Saturday, August 27, 2011

NOVA Open: Yeah, I Brought The Wrong Army/Codex To This Tourney

by SandWyrm

Yeah, I brought the wrong army to this tourney. I currently have 1 (very narrow) win and 3 losses. Farmpunk has 3 wins. Spag has 4.

I can't show you pics of the actual tables yet, as I forgot to bring the card reader for my camera, but if you take this layout (from Mike's blog)...

...and scrunch the pieces further together towards the center so that:
  1. There isn't enough room in some cases to fit a Rhino/Chimera between them. And...
  2. The 4 sides of the table are wide open. And...
  3.  Imagine that 5-6 of the 7-ish terrain pieces are 2-3 Rhinos high.
Then you have some idea of what my Guard are having to deal with on every table. I'm routinely immobilizing 4+ vehicles a game just moving around. That's nuts, and I'm not even running full-mech. In my game against the Tau both my opponent and I were sure that the terrain had been moved further together or something, but the judge we asked about it said the terrain was fine.

Space Wolves and Grey Knights are perfectly adapted to this type of layout. Short range shooty + assaults for the win. Jumpy Blood Angels are doing quite well too. Leafblower IG that castle up in the corner every game are doing OK, but not great. Orks and Nids are beating face routinely too. Mobile Guard? forget it. Land Raiders? Forget it. If each tank has to take 1-2 terrain tests a game, you're going to be screwed for moving.

I should have speed-painted my Blood Angel Sanguinary Guard army and brought that instead. It would have had some weaknesses, but I would have won at least 2 more games. Since I'd be able to simply jump over the terrain, stay out of sight, and pick my fights with ease.

Fail for me.


  1. That seems quite unusual as Mike is pretty adamant about terrain layout. Use your e-fame and approach him!

    Oh well goodluck to all three of you tomorrow and go 4-0 in your brackets :).

  2. I judged for the invitational, so Mike and I have chatted quite a bit as he flits about. I didn't get into a detailed discussion with him on it (no time for that), but he knows I don't like the terrain. You also can't miss all the complaints others make. It's a huge topic of conversation here. Stelek and I did talk in detail over drinks and he agrees with me, though his army is better designed to deal with it.

    I'll do a detailed writeup later, but my problems with the terrain are:

    1) Coverage

    This is not 25% coverage. It's more like 35%. If you take two small pieces and space them apart 2-3", then it might as well be one large piece.

    2) Height

    LOS-blocking is needed/good, but not on EVERY piece. If you use 7 pieces of terrain on a table, only 3-4 should be LOS-blocking. Not 5-7 out of 7. That screws over shooting armies like Guard or Tau.

    3) Spacing

    There are tables here where you literally cannot move into the center of the table at all without taking difficult terrain tests on your vehicles. Worse, there are tables where that only happens on one side. Not cool.

    Every terrain piece should be no closer than a Rhino-width to the next. While at least half of the spaces should be of Land Raider width. I don't mind having 2-3 restricted movement lanes for my tanks, but no lanes? Not cool.

    4) Symmetry

    The layouts are too symmetrical. I think that Mike is trying to be exceedingly fair, but in many cases there is no substantial difference to choosing one side of the table over the other. It also reduces everyone's tactics to "Take the big hill in the center.". It's repetitive and boring from a strategy standpoint, and it favors durable assault armies that can put a rock on the center hill quickly. Good luck prying Terminators or Thunderwolves off that hill if you go second.

  3. I'll agree that the terrain looks too symmetrical... this kind of takes the point out of being able to pick what side you are on... whilst terrain shouldn't unduly favour one person over the other it does not necessarily have to be exactly the same for both! After all, some armies can make better or worse use of it anyway... and part of the skill is not only choosing deployment that will help you, but also mitigates the potential of the enemy. Symmetry is bad.

    However, despite the terrain being too centred (with nothing on the flanks) the generaly principle of the layout seems okay, and the AMOUNT of cover is also fine. (IE: dont whinge! :P) Bear in mind that 25% coverage is as a minimum, and I definately DONT adhere to the idea that all terrain should be a rhinos width apart! If you have to take tests to move about so be it... or use the bare flanks of course...

    The set up does certainly take an emphasis away from mechanised armies, (and shooty ones) but does help to even up the game for infantry forces... which at the very least is nice to see.

    I do also agree with you about the height and LoS thing though!

    It would be good to see pictures of the range of tables I think...

  4. I think the topic of terrain placement would be a good topic when you get a chance to post it up. Just some suggestions but here are some thoughts.

    1) What are the pros and cons to symmetry?
    2) What is an appropriate balance to terrain deployment?
    3) Should Terrain confer a physical advantage or simply a strategic advantage. I would say the difference being physical is more like a terrain heavy dz vs an open dz at the extreme and strategic being more of a balanced approach but allows the first player to choose the approach vectors of the opponent.

    I could go on and have many thoughts on the subject but I will wait for you guys to post something. I do think this would be a great topic though.

  5. Sandy, no offense but I've seen tons of armies and lists with dozer blades. Take Dozer blades and your issue would be solved. The terrain last year was a big issue for a lot of people also yet it must not of been so big that they saw a need to change it.

    Stelek was ranting and bitching about terrain also unfortunately. Terrain is part of the deal though. You say that Mike is trying to be exceedingly fair, but then you say it's not fair that the terrain is the way it is.

    Let me give you the best example of this double standard in your post
    "Worse, there are tables where that only happens on one side. Not cool."

    But then you turn around and say: "The layouts are too symmetrical. I think that Mike is trying to be exceedingly fair, but in many cases there is no substantial difference to choosing one side of the table over the other."

    Yes I am betting terrain has a bit to do with it but I think you may have been right in saying you just brought the wrong army. I think your codex was fine and I don't blame the guard for it at all. All the interviews I have watched are from guys that just got stomped terribly. YET they aren't complaining about terrain or LOS blocking. Don't think that one tournament makes guard bad. I think the terrain may of forced you to play a different way on the fly. I think you'll do better on day 2 now that you've learned a bit of a new play style.

  6. If the pendulum indeed has swung too far the other way, it's still good. Having close to no terrain often results in a huge advantage to certain armies, while being devastating to another.

    What i reacted to was symmetrical and too close to each other. Those points sounds real bad. Other than that I like the idea of more terrain to make things more interesting.

    Also what happened to bunkers and the like? Do people play with those?

    I know it must feel disappointing right now, but I would love to hear your opinion in a few weeks when you've had a chance to process the whole event further.

  7. I actually prefer the more centered terrain because while it does clog the board, it also doesn't induce the "take LR stuff and hide in the edge terrain for cover saves".

    IMO, there should be at least one path across the middle of the board the short way that doesn't require an immobilization roll, but if I was setting it up and it could be secured, I love the center the terrain evenly and roll scatter dice. That has made for some wild boards.

  8. Its the terrains fault, lol?

    Remember last year around this time i think Dash tried to put a Battlewagon IN/ON a bastion vs Stelek?

    lawlz all around!

  9. I wasn't there so I can't really comment on how the tables were laid out.

    However, I was part of the terrain-building effort. We spent loads of time working on the terrain so that each table could have the 25% percent minimum, in record heat. It was brutal at times. We even had this very pregnant girl working on terrain. A lot of blood, sweet and tears went into it, all of it from volunteers who wanted to see this tournament be as good as it can be for the gaming community...just bear this in mind as you talk to Mike about it.

  10. Soooo basically what you're saying is that you never want to have to take a dangerous terrain test on your vehicles, because mech should be unbeatable.

    Got it.

  11. @foodie, I think what he is actually saying is that he brought the wrong kind of army for this kind of terrain set-up. Tournaments have been run for years without sufficient terrain and I think the popularity of long-range mech guard is in part because of this. Mech is still good in this set up, you'd just need to be more of a close-ranger like Straken Guard with melta and lots of heavy flamers. Mike was actually talking about this on the ustream feed. His take was that more armies were doing better in this environment than worse, armies like BA jumpers, GKs, even Tyranids, because there is actually LOS blocking terrain. So what Sandwyrm, is saying (I think) is that he wasn't prepared for this much terrain which creates more opportunities for close-rangers to excel. Am I right, Sandwyrm?

  12. The terrain was very specifically placed, and based upon extensive playtesting.

    That playtesting included the work of the TO, who runs a highly mobile mechanized guard army.

    We'll field a lot of input, and make a lot of tweaks ... the hills in the center certainly WERE huge, and sometimes terrain gets bumped about during / in between rounds, etc.

    What Tim said about Strakenguard is fair also ... but I think in general it puts more onus on an army to be mobile in the NUANCES of distance and threat range comprehension, and puts a higher requirement on having a viable combat deterrent / threat ... more balances forces, more durability and redundancy to boot, blah blah blah.

  13. @ OSH

    Honestly I just get tired of certain individuals complaining every time their favorite mech army actually has to face the legitimate disadvantages of Mech.

    There is a simple question to be asked - why do foot troops exist both in game and in the real world? Vehicles can't fit everywhere.

    To say that every lane should be wide enough to allow your vehicles through without problem, in addition to regularly playing that a piece of terrain easily as tall or taller than your tank is "just a terrain test" (leaving maybe one piece on the board that is actually impassable), is none other than silliness.

    And this isn't just about Sandwyrm... it's pretty common with mech in general. At least in my experience (the ever-present caveat) it's uncommon to see much on the table that gives vehicles issues.

    4+ vehicles a game immobilized... that doesn't tell me too much... at least not enough to know if the table was crazy or not. Exactly how many vehicles? And how many turns were you going through terrain? "Not fully mech" for guard can still mean tanks in the double-digits, and if the objective is in terrain... well... that's just good placement. If the opponent placed them, anyway.

  14. Yes Gun Line guard had an issue, yes only 2 leafblowers made it to the top tables. Mike is correct in that mobile armies did much better. That being said. On the long ride home, Sandwyrm was pretty clear on the idea of a change in his army with some help and advice from Farmpunk and I.

    And Yes I am taking a few dozer blades myself. Lost my rematch game with Nick because of a 1. Twice in 1 game. :(

  15. I don't have much to offer to the Drama, sorry. I guess I could start talking trash about my missing posts if that helps...(looking at you FP or should I say BF)

    To the topic of dozer blades, preach it brother Spag!
    I now see them as mandatory on any vehicle whose primary function is to move troops. For five points I drop my chances of my boxes becoming immobilized from ~17% to ~3%. That reduction in odds allows me to play more recklessly with my transports. Dozer blades allow me to squeeze that much more out of the movement phase, to the point that I now get a little giddy when I see a lot of difficult terrian on a table.

  16. Good comments all. I'm only now just starting to read them after stumbling in the door and getting 11 hours of sleep. I was in some very weird metal states this weekend due to sheer exhaustion.

    I'm past the whine stage and starting to think in terms of what I would have changed about my list/tactics in retrospect. I'll share those thoughts (and those about the event itself) once I feel completely human again. :)

  17. Old Shatter Hands understands my position.

    We play with a lot of terrain in Indy compared to the national norm, so I thought that I was prepared for Mike's tables. But while I internalized the basic layout (as per the pic above), I didn't appreciate the sheer height of everything, or the difference in play it led to.

    I also had a nice long talk with John the head judge about the distances between pieces and found out that if I'd gone to him or Mike instead of random judge X, they would have spread it out a bit more. Terrain was getting moved around by players and not getting moved back properly.


out dang bot!

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