Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Mission Objectives, Win/loss vs battlepoints etc.
I think that recently there has been a swing towards rulebook missions at tournaments, whilst organisers have tended to come up with their own missions in the past. It's not to say that there still aren't tournaments that come up with their own missions, but often there are more combinign of rulebook missions to get variety but keep to the spirit of the game. Are these a good thing?
Out of the three rulebook missions, I personally think that Capture and Control is the most boring. People who only play for the draw can achieve it relatively easily. When playing Capture and Control, a secondary objective (such as objectives on the centre line or even kill points) should be included. Other then that, Seize Ground and Kill Points balance out each other in a nice way. Sieze Ground calls for mobile msu, whilst KPs favour lists with less msu. It is maybe easier to play Sieze Ground with an army compromised of large units (since you can string out units only slightly limited by the rules for units) but playing killpoints is more difficult with msu. In principle, an msu list should be able to suppress more of the opposing firepower and minimize return fire (saturating), but this relies on the assertion that you're playing against mech. That's why infantry is still good as firesupport in this game, they can't be suppressed. You have to destroy them completely. Sure, armies can often deal with 15 long fangs, but it's certainly more difficult and draws away more firepower. Overall, I think the book missions are nice, but they require combining different objectives to keep it interesting.
Some organizers take onboard other mission objectives, table quarters being the most common sight. There are a couple of ways to go about this. Calculating VPs for control provides more balance (although MSU tends to be pretty good with VPs since they give away less per unit) but control points (such as in the etc) tend to favour MSU again. Sometimes you might see a format where table quarters are objectives that only scoring units can control/contest. It is similar to the rulebook missions (maintaining the importance of scoring units). Out of these three, I personally favour victory points. It leaves more strategy towards the end of the game, as you juggle units around to gain a majority in enough quarters (and trying to minimize extra points in quarters).
However, victory points aren't really part of 5th edition. They were included in the rulebook, but I think game designers moved away from victory points on purpose. Should we follow the path set by the game designers? I like victory points, I think they still add to the game. They favour armies that deal damage and don't just aim for t5 contesting, but they only slightly favour msu over kp denial. I personally enjoy tournaments which limit objectives to the book missions, quarters and VPs. A streamlined version that plays purely the rulebook missions is nice and simple, but extra objectives add variety and require you to think more. I don't like it when tournaments take it further (e.g. escorting "objectives" or capture the flag). It can easily cause an imbalanced game. I also think that combining multiple mission objectives per a scenario is a must. It adds more avenues to victory and I personally enjoys those games more.
However, is it better to play straight W/D/L or battlepoints? I see both sides of the argument. In a basic tournament setting, W/D/L allows any army to snatch a victory from a bad matchup. It also doesn't ask for total annihilation (which newer cheaper codices tend to do better). It doesn't allow come backs after a close defeat. That can be disappointing, but not necessarily a bad thing. It gets players to play for the win in every match. In a W/D/L format, I think KPs need to be with a certain margin. The margin doesn't have to be big, but going first there really is no way of knowing what the outcome of KPs will be on t5 if there isn't a proper margin.
However, the etc format makes good use of battlepoints. When playing 8 battles simultaneously, trying to gather as many points for the team as possible adds spice to the mix. I personally think it's very interesting. It does favour catious play, but it also calls for good generalship to know your army's limits. I wouldn't trade battlepoints in that format for anything. This same theory can be applied to any team tournament. I think it's more interesting playing at a team tournament with a properly scaled battlepoint system (where even single points count). At a regular tournament, it's less relevant.
So I just spilled a load of text on paper about my personal attitude towards missions and formats. Although only slightly echoed in this text, I suggest that you all think about your own army's strengths and weaknesses in different missions and formats. Certain armies excell in a certain format (battlepoints vs W/D/L) and certain builds do better in different mission objectives (such as DE and the dreaded KPs). On the one hand, you can look to balance your army to try and minimze those weaknesses, but sometimes you just have to go with the imbalance, accept it and learn how to deal with it. I've won loads of KP missions versus space wolves with my DE. It can be done, but you have to be conscious of that weakness and play smart.
If you're not that much into tournament play, it's still good to remain conscious of these imbalances. When you play e.g. battlemissions, it's a good idea to think before hand about the list you're bringing. If it's going to show a distinct advantage in a certain mission, and you're playing for fun, I suggest you think again about your list. I know I've made a game just dull by accidently bringing along a list that turned out to be too good at a certain mission.