The most important part of the process for me is consulting you guys. I have a certain point of view on everything 40K related and army selection is no exception. Inevitably part of the identity of Blog Wars comes from my own beliefs about what makes for a fun event. I originally created this event as a means of bringing the blogging community together to roll some dice but it's grown from there and I never thought I'd achieve the 48 player attendance we had at BW9. Community aside, the key for me was that Blog Wars should be the kind of event I'd want to attend if I wasn't running it.
At the time I created Blog Wars I'd only recently entered the tournament scene but what I found most frustrating was that the GW events had such appalling prize support and that the independent ones seemed to reward WAAC gameplay more than actually enjoying the games and meeting new people. This can be a pretty lonely hobby at times when you're sitting in a room painting miniatures by yourself (or blogging endlessly about the minimal hobby you actually get time for). Tournaments should be where we all get together in a relaxed environment and throw some dice.
Why am I talking about all this? Well, it's important to understand my motivation for "banning" certain things. The perpetual "comp" for the event, the compulsory special character, was put in place to shake up the scene at the time which was banning SCs rather than making them compulsory. Of course they can be exploited for their rules but I see them as bringing character (pun intended) to what can easily become a stale scene of spamming of the strongest units. You don't talk about how your 24 broadsides easily gunned down an opposing army in two turns. You talk about that time when Arjac Rockfist took on a Bloodthirster and two daemon princes in combat and lived to tell the tale.
It's difficult to translate that ethos into army selection criteria though. For every restriction I make to limit the use of a particularly nasty combination, I seem to prevent someone doing something fluffy and/or fun. A prime example was the introduction of supplements. I originally wanted to ban them to prevent the use of O'Vesastar etc. Trouble was that I had a couple of people who had designed their Tau army around the Farsight Enclaves book. I therefore decided that every time I run an event I will try to keep restrictions to a minimum and trust people to write their lists in the "spirit of the event". I throw that phrase around a lot but it's right at the heart of why I created Blog Wars. I want people to bring something a bit different, something that wouldn't necessarily do well at a mainstream event but might surprise some people at Blog Wars.
Where am I going with this?
Good question! I often wonder that when I'm writing blog posts! Anyway, there are a couple of issues that have surfaced since I published the BWX event pack so here goes:
Games Workshop have taken the sickening step of releasing bundles that come with their own exclusive formations. Paying for rules is nothing new and frankly it's what the game boils down to even without these new offerings from GW. However, it's yet another source of rules I have to be aware of and make a decision about. For those of you not familiar with them there are currently three in circulation:
- The Exalted Court of House Terryn
- Cohort Mechanicus
- Skyhammer Annihilation Force
I'm sure GW will have added more by the time BWX comes around but let's look at the current crop. Well we don't have to worry about the Exalted Court because it requires 5 IKs and BWX only allows a maximum of two per army. The Cohort Mechanicus is a nice way of brining together the Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus books which I'm all for but basically it allows both Canticles and Doctrina to be used for the entire formation and adds a couple extra. One gives upto a 4++ save for a turn and the other gives +3 to BS and WS for a turn, both of which are pretty powerful. Still, all of the AdMech stuff is reasonably flimsy so I don't think it's too obscene.
The Skyhammer Annihilation Force is a bit more difficult. This a formation for the new SM book and includes two assault squads with jump packs and two devastator squads in drop pods. The key bonuses are that the whole formation arrives together automatically on either T1 or T2, the assault squads get to assault when they arrive and the devastators get Relentless when they arrive. That basically negates the drawbacks of reserving them. Not only that but the Devastators can force a morale check on 3D6 for any unit they target. A failure forces them to go to ground and prevents them firing Overwatch. Not only that but if the assault squads charge them they get to re-roll to hit and to wound for a phase.
Just writing that out makes me feel uncomfortable about allowing it but I want to hear what you guys think. There's an extra avenue for abuse too with the Combat Squads rule. You could easily cause 4 units to Go To Ground and charge four separate units. As I say, I want to hear your thoughts but it doesn't sit right with me.
This is trickier to call. I received a few comments about the list that came second at BW9 which was a Tyranid list with multiple FMCs. It's difficult because on the one hand I think that there are only a limited number of "viable builds" for Tyranids to be competitive and FMCs are part of their identity. The other side of it is that there should be lists like this as a counter to things like three Imperial Knights (which were an issue at BW9 but aren't allowed at BWX).
There should be lists with lots of flyers so that there's a rock to some scissors. Obviously in a three game event it might meant that a list seems over the top but in a longer event it would meet it's match. Players should design their lists expecting to play at least the odd flyer and meeting multiple flyers should present a challenge to attempt to overcome. Again though, I want to hear what you guys think.
Special Detachments (e.g. Necron Decurion, Eldar Warhost, etc)
These are a whole new can of worms opened up by GW. My first objection to them is that they bypass the "two detachments/formations" only by allowing your to take multiple formations whilst still only taking a single detachment. That seems unfair on armies without them for a start.
What makes them worse are the bonuses which apply to the whole detachment. Using the Decurion was an example, the whole army gets +1 to its RP rolls. That means a 50:50 chance of negating any damage for the most part. It's better than FNP even before the bonus. What that basically means is you need twice as much firepower to kill a Necron unit than you would without RP. You may disagree with me but I really don't think Necrons need any help. There similar issues with the Eldar and SM detachments and again I really don't think those armies need help being competitive.
Let's be clear here, I'm not saying the individual formations aren't allowed. I'm just saying that a detachment of formations isn't. Nothing is completely final though, I really do want to hear what you think.
Ultimately the decision on whether something is too filthy or not can't be properly made until I've seen the general standard of the lists. I try to ensure that there's a decent mixture in there. I don't want everything to be crap but nor do I want everything to be incredibly strong. Neither situation makes for a fun event.
Hopefully the missions help to moderate things somewhat as certain types of army simply won't do well at every mission. There are some exceptions to this of course. The other thing to consider is we're not talking about what's good in a normal tournament setting. Blog Wars will inevitably be a bit softer than the usual independent events so something that feels underpowered there might actually do well at Blog Wars. Banning the Gladius when 5 Imperial Knights are permitted would be unfair but when other armies are restricted too the overall power level is lower and the better codices will still rise to the top.
On the other hand I hate telling people that they need to change their list. Even if they submit it well in advance to check if it's alright. I hope this post goes some way to expressing how difficult it is to keep things friendly without losing the competitive side of what is, after all is said and done, a tournament.