Monday, February 22, 2010

COMPetitive Play? Part I

by SandWyrm

Before I write up my game reports from the BMG tourney, I thought that I ought to first discuss the comp system that BlueMoon was using. As it had a definate impact on my, and others, tourney results. But not in the way you might think. (more...)

When he was planning his tourney, BlueMoon's goal was not to run the most competitive tourney he could. Rather, he really wanted to hold an event that encouraged the hobby side of things. Meaning conversions and painting. He was also attempting to level the playing field somewhat, in that he wanted the games to be a test of generalship more than list-building.

Now personally, I don't think some of those goals are achievable in this type of system. But that was his intent. So let's look at his scoring system and break it down:
Maximum total points for the event: 150
Total battle points for the event: 150
Bonus points maximum: 60
Ok, so soft-scores comprised 40% of the points for the event. Although your battle points + soft scores could never exceed the maximum available battle points for each game. So if you didn't score well in the painting/composition/sportsmanship, you were handicapped. But you weren't automatically out of the running either. In theory you just had to play better than everyone else.


Now let's see how composition was scored. It was a checklist system with set points for certain things. These points were added to every game you played.
3 Points: No Unique Characters
For the five 5th-Ed codices (Orks, Marines, IG, Wolves, Nids) this meant that you would be penalized for taking any stand-alone or upgrade character that was listed as unique. For the older books, any character that had his own page after the army list entries was forbidden.

That's pretty straightforward sounding, but IG have just one non-unique character (Pask). While almost all the characters in the Ork codex would be allowed. This problem popped up at the escalation league too. So we'd seen it before.

And while it seems like a good rule to keep overpowered characters out of the game, it hurts the older codices worse than the newer ones. It also hurts the fluffier players. We had a guy show up with a Witchunters army packing 6 Penitent Engines and Inquisitor Lord Karamazov. I would hardly call that army super-competitive. But he took a big comp hit for it. What are you going to do, tell him to leave part of his cool themed army at home?
3 Points: At least 35% of your points are in troops.
2 Points: No more than 35% of your points spent in any one non-troop category.
My thinking is that just about everyone with a 4th or 5th edition codex should pass this by default. If not, you're not taking enough scoring units. The big losers here are the older codices. Necrons and Tau both have just one competitive build left right now. Those rely on minimizing their troops and maxing out Elites, Fast Attack, and Heavy Support instead.

Which sounds like a cheesy thing to do, and it was way back in 4th Edition. But this is 5th Edition, where the game itself penalizes you for not taking enough troops. Besides which, I don't hear a lot about how Necrons or Tau are sweeping all the local and national events. Let them have their best builds, I say.
1 Point  - No more than 1 of any non-troop unit choice.
1 Point - No more than 3 of the same unit choice.
And now we come to the items that really got Farmpunk's panties in a bunch. Just as they should for anyone running an older codex. Because they don't have the variety of units needed to get around this comp rule and still fulfill the 4 roles every army needs to fill.

Farmpunk did it, but only by bringing an unholy mish-mash of the Guard, Witchunters, and Daemonhunters codices. It got him a perfect comp score, but wasn't as much fun for him to play. Whereas I just swapped a few models (Leman Russ Exterminator for a Vendetta, Hellhound for a Leman Russ Eradicator) and had essentially the same force, with the same roles filled, as before. In fact, I was much more limited by the models I had painted than I was by these comp restrictions.


Painting was pretty straightforward. Again, these points were added to every game's battle point total.
3 Points: Entire army is at least based and primed.
1 Point:  Majority of army has at least 3 colors.
1 Point: Entire army has no less than 3 colors.
2 Points: Entire army is painted to above table-top standard.
I got full points here, of course. While Farmpunk (I think) only missed the last 2 points.


Sportsmanship was 3 points, judged by your opponent and added to every game.

So What Was The Result Of This?

Well, the result was that the two most competitive players there, Farmpunk and I, got the 2 highest comp totals for the event (18 and 20 points respectively) and therefore had a huge boost in every game. Coming in First and Third overall. While the fluffier players took big comp hits for taking Special Characters and doubles of cool-looking units. So instead of leveling the playing field, the comp scores added mountains to it.

Why? Because the majority of the hobbyist lists, while cool-looking, weren't balanced at all. Many had little or no long-range anti-tank, for instance. Putting them at a real disadvantage to those of us that brought tanks or monsterous creatures. It would have been better for the hobbyists if we'd come up with a system that somehow defined what a good, balanced, all-comers list would include and then gave them bonus points for failing it.

Seriously. All I had to do was get a Minor Victory with at least one bonus goal and I would get full points for the round. Which I did twice. My uncapped scores were something like 55, 50, and 60. At the end of round two there was basically no way for me to lose the tourney unless I let my opponent get a massacre on me with no bonus points gained.

The moral of this story being, there is no fair way to swing the nerf bat.

Now, I do have some ideas for how to fulfill some of BlueMoon's stated goals using different methods, but that's a subject for another article...


  1. I've got some pics and a run-down of my games I will try to get up today or tomorrow.

    I can see 2 mistakes I made that would both have gotten me 2nd.

    but with the scoring system, I wouldn't have beaten you because of your top paint score. I was getting 5 of 7 on my paint scores.

    all I gotta do is find my missing backpacks, and some missing tank tread, and add 5th colors to most of my stuff to be above tabletop.

  2. The way the scoring worked, I would still have been comfortably ahead of you, even without the extra 2 points per game.

    My un-capped per-game scores were 55, 50, and 60. So with identical paint scores I would have still had 148 points out of the possible 150. Whereas with perfect paint scores you would have been at 143.

    I think that your best chance would have been to do slightly better in game one. In which case you probably would have faced me in game 2 and had the opportunity to at least tie me. If you had drawn me and gotten that game 3 massacre to my major victory, you might have carried it. If you had beaten me in a game 2 matchup it definitely would have been yours.

  3. If I'd gone for a minor victory in the first game, I'd still have been facing my second opponent.

    In the Second Game, I should have let the Cannoness die to the Dread at the end of the game, and shot the Dread with the Celestians standing right in front of it. Then Charged it blindly if they didn't stop it.
    The SoB squad charging in on foot should have shot the two marines with Hflamer and melta only, then charged for assault.
    The Assault bike should have eaten a Exorcist shot.
    That would have left me 2 faith to use during the Close combat with 2 marines. Prob. Divine Guidance. Then the Celestians would have blown the other faith for Invuls. to tie up the Dread for good.

    that would have netted me a Major I think.
    I also should have used Shelia to kill the Emperor's Champ rather than try for higher kills on the Templars. She got 2 unsaveable wounds, which would have killed him. (and gotten me the HQ bonus points)

    my lack of sleep was showing.

    ok, 3 mistakes.
    would have netted me 20 more points.

    It still would have come down to the two of us facing off on the final table for championship though.

  4. I'd like to see the lists you ran, and batreps, I wouldn't mind publishing them either on my blog if you'll let me.


  5. We'll get those up on here and over to you, but we wanted to cover the comp aspect of the tourney first.

  6. Ya, I had noticed after you were capping out in points per game, that you had a pretty good chance of coming in top three easily.
    Once you guys get the battle reps up, I'll probably link them to my Reports of the games as well if you do'nt mind.


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