Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Note: this thread intentionally includes unvarnished opinion, and to prove the overarching and still-resonant "keep calm and roll dice" intent, take it with a grain of salt!

Just so people are aware, b/c I keep getting asked, NO we are probably not going to be following the big small wave of OMG MAKE MANY CHANGES that seems to be the rave right about now.

There are a couple of things in 40k that present consternation, and a couple of things only:

1) Formations, or really, the Tau formation. The only reason this presents a problem is there will be / are people already hovering over the order button to build 19 interceptor missile broadside armies supported by tons of scoring kroot and riptides, merrily ready to roll a million dice at you and clear you off the table. These should probably be looked at to avoid the ridiculosity of it. That doesn't mean they should be removed or banned or anything conclusive at present. Just ... looked at.

2) The newest supplements to standard 40k (To go alongside existing supplements to standard 40k like Forgeworld, Planetstrike, Cities of Death and Apocalypse). Just b/c a few blogs with their own agendas reported them with a massive spin of THIS IS MEANT TO BE PLAYED BY ALL PEOPLE WHETHER YOU WANT TO OR NOT IN EVERY 40K GAME ... doesn't make them any different than any other supplement to the core rulebook + codices. They're official, they're supplements, that's that. Whether to allow them or not is at the discretion of any given player and any given tournament.

In terms of expectation setting, while it won't be our guiding line, adding Escalation and then immediately banning a portion of it seems about as bass-ackwards as one can imagine (I'm talking about the people going ... well it's OK but ban D weapons!). If the supplement is an untested copy paste bunch of BS ... why are you using it at all? Further, if you're banning D weapons, all you're doing is adding something to the game where more casual gamers will take their awesome expensive models and be yet again disappointed that they aren't any good. If you ARE going to legalize it, legalize it all the way. You might as well legalize FW but ban individual units, as legalize any other supplement then ban certain parts of it. Cherrypicking it into the game is asking to upset everyone - purists will be angry at the internal comp to the legalization, people who realize it's an untested piece of crap cash grab will be upset you're legalizing it at all, people who want to use their fun D-weapon Thunderhawks and Revenants will be upset at you, casual gamers will be upset when they realize their expensive toys aren't any good, etc. etc. etc. Or you just say "hey we don't use that supplement in some of our events" and magically you've got a simple resolution. Alternately, say "hey we do use that supplement in some of our events" and there you go, also simple.

Voidshield Assault is similarly problematic, maybe in part b/c it's just inviting power gamers to ... well ... power game even more. The more untested potentially powerful variables you add to the game, the wider the gap becomes between those who are willing to invest the time and money into it and those who aren't. This worsens experiences. Since it is written explicitly as a SUPPLEMENT to the game and not as a formal modification to the extant rules ... why legalize it at all? Are people really going to miss getting to scratchbuild models for which there isn't even a designed template yet? I don't get it.

3) Fast moving kill-all units with 2+ saves that can be re-rolled. If Shadows in the Warp hasn't changed (TBD, but actually seems it might not have been) and Tyranid are powerful/popular (some rumors seem to indicate they might be!) ... you don't need to do anything about this. Even the closest major event, Las Vegas Open, will have the Tyranid rules legal for it ... which means no major event needs to make a rash judgment on 2+ re-rolls right now. We can just all acknowledge unkillable super fast units that can kill anything are really annoying for most players to deal with, and generally aren't very engaging.

To the person out there thinking "oh come on there are like 5 hard counters to each of those!" Stop it. We don't design tournaments for you. We design them for the 200 people who DON'T spend hours problem solving every possible combination. This is also why you want to keep it simple for those players, and not add even more crazy combinations to the game IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO. If GW releases a new Codex, you kinda have to add it to your tournament. If GW releases a supplement that tells you how to play with apoc units in a regular game if you want to ... you actually DON'T have to add it to your tournament. You're free to, even encouraged to if it suits you and your attendees, but you don't HAVE to. You'll also find with a little critical thinking ... doing so might actually hurt more people (especially laid back gamers) than it enriches.

Also, just b/c a lot of people take Trick Commanders doesn't mean you should ban them or try to nullify where they can be taken. The same can be said of Riptides and other things. These are powerful models in the game of 40k and are themselves fairly killable. This jives with the game as it's been for A VERY LONG TIME. 35/36 save odds and hit and run and 48"/turn movement is NOT precedented at any time since Rogue Trader. Really mean shooty units that lots of people can and will take ... ARE precedented. Deal for a bit on those, please.

So do I have a firm opinion on these? No. Do I have an opinion on these? Yes. Will I be making any kneejerk rulings? OF COURSE NOT. Will I be making any rulings on my own as a random guy? Nopers! I'm looking forward to a telecon with a ton of TOs in January, and to keeping an eye on the evolving situation while LOL'ing at the wig-outs. But since I keep getting asked today "ARE YOU GOING TO FOLLOW SUIT AND START BANNING TONS OF THINGS AND TWEAKING THE RULES AND ADDING 0-1'S AND STUFF?" NO, probably not. We might do some things, but we want to do them in unison with a broader range of events (hey, wouldn't it be cool if like a half dozen or a dozen major GT's all had the same ban/legal list instead of every event doing it differently?), and we want to do them under the lens of critical thinking, group-think that isn't just internal-to-the-GT-yes-men, and with a little more patience than THE INITIAL REPORTERS SAID THEY HAD TO BE USED IN STANDARD 40K SO I GUESS WE HAVE TO???

Additionally, we'll be sending out a very carefully-crafted survey to our 1500+ newsletter distro in January, and we'll be running all of our initial ideas (even if they are "no changes at all!") by same attendees once decided upon, so that we're making decisions in a way that isn't just "some smart people brainstorming" but is also reflective of what our paying players actually want.

Yes, I totally abused my caps lock in the creation of this post.

Long story short btw - if you folks with tournaments right around the corner losing your minds just say: "No Escalation, Voidshield Assault, Formations" + "TBD on 2+ re-rolls" you'll save yourselves a lot of headache. Jumping from "omg these just came out what do we do?!" to "FULL ON COMP AND BANS EVERYWHERE" is probably needless. This isn't even because it isn't necessary, who knows but that it is, but when you do it so aggressively and everywhere ... it SMACKS of reckless abandon instead of reasoned TO'ship, and that's a disservice both to the PR of your event and consideration for your attendees.


  1. Sadly some TO's are already in full freakout mode. I mean, really, they should at least give it a few weeks so you can have time to actually playtest the new material, before declaring this and that are banned (*cough* feast *cough*).

    Taking time to absorb the changes is just about the only well-reasoned approach out there, and is sadly in the minority.

    1. I'm not sure feast or lvo fit the bill here. They both have major constituencies affected right around the corner.

  2. Are you guys (TOs) reaching out to the ETC crew to get their take on the new developments?

  3. I'm not totally sold on the idea that Tyranids will be the answer to jetseers if they keep SitW. First Jetseer lists have plenty of firepower with plently of points for wave serpents, wraith cannons and the like to remove synapse creatures. If the rumors are true and they have lose Myectic Spores then their ability to deliver cheap expendable synapse to the Eldar will be limited.

    Even if it does turn out that they are a strong counter you are depending on a single, not very often played army to counter the strongest army in the meta. RPS balancing still leaves plenty of average players out there to get clubbed in tournaments by invincible units.

    I think adjusting the 2++RR in small, sensible ways is something that should be tested out now.

    1. I think we're all testing different small, sensible modifications. Don't fret that much.

      The point is more that Tyranid right now aren't a popular or broadly-played Codex. Nothing says they won't be, however, based upon the way the new Codex works.

      For other codices that CAN hard counter Jet/Screamerstar, you need to bring esoteric build components that are not broadly applicable to a TAC list (i.e., SW aren't all that hot except the Rune Priest as a counter ... you could spam Mindstrikes but now you have 615+ points in relatively average TAC Stormravens ... etc.). For Tyranid if SitW remains as it is or improves, the army has it almost no matter what build you take ... thus, ANY TAC Nid build (which will be many if they are well-designed/popular) will by default hard counter Jet/Screamerstar.

      Thus, taking the list will be as "safe" as taking a list presently that's totally pantsed by Riptides or Wave Serpents; namely, most players won't risk doing it, b/c you don't want to take a list that a large % of possible opponents might have (large being 20% ish or higher).

      So it's not quite as simple as "well what about everybody else?" If players cannot bring deathstars with confidence for fear of ultra counters, the deathstars aren't as good. That's why Draigowing was never a truly broken army (For example), b/c while it dealt with a fair bit of the game in ez-button fashion, there were also numerous missions and matches where it fell totally apart. Thus, while very frustrating for SOME players to face, it was never truly broken at all.

      Not so for Jet/Screamerstar now (if you believe 2+ re-rollable superfast units that are hard to kill and can go anywhere and can kill anything in the game are broken, ofc).

    2. I agree, I want to see more TAC lists come to the fore but its the deathstar which is keeping us from seeing more TAC lists. Part of the reason I don't think tyranids will be the solution to the deathstar meta anytime soon (unless their codex is OP, which is a problem in itself) is that their power level has been helter skelter from the very beginning. Bio-Titans, Nidzilla, Spore assault, etc...

      The difference between Nids and Tau/Eldar is that they already had significantly large player bases that were waiting for new codices. Daemons rose quickly because FMC lists were really easy to collect and paint. Unless Nidzilla returns it will take a good amount of time for people to collect and test really good tournament armies.

      I hope their good, but I don't see 2++ going away anytime soon.

  4. I wish there was an easy way to allow the "optional" building rules from stronghold assault without adding tons of new units. They seem to me pretty clearly the rules that Fortifications should have had in the first place. (they're much clearer, anyway). No, I don't know why units should be able to assault out of buildings (so essentially, they all have assault ramps) but it doesn't seem like a problem, either.

    1. A tourney could FAQ in all the rules clarifications without allowing units from the book

    2. They could, but then it gets less simple.

    3. I do agree with the buildings for stronghold assault. They are really good for the game in my humble opinion. I am allowing the buildings minus any void shields or d weapons in my RTT coming up in February. People are pretty excited about it.