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

Friday, October 7, 2011

Feast of Blades Mission #3

Well, to start, let's note that I am not the biggest fan of Table Quarters as a primary victory condition. While there is certainly merit to the idea that players will fight over the central point in order to have better end-of-game redeployment for capture, I've found that the game often turns into keep-away when fast armies are involved.

It's for that reason I chose objectives as the secondary victory condition on this mission. That way, if you don't think you can reasonably win on quarters, you can at least fairly easily force a tie and play for the objectives.

This begs the question, then, why have a table quarters primary at all? Well, because I think it's important. There are only three missions that the community at large seem to be able to agree on as "balanced": standard objectives, KP, and table quarters. Even then, there seems to be a lot of debate. I wanted to have at least one mission with a quarters as primary to establish its importance.

One aggravating thing I found in playtesting this mission is that diagonal table quarters seem to work MUCH better than the standard split seen above. That was the format in the qualifiers, and it worked beautifully, at least for the people who realized that it was diagonal. It turns out that even bolding and underlining the fact that quarters are DIAGONAL would catch people's attention, and that a picture would reinforce it, but a lot of people still ended up missing that, and there ended up being an extraordinary amount of endgame confusion. To avoid the same thing happening in the middle of a convention hall of several hundred, I went with the standard split.

Why does diagonal seem to work better? Because it give easier access to all the quarters from deployment. Even in spearhead games, as reserves can roll on and easily reach the close quarter you don't start in. By allowing players access to 3/4 quarters from the beginning, it actually encourages more conflict. After all, both players are in a winning position instead of a draw position from the start of the game. If you play defensive, it's harder to hold on to all three, and easier for your opponent to take the win on quarters.

Nor is this position one of idle speculation, and theory about what works better. I've watched a ton of of playtest games and played a dozen myself with the alternate diagonal setup, and there's no doubt in my mind it works better.

I think maybe next year quarters will be diagonal for all missions and conditions, but for now I wanted it to be simple and familiar. Diagonal table quarters are too much of a surprise to bring out this close to the event, and after playtesting dragged on a bit longer than expected it's too late to throw out anything too experimental. In addition, this is our first big year as a convention: it's important that we don't publish anything too bizarre, as we consider being labeled "uncompetitive" by the community-at-large to be just about the worst thing that could happen to us, as we are really trying our best to become an event who's champion really means something.

Anyway, quarters is quarters, and we all know how to play that. Mission #4 goes up tomorrow, and it's one of my favorites, so I'll see you all then for another analysis!

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