Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ETC Comp - A Better Way?

Last evening I watched a series of YouTube videos prepared by two members of the Polish ETC team in response to the composition being developed by the Army Restrictions Committee for this year's ETC.

In essence, it was a study on how and why they are getting it wrong and in particular how they are creating a new game that deviates significantly from Warhammer. They indicate that, for continental Europe at least, this is highly counterproductive as it creates a barrier for entry for new tournament players. This is largely because the powerhouses of Central Europe adopt ETC restrictions for their own domestic tournament play. Whether doing this is a good thing is not discussed but I think bears consideration.

So what do they think is wrong with the ETC comp?

It is their contention that:

  • The wrong people are doing the comp;
  • That there is a lack of a clear statement of what they are trying to achieve;
  • That the first step is to be restrictive which leads to a long, cumbersome and overly complicated document;
  • That the lessons of the past have been ignored.
Putting aside the first point - as not knowing ETC politics I suspect they have a dog in that fight - let's look at their other points. 

They contend that the don't have a clear goal. Obviously the think differently but I do think their point has some merit. Reading the ETC comp I don't get a clear understanding of what is trying to be achieved. Is it balance between books? Is it to make matchup process largely irrelevant? Is it to balance the game? Is it to neutralise the paper-scissors-rock aspects prevalent in Warhammer? With 15 books I'd contend that it is hard to achieve all of these things at once. So therefore I agree with the Poles that a clear statement would be helpful. 

Secondly, they believe that the has included restrictions that have no clear goal and build on one another to little end. To demonstrate they cite the example of restricting Lizardmen Scar Vets to two. They point out that due to item choice the inclusion of a third Scar-Vet actually weakens the army as it stops points being spent on producing an offensive Skink level caster. However by then trying to ensure some "concept" of external balance this leads to restrictions in other books and pretty soon you have band-aids everywhere to little purpose. This results in the tome we now have. 

The final point about the lessons of the past is probably the most compelling. In 7th Edition we had the years of the Big Three. This was 2008-10 where Daemons, Dark Elves and Vampire Counts dominated tabletops around the world. The solution adopted then and now rejected was to reduce the points level of those armies. This has the effect of creating internal competition for points and leads to natural restrictions rather than arbitrarily imposed ones. Certainly I think that this approach bears investigating again as it means that you can reduce the overall number of band-aids being applied and greatly reduce the complexity and potential for failure of comp.

I remain firmly in the camp that less comp is good and that by playing scenarios, big magic and terrain you alleviate the need for heavy comp in most singles competition. However if you must have comp - and what would Europe be without some central bureaucratic behemoth trying to control the market - then the approach they are suggesting bears serious consideration. 


  1. I first read the title as a troll.
    In agree in part that the AR team does not have a clear direction or a mission statement. It is not achieving its goals because it has none. Kinda like the NZLP =P
    You can read the discussions forum they use to decide the comp, and see its directed almost entirely by one guy. All other discussion is practically ignored, and they don't appear to listen to any feedback at all in the discussion threads. ETC is NOT the way forward, its the hand break holding everything back.
    8th edition books have been leaps and bounds better for balance than history has shown.

    Good point the Poles make about the comp creating a barrier to entry. A simple points increase/decrease would fix 90% of perceived problems...

  2. Letting scenarios, terrain and local gaming culture comp seems usually good enough.

    Out of the High elf book, In the end I just want banner of the world dragon on white lions comped. Similar to pendant and crown or third eye and crown. Minimal comp is good for the game.

  3. What I dont get is that if so many players are unhappy with the system why do they (a) continue to attend events based on ETC comp and (b) not set up non-ETC comp events themselves? If the mass of players walk away from the the system then surely it will have to either die or change?

    This kind of thing makes me glad I play WHFB in New Zealand.

    And seriously "Out of the High elf book, In the end I just want banner of the world dragon on white lions comped." - comp'd how as it ban that particular combo? Why because it gives HE a great unit abliet one that has lost its re-rolls to hit, still consists of T3 Elves with a 5+ AS and no parry/ward save vs. mundane weapons and a 3+ AS vs. mundane shooting? Force us to take useless DP buses instead or stick it on PGuard who already have a WS?

  4. Stubborn means you can't break it with combat resolution much like Eye/Crown, Pendant/Crown combos which are comped. It's consistancy across the Comp system. It strikes me as we only need to stop the abusive combos with comp most of the other things get sorted by scenarios.

    1. Personally I'd be very against comping it. Three reasons:

      1. I don't think it is at all overpowered and abusive.
      2. I prefer lasser rather than more comp
      3. Comping it gives High Elf players an excuse for failure.

      I don't see it any more abusive than last ed Daemons...Bloodletters + HoK and HoS Loremaster with Light. Didn't see too many calls for that to be comp.

    2. He is a Daemon player, what do you expect! :)

    3. Yeah, in hindsight playing in only 2 tournaments this year, the Bloodletter Lawnmower powered by the Light of Jebus needed to be comped. Surprised it wasn't. I can see why Tom took out Master's last year with it.

      But in the end the new daemon book balanced it out.

      @Pete you really want High elves to fail on their own merits.

    4. Why did it need to be comped?
      It wasn't that good. I bet Tom with that list both with chaos dwarfs and tomb kings.

      What you are suggesting is it was the army not the player that won. I disagree 100% with that, as Tom is a very accomplished player, and am pretty sure it was more player than army that won the Masters.

      It didn't need banning, people just needed to adjust to counter it. Some of us did.

    5. I guess re: the banner, what I'm saying ... I need a hug.

    6. Oh... My... I hadn't realised you were STILL going on about BoTWD... I thought we'd fixed this. That does it, I'm increasing your meds! lol


  5. That man's beard demands respect. I'd do anything he told me to.

    1. Does your girlfriend know that?

    2. No requirement, you can voice your concerns to her on the weekend if you must though.