Friday, 1 July 2011

Balancing a Tournament: Kill Points

I have an upcoming Tale of Eight Gamers tournament to organise, for the end of this month, and I am putting some thought to the missions. After attending blog wars, I could see that for a three mission tournament, whilst doing the standard missions and deployments was by far the simplest way to go, there are a couple of aspects of it that were deeply unpopular. Dawn of War being the obvious one, but also to a certain extent kill points.

Now I've been a sceptic of Kill Points for some time, claiming they were brought in as a part of dumbing down the hobby (no more having to work out half the cost of a 135 point unit, god forbid!) I don't like the fact that at Blog Wars, one poor gamer had to face off against a three kill point Paladin Grey Knight list. By turn one he'd downed a couple speeders and a rhino, meaning his opponent had to table him to do anything other than lose. He came fairly close, and the grey knights player walked away with a very poor VP margin at the end of the day... but he was in the top few going into the final game, and could have won the tournament if his final game had gone better.

I've been there myself... it's intensely frustrating to lose a game when you have over 1000 points left against an immobilised rhino and a weaponless dread cowering behind it. Especially when the game ends turn 5 as the majority of your army, that steamrollered the rest of his force, is racing across the board to engage these few remaining survivors.

However, having said all that...

It has been pointed out to me that with troops units being important in objective based games the kill points system balances things out between elite armies and the MSU style armies. That while it's only a third of games, it still has to be considered in army list design if you want to be competitive.

At the same time as I don't like to give MSU any more help, I don't much like Death Star armies either...

So here is my potential solution, and I'd love to hear any feedback I can get from you guys.

I have argued before for a Kill Point percentage system - If I kill two of the three units in your Grey Knight Paladin army, I've got 66%. Meaning killing a couple speeders and a transport out of 20 KP of my army will only be 15% - a win for me as opposed to a victory for you. If the scores are within 10% of each other (say 66% and 59%) then it's a draw.

Now to try to counter the MSU style army, I have another idea. Take the army list below - no points just a generic style thing I've seen.

Wolf Lord
Rune Priest
5 x Grey Hunters in Razorback
5 x Grey Hunters in Razorback
5 x Grey Hunters in Razorback
5 x Grey Hunters in Razorback
5 x Long Fangs in Razorback
5 x Long Fangs in Razorback
5 x Long Fangs in Razorback

Now that army is currently toting 16 Kill Points, a lot of killing power, and 4 scoring units. Now if I was going to change it from pure KP to KP percentages, that'd push it slightly in this armies favour... so to balance that out, I was thinking scoring units (and their dedicated transports if they have them) count double, 2 KP each. That would mean the army above had 24 Kill Points available, 11 of them in fairly easy to kill transports. Against that Grey Knight List, which would be made up of 5 kill points, the grey knight player would need to kill a good portion more of the wolf army to ensure the victory (as losing one of his units would see him lose 40% of his KP, meaning he has to kill 51% of the Space Wolf army to get the win) At the same time, this isn't unreasonable to achieve, as he can get 46% just from pegging the transports.

Anyway, those are my thoughts so far. If this system seems to be agreeable then I shall use it and just use the standard missions for my tourney... now I need to come up with a deployment type to replace the hated Dawn of War... that could be a bit mroe tricky :oS


  1. Its an interesting concept, but have you considered how other standard army types might stack up in a similar system? Without testing you could potentially be handing a large advantage to a certain army type (not that I'm saying I know what that could be, just an observation).

    I've seen a tournament that I can't remember where, that doubled the KPs for dedicated transports only to counteract MSU, so your idea definitely has some merit.

    As to Dawn of War, although I wouldn't go to say its my favourite deployment type, I don't see why everyone gets worked up about it. You all have to play it, and it makes a very interesting tactical challenge that can be overcome, so I say keep it in.

  2. i still dont like the idea of the % system esp in a tourney enviroment where the games are structured. chance are you will only have 1 KP game so if someone wants to have a paladin army, let them. they may do well in this game but good luck in the 5 OBJ game when you oppo had more scoring units and fast vehicles to contest any you sit on. fair enough in pick up games it can be a bit annoying but every army build has its draw strengths and weaknesses and i dont think changing KPs is ever going to bring balance to deathstars or small elite armies, thats the core rules and codex's job. i think it would be different if KP was say 2/3 of the missions, that would be a pain, but its hard to win ultiple obj missions when you only have 3 scoring units, doesnt matter how hard they are you have to weather a lot of attacks coming at small units instead of being spread across your army and every model you lose has a big impact on your overall effectivness.

    and why get rid of DOW? its a great deployment type and if people struggle with it its because they either insist on deploying right on the half way line to screw their oppo and forget his army is bloody quick or they sit right back and cant see anything for their crucial first shooting phase. one of the only things i really liked about 5th was the random missions and the fact not every game was pitched battle, destroy your enemy.

    scenarios are fine and indeed welcome but just be careful as some of the ones weve done up at Braknell have been a bit iffy and in some cases just plain stupid, like the hidden deployment one that meant if you had transports you had to hold you troops in reserve and then try and cross the whole length of the 6ft board that your oppo already had his whole army dug into. ive never seen my Tau do so well against a khorne army or any marine army than in that game.

  3. Not a bad system, harsh but fair.
    Brings a bit more balance to kill point armies. How would you factor in things like spawned termagants?

  4. Ok, I'll respond to these comments one at a time...

    Andy, Thanks for letting me know i'm not the first to think of doubling up KP, that is actually encouraging. Really discouraging MSU is more of a side effect with this one, the core aim is to make Death Star armies less demoralising to play against while at the same time not changing the system too much in one way - the doubling up is to counter act the move to percentages.

    As for Dawn of War, I suppose I have a bit of a biased opinion in that I always seem tobe going second. To me the standard Dawn of War game goes like this - both players deploy barely anything. Player one rolls his army on. He's moved so is at reduced shooting effectiveness, but he has barely anything within visual range and there's barely any enemy on the board anyway. Player two rolls their army on. There are plenty of targets, but they still have the issue of moving and firing reducing their fire, and night fight reducing it further. Player one turn two - well, you've moved on into optimal positions, so usually won't have to worry about moving and firing. The sun has come up, so no more rolling for distance. And there's a massive turkey shoot sat in front of you. Enjoy.

    I suppose with armies that have a wealth of dynamic entry options this could be more interesting, but I know with my Orks I hate it - I can't even play the reserve game well, as I have nothing to modify my reserves, and if I'm hoping an outflanking unit will arrive first and tie him up, well for one there's no guarantee and for two I'm leaving myself very little time for my army to cross an entire board.

    But anyway, I shall address DoW properly in another post perhaps next week. Today I'm gonna go back to KP for the following comments.

  5. Rich, hopefully the above comment will have covered my personal grievances with DoW.

    As for specific scenarios, don't worry I'm not thinking anything too fancy, just maybe a slightly different deployment to replace Dawn of War. If I can't find anything I'm not 100% happy with (after running it by you guys too) I will leave DoW in.

    Yes it would be hard for them to claim 5 objectives... but who says there's gonna be 5? It's D3 +2 so it's just as likely to be 3, which is much more manageable. Either way, NOT a fun game. But really the death star is an extreme example, I just know it's demoralising to wipe out 90% of your opponents army, losing less than half of yours, yet lose the game 11 KP to 10. Sure it's just as demoralising if one solitary marine holds the objective to deny you the win, but that can at least be explained away as buying time in a heroic last stand - he didn't need to live, just hold the objective long enough. Given the mission brief for annihalation is "Kill as much of the enemy as possible" you think you'd get rewarded for wiping out the majority of the enemies fighting strength - not for picking off a few tracks left in the motor pool and then sneaking off and hiding! :oP

  6. And Ken, they'd have a growing KP number. So turn one you might have killed 5 out of 20, turn two perhaps 8 of 22...

    And yes, if they're scoring they'd count as two for both totals.