Monday, November 23, 2009

On list building and how many units to take.

Blaine over at The Lord Commander Militant recently did an interesting look at the current victory conditions and how they shape the army building metagame. Post found here.

The short version: An army with less units will have an advantage in Annihilation battles that outweighs the disadvantage of having less Scoring units in Seize Ground.*

My response as to the reason for this? Control.

As it currently works, you only need 1 unit to control or contest an objective. Heck, if the objectives are close, one unit can even control multiple. In return, it only takes 1 unit to contest an objective too. Additionally, you only need to control 1 more objective than your opponent to score a "win".

Thus there's no real incentive to take more units for objectives games while KP benefits those armies that take less. What could balance this?
1. Stacking control/contest checks. Example: An objective has 3 units on it, 2 for player A and 1 for B, so control goes to A for having more units total.
2. Make winning an objective mission harder. Rather than only needing 1 to "win", require holding half or more. Thus Capture & Control still only requires holding 1 objective, but winning a 5 objective Seize Ground would mean you need 3. (Or do a tiered win system, but that only tends to matter in tournaments.)
3. Add in more missions/victory conditions. Table quarters, Loot, Assassination... there's lots of things that could open up the scope of missions beyond 1 KP and 2 objectives.
4. Go back to VP. KP was a cute idea to simplify victory calculation, but the reality is that it is a failure. There's just too many ways to exploit the rules advantageously.

Of course, the problem with any of the above is that they require a deviation from the main rulebook missions. This means they're relegated to the world of house-rules, tournament organizer choice, or 6th edition. Still, maybe if enough of us call foul, GW will listen. I'll be over here not holding my breath. :-p

*80 battle results isn't exactly a huge sample. Also, there's no mention made of special rules like Combat Squadding. Still, I think the findings show more deviation than these can account for... I don't think the final margin of advantage is exact, but it certainly exists.

**Image chosen in honor of Neil Gaiman and American Gods, where Anubis likes to use "a really heavy feather". A reminder that the system itself can have bias...


  1. Complex math makes my head hurt.

    And sadly, that's not even that complex... That said, I don't have problems with the new rules for determining mission winners. Yes, they're different than they have been in the past and in some ways they seem inferior; however, it will all change in the next edition.

    With each release of the game, the missions (and corresponding objectives change). Many argue that the game gets 'dumbed down' with each successive release, and thereby the missions do as well. My personal favorite for missions were the 2nd edition mission cards (though they were horribly imbalanced). I liked not knowing what my opponent was trying to accomplish--and vice versa.

    Does that mean I'm unhappy with the current missions? If so, it's only because there are so very few of them. In 3rd edition, there were three different categories of missions--each of which had multiple subsets to choose from. The current system is simpler, but clearly lacking in depth.

    So sure, it boils down to house-rules missions (or missions from previous editions) if you want to mix things up. I'm ok with that though...

  2. Haha, thanks for the shout out man! I actually like the idea of making Troop choices (or scoring units) count as 2 units when controlling an objective.

    So if I have a Tactical Squad on an objective, and a Falcon turbo boosts over the objective on turn 6, I still control it. However, if there's a unit of Dire Avengers in there, than he actually controls it, since his Dire Avengers (2) plus his Falcon (1) is more than my Tactical Squad (2). It keeps Mech Eldar, Guard, Tau, and Marines in check and helps cut down on the whole control one objective and contest the rest mentality.

  3. You're welcome on the shout out. I'm all about sharing and giving credit when I see something I like.

    As to stacking and Troops being worth more? I like it. It's a good refinement and gives extra focus on Troops. Taken a step further, you could require 2 points worth of control to capture the objective. It's not that the current system is completely bad, just that the over simplification has created imbalance.