Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Balancing Tactical Objectives

Tactical Objectives are one of the changes to 40k that I was really excited about. After looking through them and discussion and experience, there is a pretty clear flaw with some of how the Tactical Objectives and Maelstrom Missions work. Namely, they are inherently unbalanced and luck based. A strong hand (or a really bad one) in the first turn can essentially end the game before it's even played.


Obviously, that isn't the goal. The hope is to create a fluid game where someone can fight their way back into a losing battle through a little luck and cunning. But as they are, Tactical Objectives are not tactical. Some of the issues with the cards are:

  1. Getting stuck with a bad hand
  2. A good hand not only gets you points, but gives you further advantage in getting more objectives to complete
  3. Objectives that are literally impossible - not hard, impossible - to accomplish, such as manifesting a psychic power when playing Necrons or destroying a flyer when there are none. 
As I said in my first look, I really like the concept of the tactical objectives, so I've been brainstorming ways to possibly make them more balanced and fair. Because no one wants to be stuck playing a game they have no chance of winning from the outset due to bad luck. 

Some quick ideas I had are below. I think individually or in combination they could help make the Tactical Objectives more balanced, tactical, and engaging. 
  1. Before the game, each player can veto a number of cards from their possible deck. Six seems like a reasonable number, and will prevent drawing impossible and worthless cards. Alternatively, if a card that is impossible is drawn, the player can immediately discard and redraw. 
  2. Both players draw a new hand each turn, discarding all held cards. Variations on this rule is whether or not the discarded cards can be redrawn. That is, if they go back into the deck essentially, or if they are tossed entirely. 
  3. A variation on #2, at the end of each turn, a player may only hold 1 card, and must hold 1 card. If you had 6 objectives and complete all of them, you have to choose one to hold on to. Otherwise, if you achieve none of your objectives, you discard all but one and will redraw according to the mission limits.
  4. An objective cannot be scored multiple times in a single turn. This means you cannot score two cards for holding Objective X. That said, you can score Objective X while also scoring a card for holding multiple objectives.
  5. Rather than scoring points for the cards, each turn is scored as two points. That is, whoever scores more points from tactical objectives in Turn 1, wins Turn 1 and gets two Victory Points. If both players tie during a turn, each player gets 1VP. At the end of the game, the player who won the most turns (and got secondaries) wins the game. This would "reset" the points each turn, meaning a good hand turn one doesn't necessarily decide the entire game.
These are just some ideas I had. What do you think of the Tactical Objectives and would you make any different changes?