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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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Making Missions: #1 (and Info Packet)

First off, all the missions are up at the Feast of Blades web site. And yes, mission 7 is changed, because I do like to listen to the community. =D More discussion there when I get to it.

So! Mission 1. You can see the invitational version to the left, and the open version to the right. This is one of two that ended up being very different depending on which tournament you are participating in. This was due to the fact that the finals have an initial placement mission, while in the open this is the first mission proper. Remember that the invitational is straight win/loss, while the open is battle points. (Because we have no idea how many people will ultimately come.)

Why is it this way? For a couple reasons. A seeding round score, when combined with an initial qualifier score, gives us a pretty good indication of player skill level. After this round, players will be paired lowest against highest, (but never against the same opponent!) for two reasons:

1.) We want to reward players for doing well in the seeding round, and we want to prevent anyone "sneaking by", so to speak, into later round through a series of easy opponents they randomly drew.
2.) We want more exciting final rounds. By avoiding matching the best players at the start of the tournament, we lose a lot less of them early on. This is more a spectator concern, as we will be broadcasting the top table. By seeding this way, we more or less ensure that games will increase in difficulty as time goes on.

The mission itself is easy enough: you are scored on your ability to capture 5 objectives, table quarters, and kill points. This is also the only invitational mission that uses the open mission modifiers, just to give us a slightly bigger spread. We didn't even have to playtest this mission more than once actually, as it's all stuff we know works. Ultimately, how you perform in the seeding round doesn't matter. You can't lose the tournament because of it, doing poorly just means a more difficult matchup in round 2.

Boring, maybe, but effective.

The open mission is very simple. It's the classic game of 40k: pitched battle, kill points. There's a table quarters secondary, but no worries about objectives in this game. I wanted to make a fairly relaxed mission for the initial game, as people are always tense at the start of a big tournament. There's no tricky rules here or crazy special things, it's very simple and very easy. I feel like I can use this to take the edge off, and then move into some more interesting missions. (But never anything TOO crazy.)

This is the Mission Information packet. The best friend that no one ever looks at.

This is an important document to have for a couple reasons:
1.) It gives us the battle point modifiers for all the open missions.
2.) It clarifies exactly how victory points are used for capturing quarters, since no one can seem to find it in the main rule book. (Yes, it's in there. Go see for yourself.) It also clarifies that troops are always worth their full value when capturing quarters, regardless of damage. (I actually wanted troops to just count double, but I felt that I didn't have time to playtest that AND all the missions, so I went conservative.)
3.) It clarifies how massacres interact with remaining turns. Namely, that you get to move around after butchering and opponent.

Let's go over the battle point modifiers, as a lot of time and effort went into them.

I'm a firm believer that there are good and bad battle point modifiers. You can't simply make up something interesting and have it count. For instance, one that I see a lot is "have x number of your units in the enemy deployment zone at the end of the game". This is not good, because in a lot of matchups you will see a clearly defensive and clearly offensive army. Take DE vs. Guard as a good example. Now, the objective is going to be very easy for the DE player to accomplish, as he is incredibly fast and wants to close. (Generally) The IG player, however, wants some distance and isn't nearly as quick. Just from the speed difference, the engagement range of the battle is going to tend towards the Guard player's side of the table. So, it's really difficult for him to get that victory point modifier, while it's almost trivial for the DE player to grab it.

I also don't like "Kill opponents most/least expensive unit", as it's often incidental and doesn't affect at all how you play. In addition, there's no bonus for saving that unit for the controlling player, so there's no incentive for them to try and keep it alive.

So what am I trying to say? Good battle point modifiers are ones that:
1.) Anyone can achieve, no matter what build they have, and equally well. (With a bit of wiggle room, it's impossible to truly account for all.)
2.) Can be achieved through the passive or defensive action of the controlling player, not on offensive action or killing an enemy. (As there is too much variance and no defensive incentive.)
3.) Change, in a minor way, the way that you play. (Or else what's the point if they're incidental?)

I also don't like it when BP Modifiers change from mission to mission, as they're impossible to remember and keep track of in game. That's why this tournament uses the same modifiers for EVERY mission.

Finally, here they are:

Clever Plan: +1 if you reserve at least two units. If you reserve a unit and it's transport, that only counts as 1 for purposes of calculating this. This shouldn't be a problem for a lot of players, hell, a lot of good players already make good use of reserves. It's a simple thing that doesn't screw anyone and hopefully introduces people to the glory that is reserves.

King of the Hill: +1 if you have more units within 6" of the center of the table than your opponent at the end of the game. Considering that it's advantageous to get to in the middle of the board in almost every mission anyway, this is just a nice bonus for "holding" it. Making players come out and towards center encourages conflict. I consider this the most "passive" of the BPMs.

God Save the Queen: +1 if your highest value HQ unit survives. (Randomly determine at start of game if it's a tie.) This one is a little harder, but it's kind of nice in that it means people will actually make some effort to save their heroes. You have control over your own units, and I hardly think you'll need to hide your HQ to get this bonus. Just take steps to save him when you can.

Field Control: +1 if you have the most units in area terrain at the end of the game. So, you can do the fun thing of trying to force your opponent out of terrain and claim it for yourself. Also creates a nice last-turn consolidation of units, and gives guys that find themselves stranded away from combat something to do.

Victory March: +1 if you have 3 or fewer units left in your deployment zone at the end of the game. Immobilized vehicles don't count, because I don't want to be unfair. This one is pretty easy to get, you can leave those long fangs and move the rest out and still score it. The purpose here is just to provide a little "jump start" to people, even if you're a ranged army, get out there and flank! Given the Feast terrain, just sitting there stupidly and firing is a death sentence, movement is key to victory.

And finally, my favorite:

Completion: +4 if you finished turn 5.

That's right. +4. It's worth a significant number of points, and for a very good reason: I hate slow play. I hate hate hate it. I can stop cheating by showing the rules, and I can kick people out for being rude and unsportsmanlike, but slow play is almost impossible to stop, and there's nothing you can do as an organizer if you hear about it after the fact. So, the best way to deal with it is to incentivize people out of it. +4 isn't enough that it will screw anyone out of an ultimate victory, but it really does hurt. Finish your games.

And no, this doesn't mean that the people getting slow played will be punished as well. If I hear a complaint about slow play during your game, or it can be verified in any way, you can bet I'll award this anyway to someone that got slow-played. Just don't come up after the game.

We don't have this kind of incentive in the invitational, unfortunately, because we don't have battle points. Instead, our active judges will just be looking for it, and you can bet I will toss you out if I find you deliberately slow playing. Don't mess with me on this.

Alright, that's all for now, folks. The review for Mission 2 goes up tomorrow, one per day until we've done all 7. I'll be fielding questions in the comments. Till next time!

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