Speaking of the tournament victory condition of "Table Quarters". Mike Brandt of NOVA posted up something about it on his Whiskey & 40k blog, which I tried twice to reply to, but it seems the apparent issues with Blogger & OpenID continue, so my posts show up as published immediately, but a refresh has them deleted. (EDIT: I just posted again a couple of days ago, same issue, looks like I'm persona non grata on Whiskey & 40k.)
Pretty much MVB appears to be trying to salvage "Quarters" from 5th to 6th. His three options offered are:
1. Require all the models in a unit to be in one quarter or it doesn't count.
2. Create a "dead zone" in midfield that doesn't count for scoring any quarter.
3. All units count for quarters except Designated Transports & Flyers.
All three cause game balance issues and alter the way the 6th edition victory conditions work. As Marshal Laeroth pointed out to me in a comment on the draft copy of this post, the problem isn't Table Quarters, it is trying to make a 4th Edition scenario victory condition work using 6th Edition scoring unit rules. Although from the discussion I've read on the subject, nobody is interested in making everything but ICs and DTs scoring units for the purposes of Quarters, totally randomizing which quarter gets scored on for units in more than one quarter, or making is so that the only way to score a quarter is to have the only scoring unit in it. One crucial point that most people don't seem to want to bring up...it is easy to tie Quarters. Way too easy. Which means <drumroll>, it is essentially useless as a victory condition in virtually all games.
So...the question becomes, if it is this much trouble to balance and make it work, then why are we using 5th Edition tournament rules based on the victory conditions for a 4th Edition scenario for 6th Edition tournaments in the future? It is one thing to rush job to 6th for NOVA 2012 and make it happen, it is another to be trying to plan how to force it to work for NOVA 2013. Especially given the fact that it changes the balance of 6th Edition, establishing an exclusive meta for NOVA, no matter the decision on how to "balance" it. The question may now become more pertinent given MVB is looking at changing to 1750/1850 instead of 1999+1 or going with an actual 2000 points (and double FOC).
Yes, yes, yes. All of the larger 40K tournament systems alter the game to a certain extent (correctly IMO), if for no other reason than there is a time schedule and adding in the objective placement phase eats up time. OTOH, when it starts getting to the point of having to rewrite rules to make quarters work, it is time to look for something new. New Edition, New Victory Conditions. I don't see how to get away from five objectives on each table, one in the middle and one in the middle of each table quarter. It is too elegant a solution to the time constraints on tournament play at a busy event and I'll leave it at that. Of course, it always struck me as a bit silly that you have an objective in each quarter and still have "quarters" as an "objective". So, why not try a unified system? One that combines the "primary/secondary/tertiary" into one easier to calculate total for VP?
So, looking over the old Kill Point/Objectives/Quarters paradigm and comparing it to 6th Edition, what do we come up with? Well, KP are still in there, but they are called VP. Objectives are still there and they give VP. Quarters? Nope, got nothing there. Okay, now everything is VP, so lets look at the scenarios and see how that plays out.
Crusade: D3+2 objectives, each worth 3 points.
Purge The Alien: Straight kill mission, no objectives, only killing units for VP.
Big Guns Never Tire: D3+2 objectives (3 VP each), plus HS units are worth a VP if killed (and are scoring).
The Scouring: 6 objectives worth 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1; plus FA units are worth a VP if killed (and are scoring).
Emperor's Will: 2 objectives in each players' setup area worth 3 VP each.
The Relic: 1 movable objective worth 3 VP.
All scenarios also have the three secondaries (First Blood, Linebreaker & Slay the Warlord) worth 1 VP each.
First, let's deal with the secondary objectives. Linebreaker & Slay the Warlord don't get too many complaints, but there is a hue and cry about First Blood with some reason...the player who goes first tends to get it. I don't think it is that big a deal, these are all worth 1 VP each and for four of the scenarios, objectives are worth 3 VP each. For the other two, Purge doesn't use objectives and The Scouring averages 2.5 VP per objective. So, for the most part, someone who scores all three secondaries counts as having gained a primary objective in most games. What is one point? I'll admit that First Blood needs more testing to see how much it affects ties. If the player with First Blood ends up being the winner by one point in a large minority of the games, then there might be an actual issue. Assuming that going first = scoring First Blood = "free" +1 VP, why is the second half of the equation ignored? Logically then, going second = last movement = last chance to grab/contest objectives (even if it is killing off units for VP). The player that goes first has to count on his lead holding out for his opponent's turn, but if the second player has the win locked down at the end of the time period, they win.
Second, the book scenarios scoring are one that is pure killing, two that are objective heavy with units of one FOC category becoming both scoring and worth a VP if killed, and three that are "pure" objective games of one sort or another.
How could this play out at a tournament?
Mission 1: Crusade - Objectives worth 3 VP each.
Mission 2: Purge - Dead units worth 1 VP each Objectives worth 1 VP each.
Mission 3: Emperor's Will - Objectives in player starting area worth 3 VP, others worth 1 VP. Maybe home objective worth 2 VP and enemy home objective worth 4 VP.
Mission 4: Crusade (as above) with some kind of zinger...Skyfire on middle objective or some such.
Mission 5: Big Guns - Objectives worth 3 VP, HS kills worth 1 VP.
Mission 6: Scouring - Same as Big Guns except for FA and have varying VP for objectives (2 VP Center, 3 VP others not in deployment area, 4 VP for objective in enemy deployment area, 2 VP for objective in your deployment area).
Mission 7: Relic - Center objective worth 3 VP, other objectives worth 1 VP.
Mission 8: Elite Troops Kick Butt - same as Big Guns but use Elite choices.
NOTE: Missions 3 and 6 scream for Vanguard Strike deployment and I assumed that for my objective VPs.
Pushback: Going with this kind of system without three (actually four) sets of victory conditions will allow players to "game" the tournament. Sorry Charlie, players already "game" the tournament. The NOVA 2012 scoring rules were biased against certain kinds of builds. The NOVA 2011 GT second place winner (Blackmoor) was openly "gaming" the victory conditions with his 8 KP GK list, since if KP wasn't the first victory condition, he just needed to tie any higher level victory criteria and force it back to KP since 15+ KP was far more likely in 5th. If I had had the time to paint them, I'd have brought a NecrOrk list because that was a better list for a time limited format. IOW, I would have "gamed" the tournament rules.
I don't see any reason why this wouldn't work, will provide a bunch of situational variety while including consistency from table to table. Like 6th Edition, everything comes down to scoring points. All scenarios have five Objectives to be taken/denied which requires mobility, one is biased towards killing enemy units (but not totally), three have a "targeted" FoC section (Elite, FA, HS) where VP can be gained from killing the specific units, and four of them have absolutely no VP from killing units. Scoring a game is quick and easy and works a lot more like 6th Edition than Objectives/Quarters/KP.
Oh, wait, we need a tiebreaker, well, we just use the same one used now, add up the points killed and the one with the most points still on the board wins.
No special tournament rules trying to balance a 4th edition single scenario victory condition with 6th edition rules.
No figuring out how much that scoring unit is worth now and comparing it to the opponent's scoring unit value.
No need to worry about exactly which models and how many in which unit are positioned just so to grab/hold a Quarter.
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?
As was noted in your article, I mentioned that the problem with "balancing" this mission goal in 6th Edition wasn't the goal itself, it was the change in what 6th Edition views as a score units. Add to the fact that the shift from mechanization towards foot-based infantry and you can see where problems might occur with such a mission goal (e.g. camping large unit in center and picking a quarter to claim at the end). However, I would argue that it is nearly as easy to tie in the 5 objective game if you have experience and a properly built army list. It is even more of a problem if you get a certain Warlord trait. The problem lies entirely with what 6th Edition views a scoring/denial unit. Unfortunately, its not something we can change without making drastic rules changes in a tournament setting. Then we're talking INAT, which is something I very much wish to avoid.
Personally, I like how Nova handled the secondary mission goals by adding tie-breaker points to your final score. It made them less of a requirement, without marginalizing their effectiveness in close games. Which is the whole point of Nova -- playing opponent's your skill level in balanced missions and hopefully having those hard-fought battles. The only real problem is with First Blood, as you mentioned. But I think a good way of solving this problem would be to give each player at shot at it. For example, if your opponent kills one of your units in the first player turn, in your part of the turn, you get an opportunity to kill something of theirs as well. If you fail to do so, then the point goes to your opponent. If you do, neither player gets it. Or if your opponent doesn't get one in their turn, but you do...the point goes to you.
But the biggest question, one I've not seen asked: Why do we even need to use the 6th Edition mission goals? Neglecting to do so isn't changing the rules. Every edition, tournaments have dropped one or more of the rulebook mission goals. Last edition, the majority of Grand Tournaments edited Kill Points (if they even used them at all). Hell, none of them used the prescribed amount of objectives, nor how they should be placed. How is this any different from what we're trying to do now? The answer is something we're not going to like...there is no difference.
As for your missions, I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with them. It certainly would be easy to manage and make the games easier to play. I think that is a good thing about them. But that is the key here. Easy sometimes mean less enjoyment. Fewer things going on, fewer objectives to find and complete, less tactics in play. For me, that is part of the fun. I like having to fight for several goals; makes things much more interesting. In addition, you'll find the skilled players will going to that tie-breaker score a majority of the time. How many games went to secondary or tertiary goals at Nova Open to decide winners? I know that most of my games actually came down to the 4th tie-breaker, Victory Points. I don't think its about gaming the tournament, but because we need so many different tie-breakers to determine winners. :D