Sunday, October 31, 2010

Orktoberfest Observations

Having had a week now to digest Orktoberfest I've had time to formulate a few observations.

The composition system for Orktoberfest was one where there were a series of hard caps which you weren't allowed to violate. This made it quite difficult to gauge the strength of the list that you should aim for. You are worried that if you don't take some of the harder options then you end up with a knife at a gunfight while if you go too hard then you deny your a challenge.

In general I thought the lists at Ork tended towards the harder end but with more than a smattering of what I'd call weaker lists. I'm not sure whether the players with weaker lists took them as a conscious decision or because they haven't got their heads around 8th Ed yet.

My list was hard in that it had two WLCs. Certainly having seen what was on offer I'd probably drop one in future. That said, my list was appropriate for the match-ups I had;

Round 1 - Bloodthirster, Nails Daemon list

Round 3 - Death Magic Slaan with 2-3 of the main tricks

Round 4 - Strong Daemons, lots of fiends, usual suspects

Round 5 - Two Dragon, avoidance High Elves

Round 6 - Certainty Slaan with Life, lots of sallies

So in five of the six games I had pretty fair matchups. Notwithstanding that I'd drop the second WLC in future as two seemed to act as a flag to opponents. The list had little other shooting - the Doomrocket and 6 Gutter Runners.

Personally I would have preferred a panel comp with in-built Comp-battle (BPs adjusted by differential in Comp) but understand that when pack went up we were in early stages of 8th. Both the OZ and NZ Masters will have Player assessed comp so it will be interesting to see how this goes (I expect there will be some griping).

Leading on from this, scenarios. Orktoberfest used a half-pie scenario system over the weekend. Effectively it was Dawn Attack, 4 Battlelines and a homegrown Messengers scenario. I think that using the rulebook scenarios has a positive influence on list composition and just playing Battleline effectively encourages harder lists - ones that harvest/deny points rather than contest objectives or have to deal with scenario special rules. While people might not like all the scenarios I think that they are a great balancing factor.

Other special rules that were played were infinitely high hills, Look Out Sir on Spells and fleeing troops give up points at the end of the game. None of these added anything positive to the game. I was on both sides in terms of benefit. My Skaven characters got LOS against big spells which is a major boost. As I have said previously while the spells are potentially disastrous they are an incentive to spread the risk. Introducing abstract cover for large creatures I think is wrong. It's a fundamental rules change that is not needed. Big gribblies need to be in danger as it is very hard to get points from them in the limited turns you have before they get into combat. Again fleeing troops giving up points is not a positive rules change. Essentially without it you need to construct your list so that you must finish units off to get points. This means that your list needs to be multidimensional in that you need some form of ranged attack capability so you can get points at the end. You also need to have combat potential as winning combat is the quickest way to get points. However in winning combat you need to commit to harvest the points i.e. pursue rather than reform. This acts as a further tactical decision you must make.

The only special rule that they used that I did like was the 12 die limit on the number of power dice you can use. Without this a Slaan with Focused Rumination and Death Magic for instance would be ridiculous. It is already a very strong combo but at least it has an upper limit.

Overall I had a lot of fun at Orktoberfest - great opponents helps - but I'm unconvinced that moving the game rules away from what is in the book was successful.

I like the game out of the book with the overlay of panel composition scoring around a series of guidelines. To date I think that there is only one thing in the game that is truly broken - the Power Scroll - however there are builds and combos that are stronger than others. This can be dampened by the use of scenarios but true game balance requires a form of composition and the ability of TO to veto certain lists if they are significantly stronger/weaker than the rest of the field.

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