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So I'd like to get people's feelings on army composition points within the frame of a tournament setting. Once upon a time this was involved in almost every tournament, although often times suffered from a very strict set. Some armies just could not compete with the scoring system while space marines did not even have to try to receive maximum points. After that, there came a system of just rating your opponent with a few simple checkboxes. However, nowadays it is mostly absent, or if present wrapped up together in the Sportsmanship points. Is this evolution, or perhaps a reaction to the biggest game in town ('Ard Boyz)? Do you think it helps or hinders discovering who the better tacticians are at the end of the day (on the field, not list building)? Does it favor certain armies, or hinder others?
For those who are proponents of an army composition system, what % of an overall score do you think composition should have? Should points be awarded by the tournament judges or by your opponents? If it were a checkbox system what statements would you want to see to be able to check off?
Finally, is there anything else you have to say on the subject that I haven't covered yet?
Personally I don't really agree with using army comp, and I don't even play with cheesy armies. It's a tournament, people should be able to bring their best, even if it is cheap. Plus as you said, some armies just have a difficult time operating within the comp rules because they play differently.
Our local tournaments here have comp guidelines, you can break any and all, but each that you follow earns you bonus points. So theoretically somebody who brings a super hard army that violates half the rules and dominates, could still lose to somebody with a more balanced army who didn't do quite as well, but earned all the bonuses.
We do sportsmanship as well, but it's tracked separately and they win a separate prize.
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I replied rather extensively to this over at the Inner Circle Gaming Club board that Tim also frequents, so I figured I would cross post since I haven't visited LO in some time ... here are the conglomerated replies of mine ...
I think it needs to be determined what the heck a tournament is for in the first place. There's also the whole question of what comp is, why does it exist, etc.
Speaking of 40k, since I don't play Fantasy ...
40k is a competitive game (competitive in the sense that there is a clear cut winner and loser, and you play in a head to head fashion, not cooperatively against a computer or rules set)
40k is a painting and converting of models hobby
40k is a social activity - you don't play with faceless people over the internet
40k is based on rich background material
I think that there are people who view different aspects of the game from different perspectives.
Some people see it all as important ... I would call these "complete" 40k participants, in that they build and design lists which can play the game competitively, spend a lot of time painting and converting them until they are at just the right level, and then enjoy and talk about the background material, their army, and life in general with their other 40k friends. They competitively game, t hey paint and convert avidly, and they enjoy the background material while socializing.
I think that it needs to be determined if a tournament is something that should force the integration of all of these things, or separate them within the tournament setting. I'm a fan of the LATTER. I think it is closed minded and abrasive to limit participation and success / enjoyment of a tournament to advance state that anyone who does not meet xyz notions of what "we" (the tournament creators) think is proper composition, or does not meet xyz notions of what "we" consider is properly painted, etc. etc. It should be the responsibility of a tournament host to render their event as open to the general 40k participant public as possible.
Now, if you want to make a specific tournament MORE restrictive, i.e. "only for people who think of the game the same way we think of it," by all means do so, but advertise it in this fashion. The "standard" however, the basic template ... should be more open, in my opinion. Hold competitions independent of one another within the tournament for each of the aspects of the game. Score and reward people independently for categories of Generalship (competitive), Fluff (theme of their army - composition if you will), Painting/Converting, and Sportsmanship. If you wish, reward a tournament "overall" winner to the person who most embodies the 40k activity as a whole by scoring the highest net in all categories.
On the issue of composition itself I think you run into another issue or two.
What is "good" composition? Who has the right to determine what is "fluffy" or not? Are you doing it to encourage variety in armies? If so, why? Are you bored of seeing the same armies, or are the people attending bored of them?
I postulate that any legitimate rationale should be based upon the needs of the PARTICIPANTS, and not the HOSTS of the event. To be a good host, you should be driving your purpose toward the happiness and enjoyment of those attending. WHATEVER you do, an advertised truth of the matter is of course important (whether you will be scoring composition or not, and if so ... how), but I think that people will self regulate. A person who believes that a "cookie cutter" or "powerful" army is "bad" will not bring one, and may choose to participate or not on his/her own merit with the information you provide. On the other hand, someone who has purchased and painted (perhaps even lovingly) a "power" army or "common" build may be excluded WITHOUT a choice in the matter if there is a composition score. Not everyone can buy and paint new models just b/c a tournament says the way they currently have them will not score as well right off the bat.
GW has provided a composition system with their codex, and it is without the bias of an individual player. You are permitted at most 2 HQ, and at least 1. You are permitted at most 6 Troops, and at least 2. You are permitted up to 3 elites, 3 fast attacks, and 3 heavy supports. While it is fair to say that we may think they didn't go far enough, or for individuals to claim it's "bad" to field certain combinations, I don't think you can possibly be "right" in an objective sense to enforce a non-GW composition requirement. In fact, I think you're almost assuredly going to be wrong in at least some ways. Use the composition requirements inherent to the game itself. It is both more open armed, and less susceptible to widespread criticism. To criticize it is to criticize the game itself, and while there will ALWAYS be people who do that, the easy response is "well then don't play the game."
Stay away from composition, IMO. Let people play the armies and builds they wish to play, and let them take on the rewards or consequences of it. Keep sportsmanship, army theme awards, painting and converting awards, etc. in your tournaments as well, though, so that "different composition" army builders aren't the only ones taking on risks. Let those who only wish for "best general" suffer to only be eligible for a single prize if they achieve such an award at the expense of any type of commitment to the theme, painting, converting, or social positivity with which they earn it.Addendum - Tim's more recent notion of the "same exact army" is a great idea for a boutique tournament, in the same way that a composition-enforced tournament or a doubles tournament or whatever would also be boutique. Such events should not drive the GT or national standard for an event. BUT there's nothing wrong with them on their own merit, so long as it is clearly stated ahead of time that it is how they work, and so long as (for my own $.02) they don't stand and claim to be the gold standard on how it should be. We can all have our issues with how GW runs things, but there's no fault on a tournament coordinator if an event is run according to their rules. There's fault IMMEDIATELY (at least to somebody) on the coordinator as soon as they start adding their own changes to how they think the game should be ... and instantly the overarching "god of the rules" within the game is blemished by the abject opinion of a smaller sect of its participant players.I hope that the overarching view of my posts would imply that I consider "tournament" in the general sense to be a larger or all-inviting / all-encompassing event, and a "boutique tournament" to be one that specializes on a certain aspect of things.
In a major swimming competition, all of those swimming styles will be addressed in their own independent competition, and then you might have an overall winning team or individual who scores highly in many events.
As such, if you are going to have a "Tournament" as opposed to a smaller more boutique competitive event / tourney, I still rather think it isn't open minded or wise at all to go with a composition restrictive, painting restrictive, or in general restrictive at all approach. We're on the same page, perhaps, but I think that any "overarching" event that has composition rules is starting off on the wrong foot, from the wrong point of view.
You rarely find swimming tournaments that are only the 200M event, though I'm sure they exist. Nonetheless, in the 40k hobby, I think generally composition rules are motivated not by the needs and desires of the PLAYERBASE of the area, but more by the notional desires or opinions of those hosting the event. Their right entirely to do it, but when asked about army composition in general, there you have my thoughts.I think that composition and theme are closely related. I think if composition rules are interposed to improve the rules / functionality of the game, they should *never* be used. There aren't any people out there who are that much "smarter" than GW in an actual implementation sense, nor are compositions obsessively playtested.
I can understand the need for a composition restriction of SOME sort in Fantasy, from what I hear, but again my opinions and impressions are built around 40k ... the game that I play. While some armies are rather pigeonholed in what their "max competitive" builds are ... I don't think any composition for the "sake of competition" is going to come off right ... and all of my other general objections to it still apply.
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In any competition, scoring should either be done by objective criteria or at the discretion of an impartial, third-party authority, i.e. a judge.
Scoring carried out by the competition's own participants is inherently invalid and out of place.
So, for me, the matter is not whether Army Comp should be scored at tournament, but by whom it should be scored if it is scored at all. As long as it is judged, I'm generally alright with it. Once the judgement of army composition is placed in the hands of other players, I feel that it is nothing more and nothing less than a vehicle for abuse.
Further, it is important for even a judged scoring to be guided and limited by a set of published guidelines. Leaving scoring entirely to a judge's whim is better than leaving it to the whim of an opponent, but still not sufficient to produce a valid measurement of accomplishment.
So beyond being judge, army composition should be judged according to a set of published standards to which the judges generally adhere.
The same can be said of any of the "soft" scores, including sportsmanship and painting.
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It doesn't have to be anything terribly detailed or in-deptch. Just a set of rules like,"in general, armies with more core choices score better than armies with less" or armies with two identical HQ choices will be penalized for such" or whatnot.
Though, an army-by-army, entirely objective set of composition rules is certainly possible. One exists for Fantasy, which is comprehensive if not, in all cases, entirely capable of producing results with which I agree. This requires a lot of work, and it isn't really necessary for a fair and valid judging of army composition, though it is certainly a worthwhile accomplishment if it is done well.
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I think a Comp system is a good idea in a tournament setting, IF it's not intended to be some hyper-competitive, cut-throat affair. If everybody's out to win at all costs, then fine, go nuts.
But it's just no fun for someone with an all-comers list to be repeatedly sodomized by NidZilla, Wych hordes, or massed Basilisks and Russes. Remember: just because the rules allow it, doesn't mean you should do it. A comp system that docks you points for unbalanced lists isn't a bad idea so long as it's not inflicting crippling penalties.
I'm particularly fond of Astronomi-Con's system. Everything is allowed, but if you're going to load up on any one category, you take a mild penalty. Note that this doesn't reduce the quality of the armies at all - Astro armies are consistently some of the most fearsome forces I've ever faced, without straying into territory where you need to tailor a counter list to deal with them. In my opinion, winning by using a variety of troops instead of just cheesing out on über units and steamrolling the opponent is just good sense - it builds better generals, not better armies.
Just as a note, at the last Astro event, with everything from fully mechanized Guard to Ork hordes to Daemonhunters to Battlesuit Tau to Drop Pod Marines, the absolute lowest score was a 14 out of 20. Almost any sort of list under the sun for at most a 6 point penalty.
Lo and behold the topic comes up elsewhere around the interwebs:
Warhammer 40k, Warhammer Fantasy & Wargaming News | Bell of Lost Souls: EDITORIAL: Do Soft Scores Belong in 40K Tournaments?
So they presented a possibility that composition could be used to determine first round opponents. What are people's thoughts on that matter?
I feel that army composition should be thrown away.
Warhammer competitions are just like any other competitive activity, like a sport. You don't play for any reason other than to win, because you enjoy winning.
Take soccer (football) for instance: there are organized teams of people who play soccer, from age 4 to the pro-league. They travel around and play games and try their hardest to win all the time. They play by the rules of the game, but they are going to do whatever it takes to win. In the major leagues, they will try to recruit the top players, so that their team is as stacked as possible. They are essentially your tournament gamers.
Then you have the kids who own a soccer ball, and kick around in the backyard with their friends, but never really want to play on a team- for whatever reason. These kids play by the rules too, but they also try to make even teams and make the game as fair as possible. These are your average, friendly games.
So in Warhammer, you have your friendly games on the weekends when you just want to throw a few dice, and you have your Competition games. Composition is really just an attempt to bring the same unwritten rules of the 'Friendly Game', into the 'Tournament Setting'. Why do they do this?
It's an unfortunate fact that none of the Warhammer games are perfectly balanced. I'm not trying to start a Cheese rant, or how Win-at-all-costs players are inherently bad, or a rant about how GW needs to balance their game. I'm simply stating a fact that we all understand: Warhammer armies are NOT all created equal. Sometimes it's not even a fact that the armybook isn't balanced, but that there are exploitable combos and builds that make particular lists unbalanced (aka, cheesy). We all know them:
Dual-lash Chaos armies, Nidzilla, BikeNobz, Pedro-Pod SM, WHFB Daemons, Dark Elves, Vampire Count Caster-lists, Deathstar builds, the list goes on and on.
Some players who attend tournaments are surprised to find that the other players there want to win just as badly as they do, and these players are using the aforementioned lists. They think that everyone who enters should be given a fair chance at winning, and that these unbalanced lists are destroying the nature of the tournament, and that the tournament should be a matter of how good a tactician the players are.
Well, news flash: all players DO have an equal chance to win.
Because all the players have the equal opportunity to build one of these 'Cheesy' lists. Nobody put a gun to your head and told you to buy Tau or Skaven when you started playing the game. You had a chance to buy Space Marines, or start playing Vampire Counts. You could've switched armies or decided on a new one. But something kept you from doing that- maybe you liked the fluff or the models or the paintjobs or something other than the sheer effectiveness of the army.
Some people say that this is unfair- you're wrong.
You can still play the army that you love, and have a side-army for tournament gaming. That's all well and good. If you don't have the money, then you obviously have a choice to make: what's more important to you, winning or playing the army you love. You can certainly decide. Nobody is torn 50/50 between winning and having fun. If you really are torn between winning and having fun, and you don't want to play any of the competitive armies, then maybe Warhammer isn't a game for you. Maybe you need something as balanced and faceless as Chess or Poker.
You need to accept that some armies are winners, and some aren't. Don't bring a knife to a gunfight and then cry when you lose.
But won't that lead to all players have the same armies?- isn't that what you were whining about?
Sure, if everyone plays the same competitive armies, then you have just severely limited the field. Eventually, people will keep shifting until only 1 army remains. Then people will keep shifting until only 1 build remains. Then the game is truly balanced, and it is truly the test of Strategy that all of the Composition-Advocates wanted. Now you finally have chess with ten times as many pieces.
Players will continue to try and bring new and efficient tactics to the table using different armies. I will tell you right now that I won't play Dark Elves as my army, because I can still beat anything they have to offer with my Vampires. Sure, both armies are cheese, but there's no sense honing it down beyond that. They're two different playstyles and some people who are good at VC just aren't good with Dark Elves. So the variation will remain. Besides, the game would probably be gone before people got it through their thick skulls that one army is definitively better than the others. It's not like people took ONLY Space Marines to 'Ard Boyz
So I say, no Comp scoring. The judges can score you on painting, they can score you on sportsmanship, and they can score you on whatever else they want. Why can't they score you on list-building? I know that's what Comp. Scoring is all about, but they're not scoring you on how well you built your list, they're scoring you on how fairly you built your list.
It would be like saying "nobody is allowed to Highlight their models, because it's not fair to the people who don't know how to do that". Hell no! I've lost First place at competitions for the sheer fact that my bases were just painted, and not flocked! So why should I be further penalized because Timmy wanted to play Skaven when he started playing, and doesn't feel like starting a new army, when I purchased the new VC because I knew they'd be a competitive force?
I say that if you want a game where players are measured by their tactical abilities, then pull out the painting score and all of the other objective scoring blocks. Yes, that even means Sportsmanship scores. I've seen people intentionally mark great opponents low on their Sportsmanship just to sabotage their chances. Leave it up to whoever can be smart enough to bring the right army, write the right list, and play with the right tactics to win the game.
I like simple systems. I think more added to comp rules pointing system is just more for more sakes. Making a good list and playing competativly are a challange enough, never mind painting etc. I think composition with best sporting and painting should be kept seprate along with game points. Then people can aim at diffrent catogories. If someone wants to get stuck in with the best army and win games fine, if someone wnats to make the best composition then let them compete on a seprate award.
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