Saturday, 15 October 2011

Bryss' Improvised Points Theory #1: What On Earth Is A Point Worth?

Confused Word Bearer nicked from Wobbly Model Syndrome

In order to get a better view of whether or not he could know anything, the philosopher Descartes went on a mental journey. In a similar fashion, one month after the release of the Dark Eldar Codex I planned to write a blog article in which I too went on a mental journey to find myself a Points Theory for Infantry. About 15 minutes in, I gave up. Now, I’m back to try again.
You see, although Bryss’ Improvised Points Theory works fairly well on vehicles, infantry are a completely different kettle of fish. I first tried classifying the one point model as a statline with 1 of everything bar BS (which is zero) and Save (nothing). The problem with that is that it didn’t offer much value for points compared to the Gretchin. And that’s saying something.
Then came the incredibly likely possiblity of Codex Deflation, where things get cheaper by the 'Dex (with certain glaring exceptions). And finally, how do I know these are the correct points values? Perhaps an evil demon is deceiving me into thinking these are what points are.
I'm going to assume that is nonsense though, and strip myself of all points knowledge, and look at this problem afresh. This is Meditation #1. The idea is that by the end of this I will have a working cost system for myself to use, based partially on the GW system and partially on my own changes.
The Key System: If the Observation just has a number, it is something GW does. If it has B in front of the number, it is a personal add-on.
Observation #1: The Base-Wargear Divide: When I wrote the article that inspired the Hints for Homebrew series, on unique  Troops, I divided their components into stats, gun and rules. The standard 40k unit has all these things plus a series of upgrades. My first observation of this theory is that the same thing is costed differently depending on whether it is part of the base or is added as wargear.
Why I came to this conclusion: The Warrior Henchman. This serves as a 'make your own Troop' unit entry. Using this entry you can make Hong-Kong knock-offs of Storm Troopers, Space Marines and Dire Avengers. Just pick a gun and and an armour type.
Observation #1.5: Atrotos' Standalone Principle: This gets named after the Fabricator General as it's him that really highlighted this for me. There is no opportunity cost in most of 40k. If you upgrade your weapon, you pay for that weapon in full without taking off the cost of the weapon it replaces.
Why I came to this conclusion: "Up to Incubi may replace their Punishers with Blasters for +15 points." I'm sorry, but that Punisher would be worth 15 in wargear points. I should get it for free. This is why I'm happy that Incubi are different in the new Codex.
 Observation #B2: The Free Stats Law: When costing a model, the first point of every stat bar BS, Ld and Sv are free. The first 4 points of Ld are free. The others both cost from the get-go. The other free item is a single close combat weapon.
Why I came to this conclusion: It would be stupid to factor in this each time, it's always going to be there. As for Ld4, that's just one less than the lowest Ld in game (Gaunts). The one CCW does nothing extra on its own, and can be upgraded to a pistol later.
Observation #B3: The Upstair-Downstairs Cost Theory: Currently, when determining how well-costed a Character is, it won't be compared to any other character, it will just be over/under costed. Small infantry will be compared, because at their cost level they compete and are comparible with much more. However, I've had an idea. If I were to merge three Imperial Guardsmen together into one model, the result is a Guarsdsman with three Wounds and Attacks (and three lasguns, but you can only fire one still), costing 15 points. A Company Commander is 22. Those 7 points net him +1BS, +1WS and +2Ld, not too bad, assuming +2.5 for each Skill and 1 for Ld.
This should mean that, given that my character costing theory works, I can theoretically cost my basic Troop by creating a very basic character profile and dividing the cost by 3. Result.
The next one of these will contain more rabid speculation, as I introduce the Cogito and clearly and distinctly perceive how to cost more complex models.


Atrotos said...

A good introduction to a topic of apocalyptic proportions. I still remain skeptical as to the possibility of designing an independent costing system for non-vehicles. There are simply too many 'soft' variables! 

The Warrior acolyte is the most "naked" model in the game right now and even there we don't have a clear sight along the path from Acolyte to Guardsman (the next logical design step). The Acolyte loses grenades, trades the lasgun for a laspistol (and +1 A essentially) and gains +1 Ld (but of course guardsmen have that as well functionally speaking). Acolytes then have such 'soft' factors as wound allocation potential, meatshield potential (protecting far more potent models) and the mundane/elite differential that exists between them and the rest of the 'dex (one can take elite models and alleviate the model count issue with henchmen).  

Then, how much does the Guardsman pay for orders? Well, nothing - that's a privilege given to the codex. Still we cannot assume that if we were transport the acolyte to the IG 'dex they would retain the same cost. Their synergetic qualities are far too valuable - worth at least a couple of points given the same options. 

To add to the insanity specialist statlines are worth more than buffs distributed equally. For example adding +1 A and +1 WS is more valuable than +1 A and +1 BS. And the value of the former combination might be doubled or halved based on the access to grenades or the absence of same. 

Finally diminishing returns are impossible to quantify. PAGK's are 20 points each - how? Marines pay 15 points just for a power weapon! And they can only take 1 per 10 models! Yet PAGK are kinda underpowered. 

It's all too muddled for me Bryss. I applaud your bravery in this undertaking. 

Master_Bryss said...

It's a massive and complex undertaking, but the idea isn't to fully grasp the GW system, but to find my own, hopefully one that works. Along the way I hope I can find how the 3+ GW systems work.

Grey Knights are going to be a challenge, but if I can grasp the transition from Bloodletter to PAGK, I could get somewhere with it.

And the final, most important thing is that for all I know I will fail in the end. And I'm fine with that. But I feel I have to try everything I can think of first.

abusepuppy said...

Observation #1: This is true, but the reason behind it is pretty simple, and it's why Grey Knights aren't kings of everything: optional upgrades are better than fixed choices. The ability to choose to specialize or generalize- or not to do so- in order to save points, or spend extra points, is very important.

#1.5: This is not always true, and in fact is not more often than it is. However, the "discount" given will tend to vary. Note that CSM Terminators and SM Sternguard both get discounts on their combi-weapons, as does the Tyranid Harpy on its Heavy Venom Cannon, etc.

Something else you may be missing: wargear costs differently depending on your stats. This is most obvious comparing the SM and IG codices, where Power Fists and Weapons are cheaper for the S3 Guardsmen. It doesn't always apply, but it crops up periodically.

I don't think it is possible to do what you are trying to do here for a variety of reasons, but it's an interesting idea. The main strike against it is that the cost of every item is relative to what else the model has- BS4 is worthless with no weapon to use it, WS5 is unimportant if you're I1 A1, etc. A sufficiently advanced formula might be able to account for these factors, but realistically this is not something you will be able to model.

Atrotos said...

Good point on the wargear discount although internally, at least, wargear costs the same regardless of who it's given to. A SM Captain pays the same for his power weapon as any sergeant but has more attacks and a better weapon skill for example. 

Master_Bryss said...

I was going to get to the strength-based weapon costing later...