Thursday, June 9, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Fantasy Tournament Rules

I was digging through a box of old books recently and came across the Warhammer Fantasy Battle Book from Fantasy 5th Edition.


I flipped through it and happened to stumble across some pages that caught my eye: Tournament Rules

This was just one page of the section, that followed missions, one of which was a specific tournament mission:


The Tournament Limits page is a subset of the section "Set Limits":


The main section describes reasons to set limits within a casual game or among friends. Chief among these were reasons to limit units to enforce a narrative to the games. However, the next page describes limits established for and refined after Games Workshop's first International tournament. Possibly most interesting, these limits were developed by Jervis Johnson, who later penned the controversial article "Points Values; Who Needs 'Em?"

The reasoning behind the offered tournament limits I think is particularly noteworthy:
The limits are intended to make it easier for players who have never met before to play by reducing the availability of some of the 'wilder' machines and monsters, and by placing a lid on the more destructive magic and powerful characters.
This obliges players to choose representative armies and puts an appropriate emphasis on generalship and games play. In addition the games have been designed to play fast - an important consideration when you have to complete six games over two days!
The list of limitations was pretty short, but were interesting given the general "open gaming" design of GW's rules and overall approach. The limitations were (remember, this is for Fantasy):

  • Maximum 2,000 points
  • No special characters
  • No unridden large monsters
  • No allies
  • No more than one war machine to be chosen for each regiment of troops included in the army
  • Wizards are limited to a maximum magic level of 3, no magic items can improve on this
  • Magic items with a points value of more than 50 cannot be included
  • All games to end within 2 1/2 hours or after the completion of 4 turns within 2 1/2 hours
  • All games played over the same session must be with the same army
How we might extrapolate these limitations to 7th edition 40k is an interesting thought exercise, particularly keeping in mind the announced intent of the limitations to remove wilder elements of the game. 

Points values have been an off-and-on hot button topic for many, and we won't rehash that here, so let's move on to the next few points, which are intended to restrict or ban the most powerful elements of the game at the time: monsters and special characters. 

It's been several editions since Special Characters came with the caveat of "only with your opponent's permission." Additionally, there is a real argument to be made that most special characters are worse versions of the generic unit entry they represent, with some exceptions. An additional point for removing special characters is that it reduces the complexity of the game; most special characters have abilities or wargear that change some basic game interaction that few if any other models possess. Removing these models reduces the "exceptions" available to the main rules. 

As for banning monsters, this seems to be intended to ban the units that could potentially just run through most "normal" units while avoiding some of the restrictions in the way Fantasy armies were formed, essentially allowing a lesser proportion of the army points to be spent on troop regiments. This flat ban would be harder to implement overall, but there could be an argument made for Superheavies and Gargantuan Monstrous Creatures to fall into the same category. 

No allies is pretty straightforward, and is still a hotly debated topic

The warmachine restriction is similar to the riderless monster ban in that it requires armies to have a core of mainline infantry or cavalry troops. Formations could arguably be the target of this restriction, as many formations (Riptide wing being a glaring example) allow for big hitter units to be taken without the "tax" of Troops or similar level units. 

The wizards limit could be used as a corollary to limiting any number of the psychic shenanigans that are prevalent in today's 40k. There are a number of directions this could go, from limiting the number of powers or dice used or cast, to banning or nerfing buffs that make it easier to cast powers. 

Limiting magic items is honestly a little less applicable than some others in this list for 40k, in part because there are very few Relic type items that are notable issues, and the ones that are are rarely more expensive than other items. 

The last one I'll cover I thought was interesting, as it allowed for games to end at four turns or a time limit. This is particularly interesting because a lot of the debate about points values is in part a result of not getting enough turns in. As such, the limit on turns seems less important than a minimum required number of turns would be. 

Now, while how these limits could shape up for a 40k tournament, that's not to say I'm for or against these or similar limitations. I do however find it extremely interesting how far the game has strayed from being able to fairly smoothly apply similar limitations in order to foster competitive and level events.