Monday, September 10, 2012

Odds and Ends and Ramblings

Hey all, long time no talk.  I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2 a ton and not playing 40k at all.  I did, however, follow the NOVA coverage and I have a few comments on it.  I have not played enough high end competitive 6th Edition to reach firm conclusions but here is what I have been thinking about…

1.  The top lists are a radical departure from what we have seen before or what most people expected.  Most people expected mech lists to be slightly weaker, but what we saw was the total dominance of heavy firepower foot lists.  Full mech was definitely a second tier choice.  It seemed that if you wanted to be at the competitive top your list had to have at least 50+ scoring MEQ bodies and 50+ Str 7+ shots per turn.  Plus, in a startling transition, the reaction was how powerful Plasma weapons were.  Because the good lists were on foot, the best lists were also foot lists that could handle other foot lists and shoot away deathstars.  AP2 plasma weapons seem to fit the bill nicely.

2.  Deathstars or mini-stars seemed very popular.  With the new FAQ changes I think we are seeing a drastic weakening of elite deathstars like Paladins, Nobz and Wolf Guard.  Blob-stars, if you can give them fearless still after the FAQs, are still just as good since they didn’t rely on bouncing wounds around to be effective. 

3.  I would like to think that this tournament’s lists are indicative of 6th Edition in general.  I’m just not sure.  This isn’t a knock against MVB, but I think the emphasis on table quarters and the fact that vehicles didn’t score for quarters had a huge effect on the lists you saw.  Unlike some, I think this is a good thing, as the lists that did well are the type of lists I like to see.  While these are the types of lists that should be good in an ideal game, I don’t know that these would be the best lists if you were forced to play just the straight book missions.  It will be interesting to see how future 6th Edition GT’s play out, because, unfortunately, I think these lists may be optimized for the tournament mission structure and not the game in abstract.  With that said…

4.  Failure to win at NOVA is your own fault, not the specific tournament environment.  Playtesting materials and FAQs were released well ahead of time.  Terrain examples were released ahead of time.  Yet a particularly loud 40k blog voice is blaming his failure to win on the follow: missions, terrain and luck.  Luck can be immediately discounted because I’ve not yet met a human being who can statistically demonstrate that they possess a quality known as “bad luck.” 

If you claim your dice rolled below average, perhaps they did, but that is almost certainly a sign that you didn’t roll enough dice to bring out an average result.  That is a problem caused by one of the following: your list didn’t give you enough resources to solve the problem you faced, or your tactics were such that you couldn’t bring the resources you had to bear when and where you needed them.  Both of those issues are completely under your control, so there is nothing to complain about.

As far as terrain goes, it was the same for everyone.  I won’t lie, at last year’s NOVA I wasn’t happy with the terrain on one table I played on twice.  While I would say it contributed to my loss, I might have still lost anyway, so who knows?  What I do know is that it would be not only arrogant, but overly simplistic to say that the terrain is what caused me to lose the game.  The terrain on a table is a fixed system.  There is a right way to play every particular arrangement, and gaming that system is how you use it to your advantage.  Chances are, if you “lost due to terrain” what really happened is you lost due to your opponent taking advantage of the terrain, and you underestimating him and not trying as hard to play the terrain.

Claiming that missions themselves were flawed is a joke.  Stelek had the arrogant audacity to claim that his list was perfect for 6th, but that the NOVA missions were such a departure from 6th that he got screwed out.  As above, there might be some validity to this concept.  But that isn’t an excuse for losing.  Playtesting materials were available to all.  If you didn’t bring a list optimized to win the published mission pack, who is at fault?  I don’t care if the mission pack doesn’t fit what you think the game should be.  You paid to attend a tournament, you were given the tournament rules.  Your list should take that tournament into account.  Claiming the missions were flawed after the fact is mockable, and arrogant.  If Mike had sprung the NOVA missions on us as a surprise with no playtesting materials, this might be an excuse.   Unfortunately for this bogus criticism, the top players arrived with lists tuned to win the tournament.  While you might find the entire concept of tuning your list for a particular tournament objectionable, as a competitive player you have to PLAY TO WIN.  By ignoring the missions and bringing a bad list, you were not playing to win. 

5.  Shame on BoLS.  I don’t know what their problem with Mike is, but none of their prominent writers went to NOVA for the 3rd consecutive year.  What is the deal with that?  These guys are undeniably talented players, who apparently have the resources to fly to po-dunk small GTs and RTT, or even to Europe for the ETC.  But they can never seem to find the time or money to get to DC in August.  Strange stuff. 

If that was it, I wouldn’t even mention this.  But in addition to their unstated-but-still-obvious boycott, they didn’t even cover it.  Arguably the #2 biggest (and #1 most important to competitive players) 40k tournament in the United States and the only coverage they got on the biggest 40k website in the United States was a bullshit article about a judge’s ruling whose only reason for being published, as far as I can see, was to imply that the tournament was run poorly.  I’m sure MVB will take the high road and not mention it, but I would love to know what the issue is.  Is Wargamescon threatened by NOVA?  NOVA clearly has the “competitive” label and WGC less so.  Is WGC jealous?  Threatened?  I don’t get it at all.

As a quick aside, I want to remark how amazingly good Guild Wars 2 is.  The game has the depth and refinement of a game that has been out for years, at launch.  The game has better PVP than anything else out besides League of Legends, and better PVE than anything else.  The only thing GW2 PVE comes up short when compared to WoW is large raids, as the “end game” for GW2 PVE are 5-man dungeon instances.  If you’re into 40 man raids, you might want to look elsewhere, but for literally every other aspect of PVE GW2 provide a superior experience.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?