Beware of Nerd Rage!

Holy smokes, there has been some insanely intense debate on them there interwebs lately, on a number of subjects too. I’m not sure what is polarizing the community more, the Grey Knights or renewed discussions of soft scores (specifically Army Composition).

The Grey Knights I can totally understand. Myself, I am very conflicted about them, as I mentioned in the previous post. I don’t want to really get into that again just yet, but I want to re-state my feeling that there’s a lot of good and a lot of crap mixed together in the new minis and rules. Time will tell how effectively we can shift the ratio towards the good and away from the crap.

Composition though, wow. I think this is a case of a vocal minority seriously overreacting to the suggestion of including Comp in tournament scoring, in some way/shape/form. The comments that appeared on Nathan’s brief “In Defense of Composition” post are a little bit insane.

The gaming club I belong to, Out of the Basement Gaming, is known for leaning towards soft scores in our tournaments. Winning matters, it’s worth 50% of the Overall Score, but clearly there’s more to the hobby than just winning or losing and we try to reflect that in our system. And because many of our members have felt that Best General is one of the less desirable trophies to win (I will explain this in a second), we have tried to use Composition to have a subtle influence on this trophy as well as the Overall rankings.

OK, so why is Best General a less prestigious award to win? Simply put, you win Best General if you’re only good at one thing: Winning.

This guy knows a thing or two about winning but he's not making a lot of friends. Knowing he's not a gamer, saying he likes Ard Boyz is making me giggle.

Let’s break down the scoring system for most tournaments. Approximately 50% Battle Scores, and let’s assume 16.7% each for Sportsmanship, Painting and Composition. Bonus points usually apply to the soft scores (ie. Best Painted, Best Sportsman, Player’s Choice, etc.). If you smoke the competition in all of your games and have decent soft scores, 9 times out of 10  you will win Best Overall.

People who win 100% of their games either have some mix of social and artistic skill, winning them Best Overall, or their soft scores suck and they win Best General instead.

I felt a little bad when Jordan Murphy got booed at Fracas when it was announced that he won Best General. It was his friends booing in jest that started it all (he was playing a stereotypical Demons of Chaos try-hard list in 7th Edition Fantasy, he probably deserved it!) … but when the other people started booing I think they might have meant it. And that’s a problem.

With our club’s events, we wanted to make sure that every prize we give out was something people would want to win. What did we do? We included a slight “handicap” in the Best General rankings to include Composition scores. This was not a huge effect, but it was a multiplier effect that ensures that someone who goes 5-0 with Massacres and a complete douchebag list will lose to a person who goes 5-0 with Major Victories and an inoffensive list. That’s all we wanted, to give people a reason to find the balance between being competitive and reasonably fun to play against.

Our Composition Score is (or at least was) a hybrid system, where it’s still a checklist but we left room for personal opinion as well. 3/5 points could be guaranteed by following the rules (stuff like taking a healthy amount of Core/Troops and avoiding spammed identical units/characters). The other 2/5 were earned at the pure discretion of your opponent (ie. is the list balanced/fair and is the list reasonably fun to play against). Our Painting score was actually done in a similar way to make it harder to zero-bomb someone.

8th Edition Fantasy definitely makes this more difficult, as there are so goddamn many ways to build a nasty army that making a checklist is 10x harder than before. We’re exploring our options for our event (which takes place at the University of Alberta on the Canada Day long weekend every year for those interested).

Thoughts? Opinions? Jihads to declare? I want to hear them. I might just laugh and ignore the crazy/unfounded comments though, as I have no desire to get into a massive flame war with people who have no intention of changing their mind, even in the slightest way.


17 comments on “Beware of Nerd Rage!

  1. As I said in my inaugural post, I want to be proud of the manner in which my winners win the event.

    My 2 faction best overalls won because they were either exceptional painters or exceptional sports. In both cases, their battle points were lower than the 2 best generals of each faction.

    With that said, I’d personally LOVE to see a maximum 3 colors (inks included) paint comp system just to see how that shit implode in a great big ball of hilarity.

    Though with all that said, it’s a wonder he doesn’t have the connections and community support to run his own event, given his charming personality.

  2. Lol, you only felt a little bad. I think everyone demonizes generalship. Granted, certain inviduals that win best general can be total tools, but soo can painters as well as sports (I can see through someones fake persona for a sake of winning a trophy). You only win best painted for being good at one thing, painting. You only win best sport for either being the nicest person ever or having the most believable gaming persona. We dont believe that now do we….

    To win best general, you must have put together the most well thought out list implying a thorough understanding of statistics and of the capabilities and deficiencies of all other armies. You must practice your thought out army against a wide variety of opponents developping not only your tatics but your rules knowledge.

    Just like winning best painted, best general takes a lot of work. Working towards one particular goal in the short term will generally come to the sacrifice of the other.

    But why does good generalship come at the expense of sportsmanship? We look at the dedicated painter who has lavishlingly spent vast quantities of their time blending and shading their way to a stunning army. Its easy to understand that after running into the dedicated general and having their army systematically torn apart that they be a little miffed. Post-destruction when the wounds are fresh the gamers are asked to judge each other on the sportsmanship. A lack of understanding of each others motives may inspire bitterness which consequently ends up on the score sheet.

    The overall gamer might be miffed because he got obliterated consequently tossing him from the overall running.

    I can only really speak from one side as I have only won a best gen trophy. Some of the reasons best gens get nuked is either the guy didnt let a 1/16″ out charge go through, didnt allow for a fogotten phase etc. While the charge range excuse is valid you have to look at it this way. If we only painted 2/3 of our models would you go “ah, hes a good guy ill just give him the points.” nothing is more infuriating than someone who doesnt know the rules.

    Sportsmanship is based upon the consideration of someone elses fun. It may be considered poor sportsmanship to be stringent on the rules, but a vast amount of time has been spent on playing the game to the best of our abilities and to be put up against someone who knows how to play warhammer like an 8yr old. is infuriating to say the least. I dont enjoy crushing people. I love well fought, tactical gamea that come down to the last die roll for a result. I like playing to the best of my abilities.

    That doesnt mean I lift my nose at the relatively inexperienced. Im like dan in that if someone asked me for help in my specialty, I would gladly share my experience.

    Dont fault generals for taking pride in what we do best, dont let the few ruin it for the rest.

    • I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, Jordan. Best General should be a trophy that people want to win, and other people will have respect for. And, as Jaded Gamercast has so beautifully explained on multiple occasions, each event has its own style and some encourage hard-nosed competition more than others. As long as everyone’s on the same page, life is good.

      The crappy part is that many tournaments have a small minority of really competitive people who are gunning for Best General. Many of us don’t understand it, don’t think about army list construction the same way, and can take it personally when defeated. That makes both players upset, one because he didn’t understand the opponent and one because he probably got zero-bombed after a win.

      We do strive to find the balance… Allowing people the freedom to make a fairly aggressive list without penalty, but trying to cut down on the absolutely brutal army lists that won’t be fun to play against. And we are also looking at ways to ensure that you can’t zero-bomb someone just because they won the game. Checklists can guarantee you a minimum score if you accept their limitations, and personally I want to see a rule where your lowest single score from Painting, Sportsmanship and Army Composition is thrown out and replaced by your average score from the remaining games when the final Overall Rankings are made.

      No system is perfect, you have trouble spots on both ends of the spectrum and minimizing one often makes another one worse. Finding the happy middle is always the challenge, and as you are someone who puts a lot of thought into the hobby I definitely want to hear your suggestions for what would work better.

    • I don’t think anyone who hasn’t won a best sport award should accuse people who have of being fake.

      I could argue the opposite: for a player to win best general, they could do it with nothing more than a solid list and very lucky dice.

      On the other hand, getting high best sport scores and best sport votes is wholly within the control of the player. It’s not luck based – it’s about the effort put forth. So which one is really about skill? Don’t be demeaning.

      Moreover, saying that folks who win Best Sport acquiesce to cheaters is somewhat offensive to me – IMHO the folks who are the best sports are people who have the highest standards of gaming and expect the same from their opponents the same way that best painters are the most critical of painting – they have the eye to see things what others may not.

  3. Hey Danny,

    You might want to consider giving the “Comp Council” a whirl for the WFB 8th Edition comp scoring.

    The inherent flaw (at least from my perspective) with checklists is their inability to accurately reflect what’s showing up to your event.

    A checklist can say, “If he has X, Y or Z deduct 1 point per infraction.” The problem with this system is that if everyone (or a large portion of your player base) brings X, Y and Z then your entire tournament receives the same composition score, thus invalidating the purpose of it.

    With a council, you basically mark the entire tournament on a curve. It’s easy to pick out the most despicable list in attendance. Also pretty easy to find the softest list. Everything else will fall in between and you can make marker points.

    My biggest complaint is the amount of time required (4 1/2 hours for 44 lists with us) but I think the results speak for themselves.

    Also, if I am still unemployed (my contract is set to expire on May 31) I am more than happy in helping you guys out with it.

    • That’s a great theory … but so far we have never been able to convince people to submit their army lists ahead of time. At best, we get maybe 50% of the lists before the day of the event, no matter how hard we insist on it. And when looking over those lists, I have kept track and 60% or more of them generally have math errors in them :p

      Any advice you could give on how to secure lists would be fantastic. You seem to have better luck with that than we do.

      Anyway, I definitely appreciate the offer to help out in July! Hopefully you are still working and collecting paychecks at that time 😀

      • Shockingly enough, we really didn’t have that much of a problem – we just advertised it multiple times at every point of registration and we put it 2 weeks out from the event and evaluated comp 1 week out (to give us time to validate). There were a handful of stragglers, but if you set expectations high (like requiring painting) it’s really not that hard.

  4. Ill add this after reading the jaded gamercast post regarding changing the army to adapt to a tournaments desires.

    This hobby is stupid expensive and asking someone to change their army because theyre afraid someones feelings will get hurt is rediculous. The vast majority dont have one(or multiples) of everything in possession let alone painted. composition systems are insulting as well as a deterrent to any veteran gamer. Are you worried about playing a tough as nails army? Do you want to buy and paint a whole section if not all of your army? If someones asking you to take or not take a particular combination of units do you think they trust you to play as a gentleman or lady should?

    I can get friendly, fun and unusual games for free; evenst are where I want to see people bring their A game. I want to see the best painted armies, the best generals duking it out on the top tables and I want to hear, if not experience, a game filled with roaring laughter and cheering.

    Another huge deterrent of this is the fact these event packages with the rules dont go out nearly early enough. 6 months is a conservative time frame to give people enough time to finish or start new armies if you are going to do composition.

    As I am fully aware I play some tough lists, I still dont have a hard time finding games. The only conclusion I can come to is that people dont mind playing my asshole lists. Theyre not boring, but they are mean. Currently working on msu dark eldar with a horrendous amount of shooting. I see immense frustration at people who take tough lists and dont know how to behave in public. Social aptitude and warhammer arent normally present in the same sentence. The responsibilty here falls on the TOs to catch this garbage before it begins. We all know our community pretty well. You wouldnt run a tournament if you didnt. Dont let the douchebags play.

    I dont see the big deal regardless. If the best generals are winning then they will be on the higher tables playing each other. Seeding occurs in the first two games and in the last couple the powerhouses are really defined. Fluff gamers escape unscathed generally. Just make sure that pairings are based on BATTLE POINTS and not overall points.

    The only thing your composition is doing is pairing tough players with the most optimal average lists they might as well be broken against weak/average players With average lists. You can ask russell or paul, pounding weak lists isnt any fun.

    Ok, im done. I needed to get my comp rant off my chest. Thank you senior byers!

    • Here’s the thing Jordan… Saying that Comp requires you to build an almost entirely new army is kinda ridiculous. You say: “composition systems are insulting as well as a deterrent to any veteran gamer.”

      You have two contrasting ideas here that are both somewhat extreme. I don’t know a single Vet Gamer who doesn’t have at least ONE painted army of up to 3-4000pts worth of units and models that they have added to their army of the years. So adjusting your army with the understanding of the TO’s Comp scoring shouldn’t be a ‘BUY A NEW ARMY’ situation. That being said, I don’t see how it is a deterrant at all. I am a Vet gamer and most of the Vet gamers I know tend to agree with at least the idea of Comp.

      I have been told that I play very tough lists as well. However I have never been told that I play cheesy or steamroller type lists. I usually am marked very high for Comp in tournaments because of this. Really I think your reaction to Comp is due to some bad experiences and because of the fear of being handicapped because of the type of list you like to play.

      I have said it before: I like playing against hard lists. I like the challenge. However most people aren’t like you and I, whom if matched up in a tournament will have a fun game regardless. They are younger players, casual players, and generally people who are being FORCED to play you. Because of that I will ask you this…

      I know you are a good General. You know it. You know your armies and you know your rules and you know how to win games. You know you can win games just as well with a more balanced list, hell even with a bad list, and that the wins are that much sweeter. So why do you enjoy 3/5 easy wins over 3/5 hard fought wins? Why don’t you enjoy a challenge? 😉

  5. I lied, one more thing.

    Something i have never seen included about in any of the billion comp systems ive read is army uniqueness. Not to be confused with theme. Theme brings vulkan, loganwing and mech guard out of the woodwork. On a scale of one to ten, rate how common you find this list. Ten being the most unique. May not remedy powerhouse builds coming to the table, but it does encourage gamers to be creative. Way it heavily so it matters.

    Ex. Grey hunter and long fang spam, 1.
    Bloodclaws with wolf priests, scouts and predators, 9

    I think it makes sense, i just had a stats midterm so im kinda out of it.

    • I think that’s an excellent point, and valid distinction from “theme” which is always a nebulous term. “My theme is Leafblower straight out of BoLS. Give me my points!”

    • Hey Jordan, next time leave me smaller bites to address. 😉

      Alright, I won’t talk about everything in your post as you made a lot of great points. I really only want to talk about some of the higher points.

      I get that the hobby is expensive and not everyone is an overpaid corporate schill like me! That shouldn’t excuse asshole behaviour and asshole list building. I know with 100% certainty that the first build of your first army was not a “Best General” style list. You have options.

      But even that doesn’t acknowledge the key message of my entire blog post. If you don’t like comp and think it is penalizing you for being “good” at the game, stay the fuck home. Realize that the entire universe doesn’t revolve around you and that other people play the game for other reasons.

      I’m a very accomplished general (not bragging) and I can say with certainty that there are events I simply do not want to attend. Astronomi-con, bless their hearts, runs a FANTASTIC hobby focused event. I will never attend. Why? Because I know that I won’t get the quality of games I am looking for and the people who paid money to attend won’t want to play me. Why would I be such a self-centered prick as to ruin their fun? There are events that cater to my style of gaming. Hell, I’m thinking of heading out to the Bay Area Open because it IS the kind of event that appeals to me and hey, I haven’t seen San Francisco in almost 10 years.

      I also don’t think that a uniqueness modifier makes any sense. All that would do is penalize the net-listers and reward the people who still bring hard as fuck lists, but think of them themselves.

      Also, I don’t think we’ve met, so don’t take anything personally as I like to hyperbolize with broad generalizations and have nothing against you.


      • I get the point about uniqueness, but as Nathan said, in order to add a component score, you have to know what it is your scoring and for what purpose.

        Our purpose for composition was to put a modifier so that players that of two generals with equal win/loss ratios, the one with the softer list got the bump above the other.

        I do have to say that there is a sort of “uniqueness” bump in our composition scoring without it being said outright in the sense that if we see a build that is very unique we don’t know how it will do on the table and we give the benefit of the doubt to the softer score because we’re blind to the general throughout the process.

        I’ll freely admit that one list we scored a tier 3 list was doing exceptionally well. It was a 5 droppod dreadnaught build in 1750. We assumed looking at the landscape of lists with tons of anti-tank and marine shooting stats that it wouldn’t do well.

        It did well. So either players didn’t know how to deal with the dreadnaughts (because the list had obvious holes) or we scored it too soft.

        Being the types of TOs we are, we blame ourselves first.

        It’s a sort-of built-in uniqueness bonus and I think it does reward uniqueness when doing composition by council the way we did.

  6. Having run several tournaments and participated in many over the years I am constantly amazed at the the way the same issues come up year after year. I am more amazed at how there doesnt appear to be a good answer to the polarized issues of best general vs best sport with best painted and best themed/most unique thrown into the mix.

    What is clear though, is that there are the WAAC gamers out there who do make things unpleasant for the rest of us. I am the archetypal live and let live gamer content with mid rankings and the sooner I get there in a tournament the more fun I know I will have. Anyway enough about me.

    We have currently settled on a sysyem that for good or ill seems to be the best of a set of compromises.

    Best General: This is simply the most presitgious award going. [not my personal choice but I am far outvoted by the most vocal A-Type personalities out there].
    Best general is what the tournament is built around, how game pairings are calculated and [usually] recieves the best prize. The only way that a best general player can lose this is by incurring a ‘You may not win’ [red card]penalty by having an illegal army list or not conforming to the 3 colours and based minimum standard. – even this stricture is hotly contested by those Power Gamers who would field unpainted green army men as IG if the line wasnt drawn somewhere.

    – illegal lists: we have implemented the requirement that lists be submitted up front for checking. You are not penalised for not doing this but if your list that you submit on the day is found to be ‘illegal’ you will incur a penalty based on the severity of the error. if you have a small math error for example, you get yellow carded [a warning]. If you have a major error or get a second yellow card [temper tantrums, swearing, arguing with TO’s decisions, other bad behaviour etc] you get red carded. Major errors include greater than a x% math error, failure to comply to the Tournament comp requirement or simply failure to comply with your army book restrictions. Red cards may well result in anything from a ‘you may not win’ penalty, to forfeiting any game you have played up to the point of the discovery of the infringment, to being evicted from the tournament entirely. Eviction is an extreme measure usually reserved for people who cheat or generally behave so badly that they have to removed. – this doesnt happen often thankfully!

    Probably equally prestigious [or more so in my eyes] is the soft score award. This lumps together army comp, sportsmanship, and best painted army. Sportsmanship is not voted on by your opponent as we have found that almost invariably if the guy lost he got a good score and if he won he was given a bad one, with a bit of ‘voting for pals’ thrown into the mix. In fact we have found that some tournament results were able to be ‘fixed’ through collusion and directed sportsmanship voting. Sportsmanship is therefore decided on by the TO. [added to this is the requirement that TO’s do not play!]

    The third award is a painting competion in its own right that is held at every tournament. The players are required to submit at least one of their armies models to this sub competition. [larger ‘Cons and national and regional tournaments have a dedicted painting competion where any model may be submitted].

    We try to keep the prizes of equal value but painting and soft score awards often seem to take a back seat. Sometimes best general has a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize level depending on the size [and sponsorship] of the tournament. Painting and soft scores awards usually sit between best general 1st and 2nd place in value.

    Of course this is just the way its currently done and when this method is reviewed later in the year it may well change again.

    • Every tournament is made up of little pieces that make it work.

      Sportsmanship voting is a part of a 2 piece system – the fact that I run faction/team events means that players are competing for top overall/top general against people on their own faction, meaning that scoring sportsmanship for their opponents does not effect their own overall standing. That’s how we’ve sidestepped the notion of sportsmanship scoring being a “strategic” vote – it doesn’t actually make a difference and the median score ended up being a 4/5 because of it.

      The other thing is that we required people to record who they played as the tournament went on and at the end, check off the person they voted for best sport. It ensure that friends could only vote for each other if they did play each other (which is reasonable – my best game ever was at Conflict Vancouver round 3 and it ended as a tie).

  7. Hey all,

    Hey Lange, I regress, my statement regarding vet gamers was all encompassing is wrong. I got myself riled up. I know two types of vet gamers, those that stick with one or two main armies amassing several thousand points, and those that will write up a tournament sized list and collect that army. The latter is generally bought after much metahammering and mathgaming…

    Im opposed to composition as a penalty or restriction on those who want to win best gen, but as a distinguishing method between two equally ranked gamers I understand and support. Ward has explained to me as such and thats ok. And opposed to Tim on your blog I fully endorse the “dont rain on our parade” mentality you discussed Nathan. When preparing for a tournament I do my best to get a list that follows composition standards and I normally dont hit all the categories but the consideration is there.

    The great thing about the internet is that the vast majority of the dick lists have been thought of and consequently published, heavily I might add. If youre focus as a TO is soft scoring and relaxed then this creativity should be welcomed. For every asshole list I have seen, I mustve seen 30 unique ones that are not even close to op. If someones intent is still to bring a tough list then at least make him work for it.

    Nathan, you make a good point about not attending events if they dont suit you. However, in edmonton we are not spoiled for choice. There are so little events nearby that everyone is going to try and get their fix no matter the venue. Ward’s tournies and OOTB tournies are almost identical in purpose and as long as Dual lash jon is playing at ardboyz edmonton i shall not be participating. If i ever get the time to venture down there, that bay area open does look great!

    Im offering a perspective, not THE perspective.

    Cheers everyone!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: