Saturday, 7 June 2014

Troll Slayer 2014 Part 1 - The Rulespack

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Recently I ran a Warhammer tournament. I haven't run anything in a long time and wanted to get back to doing so. I contacted Ian Moody at The Hobby Shack to see if he would be interested in hosting, and he agreed. So now that I was committed, I needed to decide what sort of tournament I was going to run.
First up, I needed to decide on the overall goals for the event. The obvious "all the players have a good weekend" aside, I decided I wanted Troll Slayer to reward players for putting their best efforts into the aspects of the hobby that interested them most. So I wanted a system to reward those people who were skilled generals, skilled painters, or simply great people to play games with. So I decided to go back into the past and include painting scores and sportsmanship into the overall results. I also decided to have separate awards for Best General (Most Battle Points), Best Army (Most Painting Points) and Most Sporting Opponent (Most Sportsmanship Points), as well as the Overall Champion.

With that decided I moved on to the army composition system. I generally prefer to have some sort of restrictions on army selection, as I find non-comped events tend to result in the same type of netlists, units and special characters over and over. I considered, but rejected, ETC, as it's commonly used but I don't think this year's is very good. In the end, I decided to use the Swedish Comp system. There are several positives to using this system. Firstly, it doesn't actually restrict players in what they can choose, so there's no complaints of "I'm not going because I can't use my ......." , although I did choose to ban special characters, as I'm not a fan of them in normal games. It simply does not make sense for such important persons to lead armies of the size used in normal Warhammer games, outside of narrative and scenario play. Secondly, it has been widely used, playtested and refined over time. While new to the Irish tournament scene, it has been heavily used elsewhere. Thirdly, it is reasonably balanced and will allow for more choice and variety in army lists. Like all composition systems there will be complaints, but that can't be avoided.

Having decided on Swedish Comp, the next step was to decide on how to implement it. The system itself merely assigns a numerical score to each army based on the models selected, and allows players and organisers to choose what they want to do with this. It's possible to cap armies at a certain score, meaning that armies should (in theory) only reach a certain power level. You can also take this a step further and require armies to fall within a certain range, so that all of the armies are on roughly the same power level. Another option, which is the one I chose to use, was to give bonus Victory Points to the player with the higher score. I granted the player of the weaker army a bonus of 100 VPs for every full point of difference in score, capped at a maximum bonus of 1000 VPs. I did this in order to make it so that players could not score full points in a given round without beating their opponent on the tabletop.

As for house rules, I decided to use the rules as presented in the rulebook in most cases. The only modifications I made to the usual rules was to only allow players to roll 5 power dice when casting spells, and to allow one character per unit to take a Look out, Sir! roll against the spells Dwellers Below, Final Transmutation and Curse of the Horned Rat.

I opted for five rounds, three on Saturday and two on Sunday. I used the Swedish Comp scores to match up the players for the first round. The remaining rounds would use the Swiss system based on total Battle Points (with Swedish Comp score as the tie-breaker for this purpose only), with the provision that rematches would be avoided. This was necessary for two reasons, firstly to give players more variety in their games, and secondly as it was necessary for the Sportsmanship score. I decided to use the Scenarios from the rulebook. With 5 games and six different scenarios, I dropped Battle for the Pass, on logistical grounds resulting from the layout of the tables at The Hobby Shack. I decided to randomly roll up a scenario for each round. At it turned out, the final round was Battleline. In future events, I would hold this scenario back for the last round. In the scenario Blood And Glory and The Watchtower, I assigned the scenario winner a bonus of 1000 VPs. This is more than normally given, but I wanted the scenario to be important rather than a sideshow to armies just slaughtering each other.

I used the standard 20-0 tournament scoring system, with each scoring band of 150 VPs. I also included VPs for units fleeing at the end of the game (50%), and units reduced to 25% or less of starting models (50%), along with the normal VPs as per the rulebook plus scenario bonuses, plus Swedish Comp bonuses. This made for a possible Battle Points total of 100. And that was the gaming side sorted out.

Next I needed to figure out the score for painting. I wanted a system that rewarded players as much for the effort they put into the army as much as the actual result. In order to do this I marked five different categories, each out of ten. In the case of unfinished armies, I considered what score I would give to the painted models and multiplied that by the percentage of the army that had been completed. For example, in the "Basing" category, if the standard was worth an 8 but only 75% of the models were completed, I would award six points. The full categories and scoring system is below.


  • The models are painted in a single layer of basic colour with details mostly ignored. (2 points)
  • The models are painted in a single layer of basic colour including details - OR - Some effort has been put into shading and highlighting the main areas, while ignoring details (4 points)
  • Effort has been put into shading and highlighting the main areas, while details have only been painted with a single basic colour (6 points)
  • Effort has been put into shading and highlighting all areas of the model, including details (8 points)
  • If the colour scheme has been followed consistently across the army, add 2 points.
  • The bases of the army have been painted in a single solid colour (2 points)
  • The bases of the army have had simple sand or flock glued on (4 points)
  • The bases of the army have had sand or flock applied and painted (6 points)
  • The bases of the army have been sanded/flocked, painted and an extra layer of detail applied - OR - custom bases have been made or bought and painted (8 points)
  • If the basing scheme has been followed consistently across the army, add 2 points.
  • The army includes a few minor conversions (2 points)
  • The army includes a few heavily converted models, or many small conversions (5 points)
  • The army has had mass conversion work done, such as fully converted units, green stuff work and/or heavy sculpting or scratch building (10 points)
 What You See Is What You Get
  • There is nothing in the army that will confuse opponents as to which figures represent what (10 points)
Display Board
  • The army is presented on a basic display board (2 points)
  • The army is presented on a fully painted and based display board (5 points) 
  • The army is presented on a fully painted and based display board themed to match the presented army (10 points) 
The Best Army award will be given to the player with the highest score. In the case of a tie, the players would vote on the winner.

Finally, I needed to figure out the Sportsmanship score. This would include two separate parts. Firstly, after each game, players needed to fill in a sportsmanship questionnaire. This consisted of five yes/no questions and an open ended section for any additional information. This would allow me to figure out if any players had been acting in a less-than-sporting capacity. 20 points were available for this.

Secondly, I asked each player to vote on their favourite opponent from the event. Players were free to award this to any opponent for any reasons of their choosing. Players scored 5 points for each opponent who voted for them, with a bonus 5 points if selected by all of their opponents (1 vote = 5 points, 2 votes = 10 points, 3 votes = 15 points, 4 votes = 20 points, 5 votes = 30 points). This meant a possible 50 points available.

The Most Sporting Opponent award was given to the player who achieved the highest Sportsmanship score.

I hoped that this system would provide all players with an interesting and enjoyable event. In the next article in this series, I will present the submitted army lists with some additional commentary. Until next time.

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