Army Composition and Other Random Thoughts

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The 2015 Grand Tournament season is now underway with LVO kicking things off this weekend here in the States. Many are watching, especially other Tournament Organizers, to see not only which army combinations come out on top but to also gauge how attendees feel about the event format, the missions, army composition and more. There's no right or wrong format; the 7th edition rulebook makes that much abundantly clear -- it's up to the players / TO's to agree upon these things before the game begins. But the format does matter, especially mission design (victory conditions) and army list restrictions which can drastically shape the playing field (meta) by favoring some armies/factions over others. The big question, particularly for these larger events: is there a better way?

I don't envy the TO's who have the difficult task of determining which format is fair and fun for all who attend their events. The problem of course lies in what is considered fair, and since all armies are not created equally, this will vary depending on which army you play. I think all TO's honestly strive to make their events as fair as possible and are aiming to please the majority of potential attendees. Most of the big GT's now offer a variety of game formats for players to choose from so fun can truly be had by all, and I think it's great that players have more options at the large, convention-sized events across the country and around the world.

But for the purposes of this discussion, I'm focusing on the larger "open" tournaments, you know, the Main events with hundreds of players which put these GT's on the map in the first place. Nearly every week there's a new article on one of the big 40k Internet hubs lobbying for one format versus another, and while it's true any joe shmo can easily voice their opinion on the Internet or disagree just to disagree (because it's the Internet), I think this particular debate rages on because we haven't arrived at a better format for these large scale events, and we can actually do better.

I'll cut right to the chase: limiting army composition to 2 detachments is inadequate and unfair.

This limitation was a carryover from 6th edition where the classic decades-old Force Organization Chart was first blown up, which gave way to Allies and Formations which further changed the landscape of 40k as we knew it. It's understandable that it took some time for everyone to adjust as this one change exponentially increased the number of options available for army construction. A lot of people still seem to be confused which is why we are seeing how to guides 2 years into this edition. But it's time to adjust again. Just look at the most recent 7th edition codexes & supplements, specifically the formations which now range from just a few models and a small points cost to the excessively large ones that don't fit into games under 2000 points. Placing a 0-1 restriction on Formations makes no sense, especially when you consider a lot of these books now contain a massive Formation made up of all the other available Formations in the same book.

It's unfair to me and every other Dark Eldar, Coven, Harlequin, Ork, and Necron player (and probably even more 7th edition armies that I just haven't gotten around to reading yet like Blood Angels etc). Why shouldn't I be able to take a Dark Eldar detachment + Grotesquerie + Scalpel Squadron or Artisan or any other number of Formation combinations from the Coven supplement? They are all from the same Army Faction, so don't try to tell me I'm cherry picking across armies to make an OP list... and I triple dog dare you to say anything about the Dark Eldar Faction being OP in this edition!

I realize Dark Eldar are a niche army and in the minority compared to Armies of the Imperium (which is a VERY broad category) which everyone likes to cite as the worst offender and why detachments should be limited; and they are the same category that makes it so limitations aren't tied to Factions instead of detachments, it's the same example and it's not a good one. All you're doing is limiting a lot of Xenos options due to a concern with Imperials (who are already quite capable on their own right). If the Imperium is the problem and you're already comping the event, then address the actual problem instead of wholesale ignoring the direction of all new 7th edition updates and inadvertently hurting armies who don't need any more disadvantages as it is.

-Rant over-

What are your thoughts or what other examples can you think of where this restriction is hurting the variety we might otherwise see at a GT? If you disagree with me, that's cool! Share your thoughts on the matter, illustrate to me why you think 2 detachment limit is a good thing for the game. Cheers!