Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some simple fixes to improve 6th Edition 40K

6th edition has some issues, but I think they all stem from some simple core rules problems.  Mainly flyers and wound allocation.  I don't think their approach was all bad, they just failed in execution.  They didn't anticipate the full effect these changes had across the system.

We all hoped flyers would be balanced out in the codexes.  Everyone would get their own jet planes and AA units, and it would all work out in the end.  So far this has been inconsistent.  Most of the new flyers have been underwhelming.  Plus, outside of Tau no one got decent AA options.   As a result there's not much to challenge the trifecta of Nightsythes, Vendettas, and Helldrakes.  Well except for Wave Serpents, but I'll get to that later.

#1: Change snap shot rules to -2 BS instead of always BS 1.
For a good chunk of the field, things stay the same but it has a few effects.  You still have an advantage for the 4, 5, and 6 BS models you pay the points for. The small elite armies like Marines need an answer to Helldrakes.  Letting some of their units act as supplemental AA that can hit on 5+ instead of 6+ would help in that regard.   It also will forces flyers to stay away from elite ground units because their combined small arms fire gets scary.  And what's more cinematic than your BS 6 warlord pulling a Patton on a flyer bearing down on him, hitting on 3+ with his plasma pistol?

#2: Weapons that fire in overwatch can't fire in their next shooting phase.
This change goes in hand with the previous one.  If we make snap shots better we have to compensate for their increased efficiency in defensive fire.  Makes it consistent with interceptor fire in that all out of phase shooting forfeits your next shooting.  We also clarify that shooting phase rules like Multi-trackers don't work in defensive fire.

#3: Allow focus fire on armor saves like with cover saves
Wound allocation is a major time sink and NPE in this edition.  In concept it's cool, but it's exploitable.  If I can fire on the guys outside of the woods instead of the ones inside the woods, why shouldn't I be able to shoot my lasguns at the cultists I can actually hurt instead of the Chaos Lord in impenetrable terminator armor.  A slightly altered way to word it is to say that the wounds must be taken on models that have the majority armor value first.  Though I think the first way is better from a pure rules simplicity standpoint.  

#4: Something has to be done about that Serpent shield
It's ridiculous.  Even as a life long Eldar player it shames me.  I'm torn about the actual fix.  I think the range is too long on it for starters.  My gut says to strait up reduce the range to 18".   A fairer option may be to just attenuate the number of shots as the range increases.  So you get D3+3 at 12", D3+1 at 24", and D3 beyond that.

#5: And that stupid Hellturkey...
It's too versatile. Either it should loose torrent, or template weapons should be disallowed while a flyer is zooming.  Make the thing enter hover-mode to use the baleflamer.

#6: No joining MC's with IC's: Period.
The Riptide loophole is ridiculous.  Close it.  

There's probably some other balance issues that should be addressed, but I don't want to get to nit-picky.  I don't want perfection, just playable.  Good enough is good enough.  I can live with random charges and things like that.  Randomness to a certain extent can be mitigated by play style and good list construction.  The goal here was to get the major items that are standing in the way of this being a fun game.  The really obvious missteps that a design team that was paying event the slightest attention would have FAQ'ed into oblivion months ago.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is this really Torrent of Fire's Business Model?

I was trying to mine some data to make a statistical argument in favor of my army seeding idea.  I was getting close to something like a 5-8% increase in the odds of a non Tau/Eldar Army winning a 4 round tournament.  I was basing this on the approx 70% win rate of Taudar versus the 50% or less for armies that don't include either.  

Torrent of Fire had a nice article about the numbers from Nova, but I wanted some for later events.  This got me exploring the site a little more.   I originally understood ToF to be online engine for running tournaments, but apparently it's also a knowledge base for winning tournaments.  And they sell the data to players.  For $9 a month you get access to tournament players statistics like win rates and armies they uses.  Plus they have articles on how to win tournaments and such.  They guarantee a 200% increase in your win rate.

This leaves me a little queasy.  I know that not everyone is a fan of Stelek, but back at the begging of 5th edition he did a lot to jump start 40K's competitive community.   Part of how he did that was by being open about how to build list and play to win tournaments.  Disseminating all that knowledge that used to just be hoarded by the top players was really good for the game.

With Stelek checked out on 40k, fewer people are doing that anymore.  I would have no sense of the top 40K meta if my regular opponent wasn't one of the top tournament players in the country.   And now we have a site offering to sell that knowledge.  That is what the blogging community is here to disseminate in the first place.    

Anyway, I won't pay for someone else's analysis of 40K.  I also think allowing players to pay for the competitive advantage of accessing other player's statistics is wrong.  If that data was available to everyone, that's fine.  Selling it; not cool.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Codex Power Level Seeding for Tournaments

Comp is BS.  I think it's a terrible idea to punish people for using the armies and units they like.  On the other hand, current 40K game balance is a hot mess.  For the sake of fairness something has to be done about the dominant armies being played by dominant players so that the guy who really loves his Dark Eldar has an outside shot.  The win rates of armies that include Eldar and Tau over ones that don't is pretty disheartening.

Seeding is a pretty good approach to providing decisive tournament results when you can't have the mathematically required number of rounds to pick a true winner.  The problem with seeding is that 40K tournaments are so different in terms of terrain and scenarios or just the variance of 40K as a rules system. It's hard to get a very good sense of how good a players is outside of the extremes of the scale.  The best players rise to the top, the worst fall to the bottom, but there are lots of good players that can fall in between due to pairing and luck.  The solution so far has been to have two day tournaments where the first is essentially a seed for the second.  That approach worked pretty well for 5th edition, but with the skill multiplier effect the power armies have this edition, we're seeing second day top brackets looking pretty homogeneous in terms of army selection.  

My solution: mirror matches for first round.  Pair the first rounds according to primary/ally choice.  We get to cut half of the power army players out of contention right off the bat while still rewarding player skill.  This cuts the skill multiplier effect of army selection out of the results for the first round.  It incentives diversity in codex selection while not penalizing the band wagon jumpers out rite.  You're going to lose to a better player with same army eventually in the tournament.   Best that it happens earlier before you knock out decent players hamstrung by poor GW balancing.