/ Heavy Flamer Hull - 125

That's 14 AV12 vehicles, 11 Heavy Flamers, 20 BS4 Meltaguns, 5 Autocannons, 9 Multilasers, some ordnance, and plenty of annoying other crap and bodies at 1750 and fully within the composition restrictions. In fact, Elite and Fast Attack haven't hit the cap, and per the apparent intent Troops are maxed out.

We see the problem?

I could go through any composition system, as could most anyone, and "break" it ... I could field the above list, too, with little effort or expenditure. It'd be fully painted and very nice looking, yatta yatta.

I can guarantee that armies such as Dark Eldar, Demonhunters, Necron, and others are FAR more hurt by the comp restrictions above than the competitive builds. More importantly, I can guarantee that the people who STRUGGLE to own / build strong lists will struggle even more. I can further guarantee this will not help the people who like to bring purely thematic armies.

This isn't a knock on the system - in reality, a social contract should be vibrantly apparent here, where you should either not come, or bring a "relaxed" army build ... that's affirmatively what the tournament organizer WANTS you to do. What forces people to do this, though? Worse, what if someone brings a powerful build but DIDN'T try to break the comp? What if that's all he could do with the models he had?

Will that person be branded a "douche" for intentionally breaking the compa, also? The person who does it on purpose deserves it, but this theoretical innocent sure doesn't.

Show me a perfect comp system for 40k that can't be broken and destroyed in purpose anyway, and tell me what the purpose of it is, and I'll consider running that comp system personally in smaller events.

For Fantasy, it's a different beast, b/c pending the details of 8th edition, it's a far more broken system ... it needs comp, or it's pointless to play / bring any but a few builds. Where in 40k, the power curve has given variety of competitiveness to new books and limited variety of older books, in Fantasy there's basically a limited competitive spectrum to the NEW books, and the older books might as well not even bother. Different beast, where even an amateur's stab at comp has to be attempted.

Comp presents the opportunity for very dangerous and muddy waters, where often times verbal abuse is heaped upon the wrong people, and the right people aren't helped at all. Consider the impacts carefully before you go forward with it, and make sure your own personal bias and metagame experience isn't finding its way into the system.

Whatever you do, make it immensely transparent! We all have heard about one of the GT's recently that did a "secret" comp, rated people behind closed doors, and then had some of its own organizers participate in the event.

Food for thought,
- Mike

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beer of the Week (or, realistically, beer of the freaking year!)

Well, this wonderful concoction of beeriness and more beeriness is absolutely the best thing to ever grace my lips.

I recommend it over all other things, and hope you'll enjoy it orally, and otherwise.

My best beer ever award for this year goes to: Miller Lite.

Happy April,
- Mike