Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blood and Glory


Viggo as the lead in while I talk about WFB?, Heresy you say?, no way..he is still the King in my book.

The post Adepticon hangover is gone and find myself back toiling away late night in basement, while I'm working on stuff for our upcoming Legends of the High Seas campaign, I am finding myself still preoccupied with my most fickle of muses. Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

You've read my gripes about the book scenarios before, and I spent the other night going the rules a bit. I am admittedly nowhere near where I need to be mentally for playing in competitive events if I actually have an intent of winning any games. In fact I have been getting a big kick of my friend James "rule of the day" over at his blog The Big House. because he keeps posting stuff that seems so obvious I should know, but I don't -so I keep kicking myself in ass trying to my head in game so to speak, so I spent some time digging into the rule book.

The book scenarios themselves are ok, for the big dumb fun of the "more, more, more" approach of 8th edition . (I tend to be a "less is more" kind of guy hence the conflict) The amount of work put into the narrative battles section of book clearly shows the designers arent particularly worried about us choosing to run tournaments with their game, as the "battle" scenarios we are using for events look like an after thought in comparison.

Beating the old drum again, let me rehash that from my perspective the problems with tournament scene and 8th edition is that we're still using 7th edition scoring for what is clearly a different game. The book scenarios are not meant for tournament play that is going to sort out a winner by straight up battle points. That's clear to me, but I guess not so much to the people I know that run events around these parts. Its way too easy for these scenarios incidentally give one player an advantage, that and the silly randomness of events from terrain on down to the games overall reliance on dice rolls..seriously just makes the whole thing a skill- less crap shoot. Now, Of course you can bone up on the rules, study up on every contingency of every army and put yourself in a place to minimize that dice crap shoot and that is what the best players do. However one scenario in the book is perfect for fixing the whole damn scoring issue and putting things back on track and its coincidentally the most controversial of the scenarios used at Adepticon this year: Blood and Glory.

Blood and Glory isnt just a scenario, (as people not preparing for it "going in" to the event led to the problems at Adepticon this year) its a tournament "model" -the perfect measure of how games should be scored and played in 8th. It bears direct similarity to WAB's Army break point system, which I've previously mentioned as a favored scoring solution of mine.However we did some demoing with it and it worked ok, except both games ended before either of us broke, so the WAB rules just revert back to victory points..so good in theory but not so much in practice.

For those unfamiliar, Blood and Glory is based on every army having a fortitude score based on your Armies General (2 points) plus 1 point for each banner of the field including the battle standard. Your army breaks, and the game ends when you armies fortitude drops to "x". "X" depending on the size of the game. In WFB tourney play..I'd suggest keeping the break point a "2" (the level for 2000 point games) instead of the "3" used at Adepticon this year. Because at 2200-2400 "2" still seems very fair..over 2500 points, It would go to a break point of "3" and it works up per 1000 points of game size from there.

Your average player in today's game should be showing up on the field with an average fortitude of "6", a General, a BSB and 3 Unit Standards..a couple more if you have the points. If neither opponent breaks the others army in six turns, the game is a draw with no other tie breaker.

These "Blood and Glory" rules would have the following postive effects on the meta game for 8th edition. No incentive to build "death stars" or massive horde units.A Death Stars maxium fortitude will be "4" (General, BSB, 1 unit Standard) Yes it might be nigh unbreakable, but you can't just sit in the back corner of the table and say "come get me"...because you're setting yourself up for a draw and if you just sit there let yourself get warmachined to death...you risk losing the game on bad panic check. Massive units which are currently used to keep wads of points on the table become an unnecessary points sink because once the unit breaks, its done as its lost is standard and its a scoring unit, unless it rallies and captures it back. No more lone Chaos Warrior or Temple Guardsmen keeping 800 points on the table alone, while fleeing at the end of the game. Fodder units become exactly that..with no standard they aren't scoring so a different tactical measure becomes apparent. With Objectives on the table for additional Battle Points for "Best General" I see two games going the field at one time, the battle for the win between scoring units and the battle for objectives between everything else..how you cross-use you units to get both becomes something a hell of alot more tactical than the gimmicky quirks of current play. Finally with a fortitude of only "2" your General can't "Herohammer" the game by himself without at least on other unit standard on the field..this is a very good thing.
(And No, I dont think the Slaan should get the extra point for being a BSB...he can be the BSB but you don't get the extra Fortitude point, you need a another model for that)

So, Pitched Battles with Objectives, "Blood and Glory" rules...that's how you roll with good 8th ed tournament in my book, your scoring is Battle Points 15/5/10 win/lose/draw + objective points + Sports (or Favorite opponent in my world) + Paint.

Some will inevitably ask "But John, What about bonus battle points?"

Bonus battle points are crap,normally contingent on whatever quirky fluke gets dictated by the parameters of the half-assed scenario the TO probably hasn't play tested more than once. Objective points are tactical capture..meaning you need to go out win them if you want them. Bonus Battle points are usually a freebie given to the winner by default or based on luck/ 8th edition is already way to based on luck to begin with, cutting it down and giving away less free points makes for a better tournament.

But John, Wont "Blood and Glory" rules produce alot of Draws?

They will, however considering Draws have gone from 1 out of 5 games (roughly 20%)in 7th edition to 1 out of 25 games in 8th edition (roughly >1%) with the change from 300 victory point margin to a 100 victory point margin, I think a happy medium of 10% or so is fine, people generally play to win, and a draw will become the self policing result or either a very good game, or someone just playing point denial under Blood and Glory, playing for draw might put you high in the standings if you have the soft scores to back it up but you still need to win games to win the tournament. A personal example: at this point I've played maybe 36 or so games of 8th edition I've had only two draws..one in the Team Tournament, which was literally to the point and the result of good luck turn 6 otherwise we had lost. The other was in the Blood and Glory scenario.

While I think its going to take the rest of season, having players "bum out" or just leave the game over lousy tournament experiences before mass self correction starts taking place, I already see positive signs of hope, One of our new local tourneys Blood in the Sun has publicly stated that "Blood and Glory" rules will be used for at least several of the scenarios this year and people best design there armies around it. While not the "full on" approach I lay out above..its a strong start and I am some of my Tuesday night regulars are attending this event in July, I'll let you know how it goes!.

14 comments:

robinoc said...

John,

I'm glad to see this post. Your posts about WHFB @ Adepticon left me wondering if you were "up for" the tourney to begin with.

I can only speculate, but I think your attention was focused on the Legends of the High Seas game you ran, which from the pictures you posted must have been an absolute blast.

Prior to Adepticon, there wasn't much WHFB-related material on the blog, unlike how it was with the build up to 8th edition. You said yourself you had burned out on 8th even before Adepticon.

I think all those factors influenced your placing, because your're a better player than the results showed. However, your mood towards 8th Edition likely handicapped you.

In this post, I see you have dusted yourself off, did some introspection and ready for a new approach to 8th Edition.

Kudos.

Milo said...

I totally agree with your summary on blood and glory, it's a very enjoyable and tactical scenario indeed!

Conspyre said...

" its done as its lost is standard and its a scoring unit, unless it rallies and captures it back."

Good luck with that- standards are never captured in 8th Ed. If a unit breaks, their banner bearer is killed, and replaced with a rank and file model. BSB's just straight-up die. (PP. 94, 107 WHFB rulebook)

The mention in the Blood and Glory scenario rules of fleeing units, still counting is weird. I can only assume that's referring to the General, as the banners cease to exist the moment they flee.

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

Counting banners would put a new spin the game - but it seems that the 2 point bounty on the general would just lead to a new game of "hide the general". Bad news for anyone wanting to use any sort of large general like a Demon Prince or a monster mounted character.

John@Plastic Legions said...

@ Bill- I totally missed that thanks.I think I was confused by you still get points for Banners but dont actually capture them..that doesnt really effect the viability as a tournament match thou.

@ Rich- easier said than done my friend, in most events I've played killing the enemy general is almost always bonus battle points and your general always has a bullseye on him, In Blood and Glory if your Brings 4 other standards to the field and you dont put all you eggs in one basket, the two point general loss can be survived, just like WAB..

Domus said...

John - I love Blood & Glory and think it is a must for tourneys. It really forces folks to build certain types of armies. However, I wouldn't want to play 5 games of it.

I like mixing thing up!

Thanks for the shout out!

Cheers,
Domus

xenite said...

I like this idea, John.

The idea that a battle is won by routing the enemy army, killing (capturing) their general, or such is much more appealing and representational than imagining a pair of accountants tallying up the dead to determine who "won".

Lets flesh these rules out, and try them during our next game.

John@Plastic Legions said...

@James
well sure, I think I am driving at embracing it as format..so you'd play other scenarios its just the scoring would be blood and glory format..hope I made that clear...its not like you'd only play that scenario..others would just be scored that way..i.e. no victory points.

@ Aaron- right on man, lets try out Blood and Sun lists as soon as you are ready..

Domus said...

John - I hear what you are saying I'm just not sure ALL Blood & Glory scoring is the way to go. Have you seen the ArdBoyz Round 2 scenarios?

The first scenario uses kill points and to win you need x more kill points than your enemy.

Kill points are awarded by the unit type
General = 5
Other Chars = 2
Core = 2
Special = 4
Rare = 8

The only issue I see with both of these types of scoring is that it dictates army build a bit.

But Victory Points as scoring is just stupid right now IMHO. I'd rather play objective based scenarios.

John@Plastic Legions said...

James, I think we are pretty much on the same page, while I like Blood and Glory as a "model" In its simplicity (which is important running a big event) I'm not opposed to other objective based scoring for sure. I haven't seen Ard'boyz scenarios as I'd written off ard'boyz because of its lack of hobby criteria..now that you mention it that sounds like a decent model as well worth taking a look at.
I wont be making to MWR this year
I'm going to get my inner hobbit on with some fine gents at the Bunker that Saturday..but I look forward to seeing you soon my friend..If you and Tom wanted to set up a long day of gaming this summer..I'm sure myself and few others could be convinced to come down.

Domus said...

You shall be missed and a day of gaming would rock. I'm dabbling in all kinds of systems Warmachine, itching to paint up my leagues of pirates & outlaws (LotOW). Malifaux is heavily on my mind to check out as well.

Conspyre said...

Had to come back to this after finally getting around to playing a game with Blood and Glory. Just played one with my Skaven vs. Tomb Kings, 2400 points. Interestingly, it seems to have done the precise opposite of what you suggest. My Skaven force was built around a deathstar Clanrat unit- 50 Clanrats, a Screaming Bell, the BSB, and a Warlock Engineer. A bit over a thousand points, in one 13x5 block, worth four points in the scenario. (At game start, Skaven had 8 points, TK's had 6). On turn 2, the Screaming Bell and clanrats hit a unit of Skeletons with the TK General in it. Given that they outnumbered two to one, had punishing combat res, and about as much pre-combat damage as I could find in the army book, they obliterated the skeleton unit, and the general, knocking the TK's down to their break point and ending the game.

Since it was a friendly game, we said "fuck it, that's absurd" and kept playing it out, but as a tournament model, it would be infuriating. My army was arguably more abusive than the TK's, who were pretty much being punished for not putting a banner in a 10-man unit of skeleton archers (every other unit that could take a banner did). I can see the potential for a VP system that is independent of army points (first edition Warmachine had a very clean one), but basing it on an optional unit upgrade is more than a little bit wonky.

John@Plastic Legions said...

Hey Billy

When you say opposite effect, I assume you mean in "discouraging" deathstars. I am going to assume that your opponents 6 fortitude had 4 of his points wrapped in one unit?
General, BSB Unit standard..thats what you get, when you set yourself up for the hard fall in this scenario. To play Blood and Glory by my definition of this post you need prepare for Blood and Glory.

I'm sure you'd also call it infuriating , if he had a 8 fortitude did not put his BSB in his generals unit and a played point denial hiding his units and instead using the TK new uber tools , like 9 Ushabti shooting you off the table with 18, S6 shots with a 30 inch range.

Its all about your approach if you are going to use it as a tournament model.

Your story here is similar to what went on at Adepticon and why people didnt like the scenario when supposedly 'ambushed' with it.

Blood in the Sun coming the weekend after this one will be using B&G and similar non standard scoring scenarios so we will see how it goes..its a big field 50 players so you should get a good cross section of results.

FWIW..keep in mind I wrote this right after Acon in the couple months since then I have played once and have since just really written off the game in its 8th edition incarnation. You either like it or you dont, no matter of optimistic tourney formatting can really make it a game I like

I've settled on just playing stuff I actually do, without trying to force it to be something its not...
lifes just easier that way.

Conspyre said...

That's where it gets funny- My army was the one running 4 points in a single regiment- he had 3 in the regiment that got eaten by my death star, but because of the format, I didn't really have any reason to go after any of the rest of his force. He had no BSB, which may have been a mistake, but other than one unit of archers, he had the maximum number of Fortitude points his units allowed- 6. Dropping the break point to 2 would have solved that battle, but as written, even certain armies have trouble with MSU designed to survive the scenario, while others (Skaven, Empire, maybe Orcs) can pretty easily still run enough minor units to bulk up the Fortitude.

I've played against the point denial army lists before (usually Empire), and while they make for an unsatisfying game, most forces have an answer to that, either faster units, shooting, or magic (hell, Skaven have all 3). I'd rather lose or draw to a player actually playing the game, than win against someone on turn 2 because the scenario allows me to pit half of my army against a quarter of theirs and win one round of close combat to end the game, certainly if it were a game that I'd travelled to play rather than one in my living room.

The more I see of armies that are actually written for 8th, the more I like it, including the transitional books like Skaven. Having so many fewer magic items in the books (Orcs, TK's) and using the ones in the core book mean less time spent memorizing what everyone else is capable of doing, and most of the new units are pretty interesting (and usually damned fine models). Empire and Dwarfs are intensely frustrating to match up against each other, with the increased lethality and accuracy of war machines, so I think I'll be sticking to Skaven for a bit.

 

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