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Quantifying the value of order count discrepancies

Discussion in 'Access Guide to the Human Sphere' started by FlipOwl, Apr 19, 2020.

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What is the value for x where you would be equally likely to play Normal, TW and LI lists?

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  12. 59 000 000 points could not convince me to leave my Caledonian Horde at home!

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  1. FlipOwl

    FlipOwl Well-Known Member

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    Hi guys,

    I have thought a fair bit about the fact that there appears to be a strong sentiment that low order count lists are disadvantaged in tournament play. Whether this is due to them being objectively weaker, more difficult to play, less resilient, disadvantaged by the mission pool or any other reason is something I wish to leave to the side for the the current discussion.

    What I want to do is see if it is possible to reach some form of consensus of how much they are disadvantaged, as a ballpark figure.

    I have run these ideas past some of the players in the general Sweden area, and they have helped me refine the question, so hopefully it will be clear. This is what I want to ask:

    Imagine a hypothetical tournament setting with a not too skewed selection of missions (say for instance that you could pick any missions you wanted yourself). All the normal ITS rules are used, and the tournament follows a standard format.

    The thing is that the tournament is played with 300 army points, 6 SWC, no limitations BUT you can receive x extra army points with a proportional increase in SWC if you choose to build your list according to the rules for Tactical Window. Additionally, if you choose to build your list according to the rules for Limited Insertion, you will receive a bonus of 2x army points, with a proportional increase in SWC. The bonus will of course be available and equal to everyone participating in the tournament, and is on a per-list basis, i.e. you can take one non-limited list at 300 points and one limited lista at 300 + x or 2x points, in any combination.

    The question, then, is simply: What is the value of x where you are equally likely to choose either list format?

    For clarity I would like to reframe the question in two ways:

    If you were forced to play a one Combat Group (or one and a half combat group) list at a normal tournament where you wouldn't normally do so, how many points would feel like an appropriate compensation?

    And inversely: If you knew that you could receive a bonus if you took a limited list, up to what point would you still consider taking a normal list without that bonus?

    Now, bear in mind that this question is mainly directed at those who are convinced that there is a significant disadvantage to taking more compact lists. I am in no way saying that there is a right or wrong way to play. I simply want to see if it is possible, as the title suggests, to quantify the value of taking more orders. Remember, also, that x = 0 is a completely legitimate answer. I would also very much like to hear what motivates you to choose a certain value, to further the discussion.

    What do I intend to do with this information? Well, depending on the responses, I might like to try it out in an unofficial tournament, or just use it as a basis for discussion. We will see what we get.

    Anyway, play nice!

    /FlipOwl
     
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  2. meikyoushisui

    meikyoushisui Competitor for Most Ignored User

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    Are you familiar with the XY problem?

    The XY problem is when someone asks how to do Y. The problem is that Y isn't a good thing to do generally. The reality is that the person seeking to answer Y is really looking to answer another more fundamental problem, X -- but they may not be aware of this.

    In this case, offering additional points is Y. Instead, we need to look more closely at what X is -- and in this case, X has to do with order economy imbalances in the game.

    Most armies in the game just by their nature aren't generally going to go over 15 orders. The ones that do would need *a lot more points* to be convinced otherwise.

    The other issue you'll run into is that some armies will start having trouble filling those points up without being really predictable. I can tell that 330 points of Tunguska is probably going to be a Hollow Men core. 330 points of LI JSA is probably going to have the O-Yoroi, Samurai link, and some ninjas.

    But 330 points of LI Tohaa is not going to feel much different than 300 points of LI. Tohaa's biggest utility piece is 13 points, so giving them more points actually makes it harder for them to take advantage of that without needing to do some weird things.

    Ariadna sectorials get hit the hardest by that. Ariadna flexibility takes a huge hit when they go LI, because their higher costed Core options are naturally more frail than other armies (because of low W counts). Ariadna as an army relies on having additional orders to offset that in most cases it has lower shooting power.

    So getting back to the original point, if the X in this case is solving imbalances in order economy, this Y doesn't do it in the first place.
     
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  3. Robock

    Robock Well-Known Member

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    Having an extra order in LI is worth as much as Tactical Awareness, which does exactly that, gives an extra order. And the TAG bumped up 4 pts when they all gained Tac Aware.

    Now, I'm not saying 4pts/Order is a fair price, there is still overall game balance to maintain. heck, if you can make a 200pts army list with 25 bonus orders, i'd do that without hesitation when facing an opponant playing 300 pts!

    I'm saying 4 pts for a single model that gives a single extra order is what the formula is setup to be.
     
  4. FlipOwl

    FlipOwl Well-Known Member

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    Hi,
    Thank you for your input.

    I agree that this is not a fix for anything. As the title and the original post says, it is an attempt to quantify the perceived discrepancy. It is what is called a proxy measure, which is used when the subject being studied cannot be measured directly.

    Edit: After a bit of thinking I realise that I think we might be talking a bit past each other. To me, the choice of army is secondary. Where I play, most players have different armies to choose from, and will choose the one they perceive as the best for any given event.

    Therefore, I made the assumption that you would weigh your best possible options against each other, from any armies - where the option of an increased number of points to build an LI list in one army may surpass the option of going for a full order pool in another army, for example. Specifically, it does not necessarily mean that LI and normal lists will be equal within one single army, such as Ariadna in your example. What I want to explore is the perceived discrepancy between list archetypes, not factions.
     
    #4 FlipOwl, Apr 19, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2020
  5. Nuada Airgetlam

    Nuada Airgetlam Nazis sod off ///

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    You get way more with a model than with just Tac Awareness though.

    It's an additional Wound that needs to be taken down. That's another target that dilutes the attacks of the enemy models. It's either a REM that can flash pulse or probably be a G:Servant, a Warcor or Tohaa Diplomat, etc.; That model can score, can disable enemy models, can help with domination.

    IMO some armies, like Ariadna and its sectorials, should be allowed to play "tier higher" when in those limited formats. Everyone has to conform to Limited Insertion (10 Orders) but Ariadna can bring Tactical Window (15 Orders). Everyone plays TacWin? Ariadna can bring whatever they want. Otherwise such armies are heavily handicapped.
     
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  6. Mahtamori

    Mahtamori Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, the biggest problem with Limited Insertion is how LI lists tend to not have much come-back potential (partly because how many armies have light infantry doctors and doctors who don't go into Fireteams, meaning that while it makes sense to recover units in LI format you will have even less order economy to do so). I think in an open format there are enough people with pre-disposed prejudices on how the only way to play a game is to spam X, Y and Z for their army that allowing a LI list to bring slightly fortified choices might be enough to address the balance between LI and non-LI, but it won't actually change much about LI vs LI.

    I'd be happy to test this, but I don't know whether Tactical Window deserves any extra points... Maybe for some armies, but for most factions you're making prioritisation that brings you within TW size army or above, you don't make hard compromises the way you do when designing LI lists. Possibly if you kept your list within 12 order generating entities, it would be a limitation worth getting a bit extra for in the current format.

    That said, I am easy to bribe. I play IA every now and then and they seem to perform best when they have just over LI, so a bit of pocket change to have me upgrade that Zhanshi core to a Zuyong core would convince me to stick within LI format.

    Actually, here's a dumb idea. What if TW list got to assign Doctor or Engineer to one miniature for free and LI got to assign Doctor or Engineer to up to two miniatures for free?

    Only Ariadna? What about ISS that's designed to pump orders using multiple Kuang Shi? Haqq/HB with their mandatory 4 Muttas? I've heard our more hardened veterans say Shasvaasti is unplayable (tongue-in-cheek exaggregation) in TW format. How do you identify and quantify which sectorials where players are merely unwilling to compromise according to format and when they can't make sufficiently varied lists*?

    * I think MRRF are the only ones who can't make more than one LI list, but that might've changed as of their update
     
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  7. QueensGambit

    QueensGambit SecUnit

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    Interesting question. The biggest challenge for vanilla Haqq in LI is the lack of Mutts. I just threw together my initial look at a LI list I might find viable. Double Mukhtar, Al Fasid, Al Djabel, Tarik, and Armand Le Muet. Le Muet provides the defense for turn one, after that the rest of them go into suppression. The Fasid and Al Djabel provide smoke for the Mukhtars. It comes to 324 points. So my estimate is that if I were spotted an extra 24 points, that would be enough for me to try LI in a casual tournament. It would take a lot of testing to see if the list was actually viable, though.

    Give me even more points and I'll fit in an Akbar doctor and be happy to finally find a use for him :-)

    For TW: most of my lists are TW or close to it anyway. You'd just be giving me points for free. I suspect that's true of quite a few factions.
     
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  8. toadchild

    toadchild Premeasure

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    I unfortunately have to agree with some of what people are saying about bonus points not being the right solution here. I frequently play Combined Army, the most expensive (by points) faction in the game. I've already got a lot of pressure towards lower-model-count armies, and I can always find ways to spend more points on upgrades/replacements rather than simply more bodies. However, some factions have a much lower cost-per-model cap and don't have meaningful ways to spend those bonus points while still remaining within 10 or even 15 orders (at least not without completely collapsing list diversity).

    You specifically cite "Caledonian Horde" as an archetype above, but that army has significant structural issues that push it to large order counts, just like Combined Army is pushed towards low ones. I took a quick look on the online army builder, and the most expensive 10 point army I could make, with the only constraints being 10 models, one lieutenant, and staying within SWC, clocked in just shy of 380 points. It's not a good list. Contrast that with Combined, where I could make a very large number of very capable 10 model lists at 380 points and 7 SWC that include both resilient offensive power and reliable mission specialists.

    TLDR; Infinity has some structural elements that favor high order counts over low ones, but it also has sufficiently asymmetric army design that free points are not an effective means of equalizing the playing field.
     
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  9. Nuada Airgetlam

    Nuada Airgetlam Nazis sod off ///

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    "IMO some armies, like Ariadna and its sectorials [...]"

    Nope.
     
  10. FlipOwl

    FlipOwl Well-Known Member

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    You may be right about TW. It is possible that it is too many armies that find their sweet spot within 15 orders already.
     
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  11. toadchild

    toadchild Premeasure

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    I actually think Tactical Window is a pretty good compromise already - it gives "cheap" armies enough room to breathe with all but the most extreme list archetypes possible to represent, while guaranteeing that "expensive" armies that want to play with a single combat group have a hard limit to how badly they can be out-activated by their opponent.
     
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  12. FlipOwl

    FlipOwl Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I play a lot of Caledonia myself, and they are one of the factions where I would actually be fine with giving my LI-playing opponent quite a significant points bonus and still feel like it would be an even match up. The thing I have noticed in tournaments is that I have begun looking across the table after deployment, and if I see a one CG list I mentally chalk it up as a win before the game even starts. Now, I don't like this, but it is simply a heuristic that has proven to be really reliable in recent years.

    As I tried to explain above, this experiment is not meant as a solution to a specific balance problem in the game. It is intended to give us a metric by which to start quantifying a perceived balance problem. If we for example agree that we could "pay" the opponent 30 points to play the best one CG imaginable and still feel like we are ahead, it tells us something about how we perceive the difference. If we then implement changes to mission structure, the survivability of high ARM models etc. we can repeat the experiment and see how the changes we have made has changed our perception of the matchup.

    Is that any clearer? I am very much open to the idea that it might be that I fail to communicate clearly that makes it difficult to understand what I am aiming for...
     
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  13. toadchild

    toadchild Premeasure

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    This can also be phrased in the inverse way - how much (points, SWC, command tokens, ...) should combat groups beyond the first cost? If your opponent has a 300 point, 6 SWC, 10 model list and you're playing your average Caledonian army (I don't know how many models you generally aim for), how many points do you think you should pay for the privilege of outnumbering them?
     
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  14. FlipOwl

    FlipOwl Well-Known Member

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    Yes indeed! This was the first version of the question I asked in the local groups, but some people thought it was unintuitive. I think it makes more sense to subtract points as you pay for the extra transport capacity, logistical support etc. However, one model doesn't invalidate the other, and maybe something useful can be learned by asking both questions.
     
  15. meikyoushisui

    meikyoushisui Competitor for Most Ignored User

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    This framing makes it a really interesting question! I don't play CHA, but I have played against a pretty good amount of CHA.

    In the context of CHA, I think you could easily go down to 270 or 275. I think this is also true for ISS (though ISS has more competitive LI options). It's probably going to be true for a lot of the armies that have access to lots of cheap orders to push four or five 30-50 point workhorses around the table and who have limited LI options. CHA can easily still hit 20 orders in 275 by relying on the Volunteer + Grey core, utility Grey profiles, SAS/Uxia, and Galwegians.

    To me, the difference in performance you see is probably one internally in CHA that applies broadly to Ariadna but not so well to other factions. HI cores are really unusual in Ariadna because you pay near-HI costs for significantly lower resilience. The Grey for example handles much more like a slightly tankier LI than like an HI in any other army. On the other hand, IA does pretty okay in LI because it has an order economy that doesn't suffer too much from only having one combat group -- it's still probably going to have 13-14 orders in LI.

    I would really like to see some Vanilla players answer this question though. I can only think to frame the answer to this question in terms of how FT Core options guide list creation, so I have no idea what a vanilla player's take would be. I have a feeling that warband accessibility will be a factor, but I also play 3 sectorial with basically no cheap warband access...
     
  16. Zewrath

    Zewrath Nordic Master

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    To be honest, I dislike a forced system (such as Tactical Window) because if it was up to me, I would much rather redesign most armies to organically reach 16 orders, if they were to stretch themselves to the fullest, rather than be handicapped by an inorganic system, which affects different armies differently because they aren't designed with this in mind.

    This degenerate state of 18+ orders minimum for tournament viability is due to bad design (from the lens of tournament, not standard games). Take for example a Kanrem with Mad Traps, he's 28 points well shortly after we got Gui Feng, who not only also brings Mad Traps but is also a specialist with an extra WIP to boot, he's 20 points, or if you wanted your CSU to be a specialist you would have to pay 15 points but now we have an overshadowing profile that can do everything at once for 12 points. Same goes for Monstrucker vs basically any other basic Engineer and so on. This gradual build of units that haven't been viewed from a holostic perspective, and how they affect list building.
    Worse still, it SHOULD be that a guy making 18+ orders is "stretching" his army, what I mean by that is such a list got 1 or 2 good gun fighters while the rest is trash, but that simply isn't the case. The game is full of absurdly cheap units who have no downside of being so cheap, so what ends up happening is that you have 8 - 14 (depending on faction) who are a viable threat that punch way above their weight, which fucks over the LI type of lists because they usually consist of 5 dudes in an expensive link while the rests are REM's doctors and specialists, so it's much more skewered against the LI type of lists.

    None of this is made any better by the fact that many recent missions just require a boat load of orders (Unmasking, Frostbyte etc.) further favoring order spam.

    Really, this is why I'm sad that N4 won't be the change that N3 was for N2, because I think the game needs a drastic redesign from the ground up.
     
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  17. Mahtamori

    Mahtamori Well-Known Member

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    To be fair, what would a solution be and why couldn't it be addressed in N4?

    I think the problem is that we've organically gotten to this point and any fixes risks creating new skews. E.g. if you decrease price of the more expensive stuff to accommodate low order elite lists we might just see high order lists with more elite elements instead.

    There's a very real risk that a slightly inorganic solution is necessary to shape tthe meta, if that is at all the goal.

    P.s. Counterintelligence is probably the biggest mistake in this regard.
     
  18. Armihaul

    Armihaul Well-Known Member

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    when TAGs got TacAwa, only those below 75 points (I think it was at that cost) had to pay for it, the ones over it, got it free

    apart from that, there are factions that get more advantage in LI than others, so giving them extra points will not solve the problem. The same goes for the extras LI and TW. Jumping from extra to extra only changes a bit the balance between factions. the main problem comes when using a low order list against a high order list in a non-extra game. But I would not say is something that could be fixed by giving "more points". Some units and options in the faction should be adressed in my opinion.
     
  19. miguelbarbo84

    miguelbarbo84 Well-Known Member

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    IMO, and summarizing maybe a bit too much, I feel the most viable "fix" is more in the lines of reducing combat groups to 5/6 troops and give expensive units more variety of tools to compensate for the lack of models in LI lists, but leaving points system as is.

    If you have 20 orders but you just can fuel 5 of them to your (f.ex.) Swiss then maybe order spam is not that much of an advantage. And, on the other hand, if you can play LI knowing that your elite HI costing 45pts will not just shoot but also has a flash pulse, sniffer and repeater then maybe you won't miss those (f.ex.) 3 fugazis that much.

    As it stands now, cheap order generators allow Elites to be more effective in active but also increase your ARO capabilities and toolkit.
     
  20. QueensGambit

    QueensGambit SecUnit

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    Seems like you're not going to get a lot of answers to your question. You could always just give it a try. Start challenging opponents in casual games to these terms: every combat group beyond the first costs 50 points.

    50 points is high, but if you start high you'll be sure to see the effect. Will your opponents bring 250-point lists against you, or opt for LI lists? Or just refuse the challenge because neither option is appealing?

    See how it goes, but you might find you need to make other adjustments to rebalance the sectorials that are already designed to work well in LI. For example, maybe say that Tactical Awareness doesn't exist, any unit with TA is compensated by a 4-point reduction instead.

    In terms of the other comments re rebalancing the game more organically - let's see how N4 plays. The changes to crits may already help. Expensive units will be more free to ignore cheap AROs, and will last longer in ARO against cheap hordes.
     
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