Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Comp scoring in Tournaments, for or against?

It's easy to see that Comp is a touchy subject for a lot of miniatures wargamers. For many reasons people are either for or against it. Personally I'm against it, for what I feel are well thought out reasons. I've been looking at arguements for Comp, and I think I can finally list the main reasons people feel Comp isn't bad.

For a number of reasons many people feel Comp helps 'balance' armies between codexes, army lists, etc. Thus giving a 'fair' battle between players.
Sadly, I find that this reasoning if flawed on a very basic level. You can't balance codexes, or army lists between unbalanced sources. Edition changes not taken into account, costs disparity, and changes in special rules all combine to make some armies decidedly unable to be balanced against newer codexes and army lists. You can attempt to do so, but in doing so you have to hamper the newer lists/codexes to allow the older ones to 'compete' in a 'fair environment'. In all fairness, no two codexes are the same, they all have different strengths and weaknesses, and attempting to make all armies fit into one set of arbitrary scoring rules just hurts certain armies that are better at some things than others.

Another reason that is pushed forward time and time again is the argument that giving penalties to lists that are 'unbalanced' helps make scoring fair.
I have to disagree again here. If a list plays to the strengths of an army/codex, then why should a player be penalized for building an army that goes along with that strength? Why is it considered 'cheesy' or 'WAAC' to build a list that caters to the strengths of a codex/army list? And why is it fair to impose penalties that could reduce the scoring of a player that plays well and to the strengths of his/her army, in favor of other players that don't? I feel it is decidedly unfair to make a portion of the scoring for a tournament based on arbitrary rules designed to penalize a player for using a legal list.

Yet another reason given is that without Comp to help level the field (aka, limit armies buy expecting certain things to be taken, or not taken), then 'hardcore' armies will dominate tournaments. You know, the ones that only take certain things, you know those things that are the best part of that armies list.
This particular argument was actually given to me by a tournament organizer as a main reason they used Comp. Yet a consistent winner at the tournaments they ran used an optimized list that 'just' fell within Comp limits. But this list would be considered WAAC by some. And they allowed a 'Best General' for this player, even though his list was ILLEGAL. Justifying the use of Comp by saying it will help level the play is just lazy. Good players will play well, bad players will play badly. It's just a fact of life that some people aren't as good with tactics and strategy as others, and penalizing a player for using the most effective builds for their army is in my opinion just wrong.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for fair play in tournaments, and in non-tournament settings. But lets be honest here, some armies are just better than others. If you penalize a player for playing to those strengths then you are being unfair on a fundamental level. A players skill is one part of play, the others being how well the dice roll, unit statistics, and terrain set up. If you penalize a player because of their armies unit statistics, as well as the player for choosing to play with the best options for their LEGAL lists, then you are being unfair... period. This is why I dislike Comp, it isn't fair, it doesn't balance anything, all it does is put an arbitrary list of 'must take, must not take' options in play that effect the scoring of events and put a disadvantage on those that play to their strengths.

This honestly feels wrong to me, it's not something I endorse, nor will I ever agree with something that makes things unfair in a blanket fashion.

Comments, criticism, etc etc... please feel free to respond, I'd love to here the readers take on this subject.


  1. I'm against comp, but that doesn't stop me from going to events with it. I'll be attending one this weekend. There are like 10 possible points for army comp; 1 point for each troop over the required 2. 1 point for each maxed troop squad up to two. 1 point for not having special characters. Then 1 point for not maxing each FOC, and 1 point for not having duplicates. Something like that
    and that is not considering army review or painting. I'll be bringing my blood angels to this event because they can fit the comp. My tyranids, nope, they need to max FOC, have duplicate units, and maxing a troop squad is not practical.

    Comp is often justified to make things fair, but I've seen more often it hurts the old codex's more. How are Necrons supposed to play if they can't take duplicate units? codex's like Wolves or IG have the flexibility to do so.

  2. I'm basically the same, I hate Comp, but I go to comped events. I just don't like how comp is justified, when the justification is a lie overall.

  3. It's a nice idea, but doesn't work. All it does is change what the powerful builds are, it doesn't remove them.

  4. I agree, it shifts things into other power builds. Without actually dealing with the real issues of imbalance.