Sunday, July 21, 2013

Building a Better Blog Wars: Part Two - The Missions

Following on from Friday's post about the scoring system I want to look at the missions/scenarios that will be used at Blog Wars 6. Something that came out of the scoring discussion was that each game needs to be the same value as the next.

Points Available in the Rulebook Missions
It's often frustrating at a tournament to do really well in a game where there's only a handful of points available but get your arse kicked in a high points game. Assuming, for now, that we're going to use the rulebook missions let's take a look at the points available (assuming 5 objectives in the D3+2 missions):

  1. Crusade - 5 objectives worth 3 points - 15pts total
  2. Purge The Alien - depends on the armies - anything from 3-20pts
  3. Big Guns Never Tire - 5 objectives and potentially 3+1 heavy support choices - 19pts total
  4. The Scouring - 6 random objectives (4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1) plus fast attacks - 19pts total
  5. The Emperor's Will - 2 objectives worth 3 points each - 6pts total
  6. The Relic - one central 3pt objective - 3pts total
Note that I've ignored secondaries for now as I'm not sure how I'm going to use them at this point.

There's a hell of a discrepancy between the missions then. We all know winning Relic is often down to First Blood which is essentially a dice roll. Emperor's Will isn't much better as people tend to hug the home objective and ignore the other unless they can make a late game contest. The rest aren't too bad though. Purge The Alien is the only one where the games in a single round can vary from table to table and it just encourages people to take low point armies which isn't much fun to play against and penalises cheap armies such as IG, DE, etc.

Big Guns and Scouring present a similar but slightly different problem in that if you haven't got any soft fast attack/heavy support units to kill then there are less points available. Some armies simply don't have decent choices in these slots either. Thinking of my Tau it'd be great to have scoring hammerheads or broadsides but pretty crap to use Pathfinders to claim an objective. For now let's ignore these missions. Whilst the random objectives in the Scouring are interesting it does favour mobile armies as they can turn things around if they get crap objectives in their table half.

We're left with 4 then. I'd like to keep Purge The Alien in as I think it's at the core of 40K gaming and breaks up the objective missions. The Relic and Emperor's Will can be combined into one mission which is similar to the way we played last Saturday. Basically the Relic will be fixed in the centre (ignoring the movement nonsense that no-one ever uses anyway). This leaves Crusade with 5 objectives as a third mission. We could leave it there with 3 very simple missions that won't create any confusion. However, we haven't really address the scoring inequality.

Levelling Out the Scoring
Let's work on a principle of 25 points being available for each mission. This shouldn't be too hard to achieve. Crusade is dead easy as you just give 5pts per objective instead of the usual 3. Controlling the whole board will net you 25pts but it's not too difficult to score well with just a handful of them in control.

Next up, The Emperor's Relic (working title!), there's three objectives each worth 3 points each but I want to encourage people to push out for their opponent's objective. Let's say then that holding your opponent's objective is worth 10 pts, the central objective is worth another 10 and your home objective is worth 5. This creates what I think is an interesting prospect. You can hang on to your home objective and hope to contest the others but you'll only get 5 pts. You can push up and claim 10pts in the centre without risking your home objective too much but to really rack up the points you need to claim your opponent's objective whilst stopping him getting yours. Sounds like fun to me!

Finally, Purge The Alien. Here I'm just going to blatantly steal the idea that Chris from the Outpost used on Saturday with a slight change. Each army is worth 25 pts if it's totally wiped out. Each unit has to be worth at least one point but depending on the number of units you have there'll be points spare to spread around to make sure the whole army is worth 25pts in total.  Let's look at an example based on my Tau army from BW5. There are 15 units (including transports) so that's 1pt each and 10 spare. I could stick them all on the Riptide and make him worth 11pts when he dies as he can be pretty tough to kill or I could make him and Longstrike worth 6pts each as they're both pretty durable. Alternatively, I could make 10 of my units worth 2 pts each. 

This points allocation is decided once you've seen your opponents army as that allows you to decide what would be tough for your opponent to kill. Obviously you'll have to write this on your army list so you can't cheat at the end. A potential problem with this system is that players can write units into their list that are incredibly difficult to kill. For example, the immortals unit our opponents gave all their points to on Saturday. Even if you destroyed their flyer they'd walk on from the table edge next turn and be tricky to kill. It also allows people to put all the points on a model that can be hidden or kept in reserve as long as possible. Not perfect then but it's a step in the right direction. 

Perhaps it would be better to assign the points before you see your opponent's army i.e. before the event even starts. That way you might decide to put extra points on your flyers but then end up playing an army with lots of anti-air. Still, this brings in issues again where players are just lucky or unlucky with a matchup.

Blog Wars Special Rules
Part of the theme for Blog Wars is the use of Special Characters. I'm determined that this will always be the case. Therefore, we need to look at the rules for the special characters. In the scoring games they'd count as scoring units in their own right. Not a lot of use if they're joined some troops but potentially useful in a squad of Elite terminators for example. 

In Purge The Alien the special character must be worth at least 3pts with the excess spread however the player sees fit. 

Three missions each worth 25pts each. This prevents the usual problem in Purge The Alien, isn't overcomplicated for people and makes scoring each round easy. There are also enough points available to easily separate players and avoid duplicate matchups. 

We can still play for the secondary objectives and still have them worth 1pt each. They could still be the difference between a win and a loss but are unlikely to determine the whole game. 

What do people think? Does all this sound reasonable? I'm loathe to write completely custom scenarios as I think people simply don't read the scenarios in enough detail before the event. It's also very difficult to write missions that don't benefit one army too much over another.

As before, any suggestions are gratefully received.


  1. I like the Special Characters idea, but I really do think that they should be from the primary force now, quite a few lists shoe horn in a character rather than base a list from the ground up IMO.

    Have you made any final decisions on the final set up yet?

    1. I agree that they ought to be in the primary detachment. Unless anyone has a strong objection I'll probably make this compulsory.

      I've updated the BW6 page with some of this stuff and I've also clarified which SCs count for Blog Wars. Please let me know if you think I missed any.

  2. I like it, I think it's better. I didn't overly mind finishing 20th, as within the rules that was an accurate reflection of how well I did. I did beat 2nd place in my first game but as you say it was close. And I was at all times pushing to crush my foes!(just not doing it very well!)

    Also I suppose I would of Had to face "tougher" armies later on. My overall preference would be a w/d/l with the victory points as goal difference, to separate people out; but that is complicated.... A win is a win, but when is it a better win?

    I think the weighting of extra kps is a clever idea to balance things, and moves in the right direction. My question would be, what happens in 26+ kp list? Do certain things just not give away kill points? I've not tried but I'm sure I could spam horde guard with more than that if I felt inclined!

    It's refreshing to see organisers thinking more in terms of the service user than their principles *cough*throneofskulls*cough*

    1. In theory, ranking people as win/draw/loss would work but I do like the simplicity of the pure VP system. As you say, you have to play within the system. I personally hate the Favourite Game vote system that GW uses at its doubles but I've won one so I can't really complain. You just accept that you have to play it their way and it's essentially luck. When isn't a tournament luck though?

      I know there's the potential for a 26+ points list but realistically that'd be pretty unlikely. I think someone would have to go out of their way to do it. With the exception of IG most armies with allies are limited to 23 FOC slots which would be tricky to max out at 1,850 (obviously this ignores transports). If you really feel inclined to do it then I wish you luck painting them and transporting them to the venue!! Not to mention how long a turn would take!!

      I've always wanted BW to be about making the best tournament possible to prove it can be easily achieved.

  3. I like the suggestions Alex - seems to balance everything out much more, although it could still leave (small) scope for person A to win 3 games @ 15pts for 45pts overall and person B to lose 1 but completely fluke 2 tablings/big wins and grab 50pts to jump ahead....

    Hi @Lightning Slayer - it was me that you beat in game 1. Can't believe you came was by far my toughest game of the day - you had me pretty much locked down all game. I guess the army combinations just worked in my favour for the rest of the day and you got unlucky...

    1. There's always going to be scope for that sort of thing to happen if you are using anything but pure W/D/L but as I say, that doesn't indicate how close games were. There isn't a perfect system that I'm aware of unfortunately.

      Ultimately, the biggest problem is the random pairings for game one and the fact that Swiss Pairs only starts to work properly after game 3!!

    2. Perhaps it might be time to have another look at a seeding system as there seems to be a solid core of regulars now?

    3. Blog Wars 5 was made up of about 50% regulars and of those only 4 (I think) had been to all of the events. Seeding is a minefield really.

      You might think you could look at the lists but often someone brings a netlist but doesn't truly understand how to use it. Also, someone who's done well at the previous events may bring an entirely different army and not be as competitive.

      The other reason I'm not really a fan of the idea is that if you get a new guy who's a great player they'd still get a mismatch in the first game. Without a well established ranking system for every player involved you can't avoid first game mismatch in my opinion.

  4. @Alex – don’t get me wrong, I had an absolute blast, up there with probably throne experience last year. Thou 7 cups of coffee was a lot! I agree I cant stand the fav. game votes, especially since now you auto get one! And yes, I was deliberately being a pain26+ is unrealistic probly even for my army  I think that BW really shines because of the effort you put in to make it better, you can really see that. I think that all the missions being worth the same in points could weight it better – I was aiming for three wins and I got three wins! So I was pleased.

    @6th degree – my second game was a very tough game, and I did get very lucky, but in all of my games I was delivering body blows but not being able to finish my opponents off – they were too good! I agree with your point re small, consistent margins vs bigger one offs. I guess where we are trying to get to – over the course of three games its hard to hammer it out, you get lucky, or not! The top up idea (option 3 from previous post) could assuage that but maybe not completely! I was pleased you got 2nd place – made me feel like a winner cos I knew I beat you lol.

    Random pairings is always going to lead to that, I think that its something I accept as part of the process of a tourney – you don’t know who you will face! Seedings could work, but who would seed? Would we the entrants seed each other based on our lists, (i.e. rate them almost on a hot or not priniciple) or would alex seed them all?

    As an aside – I think that weekend is also throne of skulls 40k. (you may already know that!) I don’t know how many people go to both and tbh I think id rather go blog wars - but it could drain some people away to that?

    1. As I say above, seeding people based on their lists is dangerous. You could have a player who's never been to a tourmanent before using a netlist which on paper looks unstoppable. Despite what people think it isn't all about the list. If I attempt to do the seeding I'd be opening up a can of worms I think. You can't totally eliminate luck in a tournament (there'll be a post on that soon by the way). All you can do is minimise it's effects.

      Looking at the WHW calendar I think Throne of Skulls is the weekend after. Could put people off doing two weekends in a row but there's always something to compete with

  5. Hi Alex, although I really appreciate the effort you've put in to amend the scoring system I'm not a fan of the "random" allocation of Kill points in Purge or the different objective points in Emperors Relic.

    Both options hurt my army and how I play. I only have 6 (fairly easy to kill) units + HQ in my army meaning I am at a disadvantage if I have to allocate "spare" kill points across them. Although I appreciate I don't give many KP away in the current system, I'm also at a disadvantage in the fact that I simply don't have the numbers available to table anyone or take on large hordes. I have to work really hard to take Kill points from people and in return they are pretty much guaranteed to kill any unit in the open on their turn. If monkeys are now worth, say 6 points I'm at a real disadvantage losing one unit and I'll have to play (even more) defensively.

    Again, although its the way I've built my list I suppose, I really struggle to take and claim objectives - I just don't have the durability to "take the fight to my enemy" in the last game I played at BW5 if I had tried to attack my opponent, a 100% Space Wolves Terminator list I would simply have been annihilated and holding my own objective was the only thing I could have done.

    I know you're working hard to make a scoring system that works for everyone (and not just me lol) but I'd be happier with a more simplistic system that had flexible Primary VP awarded for a Win in addition to the ones available in the mission. Also Winning should only be decided on primary VP to prevent First Blood being so vital.

    I'm not sure how this would work exactly, but it would be nice to think you could work up a scoring system that meant every army had an equal chance of scoring well in each mission (an impossibility??)

    I do know, however you work it out it'll be awesome and I'll be at BW6 no matter what lol! also, looking at the table you put up in your first post I'd finish 3rd in a few of the modified systems so I'm all for a change!

    1. I agree it's far from being a perfect system.

      Your BW5 list actually has 13 kill points because of the chimeras. Coteaz would have to be worth 3 pts so you'd have 10 points left to spread around. That means each unit of monkeys would potentially be 2pts each with chimeras worth 1pt or the other way around. Assuming we go with the assigning of points once you've seen your opponent's army then you'd decide whether he could kill vehicles or infantry easier and spread points accordingly. Bear in mind, however, that you did manage to nearly table your first opponent in a KP game. Speaking of which I have to decide how bonus killpoints from tervigons will work!!

      It's far from a random allocation and I think the system creates a new dynamic in Purge the Alien games. I agree it's another thing to think about when writing a list but you often have to tailor a list to a particular set of tournament scenarios.

      Without meaning to sound harsh, it's very difficult to write scenarios that don't penalise one army style or another. The rulebook missions certainly encourage one style over another. Ultimately players have to consider this when writing their lists.

      At a previous blog wars I had a scoring system that was based on the degree of victory. The issue with that was that there were too many duplicate matchups which is why I moved to this VP system. Secondary VPs won't be decisive at this event. I am considering whether to actually award a separate prize for most secondaries scored though.

      This is far from a done deal though. It's a work in progress and one I'm determined to crack. I can't guarantee BW6 will have a perfect system but what I learn there will help make BW7 and BW8 better.

      By the way, it's hardly suprising that you like the system that puts you in 3rd!!


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