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Monday, August 16, 2010

Standardizing Tournaments: Stage Select



So the Nova Open has come and gone. Besides the bad beats from a certain 0-2 vs 0-2 table, there was no real drama, no bad mouthing, no pushing and shoving, and no accusations of cheating. One thing was very certain however; from what I've seen and heard the terrain was quite excellent, terrain sometimes being a huge point of contention in the wargamming community.

Due to terrain certain armies can sometimes lose before the game has begun. A poorly balanced and thought out table can throw giant wrenches in the mechanics that is proper strategy, deployment, and movement before a single model has been laid on the table. While mowing a large stretch of grass and irresponsibly letting my concentration drift, I started to think of a way to mitigate this.

For instance, here is an idea I've been playing around with for the past few days: imagine if you will, a collection of 10 or so "stages". These "stages" are terrain boards throughly thought out and designed to eliminate imbalances in mission choice and army type. This is obviously no small feat, it could take an unbiased collection of people months of playtesting to get things just right.

Using these 10 stages players could scrutinize the terrain, thinking up how to best utilize it with a specifically designed army, consider match-ups against other armies on specific tables, and overall bring a new level of thought and consideration into our game without having to worry about randomly being boned at the start of a mission.

....Or maybe I'm just full of it? At the risk of coming off sounding like another certain blog out there that does the same thing, tell me what you guys think of this idea. Perhaps we could work together and design some stages amongst ourselves? What are some good examples of table design? Vassal could potentially make this really easy, but we have to account for LOS being a bit screwy.

7 pinkments:

MasterSlowPoke said...

What happened on that one table anyway? I've heard a lot people talking about it but no details.

Eltnot said...

Cool idea, hugely impractical though.

Issue 1: Tournament organisers generally have enough troubles just getting sufficient terrain for all of the tables that they need to run. Throwing out all of your terrain to replace it with "officially sanctioned tournament terrain" is going to be almost impossible, especially as most events rely heavily on terrain being lent by clubs and individuals.

Issue 2: With only ten variants, you won't get to play on any "cool" tables anymore. The kinds that you never get to play on in your local area, and are to me as much an attraction to attend the tournament as getting to play other people is.

Issue 3: You dislike army comp now, can you imagine how much hate "officially sanctioned tournament terrain" is going to attract?

Now that those points are out of the way, I do believe that it is important for TO's to have a good think about how each table is laid out. I've played on more than one table where I couldn't move my rhinos without having to take dangerous terrain tests. Sure, I don't mind making it difficult for mech armies to move but at least provide one or two clear paths. By the same token, I've played a game of 40k on a table that would have been considered almost bare by last edition's Warhammer Fantasy standards.

0range said...

Well, @ 1: if there was "officially sanctioned tournament terrain", you'd think game stores would adapt to have such tables in order to make training sessions and what not possible. Ergo, enough terrain to support tournaments :P

Evil-Termite said...

It's certainly a nice idea. It would be really nice to know that when I go to tournaments that I won't get stuck with terrible terrain that my crisis suits can't hide behind.

If there were 10 officially sanctioned tournament terrain sets I think that terrain placement ought to be up to the players. I've played fairly competitive games against players where we were both placing terrain as strategically as possible. It adds more complexity and strategy to the game.

Also, these terrain sets ought to fill exactly 6 square feet. After all, it's the 25% of the board that the game is designed for.

Now for the bad news. I don't think that it will be practical. Players all over the world have different ideas about what is fair and balanced. Getting them to agree could be almost impossible. Then there is the cost of purchasing new terrain. One of my local shops gets 80 people for their tournaments. That means the store will need to buy 40 sets of the terrain. Even if the terrain sets were as low as $50 each, it would still cost $2000 to get all 40 tables equipped. That's only a $5 increase in tournament fees for a year to generate that kind of money, but my guess it would be more than that.

To make this idea more practical, I think simply adding more guidelines for tournament terrain could work pretty well.

Something like:
- 50% of terrain should be able to hide a rhino behind it.

- 25% should be able to hide a Land Raider.

- 35% should be area terrain that provides cover for infantry but not give any sort of cover to tanks behind it. (IE: Not a lot of tall stuff on it.)

- 50% of terrain should have bases that occupy 50 square inches or more.

The percentages are calculated based on number of square inches they occupy.


That kind of system would allow for different types of boards and for stores to use at least some of the terrain they already own lowering the cost of converting to a tournament terrain system.

Meister_Kai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meister_Kai said...

A lot of really good concerns brought up, I'm glad this inspired some real thought!

I'll admit that I had not considered the actual cost of terrain, and that the number of ten stages was more or less pulled out of thin air. It could be 20, I just wasn't sure if that was too much to do in one go, you know?

Anyway, I really like Evil-Termite's suggestion of percentages! To expand upon this perhaps we could draw up and model "example" terrain and tables that could be used as a tournament guidline? This would be much more feasible for tournaments and provide a clear gateway for mass customization (as long as it didn't compromise the balance of the table).

Kirby said...

I think Eltnot's points are pretty valid and I think the NOVA Open is a good guideline to follow outside of the Tower LoS blockers in the middle (my only real complaint). It could be done but would need a lot of work and I can't really see "officially sanctioned" terrain sets but rather terrain guidelines in height/width/etc.

@SlowPoke; not sure but from what I've gathered a guy got really pissy and left to "not spoil the mood."

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