View Full Version : Non-competetive list building

18-08-2010, 21:59
The derailment of the "Has 8th changed everything" thread got me thinking. A lot of problems with game balance are a result of people viewing list building as a competetive aspect of the game.

Surely, the purpose of a points system is that two equally pointed armies should be of approximately equal power? Of course, we all know it doesn't work like that in real life, but the intention is clear. So if the object is that armies should be of equal power then players should not be trying to gain a competetive advantage in the list building stage of the game.

Since the points system is fallable then it falls to players who wish to obtain a degree of balance to design their list at a similar power level to their opponents. I think if more people took the attitude that competetion is confined to your actions on the gaming table and not to other spheres (including list design and application of the rules) the game as a whole would benefit.

Of course, some people love the competetive side of list building and that's fine. But it should be done with the full understanding of your opponent that anything goes and the gloves are off. Both of you are free to bring the most powerful lists you can conceive. Problems with army power only arise when two players are playing to different power levels - so make sure you are both playing by the same limits or none at all.

18-08-2010, 22:25
I think you're right. Truly, assigning points values in any game where multiple units interact is going to be messed up. Arcane Legions might have the best system I've seen (every unit configuration has points), but it's doomed from the beginning.

Yes, I think far enough back, the idea was that you couldn't blame the troops, it was up to tactics (and dice) but how to you assign points value to a Plague priest? Based on what he will do on his own, or how Cloud of Corruption is much better with a unit of Plague Monks? Skarsnik does not HAVE to (iirc) lead Night Goblins by the pound, but is he as useful if he doesn't? It's just hopeless.

All we can really do is have fun and demand a re-write on the effect of power scrolls!

18-08-2010, 23:01
Well the difficulty from any endeavor that tries to assign complete balance to Warhammer runs into the fact that the designers of the game itself view this entirely different from tournament people. The game is clearly meant to be a more narrative and scenario based game. The 8th edition book plainly states that the game is for the enjoyment and fun of its participants, not a specific hard and fast gameset for WAAC tourney seekers. They do not support tournaments, nor do they seemingly care about specific results.

Generalization from the 8th edition book can clearly see that they took overall concepts that seem abusive and toned them down. Even with this though everyone knows that there will be abusive combos unearthed from the current army books, not to mention everything that will be written here on out.

What this means is there will always be imbalance no matter what system you use. This stems from two main points

1)Complexity leads to imbalance: Realtime strategy games, board games, and other more competitive pursuits use far less combos than most miniature games. From the main miniature systems listed nowadays (Hordemachine, FOW, ect.) Warhammer uses many more faction and options than those lists. Before any other consideration this must be addressed. Chess is the most balanced of all games due to very specific, basic rules which can fit on a buisness card. While it would be helpful if all the lists were made within a few years of each other its the case currently that any one army can beat any other army list. 15+ lists compare to only 3 main factions in FOW and two divergent sets of 5 or 6 factions for Hordemachine

2)The goal of the writers: The game isnt a tournament game, a thousand times this. The authors of various other gaming systems strive for a relentless balance en route to being a competitive/tournament game. Warhammer isnt a game about WAAC, its a game about enjoying an evening with friends, not unlike a roleplaying game in that spirit. If your always destroying your less informed or weaker opponents and have no consideration for this fact then your breaking the inherit social contract written into the game. Every time I see a signature with more than a handful of victories with an army with no losses then it proves something is amiss in their gaming environment. No one loses or wins every game without some element of imbalance far greater than armybooks, list building or Gameworkshop meddling. This game has always required that you meet it half way, it wont just hand you every concept on a silver platter.

18-08-2010, 23:49
It entirely depends on how you wish to play.

Points are a fair way to keep armies roughly ballanced vs. each other. Ie. They prevent on player from having more money, and thusly steamrolling everyone else.

If you so wish, you can sit finetuning lists to squeeze every point for all its worth.

If you so wish, you can go entirely for theme and fluff.

There is no wrong way, so long as you and your opponents get on.

Today, I played a game with nightgoblins vs. a DE player, and ended up crushing him via a lucky stonethrower hit late game, and some nice fanatic marauding tearing up his units.

Afterwards, I talked to both him, and another player who was watching the game. We decided that it was more a hotstreak of rolling that caused it, rather than an abusive list, but that I possibly was a little too weighted for artillery than for my troops. I'm thusly going to drop a hero and a stonethrower for the next game, to fit another 50 block of goblins, and see if the game becomes more fun.

I think that is a fair and reasonable responce from me. I would not begrudge, however, another player not adjusting his lists to have a fairer game. (And being the competitive fellow I am, I'd tune my list up in power to try and match him).

Like everything in warhammer, its about "time and place".

19-08-2010, 01:28
@Lazarian. I agree that complete balance is difficult/impossible in a game with the size and complexity of warhammer which is why I propose players should take responsibility for ensuring armies are balanced against each other. Most experienced gamers can look at armies and get a rough idea of whether they are appropriately matched.

The motivator behind my original post is that whilst some people do indeed like to pick the most competetive army they can think of (which is fine against an opponent who is up for that kind of game), I think its more common that people see list building as a competetive part of the game but limit themselves by what they feel is "overpowered" or "cheesy". Since no-one has the same definition/line in the sand this leads to inbalance. So better to either remove the competetion focus entirely from list building and treat it as a co-operative endeavor (as you have Raven) or go all out let the best powergamer win :)

19-08-2010, 06:46
I think it tends to lead to a sort of war of attrition.

Lets say there is a gaming club of 6 people. They know nothing about the game, dont read forums and have 0 experience except from whats in the books. Now they start playing games with the models they like and play for the fun.

Then one or two of the people discover in thier games that certain units, items or combos over shadow others. They start to win and beat the other players who simply take stuff because its cool.

Well now the other players have a few choices. They can either stay on fluffy or fun army lists and lose a lot of the games they play against the one or two that plays harder armies. Or they can stay the same and keep playing the same way. Or they can take as balanced a list as possilble that does equally well against all armies.

Many people dont like to loose so I assum that a few would start ramping up thier army composition to be more effective. Now the other players start ramping thiers up. So where you started out with Saurus and Skink and Priest lists now you have double slaan double etog and double hellpit and furnace lists because they are super point cost effective.

19-08-2010, 10:15
I tend to run competitive but not WAAC lists. I find I enjoy testing my ability to maneuver and utilize my resources regardless of what foe I am facing. I will not stomp a new person into the dirt. Not only is it unsporting but it possibly removes from the player pool an otherwise worthy foe to test myself against.

It is a nice thought that all games will be non competitive and armies will be well balanced and fluffy. And there is a great deal of complexity to deal with. It is billed as a "beer and pretzels" game.

However, the fact that the very company that says "This isn't meant to be competitive, thus we don't have to attempt to balance it" runs tournaments, one of a particularly ultra competitive nature for both systems seems to suggest on some level they do intend this to be competitive. Thus the onus to balance the system falls primarily to the company.

chamelion 6
19-08-2010, 16:52
The problem with points systems in general is that no two players are equal and a player that is deadly with one army may never win a game with another. If a player consistantly looses with their army is it because the game is unbalanced or because they just arent good with that army. If they consistantly win with another army most of us would assume the problem is with the book, but that may well not be the case.

So any point system is a "best guess" at most.

The only way I ever see building a truely competative system out of all this is to come up with some universally accepted handicap system. For tourny play there would need to be one governing body that establishes and regulates it. All official tourneys would be required to observe it. There are a lot of ways it could be set up and implimented, but it would be work, so it comes down to how seriously people want to take this tourney / competation thing.

It's done in professional sports as a leveler to keep the competition at a high level, it would work here to...

Without that, points should be just a general measure, not a hard indicator of balance.

20-08-2010, 00:45
I think it tends to lead to a sort of war of attrition.


Many people dont like to loose so I assum that a few would start ramping up thier army composition to be more effective. Now the other players start ramping thiers up. So where you started out with Saurus and Skink and Priest lists now you have double slaan double etog and double hellpit and furnace lists because they are super point cost effective.

That hits uncomfortably close to home for me and its what ended up spelling the death of 7th in my LGS. There was a kind of cheese arms race until it ended up being a game many of us just didn't want to play any more. That was originally why I came up with the idea of non-competetive list building in a vain effort to make 7th playable again. Thankfully, 8th came along and whilst there are still people looking to get that competetive edge with their lists even the worst offenders don't make me want to vomit quite so much. At least they look like proper armies now :)

20-08-2010, 06:28
No one loses or wins every game without some element of imbalance far greater than armybooks, list building or Gameworkshop meddling.

OMFG man that's so ******* true! I'm glad I read this far in the thread because this is exactly what I would have replied to the OP.

Your entire post was good.

But.. I can't help thinking it's become somewhat of a "thing" to bash Warhammer for its complete and utter lack of balance - it's actually those nifty power-gamers showing up to tournaments abusing DoC/VC/DE lists in 7th that are to blame much more than the supposedly gross misconducts in AB-writing (for example).

Sometimes some of you people sound like a certain List, say LM, would only need 1k to beat 2k of, say, OK - and while neither of these lists are armies that I play with I sincerely doubt that this is the case.

balance issues are much more likely to be mismatches rather than actual imbalance. That's what we get for the awesome variety of this game! That's the gamble and part of the fun of playing this game.

if you get to the see the roster you are about to face and make your own roster without your opponent getting to make any changes you will have a huge advantage with ANY list - if playing with equal point values.

Gorbad Ironclaw
20-08-2010, 06:42
15+ lists compare to only 3 main factions in FOW and two divergent sets of 5 or 6 factions for Hordemachine

While I completely agree that the size and scope of Warhammer makes it difficult to balance surely you mean 5 main factions for FoW, Americans, British, Germans, Italians and Russians? All with a combined total of many times the available army lists for Warhammer. And with 11 factions WM/H is not far behind Warhammer and I think features much more complex and game changing models so I don't think Warhammer is in a unique or more difficult position than other games. I think the answer more lies in what else you said, that close balance just isn't that important a design goal for GW. They will get it close enough to let you play around with your mates without too many problems but honing it into a good competitive system just isn't a priority, never have been.

In a slightly related point to that I think that changing the Throne of Skulls format from the previous GT style gaming into something else much more closely reflect how they see the game, even if many people don't see it/play it the same way.
And I think that difference in how the game is being used is one of the causes for much of the "friction" when fans are annoyed with the writing or a specific ruling or whatever.