Saturday, 22 October 2011

Bryss' Improvised Points Theory #2: Are Guns Formulaic?

Infantry are hard to do. Guns are easier. Let's do that. For now.

First off, I'm a great improviser. What follows is as real-time and spontaneous as I can get. This should hopefully cover my whole thought process. But it might be wrong, and you'll have to tell me that. I'll lay down some principles and get to work.

Observation #1: Guns are wargear: I know this seems obvious, but we need to know where we stand on this. The fact that they are wargear is important because of opportunity cost. An Imperial Guardsman and a Space Marine theoretically (Troop Marines get the Tactical 5 Point Discount) pay the same points for the same gun, despite one upgrading a superior weapon. In a way though, this is helpful. If the Guardsman had to pay 15 for a meltagun rather than 10, it leaves a massive imbalance between him (20) and the 26 point Marine. And that's probably the last thing we want.

Observation #2: The Ballistic Skill Ignorance Rule: I don't care if you're BS3 or 4, you pay the same cost for the gun. This helps makes gun cost more formulaic, but I'm still undecided on whether or not this is a good thing.

Observation #3: Range, Range, Range: After a lot of thought, I've decided that range is the most crucial factor in deciding cost. After all, things like melta weapons rarely go above 10 points (except the Heat Lance, which obviously also pays for Lance), whereas lascannons go for ridiculously inflated prices, despite being not quite as efficient, especially at a lower BS.

Observation #B4: Standard units and inflation: I'm considering 12" to be 1 unit of range. So 12" is R1. I know some guns are 6", but they are pistols and so pay for the extra attack opportunity. Which I think inflates because you get a powerful shot and still retain that extra attack, and you can fire before you charge.

So, to the actual working out bit: Unlike vehicles, I don't have a base template to work from...or do I? Gun costing hasn't changed much over the 4th-5th transition. I can reliably cost a bolter as 2 points from the Grey Knights, which means the lasgun must be 1. For that, I lose all AP and 1 point of S.

From bolter to meltagun, I lose 12" range and a potential extra shot and gain Melta, 4S and -4AP. The simplest method says +4, +4, -1, -1, then Melta. So 8, then 2 for Melta.

From bolter to lascannon, I gain 24" range, 5S and -3AP but lose a shot. This says +5, +3, +2, -1, but that makes...11. Where do the other 9 points come from?

And while I'm at it, what on earth do I do with Poison?

Conclusion: The simplest solution isn't the right one.

OK, but I've got one more idea. Top Bryss Maths: Similar to the three wound infantryman, let's upscale it so there's more wiggle room, and then downscale it roughly again. I suspect a factor of 10 is too big, so let's try 5. Conveniently, a bolter is now 10, and a lasgun 5.

To get from lasgun to boltgun, I figure +4 and +1, as AP goes up twice and is more important than S until we reach heights of S5-6 or better (ie. not defensive weapons).

To get from boltgun to meltagun, I have to find 40 points. Nope, I don't, it's shorter range. 45 then. 35 if we take Melta as 10. To get to AP1, hmm, let's try 31, 26, 19 for the inflation at the 1-3 levels. This leaves roughly 5 points per extra bit of S. And points is not an exact science now, is it?

To get from meltagun to lascannon, we need +1, -1, +3, -Melta, with 50 more points to find. 60 once Melta's gone. 55 to S9. Back to 62. This leaves... an average of 20 per point of range. If I previously got to 24" with 5, an average of nearly 30. I know range is inflated, but this is ridiculous.

Aha, but what if I also inflate S? Then I have 26 per point. 11 and 15. Or 10 and 16. That means I leap by about 5 extra per new bit of range above 24". I like this theory, I'll do some more work on it... hurts....
Next time, I try to make this actually work. Maybe with Xenos weaponry and poison too. If there is any semblance of right-ness in it.


Atrotos said...

I had a long conversation with an acquaintance about whether or not GW uses a formula when producing a points cost. He believed that there was no way that a company of such a massive scale simply costed things "intuitively" (as I believe they do). Rather, he stated, there is a formula designed by a mathematician or programmer that accounts for everything with only a few items "slipping through the cracks." 

But I cal BS. They don't carefully craft formulas by which to cost things, nor would they care for such a solution if one were presented to them. Instead GW knows that they only need approach the realm of balance in their rule design. They'll sell models as long as the game is remotely playable, nothing else really matters.

And so I conclude that the only way you could possibly quantify points costs is to design a system yourself and throw all existing point costs out the window. 

There. Feel better now?

Master_Bryss said...

I was never sick.

The main aim of this has really shifted for me from cracking a GW method to creating a new one that works parallel to intuition. If at the end of this I have something I can refer to that can cost a gun for the Disciples of Sky and not look out of place with other codices, I will be happy.

Ahrimaneus said...

I think that one of the problems with your calculations Bryss is that you're using everything as a single variable and linear scalings.  I believe both GW (if they indeed use some sort of formula) and any well done formula should be more complex.  

Sure, meltaguns are fantastic at killing tanks, S8, AP1, Melta, etc.  However, they're only a 12" gun.  In order to double the range of said gun, it might be something along the lines of linear to get you to 24" (as in your suggested +5 or +10 points or something).  

However, once you begin to extend the range beyond that, it's point cost would increase in a non-linear fashion.  For instance, a 24" multimelta is way better than a meltagun, but a 36" one?  48"?  Even something silly like a Battle Cannon's 72" range?  Now we're talking exponential price hikes.  The same principle applies for non-melta weapons.

I believe the formula you're looking for involves several things:
A basic formula for special rules, Strength, and AP.  Standard Melta = 5 points kinda stuff.

However, from there, you input this basic starting value into a non-linear equation, which will increase the points cost by more and more as the range continues to increase.

Also, there should be an opportunity tax might be appropriate for units that are allowed to carry lots of said weapons.  For instance, a point tax for being able to take 5 meltaguns in a squad when compared with the ability to take only a single meltagun in a squad.  This can either be in the form of a points-hike, a squad size requirement, or some other form of taxable points premium.

Which, of course, leads me to agree with Atrotos that GW just kinda wings it and if it makes any sense at all they're ok with it.  Or even if it sometimes doesn't.  So long as they sell models.