Where Has Army Composition Gone?

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Where Has Army Composition Gone?

Postby allen » Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:37 pm

Whatever happened to army composition? It seems that it's okay to bring a crappy army to a tournament. Years ago I was taught how to bring a fair army to a tournament.

After playing in this year's 40k championship tournament as well as playing in last year's fantasy championship tournament, I believe it's all about winning at all costs and not winning by getting your opponent to make a mistake.

Gladiator tournaments are one thing, but a regular championship tournament army should not consist of 12 models with T6 and multiple wounds as well as five land raiders, for example. On the fantasy side, multiple terror causers and maxed out characters? To play against these crappy armies including having no chance to win or draw after turn two? I rather be doing something else.

How do you shrug off something like that in 30 seconds.

Oh, by the way, don't offend the judges when you give a low sportsmanship score to a crappy player. They might make you change the score.

Next year I might not play unless I have a crappy army too!

Sportsmanship and composition are gone. It's about making money.
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Postby Elthniar » Sat Apr 11, 2009 1:24 pm

I agree that composition and sportsmanship should be reconstructed in some way to penalize those players bringing completely over-the top lists. My biggest issue with regards to this was the way the sportsmanship was broken down. Out of 12 points, only 1 was delegated to composition. Is it fair that someone who brings 5 land raiders can quite easily get an 11/12 on sportsmanship and comp? I don't think so but I followed the guidelines for the score nonetheless. Another problem that arises is half the field getting full sportsmanship scores. While I'd like to think that this is simply because everyone is such a nice guy to play with, I do not think the standards are high enough to truly distinguish the Best Sportsman. The points delegated for showing army lists and having your dice and codex does not reflect good sportsmanship. Those things are simply following the rules of the tournament and I don't think you should be getting points for that. Following the rules is a given. I would suggest eliminating those items from the sportsmanship, and putting more weight on army comp, your opponent's reaction and willingness to settle rules disputes, and my personal favorite: would you willingly play this opponent again? Perhaps with this people would be slightly less hesitant to bring win at all costs armies and the winner of Best Sportsman, in theory, would be much more deserving of the award (not to say that this years sportsmanship winners were undeserving, just that when a majority of the players get a full score it seems like something is not quite right with the system).
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Postby Inquisitor_Malice » Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:47 pm

While you may want comp, comp scored by players has a fatal flaw that continues to propagate itself every time it has been implemented. Players have proven to be incapable of fairly judging composition (especially after a game). There are too many instances where they do not look at their tactics, in game deployment and manuevering, target selection, missions and more. People like to take the easy road and blame their opponent for their failures when ultimately a lot of the time it falls on their own play.

We've done testing within our group by taking the same exact armies to various tournaments where comp was rated. Players never failed to rate all of our armies completely different at the same events. It was actually quite laughable to see the results.
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Postby Redbeard » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:54 pm

Elthniar wrote:Is it fair that someone who brings 5 land raiders can quite easily get an 11/12 on sportsmanship and comp?


Playing Devil's Advocate:

My codex allows me to take 5 land raiders. If I believe this is a good tactic, why should I not do it?

There is a Dark Eldar player at the tournament. His list has between 15 and 18 BS4 Dark Lances. At what point does my right to play my codex get overridden by his right to play his?

If an army with 12 T6 models is over-the-top, how many T6 models should I be allowed? Is 10 still to many? What about 5? At what point has this imaginary, invisible line been crossed?

And, if comp is to be graded more strictly, what do you do for the people who have to face opponents who simply don't give a crap about their soft scores and bring WAAC lists anyway? If I can win Best General by taking a really hard list, and beating on people with fluffy comp-friendly lists, don't I still win a prize? Do you disqualify anyone who fails to meet a minimum comp score from the prizes?


Another problem that arises is half the field getting full sportsmanship scores. While I'd like to think that this is simply because everyone is such a nice guy to play with, I do not think the standards are high enough to truly distinguish the Best Sportsman.


On the other hand, they do establish a nice minimal standard of behaviour that ensures that most people will at least pay lip service to being good sports.

Do you really want a system that penalizes someone for, perhaps, getting slightly upset about a series of bad rolls? Or perhaps someone who seemed too happy when he was winning? These are perfectly natural human emotions and responses. I don't think anyone deserves to be dinged because they got slightly defeatist while being tabled.


putting more weight on army comp, your opponent's reaction and willingness to settle rules disputes, and my personal favorite: would you willingly play this opponent again?


The issues with comp are covered above. I can't really think of someone that I wouldn't willingly play again. And, I don't think I had any rules disputes in my seven games this year. The FAQs do a really good job with that.

It seems to me that, more often than not, "willingness to settle rules disputes" can be interpreted to mean "they gave in to my way." Not something that I consider all that sporting. I'd rather call an impartial judge and get a ruling than be in a position where if I stick with what I believe is right, I get dinged on sportsmanship.


just that when a majority of the players get a full score it seems like something is not quite right with the system).


Or perhaps, the system is doing what it is meant to do. How can you honestly say one person is a better sportsman than someone else? Taken to its illogical conclusion, a sportsman is someone who cares so little about winning that they bring a 1750 list to an 1850 tournament, and run only the crap units from their codex? I don't think so. A good sportsman, in my book, is an honest player who treats his opponent with respect. You don't need to pretend to be best friends with the stranger across from you in order to be a good sport.

If the sportsmanship system dictates that we, as a community, believe that a given list of behaviours are what we wish to encourage in our players, and we get perfect scores, then it would seem to me that the system is working as intended - it's getting people to behave in the manner that we wish them to.
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Postby Kishvier » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:15 pm

If you don't like the hardcore competitive play don't play tournys. Every tournament I have ever played in is for the money, so the armies are made to win. If you don't want to play that way, then just play with your buddies in a more relaxed set of games. When there is something to win, people try much harder to win it.
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Postby 00Enron » Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:42 pm

I agree with redbeard in the points that he is making. where is this invisible line that people think exists? Why should I be penalized for taking things that are perfectly legal in my codex. That is what tournament play is all about. Its a game sure. Do I want to have a good game with a good opponent? sure. Just becuase it is a hard list doesnt give anyone the right to penalize it. Why would I want to take things that make my list less effective. Dont forget we pay money to be in tourneys. Why should I pay to get in a tourney and then get penalized for what units I decide to take?
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Postby Blackmoor » Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:40 pm

00Enron wrote:I agree with redbeard in the points that he is making. where is this invisible line that people think exists? Why should I be penalized for taking things that are perfectly legal in my codex. That is what tournament play is all about. Its a game sure. Do I want to have a good game with a good opponent? sure. Just becuase it is a hard list doesnt give anyone the right to penalize it. Why would I want to take things that make my list less effective. Dont forget we pay money to be in tourneys. Why should I pay to get in a tourney and then get penalized for what units I decide to take?


The problem is that GW writes such bad rules that if everyone adopted this attitude, all you will see (and what happened for the most part this year) is Ork, Demon, and Lash armies.

A lot of people are turned off and saddened by that prospect.

So yes, you can take all of the legal, no-brainer units that you want that are an auto-win against most armies. Congratulations on your win.
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Postby BostonNazgul » Sat Apr 11, 2009 11:36 pm

Something that comes to mind with an "invisible line" is what we can determine as "real" armies. now something like 40k is obv. the redic future but the same concept applies.

in general historic army comps. revolve around a bunch of regular shmucks and then some core units.

So "crossing" the invisible line can be considered, having an entire army of elite warriors. they are elite because not every joe that goes through training program A comes out elite, thus there are less of them to be had in an army.

now this idea can be thrown out the window due to 40k unit types, but i guess the idea working towards a friendly balance. so while rating an opponents army comp. i go by a good "realistic" rule of thumb.

the cliche thought being that, a good general can win with any army.
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Postby Rikashi » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:13 am

Min/Max FTW!! Personally Its all about the win. Why should I Not play my list. If it crushes your list, your bad. Why should I bow to YOUR sense of fairplay and not have fun wiping the floor with you, when my codex allows it. Why play with a cookie cutter list when you can play with a sledge hammer?
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Postby StevenSwayze » Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:39 am

I think one thing that should happen is that tourney winning army lists should be posted online. Then 40k/Fantasy sites can compile these lists and post them in a central website. Basically fully introducing the net decking element to the game.

I think this solves two huge issues people have with the way army composition is in tourneys. One is that the Net Deckers know the trends so they can then either counter net deck the commonly played lists, and can know what contigencies to prepare for. People who play fluffy bunny lists can look at the lists online as a reference and can make an informed decision to either try to rogue the tourneys, or to just sit it out if they think the common denominator is just too beardy.

Its not exactly rocket science but I think some people really just need that glimpse to get it so they are braced for the impact of it in person.

I think beefing on comp is kinda being mentally lazy also because for instance on the fantasy side Jeff Schiltgen won both the Escelation tourney and the Championship with a somewhat balanced Demon army. I know its all demons but its just 3 heralds, 2 units of bloodletters, a unit of plaguebearers, 2X flesh hounds, 6 Flamers, 4 Screamers, 6 furies.

It's just built to win. Its basically balanced, it has a few things going for it, its somewhat easy on the softscores(no high magic, Bloodthirster, or Special Characters) and you have to actually be a good player to win with it. While I think Demons are currently a little unbalanced, I am sure you could use a similar mold/concept with Empire, Delfs, Lizards, or VC and be almost as good.

40k is a little different because its just so much easier to apply most of your power to certain points of concentration, its more about redundancy. So the easiest way to be competitive is to Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V your army. So thinking about this, you can try to counter it by taking units that look/seem different but basically do the same thing. So if you are playing marines you need to kinda look at the typical armies you will face, and then keep in mind scenario play, and then see how diverse you can make your army appear. It is actually easier to do this step and THEN come up with theme. If the theme is the first thing you are being directed by, its probably not a great idea.

Anyways, I dont get too much on a tangent about army design but I generally have formed these opinions over the years of gaming.

The posted softscores tend to seem ludricrous to a fluffy player because they see people with "cheesy" armies getting max scores all the time, which is probably a giant slap in thier face because they themselves probably have lower scores. This is generally because competitive players enjoy playing competitively. They may not be charmers, or have great personalities, but they dont get totally bent out of shape and penalize people for beating them. They tend to hand out max scores, and get max scores in turn. So if they can generally get out of thier first round without being dinged too much, they are then playing more and more competitive people who are less and less douche-tastic about worrying about thier comp/sports and just want to play the dang game.

I also find that people who lament about comp scores, and beardy tourneys are generally the worst sports. I always see people make the comment "The trick is to tie or lose your first game so that you wont have to play the jerks". When I hear people say this, I cant help but think that they A: Just cant handle getting thier butt beat fair and square, and would rather play against inferior opponents so that thier borderline 2nd tier(probably beardy army in its own right) list can somehow sneak back in it on sub par competition.

Making matters worse they snipe softscores, and then complain for 2 weeks about all thier games and how horrible everyone's army was. Probably having more of an adverse effect on the outcome of the tourney because they used sports scoring as a way to apply punitive damages to an opponent.

I think players with beardy armies tend to have more issues with playing fast and loose with rules, flubbing them when it is in thier favor, and then magically getting editic memory when it is not in thier favor, but thats another matter entirely.

I would much rather have more player(in play) oversight, then worry about peoples composition. I think comp is just something that needs to fixed in game design. If the design is such that you find you are facing armies you do not enjoy seeing, then yeah its probably time to try a different game. Or to change level of your participation.

Recently there was an article in a White Dwarf, in which some rubes proclaimed themselves the "silent majority" of gamers. They went on to say they dont play for tourneys but they recreate fun little stories out in thier basements, and take little pictures, and fantasize that they are the ones doing battle and it is thier men under thier command that are dying, as they make the tough choices, and its so much about having fun, and creating a story on the battlefield that they dice off all thier rules disagreements and implement houserules, etc. If this is actually the case then perhaps this silent majority needs to host events that have stringent composition rules, because as it stands now, even if you go to a GT, or Gamesday you are pretty much going to be watching the Vocal Minority having all the fun, and winning all the awards.

I'm sorry, I kinda rambled/ranted there.
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Postby Elthniar » Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:03 am

Redbeard wrote:
My codex allows me to take 5 land raiders. If I believe this is a good tactic, why should I not do it?

There is a Dark Eldar player at the tournament. His list has between 15 and 18 BS4 Dark Lances. At what point does my right to play my codex get overridden by his right to play his?

If an army with 12 T6 models is over-the-top, how many T6 models should I be allowed? Is 10 still to many? What about 5? At what point has this imaginary, invisible line been crossed?

And, if comp is to be graded more strictly, what do you do for the people who have to face opponents who simply don't give a crap about their soft scores and bring WAAC lists anyway? If I can win Best General by taking a really hard list, and beating on people with fluffy comp-friendly lists, don't I still win a prize? Do you disqualify anyone who fails to meet a minimum comp score from the prizes?


If your codex let's you take 5 land raiders, I am not going to dispute that. The question here isn't over what is legal and what isn't, it is over the composition of the armies and how well they fit in with the provided background. In the team tournament, there was a score for comp each game which was described something like "my opponents built a competitive list" or "my opponents list was made for winning-at-all costs and completely over the top". The point of having comp scores is because yes, there is a background provided for our hobby and some people believe you should hold true to that during your games. I can't say that I am necessarily one of those people but I respect those who are. If everyone who goes to tournaments wants to bring the most powerful armies their codex allows them that is fine with me. I played in the gladiator, and quite enjoyed it. My main issue is that the comp scores for the championship seem to stop halfway. They give a small soft score but at the same time do not really place an emphasis on composition. If this is the intention of the organizers then I am fine with that. And I will never complain about somebody bringing a codex-legal list, no matter how "cheesy" it is. But if composition is going to be a part of my score, I want it to actually be a part of my score, not 1 point per round. (only one of the 12 points was comp related).

On the other hand, they do establish a nice minimal standard of behaviour that ensures that most people will at least pay lip service to being good sports.

Do you really want a system that penalizes someone for, perhaps, getting slightly upset about a series of bad rolls? Or perhaps someone who seemed too happy when he was winning? These are perfectly natural human emotions and responses. I don't think anyone deserves to be dinged because they got slightly defeatist while being tabled.


No, I don't want people to be penalized for getting a little sour over some bad dice rolling or getting trounced. I do appreciate what the sportsmanship score does though. I honestly would be happy with everyone receiving full sportsmanship scores as that would indicate a pleasant event, win or lose, for everyone. The point I was trying to make was that if composition is going to be a part of sportsmanship, then yes, people should be penalized for having armies that are built purely for winning and do not fit in right with the established 40k background. Should it be a large amount of points? No. This is a competitive event, after all, and it is completely valid for people to bring the 5 land raider or 20 dark lance list. But I also think it should be worth more than 1 point per round. I thought the team tournament composition (3 points) or perhaps slightly more is a good number. Also, they have Best General for a reason.

I can't really think of someone that I wouldn't willingly play again.


You're lucky. All my opponents at Adepticon were great, but there are those people out there who I flat out would never willingly play again. It's unfortunate, but true.

It seems to me that, more often than not, "willingness to settle rules disputes" can be interpreted to mean "they gave in to my way." Not something that I consider all that sporting. I'd rather call an impartial judge and get a ruling than be in a position where if I stick with what I believe is right, I get dinged on sportsmanship.


To me, this is more about handling the rules dispute amicably. Yes, the FAQ did a wonderful job and judges are present for a reason. But, in the past (not at Adepticon) I have had people continue to argue a rule even after a judge had ruled it, and/or were sour about it the rest of the game. I think people need to have the "rules is rules" mentality, and accept when they make mistakes.

Or perhaps, the system is doing what it is meant to do. How can you honestly say one person is a better sportsman than someone else? Taken to its illogical conclusion, a sportsman is someone who cares so little about winning that they bring a 1750 list to an 1850 tournament, and run only the crap units from their codex? I don't think so. A good sportsman, in my book, is an honest player who treats his opponent with respect. You don't need to pretend to be best friends with the stranger across from you in order to be a good sport.

If the sportsmanship system dictates that we, as a community, believe that a given list of behaviours are what we wish to encourage in our players, and we get perfect scores, then it would seem to me that the system is working as intended - it's getting people to behave in the manner that we wish them to.


Again, yes I think the sportsmanship system is working pretty well. It forces most people to abide by the standards set on them by fellow gamers. My main argument was more about the composition, which at Adepticon was incorporated in with the sportsmanship. Can you play a cheesy list and be a great sport? Absolutely. Should comp be separate from comp or comp simply be not included at all? In my opinion, yes. All I'm saying is if it is going to be worth something, make it its own category and give it a little bit more weight. Otherwise scrap it and let people take any codex legal army list. But that's kinda what the gladiator is for.

Kishvier wrote:f you don't like the hardcore competitive play don't play tournys. Every tournament I have ever played in is for the money, so the armies are made to win. If you don't want to play that way, then just play with your buddies in a more relaxed set of games. When there is something to win, people try much harder to win it.


Of course. I always try and bring a competitive list and try my hardest to win my games. But if the tournament scene is going to include soft scores for composition, don't be expecting to win best sportsmanship with a 5 land raider or double-lash list. By all means, take those lists, they are competitive and legal, but you may have to settle for best general rather than best overall.

00Enron wrote:I agree with redbeard in the points that he is making. where is this invisible line that people think exists? Why should I be penalized for taking things that are perfectly legal in my codex. That is what tournament play is all about. Its a game sure. Do I want to have a good game with a good opponent? sure. Just becuase it is a hard list doesnt give anyone the right to penalize it. Why would I want to take things that make my list less effective. Dont forget we pay money to be in tourneys. Why should I pay to get in a tourney and then get penalized for what units I decide to take?


I agree with your logic, and I wouldn't have a problem with composition not being scored at all. But again, if it is going to be counted, make it worth more than one point.
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Postby Blackmoor » Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:18 am

The funny thing is that 40k is very well balanced for the most part.

There are just a handful of very overpowered units that are throwing the balance off.

Lash of Submission
Nob Bikers
Bloodcrushers
Seer Councils

Lash has always been overpowered, but it seems like after the Eldar codex came out no one has any anti-psyker defense.
The Bikers and Bloodcrushers were not overpowered until 5th edition's wound allocation rules meant that these 2 units can manipulate them so they do not have to take models off until everyone has taken a wound.
Seer Councils are also overpowered because of 5th edition's combat resolution rules.

At the invitational this year about 80% of the armies had one of those units.

The SM dex is too new, but LR spam and Assault termies might make the overpowered list.

Of course I might be off because I spent all weekend playing against those armies.

Gladiator
Round 1-Land Raider spam+Thunder Hammer terminators
Round 2- Chaos Lash+Gigantic unclean one
Round 3-Nob Bikers+Stompa
Round 4-Chaos

Team Tournament
Round 1-2 Nob Bikers
Round 2-Ork Horde+Lash Chaos
Round 3-2 Demons
Round 4-Demons+Lash Chaos

Invitational
Round 1-Nob Bikers
Round 2-Dual lash Chaos
Round 3-Lash Chaos+Abaddon

So to add it up, my weekend was spent playing-
6 Chaos armies (3 with single lash, 2 with double lash)
5 Orks (4 Nob Bikers+ 1 Horde)
3 Demon armies
1 Space Marine LR spam
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Postby Generalissimo_Fred » Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:22 am

I would like the original poster to provide his rules for composition at a tournament. Give us your rules and guidelines to monitor composition of armies. All I have read is armies must match the background of the codex. That is much to subjective and not quantifiable at all. Give us something to test.

In the past every attempt to judge composition has lead to a redifinition of overpowered armies. We have found the boundaries simply are moved and the results you are looking for never happen. Let me hear what you have to solve this problem.
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Postby Redbeard » Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:35 am

Generalissimo_Fred wrote:
In the past every attempt to judge composition has lead to a redifinition of overpowered armies. We have found the boundaries simply are moved and the results you are looking for never happen. Let me hear what you have to solve this problem.


Fred is 100% correct. An additional score that grades 'comp' doesn't prevent a WAAC mentality, it simply forces a WAAC player to make a WAAC list that accounts for a comp score as well. If Bloodthirsters are outlawed, then whatever it is that is the second most powerful assault unit will simply take the Bloodthirster's spot.

I can't believe that, in one of the posts, someone said that an army was 'comp friendly' because it didn't have a bloodthirster. Like, boy, that would suck to be the guy who bought and painted a bloodthirster, being dinged on comp just for playing with one model...
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Postby Blackmoor » Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:11 pm

Generalissimo_Fred wrote:I would like the original poster to provide his rules for composition at a tournament. Give us your rules and guidelines to monitor composition of armies. All I have read is armies must match the background of the codex. That is much to subjective and not quantifiable at all. Give us something to test.

In the past every attempt to judge composition has lead to a redifinition of overpowered armies. We have found the boundaries simply are moved and the results you are looking for never happen. Let me hear what you have to solve this problem.


Although I am not the OP, there are several ways to do comp.

#1. Player judged (No one really wants this). Or what you can do is expand the check boxes a couple more to take comp into consideration.
#2. Have a judge give a comp score.
#3. Affirmative action. Give a boost to the armies that are underrepresented. For example: give Tau players 50-100 extra points.
#4. Penalize the most abusive units (And we all know what they are). -5-10 battle points for each Lash, Nob Biker, Bloodcrusher, and Seer Council or Land Raider over 2 etc.
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