Friday, 12 August 2016

Forge World and its Relationship with Domestic Tournament Play

So the ETC’s over for another year, the dust has settled, drama has been unleashed, and many tired
and sweaty gamers have returned to a few weeks of not thinking about 40k. Because I’m crazy
however, I am already preparing for next year. A new Wraithknight’s torso sits atop my desk (I’m
striving for nice paint jobs this year, after the abomination I was using previously), a new list in the
works to try out at a tournament at the end of the month, and a slew of tournament packs on my
desktop to pick through at a later date.

One such rules pack is that for the 2016/2017 GT. The GT has somewhat been a bogie event for me,
despite attending 3 finales now, I have never actually qualified top 50% from a heat before
(FeelsBadMan, I know I suck). This year however it’s looking a little better for me. A new look
committee has moved one of the Heats to Bristol, so I now do not have to endure either a hotel or
my parents’ house in order to compete. The biggest change however, is that the GT is now moving
to an ETC format.

I personally really like this change, not only for my own selfish reasons, but for the benefit of the UK
tournament circuit as a whole. It has however kicked up a few issues regarding the exclusion of
Forge World, which a number of people are upset about. I am personally very much in the ‘against
Forge World’ camp, and the aim of this post is to explain why I believe this. The comments section is
open for discussion below and I will be paying attention to it.

Why ETC Format?

The primary reason for the exclusion of Forge World from this event is very simple, the ETC excludes Forge World, and the GT is attempting to mirror it. The question then can be broken down into 1) why does the ETC exclude Forge World? And 2) why does the GT want to mirror the ETC?

I’m going to start with point 2 first, as it is easy to break down. The 6 nations of the UK, Ireland and
Belgium, send a combined total of 48 playing members to the ETC every year, add on coaches and
mercenaries and you come to a number that easily exceeds the 50 margin. Then count the number
of players harbouring ETC ambitions, the number of players interested in the England squad for
example will figure in the dozens. So for just 1 of those 6 teams, you have dozens of people who will
want to play ETC format events.

Therefore, ETC events in the UK are incredibly popular.
Caledonian Uprising 2016, the single largest 40k event to be held in the UK this year, was an ETC
event. It held side events such as the highlander but the single largest was the standard, which was
pure ETC (no Forge World). In addition, many of the players that were in the highlander and other
such events were only there because tickets for the standard had already sold out, and many
expressed their desire to have instead played in the standard to me personally.This change therefore is a good choice from a ticket sales perspective, as ETC format is the most
popular in the country.

In addition, the ETC is arguably the biggest prize available to British players, and therefore it is held
with a degree of prestige. The GT too was once considered one of the most important events in the
Country; however with recent changes to the points and the allowance of Forge World, it removed
itself from the ETC style which people are so eager to prepare for. Therefore, Caledonian Uprising
became the toughest tournament to win in the Country, simply due to the number of top players
that it attracted. The switch back to an ETC format is an attempt to move back to this status of ‘main
domestic event’.

There are multiple other reasons too, such as nurturing players for the biggest stage, but the reason
for the use of the ETC format is not the issue that I want to address here. Therefore I am going to
move on, if you have any questions regarding the format selection let me know in the comments
below and I will elaborate on this further.

1) What is Manageable? - Organisation

It is not disputable that there are a lot of rules in this game, we have a large number of army books,
supplements, and digital additions. The ETC already has an independent FAQ of approximately 50
pages, which a variety of different rules questions relating to these books alone. Forge World’s rules
are undoubtedly horribly written, and thus the amount of effort that it would require to incorporate
all of these within the ETC FAQ would be unfathomable.

To explain why I am going to give you a brief rundown on how the ETC makes rulings for its FAQ.
They are all done by committee. So for each individual question, you have to gather together all
relevant parties (gathering 40k players is like herding cats), make the case for and against each
ruling, and then come to a democratic conclusion. Now consider the amount of Forge World rules
that are available, now consider that GW don’t even release any of their own FAQs for Forge World,
now read a Forge World book and tell me how well they are written (in terms of the rules in them
interacting with the rest of the game) and you begin to see that Forge World’s position in a serious
international event is untenable.

2) What is Manageable? – Players

As already mentioned, there are already an incredible number of resources for players to trawl
through, and thus the inclusion of Forge World makes this problem worse, especially when you have
to refer to a massive FAQ every other page. ETC players will often spend the best part of a year
honing their lists to a point where they are happy, even with current allowed resources. Adding
further piles of expensive books to this list not only adds to that time, as players try out different
combinations, but also force them to invest even more practice time after lists are released, learning
what various different things do.

The point I am getting at with this is that the line has to be drawn somewhere, and the line between
what is Forge World, and what is not Forge World, seems a logical place to do it. The moment that
you cross this boundary you are opening the gateway to pick and choose which Forge World you
allow, thus forcing the same situation that you would have had with the Forge World FAQs earlier.
With a simple yes/no answer of course, but the process remains the same.
So there you have a good reason to not use Forge World. However wherever you have people who
would like to use Forge World, you have reasons why they would like to. I’ve come across a few of
these recently, however only one really elaborated on why he believed that Forge World should be
in play.

1) Game Balance – Eldar

Eldar is running rampant over the domestic circuit, it’s not really debatable. The argument that was
made here was that allowing Forge World would create a level playing field where everyone would
have access to more options, and stronger ones at that.
In reality, this doesn’t work. The GT last year allowed access to Forge World, and guess which faction dominated? Eldar won again, and we got to see the fun that is a Warp Spider Wraithknight, and

Warp Hunters. It does not provide a level playing field at all, as Eldar get the same boost as everyone

What it does do however is elevate the game into a ‘Dota 2’ style of balance. If something is too
strong, just buff everything else around it to level the playing field right? Assuming that this was
something that we could do, it would be damaging to the tournament circuit in the long run. In a
MOBA, it is absolutely fine. In a term based game, it reduces it down to who has choice of turn. Of
course, this is only a very primitive view of how this works, but it does take a large amount of skill
out of the game. It is not a Forge World only problem, and it has been a grievance of mine for a
while now, but it does accelerate the issue.

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