Monday, October 4, 2010

Core Competency meets 8th Edition.


Just some final commentary on the weekend, This being my first actual tournament of 8th Edition..It probably relevant that while a great event I should talk about the impact that 8th edition has had on the game when it comes to tournaments. There are definitely some issues that will likely need to be addressed in the future. Core Comp is a rarity in that its a fun social event and people tend to bring softer lists to, its not smashface competitive Warhammer and its also not a very expensive event to attend. Some of the issues I am about to talk about are drastically magnified by the cost of a "GT style event" ( entry fees, housing, travel expenses) and what people expect as far as the competitiveness of the event.

Attendance this year at Core Comp was basically 50% less than last year..the event had grown, grown and grown every year only to be bushwacked this year with huge attendance drop. My own observations conclude this is due to 3 things. First and foremost 8th Edition. At least a dozen regulars who have consistently played in local events over the last several years, were absent. Of course they could have "just been busy". however I get the feeling through forums and general conversation that an 8th Edition tournament malaise has struck the community. The website for the event also need a major overhaul, lack of updates and not working with anything but IE, doesn't exactly motivate people to travel from out of town, it could have also deterred people from attending because if you didnt know better, the lack of an updated site, could lead you to conclude the event wasn't happening. Finally holding the IL/WI team challenge close to the Event was a horrible idea..because you had a dozen players many of whom who had attended Core Comp in the past, just here the previous weekend, and WI also lost-a definite buzzkill to make the follow up drive for another tournament the following weekend. So low player turn out based on a new edition, and some local /advertising factors, then the following 8th ed. specifics on the event.

Time: contrary to popular or GW marketing belief, The game does not play any quicker. This is a myth. I too thought the game seemed to play much quicker, but after 30 games and a tourney, its simply not the case. In a tournament setting with the increase in points, rules calls, and more methodical and calculated game play, its seems 8th edition actually takes longer.. 2.5 hours a game was not enough time, I had games end on turn 4, 2 games ended at 5, and just 2 going 6...I am not a slow player, and have never been accused of being a slow player and I felt like .we were rushing every game, since 3 hour games.are not realistic tournament figure..there is only one thing to do and that is lower the points to 2000. a tough pill to swallow for alot of us...but its just the reality..if you like only going 5 or even 4 turns and losing then lamenting, "well if I only got my full game in" then I guess you dont care..but I would guess that if you are paying hundreds of dollars to travel and play in an event like Adepticon..you want to get your full game in, period.

Scoring: 8th edition scoring per the rulebook for tournments will simply just not cut it, if you want anyone but the diehards to show up and play. Not getting points for fleeing units at the end of the game or scoring any points for half units is simply not acceptable in even a marginally competitive event. Again this was ok for Core Comp..but at an event like Adepticon..if a half dozen people had games like I had in rounds 2 and 4, there would be gamer outrage on the loose in spades, and no one wants to pay money to watch that kind of drama. While this type is scoring is fine for book dictated scenarios and thematic battles..if you going to continue to mine the 7th edition tourney format..you have to return the old scoring rules.. This doesnt effect the new rules themselves and would create a better perception of fairness. Its either that, or you have to change to games from pitched battles to scenarios that reflect the new scoring ( either by using the rulebook scenarios or something else the takes thematic nature of 8th edition into account.)

Composition: Other than 900 points of Core requirement , there was no Composition requirement, other than ranking your opponents comp 1-5 on the Sportsmanship sheet at the end of the tourney. Being a long time supporter of Composition, it may surprise some of you that its pretty clear to me at this point, most of 8th edition does police itself in regard to composition .There are some outstanding issues with Magic and Shooting, and maybe a generic item of two (power scroll) Some of this could fix itself but lowering the points. I should say that everyone in all my games seemed to be a well balanced affair..there were a couple "lets see what I can break" type armies out there. (example 2- level 4 mages, + 80 shooters). Special Characters were this time allowed with the exception of Greater Demons, again the jury is out on Special characters for me until you can justify they are equally costed to their generic counter parts, you have to be skeptical and since some are clearly not..banning some but not all just isnt fair...so you are just better off leaving them off the table. I do think when we start talking an event with 150 players..some form of 8th Edition Comp is going to have to rear its head.

Sportsmanship- as illustrated at Core Comp this year, and still applicable across too many events. Can we please stop ranking people 1-5 in Sportsmanship?..all of my opponents were great sports and I would gladly have anyone of them to my house for a game having to rank them in order 1-5 from best sport to least is a total insult to both myself and them, and not even remotely accurate. Since you are already asked whether you would voluntarily play them a again on your results sheet. (so if you get a no vote, you'd get dinged) there is no point is this exercise. Sports need to be eliminated in favor of Favorite Opponent..pick you top 2 and the guys who get the most votes wins with ties being broken by least battle points easy and effective.. this isnt a tough one..I keep waiting for this system to be accepted as the norm, yet we continue to see the same old point giveaways and arbitrary meaningless crap.

I write this I am pretty Warhammer'd out..so this month I am working on several other things, with the exception of maybe one game, after that I can reboot and start thinking about Adepticon2011 where I'll be running an event Friday ( Historical- High Seas) and playing in WFB
Sat/Sun.

14 comments:

Steve said...

Nice write up. I think you are correct on why attendance was a drop off. 8th caused some vets to not want to show. Lots of the newer players probibly didn't come since they don't have painted armies yet. I know there were 4-5 new players from the Grayslake area that would have come, but they just got into warhammer and don't have their armies ready.

After the day I am also convinced that Special Characters shouldn't be allowed. The new edition has balanced the books a bit, but the special characters from book to book are WILDLY unbalanced. They just shouldn't be allowed at competitive events.

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

John, the solution to all your problems is staring you in the face - come play WAB at Adepticon instead.

Your list of issues is a lot of what I've been feeling about WFB. The game has lost its rigger - all beer & pretzels and little substance.

Felix said...

Rich, is it really that bad?

I haven't played a lick of 8th edition, but that's a personal issue. I simply want to wait until they release the 8th edition rules for every army that I ever started for Fantasy. So that means High Elves, Wood Elves (especially wood elves) and Dark Elves.

Conspyre said...

I think the issue is less with it not playing faster, and more with the fact that players don't have five years of experience under their belt anymore. The game is different, and it's going to require more reflection on things that people used to do automatically, like declaring charges. It's also why I think the knee-jerk, "we need to play bigger games" reaction is a mistake. At 2000 points, even 2250, if people want to get into some of the new rules, like Hordes, then they're putting a lot of eggs in a basket, which is a calculated risk based on perceived performance.

The changes in scoring are important to note given that the margin is much less. I tend to think that it does a better job by not rewarding last-turn flukes like a high-leadership unit blowing an easy check, and encouraging actually killing stuff, which tends to be more satisfying anyway.

To be honest, the comp requirement is why I will never go to Core Competency- I'm not sure I OWN 900 points of Core units for any of my armies, much less in a way that would make me actually want to use them for a tournament. I think that particular requirement also causes some of the issues you're pointing out- 900 points of say, Skaven, is a shitload more models than they'd be running normally, which is going to slow play speed significantly. (Also, you're totally a slow player :) )

The big issue with special characters is the length of the update cycle, but at this point, the days of 5th and 6th edition gamebreakers is over. Look at the Vampire Counts, one of the most hero-centric armies, and their generic Lords are significantly superior to any of the specials. Frankly, I think it was a mistake to disallow Greater Daemons- they're a pain in the ass to be sure, but they've never been more vulnerable than they are now- the lack of blocking terrain and the fact that the average archer has about the same odds of wounding them as heroes do means that they have to contend with a lot more damage before they can effectively get to combat. It strikes me as a decision made without fully comprehending the new ruleset, which is the sort of error to be expected so soon after an update.

I like the favorite opponent ranking, although as a general rule I've always disliked the "break soft score ties by who got the least points" theory- frequently it takes a better person to still get high sports scores while winning than losing. That said, I'm not sure I have a better answer. In a giant, Adepticon-sized tourney, you're going to run into tied scores all over the place, in every category, which is going to cause trouble with any kind of simple binary system like that- forcing the 1-5 gradation at least increases the odds that fewer people will tie, but it artificially depresses the scores of more successful players- all things being otherwise equal, people seem more likely to give the 1 to someone they lost to. Might be better to start with a perfect score, and then have a checklist- "rolled dice too fast", "sore loser/winner", etc, as points deductions.

Conspyre said...

Rich just doesn't like fun things- he also hates birthday parties, pies, and comical hats. :)

John@Plastic Legions said...

I'm bummed to hear you say that Bill
( about me being a slow player)
I'm might take my time horsing around at club night, but I have only had one tournament game I can recall before this weekend not go the full 6 turns and that was when the Skaven book came out and we had an assload of rules issues..I'll make sure I step it up..the next time we play!.

Conspyre said...

It might also be an opponents thing, as we haven't played each other in a while, I just know that in previous campaigns, etc, I'm pretty consistently done well before your table (and almost everyone else's, for that matter).

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

Felix - WFB is much like 40K now. The game is about list building and target allocation. Good players will need a complete knowledge of the various army books in order to set up the best combats. In editions prior to 8th, the most important skill was understanding the movement/combat phase, setting up traps and flank charges. In the current edition - movement is an after thought. Units charge half way across the board - planning is secondary to the number of kills a unit will generate.

The sportsmanship issue is always troublesome to tournament organizers. I've found that any sort of ranking system will just return 90% of the field with max scores. The only (simple) system is to have players submit their favorite opponent vote at the end of the event. In a 3 game, 20 player event - that should get you 1 unanimous sportsman. Adepticon with 5 games and 150 players will still need a tie breaker for the half dozen who get all 5 votes.

Conspyre said...

Units CAN charge halfway across the board, but it's far from guaranteed. Movement has become much more a game of risk management than it was before, when it was more about being able to estimate distances like a carpenter. I believe that with the new restrictions on heroes and repeated units, there's much more room for combining units in different ways than there was before, where you had to either spend half your points on a Big Damn Hero, or a way to counter him. With the significant drop in power level for heroes based on points and the increased vulnerability of high-toughness models, the game is getting much more back towards the massed infantry. Target priority and ensuring good matchups isn't just gaming the system, it's what makes warfare work- that's not a basic truism. Battlefield level command is about matching things up favorably, not about worrying just how many yards you are away from the battleline, leave that to your archer commanders and war engine crews.

I can definitely agree with you, Rich, on the scoring issue- you hardly ever see people scoring, say, a 3 of 5, they either love their opponents because tournaments are fun, or want to screw them over with a 0 or a 1.

Felix said...

Thanks for the explanations all. I'll have to kibbitz and get a new army book before I jump back into the mix.

eryx-uk said...

As someone who isn't a big WFB fan (especially with the prior rules) I like 8th ed. It is more like 5th ed 40K (which I find a far better system) and it has fuelled my interest in playing Fantasy.

The only downers IMO are that that magic is too powerful now and equally so tough to get anything past dispel dice (unless you are are Dark Elves).

xenite said...

@ Rich: I hear people say this sort of thing about 8th a bunch, but I believe it was exactly the same way in 7th. Where you spend your points is different is all. Both editions were about list building and target allocation. There were some MAJOR issues with 7th that 8th have addressed. Most of these in my mind can be summed up that avoidance armies are harder to pull off, and that blocks of troops aren't considered a bad choice anymore. I don't think that 8th is perfect, or that 7th was terrible. But I do enjoy 8th a great deal more. That the competitive difference between armies/units has been smoothed out some more makes the game more satisfying as well.

Personally I think that people in the tournament scene had invested a lot of time into working out their lists, and tactics in 7th, and now there are balances that have changed, and that work has to be done again.

I've not played in a tournament of 8th ed yet, so I can't say if I have much of an issue with the way the game runs in it. I have a feeling that TOs will have to work out the kinks some still. Some people have brought up a good point, that it took YEARS to come up with comp for 7th, it may take some time before people come up with comp that works for 8th. Right now TOs are playing it pretty basic, and I think that is a good idea. Some players are going to have frustrating games as things that need some adjustment come up (80+ shots per turn comes to mind).

xenite said...

...one more thing. Special characters are generally pretty lame, and I don't think they are all balanced particularly well.

xenite said...

By the way John, great write ups on CC. I was bummed that I couldn't make it, and your synopsis of your experience was interesting to read.

 

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