Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The death of comp

Comp? I hate comp!
And this is coming from someone who is pretty much comp friendly. Chaos is my main army, and I only own 3 Obliterators, no Plague Marines, and I took 1 Lash for the first time at the Adepticon Gladiator last year.

To first talk about comp we have to figure out what is comp? Comp is a way of handicapping armies so that they are all equal. Since Games Workshop makes codexes that are not equal in power, comp is a way to try to make all of them equal. There would be no need for comp if GW balanced their codexes better, but they are either unable or unwilling to do it.

Balancing the codexs seems like a good idea, but it is impossible to achieve.

The first problem is that what codexes/units need balancing? If you ask 5 people you will get 5 different answers, so now one can even agree what needs to be fixed.

The second part is how do you even balance them?

I have played in many comp systems and they are all bad…very very bad.

Let's take a look at a few of the different comp systems:

Player judged comp:

Player judged comp is bad because everyone has prejudices that sometimes are not based on reality. At the Baltimore GT in 2008 I played SoB and my opponent did not like my army because I took 3 Exorcists. He did not like me spamming any one unit for all of my heavy support choices. Never mind that Exorcists are the Witchhunters only ranged anti-tank, and the only way they can deal with Mech armies, and lots of Oblits etc. The funny thing is that he had 2 Land Raiders, and there was no way that I could deal with them without the Exorcists.

Check lists:
I played in a 5 game GT style tournament in Sacramento a couple of years ago and they had a long laundry list of items that you get penalized for. They wanted you to take a lot of troops, no AP 2 weapons, etc. The problem, not all armies fit in to a check list. I brought a Thousand Sons armies that people think was pretty tame, and most people thought were one of the weakest armies, and I got the worst comp score. The Thousand Sons have very few but very expensive troops, so when you make everyone take more troops than other selections in the army, they are penalized. Same with armies like Tau. Why should I get penalized when I am playing a weak and fluffy army? Some armies are not meant to have a ton of troops, and not every army has access to weapons like missile launchers that can take the place of lascannons. When you make a list of what you can do and what you can't then all that happened is that some armies get penalized unfairly, and others get through that should have some limits placed on them. Here is that comp system that was changed for 5th edition and it is not as bad as it was, but still hurts some armies;


Here is a hybrid comp score from Da Boyz GT that combined 15 points of check list, and 25 points of player judged.


Judge Scoring:

This is an ok way to go, but you are still open to what the judge thinks is cheesy and what is not. Also when you travel around to RTTs, the locals always get much better scores than the out-of-towners, for a couple of reasons. One is that they are friends with the judges, the other is that the locals know what armies and units are cheesy in that area, and what are not (it is strange to see how much local variance to what is considered cheesy). To give an example of this I brought a Tyranid army down to an RTT at Game Empire in San Diego and my comp score was horrible. It seems that one of the best players down there played Tyranids, and they all hated the army because he was crushing people with it. It is funny how the local perception was so distorted from the national thoughts on the codex because a very good player played that army, so they thought that the army was cheesy, and everyone who used it was cheesy as well.

The ugly side of comp:

If you try to institute comp, and all comp does is shift what the cheesy armies are that work within the comp system. To use a Fantasy example, at The Tides of War 2 day tournament that was held in Mesa, AZ last month, they had a comp restriction. Fantasy arguably needs comp because their army books are way out of whack, so what they did was put restrictions in to make their games more comp friendly. So what everyone does is look to find what the most powerful builds that can fit into what ever comp system they are using. So what happened is that beastmen were the best army that got by the comp system and ended up with a good showing because of it.

Comp makes you soft. At the UK GT they were wondering why all of the Italians and the Spanish always do very well in their heats. Why is that? There are a couple of reasons, if you are flying to a major event you are there to compete and have a good showing. Also the UK for the most part (other than the UK GT) is very comp friendly and that has made the English soft when they go up against the other Europeans who do not play with comp.

Here is another thing that is awful about comp. Here you are being Mr. Nice Guy and bring a nice fluffy list, and here comes TFG who totally ignores the comp rules and takes the nastiest list that they can and crushes everyone. In that Sacramento GT there was a guy who brought an armored company and with all of the restrictions on bring heavy weapons for everyone else, he was crushing people. In round #1 he phased out a Necron player in turn #1 before he had a chance to move. Sounds like fun?

So when you go to a GT that does not have comp you will need to deal with it, and not complain about other armies that are taking advantage of it.

Let's us all understand that comp is dead, and that we all have to fight it out without it there to protect some armies.


  1. Good riddance...

    I have never been a fan of comp scores. I always found them being used by various tournaments to force people to play the style of armies the tournament organizers felt were appropriate, or to insure that their favorite armies would have a chance.

  2. Ii agree with you that comp. systems have more drawbacks than advantages for 40k (I am still on the fence when it comes to WFB though).

    I think that the problem with comp. is how it is implemented. You make the point that it essentially is there to "protect some armies." This is, as you point out, ineffective. However, I think comp. used as a "degree of difficulty" (such as used in diving) could be usefull. If a general can win with a "soft" list shouldn't they be rewarded for win that was more difficult?

    That being said, even though I like the idea of this, the problem is in the execution. Getting a general agreeance on "soft" and "hard" lists is near impossible, as you pointed out.

  3. I think that they armies are more balanced that most people think. There were a few Necron players at Heat #2 of the UK Gt that did well, and I think that I could do very well with the Demonhunter army that I posted below. You can win with all of the codexs although some builds are better than others, there are still a lot of variations, and even some builds out there that people think are bad are better than some think.

    Some units are out of balance when 5th edition came out (Nob Bikes, Seer Councils, Bloodcrushers, Mech armies, etc), and a few other armies like Lash, Vulcan, and some IG builds are a little rough, but for the most part comp does more harm than good and should be dropped.

    If you are going to a tournament just be aware that you may be facing those armies and units and plan accordingly.