Friday, March 13, 2015

Rarkthor's Response: Army Composition Fixes Part 1

As usual, Torrent of Fire posted a very intriguing article regarding the author's perceived need to fix the system by which people generate their armies at list building. I applaud the author's encouragement of discussion and disclaimer against a flame war, which he establishes early. This discussion will certainly require some meaningful back and forth, and I'm glad the author values this.

The philosophy student in me recognizing some flaws from the beginning of this article. It begs several questions that the author seems to have already given the answer for. Are the rules right out of 7ed unplayable? Has the "rock-paper-scissors" imbalance increased? Are fluffy players lashing out against those willing to use the established rules?

Regardless of these questions, I am willing to accept the author's stated premises and move forward analyzing the solution.

The author defines more terms before expounding upon his solution.

The solution put forth involves percentages to affect the composition of armies in terms of their detachments. Unlike the Fantasy Army building, the author just applies this concept to the detachments. So my Primary Detachment must be 55% up to 100%, and the Secondary Detachment can only be up to 45%.

This solution, according to the author achieves several goals. He states that the positive aspects of this solution include (as stated in his article):
- Very scalable
- Affects everyone equally
- Cuts down on deathstars, Imperial Knights, and big formations in lower point games.
- Brings the FOC into better alignment with fluff. “My ally represents 80% of my army is silly”
- Creates an effective limit on detachments without a fixed number limit
- Objective
- Very limited change

I will agree with this author in terms of the idea of scale-ability, with a limited and objective change. I disagree though that the FOC would be better brought into alignment with fluff and cuts down on deathstars.

I feel that some codices, due to their nature, would still benefit from this. This is particularly true of Deathstar armies that don't require an extra detachment, like Screamerstar or Jetseer. I also can easily imagine a smart player negotiating the points just right in order to include that one extra character and a Troop for an allied detachment. It doesn't strike me as a solution in that regard.

In addition, I think using "fluff" as a justification for a good change is not appropriate. Due to the nature of a fantastic world with aliens and genetic supermen, I think it is justifiable for an army to include an ally that may range into higher points. For example, I absolutely love Grey Knights. It would certainly NOT be unfluffy for a Grand Master, who is the commander (read: Warlord , to be in charge of a massive Imperial Guard force. Even though, he only has 10 Grey Knights by he side, how is that not fluffy?
I admire the work to try and reach a solution that is more appreciated by all, but I think that this idea loses once it gets into the nitty-gritty details of what needs to be happen. I don't see how this solution is any better than LVO (which featured a wide variety of armies and compositions for the top8) or NOVA format. 


  1. I appreciate your thoughts, and your thoughtful response.

    I think in some ways you may have misunderstood the audience that I am targeting. The top tier players will always find a way to win no matter the Army Comp in play. I think the purpose of Army Comp at my events should be to help mid-tier and lower-tier players have a more enjoyable event. After all you can only have 1 winner, so catering specifically to them is a bad idea. The best way to cater to the majority is to make them feel like they were outplayed in their losses rather than beat before any dice were rolled.

    re: Deathstars,
    It doesn't eliminate them, just reduce the number of them. In-codex deathstars will still be a thing, but the main objection I hear from TO's all the time for why they don't expand past 2 detachment limits is a fear of Imperial deathstars. These at least are mildly restricted in smaller games.

    re: Fluff:
    You make a fair point.

    re: LVO:
    I was there. The most popular single unit was the Flyrant. Of all of the participants something like 25-30% had 3 flyrants in their list. Luckily the top 8 only included one of those lists, but it could have easily been 4 of them.

    As you say, this will be a longer conversation. I have 6 more articles set to be published, and I hope you can offer some feedback to some of those.

    1. Troy, I appreciate your response as well! Again, I commend you for tackling this issue in a way that is thoughtful and reasonable. As you said, it definitely can turn nasty quickly.

      If you intend these restrictions for mid-tier play, then I could definitely see these changes as more beneficial than the current system. I wish I had some data to see how those "mid-tier players" feel about their games. It would definitely give some light to that.

      I did hear about the popularity of the Flyrant, and I see your point there too. I always sort of wonder though if it's a matter of popularity or a "fad." So many Nid players seemed to wane away in 5th/6th edition, and maybe now was the time they decided to pull out the Nids. Who knows?

      I look forward to your next articles. I'll be sure to take a look at them.