Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lists and Luck

I've been playing around with this idea in my head for the last few days: Does bad luck lead you to make better lists in 40K?

Over time most peoples die rolls will approach average, but the incidence of good sets of rolls vs bad sets of rolls will still be random. For instance, you may roll really high on too hit rolls, but really low to wound. I might be beating up guardians with my marines and need 3's to hit and roll all 5's and 6's, then need 3's to wound and roll all 1's and 2's. The total rolls are average, but the permutation of the rolls is bad. You'll most likely remember the below average to wound roll, and not the above average to hit. I seam to get the worst possible sets of rolls when I play, and I've seen other people who tend to always get the best.

If one player gets bad sets of rolls in 3 out of 2 games versus another who gets 3 out of 2 good sets, both players will get a vastly different 40k experience. The former player is going to curse his dice, and go about altering his play style and his list to insulate himself as much as possible from bad dice. The latter will probably attribute his losses to bad luck that's bound to happen eventually. That player will not change his lists or play styles too much as his dice don't appear to be the major contributing factor to the results of his games.

As long as a strategy is successful a player is not going to change it. Based on his experiences it will seem to be the optimal strategy. Luck can effectively mask sub-optimal strategies. Take two players running a MM Dreadnought in a drop pod. If player A rolls slighly above average and manages to use this combination to take out a high priority target 4 out of 5 times, it is a valuable asset in his list. If player B rolls slightly below average and achieves success 2 out of 5 times, it's time to reevaluate. Player B will either have to double up on the strategy, abandon the strategy, or add some other force multiplier( i.e. Vulcan, Locator Beacons). Player A will keep on playing his successful strategy. I'm currently having that dilemma with my MM/HF speeders. They are not performing as well as I expect them. I either have to play two more to ensure success, or find some other unit to fulfill their roll.

Of course over time even incidences of bad vs good rolls will tend toward average. If both player A and B are rolling equivalently, player B will have an advantage because he's mitigated chance. He doesn't need the good rolls any more. And if player B starts rolling better than player A, then his advantage grows even more.

So what do you guys think? Am I just trying to make myself feel better about my horrid dice?

Friday, May 21, 2010


So, there are at least 12 players from Indianapolis that placed in 'ard boys, but the closest semi is in
Kendallville. The Indiana semi is closer to the Ohio semi in Toledo than to Indianapolis. Have fun local Indianapolis players!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pass on 'ard Boys

I've decided not to play in G2D4's 'ard Boys on Sunday. Its too soon after the last tournament to get the competitive juices flowing. Plus, I want to focus on getting my Eldar painted in time for the June 19 Game Preserve Tournament.

Speaking of my Eldar, this is what I've been playing at 1500 pts

Farseer w/ Fortune, Guide, Doom, Spirit Stones, Runes of Warding, Runes of Witnessing

5x Fire Dragons
Wave Serpent, TL Brightlance, Shuri Cannon

5x Fire Dragons
Wave Serpent, TL Brightlance, Shuri Cannon

10 Dire Avengers w/ Exarch, Twin shuri-cats, Bladestorm
Wave Serpent, TL Brightlance, Shuri Cannon

5x Dire Avengers

Falcon w/Shuri Cannon, Scatter Laser, Holo-Fields

Fire Prism w/Shuri Cannon, Holo-Fields

Fire Prism w/Shuri Cannon, Holo-Fields

It's performed pretty well. I only lost my first game with them, and have tied and won an equal number. I think I'm going to need more troops for the scenarios they are using down south. Plus the Deathspinner kit is coming out soon, and that might be worth changing the army for. I might pick up another Wave Serpent and run three five man units of Avengers in Wave Serpents. They big squad usually dies when they get out of their transport anyway. I''m thinking about also stripping down the Farseer to just having Guide and Runes of Warding and just sticking him in the Falcon. I've barley been hitting with 50% of its shots, so it needs a boost to start earning its place in the list.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Apoc Tournament Thoughts

The idea of having an Apocalypse tournament occasionally gets suggested at G2D4. I usually cringe at the idea, as it comes in the form of a standard tournament with a high point value and super heavies. I immediately picture Aaron playing his bio-titan and killing everything while my super heavy fliers buzz around without a scratch on them. Apocalypse and Planet Strike were not written for a competitive environment, and if you told a GW designer you were going to use them as such, they would probably look at you like you just grew a second head.

Saying that, I think you could create a semi-competitive Apocalypse event with alot of careful planning and a good understanding of what Apocalypse is and what it is not.

First off, some logistical considerations:

Games with super heavies need space. At least 6x6 for 3000 points; 6x8 would be better. This would limit the event to 8-12 players unless a larger space than G2D4 could be found.

Time will also be a constraint. You'll be struggling to fit three 3000 point games into a single day. You are going to need to run it as a multi-day event, or impose some strong turn time limits. My thoughts are to impose 15 minute player turns, with 5 minutes to clean up any declared assaults. This would yield 5 turns every two hours. This would still require players to hustle on setup and between game activities.

Pre-submitted army lists(I'll talk about this more when I cover balance), and hard commitments from the players to attend is also a must. There's going to be a lot of planing required, no sense in doing it if every one is going to flake out.

Structure of the event:

I would split the players into order vs chaos and the tournament gets won as a team. The results of the games get pooled together to determine which side wins. The winning team should get some prize support, such as a dice cube or something in the 5-15 dollar range so that winning and loosing isn't such a big deal. This is important considering the balance issues. Give the best prizes based on a player vote for coolest themed army as this is basically a fluff event anyway.

I would run the tournament like a story campaign. Every scenario is selected for the specific player match ups. Wins and losses will take each player to another specific scenario against another player. Create a simple flow chart to assign the games. Don't enumerate every possibility as that grows exponentially vs tournament size. Do set up the flow chart so that there is no possibility of a player going into an auto loose game( i.e. the guy with no Anti-Air faces the guy with 3 fliers). Another reason why army lists need to be submitted before hand. Winners should still play winners if possible.

Don't score the games based solely on win/loose. Add story driven objectives that have more weight. Things like: Your HQ defends an objective against three turns of enemy assault(5pts). Make fulfilling fluffy based conditions the major objective for scoring points

I'd also have the results of certain games effect the tournament as a whole. Basically wins on certain tables grant assets to one side during the next game.


This is the most important consideration. Just like when GW wrote the Inquisitor rules and left out the points, GW wrote Apocalypse and left out the balance. The tournament organizer is going to have to add it in himself. Some hard and fast rules are going to have to get made, and somebody is not going to like them. Unfortunately there are some things that are going to need to be nerfed for the benefit of all.

Allow no player selected assets. Some are just broken, and can really throw off the game. Add them to any scenarios with careful consideration. This unfortunately means no formations that grant assets either.

Allow allying based on the allies matrix. This is a great opportunity to let Chaos Marine players use real demons. Every set of units from a single codex should follow the Force Org chart, but super-heavies and formations don't count against it.

Lists should be pre-approved. Screen out any lists that will steamroll every thing else. Don't let people take eight strength D templates.

Build the scenarios based on the lists. Be fun, use the army specific ones from Battle Missions where you can. If you have to match someone with no super heavies against a guard player with a line-breaker formation of Baneblades give him some emplaced defenses.

Closing thoughts:

It ends up being more of a Campaign-In-A-Day than a tournament, but I think you could make a unique experience that captures some of the competitive environment of a tournament and the warm fluffy feelings of a campaign. It would take organization and a clear understanding of everyone involved that this is a FOR-FUN event, and to leave the A-Game at home.

You also end up breaking every rule of standard tournament organization. For any normal tournament I'm a firm supporter of playing the game as it is provided. No comp and no crazy scenarios or shenanigans. You pretty much have to take the opposite approach here, as the organizer cannot rely on the rules to make everything work.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Drop Pod Doors: Are they really there?

Several players at G2D4 contend that Drop Pod Doors are part of the model and that you can't move within an inch of them. This argument comes from the Open Top rules that state that you can disembark within 2" of "any point" of the vehicle.

The Vehicles & Measuring Distance section on pg 56 or the rulebook states "measure to and from the hull (ignore gun barrels, dozer blades, antennas, banners, and other decorative elements)." Why, oh why, couldn't they have added doors to that list.

The sections for vehicle sub-types are exceptions to the general vehicle rules. If the open top rules state any point on the vehicle, then they are referring to any point that is measured too on Pg. 56. So Battle-wagon deathrollas, drop pod doors, and boarding planks all don't count. They are not the "hull" of the model.

My position is that if someone insists that they count as a part of the model I'm going to refer back to Pg. 11: "A model may not move into or through the space occupied by another model (which is represented by its base or hull)...". So If I can't move across those doors, neither can the other player.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 1st Tournament Highlights

I took 4th place in the G2D4 tournament last Saturday. I won my first game against Dark Eldar. Lost my second game against Scott's Salamanders, and won my third game against Black Templars. I had some horrid dice rolling in the second game. My speeders failed to kill a Land Raider at point blank range two turns in a row, and I failed 3 out of 7 2+ Terminator saves.

I like how my army performed overall. I think I need to find a way to fit in two more land speeders. If I loose the Predator and find 50 more points I can do it. It's either that or take them out of the list completely. They just offer up to much utility to do that. It may be worth it to just swap out the Predator 1 for 1 with another speeder.

I had fun. It's been a while since I left a tournament wanting to play more 40k instead of wanting to toss my army into a dumpster.

Here are some picks from the tournament:

Forest for the Trees

"The way I see it, 5th Ed. made forests usable only for infantry. This was deliberate, as the vehicle damage table is kinder to vehicles than in the past.

They can no longer hide behind a hypothetical tree, but won't automatically be destroyed should they take some fire." - Wienas

What I'm talking about is this:

VS This:

You don't model the first one as it is impractical to do so, but you could have a whole armored company 50' in front of you and not see it.

The rule as written is: "Vehicles are not obscured simply for being inside area terrain. The 50% rule above takes precedence." The 50% rule being that "At least 50% of the facing of the vehicle that is being targeted...must be hidden by intervening terrain..." I read "intervening terrain" in this case to be the area terrain. So my reasoning is that if 50% of the target facing is blocked by area terrain the vehicle gets obscurement.

For anything to be deliberate the rule should have been written clearer. For instance: "Vehicles are not obscured by area terrain."

Then again, the whole argument is trumped by pg 88 which says "... you should agree with your opponent how to define each piece of terrain you are using...". So if you agree that a forest base is picture 1 then it has grants cover to vehicles, and, if you agree it is picture 2, it does not.

I'm not saying anyone should be forced to play it a certain way. I'm just offering my reasoning at least for the way I play it. There are apparently other places that follow the same reasoning, so its defiantly not an obvious one way or the other rule. I wonder how it's played amongst the "mech is awesome" vs "mech sucks" crowd out on the internet.

Vehicles and Area Terrain

We all know the rule that vehicles need 50% concealment to gain the benefits of cover. The G2D4 and the Game Preserve players have two different ways of interpreting this rule. I just wanted to go into the reasoning why at G2D4 we play it the way we do.

At G2d4 we play that any vehicle at least 50% into the bases of area terrain defined as forests are granted cover, and that shooting though that base grants cover to vehicles on the other side. This is opposed to the GP way that requires that 50% of the vehicle is blocked by the physical models of the trees. TLOS and the strict reading of the rules would seem to back up the GP guys, but it really comes down to how you define the piece of terrain.

If you define the base as chest high foliage with a few static trees, then, yes I'd agree with the TLOS interpretation. If you define the base as being completely covered in trees similar to those placed on the base, then the G2D4 interpretation makes more sense.

It's impractical from a gaming standpoint to model forest as we play them to work in TLOS fashion. You have a hard time placing models in terrain modeled in such a way. Instead you use the base with trees on it that indicate the type of terrain, and you can move the trees around to better allow for placing of models without effecting the cover that the terrain generates. Essentially we're saying that the terrain is a lot more interesting looking than how we've represented it on the table top. This is done for the gaming reasons above, and due to the wear an tear such a terrain piece would take for normal play. Plus its cheap and easy to put two Woodland Scenic trees on a piece of felt and call it a lush dense forest.

If you play it the GP way, I think a forest piece needs to have at least 4 or 5 trees on it and you cannot move the placement of the trees at all during the game. Also, the stump should be treated as impassible so you cannot park any models on top of the trees.

For the G2D4 way you just put 1-2 trees on the base and move them around when they become inconvenient. I think it's a lot simpler to play it this way. You have a lot less stooping down to model level and arguing about if 50% is really covered.

I don't think the G2D4 way violates the rulebook either as the effects of terrain are agreed upon by the two players.

I do think that the way it should be played should be agreed beforehand. Regulars at a particular store tend to just accept the way terrain is played by convention, and you need to make sure things are clear when you play a new face. For instance the few times I've played pickup games at a GP store, regulars liked to claim cover saves for infantry when standing on those Aquila Lander pieces from the 4e starter box. At G2D4 we tend to play them as difficult terrain that only grants cover to something behind but not on top of. I like to go off the convention of: 'Your store, your rules.' At least for the first few games until people get to know me and I can make an argument and not seem like a know-it-all outsider.