Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Email in: From a Venerable Dreadnought who has been slumbering since M32 [comp & stuff]

This is going to be a very light snowmobile on my behalf as I want to get to bed! We've got two more e-mails two deal with (I think Puppy is posting them) but we'll prob be replying them a bit later than normal as we'd like to get back to our normal programing! As usual, my comments in blue and this will be a bit more light-hearted as Zenos and I go way back....way (what, last week?).

From the Venerable Dreadnought Zenos. Something witty...

I read your reply I was unaware bankers were literate =D to your post with some interest on the Sweedish issue and tournaments in general. What follows are some things that perhaps both sides of any comp vs non comp environment might consider. I will introduce myself here to your readers. I have been playing 40k and Fantasy now since 87. Thats before Kirby was born, and as we have joked I have figures older than you... and I have seen the rise and fall of now 5 variations of the 40k system and everything from 3rd edition fantasy onward. I also have and do play such games as Advanced Squad Leader, GDW Europa, GMT stuff and a plethora of other games. Basically he has too much time on his hands! I feel I have a different perspective than perhpas a lot of your readers may have, but also might give some of you collectively pause to think.

Firstly let me say I do understand a frustration that anyone taking a gaming system and making adjustments too it, is going to divide a gaming community. Thanks. Way to make your first impression a good one. I knew you knew about psychological phenomena. After all who is to say what is fair for one list or set of rules is fair for another and in an environment of pure competition then it should be a level playing field so that rankings etc can be seen.

However I am unsure whether your looking at how GW and the game has evolved and where the GW corp are taking it. Most likely not. We are taking the general overview of 2nd/3rd/4th and comparing it to 5th (I think most of us have played those editions to some extent) and looking at the tournament evolution probably since 4th edition. I think the Non Comp scene is trying to get the 1982 Mazda 323 to fly to the Moon literally and its never going to happen. These are the reasons why.... but first some history!

In 2nd edition 40k.... the big box where you got a cardboard cut out of an ork dread and 40 grots! there was a thing called strategy cards. One was quite cool, it was a virus card. It removed on a random roll any figure who physically didnt have a gas mask or enclosed helment. No ifs No buts..... just gone. As you can imagine it left a lot of us shaking our head at the design team of the day. But you could also do other things like create an entire army of terminators.... Force Organization charts did not exsist and if you really wanted you could do an entire Elite army. Why is this relevant to the discussion? Its to show you where 40k has come from and its original environment. I.e. it is way better. Ask any 2nd edition Space Wolves player if it was legal to add a cyclone and assualt cannon in the same 5 man terminator squad, it was and it caused havoc at tournaments in the US and the UK at the time. It was right there... probably 1990 or so that Tournaments in general began to be modified to level the playing field so that games could be played fairly and without the rubbish like virus cards. It then grew till and I roll my eyes too, you have things like homebrew internet rules being used at tournaments as some fat pizza gobbling munchkin who plays an elf themed goblin army got his ass handed to him by a Tyranid player back in 1994 and he wants goblins to start with a 40 point bonus or whatever.

This has evolved over the years to the situation you have today with.....

1). Out of date Codexes which desperately need overhauls. Yes.
2). Tournaments organized along no clear official lines of play with said pizza eaters dishing out decrees like they are a Chapter Master. Partly due to the misperception of the current evolution of 40k (i.e. 5th edition is much more balanced than previous editions) and partly because GW left the tournament scene recently. There are rays of hope though ^^.
3). Segments of the gaming community almost in fear of playing certain lists due to the fact they are rubbished on the INTERNETZ. Are awesomised when they aren't. Like Lash and Nob Bikers.
4). GW standing back and basically not doing a lot about the entire thing. I said it first!

What I see as the overiding issue here is that it is VERY unlikely the situation will change. The game was designed to be a wargame hobby. Yup. It was never a pure game of tactics! But the rules were designed for a tactical game so this must be considered as well. If it was we all might as well play chess, thats fair, thats totally open after centuries of stress testing and its the same rules in Germany, Switzerland, Sweeden, England and anywhere else. But no pretty painting! You want a pure competitive environment? Play chess. Thats as good as it gets. Your not going to get the same with a wargamer hobby. Sorry thats the truth of it... as I see it anyway. I agree with you to an extent. There's always going to be some imbalances within 40k compared to chess because of the amount of variables and depth of multiple codecies but looking at the competitive lists (not armies, lists) there is a lot less variation in those lists than previous editions. Yes there are some armies which don't even factor in but it is a lot better than many make it out to be.

This is where I begin to get a little irksome over the scream of Non Comp supporters... I should start cesnoring! If you really want a competitive environment it would include modeling, painting and other aspects of the hobby total. (I can hear your sharp intake of breath Mr. Kirby....) Why? yes it's part of the hobby but when we consider competitive the hobby doesn't factor in. This is not to say I dislike the hobby aspect, I love painting and modelling and think it should be recognised and I think both can be done at the same tournament (hi Nova and Centurion). You will probably argue that well I can't paint as well as blah blah and who is to say that person A is a better player than person B due to a painted army or greenstuffed model. In that regard you are correct. Its never going to be perfect. I don't even think you or anyone else will find a solution. Anarchy?

BUT.... if your going to judge the worthiness of your opponent on pure tactics and list and then how they play 5 turns, then great.... but thats not always fair either. Thats like saying you are the best ever footy player as you can kick the best, furthest, most goals... BUT you cannot catch the ball, bounce it or pass it? Bit different here though as all of those aspects of sport impact on the outcome of the game. If my models look ass it doesn't mean all my 6's are 5's or my models move 6" max (lol @ red paint). So you can push grey plastic around but can't paint it? GW created a wargame hobby.... not a game of pure tactics and as much as I love to play and win... in my own opinion to truly judge a persons ability then it has to be included as you are looking at the whole... not one part. Again, the rules are written for the game though. Sure there can rules so you can actually fight with your minis rather than just making rawr noises but, especially in 5th edition, that rule-set is designed to be as balanced as possible within the paradigm GW is operating under. I feel they have done this very well this edition and with their latest 5 40k books and this paradigm means jack all if there wasn't some focus on 'competitive design.' I do recognize that its totally unfair to judge a game on that as its all far too subjective and thats another reason why warhammer and 40k will never be about I am the rank 122 out of 400 or whatever as its too subjective a task to judge fairly overall. Agreed but I do think this can be less subjective when painting/fluff/comp/sports/etc are included. As above, 40k & Fantasy are never going to be 100% balanced or as level as chess because of the intense development which would be required but (man I'm saying that a lot) there are distinct differences between good gamers and bad gamers. Yes good gamers vs good gamers should end up as 50/50 wins unless one list has an advantage so it almost comes down to list hammer or dice rolls at the 'top end' of the spectrum but it is capable of seperating good and bad players and becoming a good player is a lot easier than becoming a good painter (otherwise we'd all be Van Gough's with the right motivation!).

Other things to consider.

1). GW can't afford to update 5 armies within a 3 month period of release with a new Codex which considers the new rules. Agreed. If they did a FAQ update monthly it would go a LONG way to solving this issue. Agreed. But it still won't fix every issue with a tactical game which is going to throw 1000000 different situations at it. Agreed. Not to mention the language barriers between versions of rules. (Ask any DE player at the moment about the Ring of Hotek.... Germans and Frenchies unite under a better version due to a few words vs their English speaking brothers...)

2). Unlike Cricket or Soccer the rules are not simple Cricket is a simpleton game =p. enough to be interpreted clearly due to the nature of the game. What's a 4+ cover save to some TO in Sweeden is not to a TO in Melbourne will always happen. Thats human nature, we all view things differently and the rules are not complicated enough to give us accurate data. Well then lets do better rules? Why doesnt GW do better or more complex explanations? Well why should it? The game was not designed to be a rulebook taking 4 years and Doctorate to understand..... its meant to be easy enough that the 14 year old can play it.... thats right the target market!... that thing where those screaming kids who want more SPACE MARINEZZZ painted blue come in with mommy and daddys shopping dollar. Compare 5th to 4th. 4th to 3rd. 3rd to 2nd. Much better in terms of understanding. Yes there will be issues which need to be cleared up (and if GW did FAQs regularly, this could be overcome) but for the most part the rules are detailed enough, clear enough and simple enough.

So.... what is a solution? Anarchy!

Possible solutions...

1). A world wide rules standard in any language needs to be a starting point. I haven't come across issues here but I'll take your word for it!

2). A truly independent GW authority to judge painting standards and modeling based off a set clear criteria. ie; shading, basing, number of colors etc. Don't think this is necessary as I don't think it needs to be included in 'competitive' events. Included within tournaments? Yes. It is a hobby but there is a gaming aspect to it and people who have mobility defeciencies (extreme example) shouldn't be penalised because of this.

3). TRIPPLE the size of the basic rule book and be clear and update the rules with a zine style supplement EVERY month, that allows it to be reactive to tournament situations so they can be applied universally..... ie; Well in London this month... Kirby playing Nids ran into the marsh and it was decided that as it had never happened before that from now on all nids in that marsh will have a 5++. Please adjust all TO scorecards and make it official at your sanctioned event. The rulebook does not need to be more complex & longer, we don't want the INAT. Supplements though NEED to be better though (i.e. planetstrike) where they are actually balanced and documents addressing issues should be released ASAP. Making the rulebook bigger gives you more scope but atm we need to batton down what we've already got before expansion.

4). Update codexes every 3 months with a FAQ across the board. Not going to happen. Money reasons.

5). Have GW take actual control of the competitive side of the hobby and kill the pizza eaters DEAD. Agreed or teach people how to run events. I'd ask Mike to teach GW first though.

6). Play Kill and Destroy only. The winner is the player who has killed that many points of his opponent or more points. Or perhaps 3 missions randomly decided. BUT they would have to be very fair, with simple objectives only that can be seen to be achieveable. ie; 3 points to capture, centre, left square 12Y, 3X etc. (Grids on boards would make this a LOT simpler for full tournament play even if the grid was removed after deployment or before) Disagree with this. Objective/quarter based missions are pretty simple and effective. Whilst the BRB books lead to alot of ties, missions with tiers which avoid ties are excellent IMO. Yes there is scope for more mission variation and this is generally where tournaments come un-stuck. They over do it and they generally aren't good missions. Simple seek and destroy missions would advocate a different type of a game and under the current ruleset, simpler and less tactical.

7). Standard Boards with Standard layouts of terrain that are the same at EVERY tournament in that season world wide. The Tennis Court approach... I can play here or Paris... the lengths and widths are the same and layed out the same way. Possible if GW takes over tournaments but boring. A good general is able to read a board much better than a poor general. Whilst more specific guidelines by GW for an appropiate table layout would be better but having standardised terrain would lose players. Perhaps a 20? templates or something would be better much like RTS PC games.

Thats the only way I can see for the game to come closer to a level playing field for a wargame hobby approach, and even then... it might not be enough.

And yes Mr. Kirby Dr..... you will kick my ass with your nids....I do appreciate how passionate you and your non comp supporters are. But I still like painting and modelling! I am with you on 90% of what you say and I am amazed at some of the things you and your other authors can create with lists. I almost sit there and wish.... my god... so much energy into plastic spacemen.... imagine if they turned that passion into creating a faster than light engine or a solution to world hunger.... My psych thesis rocks. What are you doing Mr. Banker? But my dear sir, my RT era guard will still like the 80's they were made in ROCK THE CASBAH. Its not winning Mr. Kirby... its how you play with class and style that matters. Armani?

As you can see I agree and disagree with Zenos. The main convergence is painting and gaming need to be incorporated into tournaments. I think this is a pretty common feeling by most players but where we disagree is whether or not this affects your tournament placing, much like comp or sportsmanship scores. Yes there should be tournaments like this but there should be the other side where it's not included. This is why I like the NOVA system because you have people who enjoy painting and want to use the models they like rather than 'top notch' stuff and can still win. However, there is a prize based completely on win/loss ratio where one individual ends up being undefeated. In essence there are "two" winners and the whole aspect of the hobby and game is incorporated.

10 pinkments:

Brother Loring said...

I'd say I agree with almost all of Kirby's points in this post.

I think some of the points demonstrate how peoples opinions of the 'game' vary and what they are looking for from a tournament.

Does the rule book NEED FAQ'ing?

Do the codices NEED levelling?

What are YOU looking for out of a tournament?

My opinions would be...

Great Rule Book. Very, very few grey areas. Terrain recommendations made.

Codices whilst not 100% even, I think all codices do have a least one competitive build. New ones are easier to do well with, but overall, not that much more powerful. The 'easier to do well' with is why they're seen more frequently. I don't think the whole 'OP OP OP' debate is a valid one.

I'm looking for a competitive tournament where the best GENERAL goes home with the best GENERAL award and the best hobbyist goes home with a very seperate one. They're different things. Generals may enjoy painting, but that's not what I'm awarding them for.

You want a event that focuses on the hobbying side of the game, go for it. Just don't claim it is competitive.

You want to change/FAQ the rules, go for it, just don't claim it's real 40k. If I can't play the actual rules with my GW approved list, it's not 40k. It may be very similar, but, you change the rules, you change the game.

Sage said...

Codecies need around 2-3 competitive builds each. All units need to be fieldable under certain conditions (Ethreal, Krootox, Sniper Drone Teams, Vespids, Fish of Fury).

Also, something I wanted to clarify about Comp. I don't like Comp because I don't think it solves the problem. The problem is that some units/codecies are weak. They haven't been updated in a while, were weak to start with, or have abilities that are no longer use (target priority). If comp solved these things, I'd be quite happy with it. But when I see comp slam down armies just because of choices, I get annoyed. It should buff armies that take lesser choices, pure and simple.

Zenos said...

Points of Order... :)

1). Its actually Dr. Zenos. (we can do the entire Doctor... Doctor thing when we meet)

2). There is nothing wrong with Armani... well I don't game in it! But I do have the Gordon Gekko shirts, ties and most importantly hair.

3). Lets do lunch... (Banker wolf smiles)

Kirby said...

@Sage; the new ones have many more than 2-3. The old ones do not. Assuming GW keeps up their decent (not great thanks to Nid FAQ) track record of late with 40k codecies & FAQs (hell look at the Fantasy FAQs) this should hopefully be rectified as they release new books.

1) lies
2) shame I can't afford it. Ben Sherman for me
3) it'll cost you a $100 consultation fee

Sage said...

Which is what I'm worried about for Tau. Those bastards better not screw up the codex.

Zenos said...

@ Kriby.

1). Actually true. Byznatine Naval Tactics and Greek Fire from 1200 - 1453 as part of a greater study of the Med War between Cross and Crescent. Whats yours?

2). Ben Sherman.... tsk tsk...

3). Then you only owe me $400 as I charge $500 an hour. :)


Kirby said...

1) and you became a banker!? wtf went wrong? lol mine will be on cyberpsychology and my current one is on the r/ship between personality/EI/demographics and internet addiction. Go me.

2) better than ralph lauren ^^. Besides 22 > 30-whatever lol

3) I was unaware our lunch session was also banking advice. I thought it was just a 'session.'

Zenos said...

you see kirby.... first it was you getting off... now its a session.... what does your psych profile tell you about the language you are using?

WTF went wrong? Its called money..... and although I will never be happy being a banker... so what! I live in the best class of misery ever. :)

Sage said...

He's a banker in the same way that most engineers and the best mathematicians are sent to Wall Street in the US. Being a scientist gives you a poverty-level salary, going into engineering will give you ~$40-50k at VERY best starting, while Wall Street pays that much at absolute minimum.

Also, Kirby, there's an interesting book you should read if you're interested in addiction:
There's an interesting interview with the doctor who wrote the book here:

Kirby said...

Most research assistants start off around 50-65k, same with engineering recruits just out of uni. Dentists get paid the best at 65k+ out of uni with whatever qualification they have ^^.

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