Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NOVA 40k GT Missions 2011 - Evolution or Revolution?

So, the question is begged:

Extensive change or simple improvement?

My current plan at the moment is to simply improve our goals for the 2011 GT.  Currently, I'm planning on the following goals "for sure"

1) Fixed 5 Objectives (same as 2010)
  • This slightly favors MSU or high quantity scoring unit armies, just as the natural book mission does.  Fixing the objectives in place prevents too many advantages for whoever places 3 instead of 2, and places first.  You could "remove" the center objective, but I think that punishes slower armies too much; you need to fix the # of objectives b/c you need the mission to be uniform across tables.
2) Quarters (same as 2010)
  • This slightly favors deathstar or higher value unit armies, and is slightly unfavorable to MSU ... the difference is marginal, but real; you play this mission best if you can live and breathe at midfield; despite the casual observer's opinion, analysis and playtest shows it plays DRAMATICALLY different from Fixed 5 Objectives, primarily because you want to be able to shuffle units to any quarter, and combat at the center of the board ... whereas in Fixed 5, you need scoring units in the center of each quarter to capture any of the objectives, AND the center

3) Some Version of Kill Points - Currently planning "Win By 3"
  • Win by 4 was a little bit TOO easy to draw, win by 2 was too similar to base, which is too difficult to actually plan and execute a tie on to fit into the mission approach of the NOVA Format -- an approach that focuses on tieable missions to enable unfavorable match-ups on primary to be force tied for a better win on 2ndary or 3rd.  This has been explained in other articles here in more depth.  Nominate 5 KP is not a mission we will do - in addition to being relatively panned at the BFS by a number of attendees, it's entirely too easy to game as a "game" of its own, outside of 40k ... and it is too favorable to MSU; which is exactly what the lovers of KP don't want to happen as a result of tampering with or removing the KP mission.  % KP is another option, though - but that in and of itself may favor MSU as well; hard to say.  Worth discussion and input here.
Final tiebreaker would be simple VP.

So that's where I'm at right now with development.  The question then becomes - what would you add, what would you do differently, and should there be more than 3 rotating goals?  IF so, what should the other goals be?  It's important to remember - the goal must be both tie-able, and not a major favor to any style or codex of army.

I.E. if you had a mission that involved having a unit at the very edge corner of each corner of the game board, that would far too strongly favor armies that can easily do that, like DE/Eldar/Etc.  Thought process and critical analysis please!


  1. I'll be interested to see how 5 KP works at Centurion but % KP has merit if some ideas could be fleshed out on that. Otherwise 3 KP margin seems best in that regard and agree in both regards with 5 Ob and TQ. I too have found my trial games for Centurion very different when TQ are the primary compared to 5 Ob.

    Are you doing just the DoW/Pitched/Speardhead setups?

  2. I've been pondering KP variation missions as well.

    I really like doing 4+1 KP games (you pick 4kp's, and your opponent picks 1), or even 3+2 works pretty decently (and appeases the brick players more)
    changing KP's still garners much bile from Brick players.

    straight KP's tilts the balance way too strongly in Brick army favor...

    %KP's is starting to become a preference for me. It seems pretty fair, and not as horribly unbalancing as either 5KP or Straight KP's are.

    Of course, it seems the Brick players still gripe about it, since it takes away their HUGE advantage.

    I'll let you know what we find out. We've got a tourney in Feb. I think I'll try to get the Hive Fleet Indy guys to try %KP's out.

  3. As long as you guys recognize that max KP score enhances MSU, especially when there are picks ... b/c you can just reserve it out, or hide it out, etc., more easily the more spammy your army is.

    It's also .... a bad / unfun mission. Playing it in a tournament, there was a lot of negative commentary from randoms at the BFS, including a lot of known competitors.

  4. Kirby - we will be using standard deployments, yeah. I haven't seen any good homebrew deployment styles ... cutting the field in half was badness, for example.

    Farmpunk - % is ... OK, my concern is it further encourages MSU ... the more units you have, the less % you get per kill, whereas the Deathstars give you much higher %'s per kill ... might as well just do VP, since the gain is proportional to what you kill, and "hard mathz" is still required.

    The problem with simple KP, and KP in general, is that it creates a different game at every single table, entirely dependent on the KP differential between opponents. It's a tricky situation all around, and a failing in mission design by GW, but it's important to a lot of players, b/c it is seen as a component of the game.

    By design or not, it also slightly favors non-MSU (though MSU can also crush bad low-KP armies in KP missions by fire diffusion) ... and that's wherein lies the rub.

    When you don't include it, you lose attention and get a lot of drama. So, the trick is finding a way to implement it that doesn't change its fundamental impacts on the game's balance, but also doesn't render it the crappy tournament mission that it is in base form.

  5. I think win by 3 is fine. I was a big pusher for KP's to be included last year and it was something I put into my critique I sent you after the event and I think winning by 3 will satisfy all sides. It's tieable by MSU against low-count armies which is what matters and doesn't favor MSU more than 5th edition does in general.

    I'm for it. Oh, and I'd say 4 rotating goals (as you have 4 games a day) with one being VP's by 250 like last year. Just my thoughts.

  6. This may be difficult to keep track of, but what about an 5-objective game scored by the round? 1 point per round per uncontested objective. Midfield fighting would be much fiercer.

    Another off-the-top-of-my-head suggestion. Kill points, except transports do not count as KPs. My thought is that most armies with an obscene amount of KPs, that number would likely be cut in half not counting the transports, bringing it in theory closer to other armies' numbers. I foresee quick dismissals with that suggestion...

    I like 5 fixed objectives. Some may complain because it removes a "competitive advantage", but there is no fairer method of which I can conceive. Straight up victory points is fair as well.

    I think at BFS, they had that strange diagonal table deployment, and I don't recall that being well received. Even with my relative inexperience, the 5 kill point variation didn't pass the smell test either.

  7. I'll second Hulksmash's points. Win by 3 KP and 4 types of rotating objectives with VPs win by 250pts being the 4th sounds good to me. Also I think you are over stating the KP results at BFS as I was there too and heard no complaints about it from anyone, but that is just what I remember from the event.

  8. It always depends on who you talk to. The problem is that it does the OPPOSITE of what natural KP accomplishes, and encourages even more MSU ...

    While that's not a problem in a lot of peoples' books, the main proponents of KP aren't assuaged at all, and you're further from the book mission, whereas win-by-X is just base KP, with a margin.

    I actually asked people about it, Jay - and those I did, didn't really like it; but I didn't ask every attendee, by any means, which is an important caveat.

  9. I played in a tournament with an interesting form of Kill Point accumulation.

    Essentially, the number of Kill Points that were awarded were dependent upon the number of points the unit was worth. It also scaled up as the points increased.

    1-100 equaled 1 Kill Point
    101-200 equaled 2 Kill Points.
    and the scale continues, but with an end at awarding 5 kill points for a unit.

    I thought that it was a balanced way of awarding kill points per the points of the model.

    Just a thought anyway. :D

  10. That's far too easy to manipulate in game.

    Many many armies can run min max sized squads for 100 points or less.

  11. Thought about but have not tested the idea of using a scaled differential for winning by KP. eg 1:1 difference in KPs, win by 2. 2:1 difference win by 3. Or something like that. Sorta like how you have to win by 10% of VPs, but make it applicable to the actual KPs involved in the game. Basically an attempt to allieviate the matchup issue with disperate KPs without removing the mechanic itself.

    Not sure exactly how to do it but seemed like a worthwhile idea.

  12. I can confirm that 2-3KP difference would be the likely balance of what you want to achieve.

    Looking at the stats I have, 2KP gap generate approx 20% of draws while 3KP gap is nearing 40%. I am not sure how high the %draw is enough.

    " by 2 was too similar to base"
    What is the problem with it being too similar to base? If it achieve your goal, you would have used the base mission. Similar to 5 Objectives (which is a minor tweak), 2KP gap might be all you need to get the right balance?

    Unfortunately, I have not found a 4th mission that is balance.

  13. I like the win by 3 KP idea, as Mike is right that it is not a mission that can be gamed (like the pick 5 KP can be for MSU armies). I am not the biggest fan of Fixed objectives, I always liked 5 objectives, one fixed in the center of the table, then each player places 2 objectives, it allows for a little more strategy by the players, and allows non-msu armies to mitigate the advantage of the objective mission.

  14. Mike,

    I think it needs to be play tested, but on it's face I like the idea of a +3KP margin game. I enjoyed last years straight VP wins, but I think +3KPs will accomplish your goals, with out gaming the system.

    5 Fixed Objectives, dig it. I've never been a fan of objective placement as an actual strategy.

    TBL Quarters - solid.

    Now, the concept of a 4th "goal" in the rotation is appealing, but I think you need straight VPs as your overall tie breaker. If you use the 4th goal of +250 VPs, than you have 4 "goals" that all have the ability for a tie. What would be your overall tie breaker than?

    I feel that you can only rotate 4 "goals" if you have a solid/fair overall tiebreaker in place. I'm not sure what that could be though.

  15. Straight VPs could still be the Tie Breaker (as they are unlikely to tie).

  16. @breng77 - In a 3 goal system, yes, I agree. But in a 4 goal system you are somewhat negating the point of winning by 250 VPs, if you than have a tie breaker that says most VPs wins.

  17. Here's the trouble with a 3 point margin, it can exacerbate some of the problems with KP.

    Say you are facing a 7 kill point army with something mechish. Within a few turns they wreck 4 of your cheap transports (about 140-250 points worth of stuff)
    At this point the best you can hope for is a tie, and if they kill one more unit they win.

    Not cool. While this is not an easy problem to solve, this margin solution can result in a very imbalanced game. Also, I thought the NOVA system has no ties.

    I am in favor of combining multiple objectives within the same mission, you can make objectives worth 3 KP each for example.

  18. Mike i need to put out a correction here regarding the BFS tournament and the 5kp mission. We handed out questionairs regarding the tournament and the one main question was the 5kp mission.I think there is a misconception that the mission was panned by many of the Competitive players. This simply is incorrect. The responses to the question regarding that mission were generally positive. Yes there were a few negative comments but as i sit here looking at even those negative comments they were followed up by further comments saying in very similar manner that they couldnt think of a better way to run a KP scenario.
    I read your blog all of the time and i know your not a huge fan of the mission and think it favors MSU armies. I can appreciate that and im all for making the mission even better. However i feel the need to correct anyone claiming that the 5kp mission was widly disliked.

  19. That speaks louder than my impression, Ed - and I'm glad you shared it!

    I'll make sure not to stick with that "line" from my lips.

    Gerbil - more on that, but I'm AFK for the rest of the evening.

  20. btw i attended a tournament a month ago that actually combined the 5kp and +250 vp mission. I was impressed how well it worked out. possibly a consideration.

  21. @Gramps, with the nova system you don't really negate that at all IMO, in the NOVA format you are still rewarded for winning on a higher level goal before the straight KP tie breaker.

  22. I just wanted to drop in and second you Mike.

    Kill Points is the balancing influence installed by GW to limit runaway MSU armies. It is a required element of 5th edition.

    Caving in to MSU fans by way of 5KP systems or similar is a mistake.

    MSU armies have many pros, all of which have been talked about in RLCs and in Blogs and Forums. KP missions are there to present a "con" as it were and encourage balance.

    No surprise then when MSU players refuse to play the KP mission. They see it as unfair and poorly written because it doesn't favour their army list building style.

    Personally I'd push for a KP mission that actually makes people consider their MSU list. Everyone else has to balance their lists.

    I'll vote for +3KP but wanted you to know that my opinion falls on the lower side since the MSU crowd are far more internet vocal than the rest these days.

  23. Well said GDMNW, although your handle could use some work ;)

    Acheiving a balance between objectives and KPs is important to reflect 5th edition win conditions. If one simply got rid of KPs what is to stop some other TO from getting rid of objectives, with a consequent increase in minimum troop / low KP armies?

  24. I generally agree, though I'm not sure KP should be force fed as the only way, especially base KP.

    Tournaments are not basic 40k, no matter which way you slice it, and neither are Campaigns (for example). When you run one, considering the purpose and acting in a way that best addresses it is very, very important.

    That said, the further you steer from KP toward another mission that you BELIEVE accomplishes the same goal (countering and maintaining a balance between MSU/deathstar/etc), you'd better be able to effectively transmit that feeling, defend it, and more importantly - PROVE it.

    Therein lies the rub, I think; I could use stats and commentary to "prove" that our base Quarters mission accomplishes a very similar "goal" to KP balance-wise without being as difficult to manage and integrate for a tournament ... but I don't know if I could prove it to the satisfaction of the people who are put off by the absence of KP ... and getting a bunch of yes-man nods from those who don't like KP anyway is not exactly an effective proof of concept.

  25. I agree with the majority of posters here, you gotta have Kill Points, and a +3 win condition seems like the best way to secure a solid win result.

    I am glad see Kill Points added into the format, it brings a highly identified game balance mechanic and saves you from unneeded criticism. I think it will be very fascinating to see the spread and types of armies compared to last year.

    As far as objectives, I would argue that objective placement is another strategy of the game. I became a fan a fixed center object, as it becomes even for both players in a 5 objective placement. Essentially with the limitations of 12" from each objcetive, and 12" from each table edge, and you limit where the players can put it down anyways.

    With fixed objectives, I also became a fan of a simple D6" scatter before deployment. The problem with fixed objectives (like center of table, center of table quarter, etc.) is that a good player will use the placement as a range finder. A simple scatter messes with the placement enough to prevent that, but doesn't mess with the objective placement enough to give a perceived advantage to any player.

    Just my .02

  26. I don't have a problem with quarters or other variant missions, but I still don't see how a mech army has much of a chance in a +3 KP game against a low KP army.

  27. Let me offer a "worst case" scenario for Mahu: The center objective scatters almost directly towards one of the players... snce they know how many inches it moved, they can still use it as a range finder and someone just got a small to large advantage depending on the D6 roll.

  28. I agree that KPs should stay in in some form, though obviously an optimally balanced way of doing it eludes me as well. +3 sounds good to me, that's not exactly an exorbitant amount. The kill point difference may not even wind up mattering in some situations. Like 'Ard Boyz last year, when I got to that one mission where certain units were worth more points, I had something like 31 KPs total, whereas my opponent only had like 14, and I tabled him anyway, despite everyone else in the store insisting I was screwed. :P

    Actually, one thing does come to mind. My store in Florida (when I lived there) used something called "Kill Point Percentage" for some of the missions in RTTs, which was basically enemy units killed divided by total enemy units, multiplied by 100, and a rate 10% higher than your opponent netted you a win (with higher ratios getting better wins along the massacre/major/minor/etc. system). I suppose in a sense it's highly similar to VPs, but obviously with somewhat different mechanics. Figured I'd mention it.

    As for the other win conditions, I liked 'em all. I do like the idea of a D6" scatter on objectives (or allowing each player to place two with the usual restrictions), it allows for at least some degree of variety between games in that regard. Though I guess if you want to make everything as level as possible, make it just a pure matter of skill and all that, leaving them in place would be the way to go.