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Establishing a healthy tournament meta

 Post subject: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:47 am 
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A few friendly thoughts from downunder

http://d6addiction.blogspot.com.au/2018/03/balancing-epic-tournament-lists-with.html


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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:33 pm 
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I agree with this sentiment:

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The best Epic tournaments are the ones which are competitive but still friendly.


Our NEAT has grown a lot over the years. We only get a new player once a year or so, but fostering a friendly environment has been the main reason for our player retention.

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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:54 pm 
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Glad to see Wheaton's Law getting applied so stringently there. It's a great symbol of a maturing scene in my opinion. Good article.

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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:00 pm 
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It's a great sentiment, but are there any epic tournaments that arn't friendly to start with?

Think everyone agrees re that thawk list. But I think skew lists like that can be fun, or at least interesting, if they are not done again and again (and the thawk list was overused, so fair enough). Facing 1 skew list at an event would not ruin my whole weekend and I don't mind getting beaten by great players with top meta lists as long as the game is played in a firendly and congenial way – which has always been my experience.

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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:23 pm 
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:) Ah where to start.

Well firstly, I'm assuming that there is no malice (I'm not being directly called a Dick...).
2ndly, a quick nod to the thuderhawk list, I knew it was broken when I made it and that it would see the Epic UK list changed (which has happened). But for the record, it was used in three epic UK tournaments that year, won one tournament, came 2nd in one and fourth in another) - it wasn't quite as broken as everyone thought, but that’s really moot now the list has changed. I also played Thousand Sons and came 2nd. – and came 2nd with Eldar this year. – My point hopefully being that the TH list wasn’t over used and that I am capable with most lists. – but this is perhaps a pride thing and worth being ignored. :)

I am going to focus on the concept of lists rather than the vague hyperbola about gamesmanship.
(When I was in Australia in the summer we had a saying “Grow a pair, bro!” such expressions lend easily to memes but really fail to address any issue of worth).
I don’t have the experience of wargaming many of you have, preferring chess. This being simple enough in that both sides start with the same.
When I started playing epic it took a long time to learn the lists. This was a huge challenge, it lent to the adage that you can’t win until you know both your own and your opponents army.
One of the biggest challenges was how to create a list.
We initially played in Scotland at 5k with games dominated by Titans, indeed the Chaos faction Warlord class titans that we used have never seen the light of day since. We couldn’t understand the attraction of units such as Eldar Scouts that just seemed throw away.
Now that I have played for some time, I start seeing the importance in the lists. Indeed I would argue that it is an essential part of Epic. The ability to choose a list that 1. Works to your game plan 2. Is diverse enough to face any opponent and 3. Matches your style, is really a key aspect in how well you rank at a tournament. I am not saying great players can’t take bad lists and win, but that the list really does have an impact. – I would be surprised if anyone argues this point.
If you accept that the list is important, the next issue is how to motivate players in their selection. I noted with some interest the mention of Feral Orks, my regular opponent could draw with anyone with his feral list, but only comes asunder when he tries to win. Now, nobody in the UK that I am aware of is calling for the Ferals to be changed. Indeed similar lists like AMTL could be built to secure an unmoveable draw. I have looked at some the SM air assault / drop pod lists that have been run, the Necron list in general, the Net EA krieg, and the Red Corsairs and I can see, quite easily, lists that will be hellish to play against. Indeed, especially necrons, whom I have never enjoyed playing, I can say that these are not lists that are designed to be ‘fun’ for the opponent.
So where is the solution? We could go like chess, have set up ready to play lists in place. This would of course take away any advantage gained by players drawing challenging lists. But I see the lists as part of the game and a key skill in developed players. I do feel that more effort should be made to train new players and help them with this complex part of the game, as it also lends itself into understanding tactics and what things do (to my understanding we are doing this in Scotland which is also seeing a growing interest in the game).
To me the solution lies in regularly reviewing the lists. If we are honest, instead of optimistic, players will always try to select the list with the best chance of success, and this is why lists change. Its why SM Scouts don’t get to use drop pods anymore (a story of somebody elses ability to see an opportunity in a list :)). We need to see where players develop lists to gain a noticeable advantage and to review that list, but I also feel we need to review the under used lists, lists seen as too weak.
I know there is organisers working on both, and I see this is the only real solution to list changes.
Aside from lists, I have found the following things make for more enjoyable games.
Wine.
“If you say it, then it is.” This was a rule that helped for faster play where measurements were as near as dammit. E.g a player puts infantry into ruins, staying 10cm into avoid being shot at. If they are 9.75cm, they are still ten. The player knew what they meant and explained it. The games more fun when faster.
“No take backs.” This may come as a surprise, and obviously we have a bit more give for new players. But we found new players become good players from learning, they will always remember the mistakes that cost them a game and be better from it.
Anyway, I have digressed so shall take my own advise and seek the first of the list.


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 Post subject: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:13 pm 
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Lol - ‘Don’t be Dan!’

Interesting article that! I agree with Apoc, the epic tournie scene seems to me by far the friendliest of any I’ve been involved in. It’s just too small a group not to be!

Personally, I like it when people break the conventional playstyle of lists, if it turns out that the list is then overpowered it gets nerfed but I recognise that is a big advantage for epic UK over Netea (ie we can nerf bat things much faster than netea). Compare say the thunderhawk list being nerfed about 7/8 months after its first of 4 tournie appearances (which is waay faster than a lot of supported games get errattad - eg farmers in guildball). I was actually pretty sceptical of whether the list could be properly competitive (I was wrong) and I think Dan would admit it took a couple of events to optimise how he played with the list. As such, I don’t love rejecting lists on paper if they’re tournament legal as you can’t always tell how they’ll do (eg vessel of pain spam listed in that article is, for me a mid-tier Dark Eldar build - what does it do if it runs into speed freaks or tyranids?)

I also think people are geared to see spam lists as more broken than other builds - eg I genuinely think the Krieg army I ran at the EEC last year is more powerful than the thunderhawk list Dan took (I only clocked quite how good after playing it for 2 days) but on paper it doesn’t look as broken (as it’s quite balanced in terms of a range of units and doesn’t include a unit commonly considered very strong - the deathstrike silo). So a TO looking at it could easily say no to Dan’s list but wave mine through.

I actually think don’t be a dick applies more to how you play against newer players as an experienced player. Eg, reminding them of rules like intermingle, advising them on what your units do, how things like titan killer work, not using gotchas (ha - my unit is fearless) etc. As Dan says, ‘played for and got’ is a good example of don’t be a dick in this scenario (especially in a game where a lot of measurements are made by tape measures which aren’t 100% accurate compared to widgets in other wargames). If I’m playing a new or very casual player in a tournie it doesn’t really matter if my army build is all thunderhawks or all foot slogging Khorne Bezerkers, I am heavy favourite so I feel its much more about how you play than the list you use in those games. For example, I played a relatively new player at McPocalypse Now a couple of months ago and his list had 2 BTS’s so we nominated just one as his BTS rather than handing me a massive advantage. Made the game more fun for both of us. However, if I turned up to play say Tiny Tim and he had two BTS units, I’d assume it was part of a cunning piece of list design rather than a new player error.

Basically, if the roles were reversed, what would make the game enjoyable and make you want to come back and play? We’ve all been noobs at epic or at other systems so just empathise with your opponent and played nice! Eg - If you’re running dark eldar, start all your units on the board etc etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:56 am 
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You make your game what it is. Even if facing a list designed to push your turd. Your fun level is your responsibility.
Even in Roma that had an award for that special individual.

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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:17 am 
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Dan 1314 wrote:
:) Ah where to start.
...

Wine.



You had me at Hullo :)

I think that Steve has a good point about spam and "strong lists". I agree that "some of this, and some of that" generally is more often seen as a nice list, than a list with spam, no matter how strong it is. In the end it is down to balance between an endless amount of parameters and dice rolling, which imho can be quite tricky.


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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:29 am 
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I work with competitive athletes and tournament organizing in martial arts as a living.

In a sports enviroment you agree on a set of rules that all athletes must adhere too. Then thoose athletes will shape their whole training around thoose rules to get a competitive edge against their opponents. Their tactics and strategy will also be shaped around theese rules. Does that make for cheesy tactics sometimes or not so honourable behaviour? Yes it will. Sometimes alot.

But we that govern the sports gave them the rules to adhere to and we could also change them to stop certain plays/tactics/situations from happening in the future.

With this in my mind I can't reconcile with the thought of having one set of written rules for an epic tournament (what lists are allowed, what rules are used) and then also a set of unwritten and subjective rules (I think your list is cheesy so you can't use it) on top of that. Thats not fair to the competitors at all.

And yes, i realize competitive sports and epic tournaments are not exactly the same thing. But a tournament is a competitive event non the less. If your not comfortable dealing with all the things that thoose enviroments brings with them, don't participate in them.

This is also the reason why i think there should always be a couple of tables (if theres room) for casual gamers at tournaments. It's n ice to get to hang out with your fellow epic players and watch them play, even if you're not particpating in the tournament.

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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:55 am 
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Applying that to list design is a bit too subjective for me, as what constitutes that might be very different based on who's running an event. How a player behaves at the table is for me much more important. I don't really care what an opponent brings to the table, it's not the list that makes a game a miserable experience, it's attitude. A game against a skew list that's a good matchup against mine might be an uphill struggle, but it's not necessarily going to be a bad game, and a good attitude and being relaxed about stuff like rules minutae (such as seeing a person measuring for intermingling and then when it's their turn measuring it themselves and declaring units intermingled) makes all the difference.

In the case of the UK i think it's the positive attitude of the players that's been instrumental in keeping the scene alive more than anything else.


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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:50 am 
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mordoten wrote:
I work with competitive athletes and tournament organizing in martial arts as a living.

In a sports enviroment you agree on a set of rules that all athletes must adhere too. Then thoose athletes will shape their whole training around thoose rules to get a competitive edge against their opponents. Their tactics and strategy will also be shaped around theese rules. Does that make for cheesy tactics sometimes or not so honourable behaviour? Yes it will. Sometimes alot.

But we that govern the sports gave them the rules to adhere to and we could also change them to stop certain plays/tactics/situations from happening in the future.

With this in my mind I can't reconcile with the thought of having one set of written rules for an epic tournament (what lists are allowed, what rules are used) and then also a set of unwritten and subjective rules (I think your list is cheesy so you can't use it) on top of that. Thats not fair to the competitors at all.

And yes, i realize competitive sports and epic tournaments are not exactly the same thing. But a tournament is a competitive event non the less. If your not comfortable dealing with all the things that thoose enviroments brings with them, don't participate in them.



Exactly!

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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:31 pm 
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“It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it.
It’s not what you do, it’s the way that it’s done”
(Anon)

This discussion is about the fine line between obeying the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The competitors say that the game is played to the rules, which is fine where they are well written and clearly defined and understood. Chess works well on that level, yet even then there can be huge disputes over seating and lighting arrangements, advisors etc . . .
Sadly we all know that Epic falls short of this standard on many levels.

We all enjoy watching classic matches whether cricket, football, Rugby, Super Bowl etc. played with great skill and ingenuity, and always with huge enjoyment of the participants themselves. And it is that enjoyment which is infectious. Here the players are being highly competitive, but playing within the spirit of the rules, and the referee is often more of a spectator than a requirement.

So this thread raises a very topical debate on the level of ‘sportsmanship’ one can or should expect to see in a tournament.

I agree with others that the lists are pretty much a given, though the TO can and should use his discretion to include or exclude as many or as few as he desires, set themes (eg to exclude titans, WE or aircraft) etc. But once laid down, the players should be free to pick and choose within those parameters. If a list is broken it should be fixed - and excluded until it is deemed satisfactory.

However I also agree you should enjoy playing tournament games, even against people who are vastly superior than you. And this should not be some masochistic pleasure of being beaten up, or gritting your teeth through the tears and saying thank you for the lesson, but rather the joy of pitting your wits against an opponent who is courteous and fair, and prepared to help those less skilled.

Consider for a moment, should any one of us be lucky enough to play Roger Federer at tennis the result would be a forgone conclusion. But how would Roger play? Would he smash the opponent into the turf, or play a ‘fair’ game to encourage the enjoyment of the opponent? (I also agree that unless the opponent were exceptional, Roger might be rather bored, which is why there are entry criteria to such competitions . . . ;) )

So, I would say, while everyone can and should be competitive in a tournament,

Don’t Be A Dick,
Be A Roger (a Sportsman)

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 Post subject: Re: Establishing a healthy tournament meta
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:21 am 
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Ginger wrote:
However I also agree you should enjoy playing tournament games, even against people who are vastly superior than you. And this should not be some masochistic pleasure of being beaten up, or gritting your teeth through the tears and saying thank you for the lesson, but rather the joy of pitting your wits against an opponent who is courteous and fair, and prepared to help those less skilled.

Consider for a moment, should any one of us be lucky enough to play Roger Federer at tennis the result would be a forgone conclusion. But how would Roger play? Would he smash the opponent into the turf, or play a ‘fair’ game to encourage the enjoyment of the opponent? (I also agree that unless the opponent were exceptional, Roger might be rather bored, which is why there are entry criteria to such competitions . . . ;) )


I totally agree with what you are saying there.

I'm not really in a position to write about Epic specifically (as I haven't played the game in 25 years, and never in a tournament) but I have played in a lot of tournaments for various game systems.
I will say that I've had vastly different experience with different games, and you seem to get different cultures of how it is expected to play and even treat your opponent.

What I will say is that things tend to be at the most gentle end of the scale with some historical games, where you tend to get more reverence for the setting and an older/more seasoned campaigner. The players are generally the most secure in themselves and so don't need to destroy their opponent in the game, realising it is something done for mutual enjoyment. Although, you still get the occasional person maxing their volume of hannibal's elephants (to some eye-rolling from the attendees ;) ) but nonetheless as you've said it's the way the game is played thats important.

At the other end of the scale you have games that seem to encourage unreasonable behaviour - in one case I attended a single tournament for a games system and encountered what I would call an uncomfortable game in three cases in a row - all of the time I had spent preparing the army counted for nothing at that point and the army went onto the 'Bay.

Something like 40k I have found to be the most variable; everything from the guy who won't make eye contact through the game and uses a 2" measure to ensure each unit is perfectly spaced, and saying "Yes!" under their breath each time you fail an armour save, to beautifully presented armies played by a gracious opponent and a game that you can enjoy regardless of the result.

Based on the above think I agree with Ginger and will say it's how the game is played that makes the difference. We can't all be stand up comedians and make the game tremendous entertainment, but we can be courteous opponents and have mind that it's meant to be enjoyable for both. Especially for something like Epic - I can't pop down the road and have a game every weekend, if a tournament is the only chance I get to play then it's a shame indeed if you can't get enjoyment from the experience.


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