Monday, January 31, 2011

Invitational Points Size - Discussion Topic - 1500? 2000? 1850? 1750?

So, here's what's going on ... I received an e-mail from one of the invitational attendees, and allow me to share it in shortform:

Hi, Mike.

Just noticed from an earlier mail from you that you have not yet gone firm on the points for the invitational. I'd like to put forward the case for using 1,500 pts, a' la the UK GT circuit. I'll keep it simple since this is a subjective matter and just about every point has a very valid counterpoint to it.

In a nutshell I think there are 2 main reasons for using 1,500. The first is logistical and the second is psychological/tactical.

1. Logistics wise its going to be easier to finish 1,500 point games within the time duration even if someone does try the slow setup / slow play routine...

2. Psych/tactics wise is that the game is different at 1,500 than 1,750 and 1,850 because 1,500 points makes players make sacrifices about their army selection. Guard is a great case in point - at the lower level people just can't have everything they want and have to decide if the manticores are worth more than the vendettas or hydras or if the psykers are worth more than taking Al-rahem... 1,500 will also get people out of their comfort level a little which I think makes for a challenging event.

In case you think I'm pitching 1,500 because thats what I play at I've not played at this level since 2009 and all the events I play here are 1,750 and up :)

Anyway, my two cents...

So, here are some "counterpoints" in broad reply (I don't have too strong a feeling on this yet)

1) 2,000 points is too large one way or another, I think; not everyone is qualifying at that level, and frankly that's pushing it for 5 games in one day

2) Less than 1,500 and higher than 2,000 are both impossible levels, and outside of the recommendations for a balanced game from the Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook.  It actually suggests 1500 or 2000, but contextually, you can presume they mean "anywhere between those ranges."

3) 1,850 is my most firm thought at present; it gives you flexibility, room, but is a tad smaller and more restrictive than 2,000, plus it's at about the sweet spot medium between the various qual events, that range in size from 1750-2000.

4) 1,750 and 1,500 are pretty "small" in terms of army build flexibility; certain lists certainly come "more" into their own at these various ranges, though I think the codices themselves all remain fairly competitive (or, at least, in about the same spot on the curve)

Popular opinion is less important to me here than cogent, meaningful, constructive commentary ... also, negativity?  Well, hopefully by now it's known how I feel about THAT.

Keep it constructive, and comment away; remember, the Invitational will be an extremely competitive field by nature, and the Renaissance Man and Tournament Champion each take home $1,000 cash.

 - Mike


  1. I agree with your point 3 but more so at the 1750 pt level. What your saying refers to 1750pts, but doesnt push it over the edge.

  2. At the risk of sounding like too much of a pragmatist and too little of an idealist one of the most important things you can facilitate in a 40k tournament is letting the players play their games in a timely fashion. That is absolutely vital for competitive play.

    If for no other reason than that, you should be considering running the games at a point level that time frame allows. If you are indeed cramming 5 rounds into a single day I think 1500 is basically mandated for practical purposes if nothing else.

    Sounds boring I realize, but that's the most important thing. The last thing you want is to put your players through 14 hours of continuous 40k where horde armies are screwed out of anything past turn 4. Not a great result. If you can solve that and play a higher point total more power to you. But I have not been able to do so yet.

  3. As a general proposition, I don't have any preferences for any point level between 1500 and 2000, inclusive. There are good and bad things about each point level in the range, and they are all more or less a wash so far as I can see.

    For the Invitational, here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

    Time is important. If we can't do five games of 2000 points (or 1850, or whatever), that's probably more important than any other consideration. Time issues are, by far, the biggest problems I've had at tournaments, and while they've always been caused by individual players, setting up the tournament in a way that encourages them isn't a good thing. That said, I'm not convinced that we can't do five games of 2000 points. These aren't 24 random guys showing up at an event. I've never had time issues at the top tables in a tournament (with one exception, but that's because Nick and I were idiots and had to replay the first turn), and these are all 'top-table' games. I think we could do it.

    I've heard this being billed as the 'real' ToS Championship tournament. Not something I expect you to say publicly, but that one is 1500.

    Having the invitational be anything but 2000 makes it quite likely that those attending the invitational and the open need to bring two armies. For those traveling long distances, that may be an imposition.

    Last, and most important, since I'm an idiot, I had just assumed it would be 2000 points. Apparently, you said otherwise in an email, but those are long. Anyhow, the point is that I've spent the last month buying/converting figures for a 2000 point army that wouldn't really be very effective at lower point levels. So you've pretty much gotta go with 2000.

  4. I have to say I heartily disagree with the idea that 1,500 lists are better because they make choices harder. In my experience at 1,500 is it makes it far more match-up oriented than higher point values. 1,500 generally means there is a gaping hole in your take all comer style list. 1,500pt lists look extremely similar when you look at them. Down to the very minimalist of changes.

    Personally I prefer 2k but that’s because I feel that is where every codex (barring Necrons) competes best. I can understand people’s complaints that you don’t have hard decisions to make at this point value but I disagree. This is where you have the scope to truly stamp your playstyle on the list instead of playing exactly what you have to to compete (like at 1,500).

    I played for years at 1750-1850 and both are fine point values. Personally I’d rather the event come down to skill and not codex or luck of draw so I prefer 2k (try making a solid all comer 1750 Nid list) but I think most people could get by at 1750-1850. You won’t see any Nids at this point value more than likely but that happens.

    So recap: 1500=God No Please, 1750-1850=Workable but probably vote for 1750 personally, 2k=Best point value in 5th edtion.

    **Disclaimer** All of the above is my personal opinion. It’s not gospel and I don’t think it is. Just based on personal experience playing at all the above listed point values with almost every codex.

  5. I personally prefer 2000 for games- against experienced players, games should be getting done that quick anyways. 1850 and 1750 would be my next pick, because it gives you more flexibility in your list (as others have said before).

    1500 is a little bit tiny though- I'd posit that most of the competitors won't have much experience at 1500 *at all*. I've personally never been to an event that was 1500 before. I've never even heard of any in my area.

    Playing at 1500 would handicap people too greatly, if you ask me. People are supposed to be playing lists they're comfortable with, that they qualified for this thing with. The game is different enough at 1500 vs. 2000 that nobody would be playing at their 'comfortable' points level. It would kind of be a newb fest heh.

  6. My arguements for 1500 are simply that time will be a factor, and 1500 is the easiest to play out and probably the least mentally taxing.

    That said I played in a 1500 point tournament last year with my demons, and while list building was much tougher choice wise. You don't get to have those "fun" units like Al Raheim or PBS, or space wolf scouts, or whatever. This makes games in general much more straight forward, and far less tactically based. Playing in the tournamnet, I could have told you the out come of every game before it happened, because the games were forced into predictability by lack of options. From another practical point of view, much like Simon said, people who bring functional armies at 1500 might have something totally different at 2000, so having such conflicting point values for your events might make travelling harder.

    1750 in my opinion is 1850 but suckier, so I'll just address 1850.

    1850 gives the ability to take the necessary options to make games tactical, and make armies unique and flexible. It does somewhat limit the amount of tools one can take at the 2000 point level, and does remove a bit of spamming units. At 2k its easy for marines to run 3 preds, at 1850 you're more likly to see 2. Things like that are nice, and feel more tactical as opposed to this unit is good take 3. It's also *slightly* easier to finish an 1850 game than a 2k game in 2 hours.

    2k, obviously this has the merit of being the same point value as the open, which allows players to bring the same army to both. This shoulf NOT be overlooked, since it not only makes transportation easier, but also playtesting. From a biast (but common I'd imagine) standpoint, many friends of mine probably wont be invited to the invitational, where as I have. If we want to practice one of us does not get to use the list they are planning on bringing since the open and the invitational would be confliicting point values. 2k is also where most 5th ed books reach their peak, which has its own set of pluses and minuses. This means if the tournament is held at 2k you will see mostly 5th ed armies, where at 1500 you will see things such as orks and sisters come out more. I don't know if you want that or not, just something to consider.

    However, as pointed out, 2k is the most time restrictive. Which also is very important, as these games, really are games that deserve to be played out, given the competitive nature of the event.

    Those are just my thoughts on the point values, with hopefully no biast ipinion thrown in.

  7. I think that the quality of players you will have can handle 2k in a time limit. Failing that I would suggest 1850.

  8. My gut reaction is 1850. The extra 100 points between 1750 and 1850 seem to be where one can fit in their own style.

    Time should be less of an issue at the invitational, because presumably you've invited players who actually know how to play.

  9. As was pointed out to me on another forum, "Knowing how to play" isn't the only factor in determining quick play. Certain army types just happen to play slower than others due to high model counts. If said armies happen to face off against each other it compounds the problem when assaults start occurring.

    If you are running very tight round windows don't expect anyone to show up with Kan Wall or Tyranids.

  10. So like I said, "knowing how to play" includes knowing how to play within a time limit at a tournament. If we'll pick apart semantics, I could say "players who know how to compete". They'll play fast enough, and certainly faster than players who don't know.

  11. I think that's the biggest problem ...

    Let's take this "people know how to play lol" theory into deeper account, also.

    If I'm playing against a poor opponent that I'm much better than, I play at a ridiculously fast rate ... I don't have to be as careful with where I place my models, I don't have to be careful with all of my target priority and deployment placing and the like ... I can kinda breeze through and I'll be done in half the time required.

    BUT, what happens when you're playing someone very good, very competitive, who forces you to make every little nuanced move? What do you do when you have to carefully place every single model that moves into a combat? What do you do when every single disembarked model from a wrecked or emptying transport has to be placed flawlessly? What do you do when your opponent is doing the same thing?

    Often, important games between top players at the top tables or finals can actually take a lot LONGER because both players are having to work a lot HARDER. Well, every game at the Invitational is going to be - as Simon pointed out accurately - a top table finals style game.

    Do I think 2k is doable? Well, sure, and then some. Do I think all games will finish? Harder sell. Do I think it will be really, really tricky to do right? Even harder sell.

    That said, I think most would agree that past the pragmatic, 1500 isn't necessarily an ideal competitive points range (Hulk put it very effectively) ... and you do see a lot more similarity in army lists, and less variety or personalization (which is a big part of truly competitive play ... when someone is able to take a few more unorthodox choices that mesh well with their playstyle, as the points allow them to still take the mandatory tools for the job).

    Good, good discussion so far, by the way - I wanted to avoid random "LOL 2000" type comments, and ya'll are following the logic expertly.

  12. I'm sure this has been mentioned somewhere, but exactly how long are the rounds supposed to be? Is that number set in stone, or can they be lengthened? I know Friday is already a long day, but it might actually be less exhausting to have a slightly longer day with slightly longer rounds.

    If we're really worried about time, and I certainly understand the worry, 1500 seems the way to go. Even if it isn't your preferred point level, it is high enough to get high quality games in with, and it minimizes the impact of time.

    Something no one has mentioned is the impact of the prize support on this decision. I don't mean offense to anyone, and I quite like everyone who I know who's going, but I can see things like slow playing being more prevalent when there's a 1k prize and no sports score. In addition to asking whether everyone can finish the games in the allotted time, we should be asking if they actually will. It might be worth reducing the point level just to make it less likely that people will try to take advantage of short rounds.

  13. Good point made by Banosby. I also agree with Mike's assessment. Especially since you can NOT lose a game to win this thing, it's safe to assume that you can not make a mistake in order to win it. That will lead to very meticulous playing, and very careful attention to positioning.

    If we look at my game with Simon at mechanicon, if I either one of us had actually managed to win than that person would have won the whole tournament. That put a lot of pressure on both of us. Because of this we both played the best we could, and still managed to run out of time after turn 6, which ended it in a dead draw (and it was dawn of war, and I play demons, and 2.5 hour rounds). If it went all the way to turn 7 (which it did when we rolld for it), we might have had a winner. Who knows? The point is that, that was just a GT, this is the nova invtitational, where we can expect even higher levels of play, and less time.

  14. Yeah ... although there is a Renaissance Man in the invitational also, it's just 50/50 competitive/paint.

    The TC is still 5-0 from 32 players, 5 rounds, so there's no room to lose, and you want people to lose on skill and dice, not time or shenanigans.

  15. Btw I disagree with Hulk's assessment that 1500 is cookie cutter. You still have to make choices in those lists and often have to make tough decisions and cut good units to fit what you want. Conversely 2000 points can often be homogenized because everyone indeed can fit all the "good stuff" into every list. I'm not saying 2000 is more or less homogenized but saying that it's just straight up more diverse isn't always true.

  16. I'm not sure ...

    Without a lot of evidence to firmly base things upon, there's a couple of facts that you have to go with:

    If you are doing, say, a mechanized Imperial Guard army, it's fair to say you really require at least 2-4 units of Meltagun toting Veterans. You could do it otherwise, but these are the most utilitarian of the Troops choices you have available to you, and that's going to cost you a pretty penny of your army.

    You will take these at 1500 or 2000 ... and while at 2000 you might take more of them, even up to a full 6, that's more optional than required.

    The point here that one gets at pretty readily is that almost any army build is going to REQUIRE a certain number of tools ... it's going to require the same minimum number of troops and HQ ... and it's going to have a certain few needs to be all-comers functional ... this is especially true in a format like the NOVA (or any format) where there are no draws, and no margins of victory ... it naturally encourages more all-comers builds, b/c you don't need to gamble on match-up ... doing so is in fact a higher risk than building something that can at least barely built anybody - rocks or otherwise.

    When you take this stuff into account, Occam's Razor is easily and reliably enough applied to the outcome - you have more room in a 2,000 point list after you take your mandatory tools; if I want to build a Straken guard list, I can do it at 1500 or 2000 ... but at 1500 I'm going to be much heavier on the utilitarian units like Meltavets proportional to my army build, whereas at 2000 I'm going to have more flexibility to add Vendettas, or Ogryns, or whatever.

    It is true that having to make sacrifices is a component of 1500 point games more than 2000 point games, but the converse here is that when you don't have to make as many sacrifices, your army has more to it ... and you get more variety with more build complexity.

    This also plays into the crowd of the Invitational. While at 1500 an average guard player might drop a bunch of his meltavets and simply end up with a mech guard list that doesn't have reliable troops (speaking only hypothetically), that's not the kind of player you're seeing at the Invite ... mech guard attendees are going to have a lot of similar building blocks ... but the larger the game size gets, the greater the variety will be past the building blocks.

    Therein lies the rub ... I really do think you have a higher occurrence in this type of field of variety at higher points levels, and I think that increases the tactical depth of the game. You also tend to have more UNITS, and more units generally means more tactics ... in fact, it doesn't even generally mean it. Chess would be far less tactical if it had half the pieces on the board. More moves, more choices, more tactics.

    The problem, though, is time. More moves, more choices, more tactics, MORE TIME.

    A caveat that I think the build complexity / tactics argument is certainly X/100 parts opinion, no matter how strong your argument ... but the time one certainly isn't. Larger games take more time ... the question is what game size can be safely slated for the time allotted, and/or should or can the schedule be altered.

    That's another issue ... if the day is going to take, say, 12 hours one way or another ... should you add an hour or an hour and a half total to it and let the game play at 2k (and gain the advantages of people only having to bring one army, etc.), or is that just an absurd amount of time?

    Questions abound :)

  17. More units doesn't necessarily mean more tactics. In fact it can mean just the opposite because now mobility is often decreased and terrain often less of a factor:

    2000 does allow for "fun" units but I'm just saying that in a competitive environment those get taken when all the "good" units have already been plugged in. This means at 2000 lists from the codex start all having the same core group of units and we have homogenization. At 1500 you sometimes can't even fit that, so two 1500 lists from the same codex might be very different with totally different cores.

    For the record I like all point value options you've presented here. I think different point games make the overall game more interesting. 1500 point games play differently than 1750 which is different than 2000. This is all good.

    But to the original question regarding what point value is best for the invitational I will repeat from a TO point of view that the answer should lie in what format allows for people to actually play games of 40k. 2000 might be the best for a one off "Super Bowl" but in a tournament where you're trying to cram 5 games into a single day time becomes a factor and that should be respected above all else.

    I guess details are important regarding how much time you plan on giving for rounds. If you are saying everyone just gets 2 hours that's cutting it real close for 1850, especially horde armies (we don't want to discriminate against horde armies right?). If you are trying to fit 2000 into that round time then you're going to see a lot of games ending on turn 3. The "2000 points" might look nice on paper but is ultimately unsatisfying when players are watching games go to time on turn 3. It also makes your head judges life harder when he's trying to force dice down or make tough decisions about whether to play that last turn with only 10 minutes left.

  18. I think Kevin hit it. We aren't really discussing the best size for a competitive 40k game. We are only discussing what points size will fit reliably into the time allotted to finish. The competitive players will fill in the rest.

    As an example, 2K points worth of fantasy might be 100+ models, but they are probably almost all in 4 movement trays. The turns can go pretty quickly. At 2000 points the nids or orks could put down enough models that have to individually moved (and positioned, and checked for cover, and LOS, etc.)to basically ensure none of their games would finish in time.

    It is a good point that smaller armies will leave holes in the force org for certain situations, but that's the sort of thing a skilled player works around. For example, you may not be able to take all the anti-horde capacity you'd like, but with a 1500 point game you aren't likely to be swamped by a horde anyway, ya?

    I don't think anyone wants the NOVA to be that tournament that is remembered because no one finished a round. Personally, I am leaning towards the notion that smaller might be better, just so the players mostly have a chance at the end of their games to look around for a few minutes instead of being rushed to their next tables after a very brief break.

    It's a lot of games in this tournament, and we don't want to totally exhaust everyone.

  19. Yeah, I'm starting to lean 1500 for the Invitational.

    The Open GT will stay at 2k, but that's b/c we are stretching 4 games / day ... and last year worked at that total, with 2:15 +30 spare per round.

    5 in a day ... even if we stretch the rounds, at 2k per game the Invitees are going to be exhausted, which negatively impacts the Open itself as well - 32 of the "better" players all barely there for the big event.

  20. My vote goes for 1750, my feelings on 1500 mirror those posted by hulk and yermom. The lists tends to be a bit more rock/paper/scissor without the room to differentiate.

    I think Kevin's logic above is a tad flawed on having more similar lists at 2k than at 1500. It kind of depends on whether you think lists diverge as points go up, or converge (everyone ends at the same spot). I'd argue from my experience that lists tend to have unchanging cores, people don't take different "cores" at 1500, because the cores are core because they're the necessities, ala the mech guard example. The extra 500 points is what allows people to differentiate from one another and branch out.

    That being said, I think 2k is too large for us to do 5 games in one day without being burnt. My vote is for 1750, as it strikes me as the best "bang for you buck" points level. It keeps a good balance between getting games finished and still leaving enough options for list design, as well as limits the chances that people will need 2 different armies for the 2 events. Since the invitational is composed of GT winners from across the country, you'll likely have a fair amount of the field flying. Flying with 1 army is bad enough.

  21. 2k is my preferred point level because I think you're going to see more all-comers lists than Rock Paper Scissors matchups. One thing I know you strive for with NOVA is to make sure that matchups aren't as debilitating as they would be in other situations. With 1500 point armies, you tend to see one-dimensional lists that can be exposed by the wrong matchup, and that A. makes for less enjoyable games, and B. means you aren't getting a proper result for determining who the best player is.

    Does 2k eliminate bad matchups? Not remotely, but it will diminish them.

    As to not having enough time; I've played a hordish 2k Ork army (141 infantry, 10 vehicles) in tournaments for years; I have only ever had time called without finishing ONCE, and that was against a notorious slow-player. Its definitely possible to do large armies in short time frames, it just adds to the skill level.

  22. i think its a great idea going with 1500 for the invitational. The one thing that concerned me with guys playing the invite then the Open was they were going to get a full day of working there 2000 point lists against top opponents. This really puts them at a distinct advantage once they get in the open. 1500 point lists vs 2000 are vastly different so advantage should be less apparent. Im also wondering if the top 5 should play the Open anyway mike ? would it not be better to give them a spot in next years invite automatically and then let the open be other possible winners ? would the open more than likely contain many of the top 5 winners anyway? just a thought.


  23. I imagine that most of us will be getting quite a few games in against decent players prior to the invite anyhow. I doubt that five games in a row the day before the Open will have any impact on me other than ensuring that I'm nice and tired for the Open.

    If I came in top five in the Invite (which is next to impossible, but I could roll nothing but sixes), I'd be pretty unhappy if I was banned from playing the next day. I guess I wouldn't mind if I was excluded from prizes, but I don't want to drive nine hours to only play in one tournament when there's another one the next day. Besides, there's plenty of very talented people who'll be at the Open but not the invitational because they didn't go to the qualifiers or were unlucky or what have you. And I'd bet a fair number of invitees are best described as mediocre. It isn't like we're some august group of 40k pros or something. Just some guys who had go to a lot of GTs.

  24. I thought the Invitational was on Thursday, so there's a full day between that and the Open to rest, unless you're doing the team tournament on top of that.

    It seems to me something that might help in figuring out the right points value as far as time requirements is to do some practice games, i.e. get some experiment data. Try to get conditions close to what they'll probably be at the Invitational, use last year's missions (since this year's haven't been finalized, but will probably be similar), and see how long games at the different levels seem to take. I'd be happy to help with data collection.

  25. @ Pissclams

    I have to disagree with your idea on excluding from the open. If I win/top 5 the invitational and then get basically banned from the main event, as nice spirited as it is, Ive already taken a weekend off from the rest of my life and booked a hotel. What am I doing now? Winning shouldn't ever come off as a punishment.

    I think your post may lean towards skewing the invitational for the concept of making those competitors more "fair" versus the main field. I'd have to disagree, as that's not really the point of the open. The invitational is more like a unifying tournament for the indy GT circuit than anything else. It needs to have it's structure based upon well thought out decisions motivated by making it the most relevant play out of games towards the aforementioned goal of determining the "best" (as much as one can in a game involving dice and pairings). Not on any other outside considerations like the coming open.

    And as a side note, I'd have to argue that although the participants in the invitational may be good and warmed up and calibrated for 2k (if the invitational is 2k, which I doubt), whatever benefit they get from this will be sorely outweighed by how tired they are. I for one find GT's a bit draining by the end, and the prospect of playing 13 games in 3 days is a daunting one.

  26. i was also under the impression that the invite will be on thursday so a day of rest between the invite and open pretty much plays a big hand here. My opinion is and i still hold to it is that running the invite at 2000 points a day or 2 before the open really puts these guys at an advantage. Sure your a bit tired but i find my game play at its sharpest a day or 2 after playing in a tournament... thats at least me maybe not others.

    Now while it may be true that some of the entrants to the invite would be mediocre at best.. the cream rises to the top. Im not suggesting the whole pool of 32 players not play the open just the top 5. I feel that the very least these are 5 very good players that would more than likely find themselves in the top bracket of the open. I would think that a huge part of the open is to determine the top 40k players in a very competitive atmosphere. Doesnt having top 5 placement in the invite do that for that season ? What would be the point IMHO of rotating those very same people into the open 2 days after other than prizes.

    I agree that if those players desire to continue playing in the open after they finish top 5 in the invite, that more than likely excluding them from the open would be a bad idea. All im doing is wondering out load if it defeats the goal of the "top level" of the open.

    I still feel that in the "very least" going to 1500 points for the invite might change things up enough to prevent an edge the invite players get by putting there play and list up against what i consider some of the best players in the game.