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"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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So you're going to play in a comp tournament.....

Yes, we all do it. Especially here in Oz. There is a prevalence of comp-style tourneys, be it peer, TO, panel, and the like. I know, we here at Pinksville 3++ (patent pending) don't advocate comp in any format, but unfortunately for everyone who isn't VT2, we like playing tourneys.Today I'm going to take you on a little journey that I call bullshitville, better known as how to play comp rather than letting it play you.

Panel Comp - The only passable kind. Still skewed, and only really viable if those on the panel are from a selection of the hobby environment, from hardcore tourney players, to fluff bunny windowlickers. This style of comp relies on your list being submitted to a group of people (5+, the more the better) who aren't actually playing in the tournament. They then rate your list by the same arbitrary crapfest indicators, judging its power, fluffiness, and all round dietary intake advice before putting their scores into the system. The system then averages out your score over the total, and gives you your comp for the tourney.

 Pro's - When done with a good selection of judges, it can be a fair indicator of list "hardness". If the tournament is seeded by comp (see CowCon in Rockhampton, QLD) this can lead to fairer initial match ups, which don't affect the overall outcome of the tourney.

Con's - When done with a poor selection of judges, its terrible. I haven't been on the receiving end of this, but it does happen. Also, because the judges are usually from different areas of the country, the panel members have different ideas of the 'meta', and what is/isn't a strong list. This leads to more variation in individual scores, which skews the process. Said judges may or may not be forum whores, and may or may not believe that Warseer and Dakka army list judging is spot on.

What you can do about it - The same thing you can do with every type of comp - go hard or go home. That being said, you can do little things to your list without destroying its viability. We will call this "white lies" from now on, and I'll explain it at the end of the article.

Peer Comp - As it sounds. Each player gives you a score based on how hard he/she thinks your army is, whether or not they would take it, whether it has a theme, etc etc. Should always be done before the game, to prevent chipmunking, and should have a fairly easy to follow set of check boxes that are fair to every army.

Pro's - Allows your opponents to judge your list based on what they like/dislike. I know, doesn't sound like much, but I've gotta give it something.

Con's - Just about everything. Depending on where your tourney is held, Space Wolves may be the new awesomesauce. Travel 500kms north, and Imp Guard are kings of the hill. Your comp score will vary based on perceptions at a local club level, which is bad if your from out of town, and don't know what people think is a "hard" list. Same goes for experience. One local DE player scored horribly on comp for our local tourney, yet with a harder list, scored almost double at a tourney in a major city. Difference? People in the second tourney actually knew what a raider was. To be honest, they actually knew what DARK ELDAR was, and this was before the new codex.

What you can do about it -  9/10ths of **** all. Basically, most people have preconceived notions in their head about what constitutes a "POWAFUL!" list. If you play that army, prepare to be dunked. If you play most 5th ed  codices armies in an efficient manner, guess what, your too strong. Unfortunately, subconsciously, people will often mark you down just because they don't like playing your Flamerback Spam with their horde ork army. Bad match ups can mean bad comp scores, for no other reason that they don't feel its fair to play you.

Tourney Organiser Scored Comp - phew, what a mouthful. This is the pinnacle of comp creation - he who runs the tourney, makes the rules. Gives birth to all manner of ideas, usually based on the TO's personal experience. Also, as a store owner (and this is a generalisation) you fall into a category of gamer that isn't usually that keen on competitive gaming. I'm sure there are FLGS owners that pride themselves on their WAAC game style, but I haven't met any.

Pro's - There are none. No, seriously, unless you happen to have a clued on TO, who can judge fairly, has a good 40k general knowledge, has good tourney experience as a player, and knows enough about different competitive sites that exist on the net.

Con's - Everything not mentioned above. I had an incident this year, with a TO, who literally scored a leafblower army a 9 for comp. Out of 10. My hybrid Tau scored a manly 5. The difference? The 2 page novella he attaches to his army list for tournaments. He did, in his defense, beat me in our first game against each other, by a massive 15VP's, and he is quite a good, and competitive player. I had even argued with this particular TO (the night before, amongst many rum drinks) that really, I should get a 3 - 4 for comp. Nice guy, not much real world 40k experience. Was I pissy that I had lost the tourney over a short story? Not really, I won on battle points. Another friend of ours however missed out on a place entirely, because he ran razorwolves

What can you do about it - Read the player pack prior to the list submission date, for starters. Suss out players from the local area, if you can, using the net etc, and see what people play in that area. Do your homework. Some TO's just want fluffy bunny cuddles, no matter how hard your list is. For instance, the Imp Guard player from above had his 1750 pt version of the list refused at QLD Masters this year, because it was too hard. Yet it scored 9/10 for comp. See where I'm going with this?

What to do..........?

So you've entered a comp tourney. Great! 5 games in a weekend in a competitive (hobby) environment is fun. I don't know about you guys, but I drink a lot of beer, talk to a lot of gamers, and generally have a good time. That's the social side. Now, what the hell can you do about these silly comp restrictions?

Lesson 1: White lies
              Write your list as per usual. Now look at your units, and think "What can I do to replace that with a crappier option from the same codex?" This one isn't easy to do. The best example I can think of is using something like Blood Claws in place of Grey Hunters. Change them over to a Flamer, and put a Wolf Guard in the unit with a combi flamer, or run meltagun/combi melta. Do that to 2 of your Razorwolves squads, and watch your comp points ding up. Comp hates spammed FOC choices. Do your best to vary your choices, and still get the job done. Take 3 Las/Plas Razors, and 3 Assault Cannon Razors. Is it as good as taking 6 Las Plas? No, but in a compy tournament, its likely that you will still have the required tools to get the job done.

Lesson 2: Parchment of Untruth
             Take said list from above, and put it into some program you are comfortable formatting with. Now find an awesome picture of the Lol-fex, and underlay it behind your MC heavy 'Nid list. No, seriously, find some images of stuff that is in your army, and add it to your list. Name your units. Even if its just Sergeant Billy Bob of the Space Wolves, and Billy Bob's Tact Squad, and Billy Bob's Rape Dungeon Rhino, that shit makes people think you care about your little plastic men. Little touches like these allow you to portray an image of fluffiness, even though you are running Vulkan and 10 x TH/SS Termies in Flameraiders of Doom.

Lesson 3: WYSIWYG
             This one is mostly for the peer comp environs, where people can see your army and your minis before they judge you. Don't turn around and play your Thousand Son's CSM army as Codex: Blood Angels, and expect to make friends. I know, its crap that people haven't accepted that marines can be LOTS of different things, depending on your mood, and thats why they are fun. If you are gonna run Chaos as C:BA, make sure your marines are red. Make sure your razorbacks have chaos symbols on them. Make time to research your fluff, before the game. When your opponent asks for your list, make the effort to sneak in that your playing your Iron Hands as Codex: Space Wolves, because in the Horus Heresy Books, Ferrus Manus is hell angry all the time, and his army is described as just like Russ's wolves, blah blah blah. Stuff like that can let people see your razorspam list through rose tinted glasses, and that can mean the difference between 1st and 4th.

            Ignore everything I've said above. Take the hardest list you can, on plain white paper, with no names units, and play your damnedest. Be content with best general award, knowing that you won the race, the others just got the retard points. 

I don't advocate comp, but we all live in a world where it is the status quo. If you vote with your wallet, as so many hard line no-comp proponents implore you to do, you will miss out on games, and that's a fairly horrid way to waste lots of time and money on a hobby. Keep advocating no comp, and help others to see how much better it would be, by playing within their rules, and still towelling them. Explain to TO's why you didn't like their comp system, and how you got around it. The sooner people understand that comp is not for the best, and either encourages people to make white-lie lists, or other workarounds, the better off we will be.

Otherwise we could all end up playing ETC style rules, and mass suicide will be the new GW product.

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