Saturday, February 4, 2012

List Building: Scaling

First off, I'd like to briefly thank everyone who still reads this.  I had a break from blogging and WarmaHordes due to a mix of Christmas Holidays, periodic head-splodey-branded illness, and then my computer kinda falling apart.

But, hey, I'm back and I plan on resuming a 2-3 post per month rate of blogging.

What tickled my brain this time around was the concept of scaling lists versus building to a points level.

The Inspiration: The Journeyman League
Part of what got me thinking was the Journeyman League: start with a battlegroup, and build slowly.

The bright side of building up from a small core is that you tend to know how things work at the core. You get used to the caster and battlegroup, and slowly add support.  There's less thought in picking up a core (which faction I like?)

 The Journeyman League is fine for a learning experience, and it's good on the pocketbook for folks, as you can acquire things slowly, versus dropping a few hundred bucks at a time.  The downside?  You're locked into a battlegroup and caster for the first part.  Options are limited, and growing at 5-10 points a time changes the way you build a list.  You may not contemplate more expensive options/packages.

The Point on Scaling
Simply put?  There are some things that work at higher point levels.  There are three basic ways I think scaling applies:
1) Option Cost
2) Spell Efficiency
3) Utility

Cost of Options
This is among the simplest of the scaling factors I can think of.  Some stuff cost more points than others.  Look at Winter Guard Infantry: they're not too expensive as a unit at 4/6.  However, you can dump as much as 13 points into the so-called 'Deathstar' after we max out the unit, add an officer/standard, a trio of maniacs with rocket launchers, and a loud Kovnik to keep them in line.

The question is, do you want to invest the points in the packages at a given points level?  You are probably not gonna grab these boys at 15pts (...though you could make it work, I suppose, especially with an Iron Flesh caster or eSorscha), and at 25, the same question applies.  Will you have enough points left for useful support you need?

Basically, some packages become more affordable as the price goes up.

Spell Efficiency
This one's been running through my head since I saw a threat speculating on whether 'Full Throttle' was a trap or not.  For those of you who don't rock a Full Throttle caster, it's a 3-focus spell that allows all battlegroup jacks to run/charge for no focus, and gain boosted melee attacks.

On the one hand, this looks cool.  On the other hand, there's the question of whether or not the spell is worth it.  Let's keep a Khador theme up, and pretend we have a Kodiak in a Full Throttle battlegroup.  If I cast Full Throttle, and charge with a Juggernaut, it's the same as loading it up with three focus: one for the charge, two more for boosted initials.  If I allocate the Juggy focus for extra attacks, each extra swing is basically two more focus (one actual off the caster, one effective for the boost).  Unearthly Rage is a similar math problem.

The second issue with such spells is a points-level thing: Full Throttle becomes more hideously efficient as you bring more jacks.  A Full Throttle (or Karchev with Unearthly Rage) becomes more efficient as they bring more melee attacks (...and Beast 09 + Thresher + Full Throttle = Hilarious amount of effective focus).  However, you have to bring more jacks to buff with Full Throttle, which gets expensive.

My point?  Some options/spells don't become efficient until higher points levels, based on how they scale.

This one is a bit tougher to quantify.  There's a thread in the Khador forum about why they don't often run the Juggernaut, despite liking it. At lower point levels, you need your points to do more.  It's an incremental cost on a model-by-model basis: I can take a Juggernaut at 7 points, and it can wreck a hard target with a full focus load.  I take take Beast 09 at 11 points, and it can wreck a hard target, out-threat the Juggernaut, and murder infantry/living models.

Can I bring a Juggernaut + 4 points of stuff that'll do the same stuff as Beast 09? 

That's my utility question at lower points.  I'll have better odds of winning if I bring in more capabilities, and as such I just can't afford to specialize as much at lower point levels.  It's why you're not as likely to see specialized warjacks at lower levels (IE: Marauder, the Slam-Bot) because you run a risk of not having what you need when you need it.

An Example
I'm going to use my buddy pButcher to illustrate scaling.

At low point levels, you're unlikely to use Full Throttle.  As discussed, its efficiency goes up as you bring more warjacks; you need more points to bring more warjacks.

So, what about Iron Flesh?  The larger infantry unit you bring, the more benefit you'll get out of the thing.  Kayazay Assassins get a nod here because they love Iron Flesh, then can pop mini-feat and take Butcher's 'Fury' damage buff to wreak some serious havoc.

Alternatively, Iron Flesh + Focus Camp on the Butcher himself can get kinda silly.  Why?  At lower point levels, the enemy's unlikely to have too many things that can readily deal with DEF17, ARM 23 maniacs with 20 health that just want to close and apply weaponmaster attacks with MAT9.  This kind of killing is most likely going to fall on the enemy's heavy warjack/beast; they might not have more than 1-2.  However, as poitns go up, the number of heavy hitters go up, so while pButch can still camp/solo stuff, it's not as likely to happen.

And, finally, what's the journeyman league got to do with it?

I'm going to divert here to the latest NQ article on Cryx power progression with the battle box.  Note that they dropped the Defiler in a hurry, and once they hit 50, the Slayer got dropped for an incremental upgrade for Nightmare.  My point is that you don't necessarily want to set a 25pt force, and go immediately to a 50pt without contemplating changing some of the 25pt stuff.

1 comment:

Von said...

Makes sense to me! I see people fielding their 50 point Hardcore battlegroups of two character 'jacks or four heavies and an arc node in games that just aren't big enough to warrant it, and it makes me sad. Different things tick at different scales. 's just logic.