Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let's make a mission

by: farmpunk

We've been discussing powergaming and WAAC a lot recently, and with some good, civil discussion. There's been talk lately about resurrecting an Indy 40K tournament league, and whether Battle Points or W/L is a superior method. This all plays into something I've been ruminating for a while: Making Missions for tournaments.

  I strongly prefer Win/Lose with Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary objectives, and Victory Points as a tie breaker.

  Why this format? I think triple objectives separates the levels of players quickly. It really doesn't take too long to figure out if you'll end up playing to tie the first objective, to win on second objective, or even the third. Also, if you get a vet playing a relative green player, once the vet knows he's won the primary, he doesn't need to grind the greenhorn's bones into dust to make his bread. If the Game's soundly won, getting in the last turn isn't as critical. Milking your opponent for every possible point doesn't matter. The game can shift from being a competition, to being a more friendly game.

  Whereas in Battle Points, it's about beating people as badly, and soundly as possible. In the end of a BP tourney, it's not uncommon for the top people to only be separated by a few points. Hence, to truly compete at that level, most people will bleed the greenhorn dry, then beat the corpse to get every drop of point out of the game. I've done it. In retrospect, it's not so much fun for me, as I leave the table feeling dirty, and unsporting. I know it's not so much fun to be bled dry either, I've been there too.

Battle Points can lead to dirty games, and dirty tricks

So to promote a 'more balanced' and friendly game, BP systems score comp and sportsmanship. Thereby adding more competition, and more bickering over a few points to enter into the system. Another level of 'game' superimposed onto the game of Warhammer40K, we showed up at a tournament to play.

It seems a little counter-intuitive to go with less points, and strip down what really decides who's the 'best' general. If you want to compete, shouldn't a tournament be about competing over everything? I don't think so.

For me, the most enjoyable tournaments have been the W/L tournaments I've been to. I applaud guys who do W/L, and separate out Painting, and Sportsmanship into separate prizes. It's really such a simple thing to do. What it ends up doing is actually removing milking people for points, which removes a LOT of minute rules arguments, and loosens the atmosphere of a tourney.

When I'm not worried about how many points I have to get, I enjoy playing a lot more.

For instance, ScottyDon't and I have run into each other head on at tourneys since I moved to Indy. At first, when we were beating heads about Points, and competing to the 9's for everything to get a higher BP score, we both had the impression that the other guy was a COMPLETE AND UTTER BAD MAN.

When we started playing at the W/L tourneys, something's different. We're both more relaxed, and can play a game to see who wins. We're not fighting over every little move, and every rule. I like playing ScottyDon't when it's just W/L. It's fun, and very challenging.

but I digress.

make them W/L. How do you do that? make missions that are tough to tie.
I've come to love a SIMPLE system of making missions.
When I come to a tourney, I don't want complex rules, and narratives to read when I 'm setting up for my next game. I don't like having to capture figures, and escort them, and figure out how the new model behaves, and where they would run, and if it takes a full turn to 'claim' them.
Keep It Simple, Stupid

I like the 5 objective mission idea. One objective in the center of the board, and one objective in the center of each table quarter. It's simple, and not hard to play objective denial with an elite army, it also plays well for troop heavy armies.

I also have come to love the 4+1 Kill point mission. With this setup, you assign 4 KP's to your army, and your opponent assigns one. Horde armies still suffer from having weak KP units, and deathstar armies still need to be mostly eliminated to give up all of their points.
  Why not straight KP's? because it severely hoses a lot of armies into non-competition. Defeating certain builds with rules, or Mission design isn't what we're trying to do. We're trying to make balanced missions everyone can play out of every codex.

Table quarters is simple, units straddling the border count as being in the quarter the majority of their unit is in. if it's equal, controller chooses. A player claims a quarter if he has more VP's in the quarter.

With 5objective, 5KP's, and table Quarters you get missions that are balanced for a wide variety of armies. Switch around the order of the 3, and there's a whole new stress to the overall mission. Yeah, this is a 5x mission style. Similar to what MVBrandt did for NOVA Open. I should nod to He who should not be named. His idea was for a 5KP mission. Spaguatyrine Changed it a little bit to be 4+1 KP's.

If you're tied with all 3 objectives? count Victory Points. At the end, VP's will show who lost more to achieve the tie. The winner will be the person with more of his army left.

This yields 6 missions. All should be fairly balanced.

Sprinkle liberally with different deployment (spearhead, pitched battle, Dawn of War), and you've opened up 18 missions for people, with little need to playtest the heck out of screwball missions.

SandWyrm, Spaguatyrine, and I have played these a few times. I've been really liking the feel for them.

simple, straightforward, yet complex missions.


  1. " I strongly prefer Win/Lose with Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary objectives, and Victory Points as a tie breaker."

    I agree, but replace Vp with battle points. I Bp can be fine tie breakers, Vp still encourages beating for points.

    also, while yes you can bleed a new guy first game, it is actually better to not win so badly, so you'll have better match ups. you come further ahead in the long run doing it that way.
    and to note, with Bp, you club a seal, then face someone else who did, and score low. W/l, you can club a seal, then easily fight another seal, who happened to also fight a seal his first game. So under W/L, you can fight two new guys, thus giving you two easy wins instead of one.

    But I agree for the most part, W/L 5x system, simple missions. I have yet to try the 4+1 Kp, but that sounds fun.

    Maybe I'm different, but since W/l is single elimination, I feel like I have to play meaner. I'm normally a friendly guy, and like to keep the game casual, but W/L I have to beat them to a pulp, cause one little unit can come back and take my win, no matter how badly I am beating them. I have to make sure they don't have a single trick up their sleeve. easiest way of that....tabling.

  2. I'll admit, I was a little overwhelmed when I first (almost) played one of those 5x5 (or 5x3, or whatever silliness you call it) missions. My sad little mind was blown by epic proportions.

    Of course, if one was the main, and the others subsidiary, then it would be easier to deal with. I should at least try it out.

    To play Devils Advocate (and resident DE whiny butt), I do have to say that having different objectives that are so vastly different tactically speaking (holding vs KPs), it really makes armies like DE cry. Obviously every army will play KP's and Objective missions differently, but with DE the difference is extremely drastic.

    So many games that I pull out a win with DE end with "If we'd been playing KP's/Objectives/Quarters...".

    Well, kids... we weren't. And I didn't play my army that way. The army has to play to a completely different strategy that I honestly don't know that I could pull both out at the same time.

    Enough of the Emo-pointies, though. I'd still be up for giving it a try sometime. Maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I envision.

    Also - as far as using BP's vs VP's as the final straw... does it really matter? Both sides seem to say that the other will cause players to want to beat face more (which is what we're trying to avoid). But if it gets to the point where you have to go to THE FOURTH SCORING LEVEL to determine a winner... either both players have put up a great fight, or both really suck. Hard.

    I have a hard time thinking it would matter much.

    All that set, get the store to run this event. I'll check it out.

  3. I prefer W/L because it give more accurate results than battle points. Pure W/L has the benefit of not penalizing players who win close games. This way clubbing baby seals and tabling your opponents is not the only way to win.

    It also means that eventually the seal clubber has to play a competent player, or at least split a prize with one. It doesn't necessarily solve the problem of sometimes having to table your opponent, but it makes it so that playing that way is not the only way to win.

    I wrote a blog post a while back showing how battlepoints formats can really screw up a tournament standing.

  4. The 4+1 was my idea by the way. We ran it in the tournament I ran a few months ago. I took his version and added the +1. I will take my applause now. :) LOL. But you are correct. The win loss missions are a lot easier to write and feel good about.

    I hate Kill point games. Why? to be honest because I play a lot of MSU-Multiple small units. I sometimes have a lot of kill points on the board. The main reason I don't like kill point games is because some people will take their 2000 point list and make 5 kill points out of it?? Really?? That is just silly, but it happens all the time.

  5. Overall I'm far more a fan of VP's over KP's. I think KP's hurt MSU style armies... but rightfully so.

    Usually (at least in the past) these builds were meant to spam the heavy/special weapon options (although this has been dealt with on a codex level of late). Still, the power of 6 scoring units vs 3 is one of note.

    I do think, however, that certain armies are easily geared toward offering such a low number of KP's that it's nearly impossible to win unless you flat out table the opponent. KP denial tactics can only go so far, at times.. especially if they get a good turn in against transports.

    VP's, overall, I always thought they were inherently balanced. If you killed 500 points, you got 500 points. You can't break the system by taking 3 KP's in your army.

    The problem of tallying it up at the end? Well, if you were able to build your list in the first place, it shouldn't be *that* hard to figure out.

  6. Complain about KPs all you want, but people are still running 10 Chimeras. Until somebody actually says "oh no, I better not buy this squad a Rhino, that's worth a KILL POINT!" then it's clear that the overwhelming advantage that Transports provide in Objective missions isn't even remotely balanced out by the disadvantage they post in KP missions.

    It's a balancing factor. Kill Points are practically the only disadvantage there is to Mech in what is otherwise an all-Mech edition. People being willing to impose that disadvantage upon themselves speaks FAR more about the strength of Transports in 5th Edition than it does about Kill Point missions--and the constant whispering that even that ONE disadvantage should be removed has always struck me as ridiculous.

  7. @dodger3
    And you play a daemon army that has very low kill points and can pop transports all day long. Yes I will admit having transports can be very good, but they can almost singlehandedly eliminate you in a tournament, they have to be looked at.

    And yes I have said to myself, WOW this is too many transports/kill points.

  8. @dodger3
    Yes, I modify my list to cut kill points too, and am sad to do it.

    Really for orks, your choices for a tournament are 1) spam transports, 2) get called names for taking multiple nob biker squads, or 3) count yourself lucky to play turn 3, because your hoard takes too long to move. Since two of the options result in an unhappy play experience for all, I opt to take the hit on kill points.

    Now that said, I love my Trukkboys, but if kill points are in the mission, they come off the table. Instead you see them doubling up into battlewagons, because I don't like giving my opponent the ability to claim one, maybe two kill points off me with one salvo from a 5-man marine squad carrying bolters.

  9. The point is that it's SUPPOSED to be a disadvantage. It's the only thing that keeps Transports even mildly in check.

    The ability to put your men in a metal Invincibility Box and drive them around 12" a turn to grab objectives in the OTHER two-thirds of games is so drastically powerful that it HAS to somehow be a disadvantage other times. Kill Points is that disadvantage.

    Trukks don't really fit in the same vein--they're not built to be survivable boxes to hold objectives with. They're strictly delivery systems for Boyz. That makes their value entirely different.

    Also, I pay a minimum of 160 points for single models that have a ~20% chance to destroy AV11. Nobody's worse equipped to deal with Transports than Daemons, Orks, and to a lesser extent Tyranids--the same armies that don't get to benefit from them in Objective games.

  10. Why do away with kill points in a tourney? When I see transports at tourneys I smile and get all giggles and smiles. The idea of killpoints like Foodie said (i hate i'm agreeing with him) hurts those MSU spam armies.
    -Razor wolves
    -Blood razors (emo sounding)
    -mass tervigon baby making
    -DE raider rush
    -guard veteran spam chimera lists (leaf blower)

    Now, think about this. All the tourneys you read about where it's a larger than 10+ players what kind of armies win? High kill point, low losses armies. I'm not saying this is all the winners but most. Sandwyrm brought u stelek, lets talk about Stelek and why he would support this 4+1 or just 4 KP scenario.
    -Loves razor wolf
    -supports combat squads
    -praises tervigons
    -loves chimeras
    -Logan bomb (3 kill points in a 4"X4" square turn 1)

    He only supports 4+1 to make his lists look that much better imho. if a 19 kill point razor wolf army is reduced to only 4 or 5 his list just won him the game. the weakness is in the kill points ladies and gentlemen, mainly gentlemen I am guessing.

    The second point I want to make, 5 objectives. . .really? I hate the idea of composition scores and I am doing my best to see how 5 objectives doesn't force composition skews. Allow me to explain.
    -5 objects you need more troops
    -less points in other slots
    -transports for these troops to get them across the board fast enough.
    -less diversity in the army

    5 objectives forces more troops, these troops wont be the strongest troops ever if the other person wants to try and run units to count other transport vehicles. WIth these small units you are falling back into MSU disease (yes it's a disease). Lets stop and think for a second who can't take MSU. . .? got it yet? I do, anything non-imperium, if you are xeno MSUs are a joke.
    Ask an ork player how long 10 boys lasts on a point in a truck (dodgerj3 makes a great point), ask Foodie how long 10 gants sit on a point (mSu, small tervigons are not small), eldar troops bahahahah ya right, DE I hope you have FnP, Tau a.k.a. Tackle A unicorn- they're sissies.

    Table quarters is amazing. Why VPs though? if you want to force 5 objectives make those damn quarters only captured by scoring units, all other units contest. That would spice things up, want to support transports now transports cancel out that one scoring unit in that quarter. SORRY.

    If I went to a tourney and these scenarios were being used I'd shake their hands ask for my money back and leave. It's like a soccer team training for a year for a game, showing up, and being told to play tennis. WTF!!! Play KP and D3+2 games for a year then go to a tourney and be told it's VP and table quarters with 5 objectives?

    My last point:

    "Hence, to truly compete at that level, most people will bleed the greenhorn dry, then beat the corpse to get every drop of point out of the game."

    OF COURSE!!! It's War!!! This is a war game, was it developed in England yes, but that doesn't make it a gentleman's game. Am I really the only one that goes to tourneys and gets paired up against a baby seal and beats it with a club until I am afraid the skin is too thin to fully drape over myself in victory? I bet I'm not, lastly I bet I'm not the only one to have that happen to me. Farmpunk and Sandwyrm both clubbed the seal (me) at my first tourney. Since then I haven't been clubbed (not that bad). Club the seal to make them stronger I say. Milk the bad blood out so that the strong blood may stay.

    Sandwyrm-thank you for this post by the way, got to a lot of points that I've been reading and disagreeing with lately ^_^

  11. Farmpunk* not Sandwyrm my mix up ^_^

  12. I know this has nothing to do with the rantings and the points of it all but..... Dinobobicus and everyone for that matter, playing against horde orks really never let you finish a game? I run horde orks and consistently finish games before time is called. Sometimes the winner, other times the loser but always a fun game.

    As for the actual points made in this post. I'm not going to say I agree with either side on this as there are merits to either format. The problem is, each of them have downsides and the tournament organizers are just going to have to decide which set of disadvantages they are willing to deal with. Nothing is perfect and we have to make the best with what we have.

    Another point that I disagree with that has nothing to do with the actual post, Orks have a harder time than any army in dealing with vehicles, yes demons pay alot for that ability but it is there as is the ability to have big monstrous creatures to tear tanks apart. Same for bugs and they have some shooting that can reliably damage vehicles. Anywho, end rant.


  13. That was an odd thing to get nitpicky about, since I even explicitly mentioned Orks as having that problem, but anyhow:

    Aside from it being an enormous waste to have to send a Monstrous Creature to kill a vehicle, you've actually got the wrong end of that argument--a Nob with a PK charging at S9 is exactly as effective against AV10 as the S6+2d6 of almost every MC in existence. 5+ on 2d6 is 30/36, 2+ on 1d6 is 5/6.

    Above AV10 it starts to barely favor the S6+2d6, but one of these things costs five times as much as the other, and I'm sure there's more PKs in most Ork armies than there are MCs in most Daemon/Tyranid armies. People consistently overestimate the threat that MCs pose to vehicles, and that's just one of the three rolls you have to go through to damage the thing.

  14. I still hold that it's much easier for deathstar armies to actually take down the 5 KP's in a MSU army than it is for a MSU army to take down the 5 KP's in a Deathstar army.

    I can see perhaps changing the KPs to be 3+2, it tips the favor a bit more towards getting easy KP's.
    that way a deathstar army only has to kill 70pts of rhino out of a 1500pt army to equal 600pts out of the deathstar.

    KP's has a problem with the proportionality of what has to be achieved.
    I would prefer VP's, but a lot of people whine about VP's (primarily people with low KP armies)

    I've not gone to tournaments that have used straight KP's. For me to have to kill 3 times the points value of what my opponent has to get from mine is preposterous.
    it's horrible mission design. It's blatantly telling people not to show up unless you play a deathstar.

    objectives on the other hand, can easily be contested by non-troop units. if you've got a giant nob biker squad, and a 6-8 KP 1500pt force, you can easily put a lot of points into fighting over objectives. likewise, a MSU army can cover the same 5 objectives.
    true, troop heavy armies do well in objective missions. It's about finding a balance between a troop heavy force, and a tougher, harder hitting force.
    for instance, I typically take 4 scoring units in my tourney army. (yeah, 4.) I've not had a lot of problem doing objective missions, and I don't think I'm heavily skewed towards troops. Each army has it's strengths. Some have troops as their workhorses, doing all the fighting and heavy lifting, some have troops that come in after the elites have done the hard work.

    anyway, thanks for the discussion guys. You give me more stuff to think about. That's why I post stuff.


out dang bot!

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