Monday, August 10, 2009

'Ard Boyz Semi-Finals Report: Part I

I'll just come out and say it: It was a crappy tournament. Most of the credit for the smelliness goes to GW for writing a set of lousy missions. But Pet Shop Comics also deserves a slap on the hand for some really outrageous terrain issues. Some of which helped me, and some of which hurt me. It really just came down to who rolled first turn.

So in the end I really can't say how well I did compared to the other players there. I won 2 of the 3 games, and I have a ranking (13 of 22). But since the missions and terrain were so random, I don't consider either the ranking or the games I won to be a valid measure of how good or bad a player I am. I might have been the best player there, or the worst. But in the end only the lucky ones moved on to the finals. And that's just not right.

Mission Fail

I liked the 'Ard Boyz scenarios for the first round. They were a nice mix-up from the usual pick-up game missions. That is, they were interesting without being overly problematic. But the second scenario for Round 2 was so bad that I actually considered not going to the Semis. Here's a quick breakdown of the 3 missions:

Game 1: "Break Their Back!"

It was annihilation with a pitched battle deployment. Except that every troop choice was worth 3 Kill Points. HQ choices were a single KP, while all the other choices were 2 KP. Dedicated Transports were 1 KP each.

Game 2: "Dying of the Light"

This was the clusterbeep. You had to place 6 numbered objectives at the start of the game. On the beginning of turns 2, 4, and 6 you had to roll a die. Whatever number you rolled would make one objective "active". Duplicates were to be re-rolled. So at the end of the game, you'd have 3 active objectives out of the original six. And wait, did I mention that the night fight rule was in effect for the ENTIRE game?

Game 3: "Crushin' It"

Spearhead deployment with a single objective in the middle. Standard 3" capture/contest rules applied. This one had a random game length whereas the other scenarios were restricted to 6 turns.

Terrain Fail

Pet Shop Comics was a really neat place. They put a lot of effort into having a lot of very interesting terrain. The problem is that the placement of that terrain was not conducive to a competitive tourney.

Have a look at these pics:

This is the first table I played on. Notice how all the cover is in the center, which is an interesting idea. But it's also significantly off-center. Which is going to give a big advantage to whoever goes first.

This table is symmetrical as hell, but it's also off-center for some reason.

This table is relatively OK. But notice the sparseness of the tables behind it. That thing that looks like a Titan BTW, is just a huge statue of some guy with a sword.

Here's a table that you could win a spearhead mission with just by going first. Note what the signs say on the wall, these guys are serious about their terrain.

And here's another unbalanced battlefield. This table, BTW, is the one I played the 3rd scenario on. But more on that later.

So here we have a collection of extremely different tables that all offer a very different play experience. Some are wide-open, with almost no terrain at all. While others are overloaded. Infantry will do well on some of these battlefields, while tanks will dominate on others. Ug!

If GW's sin was to craft a set of missions that were too random for competitive play, PSC's sin was in not attempting to provide a reasonably consistent battle environment on all it's tables.

And it's not like they didn't know it. The self-proclaimed "Terrain Nazi" at the store made a special announcement at the start of the first round that "These tables have a lot of terrain, get over it. There's no crying at 'Ard Boyz!". So I assume that someone had complained to no avail.


  1. Wow, that sounds like an epic combination of fail. I think that sign that reads "If you place your cases on my terrain, I will place my terrain on your minis... I promise" is kind of a slap in the face. Why does this guy think that his terrain is so freakin special? It looks kinda crappy, IMO. Most of the tables are made from lousy mats rolled out onto tables, with a smattering of shoddy buildings and terrain features, from what I can see.

  2. Some of those tables look like they would be a lot of fun to by a friendly game on but I can agree that with the unusual mission combined with this terrain makes the luck of the draw to important.

  3. To be fair to PSC, I should point out that all of the tables were framed plywood with the sides painted and the tops fully flocked. It only looks crappy because of the poor quality of the camera on my Crackberry. I was actually quite impressed with the details that were put into all the terrain pieces.

    The terrain mix is what's baffling to me. They had scads more terrain on unused tables and on shelves by the register. But someone *chose* to deliberately arrange it this way. (shakes head)

  4. Wow.

    That terrain placement is special. Seriously, it should be pretty even. You've done terrain wrong when someone realizes that by winning the roll to go first and pick their deployment that they've got a huge advantage.

    I don't know what the terrain guys were thinking, but that's crap.

    Similarly, mission two is a joke. Six objectives, and it's RANDOM as to which will be active? Seriously? I hope to god you're mechanized with swift transports.

    Mission one is a punch in the balls for those playing 5th-consciously; did you bring lots of troops? SWEET. Now suicide the rest of your army killing his troops.

    In general, you've failed at mission design when your design automatically gimps stuff like that. I mean, I like the objectives with their emphasis on troops, and that mechanic. Play with different deployment, different objectives, and interesting (but not imbalanced) 2nd/3rd objectives.

    Get away from KP. Just do it. I'll never understand how a dead Rhino = a dead Land Raider = dead Deathwing Squad = dead Bloodthirster = a dead Fire Warrior Team.

  5. that terrain where the warning message is worth about a 500 dollars.

    That is a GW flocked terrain board plus the really big city kit + more craters. In fact that setup there is straight out of a white dwarf.

    To be fair I would have even better warning signs posted.


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