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Friday, November 18, 2011

Warhammer 40,000 Mission Design - Table Quarters

So with 3++ con coming up I need to work out the specifics of the missions. Objectives and Kill Points (marginal) are pretty easy as I can use the basic premise that has been established for a while now based on NOVA missions. I want to look at table quarters though which is a throw-back to 3rd/4th edition, specifically the Cleanse mission. Whilst Victory Points and Table Quarters are concepts of editions past, the Table Quarters mission still holds to the primary focus of 5th edition. In this case these are mobility (not being a static, stand and shoot army) and the ability to control midfield. Being able to control the centre of the board allows you to move to any table quarter with ease to ensure you control them all.

However, when running missions like this you only get one-third of missions focusing on Troops unlike the two-thirds provided in the rulebook. With this understanding, the NOVA Table Quarter mission changed over the course of this year to place further emphasis on Troops. This was done by making Troops count as full Victory Point purposes for Table Quarter control no matter their end-squad size (as long as one model was alive obviously). This pushed the overall concept of the NOVA missions back towards a two-thirds split of missions which focused on Troops but I think this can be tweaked a little still.

First, Table Quarters can only be held by a player if they have a Troops unit in it. This makes Table Quarters much like Objectives but rather than a small radius within which objectives can be contested or held, Table Quarters are very large. The question becomes - how do we ensure games don't just end in 0-0 draws on Table Quarters? Currently the Victory Point system is used with Troops counting as full Victory Points no matter what. Whoever has the most Victory Points within a Table Quarter owns it. With the added ruling that a Troops unit must be within a Table Quarter for the player to hold it, the Troop emphasis is now quite heavy. However, are Victory Points still an appropriate measure of ownership in regards to the Table Quarters though? They are generally quite an accurate assessment of who has table control but can be a pain to add up for each individual quarter as well as the army overall (for the final victory condition). Regardless of how many people get this wrong, this takes time and time is often a rare commodity at tournaments.

So we have what I think are two options. The first is to keep Table Quarters as they are in regards to Victory Points but still adding in the little extra bit of text regarding a Troop choice must be within the Table Quarter for the player to have a chance to hold it. The second option is to change Victory Points for something else. A simple system like objectives isn't going to do it as there is too much board space for an opponent to be able to reliably hold a Quarter that way. Furthermore, it will drastically change the dynamic of the game as players may try to castle a Table Quarter, etc. Rather - a points scoring system could replace Victory Points to determine who owns a Table Quarter or not. For example, each individual unit counts as one point with Troop choices counting as two. The player with the highest count owns the Quarter (assuming they have a Troop choice in said quarter). This still emphasises Troops and makes the determining of Table Quarter control much easier - you simply count the remaining units in play. However, such a point system is going to be less accurate than Victory Points in determining actual board control and will benefit MSU armies as they have more points available.

The question then becomes with this option - do we suffer this and allow MSU to have such a benefit? or is the points system workable but perhaps on a different level? For example, it could be based on a point per unit cost basis where for each 100 points spent on a unit, it counts as one point. Troops would be counted for as double this (i.e. a 200 point Troop choice would count as four points for controlling a Table Quarter). This means each army has the same number of starting points (though varied depending how many are spent on Troops) and thus minimises the MSU advantage. MSU would still have an advantage, much like in objective games, but it's not going to be such a dominating difference over armies which have half the number of units to them.

So, what are your thoughts? There will be some changes whether it's as small as simply adding the line about needing a Troop within the Table Quarter to score or whether it's the more complex 'point' system to control Quarters. I'd like your feedback, particularly the individuals who would be attending and I'll be running some test-games myself to see how they end up.

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