Saturday, 29 October 2011

Bryss' Improvised Points Theory #3: Clear and Instinctive Perception

I realise now that I can't cover everything, although I think with some time I should be able to get quite close. The one last easy thing to cover with my theory is Special Characters, which I'll do in a Hints article.

My general approach here has been to try and convert everything to a construction method whereby I can cost the constituent parts of everything, add it up, divide it if I need to, and come up with the actual points value. Problem is, this puts the costs I've come up with in an all-encompassing bubble, and it's not quite like that in real life.

Really, there are three main seperate bubbles; Ward, Cruddace and Kelly. Of these, Kelly's Bubble is unreliable because of how much it has changed with each Codex he writes. Look at the 8-point Guardian compared to the 9-point Kabalite. Although these are technically within the same bubble, they're completely different in costing. The Guardian, like a lot of early 4th stuff, is less than the sum of its parts. The Kabalite on the other hand is much more efficient. Kelly's bubble and Ward's interact in the field of power armour, and they don't even become similar there. Case in point, Grey Hunters versus Tactical Marines.

Ward's bubble is the main power-armour section, which has shown signs of change the further on he goes, like the seeming acknowledgement of the power of TH/SS Termies and the subsequent points increase they received in Blood Angels. And Cruddace's Bubble.... let's not go there, he hasn't quite got to the point of what-I-call 'good design' yet. Case in point, the Guard Codex doesn't really have any appealing Elites choices bar the PBS, because it gets you an extra Chimera (that's not a choice, that's an "Extra plastic brick, Sir?") or the cheap suicide of Marbo. Then comes Tyranids, who have far too much of the same thing lodged in Elites, and then Sisters, who go back to having not-great choices...everywhere bar FA and HS, really.

Point is, these bubbles don't really interact except when the armies are tested against each other in a practical test. I don't know how much note-comparing goes on, but I'm going to be pessimistic and say they just get on with their own jobs.

Which leads me to the actual point of today. How I generally cost things roughly. Clear and Instinctive Perception. I'm not a very good explainer, so I'll go through a practical example first.

Let's say I want to create a unit of Imperial Guard Bikers. They will have a statline indentical to a Guardsman except T4, will be Bikes, and will not have a weapon mounted on their bikes.

So a bit like that then. The first thing I'll do is look for a comparison. The most obvious choice is the Reaver Jetbike, as it has T4 and a 5+ save already. It's 22. An actual Imperial Guardsman is 5. So I now have a range.

To get the Reaver statline down, I need -1WS, -1BS, -3I, -1Ld, replace splinter rifle with lasgun, lose bladevanes and lose Skilled Rider, then there's the Reaver's 36" boost. There's also Eldar Jetbikes, but I don't count this because it's race-specific and is replaced with Orders. Simplistically, that's -9, which makes 13. I now have to decide whether I am happy with this cost or I want to make any changes (usually adding or subtracting a few points until it feels 'right'). Sometimes this takes me well away from my original subtractions, but that's fine so long as it works. In this case I'm happy with 13.

I now have to decide the base unit cost as it's a race that gets Sergeants for free. With non-Imperial races or units without Sergeants this step can be ignored. If I say the base unit is 5, that makes 70, as there's no way I'm making Sarge 10 points considering that the extra Attack is worthless.

From this stage you add optional extras with their own independent costs. For new and exclusive stuff, a Unit Discount Principle generally applies. For example, it's 3 points per model in a Veteran squad for Carapace armour. HQ units pay 4 each, which leads me to believe in a one-off premium rule (never mind that for now).

Anyhow, I want to give the Bikers the ability to become Veteran Bikers, which involves +1BS and the Skiller Rider rule. 3-4 per model sounds about right here considering the rest of the Codex they have to fit into. I usually err on the side of caution with a backup cost if others think it's too high, so we'll say 4 per biker. You now have a unit. So, in conclusion, the steps of Bryss' Clear and Instinctive Perception Costing Rule are:

1. Decide what you want.
2. Look for the closest point of comparison.
3. Add or subtract 1 per stat point and special rule, excluding all inclusive Codex rules.
4. If you don't like this, play around with cost until you personally are happy.
(5.) Make a back-up cost if you know you might overcost.
(6.) Determine unit size and Sergeant cost if appropriate
7. Add wargear and new rules.

This marks the end of the infantry section of BIPT. Turns out original is best after all. Independent Characters on the way soon-ish.


Atrotos said...

The list you've closed with is an excellent starting point and one that more or less outlines my own process. I would stress that internal starting points are far more useful that cross-codex comparisons (at least for me). For IG bikers I feel that Rough Riders would have made a better point of comparison because they present a feasible alternative to the bikers. You can guide yourself by asking "which of the two would I rather take?" and if the answer is "depends on the rest of the list" then your job is done.

Still there's no easy way to go about designing a brand new unit. Stripping away stats and special rules is might feel safe but will ultimately place you pretty far away from your final cost - there's simply no easy way to quantify the experience gleaned through thousand of gaming hours.  There's also the fact that "balanced" doesn't always equate to "equally useful" as evidenced by the power level gap between GH's and Tactical marines. The Wolves lose a whole bunch of things - so many that you have to say to yourself "there's no way these guys can cost as much as a Tactical squad - they can't even take heavy weapons!" Still 9 out of 10 wargamers would take a Grey Hunter over Bolter Joe any day of the week. 

P.S. I've got my hands on new artwork for a new unit I'm working on… ;)

Master_Bryss said...

Exciting times abound...