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The Miniatures War College
Advenio paratus. Egressus melior paratus.
D&D Miniatures strategy and analysis.

February 7, 2005

Long Games and Reducing the Warband Limit.

As I addressed previously, the advantages of overactivation and the need to defend against it are what are driving the large size of the warbands we see today. But what impact does this have on the game? A very bad one.

The analysis in the following two paragraphs I first saw posted by Guy Fullerton, the WOTC NetRep for D&D Miniatures. I will paraphrase it since I am to lazy to find the original post on the WOTC boards.

The crux of the argument revolves around the assertion that the number of activations in a game is relatively fixed. If it takes you 30 seconds to a minute per move, and you spend 10 minutes setting up your warband and tiles in a game, then you have between 50 and 100 activations per game. For simplicity let's split the difference and say there are 75 activations. If both players bring a 11 figure warband to the table, and each loses one figure a round, then when time is called for the round there is one figure left on the board (22 + 20 + 18 + 16). This activation number may be a bit aggressive, and is probably closer to the 50 activations per round in the 200 point game since most games get called between the third and fourth round. So 60 seems to be a reasonable middle for the calculation.

Now, if the warband limit was dropped down to, say 8 figures (like it was in Extreme) then the numbers get a little better. Instead of calling time during turns 3 and 4, you call time between turns 5 and 6 (16 + 14 + 12 + 10 + 8). It is also likely that more games will win on victory in that case because of victory accelerators like assault/plunder points and enhanced damage and also that the speed of figure removal tends to increase as the game goes on. [Guy Fullerton, massive paraphrase]

This solution is reminiscent of what they have done with MTG when they first sanctioned play. The rules originally required 40 card decks, but constructed decks require 60 cards (smaller is better in magic). As a consequence nearly all constructed decks run at the 60 card limit. This wasn't done to deal with the speed of the game, but to deal with degenerate combos. The problem is that it failed. They had to resort to other techniques like banning cards to break combos, like the Pros-Bloom decks in Mirage block and anything that effectively uses the Tolarian Academy.

Changing the numbers around in MTG alone didn't address the core of the combo problems (that some cards should have never been printed the way they were). Similarly I don't think that reducing the warband limit will address the core cause of large warbands in the current environment. The only way to counter or create reliable overactivation is to bring large quantities of figures. Almost all warbands will just bring 7 or 8 figures (like is done in Extreme), and minions and summons will again become a viable way to create overactivation.

Next I will propose a solution, somewhat radical, that will address reliable overactivaiton and reduce the incentive to bring large numbers of creatures.


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