Friday, August 23, 2013

Ideas for Army List Restriction at Blog Wars 6

At some point I'll write up the apocalypse battle so keep an eye out for that but for now I wanted to discuss some thoughts I've been having about Blog Wars 6.

It's always my intention to make Blog Wars a fun and friendly event. However, I always want to have prizes that are worth winning too. In the past I've reduced the top prize in order to try and discourage people from bringing a top flight tournament list to this event and easily taking 1st place against lists that simply aren't competitive. Now obviously Swiss Pairs goes some way to match people up with an equally skilled opponent but we all know it's not without its problems. I don't want to insult anyone who's won Blog Wars (that's only two people) but most of the time I've looked at the pairings and known what the outcome will be. Of course you can always do that to some extent but it's a problem when you look at the lists before the event and know who's going to win before any dice are rolled.

Ideally everyone would bring something more on the fluffy than competitive side but you simply can't force people to do that and it would probably put people off. Blog Wars 5 was probably quite an extreme example where there were very few purely competitive lists or players. Ultimately I want everyone to enjoy the event and of course losing is never fun but when you know from deployment how it will go then you're going through the motions for how ever long it takes you to get tabled. I don't personally think it's much fun to play with some of the top lists. Surely if there's no challenge to it then you can't enjoy it?

What I'm trying to get at (slowly) is that I'd like to find some way of levelling the playing field a bit. There obviously isn't anything stopping one of the less competitive players from bringing a competitive list but it works the same in reverse too. There are two solutions that immediately spring to mind. Firstly, remove the "cash" prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. That way it becomes more of a club night than a tournament. I have to say I don't like this idea as I'm a firm believer that a tournament should be competitive and that the prizes should be worth competing for.

The second option is to "comp" the event. Blog Wars has always been sort of "comped" in that special characters are compulsory but what I'm talking about here will go further. Everyone knows that 40K is a system that likes multiples. If something is good, take as many as you can. I'm talking about riptides, heldrakes, wave serpents, flying daemon princes, annihilation barges, etc. To counter this kind of multiplication requires some amount of tailoring. For example, that triple heldrake list won't be much good against pure terminator armies or riptides with skyfire and intercept.

The solution then is to restrict the number of each unit you can take. This means that you'd only be able to take one of each unit in a particular FOC slot. Thinking of Tau for a minute that would mean you could take a riptide, a crisis team and a stealth team in your Elites slot but you couldn't take two of any of them. You could of course take a second crisis team as a bodyguard for a commander. Similarly you couldn't take 3 heldrakes. Of course with the advent of supplements there's the potential to squeeze one heldrake into a CSM list with a second in a Black Legion allied list. This wouldn't be acceptable should I impose this system.

Realistically, unless you make everything scoring, you can't limit the number of Troops people are allowed and several codices have only two options for Troops units whilst others have several. Therefore Troops would be exempt from this restriction as are their transports. Now, I appreciate this doesn't solve every problem. A Necron player can still bring 7 flyers (6 night scythes as transports, 1 doom scythe in heavy). He could potentially still take a unit of deathmarks in a night scythe too. Similarly a Eldar player could end up with lots of wave serpents without breaching the restrictions.

The other problem with it is that people who want to bring themed armies will struggle. Their armies may not be particularly competitive but may still have multiples of particular units. That's probably the biggest problem for me as I always enjoy seeing an army built around a theme.

It's not perfect then and that's why I'm not simply enforcing it without discussion. Of course there will still be dirty lists but it should encourage players to think outside the box a bit more and hopefully generate some interesting combinations.

I really want to hear feedback from people, even if they aren't coming to Blog Wars. Are you all for this idea or do you think it would be too restrictive? Will it even work? Comments and emails on the subject will be gratefully received.

31 comments:

  1. Comp is tricky, if a player wants to bring filth they will do even with comp, they'll just find the filthiest army within the comp.

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    1. I agree but there's degrees of filthy. With restrictions like this there wouldn't be builds that could take on everything

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  2. I see what you are getting at and on one hand like it (barring 2 CSM squads, my IW list had no duplicates) - but if I took my Nids (in their current form) or a similar older codex, not being able to take 2 of the same units could be harsh...as they are kind of needed to keep up.

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    1. How about including list building scores? Let people score their opponents list after the game - small pts so shouldn't mess up scores, but friendly lists might get a VP or two advantage per game?

      Could be tricky with it being subjective and it would prob have to be cast in secret...

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    2. I know it creates problems for the weaker dexes but if there aren't as many horrible lists will they still be so weak?

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    3. List building scores are very subjective, and can be influenced on the match-up (you play a list your army is very good against), friends scoring each other high etc.

      Restricted to only 1 unit outside troops can cripple older dexes, particularly ones that only have 1 non troop unit that is not really bad at a particular task.

      A good comp system I've played in limits it to 2 units outside troops, but then has a few other limits, such as a max of 3 flyers and monstrous creatures (combined limit), max no. of av14 vehicles, a limit on vehicles in squadrons.

      However what ever comp you have you will limit the nasty lists but not eradicate them, particularly as most comp systems don't regulate troops, so armies with good troop units always do well.

      Lastly, if you willing to take on the task, is that lists are due in early, and you make a judgement call, can ask any nasty lists to be revised. However this task may be better suited to a panel as you have to know all the armies well, as what I call Stealth Cheese can sneak through.

      Before I stop my rambling one further option that can work for list building scores, is that all lists are posted anomolously on the web and then all participants rank them all (or maybe rank their worst three, with a penalty for each vote an army gets).

      Rathstar

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    4. Timmy comp blows

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    5. List building scores is a bit meh, and scoring AFTER the game is a terrible idea - if you've just been tabled by a perfectly balanced army that's just a bad matchup for you, you'll probably mark it badly. If the player is a dick, you'd probably also mark their army down (out of spite)

      I really don't like limiting units at all, especially not down to 1's as some (even recent codexes) have only got a couple of competitive things in them. Dark Angels only have ravenwing as their truly competitive build, so their army is made up of Ravenwing Black Knights/Command Squad, bike squad and attack bikes.

      Rathstar you've come to a lot of the same conclusions as me (see my essay further down!). I agree with a lot of your points - I think a good comp system shouldn't prevent dirty lists at all, but I feel they should be penalised slightly to bring them more in line with other armies.

      The judgement panel for lists is correct "Stealth Cheese" is always a risk, but choosing a good panel probably prevents this. "Stealth Cheese" could also be another name for "A genuinely unique idea that I've come up with". Dan Sackett surprised quite a few people at Empty Shells by pulling double Wraithknight with a fortuned Dark Eldar Khymerae blob. It was an excellent list with the new Eldar book - people didn't see it coming. Should this have been comped?

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  3. Well when I run tournaments( a group of friends really about 15 of us) we do 2k but the restrictions are no double force, FW, or allies. We do this because it limits people from bringing cheesy armies and brings a more fair army list all around. Always lots of fun and money is used for army products(Gw related or not due to the fact we play other wargames

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  4. Try highlander

    No more than one of any unit no exceptions

    Simple and great fun

    Try it

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    1. Interesting :)

      However I can see marines and guard benefiting from this. It probably only works at lower points limit because a lot of amies would be heavyily restricted in their troops. Marines are tough and can combat squad, while guard can get loads of troops for it's troop choices.

      Rathstar

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    2. Just try it, i think you would enjoy it

      You can make arguments for any of the codex's benefitting or suffering but the key is to stick to it without exception

      If you start say adding a duplicate troop choice, it gets worse and worse as those with super strong troops benefit

      Give it a whirl

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    3. Really? I think this would be absolutely terrible - there are so many books out there with 2 mediocre troops choices allies would almost be necessary.

      I can also imagine Tau would just win this, probably followed by Eldar, then maybe Guard? Just because they have a lot more viable units

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  5. Is comp really where you want to take bw? I mean really? Think long and hard, because comp in 40k is generally poorly received, and you could damage bw as an event. No matter what you do, someone will be penalised, and they will probably be someone running an older dex..... As those dexes tend to have terrible internal balance.. Highlander would just favour guard and space marines terribly, as they can do nasty forces without spamming the same unit, at least imho.

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  6. Ahhhh, the dreaded C word! Also apologies in advance, this comment got a little out of hand!

    I've always had a mixed relationship with comp - I love the theory of it, enforcing rules that are aimed at deterring the most filthy, un-fun lists, in the interests of making the tournament more fun for everyone.

    However I think it is actually really difficult (perhaps impossible) to come up with this mythical perfect ruleset - and regardless of how good your ruleset is, some people will still come with better army lists than others - although this is just how 40k is at the moment, kind of rock paper scissors

    First a foreword on the result of the most recent Blog Wars. I am not surprised Franco won at all.

    I do think he should feel ashamed of himself - in my eyes he completely misjudged the type of event it was (a friendly "first timers" type tournament), and brought his horrendously boring ETC Tau list, beat everyone and netted himself some sweet prizes.

    I don't imagine any of his opponents had any fun playing against him, and if it was my first tournament and I got steamrolled by him I would have SERIOUS reservations about attending a tournament again.

    I will say I have not personally played Franco, however I saw him play at both Rapid Strike and Empty Shells and one of my gaming group got absolutely ruined (tabled) by him down at Empty Shells.

    He stated it was one of the worst games of 40k he had ever played - essentially it was 2 hours of him being told to make saves and take models off, with little attempt at conversation or friendliness - poor sportsmanship imho.

    Anyways, enough bitching - let's get down to business and talk some comp strategies!

    1) Limiting FOC choices or duplicates
    This is the route most comp systems go down - limiting you from taking a certain number of units in some way. This varies by number of units, FOC slot or unit type.

    This is my least favourite type of comp. It has several flaws:
    - It unfairly punishes some perfectly reasonable armies.
    - It doesn't cover all of the horrendous armies.
    - The impact of the comp varies from codex to codex - some codexes only have a couple of decent units, and really struggle if you take them away from them (Oh hey there Dark Angels! Tau give very few shits about this comp)
    - The game stops being 40k after a while, and becomes the TO's warped perception of what it should be, which usually helps either their army, or their mates who all happen to be playing.

    Bristol Vanguard use this comp heavily and are one of the worst culprits of the last two points, and it's the reason I don't attend their tournaments.

    I will say that used sparingly this sort of comp CAN remove some of the worst spam offenders - getting rid of triple heldrake, 3-4+ Cron fliers.

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    1. 2) Army specific comp
      This is probably the second most common type of comp. This works by writing a small brief on each army, limiting some of the things they can take. It's good for dealing with specific types of filthy list, however it is ENTIRELY down the TO if this goes well or not.

      - Best way to directly deal with specifically hard builds that are difficult to mitigate against with generic rules (Oh hi there Tau!)
      - Allows you to tailor per codex (so Dark Angels don't get gimped for "spamming")
      HOWEVER:
      - This comp is ENTIRELY subjective, and likely dependent on the TO's view of the meta. This is the biggest flaw here. It is especially bad if the TO doesn't attend many other tournaments or keep an ear to the ground of the current meta, as it is unlikely they will catch all the worst builds, and can start penalising local builds that they don't like. It's quite easy for a TO to go a little mad with power here and start just things that they don't like
      - It is RIDICULOUSLY easy for a TO to over-compensate here. This has the impact of essentially turning the game into the TO's warped view of 40k.

      I think this form of comp is probably better than the previous one, however it is more susceptible to a TOs specific pov. With great power comes great responsibility if you will! I think this works best in limiting the power of the top builds around, while still giving them a fighting chance - (eg. you can't take 2 Riptides, AND a max unit of broadsides, AND a commander with iridium and a PEN chip to stand at the front)

      3) The Dirty Dozen & The Lambs to the Slaughter
      This is a system I've used by the Viet Taff down in Cardiff. I haven't seen it used anywhere else, but I kind of like it, very few downsides!

      Essentially - this form of "Comp" concerns matchups for the first round. Rather than random pairings - the filthiest lists are all lumped together and play each other for the first round. This is interesting, and I like it as it essentially says "You can bring your super filthy stuff, but you're guaranteed a tough first game." This makes it harder for the filthy lists, as it means that they should be guaranteed 3 tough games, rather than the potential for a random easy first round win to springboard them up to the top of the leaderboard!

      The flip-side of this is that you also have the Lambs to the Slaughter - you can match the fluffiest, non-optimised armies together for their first game, so they're less likely to spend the game doing nothing but taking models off!

      Only downsides are:
      - Subjective, however I don't believe it's as subjective as the previous two options.
      - Potential for abuse. All the TOs mates end up with easy matchups for the first game - suspicious.
      - Unknown impact on the longer term scoring (it mixes up where players "should be" concerning their skill - a player in the dirty dozen who gets a bad matchup could end up playing a lamb in round 2, but that's inevitable really)
      - Has less impact the more games played, as more games are played, the better players/better army lists end up bubbling to the top anyways.

      I personally think this would be a fantastic method for Blog Wars!

      That's all I can think of for now (and this comment is already an essay!)

      In all honesty - I don't think one method on it's own is good enough, I think the combination of several different methods should be used!

      Most importantly though, I think you should be open when announcing Comp, and listen to feedback. Perhaps you could propose an initial set of comp rules, and then after 2 weeks of discussion, adjust them and issue them as the definitive rules.

      If you introduce a rule that you subsequently find gimps an otherwise fine army list, you should be willing to go back and look into adjusting the rule.

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    2. I also think that the Comp system shouldn't be looked at in isolation - scoring and comp can be tightly linked, and both can be tailored to support a certain type of army list and type of play. The infamous favourite game votes can be used here - however after personal experiences at WHW with the doubles, I think you should be very careful with them!

      Christ - I really need to get a blog!

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    3. Couple of things. Firstly, no offence to Franco but he'd been to previous Blog Wars so he knew it was a friendlier event. However, a big chunk of the more competitive guys were put off by the venue change. Still, everyone can see who's coming so you know the usual suspects.

      Second, TO led comp isn't something I want to go down. I have a solid grasp of all the codexes with the exception of sisters so I don't think stealth cheese is an issue. However, I know I'm biased against certain books so I wouldn't be impartial.

      Basically there are two options. Don't comp and allow someone to walk through their opponents for £25 or comp and potentially prevent it. Both have the potential to put people off so I'm kinda stuck really.

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    4. You might not have seen the rest of my essay of a comment (1200 words, christ!)

      Have a look at the Dirty Dozen system - I think it would suit Blog Wars really well!

      TO led comp is a difficult one - fair enough if you don't want to go down that route.

      You could think about army scoring - BEFORE each game your opponent rates your army from 1-5 based on (in his opinion) how cheesy it is. Duplicated units, heavily loading certain FOC slots and Min/Max Allies would be the main causes. You then incorporate this into the scoring - rewarding people who win with less cheesy army lists.

      Yes it's subjective, and is open to abuse (playing your mate, oh you get a 1 for your perfectly fluffy triple Drake list..!). You've also got to be very careful in how the scores impact the final result (they shouldn't mean that someone with 3 wins does worse than someone with 2 wins and a draw). I haven't seen this one in practice, but I know it is used in some places.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. I think that if blog wars did decide to comp by not allowing repeat units then it would make some armies stronger than others.

    But if blog wars didn't decide to comp at all then some armies would be stronger than others.

    But, by not allowing repeat units, the armies that do show up at blog wars should be more varied and interesting to play with and against than the usual 3 annihilation barges or 47 (ish) high yield broadsides.

    From reading the other suggestions it seems to me that the only way of making a tournament 'fair' for everybody is to use the army specific comp method and have the restrictions decided by a large panel of experienced gamers from different parts of the country over a decent amount of time. So since that will never happen, I believe that a restriction on repeat units is the way forwards.

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  9. At BW6 you should really let people score the opponents army. Even if it you don't make anything of it for BW6, it could give you some ideas for BW7 (which you'll hopefully do?!) and how to handle comp then.

    On the comp for BW6: what about limiting the second of the same type to 150 points (just an example, could be more or less points)?
    That way you won't get the big baddies spammed, but still are capable to field some toned down versions. For example you could field a second squad of Broadsides, but it would only be a squad of two, so it wouldn't be that effective, but still allow you to stick to your original army. And if you'd want to include a third unit of said squad it would be limited to 100 points (i.e. a squad of a single Broadside).

    Cheers,
    Hendrik

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  10. I may be considering Blog Wars, if I can fit it in with my family. I think I understand the deal with comp but never had to do anything with it. Ultimately I want to have fun, I want to go to a tournament and enjoy playing. If there is a rule list of what I can and can't take and what I can come up with for an army doesn't make me want to vomit then fine I'll be down with that. For instance there's a 40k in 40 minutes night at a local game store soon. That does not suit nids at all. The game style is 5th edition and the last edition Tyranid codex, it does not relate to what Tyranids are now with Synapse and Warriors being 3W. However, it forces me to play with Hormagaunts and Genestealers which wouldn't ordinarily get a run out.

    My only concern with Blog Wars is I have to take a Special Character - that will be the Doom but surely that comes with it's own level of cheese that is beginning to wear thin wherever and whenever he pops up on a table. Regardless I'll keep an eye out for what's decided and see if I can pop along, it be rude not to.

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  11. Do not punish players, instead reward... Have your top 3 prizes for the best players, but also have awards for the fluffy guy(s), the rookie, ECT... People say highlander rules, what about a highlander challenge/reward instead.

    Encourage the play you want more of without upsetting the current crowd.

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  12. I like the idea of comp-ing but in all honesty if some one wants to bring 3 riptides or 3 wraithknights then fair play. The issue with money and cost will raise its head.

    Just my opinion here but if you want a nice friendly atmosphere at blog wars which what I experienced at bw3 why don't you go down the USA adepticon route where friendliness and sportsmanship are heavily rewarded...

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  13. Don't go for comp. No matter how well it is done or what intentions you do it with, it always comes across to someone as the TO putting the banhammer on something he doesn't like. It never works out the way you expect it to and, as others have all ready stated, people will still find a way to get around your comp rules and come up with dirty lists. All it is is a system, and people always do their best to break systems.

    I do have an alternative option, something I have seen at a few other tournaments; it can be a little tricky to get right, requires the TO to be incredibly impartial but massively encourages fluffy lists.

    Give points for theme and army as well as winning games.

    I'm heading to Invasion at Warhammer World next Friday. In addition to points for wins, losses and draws (totalling 30 points if you win all your games) there are army scores, broken down in to Army appearance as a whole, cohesion (though that is in part because it is a doubles tournament), unit markings and banners, originality, your forces general. Each of those categories is worth 4 points, totalling 20. So your army is worth nearly as much as winning all the games.

    As I said, it is a doubles tournament, with each player able to take 600 points at full FOC, and able to ally with another player using any codex (all counting as allies of convenience). Before we knew about the army points, my team mate and I had planned on taking Imperial Guard and Tyranids. As soons as we found out about the army points, we started recrafting the lists we had planned, creating a Genestealer cult list, creating a whole army of new models from our collective bitz boxes, despite having equivolent IG and Nid models in our collections all ready. Instead of a normal army list, we have a huge fluff document from one inquisitor to another giving logs of his experience as the world falls to the genestealer cult and eventually a full nid invasion.

    In a matter of hours, we went from a casual tournament list to full on fluff-bunny insanity (being competitively creative as my team mate put it!) That said, our list is far from a fluffy push over.

    For an example of what we have done, see;
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-4uLwtZQ98_w/UhZX7uR_PBI/AAAAAAAAAq0/w95CjV2UIuc/s640/Data+slate+image.png

    I'll have more pictures of what we have done after the event. Don't want to ruin any surprises yet ;)

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  14. Firstly, thank you for asking for community feedback rather than just comping the event!

    There have been a lot of good points made already, many of which I agree with. To put it succinctly, comp is highly subjective, just changes the power builds and some armies are much more affected by it than others. As you follow my blog, you may have already seen my thoughts on comp already:

    http://totalimmersionwargaming.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/concepts-comp.html?m=0

    It's the nature of competition that someone will win. Some people are competitive gamers, some are competitive modellers and painters, others strive to create the perfect narrative army. However, not everyone is gracious at both winning and losing! It seems that you are torn between wanting a competitive tournament vs a casual event. I'm struggling to see how you can do both, so I have some ideas for discussion:

    1) Decide if you really want a pure competitive generalship tournament. If so, run with it. Your USP is the special characters and missions.

    2) Go for a hobby event. Remove the generalship awards entirely. Play the games but use random pairing, don't even record results, only who's already played to avoid repetition. Give out awards for best army (panting, theme, conversions), sportsmanship and other random prizes like Brighton have started to do (e.g. one round could be first person to get tabled).

    3) Give out Best General, Best Army, Best Sportsman and Best Overall awards. This allows attendees the freedom to decide what to bring and play, but hopefully gives everyone something to aim for. Pair strong lists against each other in the first round and hopefully by the end of the tournament the better generals will be playing against each other on the upper tables and players who are not so interested in winning but maybe have spent more time perfecting their painting are on the lower tables (gross oversimplification, I know!).

    Thanks again for the chance to throw in our opinions. At the end of the day it's your event, but hopefully this will help you reach a decision!

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  15. It seems people are getting the wrong idea here. 'Comping' blog wars is not about trying to make it a more even playing field. So what if people find a way around it and still bring a dirty list, the fact is dirty lists already appear and so it is certainly not any worse.

    And as for this idea 'punishing people'. How is it a punishment to have to write a slightly different list with your codex? You still get to use the army that you want to use just with a greater variety of units. Everybody else also has to write different lists to what they normally would too.

    The reason for comping blog wars is to get people to write lists and bring armies that are more varied than the norm. Having a fluffy scoring system is not going to achieve that because it will always come down to the bias opinion of the judge (no matter how impartial they try to be).

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  16. have you ever looked at the sweedish comp rules. very fun :)

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  17. Bloody hell! I don't think I've ever received this many comments on a post before. Suffice to say I'll try and pick out the main points and do a follow up post to continue the discussion. I want to stress that I'm not just going to enforce this without properly exploring the pros and cons.

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  18. One more point:

    Consider that, by comping in the style you suggest, you may be forcing people to buy extra units.

    Most players I know only have a limited pool of units to choose from, and certainly don't own all the options for each FOC for whatever reason.

    For example if a tau player has an army bought in last edition the elites slits are likely to be full of crisis teams.They may own stealth teams, but certainly won't own a riptide.So to fill his elite slots you're forcing them to spend £70 or more to have a 'legal' list. Then you have to repeat that for HQ, FA and HS.That is potentially a lot of money to fix a list that, by the actual rules, is fine.

    Plus it doesnt actually deal with some of the 'bad' lists anyway - you mentioned necron flyers as an example.So it seemsike an uneccesary penalty and would certainly be offputting to potential attendees.

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