Tag Archives: strategy

ETC2013 getting to 5th place

So, as I may have mentioned (every 5 minutes or so), team Ireland got its highest result to date at the ETC this year.  More than a few people were surprised (delighted?) that we reached 5th place so I thought I’d spend today’s post talking about the team and what worked for us.

irl serious

So firstly there’s the guys who have to take the punishment. Everyone has a term for them: bid lists, shields, prey lists, put forward lists etc. Basically if you lose the bidding roll off, who do you nominate? This year my shield guys were Necrons, and Eldar with Tau allies. They did their jobs magnificently with scores of 61 and 57 across 6 games, showing that even with a full set of choices of counterattack our opponents were only able to draw on average with them. Good job fellas!

The next three were our counters/finesse lists. Tyranids, Daemons, and Imperial Guard with Chaos Marine allies. These lists were generally used as counters to armies that the opposing team had bid, and there’s quite a bit of effort needed to find the right matchup for them. With the right pairing they can do serious damage, in the wrong one they can end up in bad place! I found it impossible to get a good matchup for everyone in every round, but as long as two of the three were good then I knew we could still do well in the round aggregate.

The final three were our all rounders, nasty lists that can take on almost anything. Here we had Chaos Marines with Necron allies, Tau, and Grey Knights. The strategy with these guys was just to avoid the small number of potential bad matchups and use them against whatever our counter lists weren’t able to handle. Here we were relying more on player skill and army strength rather than good bidding to get ahead. These guys really delivered. Our Chaos Marine and Tau players both finished both in the top 5 of all players in the ETC (also both were top player in their respective armies), and our Grey Knight player also finished ahead of the curve.

Practicalities aside, the ‘secret’ ingredient for us is team spirit. As anyone on the team will attest, everyone did a fantastic job of supporting each other and everyone worked well as a unit. I never heard a single complaint when anyone had to face a bad matchup so that others could get good ones. Simply put, everyone completely understood the joint effort required to win a round.

irl silly

The final point I’ll add is that we really do strive to play fair with our opponents and ensure that both sides have a good set of games whether we win, lose or draw. I think it’s the right thing to do, but also it has a psychological benefit for the team as we don’t end up totally stressed out by needless arguments throughout the day. I really hope that it’s something we can keep as a core value of our team now and in the future.

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ETC2013 Popularity vs Performance

So last time I put up a table of how the various armies performed (on average) at the ETC in Serbia. There were some interesting results, and today’s post follows up that line of thinking by comparing the popularity of army choices with their score rank. Popularity in this case just means how many teams included that army, and the table below puts the armies in order of popularity.
RankVsPop
So the numbers in the ‘Difference’ column highlights any disconnect between how popular an army is versus how well it performed at the ETC. A positive number means that the army performed better than its popularity, a negative number means that its popularity was higher than its performance warranted.

Tau weren’t the most popular army, but really the first three are so close that it makes little difference. The captains made those choices fairly rationally: Necrons, Tau, and Heldrakes are solid performers.

There is an interesting hiccup in places 4 and 5 where Grey Knights and Imperial Guard were both quite popular but didn’t do as well as their popularity suggests. Both armies were in the bottom half performance-wise but were both present in more than 75% of teams (my own included!)

Tyranids were fairly popular, and by the results that seems to be justified – similarly with Chaos Daemons (slightly under-represented), and Dark Angels.

Eldar were quite under-represented and were the ‘sleeper hit’ of the ETC, doing quite well for the 11 teams that brought them. Of the remainder, only Space Marines have a big positive difference showing that they did a better job than their low popularity would have predicted.

There is of course a big caveat here: armies fill particular roles on a team so simply picking the highest average scorers may very well lead you astray with too much of one role and too little of another. So we don’t have a magic formula for army selection just yet.

It also creates an interesting mind game for next year: do you bring a team that works well against the popular armies of 2013, or do you focus on bringing what did well in 2013, or do you bring counters to what did well in 2013? How much will the new codices between now and Aug 2014 change the meta?

Lots to think about for the new captains!


Going the distance

Starting with the simple stuff.

For the game of Warhammer 40,000 the normal play area is 6′x4′, more usefully in inches 72″x48″.

Most of the game activities revolve around actions that depend on distance (e,g, moving, shooting, assaulting) and these actions almost always have distances that are 6″ or a multiple thereof (e.g. 6″ moves, d6″ run, 12″ rapid fire etc). So, before the game starts, it is useful to imagine the tabletop in 6″x6″ squares (so the playing area will be 12 squares wide by 8 squares deep).

This grid will guide your judgement of distance

This will help gauge weapon ranges, how long it will take to get from point A to point B etc. It won’t give accurate results, but it will give you a ballpark, and will let you know if something is definitely impossible. It’s inexact because a) you’re guessing, and b) most of what you do will be diagonal – so the orthogonal distances that square counting gets you won’t be right.

To overcome A requires experience, good spatial reasoning, and some practice (ie set up a tabletop and guess the various ranges, measure and see how you did).

To overcome B I’d suggest the following – imagine the rectangle that has one corner on your starting point, and the opposite corner on your end point. Add the longest side of the rectangle to half the shortest side and you will get a good approximation of the true distance.

So when assessing the battlefield, consider the deployment zones, terrain, and objectives – imagine your 6″x6x grid and start to consider what you can do, not just in this turn – but right through to game end. Just as an example, say at turn 2 you want to decide which units to send to which objectives; it is easy to underestimate how long it will take to get there – the grid will let you know if reaching that point is possible at all within the time available. For example a footslogging unit walking on turn 1 in a dawn of war scenario will not be able to make it to the opponents edge of the table even if they go in a straight line with no obstacles – unless they forego shooting for running.

Before the game starts, and during every turn, look at distances and consider them in terms of game turns to get there, or ranges required to shoot there, etc etc. Look at your opponent’s position and do the same to gauge what he can do, and what he may be going for. Don’t forget to use legal measurement to check your estimates during the game, for example movement and range after declaring shooting (yours and your opponents!)

Now stop reading this, and go practice eyeballing the tabletop.


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