Sunday, February 27, 2011

Inferring from Tournaments

by Ishamael

Alright folks, today I am going to do a brief overview of the tournament systems in Warmachine/Hordes and Warhammer 40,000. What I mean by "tournament system" in this context refers to the type of tournament used by the parent company of these games. My goal is to show that both systems require an overhaul. After this, I will briefly touch on the relative balance of both games, regardless of tournament structure.

To begin, I want to link the documents used by Games Workshop to show how they do their tournaments. To begin, here is a link from the RTT Handbook from GW's own website.


I want to begin here with their Gamer's Bill of Rights. Read it. What does it say? Then ask yourself: what is a tournament? This is what a tournament is. The term originally refers to medieval war games, in which men would fight with blunted (or not) weapons in order to get some prize. I want to focus on one thing here with the definition. Etymologically, a tournament entails competition. Does this "Bill of Rights" include anything about my right to play against competent combatants that are out to kick my teeth in? No? So, right off the bat, the First Amendment of Games Workshop's "tournament" pack tells us that it has little to do with what a tournament is. Keep this thread in mind. What the Bill does tell us, however, is that you should come to a 'tournament' to meet new people (fine), to "battle against other painted armies" (I'll be the first to admit I don't enjoy painting, and what little hobby time I do have I would rather spend it...I dunno...playing the game?), get questions settled by impartial judges (whom may or may not actually know the rules, because I'm still waiting on a main rulebook FAQ that actually makes the Scout Move its own movement phase, instead of a half-assed inference from the BA FAQ), have the tournament finished in a timely manner (duh), and play in a comfortable environment. If I want to go to a tournament, I don't care if I'm ass-to-ass in a basement crammed with people, cause I'm havin' fun. :P So, this is the baseline of GW's format. For the purposes of this article, I wish to skip scenarios, and consider how they score rounds instead, and what we may learn from that.

From here I want to address their scoring system. To begin, there are different values given on the scoresheet and in the RTT guide, so let me set this up as I've seen it in RTTs I have been to. So, we're just going to use the link in this paragraph to analyze the manner in which games are scored. For a given game, with a particular victory condition, a victory is worth 17 points, a loss 3. These 'tournaments' consist of three rounds, with 20 points max for each round, then a possible 40 for painting, which I will attend to later. There are modifiers for these scores, ranging from killing certain enemy units, to losing certain things. So, your score can go up by 3 points. Initially, when I read this, I wondered "hey, where does this "table opponent, perfect score" stuff come from?" Got me, because it is not to be found on this sheet. However! Regardless of the scenario, if you kill the entirety of your opponent's army, you will get 20 points. You get the battle points because you have no opponent left, and you army is "free" to just pick up the objectives as needed. Your opponent gets 3, possibly 6. Ties give about 50/50 when it comes to the mission, then the +3 extra for Battle Points. Now, bring back in the point I made on the nature of tournaments. If I wish to excel and win in this environment, what is my goal? To score as many points as possible. How do I accomplish this? Well, I can play each scenario as stated for one, and work to come out with a major victory in each. OR, I can take the easy route, and just destroy every single model my opponent has to ensure victory. Furthermore, ask yourself this: does this tournament system reward close games, or ones in which one person will dominate? The answer is obvious. This is a tournament system in which dominating one's opponent is rewarded, while close games (y'know, the good ones?) are penalized. Blood and ashes, wasn't this supposed to be a friendly system, in which we get together to meet new people, see painted armies, and be civil to eachother? So, we take from their scoring system that players whom obliterate their opponents are greatly rewarded for doing so, and harm others' enjoyment of the they are blatantly violating their own First Amendment. Moving on.

From here, let me just touch a tad on that "sportsmanship score" sheet. If they actually thought people would be civil to others and be good sports while kicking teeth in and having a close game, then they would not need such a thing. Yet they do, igitur they do not think that people will actually be civil to others. Modus tollens, learn to love it. Furthermore, this subjective sheet factors in to one's overall score, and it becomes so flaming easy to harm another's score just to advance one's own standing. So hey, be deceptively nice, then screw your opponent on his sportsmanship score! Because we're about civility and being nice!

At this point, what do we have?

The Bill of Rights that forms the basis of these events lacks any guarantee of a competitive event in which I am allowed to enjoy myself by playing and winning/losing by the width of a hair.

Their scoring system is such that it rewards dominating weaker players, harming others in their sportsmanship score due to subjective douchebaggery, and DOES NOT reward close games, which contradicts their "Bill" because people don't have fun when they get dominated. Simple enough.

I said I would get to painting earlier, so here we are. This. What do we know from this sheet? Well, it says "max 40" points, yet when one adds up that various factors that go in to finding the total paint score, there are actually 46 points possible. So, what score might an "average" painted army get? Well, let's assume it's fully painted, 3 colors, based, and the details are alright. Oh, and to that "painted uniformly, except where appropriate" point: fuck you! My Tau suits will each be a different Power Ranger, so stick it. So, from this, our theoretical player would get a 24/40 points. Let us compare this to someone that paints well, to such an extreme that he walks in, gets a 40 easily, even the extra points that would have given him a 46. So, we have a difference of 16 points between these two fighters. Let us leave the Sportsmanship score out. They are both decent persons. With the entirety of this format in mind, it is time for a thought experiment.

Let's assume that round one, the fellow with the perfect score tables, but the other guy ties, yet gets 3 battle points. Also, assume that ties in scenario X result in a 10/10 spread. So, at the end of round one it's 37 to 60. How can the lesser painter possibly catch up to the guy whom already has over a tabling above him? Well, by tabling his two next opponents, which would take him up to a 77. Unless the better painter drastically loses the next two rounds, he's still in the running. Assume two more ties for the greater painter, 10/10 spread, no bonus points. He's at 80. He still wins. Why? Because he had nearly a perfect score for a game round (16) above the guy that only had average painting abilities. So, guess what: the existence of this system further forces one to club weaker players to even have a chance at defeating the guy with 16 points on him before they even hit the tables! So hey, the guy with the 24 has to be a far better player than the painter to have a chance at winning, and if he even meets ONE worthy opponent, then he is out of the running.

So really, does anyone want to defend a 'tournament' system that entails dominating weaker players, and painting to a professional level lets anyone with either the skills or money to buy a painted army to walk in with an absurd lead on every player that has not done so? How is this about meeting people, seeing pretty armies, and being among civil people? All I see is an infrastructure that rewards abuse and winning without having to play well.

I ask you: will you have fun in this environment? I suck at painting, but I know how to play the game, yet I cannot possibly catch up to someone that is able to paint to get that score of 40. Hell, I would probably have less than that 24 were all my stuff painted.

Furthermore, does anyone believe at this point that these events, run by Geims Workshap, are actually built to be fun? So much involves not playing the game that these events are meaningless, and no test for someone who desires close games. No wonder these events appear to be dominated by excellent painters, yet are mediocre to terrible GAMERS.

The existence of a Win/Loss system, as opposed to this horrid seal-clubbing points-based abuse fest, takes care of many issues dealing with how events are won that I have posited, and it also becomes the case that close games are rewarded, not turning a new player off of the game because some asshat decided to table him. If painting is so important, then make it its own event. If you want to get players motivated to paint their armies fully (like me), then make it necessary to have a fully-painted, 3-color standard army to even sign up for the event. I did not even get to mission types that range from fun to horrid; this only deals with what occurs as the result of the games and painting.

Wait, wasn't I supposed to contrast this system with Privateer Press' tournament format? So, I am going to make this Part 1, and I'm going to further research the implications of Privateer Press' claim of competitiveness in Warmachine.

Rex belli,

Thursday, February 17, 2011


While I know it isn't late for some of you, I find myself up at this hour less and less often. What keeps me awake tonight is a desire to finally have a respectably painted army that I can take down to the upcoming Bloomington tournament this Saturday. Whether or not you agree with it, the tournament down in Bloomington counts a painting score into the total to determine the winner. I'm from near Bloomington and have always enjoyed playing a game or two down at the Game Preserve, but I've never taken a fully painted army to one of their tournaments. Because of the painting score I've never had much of a shot to place, but I think I can throw some work in over the next two days and have a decent score to go with a good army and trust the dice to fall as they may. What motivates you to get out a brush? Mr. Palmer's work (left) certainly helps.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


by Ishamael...image unrelated, it's just the coolest part in Towers of Midnight

For those unaware of the term used above to describe what I'm about to write about...shame on you! Regardless of how 40K Radio was not for the competitive among us, it was a fantastic show to listen to just because of the interactions among the guys running it. At any rate, 'ere we go!

So, it seems to be the case that the next tournament at the LGS is going to be 1500. Not the best point limit to play in the game, but hey, gotta work with it. So, for those of you so inclined to read over at Yes the Truth Hurts, Stelek recently put up a new Tau list that focused on mobility and torrent of fire, not playing keep away. So, I considered how I might attempt to use that list in a smaller game, and this is what I came up with:

Shas'el 75
-Flamer, hard-wired Blacksun Filter, TL-missle pod
2x 10 Kroot 140
6 Fire Warriors 145
-Devilfish (Disruption Pod)
3x3 Crisis Suits 456
-3x TL-missile pod, 2x Drone Controller, Blacksun Filter, 2 Gun Drones
3 Piranhas 225 (each in a separate FA slot)
-Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array, Disruption Pod
Hammerhead 175
-Railgun, Smart Missile System, Disruption Pod, Landing Gear, Multi-Tracker, Targeting Array
2 Broadsides 203
-Advanced Stabilization System, Team Leader, Hard-wired Target Lock, 2 Shield Drones, Hard-wired Blacksun Filter
1 Broadside 80
-Advanced Stabilization System


A weakness here is only having 2 hulls to hide my Crisis Suit teams behind, so odds are one team will have to just suck it up and travel behind one of the Kroot squads. With the Blacksun filters, Night Fight becomes negligible on the basis that 2d6 averages 7, which one multiplies by 3, giving 21, then doubling it, for 42 inches of sight. I only need 36. So, minimum on 2d6 is a 6 for max range...which I can re-roll because of Acute Senses. The decked-out Team Leader in the Broadsides can reach out and touch someone as well. It should be relatively easy to make up the Gun Drones I need for each team. One very interesting thing about this list, as well as the one Stelek posited, is the capacity to cause a number of pinning tests on enemies with some luck. So, 10 Twin-Linked missile pods per turn, 4 Railguns, 3 fast sacrificial melta-gun toting Piranhas, and there are still 3 troop choices. It has mobility, target saturation, and it looks like fun.

Must play. :3

I'll show you the greater wood,

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Inside Look: Furioso Dreadnought

Greetings, and welcome to another Inside Look. With the news of Grey Knights on the horizon and their images now plastered up on every 40k blog, the second wave release of the Blood Angels has almost all but disappeared from the news feeds. However, this isn't entirely true as the Stormraven kit has been the talk of the town. While yes, the Stormraven offers something new, as well as a beautiful model, it has been the only real chatter to come of the new wave.

The other well known, but rather untalked about model is the new Furioso kit. This is rather baffling to me as the new Dreadnought box is one of the most beautiful and most useful model recreations to come about in 5th (in this player's opinion). As you may know, the old Furioso model was 100% metal. This made it a real pain in the ars to not only put together, but to prevent from chipping and the like. The new kit not only offers us all the new weapons upgrades that are available to the Blood Angels players, but also offers them a new and lightweight model to play; and the fun doesn't stop there.

The kit also includes the pieces needed to build beautiful Death Company and Librarian dreads to round off every variant Angel players could need. Every variant of the kit (standard, D.C., and Lib.) are stunningly beautiful in detail, and have a nice number of Blood Angel iconographic pieces to really add the flavor of the chapter to the model. While this is almost always a positive, it is this part that usually hurts many new models, as they become increasingly hard to convert for alternative chapter use. However, the iconography here is generally placed on flat or softly curved areas allowing for ease in removing the icons if one was wanting the kit for a different chapter.

I have to say of all the dreadnought kits to be released within 5th this is one of the most viable for conversion and assembly. While other kits are far from bad, the Furioso Kit allows for a number of builds to allow players of any chapter to capitalize on it's beautiful design.

I have looked into all the pieces provided, and made a small list of alternative dreadnoughts which could be made using this kit and some various common bits from Marine armies.

Chaplain Dreadnought
Using the D.C. torso, add some scroll work to cover the X on the left side plate. Depending on what variant you are wanting to create, the weapons lay out would be varied. However, I could see and have an idea for making a Dreadnought-sized Crozious to smite the enemy with.

Ironclad Dreadnought
I would use the standard torso with a little bit of iconography removal. This would make a nice Ironclad that fits the aesthetic choice of those who do not like the blocky feel of the Ironclad kit.

Grey Knight Dreadnought
Using the Lib. torso, as well as a spare Terminator head (using the proper conversion method linked here) one could make a very nice dreadnought to fit in with any Grey Knights army.

And there you have it. These are just a few ideas of ways to create more possibilities for this already varied kit. Dreadnoughts have been, and always will be one of my favorite units in the 41st millennium both in fluff and model, and naturally this kit is one of my favorite new releases of 5th. Feel free to post pics or links to other dreadnoughts you enjoy here.


Friday, February 11, 2011

No One Expects...

The folks over at Heresy-Online have done it again. The most beautiful of armies now has at least a first impression look at our disposal. Katie Drake, I tip my servo skull to you on this most excellent work.

Grey Knight First Look

Note: Yes the photos are blurry... but for a first look it looks great.

Another Note: The sword on my Dreadnought feels too small now. Curse you Dreadknight!!!

There's No Path to Follow

While I'm glad to have won the last tournament that we held up here at the Wizard's Keep, but I feel the need to change what has been working for the sake of some novelty. Oddly enough, my choice for how to change the army is actually fitting with the fluff of the Eldar, so let's go into that for a second.

The eldar empire used to run the galaxy much like the Imperium of Man does now, except the eldar embraced psykers and technology, allowing them to honestly boast that the stars lived and died by their whims. But much like the Romans, having no enemy to challenge them allowed them time for their 'indulgences' and their society soon got out of hand. The psychic feedback of their hedonism led to the birth of Slannesh and the Eye of Terror as well as the dark eldar. Those eldar that survived and didn't flee to Commorragh decided not to let their society to fall into excess like that again. To prevent a breakdown of order they created the eldar path.

The eldar path is actually a series of 'paths' that an eldar devotes himself to for a time. While they walk on a path they choose a skill and pore their lives into mastering that skill. Paths include the path of the artisan, where someone might be a potter, the path of the witch, the farseers and warlocks, and the path of the warrior with all of its aspects. With the eldar theme of 'we're better than you and we know it' they even can be more obsessed with something than humans can be. When this happens to an eldar it is seen with some shame, the term they use is becoming 'lost on the path.' Those that are lost on an aspect of the path of the warrior are called exarch, those on the witch path farseers. The eldar see becoming lost on the path as a sign of a lack of discipline and the ability to keep control of themselves. Those that are able to embrace different paths and turn away from each understand some of each path but can see the whole of the warrior path. These rare individuals are called autarchs, they command the eldar warhosts into battle.

Alright, so what was all that rambling for? Well it was to give you some of the background on the best army in the game (and we don't sparkle, thank you) as well as to bring up a concept.

In the narrow sense, I'm trading my line-up-and-punch-it-out eldar army with its psychic buffs for a more tricksy eldar army led by a pair of autarchs. I lose out on the re-rolls that I love so much, but it gives me the ability to almost guarantee getting in the first round of shooting if I want and reliably deep strike and outflank units. Most of my units stay the same, the only real change besides the HQ choice is splitting the warp spiders into two minimum squads and bringing in a pair of bright lances to give the dire avengers some anti-tank ability. I could go for a much different style of army, one of the luxuries of playing eldar, but I'm going in small steps to keep some of the understanding of how to best play my army.

In a broader sense we could all learn from the autrach in how we play our armies, and who knows, we might even have some fun with it. I know dramatt loves his blood angels and runs them with the same style every game. He has a horde of assault marines flying toward you with feel no pain led by Baron-Sergeant von Killstuffenstein, every game. That's how he loves to play his army and more power to him for having as much fun as he seems to when he gets to play.

What would he do if he couldn't run in and destroy an enemy, what it he was forced to try to shoot it out with someone else? Well blood angels have a pretty good answer for that situation. Like all of the 5th edition marine codices blood angels have access to razorbacks with different weapons loadouts that can make them good tank killers, but they have the advantage of their razorbacks being fast, letting them move and fire all weapons or one primary weapon after moving over six inches. A very different way to play the codex (especially when you take three devastator teams), but the possibility exists for the army to shoot down a lot of enemies.

What can you do in your army that would feel like the blood angels devastator army? I know everyone has their own preferred style of play, but what about flexibility? If you just keep playing the same army for so long it can get to be a drill rather than a game and the only drills I ever liked were tackling drills. Some food for thought as you play your games. Up next Loki said he'd be writing something about salmon killing bears, so I'll leave that to him.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Crusades Eternal

There is no number to this post as it is simply a notice. I have gone through each of the 7 part series on my look into the Black Templar codex and revised some of my comments based on the newest FAQ that hit. As many of us know, the FAQ really updated much of the armies old wargear to the new standards, and this had some effect on how certain units perform and how effective some upgrades could now be.

So check out the newly updated review of the Black Templars codex. Look for changes to be in red.

Edit: I have added another label for the series. All of the Black Templars Codex Review can be found under The Crusades on the left hand bar. Hope this helps.


Friday, February 4, 2011

40k on Sale

Bad Economic times are upon us all, and as such I am looking to sell off some of my excess goods. If you are interested in picking up some 40k stuff for cheap, I have armies up for sale. The items up for sale include mainly Crimson Fist Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and a few units from Tau and Daemons.

A full list can be found on the Wartrukk.

Cheers folks!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Fourth War for Armageddon

So looking on GW's website, there has been a rise of talk about the oldest and best known campaign depicting the fight for Armageddon. The battle for this forgeworld was practically a full fledged war in itself as it brought one of the largest ork invasions known to history against not only the entire Steel Legion of the Imperial Guard, but also several chapters of the Astartes.

So vast was the undertaking that the entire planet was caught in the war. Many heroes were created from their time on this planet. Commissar Yarrick, High Marshal Helbrecht and Chaplain Grimaldus of the Black Templars, The Forgefather of the Salamanders, Captain Tycho of the Blood Angels,and of course Gazgull Thraka of the Goff clan are just a few for starters. All were created as a part of this colossal war by GW. But this was merely the Third war for the planet.

After looking at GW's website, they have released quite a few bits of additional game play out there for the players to soak up and enjoy. Planetary Empires now has a map and a full campaign, several scenarios for not only standard 40k, but Apocalypse and Planetstrike have also made their way into the news feeds as well. All of them depicting something massive, something historical, something... we've already seen before.

I was honestly a little disappointed at this display of "Look what we've already done!" While yes the history, and the action, and the overall feel of the Armageddon Campaign was massive and fun, I have seen it already... I've played many a game based on it. Personally I wish they would put more effort into creating a new campaign.

GW has made no secret of their push to use special characters in armies to help bolster their playability and versatile army constructions... but they aren't giving us a reason too. I fell in love with some of the stories about characters during the old Armageddon war and that's why I loved them to start with. Grimaldus has always been one of my favorite characters in the entirety of 40k (this is helped by the fact I love Chaplains), and all I have ever gotten to read of him was his involvement in the defense of Hive Helsreach. Surely that isn't all he or the others present there have done.

So in the end, I enjoy the fact that GW is putting out some fun alternative game styles for us the player base to enjoy. But I am really hoping in the future there are new Places to fight over. I think GW could really shine if they would just give us another huge campaign to love. Armageddon was a world wide fight when it was originally released in 3rd edition... let's hope they can do it again!

So I now open the thread to anyone. What fight's would you like to see? Is there a massive fight you'd like to see (Similar to Armageddon, or Forgeworld's Badab Wars). Or do you have an epic idea for an original conflict. This game is all about customizing your own fights, so lets hear em!