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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kill Points vs Victory Points & alternative tournament winning conditions

This post is inspired by the below e-mail from Foh. Whilst there are other e-mails before this which need to be answered I thought I'd post this now because of the recent discussion about such concepts in relation to the recent completion of the NOVA Open. Don't worry, your e-mails will be answered shortly! The email is below in italics with my thoughts below.

“hi there!

i have been lurking YTTH and 3++ for some time now and learned a lot. a big thx to everyone that puts effort into educating the 40k community! :)

when i read about the nova open at dakka (the dash vs stelek match caught my interest) i discovered a discussion about KP vs VP. i can understand both sides of the argument. i looked up YTTH for that matter and found that stellie is not a fan of KP. he had some good arguments. another thing is there are often additional objectives in tournaments like "hold" tablequarters", "kill troops", whatever...i am more of a core rule purist... i prefer to stick to the missions in the rulebook for competetive play because they are the official ones. no question: the more different stuff to play in fun games the better! but when it comes to hard-fought fights for the win i'd prefer simple well known missions, the ones in the core rules. they may not be optimal but they are known to everyone and everyone played them before.

my question is what's the 3++crew's opinion on this matter? should TOs create their own missions to try to improve the game or change it a bit to their own likes? is it just another point to prove that you are good at 40k when you can adjust your army and strategy to new missions? does such a changing mission environment water down the comparability of events and put players at a disadvantage that cannot affort to adjust their army often to best fit the environment they will play in next?

greetings from germany,

Hey foh, lurk less and post more! I skimmed the Dakka post and I recall Stelek’s post from last year. I’ll give you my thoughts first and then we’ll open up the discussion for everyone else. I firstly agree with you and some of the posters on Dakka that stripping things like KP or making odd missions is not 40k. This is the exact same reasoning for why comp is bad, especially since GW has put out a very balanced system of late with 5th edition + new books. However, in regards directly to the NOVA Open, Mike’s missions were play-tested extensively. I think the organisers racked up over 1000 test games and from the success of NOVA, I’m going to say they balanced this well and kudos to them. The biggest problem with making your own missions is this kind of effort is rare and so the missions are often not balanced or don’t focus on 5th edition concepts. Mike’s missions were tested, were balanced from what I can see and did highlight 5th edition elements of mobility, Troops, objectives, midfield, etc. Mike’s missions weren’t overly complex either. I’m not too familiar with them but looking at the missions from some of the BoLS tournaments and the recent Lords of Terra, some of the missions are overly complex and/or introduce new factors into the game (I.e. secret orders). Tournament missions aren’t there to trick you or surprise you or test your adaptability, that’s your opponent’s job. Tournament missions are to separate winners and losers whilst hopefully adding a bit of balanced spice to the game.

So in regards to making their own missions I think TO’s should, 9 mission variants is great from the rulebook but gets boring fast, especially with KP and capture & control. What TO’s need to keep in mind when they make missions though is what 5th edition 40k is about and don’t screw around with new funny deployments. Mike’s missions used deployments everyone was familiar with, just the actual winning was different. This offers some variety but doesn’t require a mass amount of learning before the tournament. It’s also REALLY important to publish the player’s pack very early so everyone can look at the missions and get their head around them. Good tournament missions shouldn’t require a balanced 5th edition army to change it’s make-up as this shows the missions are relating to the core concepts of 5th edition. This is a good thing. Refer to the ‘Ard Boyz missions this past year, the prevalence of night fight made some armies really need to work on their layout and this is not a good thing. Whilst it was a change of pace and it could be done, it’s also changing 5th edition. Whilst this is GW’s prerogative because it’s their game, regular TO’s should be very hesitant before doing this.

So specifically to the KP issue, did Mike err or not? I personally believe he didn’t. Competitive armies really don’t care about KP because most of those are 15+ KP anyway. I can think of very few balanced armies at 2000 which have too many less than 15KP and most of those are competitive foot. Lists which are specifically designed to minimise KP gain an advantage in 1/3 of games but generally suck anyway (I.e. Nob Bikers). So what happens in a tournament setting where a minimised KP army meets a balanced army? The minimised KP army has an inherent advantage and this is bad. No army should have inherent advantages or disadvantages in a tournament mission and whilst GW may have implemented this as another deterrent away from min/maxing (I..e. MSU), their codices and 5th edition ruleset (pro-mech) doesn’t support this. If you have two armies which both have 15+ KP, not a problem but in a tournament setting you can randomly be assigned against a minimised KP army and in a proper tournament setting where the winner is undefeated, well that’s your tournament screwed unless you table your opponent.

Back to did Mike err or not. By removing KP completely he did indeed change the make-up of 40k but by removing this aspect of 5th edition, he made the rest of 40k more streamlined IMO and kept with 5th edition concepts. KP don’t make balanced lists worse and if you ever don’t include units/transports because of KP, well stop. Right now. Army composition is WAY more important than KP. Are there different ways to handle this rather than completing remove KP? Yes. Stelek’s 5x5 mission is a very good example, especially for a tournament setting. Using a mix of objectives and kill points where kill points are assigned by your opponent provides instantaneous primary and secondary objectives and the additions of table quarters, kill troops, etc. can be added in as well. Add in three deployment styles and that’s way more mission types than what they BRB currently has and yet all still focus on 5th edition concepts.

So whilst I think running a system where you pick your kill points (which also brings in the tactical knowledge of knowing what is important in your opponent's army in relation to the mission being played and against your army list) would be better than the no KP system, VP were a good choice which everyone knew and easily replaced KP as a tertiary scoring system. The removal of KP completely from the tournament I think was what a lot of people were questioning and I think the removal of low KP armies having inherent advantages in KP games where they were in fact worse lists was a good thing.

To summarise, I think Mike did a great job. He took out KP which does kind of change 40k but he did it in a way which discourages individuals running minimised KP lists and promoting fun and competitive lists whilst emphasising what 5th edition has brought to 40k.

So what does everyone else think? Do you think the removal of KP by NOVA Open was okay and should be ecnouraged in other tournaments or do you think KP should be kept but with some modifications to ensure some armies don’t have inherent advantages in some missions or should they be scrapped for a different system? Any other thoughts, let's hear em!

16 pinkments:

VT2 said...

I think removing it was okay, but I really don't mind killpoints, battlepoints, victorypoints, or any other 'points' you have to count when rolling the 'kill all the dudes'-scenario. Never have, never probably will.

The Stelek scenario - arbitrary points assigned to units. Said units must be destroyed to gain the points - seems like a very smart thing.

For official tournaments, basic corebook scenarios should be used, or the geniuses and veterans should sit down with GW, and decide on a much, much better system to use for sanctioned events.

God, I type a lot in all my replies :(

Alex said...

I haven't had too much tournament experience, but I think there's fine line to walk when tweaking the core scenarios. Years back I played a Necromunda campaign/tournament where the rules (and I mean rules, not just the scenarios) were so arbitrarily modified that the thing became unpleasant. Oh, and I always like VP's, but I'm not heartbroken over KP's.

Ishamael said...

KP's can burn in hell. :P

I'm on the side of Victory Points as it gauges damage dealt to the opponent.

Vallek said...

Agreed, a friend of mine plays an ork horde with half as many kill points as me. I hate them so much =(

Eltnot said...

I have a love hate relationship with KP's.

They ruined my Witch Hunter's army build at the time because I was using death cult assassins. Giving away easy kill points through them hurt my list to much so I dropped them and the Inquisitor, but at the end of the day, that's about my only dislike for them, and it is mostly caused by using an old codex.

I love KP's however for the reasons that most of the above posters hate them. An army that includes a lot of units, includes a lot of KP's. It makes them weaker in KP games. It makes them STRONGER in objective missions. Suddenly you have many more units to hold and contest objectives with. The amount of KP's in your army is a double edged sword, and quite frankly it's supposed to be.

People who want to ignore KP's to me, seem the kind of people who just want to win. They don't want to have to put in the effort, they just want to get what they want. Fifth edition has been around for over two years now, and if you haven't gotten over the fact, than you're just whiny.

Jwolf said...

I've found Kill Points to be a fantastic mechanism for gameplay, and I don't miss Victory Points at all.
Generally a good player will make very little change to his list in order to deal with Kill Point missions. What a good player will do is weigh playing for the Kill Point objective against acheiving more useful in-game results, and this is a good thing.
Mike did absolutely fine making his missions his way - that is on of the few perks of running a tournament (most of the rest is blood, sweat, toil, and tears). I don't find his mathematical case compelling, and I think mostly complaints about Kill Points are from theoretical rather than actual players.
Heck, before playing 5e, I thought KP would be terrible for Imperial Guard. With hundreds of game behind me, I now consider KP the best possible mission to draw as a Guard player (in particular, Spearhead Annihilation most favors the Imperial Guard). So think some of the hatred for Kill Points is simply knee jerk reactions from people who haven't played enough to have the experience to know better.

Chumbalaya said...

I don't like KPs as a mechanic (the whole Land Raider = Grots thing, plus squadrons) but I've never had a problem with them myself. It's a balancing measure, albeit a hamfisted attempt.

My army I took to Nova only has 12 KPs plus the Lone Wolves and I lost to armies with more KPs than I had. I would have lost either way and I would have won either way in my other games.

What makes the Nova missions different from most rules-changing tourney missions is the playtesting and effort that went into them. From all the stress-testing people put the Nova missions though, I am totally on board with them.

Jwolf said...


I agree that testing missions is important. We're already testing new mission element ideas for next year down here. I never thought to make a big deal out of testing missions, as I just assumed that any decent TOs would do it. I know Adepticon tests and lets others test their missions for months ahead of time, too.

I think the main difference about NOVA's mission testing is that by limiting them to 3 elements, the testing can be more redundant. Of course, it also makes playing the missions a lot more straightforward for participants, so that reinforces preparation over tabletop skill, which I do necessarily favor in tournament play, as players who prepare more already have a significant advantage without having an additional advantage of very small pool of missions to prepare for. But that's just my opinion, and I think Mike has the opposite, so guess need a riverdance-off to determine who is right.

Kirby said...

How do straightforward missions reinforce prep over playing the game. They are the same concepts the BRB puts forth. Sure coming with a crap list is bad but if you're running a 5th edition list you don't have to 'adapt' to NOVA because it exemplifies 5th edition.

Black Blow Fly said...

The BRB suggests using VP as a tie breaker, none of the rulebook missions use VP as an objective - this is a fact. KP was designed as a balance for armies designed around MSUs. Im sure you've heard this all before, it's nothing new. Players have been debating this very subject since the release of 5ed. If a TO wants to use VP instead of KP that is fine but it should not be put on a pedestal for all other TOs to follow. If a TO likes the idea of using VP instead of KP that is fine but not necessary by any means to run a successful GT. The Internet has been saturated lately by bloggers and others suggesting that the NOVA system should be the new standard. To me this smacks of those people telling us we should adopt the INAT FAQ so that everyone can play by the same set of rules.


Kirby said...

It was stated above that VP is a deviation from the rulebook and KP. How is KP a balancing factor? A crap army gains a benefit against a good army in 1/3 of missions. GW wants to support crap armies why?

Using VP instead of KP is not why people are suggesting they follow NOVAs format. If you read above I suggest putting KP back in but in a way which does not benefit armies who attempt to minimise their KP and rather encourage good list building. People are suggesting follow NOVAs format because it caters to everyone. There is a clear-cut competitive side which rolls over to Day2 and provides an alpha dog who didn't lose a single game not which isnot based on battle points. Competitive gamers = happy. The rest of the tournament is all about balanced misisons (good for everyone) and the hobby. Matches for fun, swag bags, interviews, streaming, painting comp, best mini comp, sportsman ship and overall. You've got both sides of the pond included. What's not to like? The system may not be perfect (like the KP/VP thing) but it's a bloody sight better than the other events out there which are much more hobby oriented.

What does the INAT FAQ have to do with anything here?

Black Blow Fly said...

Okay I will come back in a year and we can count how many other GTs adopt the NOVA system. Do you think it will be more than 5? More than 10?

Funny a these bloggers with nothing better to do with your time. Heh !


Kirby said...

You do that. As MVB has pointed out, he's had a lot of requests for NOVA assistance to create like-minded tournaments.

You'll also notice that I've never insulted anyone else's tournament based on the work they put into it. I may disagree with JWolf on his missions and how he runs the scoring but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the effort he has put into his tournaments. Same with Lords of Terra in Australia which wargamerAU didn't get when I provided my feedback (which they also provided but seperately).

The reason I think NOVA is such a good system is it caters to the hobby and competitive and there are a lot more arguments against other tournaments being hobby based (i.e. winner = based on overall rather than W/L). That's why I sit here and support it and when it comes to Australia (ssssh!), I'll be supporting it, too.

It's funny how you have nothing better to do than troll about something you think we having nothing better to do.

derek said...

"Tournament missions aren’t there to trick you or surprise you or test your adaptability, that’s your opponent’s job."

Possibly the best quote I've read about tournament missions.

lyracian said...

Having looked at the NOVA scenarios I do not think switching between KP/VP's would make much difference to how balanced they are. It would make a difference to what armies players bring.

Armies with lots of troops have the advantage in objective missions. I love it when my opponent turns up with only two scoring units it makes my job so much easier.

While I doubt it was GW's intention Kill Points do discourage MSU. 40k is intended to simulate a war (or at least a single battle within one). I do not see three Long Fangs sitting in a Rhino as a 'realistic' unit.

The problem with KP's is transports turning your ten units into 15 KP's. Perhaps units that cost less than 50 points should not give up any kill points? Although that is probably just too helpful to marines...

Da Warboss said...

Without getting too complicated, I used the C:SM book for a look at how a modified kill points game might be used. All units in the first Kill Points list are for large games, and divide the cost /100 + their unit type bonus (HQ add +
3, Elite and Heavy Support add +2, Fast add +1, troops add +0. Units counting as
'troops' due to special/indy. characters would be worth their normal kill point
cost (No cheaper Kill Point value due to being made into scoring units!). The
saem would apply for a land raider bought as a dedicated still
costs the same as a Heavy Support Land Raider because it loses no abilities. The
/25 column would be used for smaller games where the ability/power level would
be more prominent.

Space Marine Codex: Base Cost Kill Points Kill Points at /25 scale

Marneus Calgar 250 6 13
Cato Sicarius 200 5 11
Tigurius 230 6 13
Cassius 125 5 8
Pedro Kantor 175 5 10
Darnath Lysander 200 5 11
Kayvann Shrike 195 5 11
Vulkan He'Stan 190 5 11
Kor'Sarro Khan 160 5 10
SM Chapter Master 125 base 5 base 8 base
Honor Guard add their cost to the Base Cost. None
SM Captain 100 base 4 base 7 base
SM Command Squad add their cost to Base Cost. None
SM Librarian 100 base 4 base 7 base
SM Chaplain 100 base 4 base 7 base
MotForge 100 base 4 base 7 base
TAC Squad 90 base 1 base 4 base
Scout Squad 75 base 1 base 3 base
Sgt. Telion adds his cost to Scout Squad Base Cost. None

Rhino 35 base 1 2 base
Razorback 40 base 1 base 2 base
Drop Pod 35 base 1 2 base

Terminator Squad 200 base 4 base 10 base
Terminator Assault Sqd 200 base 4 base 10 base
Sternguard Veteran Sqd 125 base 4 base 7 base
Venerable Dreadnought 165 base 4 base 9 base
Dreadnought 105 base 4 base 7 base
Ironclad Dreadnought 135 base 4 base 8 base
Techmarine 50 base 3 base 4 base
Servitors add their cost to the Techmarine Base Cost. None
Legion/Damned 155 base 4 base 9 base

Assault Squad 100 base 2 base 5 base
Vanguard Veteran Squad 125 base 3 base 6 base
Land Speeder Squadron 50 base 2 base 2 base
SM Bike Squad 90 base 2 base 5 base
Attack Bike Squad 40 base 2 base 3 base
Land Speeder Storm 50 base 2 3
Scout Bike Squad 70 base 2 base 4 base

Devastator Squad 90 base 3 base 6 base
Thunderfire Cannon 100 3 6
Land Raider 250 base 5 12 base
Land Raider Crusader 250 base 5 12 base
Land Raider Reedemer 240 base 5 12 base
Predator 60 base 3 base 4 base
Whirlwind 85 base 3 base 6 base
Vindicator 115 base 4 base 7 base
Chronus adds his base pts. To Tank's Base Cost. None

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