Thursday, May 7, 2015

Philosofelt - ITC Polls and the Favorite Child

Erratic jerks of a servitor-harness scribed the last characters upon the last scroll of e-vellum.  The poll was completed, a labor that consumed the attention of a score of Monastery worlds.  Everywhere, the signs of a battle of words had left the victors scarred and haggard.  Ink stains spread like blood upon the exposed skin of the tech-thralls.  Here a scalding inkpot had tipped, a legion of paint mixers burned alive; the scribes ten feet away had not paused in their writing.  The call for another reckoning had come too soon after the last great push for them to reset the mile-long printing wheels, to harvest the skins of a continent's worth of space sheep.  But Reecius, commander of the ITC fleet, must take the counsel of each of his uncounted generals; the scribe-servitors must labor until they fall.  Those who had survived the conflict of quill and eye strain did not pause to bury their acres of dead; for they knew that Space Marshal Rawdogger was bloated with opinion.

Coming barely two weeks after the initial ITC poll, interested tournament-goers have been asked to vote again on some immediate changes to deal with the unexpected codex supercreep of the Eldar.  The questions were - should we nerf D weapons to deal less wounds/HP and not cause instant death, and should we limit the special weapons on Eldar Jetbikes to 1/3 instead of 1/1.  Also, should we have a 2 or 3 detachment protocol for army construction, and how should we deal with CtA allies.
I gave a hard yes on force limitation and D nerf.  Previously, I had voted for a two detachment army composition.  This time, in light of these changes, and still feeling the Eldar are quite powerful, I figured a three detachment setup would at least broaden the playing field and enable more variety of lists, which should help with generating more tactical possibilities.  Highly focused power-gaming lists have a harder time competing the more potential counters are available.

I'm in favor of CtA allies that have been modeled to a theme.  Some of the most impressive armies I saw at the LVO featured incredible mashups.  People have been going wild with IKs, and they are a unique force multiplier that should reasonably be available to all forces.  A fully modeled and painted CtA ally creates incredible board presence and shows a dedication that really defines the "Renaissance Man" ideal FLG has been rewarding, for a combination of great generalship and hobbying. 
R.I.P. ???

D weapons aren't too great a threat to a chaos player.  We don't have a lot of multi-wound models, and have access to cheap and free units that make D shots really expensive autocannon equivalents.  However, they are functionally tiresome to play against, and at worst fully invalidate many unit options across the board in their full-strength iterations.  Blast D weapons typically just erase whatever they touch and remove tactical consideration in the face of certain destruction.  When a game hinges on a few key, individual dice rolls, it makes the time investment of a game seem like a waste.  They reduce the viability of vehicles and elite infantry and promote a bleary sameness in what can face them.  How much more hopeless is the iconic wall of Vindicators when a troop of D-scythes ignores their stalwart armor?

The scatter bike swarm, which I hopefully just won't have to see, was ridiculous.  Arguing for it is bound to come from a position of advantage (I.E. playing Eldar) because it was simply an egregious brain-typo from GW, same as the 6th edition Serpent Shield.  As Abuse Puppy rightfully pointed out, scatter bikes were points-equivalent to a broadside for damage output, on the most mobile obsec unit in the game that brings a cover save with it.  It doesn't create a new challenge, it creates a certainty.  That it will remove fun.
Reecius has given us an awesome opinion piece detailing the philosophy of the ITC polls and ruling systems and why he feels it is a just system.  After reading it, I immediately thought, what if GW gave us a document like this?  That explained from the viewpoint of the creators how they make decisions and what their design philosophy is?  It's not going to happen of course....
Let me get this right out there: I like the poll, and that my participation in ITC events makes me part of the poll group.I feel that this removes a lot of the trolls and armchair generals from the sample group that we sometimes feel like dominate the online discussion.  The voters are those who have invested their time and money into the competitive scene.  Having a say in this organization that I have a vested interest in makes me feel like part of a community.  However, there is no real possibility for most of the options that avoid a nerf or modification.  I'd at most give them a lasgun wounding a Seer Council chance.
Let me get something else right out there - my parents bought my sister a horse when we were kids.  I eventually got over it, but at the time I was pretty unhappy about her obvious material advantage over me.  What if they had put it to a vote?  Sister - For, Young Scumlord - Against.  Well, half the interested parties are against it, it wouldn't be fair for her to have a horse. 
How many armies are there?  I'm to busy blogging to count.  Lets say there's twenty, and Papa GW announces that the Eldar get four S6 AP4 assault shots out of one of the best units in the game.  As many as they damn well please.  Nobody else gets anything.  If the armies all vote, even if four of them other than the Eldar might get to use those shots, then the other fifteen will vote against them getting something while the fifteen get nothing.  Voting, acting in self-interest is a basic human instinct.  THE HORSE IS SCATTERBIKES and to a lesser extent plentiful ranged D.
 So while I don't feel that the poll is an effective tool in determining issues like 2++ re-rollables, Invisibility and Horses, it's a great tool for things like detachment limitations, how the missions are scored, mission variations.  And I trust the FLG staff and their super-group of high-powered bloggers to fairly debate the ridiculous high points of power that homogenize army composition.  In this case, I prefer the absolute power of the enlightened monarch advised by parliament over the roaring of the masses.  If a new daemon codex, for instance, gave an automatic Grimoire 2++ instead of the die roll, would you, my scions of the Ruinous Powers, vote it down? 
Us Chaos Kids can't have our 360 degree torrent baleflamers.  That was in a FAQ because somebody at GW got butthurt when they finally played a game against them.  We can't wait for those masters of buggery, the English, to work up to getting butthurt by a squadron of cheap bullshit.  Our less-violated arseholes have to get good and hurt just at the thought of that rodding.  As Reecius says, it's better to FAQ a glaring funsink before we become dependent on it, before the models are painted, and before bad will starts bubbling through a few unhappy tournaments.  It's business, the business of playing that the ITC is in as opposed to the business of creation that GW is in.  People who feel like they can participate in an event will come again, while those picking up 1/3 of their army on the first turn won't.
It's great to see transparency in motive and a continued effort by the ITC to make the game rewarding to play.  When it comes to the most powerful units and combos, hell, I can't keep it in my pants.  I need the law to stop me before I start waving it in everyone's face.  So I don't blame anyone who wants to bring really powerful lists - I want to play against them.  The game has always been about describing what your units do, and your opponent saying, "That's BROKEN!"  Then they describe what their units do, and you say the same thing.  But we're facing an obvious break of the power curve that makes those cursed space elves the fat kid on this precarious teeter-totter of fun-game-imbalance.  Vote wise, vote selfish, cursed majority.


  1. One thing to point out (about the ITC), is that you don't have to follow the ITC rules and regulations. They are just a base guideline for TO's to try and get some sort of unity across the tournament scene.

    As Reece always points out in the podcast, you can run your event how you want. So even if ITC votes scatterlasers and detachments and such, and you want to run them the original way at your event, you can still be an ITC event and do so!

    Enjoyed the post!

    1. Woot first comment ever on the blog! Thanks, you win NOTHING.
      My group runs ITC RAW because it keeps us from getting into arguments over changes we would like, so we look at is holy writ, or at least as necessary to play as the BRB.

    2. That's how we use it too. Of course some of their rulings frustrate some of the players (like the tyranid space pod thingy). but overall, its nice to have a faq system! (especially because they answer questions quickly!)