Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 10th. Battlegrounds, Norton, MA

Format: Custom (See below)
Number of Players: 17
Rounds: 3
Placing: 3rd

This was a small tournament nearby. They wanted to do "oldhammer" by banning formations, superheavies and gargantuans. Army comp was 1250 points, 1 CAD, 1 Allied, no forgeworld. Predictably, this nerfed the crap out of space marines and necron, while hurting eldar a bit. There were 3 daemons players there, all of whom were in the top 5, and 6 tau players there. My list and matchups are below and then I'm going to quickly talk about balance and why "just banning formations and going back to 5th ed" is not to solution to balancing the game.

Ultramarines Combined Arms Detachment
5 Tactical Marines, Meltagun, Combi-Melta, Drop Pod
5 Tactical Marines, Meltagun, Combi-Melta, Drop Pod
5 Devastators, 4 Grav Cannons
Thunderfire Cannon

Dark Angels Allied Detachment
Librarian, Level 2, Bike, Auspex
5 Tactical Marines, Flamer, Drop Pod
6 Black Knight Command Squad, Apothecary, Grenade Launcher, Banner

Game 1:
Tzeentch Daemons:

This was already going to be an uphill battle, then he rolled a warlord trait that gives his warlord and daemons nearby +1 invuln. Then got a +1 invuln on the warpstorm table his first turn. So army-wide 2+ rerollable invulns was a blast. Not to mention about 12 psychic dice per turn.
15-3 Loss

Game 2:

A new player from my club playing in his first tournament, who got stuck playing the guy who got 2nd in round 1. I crushed him (AND SCORED LINEBREAKER WITH A BASTION) but he won his 3rd game and I was pretty happy for him.
15-6 Win

Game 3
Dark Eldar

Another guy from my club (isn't it great playing against 2/3 of the people you showed up with?) I got worldscape and phase form and blew him off the board in a few turns.
15-4 Win

I hear a lot of "oldhammer" players say the game was "better" before formations, unique detachments, and superheavies/gargantuans. Better is a super subjective term, and I think what they really mean is "less complicated". No argument, I won't disagree with that.
However, I will argue that formations and detachments go a long way to balance the game, allowing for way more combinations and army compositions that a combined arms detachment just doesn't allow. Additionally, superheavies and gargantuans really aren't the most powerful things in the world, and make it almost impossible to kill death stars or things like 2+ rerollable saves. It was no surprise to me to see so many daemons and tau players there and doing well. Daemons aren't affected much by the removal of formations while tau are buffed by most people's weakened psychic powers. Armies like Necron get the short end of the stick while marines have to pull on the huge amount of resources they have to put up a fight.
Banning forgeworld is on the same level as banning superheavies/gargantuans to me, because limiting people's options usually doesn't "balance" the game. Once again it does cut down on the number of rules in the game, but it hamstringed me and the other marines players there even further without affecting a lot of other armies.

My point is that arbitrarily banning things that didn't used to be in the game doesn't balance it, it only nerfs some things and buffs others. I don't want to rag on the organizer because I don't think balance was his intended goal as much as cutting down on the number of rules available, although if I were him I would have pushed it further and banned anything non-codex (like Curse of the Wulfen and Angels of Death) so daemons would have fewer options and marines players wouldn't be flinging terrain around or charging turn 1 (guilty).
I had fun, and different formats are a good way to challenge your tactical and list building skills, but I definitely prefer more polished formats like NOVA and ITC to this one.

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