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Blood Vow

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

On the subject of kill points versus victory points...

Okay here is my take on this current and hotly debated topic of intense discussion. Kill points are a new concept that were introduced in 5th edition. The purpose of kill points is to balance out the other two rulebook missions (i.e., Capture and Control, Seize Ground) such that armies composed of many small units (MSU) do not have an unfair advantage. Basically if you are playing a pickup game with your buddy you roll for a mission and deployment from the rulebook. Capture and Control is often referred to as the drawfest mission... There are only two objectives, one placed in each deployment zone. It's very easy to play for a draw and if you play to win it easily could cost you the game. Seize Ground has between 3-5 objectives and this seems to be the most popular mission from the rulebook. Annihilation is the kill points mission and the one that is currently drawing lots of attention on yee old blogosphere. Personally I love kill point missions as you don't have to worry about protecting your scoring units - it really changes the way you play and is the most free flowing of the three, so to me it's the most fun because it's all about utter carnage. Now there are some people who really hate kill points, even to the extent of advocating not using them or modifying them by limiting their amount. Stelek advocates the use of only five kill points per army; for example, you choose three from your army and your opponent picks another two. To me that defeats the purpose of kill points - a crafty player might decide to hold some of these units in reserve in order to keep them off the table as long as possible. Is that fun? Heck no! I remember playing at a GT last year where one mission killpoints were determined by how many points were tied into a unit and this unit could not arrive until later in the game. I had to go first and my opponent's kill point unit didn't show up until the very last turn so there was no way I could destroy it - epic fail as a mission, I put the blame on the TOs not my opponent as there was nothing he could do to prevent that from happening other than roll higher for this unit in reserve. :  (

So there are certain TOs that are strongly advocating the use of victory points over kill points, claiming this is more fair to everyone. Is that true? I don't think so. Let's look at the critically acclaimed NOVA Open which used victory points over kill points... The thing is MSU armies excel in missions decided by victory points while they are at a clear disadvantage when playing kill point missions. MSU style SM/SW armies rampaged at the NOVA Open and no one can deny that fact. MSU armies naturally give up a lot of kill points and their cheap transports suddenly become a liability. To me that is a good thing as there should be a balance between missions when playing in a tournament. It forces people to think harder about what type of list they will bring. If everyone knows in advance that the missions will use victory points then you are going to see lots and lots of MSU armies there. That's just the way it is.

The 5th edition rulebook recommends using victory points as a tie breaker but do not use it as a primary objective in any of the three missions. So the use of victory points as anything other than a tie breaker takes the game back to third and fourth edition... To me that is a bad thing. Kill points are there for balance, without them you'll see lots of MSU armies - this is proven. I've heard lots of counters as to why victory points are a great thing for 5th edition but it all sounds like baloney to me. Some people that are pro victory points say that small elite armies have an advantage in kill points because they have less to give and I think this is why Stelek advocates only up to 5 per army. The thing is victory points allows you to design an army that denies them - for those of you that have played the game long enough you'll remember the much hated tri falcon eldar armies... The three falcons moved flat-out along the table all game long with very expensive units inside and you had to roll a 5 and a 6 on the armor penetration table to bring down a falcon due to their holofields. This was very much so unfun. I think if victory points become very popular again you will end up seeing more of these victory points denial armies. They are not fun to play against and require less skill to win... But isn't that what some people want - armies that are very easy to win games. Hey don't get me wrong, I'm not saying MSU armies and victory points denial armies are necessarily a bad thing but why design all missions to help these types of armies? I think as I've already said there should be balance between missions. That should be the goal of a great TO.

It's also important to remember that a large percentage of the Internet audience is relatively new to the game; therefore due to their lack of prior knowledge of the game's history this lack of knowledge might possibly make it easier for them to be easily swayed by the arguments in favor of victory points. One problem I've always had with victory points is that unfortunately it's hard to keep a dishonest person straight when it comes to reporting how many victory points they actually conceded. This can be a real problem. I even heard of one player at a recent GT using two different army lists - that right there in my mind is immediate grounds for disqualification. With kill points you know exactly what you killed so it's very easy... This is not the case with victory points though as already noted above.


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