Thursday, October 13, 2011

Today We'll Fight Waterloo........Again

One of the most interesting changes from 7th to 8th Edition was the introduction of scenarios into the game. I’ve been pretty vocal that their inclusion has not only made things more challenging but act as a comp leveller on the more extreme builds.

However I know that my view isn’t the only opinion. The ETC used “Battleline” as the only scenario though I can understand that given the match-up process they already go through.
More puzzling to me are those general tournaments that choose not to use scenarios. In some case they then introduce new rules and layers of army restrictions to control troublesome builds.
One of the usual reasons trotted out is that scenarios can reduce the game to a non-contest by introducing randomness (particularly in deployment) into the mix. Where forced to play these games the proponents – if you believe the podcasting glitterati – turtle up in their respective corners and take a 10-10 draw.

This to me is really a failure in list design and/or unwillingness to adapt to anything that forces their gameplan out of the ordinary. If your total gameplan is predicated on getting a certain deathstar into combat, I can understand the unwillingness to play a game that mightn’t let you do that. But is that the fault of the scenario? Your army build? Or your unwillingness to think on the fly?

There seems to be a jump to blame the first option rather than consider the second and third.

When I build a list I make sure it can compete in all scenarios. I accept that I get certain setups where I’m disadvantaged but never to the extent where I feel that my only option is to turtle.

Take Watchtower for instance. I generally have 2-3 strategies around that scenario. In a lot of cases with the Watchtower I will not deploy in it and instead work to stop my opponent getting their through deployment of scouts, the use of vanguard etc. This stops the first turn charge on the tower by a powerful unit that will throw my weaker unit out. I’ll then try and occupy it later in the game.

If my opponent takes the building, I know the objective from the start. Throw him out. To this end I’ll tend to try and isolate him and then use a mix of magic and shooting to whittle him down so I can try a late game (Turn 4, remember random game length) assault.

So what do you guys think? Do you feel the added challenge of scenarios is worth it?


  1. Scenerios are great, agree that they add some variation that poses some challenges to army builds optimised for battleline. I essentially stopped playing 7th ed, as it was getting extremely predicable as to what lists you tended to see. I do have a few issues with the scenarios that use random deployment and reserves, in that you can get unlucky with whats in reserve or with a unit being isolated (the later being more of issues for some armies than others).

    On balance, I'm happy with these scenarios.

    Ironically, losing my 2 best units to reserves, actually caused by opponent more issues than me last time it occured, I deployed with a plan as to where they would come on to the table, my opponent obviously did think about this and was totally unprepared for where I deployed them.

    I also never alter my list for Watchtower to take a core unit of exactly 20 models on the off chance I get to deploy in the watchtower. Will normally deploy something in watchtower, just to prevent my opponent from capturing uncontested, but are normally happy to assault the watchtower to gain possession.

  2. There is one scenario that sucks worse than the rest and that is the Dawn Attack one, it can be a case of complete split armies with no option of being able to contribute. It is one that is entirely predicated on the roll of the dice. I think that Dawn Attack could be modified to be left/right rather than left/right/centre. It allows for less extreme dice rolling resulting in the game becoming a farce.

  3. I have been pretty badly messed up by Dawn Attack in the past, specifically when using Orcs and Goblins. I was left trying to decide whether I would deploy my Shaman Lord and BSB inside a unit of Trolls in order to ensure they ended up on the same end of the table. As you say, it's more of an issue for some armies than others.

    Overall I think the scenarios are a good thing. They do indeed tend to discourage unbalanced army builds and help keep the games different.

    At Axemaster we actually went with the rulebook approach of rolling for the scenario each round, although we rolled for the tournament as a whole to keep things fair, and the TO reserved the right to overrule something silly like the same scenario 3 times in a row. It worked fine, and it gave players one more thing to worry about...

  4. I only have real issue with two of the Scenarios, which basically make the game a non-event most of the time.

    Watchtower is just terrible, due to the god awful building rules for Fantasy. Certain armies just get shafted as they can't put a nails unit in the building, or deal with certain nails units in buildings, meaning the game is essentially decided by the dice roll for deployment. Hooray....

    The other is the Diagonal deployment which results in boring corner draws in half the games I see, because players don't want to leave the units that don't show up behind, so sit back combined with just being able to deploy so far away in the corner if one player decides they don't like the match-up. (Its much less doable in Pitched Battle)

    The others are generally fine.

  5. Scenarios issues I believe come from people wanting to win over having a game. So having a list that is balanced and can compete in all scenarios is not one "winners" want to take. By winners I mean lists designed to deny points to the opponent and garauntee the win through army build. :)
    So I think the trick is to encourage engaement in scenarioes, with points being awarded to breaking your opponent(blood & Glory) first and holding the tower(Watch Tower), instead of auto losing. Objectives for battle of the pass diagonal deployment again to encourage engagement. Smart scenario design is the next step forward, and one I challenge everyone to attempt. Even the standard 6 we have now will grow stale over time.
    Last there is some bias as always to the argument about scenarios. Some armies like skaven/ O&G lend themselves to a balanced and multipurpose build. Dwarfs don't. :) So when you create a players pack next time, just consider all sides, and encourage engagement.

  6. In our Tauranga tournaments, we play that the Watchtower and the Blood and Glory scenarios guarantee you a 11-9 win, once you fulfill the requirements of the scenario. You can increase that score based on VP difference, but never go below it. Most players have thought that was quite fair.