Monday, September 24, 2012

Quarters Goal - Improvement Possibilities

Discussing permutations and changes to the NOVA Quarters Goal has been a hot topic lately.

I think there are a lot of overreactions going on based on limited data (we're working on that); most of the top table armies were NOT large foot-based armies, and most of the top players were also top players in 5th Edition (i.e., the mission didn't cause lists to trump player skill).

That said, there are some significant / meaningful arguments for tweaking things so that you can't just camp centerfield with massive hard to kill units, and shuffle a little bit to whatever quarter is required late.

Thoughts / feedback on each welcome ... do think hard about the impact of any suggested changes; would MOST like thoughts on the changes below; note these are not all the ideas being tossed about or considered ... just 3 that strike me as having merit right now:

1) My BEST thought right now for this, and most subtle, is to require units to be FULLY within a Quarter to count for it. So, if you've got 50 guardsmen in midfield, you have to get every single one of them into the Quarter that counts for them to be worth anything to it. This means that camping midfield carries substantial risks, as if you do not fully get into a quarter, or are pinned in combat, you end up worth 0. More importantly, it adds value to transported units (and so compensates for the ded trans nerf) in that they can more readily move their transportees fully into quarters of merit late in the game.

2) Another thought is the one bandied about by some people where you create a deadzone in midfield - a certain radius from the center objective is a "dead" quarter, and doesn't count.

3) Only dedicated transports and flyers don't count. You could allow non-dedicated flyers to count, but would have to do something about Stormravens and Vendettas (Vendettas most especially). The easiest permutation for Vendettas here is to simply make it so that Flyers must have hovered the game turn PRIOR to the final game turn, or revised in some capacity to properly address that.

Just boiling the thoughts out there ... input welcome.

One thing that I think needs to be accepted is that 6th Edition is not the vehicle heavy edition 5th was, if you even play rulebook missions straight-up. They still have value, but in terms of supporting your army, not being the core investment and focus of it. There's still a lot of 5th-edition-itis out there, and it'll be interesting seeing how things develop as more and more tournaments show Flyers aren't king, durable and versatile armies are, and the game is kind of miraculously and I think not quite intentionally balanced better than it has in quite some time.


  1. Just an idea as a slight permutation on the first thought. Make the center, say 12" circle around the center of the board, it's own quarter (yes, I understand it won't be traditional quarters anymore) that is worth nothing. Add that caveat to the first suggestion. Players will be less able to do a last turn shuffle into a quarter.

  2. Mike, with pre measuring encouraged in 6th edition, I like your method of having a unit fully within the quarter to score. That helps out armies that pay for mobility with transports. Otherwise they just completely hose them to foot slogging all infantry armies that don't pay for anything that doesn't score.

  3. We are going to run a 18" diameter dead zone in the middle of the board when Quarters is the primary mission at the battle for salvation GT. We felt it was a moderate adjustment to the quarters mission that worked well in testing and 2 small RTT's we ran.

    I think giving flyers the ability to score while in Hover has merit but would need to further test it.

  4. I like the dead zone concept for the center of the table, though I think a center objective is still valid.

    I am not in love with the idea of flyers being able to hold quarters-hovering or no.

    On the War side of wargaming, taking and holding ground is strictly the purview of ground forces. Air and naval forces can support ground forces by obliterating any living thing on a certain piece of ground, but only ground forces have the capability to walk, drive, slither, teleport onto a piece of terra firma and hold it against all comers. Some hardcore infantrymen will even tell you that vehicles (tanks) cannot take and hold ground, that holding ground requires soldiers to get their boots dirty.

    But that's reality, on the Game side of wargaming I think the scoring flyer concept bears some playtesting, though I envision some ridiculousness that involves zooming flyers away from valid targets to distant quarters on the penultimate turn in order to hover and claim/contest quarters. This breaks the game's intent to include flyers as a combat multiplier for ground forces, especially given the ascendance of lethal and durable units vice vehicles in 6e. Further, I think it will produce more contested quarters than claimed quarters and dilute the impact that holding quarters will have on determining a winner.

    This soldier says boots on the ground=score. Let the zoomies rack-up kill points; that's where they will have the most positive impact on the game.

  5. #3 gives benefit to Vendettas and Ravens but does not do so for Doom Scythes which cannot hover.

    #2 The Dead Zone. I feel like the Dead Zone concept or moving/changing scoring area sizes has the effect of intentionally striking at slower, foot lists (doesn't apply to faster foot lists) as a way to more balance the role of non-scoring/non-denial units, but I don't think that is the best approach to solving those issues. Most of the issue I've had in thought/discussion about Quarters doesn't revolve around needing to necessarily downgrade the effectiveness of non-vehicle armies, which are boosted by the geography of Quarters in addition to their all scoring status, but rather to curb the harsher penalties on vehicles. (2 thoughts there)

    The Dead Zone or moving the quarters idea is intended to hurt slower armies. First, not all foot armies are slow at all. Demons are the best example where the majority of their all foot forces are extremely fast either flying, jet bikes, or jump infantry. So, basically, it's leaning that slow foot armies get kind of jipped but not fast ones, and Demons do not need any help right now (not 5th ed. anymore, Demons are terrifyingly good). Second, by forcing Foot lists out of mid, you are also forcing them away from the Mid objective which is going to really hamper their ability to be effective at Objectives where their inherent "slowness" is already being accounted for in geography. Ultimately, the rulebook is favoring Infantry so I don't think that we need to really look at ways to tone them down outside of what Objectives already does even if they do benefit from geography in Quarters as a double bonus.

    The issue around how much to control vehicles actually is an issue (to me) around how much Vehicles should be downgraded in effectiveness for winning a mission to be in line with the Rulebook. This statement here --- "There's still a lot of 5th-edition-itis out there" is true, but I have found that this statement --- "show Flyers aren't king, durable and versatile armies are" is also a nod to another mindset that we know is out there and that is Flyer hate and (not evidenced there but just an extension) 5th ed. backlash in transport hate. The fine line about how much to penalize Vehicles for their effectiveness in winning a mission is largely subjective, but it definitely shouldn't be (no accusations here just making a statement) "HURR VEHICLES ARE TEH DEADZ and RULEBOOK SAYZ Playz 4th EDITION! ALL FOOT 4 TEH WIN!" or "FLYERz R brokenz" or "WE SHOULD GO BACKZ TO fithZ Edition!". None of these actually describe the reality of 6th Edition at all. Largely, transport spam has been seriously toned (nerfed very hard) down in 6th ed, but also, largely, tanks in general have become much more balanced and way, way more useful than they were in 5th, prime candidates being Leman Russ Tanks, Anni Barges, Predators, and other support style Tanks, with strong rumors of the Whirlwind making a comeback due to skyfire options. And Flyers are clearly intended to be a very effective part of the game, regardless of knee jerk cries of "brokenz", with FMCs being capable of moving extremely quickly to block objectives and all but one Flyer being a transport vehicle just to make some points.

    (cut off due to character limit)

    1. (rest of essay that I now realize I embarrasingly spent way to much time on)

      So, a lot of thought should go with Quarters because it is trying to translates "nerfs" put in place for Objectives missions into a mission for which we have no actual designer guidance (Quarters doesn't exist) and going from a mission which works on the basis of presence and not quality of presence for scoring. (e.g. A Rhino + a 5 man Squad is just as effective as a 10 man Tactical Squad at holding/contesting an objective in the current rule set but not if you are counting VPs as how they will score). What makes it a good bit more complicated is also that the Quarters mission takes the Book concept of Scoring/Denial and makes it all Scoring, but non-scoring/non-denial do not get the same kind of boost the Denial units got (we slid one thing over but not everything) with good intentions of trying to apply the same kind of negative penalties as in Objectives. But, geography in a lot of ways is applying an even further buff to Scoring/Denial type units to exacerbate that difference that was already there between these two groups.

      So, the takeaway that I think I'm trying to convey is that I don't think we should be considering a penalty to foot lists as the solution for fixing any potential concerns with the Quarters mission but rather that I prefer consideration towards either slightly boosting non-scoring/non-denial units or slightly reducing the penalties placed on them in the mission. That just seems more palpable and in line with the Rulebook, to me.

      For that reason, of the 3 options presented, I lean more towards #1 as the better potential solution because it is boosting non-scoring/non-denial's capacity to be effective in Quarters in the same idea that Denial units are also made more effective for Quarters. Though, it still seeks to create a slight disadvantage for slower foot lists which I don't particularly like, especially because it hurts them somewhat in Objectives as well (forcing them to be multiple places at once).

      Along those lines, of all the suggested ideas I've had about Quarters, I always seem to favor those that suggest either slight buffs/nerf reductions to non-scoring/non-denial rather than those which seek to reduce the effectiveness of Scoring/Denial units. I've been especially liking ideas which revolve around having non-scoring/non-denial fill the gap left by Denial units when they became Scoring units in the Quarters mission. (And even thinking about it that way now want to boost Scoring since they didn't get a boost either like Denial does).

  6. Steve valid points. In regards to the dead zone there is still an objective in play as either the secondary or tertiary so it creates some tactical thought. We left out the dead zone when quarters went to secondary and tirtiary. However its very valid to leave the dead zone as a perminant install for every mission. We tried that and it worked well. Unfortunatly we didnt test it enough to make it in the tournament.

    Flyers you make good points. In a few test games we allowed flyers to score only when hovering. What that did was prevent last turn zooms to score a quarter. or if you had them in scoring position. With random turn length a flyer could possibly be vulnerable due to being in hover and then vulnerable to getting targeted in continuing turn.

    Its not perfect but deserves a look at.


  7. What about making it so that units can't claim/contest an objective and count for quarters at the same time, you have to declare which you're doing once you move in range. The rulebook already says units can't claim multiple objectives at once and each quarter is, in a sense, an objective.

  8. I think that letting vehicles score quarters would probably improve balance here. I understand that the rulebook prevents them from contesting (or troops inside them from controlling) objectives, but as Neil said, quarters aren't in the rule book. No reason for people who happen to play vehicles to take such a beating on this mission (as I did at the NOVA).

  9. I like the idea of allowing some, if not all, vehicles to score in quarters missions better than the idea of a dead zone in the middle.

    In a mission type about controlling the board, it seems like the player who successfully controls the middle of the board ought to have the advantage.

    Controlling the middle of the board isn't a concept that's exclusive to footslogging horde armies, but it's something that players should be fighting to achieve.

    That's a bonus, actually. Rewarding control of the middle ground encourages the two armies to fight it out to control the board rather than dancing around each other snapping their fingers suggestively.

    But to be honest, I'm not sure if the mission needs changing at all. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It wasn't just one type of army that did well at NOVA, it was good players who did well at NOVA.

  10. It also doesn't help the conversation that the word "scaling" gets misused a lot. The question Buy WOW Items above uses the term the way we would, but misuse is sadly pretty common. "Our scaling is WOW Gold for Sale bad" gets used as a synonym for "My dps is lower than I want" or even just a vague "My dps needs Cheap WOW Items to be overpowered now, because of, you know, scaling."