Kirb your enthusiasm!
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Posted by Kirby Enthusiasm
I tried, I really tried to give BoLS the benefit of the doubt. Didn't work. Once again iamaddj puts out an opinionated article which does...nothing. So here's another snowmobile of his article (with the ensuing lols) whilst also highlighting the why of wound allocation. My comments in blue.
Just over two years ago, in an unpredicted and horrifying move cheating was legalized in 40K. Following GW rules = cheating. Oh, I knew I was doing it wrong. How did this happen? Two words, Wound Allocation. So what's the INAT FAQ then?
That's right my friends, two years ago Warhammer 40,000 5th edition was released, I thought it was recent from your last article. and something subtle and nefarious found its way into the ruleset. It seemed like such an innocent little rule at first glance. This rule was, again I assume, never intended to be used to allow people to cheat, It's a rule. How is it cheating? and yet it like Anakin Skywalker, was used and turned to evil. What's your excuse for abusing the English language and our retinas? The rule I speak off is the often debated and controversial wound allocation system. It's not debated it's clear cut. One wound per model before wounds stack. Wounded multi-wound models must die first unless there are varied wargears then you allocate first. Was that hard? Now last week I called out true Line of Sight. I said it was killing our games, You were wrong. 10-1 odds you are again here. I said it was a plague upon wargaming, and I stand by that. But for me TLoS is a major plague on all wargaming, not just 40k. Wound Allocation is only a major problem for 40K. But in that limited scope, and by limited I mean the most popular and played wargame of all time, it is most likely the most serious flaw. Or lack of intellect. That's right, I said it, Wound Allocation is the single biggest flaw in 40K at this moment. Why, and how has it made cheating legal you might ask? Cheating - violating accepted standards or rules (thanks to Web Dictionary). Hey, wound allocation is a rule. Shut up. Well lets look at the facts. That's all the facts I need thanks. Let's pre-face this. Wound Allocation slows the game down when you get a bunch of different attacks and models particularly squads of multiple wounds such as Nobz and Thunderwolves being hit by some weapons which ignore armor, some which cause instant death and some which are just regular old wounds. When you have two players who know this system and have a somewhat decent IQ, it's not too bad. It's slower than what it was before but it also stops special guys only dying at the end. I imagine there are serious ways to streamline this but nothing comes to my mind atm. Let's hear your thoughts on this. How can wound allocation be streamlined so it's quick yet special/sarges/heavies can die mid-game?
Wound Allocation Was Supposed to Help the Shooter
When 5th Edition was released all the interviews and production notes agreed, wound allocation was in the game to help the shooting player. Wound allocation had been added to the game to allow for the chance that the shooting player might kill one of the target squad's important members. I haven't seen any of these interview notes but yes, this was the concept behind this design but I imagine GW designers having some understanding of math (since the systems they use are based on math) knew wound allocation actually improved a squad's survivability once you hit a magic number or if there were armor ignoring wounds, etc. Maybe they wanted the game more realistic lol. This was seen as a huge positive, a move away from the old style of play where the last model in a squad was also the most important, normally the sergeant or special weapon guy. Wound allocation was put into the game to replace the older "torrent of fire" rule which allowed the shooting player to force saves to be taken on a model of his choice if he did enough hits. But in the face of canny players this new rule backfired. How? This concept uh, well it works. Special models can die before their squad is wiped.
Many People Don't Actually Use Wound Allocation
The first major strike against wound allocation is that many, many people don't actually use it, or like the gym, use it infrequently. 100% of my games use it. When someone doesn't or forgets, we randomly roll to allocate the failed wounds because...it's part of the rules. Not doing so is cheating. Once again you've generalised from your personal experience which seems strange to say the least. The truth is the wound allocation rules are a bit complicated and slow the game down. Spot on but you haven't explained how or why. On a normal squad of 10 marines w/Flamer/Sarge/MM it's not complicated. On a squad of 3x TW w/TH, SS, m-bombs being hit by 3x S4, 1 AP2, 1 S10 hits, well it becomes a bit more difficult. Because of this many people just skip the allocation step. And that is cheating. Its something I see a lot. "Oh you did 10 wounds?" rolls ten saves together "Well I failed four, so I guess these four guys die". That's common occurrence, and unless the squad was all exactly the same, its wrong. And cheating. It in fact leads to the very thing wound allocation was made to stop, the most important members of a squad being the last to die. It's cheating, too. Because the rules are complex and unpopular they didn't get used much, especially by newer players which is a major strike against them. So they are cheating. Furthermore unlike TLoS, which many people say simplified the game, wound allocation just made it more complicated. Correct but not using it is cheating...rather than using it being cheating like you said. For game balance though, those specials being able to die and who are much more likely to die the smaller the squad, is important. Mechanics and balance > ease of use. Do I believe it needs a change to streamline it? Sure. Let's see if you offer up an alternative then and this article will just make me look like a douche then.
Wound Allocation Slows The Game Down
Another major problem with wound allocation is that is slows the game down. You just said this. Unlike the old system where you rolled saves and then pulled guys as you wanted, wound allocation makes you take the time to allocate the wounds. While this slows the game down a bit, the fact that you then have to roll saves separately slows the game down even more. By seconds...the allocation is actually the pain and only when you get complex units hit by different types of weapons as you need to think of the best way to allocate the ignore save wounds. The rolling...is marginal, especially since the majority of people have different colored dice. While every instance of wound allocation doesn't really take all that much time, doing it over and over again in the course of a game does tend to slow things down a bit. Worse so since many people just ignore wound allocation, this means you often have to stop and explain how it works. Many times in tournaments I have seen this bring games to a halt. This is the second major strike against wound allocation. Now these are both bad things about the rule, but not quite cheating. No. It's not cheating. At all. It's the rule.
Wound Allocation Actually Helps The Target, Not The Shooter
Ah yes, the cheating. So remember how wound allocation was supposed to help the shooter? It does. Specials can die. Well it really doesn't - instead knowing the wound allocation rules well almost always helps the defender. It does this, too. I've said it before and I'm sure the designers knew the math and the 'shenangians' that could happen. One major case of this is with multi-wound model units. Remember a few years ago when Nob Bikers where the terror of the tournament world (they are still pretty annoying)? That doesn't mean much because they were never that scary. Over-costed and inefficient. Well they were so good in large part because of the wound allocation rules. Or so people though but they actually weren't. Ideally with a multi-wound unit like Nob Bikers you would have to kill whole models, and that is clearly the intention of the rules. However players where able to find a loophole in the wound allocation rules to get around this. Namely the fact that is every model in the unit is equipped differently, which is possible in Nob Bikers you don't actually have to kill whole models. Instead by exploiting the rules you could put one wound on every one of your Nobs before actually killing any of them. Unless your opponent actually whacked them with S8+ weaponry.
An even worse exploitation of the wound allocation rules, and this is really what I would call cheating, Following the rules is cheating? is the ability to just make wound vanish, just go away. Here an example of what I mean:
6 Space Marines (a Sergeant, a meltagunner, a guy with a lascanon, and 3 normal Marines) get shot by an Imperial Guard veteran squad. The Marines take 6 lasgun wounds and 6 wounds from plasma guns. Now your first instinct is to say "man they took 6 wound from weapons that ignore their saves, they should all die." And that makes sense. But then in comes wound allocation. The defending player knows the wound allocation rules, so he allocates two lasgun wounds each to the sergeant, the meltagunner and the guy with the lascannon. Meanwhile the 3 normal marines take the 6 plasma gun wounds. So the normal guys all die, but there is a good chance the special guys all walk away unhurt after making their saves. And those three extra plasma gun wounds that should have killed the squad? They vanish into thin air, victims of black magic voodoo. Let's try a more realistic example. 10 marines w/Sarge, special & heavy take 6 normal wounds and 6 ignore save wounds. Now here's where wound allocation really kicks in, by taking multiple ignore save wounds on specials you reduce the actual number of average deaths. You then have an opportunity cost, lose a special but less models or lose more models but no specials?
So lets look at everything that is wrong with that example. Firstly wound allocation failed in all it's stated goals, it helped the defender and not the shooter, and it failed to get rid of the special guys while killing all the normal troops. So suddenly the shooter also has an option, shoot only with the plasma guns :O. Remember 4th ed was gun-line armies and GW moved away from that. This means assault armies have to be able to cross the battlefield somehow. Secondly it allowed the defending player to ignore wounds to his squad that should have killed people. Thirdly it was far more complicated than a simple, they took 6 wounds that ignore their armor, they die, rule would have been. And this took 5 seconds to figure out? And finally here's the big kicker, it means the shooting player made a big mistake by firing all his weapons. See the IG player would have been better off just firing his plasma guns, with only the 6 plasma gun wounds the whole enemy squad would have died, by shooting his lasguns as well he actually saved his enemy. You mean, the shooter should of thought before hand and by being stupid and not, this is a knock against a RULE? And that's just wrong. In no system should shooting your enemy more times actually make it more likely he survives. It doesn't make any sense from either a logical perspective or a game play perspective. It's just bad. But specials staying alive until the end did. Got ya.
So those are just a quick few reasons why wound allocation is a huge, huge problem in 40k right now. I thought it was cheating? Now I know it may seem like I just don't like change, like I just really want to go back to an older system. Who gave you that idea? Well that's not true. While I admit I really liked the old system of Torrent of Fire, that doesn't mean I want to go back to it, I think almost any other system would be better then the current one. And that's really the point I guess, the current wound allocation system is bad, really bad. It doesn't achieve what it was meant to, it slows the game down, and it very easily and legally, Whoa. Stop. I thought you said it was cheating. Make up your mind. exploited. And it's something we should talk about. Hiding our heads in the sand, saying things like "well that's the rules, we can't do anything about it" won't actually help. Waiting for your suggestions then... Talking about it, admitting that its a bad rule will help, telling people its a bad rule will help. Finding ways to house rule around it will help, short term and long term. So that's what I aim to do from now on, when I find a bad rule, wound allocation, TLoS, whatever, I'm never going to ignore it, I'm going to talk about. I have only seen complaining so far. I hope you all will join me in talking about it, because remember at the end of the day it's our hobby. Quitting or keeping quiet won't help a thing, talking, arguing, about it just might. Or at least it'll make me feel a little better. Altruistic motivation my arse. If you want to promote discussion don't write an essay with a clearly negative overtone on why you think using a rule written by GW in their 40k rulebook is cheating. Rather provide some basis for discussion like:
"I feel Wound Allocation is a bad system. I feel it was designed to help shooting armies by allowing special weapons to not remain alive until the last guy but make it possible for them to die before plebs of the squad dies. However, this system can be very complex and slows the game down especially when there are different types of wounds (i.e. instant death, no armor save, etc.) and multi-wound models which goes against what 5th ed 40k was really about, streamlining. Furthermore, shooting with ignore save guns and non-ignore save guns can actually make you do less wounds! Whilst you can obviously make the choice not to shoot everything it seems counter-intuitive and perhaps bad for the game that shooting with more guns would lead to less deaths. What do you guys think? Is this a bad mechanic for 40k or does it's purpose to potentially remove specials that important? What are some changes to perhaps stop the 'abusing' of this rule with multiple-wound models or speed up wound allocation?"
See how much different that is. It covers most of your points whilst providing your opinion but is actually promoting a discussion rather than bitching and whining (and falsely accusing people of cheating). I actually agree in regards to it slowing the game down but I believe the mechanic is very important for 40k and I think the biggest problem is multi-wound models like Nobs and Thunderwolves. Whilst you could simply say any wounded models must have wounds allocated to them first (even with different wargear and excepting ICs) as a change, it's still going to be rather slow to someone who doesn't understand the game. So, let's hear your thoughts, what are some other options to help the wound allocation system out and do you think the mechanic is necessary in 40k. You may also flame, face-palm, rage, cry, rage war upon, etc. iamaddj to make yourself feel better.