May 19, 2011

Tavern Talk - Warhammer Tournaments

Kuffehs latest Tavern Talk topic is about tournaments, specifically how we feel about comp restrictions, tournament rules etc.

While I play in as many WHFB tournaments as I can I am not as experienced a tournament player as many New Zealand gamers are. While comp restrictions are not always advantageous for individual armies, and I at times have struggled to build lists to fit into them, I see the need for them.

For gaming systems like Warmachine where the entire rule set and all of the army books, and unit rules come out largely at once your overall game is balanced. Army book and unit rules when developed alongside each other tend to ensure that no-one army is completely dominant in all things.

GW struggles in this respect in that its business model has always been to put out new books at irregular intervals with years, and different rule editions, separating many army books. This creates natural imbalance in the game were early books are made to suit early editions, later books written to suit emerging editions, and new books new editions of the gaming systems rule set. Consequently, to keep a level playing field and ensure that tournaments give everyone a "fun" experience - which is what they should be about - you sometimes have to adjust for the natural inconsistencies in the game mechanics.

I guess I am lucky in that the TO of the events I attend is highly experienced, familiar with tournaments here and overseas, and has a good knowledge of the game. This means the comp restrictions do not unfairly disadvantage anyone too much, although you do get the odd complaint. They are usually also designed so that novice gamers (like me) don't get annihilated by uber-killer-lists-of-death and that tournaments operate as a learning experience for them.

Where I have issues with comp restrictions is in the extreme examples you see in some gaming communities were TO's use comp rules as a chance to make wholesale changes to the core game rules, and to unfairly nerf entire army books. Banning of certain items or units and the re-interpretation of particular game rules that individual TO's do not like is never a good thing. This was seen no more clearly than in Australia where the arrival of 8th Edition was greeted with massive sets of comp rules put in place by people who had at most a few 8th Ed games under their belts. Personally I trust the game designers to get things right, and players to sort out the rest using "the most important rule of all".

But being a Dwarf player I guess I do need to grumble about something, but i can't really think of anything. After all its poor generalship and the ill-favour of dice gods that cost you victory not comp rules.


Darth Weasel said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with this statement:

"comp restrictions are not always advantageous for individual armies, and I at times have struggled to build lists to fit into them..."

Having read your tournament reports, I would say you tend to be close to .500, in tournaments (I could be remembering wrong) and tend to go more to have fun with people you know than anything. It is not as if you set out to to beat face at tournaments. You go to have fun shuffling some models with great people. Lists are important but secondary.

That is a great way to go. And it points to the problems with comp. Lists

My brother and I were talking about that the other day. If everyone in our group took the same Dark Elf list, he might win...say...8 games with it, I bet nobody else in the group would win more than 5 games WITH THAT LIST. He is better at using that style.

This is something comp completely ignores. The same list in different hands means different things.

Furthermore, a list without an explanation allows others to miss synergies...which means not really getting how vital certain things are.

I routinely use the banner of the gods with the warriors of chaos, which is roundly blasted as a poor choice. And it has won many, many games for me because it synergizes quite well with my playstyle. Comp has no way of accounting for that.

How do I get down? Things look great from up here on my soap box

John M said...

lol yeah comp is a bit funny as the rules are typically set by experienced tournament gamers who try to even things out for novices, but do so by nerfing various uber list options.

My list struggles come where I comp stops me from taking from favourite models e.g., last tournament I couldnt take a big block of Phoenix Guard and 2 blocks of Hammerers are out where double specials are banned.

Still its as you say - I go to have fun with some great people, and the new Mighty Empires campaign format being used locally now in tournaments is just awesome for that. It takes all the niggly stuff out and gets the game back to the core which is "enjoyment"