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Friday, May 21, 2010

Comp scores & Tournaments (uh-oh)


Well I’ve avoided this topic on this blog for some time now but I think I’ll step into the deep end...comp and tournaments. What has made me write about this? This post here by Stelek (who liked my comment! *swoon*). Now we should all by now know I’m entering Lords of Terra (fingers crossed; if you haven’t look UP...no no not your ceiling...scroll up >.<) which has a comp system and I’m blithely ignoring it (go me) having no idea what “comp” consists of for his tournament. Lords of Terra’s definition of comp is as follows:


“Composition is marked by a penal of judges, and is based on how powerful your army build was and how much fun it was to play against your army.”

Well that doesn’t tell me much. The armies I’m planning on taking are powerful because they are balanced and are fun to play against assuming you also have a balanced list because...wait for it...two good lists playing against each other is...fun. Is that allowed? Good lists and fun? So going off wargamersAU and what they are generally like...my lists won’t do well on comp because they have duplicity, my troops are for SCORING and I don’t use “bad” units... If things have changed since I last heard anything over there though, let me know and I might raise my head out of this desolate depression I am ever spiralling towards... So let’s really examine comp and good army lists.

What comp is “attempting” to do is balance 40k but what it’s really doing is changing 40k. GW has put out a gaming system we all enjoy and play and if you want to play in a competitive environment with their system & minis, guess what? You use their rules. No comp to “restrict” good lists. No 200 page INAT FAQs. No houserules. You. Use. Their. Game. I don’t care if GW comes out and says Imperial Guard have BS10 (that’s 2+ w/a re-roll everyone), I either deal with it or stop playing. Luckily for us, GW has not done anything that ignoramus (well...T5 Wolf Lords!?) particularly with their latest books. If you think the IG/BA/SW/SM/Tyranids books are imbalanced, go away. You simply don’t understand 40k. I can make multitudes of good lists from those above books + good lists from Eldar/Tau/DE/WH and they can all deal with each other. Some might win more often than others but they are not imbalanced (compared to Daemons/Orks/CSM/DH/Necrons they might be but that’s due to old rules not poor books). If you cannot see how this is good for the game or don’t know how to beat those armies, you don’t know how to play 40k and should not complain about imbalance but LEARN.

So let’s look at what the new books give you compared to old bad books like Daemons/Orks and old “good” books like Tau/Eldar. The new books have a ton of options available in EACH and EVERY FoC. There is no this unit is a mandatory unit because the others suck in their FoC slots. There is always an opportunity cost for taking something (look at BA/Tyranid/SW Elites) which gives the book a huge amount of flexibility and army OPTIONS (I’m not going to see 3 different armies at a non-comp tournament because just from those books I can make well over 3 varying army styles). This also allows an army to spread the offensive and defensive capabilities of your army throughout every single unit on the table. Compare this to the old “good” books. These books can produce 1, maybe 2 good list variants because they have only have a handful of good units and thus if they don’t take the advantages they get, they are terrible. These units are generally spread over FoC limitedly with most FoC’s getting one or two good choices. Eldar & Tau fall flat on their faces w/o Dragons or Crisis suits; whilst they make good armies their flexibility sucks. Now look at the old bad books. Orks/Daemons have few good options, have inherent inabilities to deal with certain army types (i.e. mech) and don’t have their ‘good’ units spread across FoC or only have one good unit (unlike Tau & Eldar who do have some competition, i.e. Falcons/Prisms & Broadsides/Hammerheads & Piranhas/Pathfinders). These books have even less flexibility and cannot build balanced lists. They are always at a disadvantage against some list type. Again, this is not imbalance, it’s poor rules transference from 4th ed books to 5th edition rules.

Now what book would you rather have? A boring uni-dimensional book (even if it does produce a good list) or a multivariate book? Multivariate thanks! Now that we’ve established GW is moving in the right direction for actual COMPOSITION of the army, let’s look at why I just capitalised composition. From Microsoft Words definition banks, composition means:

“the way in which something is made, especially in terms of its different parts”

Looking back on my Armies in 5th articles on composition here and here, we realise composition isn’t about how good or fun your list is, it’s about the individual pieces and how they work together. Afterall, the whole is greater than its sum of its parts, yes? Or a chain is only as strong as its weakest link? What does this have to do with fun? Nothing. What does this have to do with how good your list is? Everything. However, since in the 40k world good composition colloquially means handicapping yourself, having good composition should therefore negatively impact on your ability to win. Good on the non-competitive 40k community for getting composition back to front.

Now let’s look at this colloquial understanding of composition. It seems two-fold, generate a fun gaming environment and handicap “cheesey/OP” lists. Well, “cheesey/OP” lists are part of the game and are generally bad anyway (i.e. Lash, Nob Bikers, Tri-Mono) so we want to handicap already bad lists...go for it except comp generally doesn’t do that because it is far too arbitrary. Even with checklists you cannot take every single army into consideration and if you do, the checklist is going to be huge or have massive amounts of exceptions. If you don’t do that, well again it’s what YOU think 40k SHOULD be rather than what GW is TELLING you what 40k IS. Again, if you don’t like it, don’t buy or play their game or do it in your own backyard. Let's look at a quote from Stelek's post by whoever replied to the e-mail:

" I saw some of your comments on the Bolter Beach and I agree with you that GW is now creating an unbalanced game, and yes GW should repair it. But they won't, and the TO is FORCED to try to fix it, because it’s his A*&^ if he doesn’t. "

He's not playing 40k. He's playing what he wants 40k to be...and he claims this is required in every tournament? I'd love to see this in a painting comp. "All uses of NMM will be given -10 pts because NMM is awesome." Or in the NBA. "Usage of your All-Star(s) in more than 80 games will result in lose of home-court advantage in the play-offs and you are likely to be hated by all the fans." Seriously?

So what about the fun aspect? Ya I like versusing good lists like my own because then it’s balanced and if I get to rate comp, I’m rating crappy lists badly because of this 2nd arbitrary feature of composition. It’s boring to play against bad lists because it’s so easy to pick them apart but good lists score badly on comp because they are boring to play against...uh what? Close games are fun. Good lists provide close games generally all the time (assuming equal generalship & good dice). Even with skewed dice, good lists will do well because they have inherent redundancy. Bad lists, even versus other bad lists, will more often result in lopsided games as one bad turn can screw a list over or there are more scissors to its rock. Again, your personal opinion on what a fun army is impacts on my placement within a tournament which is supposed to be a competitive environment? Go away again thanks.

Now I understand this is a hobby and there is a huge hobby contingent that enjoys their storylines and fluffy armies, that’s fine, I do too. But as I’ve stated many times, don’t bring your style of lists to tournaments which have a RANKING SYSTEM and demand colloquial composition scores so you can win. It’s backwards. It’s based on an individual’s opinion. It’s not 40k, it’s what YOU want 40k to be. At the same time I think these type of players should be accounted for if they want to take their lists to a tournament but the top placements should be based purely on wins, not massacres or secondary objectives but wins. This means you need a system which either separates X amount of players for a “Finals” or enough games to have one undefeated player at the end with INITIAL match-ups generated by composition (i.e. split the field to good and bad lists). This promotes 40k as it is, a tactical game which requires though before and during the game and if you take a crappy list you have to beat good lists to get through, it works like that.

Even if you have too many players or not enough time for that type of system, comp should play no role in your tournament score. Sportsmanship should only play a role if you stay in the tournament or not. Painting is a separate competition (which doesn’t have a comp system? No way! Cheats! I want to win the painting comp even though I’m not a good a painter as the good painters). If it comes down to 3 players with 5 wins, well that’s up to the TO to decide but it shouldn’t be based on massacres over majors/minors or secondary objectives as the majority of time, secondary objectives play into the hands of some armies whilst not others and often Minor Victories are more impressive than Massacres (massacres generally represent getting a poor player either list wise or generalship or simply massively skewed dice...we reward this why?).

Nerdrage over. Seriously though, it’s annoying that people can get all high and mighty (see Stelek’s post) about how their opinions on 40k are correct (waits for some nitwit to point out the irony...). How about we use what GW gives us (hey! No more irony)? It’s their game and their system and if they want to drive us away with bad rules, they can. If their tournaments want to drive away competitive players with comp, they can. But don’t sit there and pretend you are right because of your comp system or that comp in anyway promotes a competitive environment. Since GW does produce a balanced game w/good rules but you think they aren’t, don’t force your opinion on others. Either live with it, talk to GW about it or stop playing their game.

12 pinkments:

Anonymous said...

"waits for some nitwit to point out the irony..."

Nitwit reporting in.

It works like this; Some people play orcs. Some people play at 1000 points. Some play house rules. Some tourneys use composition.

No one is right, and that groups can come together and play as they like, even if people like Kirby rage against them, all the better. If no one wanted to play composition, (and as long as there are alternatives, which there are) then it wouldn't exist.

Chumbalaya said...

If no one wanted to play composition, it would be a beautiful scrub-free world. I dream of that day...

Comp is amateur game design at its worst. It either unfairly restricts the "flavor of the month" whinefest armies/builds, favors the TO or his friends/locals, or just changes the parameters of what constitutes a good army.

Newer Codices are well balanced internally and between each other, so they can easily adapt to any comp system. Older books and themed lists (Deathwing, for example) that comp is supposedly looking out for get dicked over even worse.

Dethtron said...

You should develope a comp system where vanilla marines are punished for taking devastators, IG lose points for taking Rough Riders, and so on. That would be a site to behold. May even go a long way toward proving your point that Comp is silly and arbitrary. At the very least, I'd laugh.

Surreptitious Muffin said...

I hate to be 'that guy' but NZ comp is based off AU comp and it's hilariously easy to abuse if you know what you're doing. Especially with Tau; the standard Tau hybrid list scores amazingly in comp and is rock hard to boot. You get bonus points for taking Piranha and kroot under some strange assumption they're the worst units in the codex. Points off for more than two devilfish (uh...noo? Should I be upset?). Points off for units of 3 broadsides, but no restriction on how many units of 2 you can have.

Arbitrary composition judgement = amazingly easy to sidestep.

Kirby said...

@Muffin; which is the exact point. This isn't complaining that I have less chance to win or whatever, as Dethtron points out it's having a go for someone putting their opinions onto others. Tau are regularly regarded as a crap army and Orks a good army, that doesn't make that true but I shouldn't be disadvantaged or advantaged for taking or not taking X, Y & Z.

@Nitwit; correct but again, why should I have to play under someone else's opinions? If there were alternatives I would go to them, as there are not this is what I'm stuck with. They're your models, play with them how you like. Don't force me to conform to your opinions which is what comp tries to do. Add in comp tournaments masquerade as competitive tournaments when they aren't, you don't see professional sports (i.e. Golf or Chess [someone else mentioned these before]) use handicaps. Whilst there are handicaps in place so the top players of those sports can play outside of tournaments and their opponents have a chance to win, in the tournaments those handicaps are gone.

Why should 40k have them?

clt40k said...

I'm with you brother. 40k has comp built into the system already. It's called points. You get x points and I get x points. The whole concept of a broken list is totally subjective.

Skellum said...

/sign me up to this philosophy.
I'd like tournaments based on GW balancing and not popular opinion. As my 6th grade teacher used to say:
"Wake up Australia, your toast is ready."

Vinsanity said...

Mostly agree with your points on comp Kirbs :D I also want a non-comp tourney in Australia >:(

“Composition is marked by a penal of judges, and is based on how powerful your army build was and how much fun it was to play against your army.”

Really this means that the balanced and hard armies you build will get fucked by comp, since the judges will likely view your spamming of the best units and mech as too powerful and since you will probably table some fluffy armies, it will mean that it wasn't much fun to play against your army for those players...

Seems like your only hope here is to hope that more people bring hard, balanced lists so you can have a decent game lol...

Chumbalaya said...

heh, penal.

Kirby said...

Took a while for someone to notice that :P. I thought I'd post this as well from the YTTH post. 15 likes and counting =D.

"Kirby
" I saw some of your comments on the Bolter Beach and I agree with you that GW is now creating an unbalanced game, and yes GW should repair it. But they won't, and the TO is FORCED to try to fix it, because it’s his A*&^ if he doesn’t. "

What game is this guy playing? Not 40k. The most recent of books released by GW have been very good in terms of balance (other than a few units *stares @ LotD/Pryovores/etc*) and flexibility. Stop trying to fix the f*cking game and play it. If you think it's unbalanced, stop playing it rather than making it even more imbalanced to what YOU think is right >.<.

2 days ago, 2:32:07 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate"

Anonymous said...

Oh if only people like you played in my area.

At my local club (I know its not tourny scene, but they seem to share this crazy idea that you cannot have fun unless its fluffy or old) you basically cannot bring a SM army that does not suck, Wolves are all but eradicated now and if you dare bring a Daemon prince so help you.

The problem we have though, is anyone who collects Orcs, Guard or Eldar can just bring their A game and anyone running a 5th Codex (oddly with the exception of Guard who are probably the most badass 5th Codex) has to pile on the fluff and shitty units to even get a game in an evening. Want to bring those LR's with TH/SS termi's, well enjoy sitting in a corner for an evening watching Wave Serpents dart around to avoid the Orc Truck tide. Want to run a SM special character because it complements your army build nicely?? NOO you cheese monkey!! what??

I have one opponent at the club who is a tourney player, and its about the only time I can even get a fun game now. Its either get bashed off the board by an IG gunline while I try and fly my Codex Assault Marines around, or get told i'm a Beardy, Cheesy F**ker because i'm using Obliterators.

The biggest issue this creates with me though is there is no longer any sportsmanship. If you win a game, its your broken list or broken army. If you loose a game generally speaking its because the only way you could get a game was to run a bunch of terrible units.

Oh well at least my nids, with the exception of my Trygons seems to not be classed too much in the OP OMG NOT PLAYING YOU section.

Kirby said...

@Anon; in Australia or elsewhere? Generally if you go onto blogs/forums and say the area you live in + looking for actual good games you'll find someone (one thing the forums are good for). Otherwise point them to sites like this. I can attest to having some awesome fun games with crappy lists back in the day but at the same time as has been mentioned, they lend themselves to more blowout victories due to lack of cohesiveness. Good 5th edition armies versusing each other rarely leads to that and you get more consistent fun.

Otherwise just get a rubber mallet and bop them until they concede to play right =D. Again though I'm sort of a fence sitter in allowing people to do that, just as long as they don't force it upon you which is what it sounds like they are doing. It's a game, losing isn't the end of the world and you can't have fun if you're not playing people at Anon's store!

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