Monday, September 02, 2013

Blog Wars 6 - Two Months to go! - Comp Discussion Round-up

The sixth Blog War will be held on Saturday 2nd November at the North West Gaming Centre. For those of you who aren't familiar with the event here's a quick run-down.

  • Originally started as an inter-blog event but now open to EVERYONE!
  • 3 games at 1,850pts with 2.5 hours per game
  • Each army MUST include a special character in their primary detachment
  • Imperial Armour units are not allowed
  • Prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Wooden Spoon, Best Painted Army, Best Painted Special Character
  • Spot prizes throughout the day
  • Free raffle at the end of the day (keep an eye out for the list of what's on offer)
More than half of the tickets have been sold but if you'd like one their £15 each and can be purchased by either using the contact me link or simply clicking on the PayPal button. 

When I started Blog Wars I set out with the intention of running a friendly tournament that welcomed both new players and tournament veterans. At the time some people didn't believe their could be such a thing as a friendly event but I hope I've proved over the last few years that it can be done. I've always tried to find a balance between running a tournament that rewards players for winning their games and preventing people from bringing horrible lists to end up with dull one-sided games.

Unfortunately, there will always be a couple of people at any tournament who bring an ultra-competitive list to make it easy to walk away with the top prize. I recently started a discussion about the concept of "comp". Blog Wars is already somewhat "comped" thanks to the compulsory Special Character. This time I'm also insisting that the SC be within the primary detachment to put people off simply tagging on an allied character. That doesn't mean to say SCs are banned in allied detachments but only an SC chosen from the primary can benefit from the BW special rules for them. I've also banned Imperial Armour units at BW6 as I think they're undercosted for what they can achieve and some people simply can't afford to bring them.

Anyway, in a previous post I put forward the idea that armies at Blog Wars 6 should be further restricted. The idea was that the "spam" that appears in a lot of competitive lists e.g. triple heldrakes, scores of Necron flyers, full squads of missile broadsides, etc. would be prevented. The post generated more comments than any of my previous posts ever had and there was a decent discussion. There were several compelling arguments for and against "comp" so I wanted to address them all here. This will be wordy but I think it's worth reading to understand why I'm doing what I'm doing with Blog Wars.

"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." - Morrbane

I have to agree with this. You can put restrictions on armies as much as you like but people will always find a way round it. 40K players are notorious for this. 

"....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....How about including list building scores? " - the 6th degree

Essentially what ever you do as a TO be it custom scenarios, comp or whatever, there will always be sine armies that benefit over others. I agree that some less than dirty builds could be prevented that make some of the only decent builds for older codexes unviable. Were I to take my Dark Eldar for example, a single Ravager really isn't going to cut it. List building scores are always going to be subjective. The TO can't score them as it's hard to be impartial (I just plain don't like Necrons for example) and you can't guarantee that the person scoring fully understands their opponent's army. Not to mention you'd score armies that you thought you could beat better than ones you knew would annihilate you.

"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." - Rathstar

I have to say I like this idea of limiting it to two units with further limits on flyers etc. However, at a tournament this weekend I took a double riptide Tau list and the general feeling in the room was that this was dirty. The rest of my army was fairly mixed but people focus on what they consider to be cheese. 

"....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...." - Ulises

At sub-2K Blog Wars doesn't have to worry about double FOC. I've said before that I'm really not a fan of the allies system (and outside doubles I rarely field an army from more than one codex). I've also toyed with the idea of banning flyers in the past but I always feel like you're saying "I want to play 5th edition" with things like this. Allies, whether I like them or not, are a big part of 6th edition and to ban them wouldn't sit right with me.

"Try highlander. No more than one of any unit no exceptions" - kong

As some of the responses said this massively limits some books over others. Obviously anything you do in 40K has that effect. There was a recent tournament at a local store where they tried this and I have to say the thought of it put me off. Their version didn't limit dedicated transports and I thought I'd just end up facing either Necron flyers or Eldar wave serpents. This kind of restriction would require custom scenarios too as some armies simply couldn't field enough Troops. I've talked before about why I want to avoid custom scenarios.

"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." - Fragnog

This was the main ethos behind comping Blog Wars. Not to necessarily ban certain armies but to encourage more varied and interesting lists. That being said I do think that Blog Wars already has quite a variety. There may only have been 30 players but as I recall we didn't see even two armies that were close to being identical. The same can't be said of other events I've been to.

"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, etc." - Anon

You sir, make a good point. Far from punishing people for bringing something that is perceived as "cheesy" I should be encouraging people to bring something more interesting. At previous events I've had a "Best Army Theme" prize for the army who I felt best fit with a particular armywide concept. Essentially what I think you're saying is make the prizes for the competitive bit pale in comparison to the prizes for being a nice guy! I like that idea.

"In addition to points for wins, losses and draws (totalling 30 points if you win all your games) there are army scores..... totalling 20. So your army is worth nearly as much as winning all the games." - Matt Calow

The community tends to refer to this as Soft Scoring and I'm not a fan of it in general. A tournament is a competition based on how well you play the game (including writing the army list, understand your opponent's army and how tactical you are), when you start to factor in soft scores you detract from the competition. This is the reason a lot of people are put off attending GW's events. I've been to independents where soft scores are used too and I find it frustrating to win all your games but lose out to someone else who painted unit markings on their models. There's a painting competition and a tournament. Never the twain shall meet in my opinion.

"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." - Creidhnan

This. This is where the debate about comping ends for me (indeed it was the last comment on the post). It's easy for me to sit here with 5 armies which contain pretty much every option from the codex and tell people that they can't bring a particular list. Whatever comp system I come up with would penalise those players with one army and not a lot of options. 

Blog Wars has always welcomed new players to the tournament scene, the idea that I'd be putting off people who can't afford to buy a new army just for my event just isn't right. It's easy to say "this is an expensive hobby" and write off how much it actually costs to buy the necessary new units. 

Conclusion
Ultimately I feel that Blog Wars has a firm identity as a friendly tournament with compulsory special characters and scenarios loosely themed around them. I'm not sure I want to be known for running a heavily comped event. 

Over the course of the discussion in the comments section people were saying about comp penalising one army over others but so does everything in 40K. However, what sealed it for me was the thought that comp affects certain players over others. To use an analogy from elsewhere, think of the Premier League, the top flight teams are always the ones with the most cash to splash around. It's the same in 40K, to keep competitive (especially with the rate at which new books are coming out) you need to own several different armies and have the spare cash to buy the latest powerful unit. I could've easily gone out and bought a ton of the new broadsides to make the HYMP list but I didn't for two reasons. Firstly because I can't afford to drop £270 on three units (before discounts) and secondly because it simply isn't any fun to play. It shouldn't just be about who has the most cash but it is. Like in football, the system is flawed, there's little that can be done about it.

Most of the ultra-competitive lists out there aren't any fun for anyone involved. You can't tell me you enjoy just sitting there pointing to units and rolling dice. My current Tau army may have a lot of firepower but it has to be played well to get the best from it. Net-list armies that are point and shoot aren't fun, simple as that.

I'm never going to be able to prevent people from bringing something cheesy. It's the nature of 40K. There will always be someone. What I would hope is that those attending would write their lists in the spirit of the event. Use Blog Wars as the opportunity to try something fun out that you would never use at another event. Bring that unit the internet tells you is useless and have fun finding out that they were probably right. However, you might be surprised when they achieve more than you expected.

Blog Wars 6 will not be comped any further than it already is. I think it's the best decision for the identity of the event and the enjoyment of the players. Top prize at BW5 was £25, with a £15 ticket Franco essentially made £10 which was probably spent on drinks and travel anyway. I can't imagine he enjoyed his games that much. However, someone (I forget who) showed up, played their games and win or lose, walked away with a Wraithknight from the raffle. Who really won?

16 comments:

  1. Excellent point - sir. Still looking forward to BW6 regardless of what you would have done.

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    1. Glad you're looking forward to it mate. I think it's the right call and I hope everyone can see why.

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  2. Second from bottom paragraph needs editing mate, it should read " I'm never going to stop Andy Humphries from bringing the latest spammy army so he can club everyone's fluffy armies to death all day."

    ;)

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    1. I seem to have stopped him inadvertantly with a venue change (who knew it would be so easy?!). Hopefully he'll make it to one at some point at the new venue but it's a long slog.

      Are you thinking of joining us again?

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  3. Glad to hear there isn't going to be comp. I'm not keen on it as it divides players, shows up the disparity between older and newer codices, and can make people think "He only won because of the comp" or, "I would have done better were it not for the comp."

    If I win(!), I want it to be because I beat the best players and played against the best armies. So bring on the top players, I say - it'll even up the competition as they'll be more top players to rival the big guns, leaving us 'fun-runners' to battle each other in the Cup-Cake Challenge for last place!

    What you can do as TO is to 'suggest' to the top players that they bring something a little different. They are geek fan-boys just like us at the end if the day, and would probably relish the idea if running something out of the ordinary - they just need that nudge in the right direction to get into a different mind-set.

    Alternatively, split the players into two factions and run the day as a campaign, where one faction wins and the other loses, based on the overall results of the day.

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    1. I'd love to think suggesting they bring something different would work. Sadly, realistically I know there'll be a couple.

      I like the idea of an Imperial vs. Xenos kind of thing but perhaps I can wait and see if obvious factions emerge when I get the lists.

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  4. I'm glad to hear this was ultimately the decision, and you make very good points as to why you have made the decision. Ultimately, I think the small prizes for placing, and focus on raffle and spot prizes is the best comp. Hopefully those that do bring harsh lists will ultimately get the message.

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  5. I must say the raffle is a brilliant idea and that wraithknight although still unpainted is amazing - I love it! (thought id make myself known :P )

    Having only attended 2 Blogwars tournaments I think yopu have it about right - you cant stop people bringing powerful lists but with the top prize being limited it does make you wonder....why win the boring way when you can have fun! :)

    Big fan of your tournaments - hopefully i can make BW7 as I cant afford BW6 for the moment!

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    1. Thanks for the support mate. Sorry you can't make it to BW6. Glad you like the wraithknight. To be honest I love giving stuff away at the raffle more than I like handing out the tournament prizes!

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  6. "Essentially what I think you're saying is make the prizes for the competitive bit pale in comparison to the prizes for being a nice guy!"
    (I was on my phone when I posted)

    Well I wouldn't say pale, but I think there should be [b]equal[/b] rearwards for being a Warlord, and a Fluff Master, so to speak. Its a game too, so I would try not to kick people for playing the game.

    This does two things. Keeps both sides even and happy, and gives both sides more chances to win. Nothing I hate more than thinking "I have to make 3rd to at least get something".

    Also make it so you can't double up, if someone places and wins a theme prize make them choose, and the runner up gets what he passed on.

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    1. I stress equality because any feelings of (over the top) favoritism can discourage players (of ether side), and you want as many as possible to show up as possible. More player means better prizes, and enhances the social aspects of the event.

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    2. You're right, I don't want to discourage anyone. Which is why I've essentially kept things the same. I tend to try and avoid one person winning two prizes which is why I don't have a "Bloodiest General" or equivalent. It's rare you get someone doing well in the competitive stakes that's painted their army to an amazing standard.

      Delete
  7. It was Pete that came along played a few games and got a Wraithknight to boot (I had a few games with him last week!) and I agree with your decision that comping the tournament would be extremely hard to do in a balanced way. Really looking forward to the day!

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  8. One thing I really liked from the comments on the previous discussion on comp was the suggestion that each player be allowed to bring three lists, and be allowed to pick whichever list worked best against his opponent.

    I think that would alleviate a lot of the problems found in match-ups using 'all-comer' lists.

    To make it more fun, you could say that each player can only use each variant of his list once.

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    1. @Grazer - This does overly favour those with huge collections and different armies though - unlike me who has the monkeys and that's about it.

      One thing you could do is suggest a general theme for all submissions with some "wriggle room" and maybe a small in-game reward for sticking to the theme. For example you could say all armies could be "Speed Themed" this would suggest lots of fast attack, highly mobile transports, bikes, deep strike etc. etc. Obviously this is quite expansive and includes a lot of different build options for all the armies in the game. For those people who build to this ethos you could give them a bonus for each mission such as an in game re-roll, + 1 to reserves or something similar. This rewards people for being fluffy but doesn't unnecessarily punish those who still want to bring whatever list they want. There could also be a prize for the army that best met the theme of the event.

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    2. As greylamb says you're penalising people with smaller collections. Themes to me just seem like comp by another name. Some armies simply can't do fast for example. I agree it rewards a bit of fluff but I have to say I think it would punish some.

      I have done an army theme in the past and I think it's probably something that should return.

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