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IcedCrow
22-01-2014, 14:24
One of the main differences that I see between campaign type games (narratives) and tournament / league type games or one off games is often that in campaigns there are some scenarios where one side will have an advantage, be it a rule or a points advantage.

For example, this coming weekend is my group's campaign day and one side due to battle fleet gothic results gains +200 points a player and as it is a planetstrike scenario also gains a planetary bombardment at the beginning of the game.

This is a team game so ultimately its one side has 3400 points and the other has 3000 points and the side with 3400 points also happened to win the award to get a planetstrike at the beginning of the game.

Planetary bombardments are D6 + 3 large templates S9 AP3. The caveat is that the other side being bombed really only has troops that start on the table so the target choice is limited. Also the defender can deploy in cover and gain cover bonuses (which if they create a list with shrouded / stealth units can give them upwards of a 2+ cover save anyway)

In my experience, planetary bombardments do very little damage, since it always scatters full distance so 2/3 scatter off their target anyway, so if you aren't clumped up its not really a big deal.

Also 3400 to 3000 points is roughly 2250 - 2000 points which is fairly common in a lot of campaign books for some missions.

This poll is to gauge basic requirements of games - do you always have to have even points in your games with no advantages or are minor advantages something you can sometimes do? I'm not talking every game either, I'm talking some games.

I'm curious.

Theocracity
22-01-2014, 14:49
I've played scenario games with terrain or scenario-based disadvantages, but I've rarely played one with points disadvantages. Any time I have, I've found they tend to cause sour reactions more often than not. The player with less points needs to have a real good attitude and willingness to be the underdog - if not he'll likely feel demoralized at being ganged up on and will have an easy way to snark that it wasn't fair to begin with.

You can get those kind of reactions from terrain or scenario as well, but those are easier to swallow as part of the story - at least in my opinion. That's why I worry about campaigns that can lead to mismatched point values. Fighting a hard siege against an entrenched opponent is one thing - simply getting ganged up on is something else.

Also, with your poll - I'd be surprised if you get any responses for question 2. Who only plays mismatched games? ;)

A.T.
22-01-2014, 14:57
The local group did run a planetary empires campaign but that's more of a trade-off than an out and out imbalance - so you could capture terrain to give a unit a USR (for instance) as you accumulated special bonuses so your opponent gained points to spend on propping up their army.

The bombardment could go either way, might do nothing but on the other hand... (I would suggest letting the defenders take trench lines or something, not everyone has shrouding)

IcedCrow
22-01-2014, 14:59
I've played scenario games with terrain or scenario-based disadvantages, but I've rarely played one with points disadvantages. Any time I have, I've found they tend to cause sour reactions more often than not. The player with less points needs to have a real good attitude and willingness to be the underdog - if not he'll likely feel demoralized at being ganged up on and will have an easy way to snark that it wasn't fair to begin with.

You can get those kind of reactions from terrain or scenario as well, but those are easier to swallow as part of the story - at least in my opinion. That's why I worry about campaigns that can lead to mismatched point values. Fighting a hard siege against an entrenched opponent is one thing - simply getting ganged up on is something else.

Also, with your poll - I'd be surprised if you get any responses for question 2. Who only plays mismatched games? ;)

I'm trying to avoid people popping in to say the poll is trash because it doesn't have all of the options and that there is some evil plan underneath the poll that is obvious or something silly along those lines. Option 2 will likely never be chosen yes but who knows someone out there may only play unbalanced narrative campaigns.

AndrewGPaul
22-01-2014, 15:26
I've played scenario games with terrain or scenario-based disadvantages, but I've rarely played one with points disadvantages. Any time I have, I've found they tend to cause sour reactions more often than not. The player with less points needs to have a real good attitude and willingness to be the underdog - if not he'll likely feel demoralized at being ganged up on and will have an easy way to snark that it wasn't fair to begin with.

A campaign isn't about being "fair" - it's about the story. :) Yes, no-one wants to be the whipping boy every time, so there should be the opportunity for the underdog to get some battles on their terms - if one side is losing, then you can have a series of geurilla actions and commando raids, as well as glorious last stands.

For example, a game depicting something like the initial Ork assaults across the river into Armageddon Secundus shouldn't have "the Orks are defeated" as a victory condition for the Imperial defenders. The fact that the Orks will overrun the defence lines should be a foregon conclusion (otherwise you've just had a one-game "campaign", which is a bit pointless), but the ease with which they do so should affect the forces in future games.

Similarly, I'm not too happy with the "buy an Aegis Defence Line for 50 points" method of setting up an attack on a defended position. Instead, have the defender take as many trenchworks, defence lines, bunkers and fortresses as he has available, deploy his forces in depth on a deep board - and then give the attacker three times as many points of troops as the defender to get the job done. :)

Some of the best games I've played have been "one-sided", whether that be due to reserves repeatedly failing to appear or in one Mighty Empires campaign, a 200-point force of Dwarf slayers defending their "village" against over a thousand points of Skaven!

Other unbalanced scenarios include Tyranid Assault fromt he 2nd edition Codex: Tyranids; in one sense, both sides have armies chosen to equal points totals, but the Tyranid player can endlessy recycle casualties as new broods. The defending player cannot win, only survive for as long as possible. Then there's the old rules for the Last Chancers or Assassins - both had a scenario pitting the Last Chancers or a single Vindicare Assassin against an entire 1500-point army.

Theocracity
22-01-2014, 15:38
I say this as an ally to your cause in fighting negativity around here - sometimes its best to pick your battles and let things go. The internet's full of people to argue with. For now let's follow our own advice and concentrate on the positive aspects of the hobby, not get hung up on lingering disagreements :).

What are some good examples of mismatched scenarios you've had luck with in the past? My most successful one involved a 'Speed 2' style scenario - one army had heavy fortifications while the other had to cross the long board edge over water (any unit without a form of transport moved in difficult terrain and couldn't shoot). The balancing factor was the giant supercontainer ship that the defenders had to destroy before its approach crushed their fortifications! It was an awesome game, even though the ship ended up killing more of its own team (anyone too slow to stay ahead of it met a gruesome fate).

IcedCrow
22-01-2014, 15:43
Last stands.

Where one army has significantly less points than the other. The objective is not to "win" by defeating the enemy its to win by holding out as long as you can. IE - the 300 spartans

Theocracity
22-01-2014, 15:46
A campaign isn't about being "fair" - it's about the story. :) Yes, no-one wants to be the whipping boy every time, so there should be the opportunity for the underdog to get some battles on their terms - if one side is losing, then you can have a series of geurilla actions and commando raids, as well as glorious last stands.

For example, a game depicting something like the initial Ork assaults across the river into Armageddon Secundus shouldn't have "the Orks are defeated" as a victory condition for the Imperial defenders. The fact that the Orks will overrun the defence lines should be a foregon conclusion (otherwise you've just had a one-game "campaign", which is a bit pointless), but the ease with which they do so should affect the forces in future games.

Similarly, I'm not too happy with the "buy an Aegis Defence Line for 50 points" method of setting up an attack on a defended position. Instead, have the defender take as many trenchworks, defence lines, bunkers and fortresses as he has available, deploy his forces in depth on a deep board - and then give the attacker three times as many points of troops as the defender to get the job done. :)

Some of the best games I've played have been "one-sided", whether that be due to reserves repeatedly failing to appear or in one Mighty Empires campaign, a 200-point force of Dwarf slayers defending their "village" against over a thousand points of Skaven!

Other unbalanced scenarios include Tyranid Assault fromt he 2nd edition Codex: Tyranids; in one sense, both sides have armies chosen to equal points totals, but the Tyranid player can endlessy recycle casualties as new broods. The defending player cannot win, only survive for as long as possible. Then there's the old rules for the Last Chancers or Assassins - both had a scenario pitting the Last Chancers or a single Vindicare Assassin against an entire 1500-point army.

I totally get all that. Like I said, I have no problem with campaign-based advantages or disadvantages in general - just that points imbalances seem like a heavy handed way to implement them. I'd rather the advantaged force gain other benefits - perhaps outflank to show they're surrounding their opponent - than to simply outnumber them.

For pure story games like the 'last stand' you describe, it does make a certain amount of sense. But those have to be carefully managed and have player buy-in. I'm more concerned about the kind of campaign where wins give points advantages - those are more the ones I'm worried about.

IcedCrow
22-01-2014, 15:51
In the scenario above that I describe, the points bonus is due to the side having naval superiority and having access to drop more troops down onto the planet. Its a narrative mechanism.

Theocracity
22-01-2014, 16:02
In the scenario above that I describe, the points bonus is due to the side having naval superiority and having access to drop more troops down onto the planet. Its a narrative mechanism.

That makes sense in general as a narrative device, but it's just my personal opinion that that kind of advantage should be played out in a different fashion. Perhaps their troops choices could benefit from a one-time 'without number' style rule - that could simulate the dropship advantage without changing the actual point value of the game.

I guess it's just my gut feeling that outside of particularly dramatic battles it's usually better to err on the side of point fairness, even if one side has a mechanical advantage from the scenario. That way one player's advantage is directed in a way that fits the story, rather than opened up to the potential power of adding whatever points they want to the army. Similarly the opponent can react in a way that's defined by the scenario, rather than just being undergunned.

I'm open to debate on that though.

Edit: Another way to run it would be to keep even odds for all games but change the game type based on how the narrative proceeds. I'm currently planning a narrative campaign of Orks vs Humans where victories for one side change the battles that follow - culminating in an Escalation game before the city walls if the Orks are winning, and a 'Where Eagles Dare' themed kill team game with a cable car assault on a mountain stronghold if the Guard is winning.

Inquisitor Kallus
22-01-2014, 16:12
This thread................ IS FULL OF WIN!

duffybear1988
22-01-2014, 16:21
I don't see the poll options as being great to be honest Iced. I play both ways and can enjoy both ways of playing, but I do strongly believe that balancing everything is best.

P.S

I voted first option to be the first :P

AndrewGPaul
22-01-2014, 16:43
Why, though? I take Theocracity's point that a simple unequal points battle isn't always required, but I disagree that it's never required. For a siege or frontal assault scenario, for example, it's pretty much mandatory IMO :)


"Balancing" a game is only a desirable priority when the point is to see who's a winner, rather than to tell an interesting story.

edit: by which I don't mean that a balanced game isn't fun, or in some circumstances desirable. Just that in the sort of scenarios I'm discussing, I don't see it as the primary concern.

As well as all the 40k background of heroic last stands by beleagured Imperial forces surrounded by endless waves of Tyranids, Orks, Chaos cultists, Necrons or whatever (the Praetorian XXIV at the Battle of Glazer's River, the Adeptus Mechanicus defenders of Tyran, the initial Ork assaults on Armageddon Secundus, the defence of Sanctuary 101, ...) there's the battle of the Alamo and any number of historical events as inspiration. Plenty of people refight those battles; for them, the victory condition isn't to "win", it's to "do better than Davy Crockett" or whatever. If one side has more men, then giving them more points is the best way of doing that. :)

I see no difference between giving one side "without number" (or fielding Chenkov, I suppose) and simply giving them more points.

Theocracity
22-01-2014, 16:51
Why, though? I take Theocracity's point that a simple unequal points battle isn't always required, but I disagree that it's never required. For a siege or frontal assault scenario, for example, it's pretty much mandatory IMO :)


"Balancing" a game is only a desirable priority when the point is to see who's a winner, rather than to tell an interesting story.

Keep in mind though that it is still a game. You can tell a story of a force being outnumbered without necessarily hamstringing a particular opponent's chances - and even if he wins, the story can reflect it as a minor victory in a fighting retreat.

In either case I'm not arguing that point imbalances are verboten. As long as both players agree its fine. I just think that there's a greater risk of sour feelings in games with that particular implementation of narrative imbalance, so I try to avoid it. If it works for your groups, great!

IcedCrow
22-01-2014, 17:43
I'll say that I'm not terribly worried about points imbalances personally (I'm on the side with the 3000 vs the 3400 this weekend and I look forward to it) but I will also echo that a lot of people I've encountered do not like points imbalances and feel that the game is over before it has even begun (which in my experience is rarely the case but ... that's the emotional reaction to seeing one side with more points than the other)

It works for some, and doesn't work for some.

DeathGlam
22-01-2014, 17:58
I play both, in a regular game where im just gonna come up with some 2 lines of fluff for why we are gaming, then in general it will be the same points but i love having themed scenario's where it may fit much better for one side to have more points or a set type/number of units they use.

This game has never been about showing who is a better so called general in my opinion, it is about showing your creativity in whatever form you prefer and having a laugh for how many hours you play.

=Angel=
22-01-2014, 18:25
A great mission in the eye of terror campaign saw spacemarines going into a plague filled hive to rescue someone AS IT WAS BEING BOMBARDED TO DEATH.
Both sides got a S6 ap4 pie to throw each turn representing the bombardment tearing apart the hive.

awesomeness.

Chancer
22-01-2014, 19:30
If you are clear from the start and everyone is aware of what is going to happen and agrees to the force and victory condition then there should not be any problem. If I turned up to a game and then was informed five minute before the start that my opponent had more points than me then I would be understandibly miffed.
The key here, as in all wargames, and especially scenarios is to be open about what you are trying to achieve and make sure everyon is in agreement. If that happpens then there should not be any resentment from anyone, and if there is well tough, as you were knew what you were going to play and should stop being a big baby about it.

Charistoph
22-01-2014, 19:44
Considering how old some of the codices are and especially how the more recent ones have developed, aside from mirror matches, when IS a game perfectly balanced?

Inquisitor Kallus
22-01-2014, 20:19
Considering how old some of the codices are and especially how the more recent ones have developed, aside from mirror matches, when IS a game perfectly balanced?

never are and never will be

Azulthar
23-01-2014, 10:05
I'm a zealot when it comes to game balance. The more balanced the game, the more fun I'm having. Even though I'm also a fluff-obsessed tabletop roleplayer... a good game is a balanced game. Even if it's cooperative.


An exception might be those beer-n-pretzel party games, but, well, that's why I hate those with a passion.

Harwammer
23-01-2014, 10:43
Some times we just deploy a bunch of models on each side till both sides look around even and the board is satisfactory full.

It is especially fun to add up the points used on each side after the battle and see how much of a handicap there was (especially embarrassing when you lose with a 200 point advantage :P).

Minsc
23-01-2014, 11:00
I want game "balance", in the sense of equal points between armies/sides, no matter if it's 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 or 1v3, etc.

Occasionally we play some scenario where it's not equal, but it's far from being the norm at my gameclub.

totgeboren
23-01-2014, 12:10
I prefer special rules like 'Without numbers' before simply giving more points. Or if one side just have to have more points, they should be forced to have a bunch of their army in reserve. When it comes to shooty armies, if that army has more points, and also gets first turn it can lead to pretty short games as the defenders are blown away without having a chance to do anything.
I mean, this is a risk you take if you field an army with a lot of deep strike. You run the very real risk of losing the part of your army you placed on the table before the rest show up.

But special scenario, by all means. At my place we often randomize what scenario we play based on the old 'Rules of Engagement'. Both players place two objectives, one in their deployment and one in nomansland, then we roll for mission, which will most likely be different missions for the two players. One might have as primary objective to assassinate the leader of the other army, while the other army has as goal to sabotage the enemy objectives. A bit like 2ed, but we reveal the objectives to each other.

Of course playing special scenarios like bunker assault and similar is pretty fun, both if the players are not prepared and also if they are prepared. For example, facing IG when they are well entrenched and also when the army was made with defence in mind can be an exercise in frustration. On the other hand, a normal IG army can be a bit more fun to face, as the faster elements will be reinforcements and so on.

I think one of my best memories when it comes to special scenarios was in 4ed when my Orks attacked a bridge defended by Blood Angels. I don't remember if I got the bridge, I don't think I did, but the entire game was just a blast!

*EDIT*

I just have to say I concur with duffybear1988 in the post below. 4ed was the peak when it came to scenarios. 3ed had all these different FOCs that made it impractical to play most scenarios, since people tend to make their army before deciding on scenario, but 4ed fixed that and made it practical to try out new stuff. At my place we have removed first blood and actually gone back to table quarters. Controlling more quarters than the enemy gives you a VP. Much more balanced than First Blood, and pretty fun in that it can be a game changer at the end of the fight, not in the first turn...

duffybear1988
23-01-2014, 12:23
The 4th edition rulebook had a nice selection of missions that offered plenty of fun yet were also balanced (or as balanced as GW gets). Lots of unusual deployment areas, special objectives, dedicated attackers and defenders. I also don't remember much need for points imbalances during these games, although there may have been one or two. If anything 5th and 6th have been a step backwards when it comes to missions.

Charistoph
23-01-2014, 15:41
I prefer special rules like 'Without numbers' before simply giving more points. Or if one side just have to have more points, they should be forced to have a bunch of their army in reserve. When it comes to shooty armies, if that army has more points, and also gets first turn it can lead to pretty short games as the defenders are blown away without having a chance to do anything.
I mean, this is a risk you take if you field an army with a lot of deep strike. You run the very real risk of losing the part of your army you placed on the table before the rest show up..

If all else were equal, this is one of the better approaches. But they aren't.

IcedCrow
23-01-2014, 16:13
Thanks for the responses, it is something I will consider in the near future for bonuses in the campaigns I do.