Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Confirmation Bias

From Skepdic:
Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one's beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one's beliefs.
We all suffer from this.  It's something that scientist have to correct for when they do studies.  It's not something gamers correct for on any sort of basis.  Case in point; Privateer Press vs. Games Workshop.

Most people know that GW is an evil faceless corporation, and the PP is the gods gift to gaming.  Here are some examples of how that bias plays out in the communities' reactions:

PP raises prices:  Have you seen the commodities prices on metal?  It's the only logical choice for Privateer to stay in business.
(Fun Fact #1: The last round of Privateer price increases where in the 10-25% range.  I can't find the exact numbers because PP has reset their forums since then).

Privateer switches to plastic:   Have you seen the commodities prices on metal?  It's the only logical choice for Privateer to stay in business.
(Fun Fact #2: Plastic versions of older PP metal releases are 4 to 5 dollars more expensive.)

Privateer releases army books: You expect them to put all the units in one book?  There are like a thousand of them, this way I can only buy the ones that I need.
GW releases a new codex:  My army sucks now, and I have to buy 12 books in order to compete! GW IS EVIL AND WANTS TO STEAL ALL MY MONEY!
(Fun  Fact #3:  You still need unit cards for Privateer games if you carried you collection over from the last edition.  That would be the forth version of the faction cards yet released)

GW releases a unit that costs $90:  I can't afford to play this game anymore! GW IS EVIL AND WANTS TO STEAL ALL MY MONEY!
Privateer releases an unit that costs $90:  Wow! This model is so beautiful!, and if you can't afford it, you don't have to buy it.

PP can't supply its distributors with product:  Look how popular their game is!  They can't even get it in stock so I can buy it.
GW can't supply its distributors with product: ...umm, not sure that that has ever happened but I expect the response to be something akin to -  GW IS EVIL AND WANTS TO STEAL ALL MY MONEY!

Think about it.  Privateer gets cut slack on doing a lot of the things that GW does.  There are people who complain about privateer when they do things, just as there are people who defend GW.  But in my experience, people are much more likely to accept that GW's reasons are for malice, and that Privateer's are the results of some hard decision where the customers ultimately come first.  It's all spin and what we expect from the companies involved.

People have an opinion on the way GW operates. When they see a headline on TTGN that says GW has to raise prices, well, that's GW just being evil again.  GW isn't a perfect company.  They are just like every other public company out there.  My bias is that companies will do what ever they will do to make money.  So, when GW raises prices, they aren't my enemy; just a company trying to stay in business.  When Privateer Press raises prices they aren't my friend; just a company trying to stay in business.

Here's a little secret.  They both want to take all your money, and the better company is the one that can make you think you are getting the better deal.  Not the one that actually gives you the better deal, mind you, just the one that makes you think it's a better deal.

And you can replace Privateer with Battlefront or whomever in this argument and it still holds true.

And in conclusion: GW is evil and wants to seal all your money.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

June 4th 4x4 Team Tournament Format

Here are the complete rules for the upcoming Hivefleet Indy 4x4 tournament.

Start Time: 10am  

Number of Rounds: 3

Game Length: 2 hours 30 minutes with a 45 minute break after the first round and a 15 minute break after the second.

Max 8 teams=32 players (4 teams pre-set: G2D4team 1, GP North team 1, GP South team 1, Saltire/Bradford team 1) The 4 remaining teams are first come first serve.

Entry per team. $45

Tournament Organizer: Greg / Caulyn Darr


*Teams: 4 players with a 1,000 point list that follows all FOC requirements and current Codex restrictions. (Only 1 unique character per 4 man team){No 4 Calgar's, or 2 Njal's, or 3 Straken's, etc.)
*Codex special abilities that effect any friendly units do not effect teammate's units.
*Codex special abilities that effect enemy units can effect both enemy players' units.
*Codex special abilities that effect enemy and friendly units can effect all units in the game. 
*Team Captain will determine team pairings before each round, but before pairings of opponents are decided. 


Each team will be paired with another each round and play two simultaneous games.  Each game will be comprised of two team members facing two opposing team members.  The team will claim one point for each mission objective claimed in either game with the winning team being the one that claimed the most points.  An equal number of objectives claimed will result in a tie.

Each mission will be comprised of three separate mission objectives.  One mission objective will be a team goal that either player can assist in claiming.  Each teammate will then select one of the personal objectives, and only they will be able to claim it in the game.  No two teammates in the same game may select the same personal objective.

Mission Objective 1: Objectives.  Five objectives are placed on the board; one in the center and one  in the center of each table quarter.  Objectives follow the rules in the 40K rulebook.  

Mission Objective 2: Table Quarters.   The team or player with the most claimed table quarters at the end of the game wins this objective. Whoever has the most Victory Points in a table quarter claims that quarter.  Scoring units count as an extra 100VP for claiming a table quarter.   If a unit is in more than one quarter, then they count as being in the quarter that contains the majority of the unit.

Mission Objective 3: Kill Points.  Kill points are scored as described in the 40K rule book.  In order to win this objectives the team or player must score 3 more KP than his opponent team or player.  When this is a personal objective, a player may claim kill points by destroying either opposing player's units, but units killed by his teammate do not count.

Each game will go for 6 turns with a 7th turn played on a 4+ die roll.

Each time a player claims  a personal objective type for the first time they score an additional point for their team.   Each player can score 3 bonus points, for a total of 12 possible for the whole team provided they claim all three types of objectives as a personal objectives.   For example if a player claims mission objective 1 in the first game, 2 in the second game, and 1 again in the first game, he would score 2 bonus points for is team.  These bonus points will be used as a tiebreaker for teams with identical w/l records.

The objectives for each round are:
Round 1:
Team objective: Kill Points
Personal objectives: Table Quarters, Objectives

Round 2:
Team objective: Table Quarters
Personal objectives: Kill Points, Objectives

Round 3:
Team objective: Objectives
Personal objectives: Table Quarters, Kill Points

Prize Support:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Someone else has to be crazy enough

I bought the Saganami Island Tactical Simulator a while back, and have never had the chance to really play it.  It's a starship combat system set in David Weber's Honorverse.  It has inertial 3d vector movement, so not a simple game.  Any other crazy people out there willing to play a game of it with me?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Missed it by that much

I took my Eldar to todays Hivefleet Indy tournament and didn't do too well.  I had three good really close games, but I made mistakes, and you aren't allowed to make mistakes when playing Eldar.

I've lost all faith in my Eldar as a tournament army.  I have to make some changes, or do something drastic to be able to keep playing them.  My GK's are my only army I have any confidence in right now.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I was at Home Depot the other day getting some solder for lighting up my Eldar display board when I spotted this guy.  A sonic tape measure with laster target for only 12 bucks.   My old laser pointer had died, and I figured having one that also measured distances would be handy.  Plus the Doctor has sonic; sonics are cool.

I wasn't going to whip it out in a table top game until I tested out its accuracy, so I put together a nice experimental procedure.  I designed an experiment to verify it against models of various sizes, models that where partially obscured, and models on softer surfaces.  

Having put all that thought into how I was going to test it; I lined up my first test procedure.  I placed a marine model at 12 inches(the tapes minimum measurement distance), and that's when things started to go wrong.  Even though I was putting the laser on the model, the distance was measuring over 3 feet.  I was able to get some accurate measurements at 18 to 24 inches if I aimed at the model base, but everything else was rubbish. I think the tape was having problems reading such a small irregular surface.

I though I would at least give it a shot against a nice flat vehicle, so I tried it on a Razorback.  I was able to get measurements to it, but the device's margin of error kicked in.  It was reading the tank as being 2 to3 inches farther away than it actually was.  A .05% MoE works out to 2.5 inches at 4 feet, and I was seeing slightly worse performance.

In conclusion it looks like you need to have been born on Galifrey to get any use out of sonic tools.  I'd be interested in seeing if I could find a different model that performs with better accuracy, but I'll probably stick to old fashioned retractable steel tape measures.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mitigating chance versus failure

I was involved in a debate over redundancy last week, and after taking a few days to think about it relized something.  The current debate is about if redundancy is needed to make a good list.  Redundancy seems like a good idea so where is the debate coming from?  In my opinion it is coming from different competing list optimizations strategies.  People are using the strategy that works for them, and not seeing the benefits of the others.  I think that the two main strategies are Mitigation of Failure(redundancy) and Mitigation of Chance(reliability)

First I'll talk about redundancy. It's a specific measure of how well the list mitigates the results of failure.  I consider a unit to fail when it doesn't live up to it's expected potential.  So if a unit is either destroyed before performing its intended role, or isn't effective when it does perform its role, it fails.  Redundancy is a good way around this.  You take multiple reliable and expendable options to fulfill a role.  This way you have backup in the case of a failure.  

When optimizing to redundancy you build units on a budget.  You don't waste points on upgrades you don't need.  You build highly specialized units, though units that can fulfill a secondary role on the cheap are highly prized. 

The opposing measure of list optimization that is fueling the current debate is reliability.  When you optimize to reliability you try to make units more potent, so that when they fulfill their roll, they do it much better than required on average.  You're try to reinforce a unit so that it is less likely to survive to fulfill its role and to effectively perform that role when needed.

If you are optimizing for reliability, you end up paying a few extra points to up squad sizes or purchase upgrades that are effective but useful only 10% of the time.  Generalist utility units are very important. 

Both methods of optimization have pit-falls associated with them. Go for too much redundancy and you've pulled the teeth out of your army.  Everything is so expendable that it has no tactical value or offensive punch. MSU vanilla  marines can really fall into this trap.  5 man squads in Razorbacks are potent in mass, but can't do much on their own.  Same goes for many other MSU favorites.  

Optimize for reliability too much and you put all your eggs in one basket.  You can mitigate chance, but you can't control it completely.  As many points as you put into making a unit reliable, you can still suffer the effects of a few bad rolls and loose a much larger investment in points.  Fateweaver is my favorite example of this.  He makes the demon army very reliable, but a few bad rolls and the demon player's army is crippled.  

It's a give and take situation with reliability and redundancy.  Make a unit too reliable and there aren't enough points left over to take a redundant back up.  Build in too much redundancy and you don't have any clutch unit to fight the army out of a tough spot.  I think wolves are such a good army because they can balance redundancy and reliability at the same time.   They can add a wolf guard and special weapon to small units to make them reliable.  And they have reliable units like thunder wolves that are not too expensive to preclude redundancy.  Compare that with vanilla marines.  TH/SS terminators are very reliable, but are so expensive when you factor in their transport requirement that you have to build a list around them.  5 man tactical squads in razors make a good redundant core, but you can't improve their reliability until you go to 10 man squads.   

The best armies and units are the ones that can best balance reliability and redundancy.  I think that a lot of armies are not getting the fair evaluation they should because players are applying the wrong optimization approach when building their lists.  People are going too far down the MSU route for Dark Eldar and can't build the reliable Tyranid Nidzilla they used too.   I think the xenos books need the right balance to work properly more than the imperial armies. Any of the marines can work if you get the balance wrong because they can fall back on their good stat line.  Guard can work out of balance because you can gain reliability though sheer weight of firepower. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts on a North Side 40K Day

With the recent change to the North store's 40K day and the rising gas prices this summer, I feel that it's going to be tough for some of us north side guys to get games in.  I've been thinking that it would be cool to organize a general north side 40K day to occur once a month.  Not a tournament or anything, we have plenty of those in the area, but just a day to hang out and play pickup games.

I've done a little checking and both Noblesville and Carmel have community centers that could accommodated 20 or so players.  Carmel's is of course more expensive and the catering has to go through them, but  a Noblesville resident can rent the Trustee Community Building for 65 dollars a day.

If everyone involved tipped in 20 bucks, and whatever terrain and tables they had, we could put on a pretty fun day of gaming with drinks and food provided.  It would still come in cheaper than what I end up paying every week to drive down to G2D4.

Is anyone else interested in this?  Thoughts?  Comments?

Edit: The Fischers and Noblesville libraries are also a possibility, but to gain access we would have to form a club that had officers and bylaws.  On the plus side they are free to use so long as the group does not charge for the event and is not for profit.