Eternal War vs. Maelstrom – What’s the Difference?

You sit down to play a board game – everything is set up, someone is belching rules at you about how to move your game piece from one point to another, and you stare at the gigantic pile of game tokens (of which there are a thousand, because you’re playing a Fantasy Flight game). Suddenly, your ears perk up, because the resident instructor says…

This is how you win the game –

The latest edition of Warhammer 40k has provided us with one generic win condition – victory points – and two very different methods of determining how those points are obtained – Eternal War and Maelstrom missions. Since we’re all new to 7th Edition, it’s important to take a look at the differences between these two mission types and identify how they affect army builds/strategy.

For the purposes of this article, I will ignore the Eternal War mission based on gaining victory points solely for destroying enemy units (Purge the Alien). Some tournament missions may incorporate these so-called ‘Kill Points’, but this article is targeted towards the main rulebook, objective-based missions.

The majority of readers will know exactly what the rules for Eternal War missions are as they are largely unchanged. A good thing to note is that objectives are now setup before deployment type and zone are determined, allowing for players with aggressive armies to pressure static forces into mid-field. In an Eternal War mission, it is important to have scoring units that will survive for 3-7 turns and have an army that can damage enemy units to the point where they cannot threaten your objectives reliably. All scoring is completed at the end of the game, and therefore, the only scoring units that count are those that can survive through the final turn.

Maelstrom missions are entirely a different entity. Where Eternal War missions award survivability, Maelstrom missions grant victory points to armies who can react immediately to a different situation. Most of these missions work as follows – at the start of your turn, you generate a set number of Tactical Objectives, and at the end of your turn, you score any objectives that you have achieved, and discard a single Tactical Objective if you choose. Once an objective has been scored, the same player may not score that exact objective for the rest of the game. While most objectives grant one Victory Point, some have alternate conditions that offer d3 or even 3+d3.
In general, the higher number of Tactical Objectives that you can achieve in one turn, the better. We’re not going to approach any ‘next-level stuff’ here, like purposefully not attempting to score an objective because you think you can score d3 in the following turn. If you score every objective at your disposal every turn, you will most-likely win the game.

Now that we understand both ways that Victory Points can be gathered, it’s important to understand how it affects list-building. As a recap –

Eternal War rewards longevity; Maelstrom rewards adaptation.

At this point, building an army for an Eternal War mission should be second nature, and if not, there are plenty of articles and blogs dedicated to 6th Edition list creation. Maelstrom, however, is new, and terrifying. It still seems like the guy that drew the best cards won the game, and while that may end up being the case, there’s no way to know that for sure. As an example, think about all of the players you’ve faced that brought 5th Edition armies to a 6th Edition fight. How’d that go for them?

Maelstrom missions demand flexibility. 18 of the missions focus on controlling an objective (Secure Objective X) at the end of your turn, 6 require a decent number of scoring units (rolls 41-41), 9 revolve around destroying the enemy, and 3 show up for ‘random occasions’. In many games, you’ll roll ‘Control Objective 2’ and be standing on it. Congratulations! You’ve figured out how to put models on the table! The thing that will win Maelstrom missions for you in the long run is your army’s ability to capture distant objectives as soon as possible – and more importantly, sooner than your opponent. Your entire goal should be to cycle through as many Tactical Objectives as you can, and that means achieving every one the turn it’s generated.

How do you accomplish these goals? Fast Troops. Deep Striking units that don’t scatter. Have a psyker in your army. Use units that can move in the Shooting Phase, like Vehicles and Bikes. Make armies that have a large footprint, not single units that are extremely durable. If your army primarily moves 6” in the movement phase, consider adding some Transports or Deep Strikers – units that can respond immediately to a specific Secure Objective X. Use a good number of units so that when the all-important ‘40’s’ show up, you’re able to capitalize.

Maelstrom armies should look distinctly different than Eternal War armies. Can you make an army that’s okay for both sets of missions? Of course, but it will be at a distinct disadvantage to one designed for a specific style of play. This shouldn’t bother anyone, as Maelstrom and Eternal War are distinct styles of playing 7th Edition Warhammer 40,000. Time will show us if these missions are unbalanced, but for now, I’m certainly thankful that we’ve been provided with two different methods for playing 40k. In fact, I’d entertain playing the same person twice in a row – one Eternal War, one Maelstrom – to see who can build the better ‘general’ list; and to find out who’s buying the beers after the game, of course.

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154 responses to Eternal War vs. Maelstrom – What’s the Difference?

You are talking about "Eternal War" missions. Altar of war are the personalized ones that you find on dataslates, like finding a fallen, escaping from a jungle full of tyranids ecc.

Quick question from someone who doesn't have the book – is there any difference at all between the various "control this objective at end of turn" objectives? Or are they just the same thing with a different name?

same thing with different name. but they are different types.

what does that mean? nothing right now but I have a feeling in the near future types will matter.

The different types are there because there is a rule that each player can only complete each tactical objective once in a game. With those identical-but-named objectives, it gives you the chance to score each objective three times throuhgout the game.

It also means the chart is 1/2 objectives, so they're always a game factor, usually every turn. That is the purpose of having the "same" objective 3 times in the deck.

I'll have to study the Maelstrom missions and play some games to have a real opinion on it. My off the cuff thoughts though are that I really really doubt GW managed to balance them super well on their first go. I would guess this article is actually assigning too much value to the Maelstrom missions in particular, while what's actually going on is that those missions are in the same vein as NOVA's missions, optional cumulative scoring we use in our FLGS here, Apocalypse scenarios, etc., in providing scoring options throughout the game or at the end.

For example, even this article makes clear that you probably need a ton of very fast mobilty in order to claim tactical objectives cards every turn. That means armies based around slow, giant blobs and other foot hordes like GK and IG might have trouble in Maelstrom, while at the same time small elite armies like GK may also have trouble. Again, needs more thought & playtesting, but that's one of the things I'd watch out for in terms of trying to apply Maelstrom as-is to tournament or pick-up play.

All in all, I'm thinking the Maelstrom missions have good ideas, but need tweaking to make them really sing. The key idea they represent though is developing and incorporating new mission structures with multiple ways and times to score and win. That's what's going to balance and control the game over the long run.

Maelstrom missions, as far as I am concerned, is just more of GW's design concept aimed at removing skill from the victory equation as much as possible to make it more accessible to the casual gamer. Hence, I refuse to even consider playing that crap.

"Fun" is an entirely subjective concept. And if you're going to be a dick, I'm not interested in debating with you.

"[A]s far as I am concerned" is also a clear indication of a subjective opinion. Not everyone has fun the same way you do.

I make a specific point to include a bit about how it's just my opinion, and somehow I don't get it? God, you're fucking retard, aren't you?

The point was you offered a subjective, personal opinion and then turned around and slammed Chris for offering a subjective, personal opinion… And I find the entire "You're having fun wrong!" Argument you and he were engaged in kinda silly.

To be fair it only became an argument when Chris told him to quit whining…which if anything is a bit too subjective.

Yeah, but I read that as mostly poke-in-the-ribs gentle mockery. Desc440 seems to be the one who took it to the realm of hurtful insults. See above for the "fucking retarded" comment and below for the homosexual slurs.

Where are you from that "quit whining" is a gentle mockery? Honestly Ish, it seems pretty obvious that you just want to make look like the bad guy here for some reason. I stated an opinion – strongly, I will admit – and got told, in a statement of fact, that I am wrong and need to stop whining.

I will also point out that at no point did I state or infer that people shouldn't be playing these missions; I simply stated that to me, they are crap and I refuse to play them.

If you were impartial, it would be Chris' ear you would be twisting, not mine.

Well, to be even more fair than Patriarch, Desc put up his opinion regarding his own game.
Chris put up his opinion regarding Desc's game. If he would have said "I have fun with them and I'm not complaining", it would have been the same thing. But telling Desc that they're fun and that Desc is missing out is to say that he knows better than Desc what Desc will like. Then he tells him to quit whining (which is a loaded term when complaining would be more accurate).

So, in the end, leaving aside other comments that Desc may have made, Chris stuck his nose in a bit rudely, and got it rudely bitten off. That's fair, IMO.

Honestly Im not finding them very fun, its more akin to chasing shinnies around the field than an actual game these days.

Agreed, it does seem a bit silly, like musical chairs or something. I wish they had managed to create more of a narrative around it, and make it a bit more sensible. Maybe just having 6 objectives that give 3 victory points the first turn someone occupies them, then 2 then 1 and on the fourth turn nothing, as if you were downloading data from something, or sabotaging something. Would have ensured the same kind of mobile game, with an incentive to grab objectives from your opponent, but seemed less arbitrary and random.

Me and my mates have just decided to strait use the tactical objective cards as hidden secondaries.

Playing EW missions you draw 3 TO cards (re-draw any impossible ones), Then you reveal them as you score them throughout the game.

That doesn't sound too bad. Are these tiebreakers or simply additional VPs you score?

normally I'd suggest additional VPs like FB,LB,StW.

But they could also work as tiebreakers.

you'd need the obvious caveat that un-playable cards get auto-re-drawn

Or maybe it requires a different skill set. Specifically, adaptability, resource managment, and the ability to control/alter the tempo of the game… Not just getting to Point X, Y, and Z and staying there longer than the other guy. As much as I liked the 5th and 6th Editions, having every game rest on the same win condition made for a very boring affair. (This is why I don't play WH/H, FYI.)

Being skilled at the things you mentionned will help you compensate for getting dealt a bad hand, for sure. Doesn't negate the fact that it's an extra layer of randomness that increases the importance of luck over skill.

GW could have come up with myriad ways to spice up missions, but the one they chose is just way too random for me.

Responding too the random factors of the game is a skill. Poker has a much higher degree of random chance than chess, a champion poker player is highly skilled — at playing poker.

WH40k Seventh Edition will require a different skill set than WH40k Sixth Edition, part of that skill set will be dealing with the randomized elements of the rules. Adapt and overcome, man…

Or I could just keep playing the Eternal War missions and not bother with an element of the game I dislike.

You certainly can, but you shouldn't really badmouth the new aspects of the game that you find too "random" in a game that is FUNDAMENTALLY based on the rolling of dice! A lot of folks–judging by the thumbs' ups on Ish's and others comments–like the challenge of adapting during a mission, not just knowing what we have to accomplish at the outset to "win."

And I'm very glad that people are enjoying them, but it is very much my prerogative to state my dislike for them. If I had gone and said "Maelstrom of War missions are stupid and you're all stupid for playing them", then fine, I would be in the wrong. But I did no such thing.

thank you for demonstrating your lack of understanding of the concept of statistics. Go away now

>champion poker player is highly skilled — at playing poker.

But poker undeniably has more luck involved in it than chess does, to take your examples. While there is a minimal amount of chance involved in chess (black or white), there is a LOT of luck involved in poker- that's not to say there isn't skill as well, but no matter how good you are, there are many factors in the game you simply have no control over.

That's the objection here for most people- not that Maelstrom is fundamentally a bad concept, or that having any amount of luck in the game is bad, but that by introducing yet another source of randomness into the game, GW is pushing things in a direction they don't like. Adaptability is certainly a skill, to be sure, but as with poker, there are some things you CANNOT adapt to. You can't kill a flyer if the enemy doesn't have one; you can't get into a challenge on the first turn unless your opponent is a colossal idiot; you realistically can't hold six objectives or get three units onto the enemy's board edge unless you grossly overextend yourself. And that's not even considering the actual tactical situation on the field itself- it will very often be that 2-4 of the objectives are not reachable for a given army because getting onto them means putting your unit in a very, very bad position.

And that's where the new edition requires new skills: you need to know what Maelstrom Objectives are feasible, which ones are a worthwhile risk, and which one you shouldn't bother with. You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em; know when to Deep Strike, know when to Run. Never count your Warp Charge, when you're sittin' at the table…

Sorry, that kinda got away from me.

Sure, but if you get two, or three, or four or even more of those in a single hand, you're fucked- you can only discard one per turn, and while you're sitting on your thumb, the other guy is scoring points. That is, far and away, the biggest problem with the cards- the inability to cycle past ones you can't use. If there was a better discard mechanic, I would have less of a problem with it; as it stands, it is much to easy to get locked into a cycle of "fail to complete any cards, discard one, repeat" while your opponent scores 1-2pts per turn and you are left further and further behind.

Maelstrom also advantages midfield armies and mobility-based armies pretty enormously. I'm sure no one is crying about Tau or IG having a harder time of things, but Eldar fall on the opposite side of things- Jetbikes and Wave Serpents ensure that they will easily be able to claim essentially any objective they want on a given turn, and I don't think that helps the issue of them being dominant in the game at all.

This is too random for you? This set of cards that's mostly telling you to do the things you'd be aiming to do anyway given the ingrained winning conditions people have internalized for several editions running? Man, how do you even deal with the Daemon warp table or the CSM boons table? Those things must make your head explode!

I'm thinking his head would explode if he tried to play "Rogue Trader" or Second Edition… Can you say "sustained fire die" or "virus bomb," boys and girls?

I just miss the old Scatter rules, y'know, the ones where it was mathematically impossible for a trained soldier to fire a rocket at a target 5" in front of them and have it land 7" behind the shooter…

Given the what you describe is a scatter of 12" means the BS=0, disproves the 'training' of your soldier 😉

The target is 5" in front of the shooter. The scatter is 7". So the shooter could be BS 5.

Er, no… Anon is right. Shooter to target is 5", target back to shooter and then 7" behind the point of origin is 12"… Nonetheless, it's still a godawful dumb rule, compared to how simple the RT rule really was: you couldn't scatter more than half the range to the target.

I just whisper sweet promises to mine about getting to play Necromunda again. One day.

But, mostly it just sits there swapping tales of woe with the D12s and D30s.

From everything I've heard about 2nd ed, it probably wouldn't have been my cup of tea, no.

Virus Bomb sure was fun and engaging gameplay! I loved losing before the game started!

Didn't they kill that one, in a pre-internet example of a FAQ?

"Please rip up your virus card. Sorry."

Wargear cards, vehicle cards, and psychic powers. Including the giant green template for the Ork's "Gork's Foot" power, which was brilliant.

Don't forget, you were allowed to flip the template over (from left orientation to right) to cast Foot of Mork instead.

Dark Millenium was chock-full of templates, like the not-quite-a-flamer Stream of Corruption template, the vortex template, the Eldtritch Storm template, and so on. Shit was cray-cray.

2nd edition, man. It was the frickin' wild west back then. Remember when every single vehicle had its own distinct damage table?

It went along the lines of:
Pick a point anywhere on the board. Everyone within 2" is infected with a virus. Roll to kill each one. Any survivors are infected with the virus. Now roll for all the people within D6" of them, Keep going until the virus burns itself out…

Anyone with sealed armour (i.e. Marines and Eldar) or weird physiology (Tyranids) was immune. It was possible to completely exterminate an entire Ork army before playing the first turn since they deployed bunched up, and they had no immunity unless the warboss packed an innoculation squig.

I think the Warp Table is one of the most retarded things in the game. The Boon table is mostly pretty much just for flavour, so I have no problem with it.

Daemon Princes don't roll on it, Sorceres shouldn't be in combat and Aspiring Champions I would never bother with wargear on anyways, so even turning into a Spawn would have been a kinda weird improvment.

If you were the type to use juggerlords or the like, then yes, it could suck once in a while. Still, the vast majority of results on the boon table are just flavour.

You can re-roll it if you have a Dark Apostle in the same unit as the character rolling on the table, and the Apostle can re-roll it. Plus there's the Tzeentch psychic power, and the wargear upgrade.

Remember, if a Sorceror is leading some Spawn, and the unit kills an enemy unit with a Character, you roll on the table. Which usually helped, and occasionally converted the unit from 5 Spawn and 1 Sorceror, to 6 Spawn.

True, but you could always just make sure your Sorc was with a unit that wasn't going to see combat, or at least wasn't going to actively seek combat.

If you want different victory conditions then play any of the over a hundred missions from cities of death, planet strike, echoes of war or altar of war.

Dotn play the schizophrenic love fest than is maelstrom, its not narrative forging its an exercise in short attention spans

If only I could vote this down for the pure narrow-minded arrogance it exudes…

Honestly they are not that bad.

most are things you want to do. take objectives, kill the war lord issue three challanges (for chaos since you have to anyways) others may not be what you want to do issue challanges (if your tau)….

what they do is possibly force your hand to move aggressively a turn early or so. but the one thing is that objectives are et up before table sides so there shouldn't be as many objectives castled behind a gun line in a corner.

Regardless, and this is my point, luck has once again been given extra importance over skill. That is a cold hard fact.

It's really not, actually. Did you place objectives strategically, blocking them from being hidden away from sight? That's a skill. Did you position your army well at deployment, knowing you'll likely have to both secure your home objectives and be able to put pressure on enemy objectives? That's a skill too. Did you build a balanced, varied list, one that can handle issuing challenges, concentrating fire to murder single units in a shooting phase, and move around without hampering their combat potential? Hey look, skills! And since tactical objective cards are played face up, you know in advance what your enemy is going to want to do, so you have a chance to block them out ahead of time which, again, requires skills in terms of directing firepower and positioning units.

Yeah, once in a blue moon a Necron list will draw the 'cast a psychic power' card, or Tau will pull the 'issue a challenge' card, and in those cases, sure, it's just bad luck. But you can discard a card every turn, so you're not stuck with it forever, and it's really no worse luck than placing second on a 5-objective game or pretty much auto-losing First Blood against an all-pod army.

A d6-based game system inherently relies on luck. The job of the player is to mitigate bad luck whenever possible – but the presence of luck based conditions will always be a factor.

Yes, tactical objectives add an extra layer of luck to the game. Certainly. But, the idea of it given "extra importance over skill" is a debatable conception, not a cold hard fact.

I agree that GW relies far too much on random tables and other stupid crap, that some defend as ways of "balancing" the game. Randomness doesn't balance anything, and anyone who thinks so should think about how balanced a game like Candyland is. The outcome of a game like that is decided as soon as the turn order is decided and the deck is shuffled. If your answer to a broken interaction is "roll on this table so that you can't have it all the time," then you're lazy in your game design.

That being said, randomness does have a place in game and it's most important contribution to gameplay is suspense. This is a cold hard fact.

Good randomness involves and incorporates choice (e.g. choosing which units you'll shoot even though you don't know what the exact outcome will be), which produces good suspense. Should I or shouldn't I do this?

Bad randomness is where you just eat the result without any influence on how it plays out, like random warlord traits and d3 victory points.

Tactical Objectives lend themselves to good suspense because they involve what you choose to do to win the game, which is where skill mitigates luck. Yup, you can certainly just draw all of the wrong objectives while your opponent draws the right ones. But you can always just roll 1s while your opponent rolls 6s too. I'm assuming that you're okay with die rolling in shooting and combat.

"Yup, you can certainly just draw all of the wrong objectives while your opponent draws the right ones."

You say its not cold hard fact… but then you say this, basically agreeing with my point.

And the comparison to shooting/combat dice rolling is poor one. You will literraly throw hundreds of shooting/assault dice in a game, whereby increasing the chance of rolling about average over the course of the game. The amount of times you draw objective cards is much more limited; thus, your chances of getting fucked by lady luck are much higher.

"Regardless, and this is my point, luck has once again been given extra importance over skill. That is a cold hard fact." -Desc440

This statement is not a cold hard fact. That it is possible to lose due to randomness in a game is a fact, but not what you said or how I replied to it. So no, I'm not agreeing with your point. Instead I'm explaining how randomness can improve a game and make it interesting.

The die rolling comparison is apt, because if you're playing this game you're clearly allowing for some degree of randomness. If you're allowing for some randomness, then randomness doesn't ruin the game in virtue of being a part of it. If randomness is placed into a game where player choices can be made in direct relation to the randomness, then skill involving the non-random elements can mitigate that randomness.

Yes, hundreds of dice in a game has a likelihood of averaging out over the course of the game. But that statement is irrelevant to your position because very particular dice during very particular turns can in fact lose you the game (if your statistically favoured rolls don't kill unit X on turn 5-7 to prevent scoring, then you stand to lose). So, it works a lot like drawing objectives.

And just like skill comes through the shooting phase by movement and target priority, skill will come through your objective options by board positioning, pursuit of particular objectives, and discarding objectives.

Yes it's another layer of randomness, but not all layers impact the game equally, nor are all layers without mitigation.

I don't understand how you can debate that. Fact: there is an element of luck involved with drawing your Tactical Objectives. Do you agree with that statement, yes or no? If you say yes, that it is also a fact that, compared to Eternal War missions, the Luck Factor's importance is greater to an extent, and by default, that means the Skill Factor's importance is decreased, to an extent. Two people could argue till they're blue in the face as to how much more important Luck is in Maelstrom mission, but no one should argue that there is not a greater degree of importance for luck compared to Eternal War missions whatsoever.

"The die rolling comparison is apt, because if you're playing this game you're clearly allowing for some degree of randomness. If you're allowing for some randomness, then randomness doesn't ruin the game in virtue of being a part of it. If randomness is placed into a game where player choices can be made in direct relation to the randomness, then skill involving the non-random elements can mitigate that randomness. "

But you CAN'T always take actions to mitigate the randomness. If you're opponent doesn't have Flyers, you can't shoot them down. If you don't have Psykers, you can't manifest a Psychic Power. "Yes, but you can discard those cards" yeah well if you have to do that, and your opponent draws only useful cards, you're falling behind.

The problem here is that there aren't just two elements, "luck" and "skill". There is a third element, "list", and its effect on the game can range from minimal to "why did we even bother setting up?" Assuming that two players in 40K are evenly matched and that, absent the element of luck, skill is what differentiates the two is -nuts-. Hell, three quarters of the articles on this site are oriented toward what units you should bring rather than what you should do with them on the tabletop.

And it's not like "list" is a matter of skill either. I mean, sure, you can write a crap list with any codex. But it's not like Tau players suddenly increased in skill significantly when their new codex came out; it's just that their units got a lot better than they were. Not saying that there's no skill involved, but the competitive balance on the tabletop is simply not even a lot of the time, even if we ignore specifically-bad matchups like an ork horde versus ten Punisher-Russes.

Having some luck involved in the game helps counteract this problem. Yeah, your list might not be well-suited to taking on the other guy. Yeah, he might be running the cheese-of-the-month deathstar minmax Unbound spam-spam million warpcharges army. But you can still get good objective draws and you can still play those objectives better than the other guy, putting yourself in a good position to eke out a victory even if 95% of your army is in the casualty pile at the end of the game.

That said, it's little wonder why "serious tournament players" don't like this kind of element. Sure, skill counts for a lot, but so does list; if you're playing with an expectation to end up on the top tables, you're bringing a strong list and not expecting to drop any games except against other skilled players with strong lists. Adding random elements isn't going to put the n00b on the top table, but over the course of five or six games, you're a lot more likely to lose one because the cards came up unfavorably to you… and modifying your list to make it more likely to take those objectives and win via that method is generally going to move it in a direction where you've got a harder time against another strong player with a smash-face screw-the-points-I'mma-table-you list. Either way, you lose an extra game and you don't win the tourney.

That doesn't mean that it's BAD. It just means that it's more fun for "casual" players, or players who bring a fluffy army instead of Eldar/Tau/Inquisition, and less fun for someone who wants wins in the win column rather than a game where both players have a good chance at victory.

I didn't mention lists because its a neutral factor. You need a good list for Eternal War missions, and you need a good-but-different list for Maelstrom Missions. The only thing that varies between Eternal and Maelstrom mission is the weight luck and skill respectively carry.

That's only if you believe luck and skill are effectively on a sliding scale, whereby increasing one necessarily decreases the other.

I disagree because when you add an element of luck that involves making choices, you've added to both elements. Adding an only random element increases luck to the detriment of skill, not adding to both.

As Garnet points out, Eternal War objective missions also have heavy elements of luck. What if your opponent draws objectives for 4 and 3 points? What about the die roll to go first in the Relic missions. A single die roll for serious advantage is a lot more likely to fail than drawing from 36 missions (if you want to continue with your "a few cards vs hundreds of dice" example).

You're assuming (falsely) that tactical objectives are randomness placed on top of whatever constitutes an Eternal War mission. You're wrong, because tactical objectives (luck influenced) replaces Eternal War objectives (luck influenced).

I guess you can happily play Purge the Alien?

There is no choice to be made when you can't accomplish the objectives. At best, you can discard these and hope you get better objectives next turn.

As for Eternal War, yes they too have an element of random and uneveness to them, but taking a step back and comparing Maelstrom and Eternal, it should be obvious that there is a loooot more random in the former than in the latter. So given that I want to minimise the influence of luck as much as possible, it should be apparent that there is a more optimal way for the way I want to play the game, don't you agree?

Except your argument about shooting earlier was that a greater amount of random chances evens out, while a smaller amount of random chances can easily fall prey to a lopsided result. If that's the case, then Maelstrom actually does minimize the influence of luck precisely because there are so many more opportunities for things to balance out.

My earlier statement and the one just above are not mutually exclusive; if I have a poor showing with my first unit's shots at an imporant target, I can throw more dice at the same target to even out the averages.

And yes, there are opportunities for Maelstrom missions to balance out, but they also could not. Eternal War missions, as flawed as they may be in the balance department, have less chances of falling prey to the same issue because outside of the Scouring possibly screwing you severely, and Relic favouring the player who goes first, it's about even for both players now that objective markers are place BEFORE we roll for table sides. And honestly, the issue with the Scouring is easily fixed by simply giving every objective a fixed value of 3 VPs each just like for the other objective missions. And the Relic is easily fixed by not playing the Relic ;P

Okay… so if the 7th ed rules fixed part of the Eternal War imbalance, did you have a problem with those missions when they were released? Because you came out saying Tactical Objectives are garbage as they stand. But it seems to me that you were just playing missions with approximately equal imbalance two weeks ago and was perfectly okay with it.

You do make a good point about how the new deployment rules work better for Eternal War, certainly. Given that, there is an added element of randomness that isn't set out only in the mission descriptions.

The more I play out what could go wrong, seems an awful lot like rolling poorly. If we assume a situation with three objectives each, the chances of a continuous stream of unachievable objectives against easily achievable objectives is pretty slim, especially when you're aware of what your opponent can do and work to actively prevent it.

If you can't achieve your objectives, you can choose to stop your opponent from achieving theirs, or at least make them very costly for the long game.

And certainly, some new missions are more lopsided than others. For instance, drawing 6 objectives on your first turn is much better than drawing 1.

So, alright. Eternal War was "fixed," but tactical objectives aren't really any worse than Eternal War was last edition.

I wasn't fine with Eternal War missions, actually. I always maintened that deploying objectives after choosing table sides was a terrible design decision and should never have been implemented. The return to the former way of placing them was one of the things I was really happy to see in 7th. The difference, though, is that since everyone played by the rules in the book in 6th, I kinda had to go along with it despite my misgivings.

As to the rest, it doesn't actually need to be anywhere near that bad for the unbalance to cost you a game. Remember, winning by one VP is still winning.

An apt example for many of us being Magic the Gathering. I know I have about 1/4 to 1/3 land cards in my deck. But sometimes you just dont see any for turn after turn after turn. No one can win without the basic materials to do something.

In this case, like desc says, you could get hilariously unlucky turn after turn and score no (or very few) points while your opponent rakes in the d3 or multiple objective cards over and over. You can be better in every way otherwise but you wont win.

I think ita an interesting way to play, I dont mind it. But desc isnt wrong at all.

He is wrong, because his point isn't "there's an element of luck", it's "luck is now more important than skill". And given that he's complaining specifically about Maelstrom versus Eteranal War missions, where let's remember several missions can end up with uneven objective markers, the Relic heavily privileges whoever goes first, and the Scouring can result in you having all the high objectives while your opponent has all the low ones, that is simply not a claim that can be accepted as the "cold hard fact" he keeps trying to declare it to be. Luck in the mission objectives has always been a major part of 40K, and Maelstrom missions actually even out that luck, as they give more and more opportunities to reset the counter and try again, as opposed to being stuck with the same lopsided winning conditions from start to finish. Given that he earlier praised the balancing effect of rolling buckets of dice to even out the 1's and 6's, it's strange that he can't see that being able to draw, at minimum, eight different objective cards over the course of the game, some of which can be leveraged for potentially higher totals, offers the same smoothing-out result.

Sure, but he's obviously not the kind of person that understands how to parameterize risk.

Oh I do; I just choose to play those missions where I don't have to do it more than I already do with Eternal War missions.

But thanks for the insult!

You are misunderstanding my argument. It's not "luck is more important than skill", it's "luck has a greater importance in Maelstrom missions than in Eternal War missions, to the detriment of skill". THAT is the cold hard fact I am trying to get across.

And being able to draw eight different cards over the course of the game is in no way in the same league of "smoothing out luck" that rolling hundreds and hundreds of dice over the course of a game.

You may roll hundreds of dice during a game, but you're falsely assuming that each die roll carries equal weight.

Like I said above, which you specifically ignored, some shooting dice are FAR more important than others.

Yes, that is true, but you can mitigate that since there is nothing whatsoever stopping you from shooting at an important target more than once if your previous attempt's result was unsatisfactory. It's a bit more dicey when it comes to assaults, but you can still minimise the odds by throwing more models at the enemy unit than statistically you should need to get the job done.

The only area where things can really go tits up is when rolling armour saves, since you have no mitigation means against bad luck.

There are actually a large number of things stopping you from shooting at an important target more than once; rang, line of sight, the resiliency of the unit in question. It's all well and good to roll buckets of dice in half-range with an Ethereal and a Fireblade in a twelve-strong unit, but if your main threat is a Land Raider your railguns have already glanced off, well, sucks for your bad luck, I guess.

Likewise, if you've built a decent list, there should only be a tiny handful of cards you literally can't accomplish, whose presence, again, is smoothed out by being able to discard them turn by turn and draw up new ones. And again, if more potential random chances is better because it smooths out the bad results, Maelstrom is better than, say, The Relic or The Scouring or any possibly-odd-numbered objective game.

Range, line of sight and resiliency of the unit (or rather, having enough guns of the appropriate strength and/or AP) are all things that you have to deal with using your skills. I am fine with not being able to mitigate bad luck with shooting because I failed to build enough flexibility in my fire plan to deal with such contingencies, because that is something that I COULD have had control over. Of course, it may just happen that I fire 20 meltaguns at a Land Raider at halfrange and STILL fail to kill it, but such happenstances are oddities and doesn't detract from the point.

To your second point, as Puppy brought up above, if you start with a bad hand to begin with, it can be very very difficult to catch up to your opponent. On the flipside, since Eternal War missions are only scored for at the end of the game, the odds of managing to come up with a strategy to deal with the Scouring's objectives over the course of 5 turns are going to be non-negligeable. And like I said, Scouring is an easy fix – 3 Vps per objective and bob's your uncle.

Once you're going to start altering the victory conditions, though, you might as well just change it so people are allowed to discard any and all cards their army is literally incapable of accomplishing, or just discarding as many cards as you like, no matter what. At that point you can't say the tactical objective cards are too dependent on luck because you can alter them to remove that in the first place.

Also, you will never have 'enough' guns of the appropriate strength and/or AP; if you load down with meltaguns you'll be badly wasting your firepower on Ork mobz, and if you stock up on basic dakka you'll find it all glancing off the occasional Land Raider. It's all down to the luck of who you draw as your opponent, and you really can't do anything about that.

What you suggest in your first point certainly would help to tone down the random, but even if you can discard all your cards, that still doesn't change the fact that you basicaly lost a turn of scoring because Lady Luck decided to be a tramp.

You can never have the ideal loadout, no, but you can build your list to give you at least a certain amount of redundancy to play with.

The only part I really disagree with you now is a qualification for what choices you can make. Your arguments are all based around whether you can or can't score, as if all the players are doing is scoring and shooting models.

You can take actions to specifically prevent your opponent from scoring, which results in the very same score in the end: nobody has any points.

This is another layer of tactical decisions that reflect not what you've drawn, but what your opponent has. So it would mitigate against the outcome of "who has the most accessible objectives."

A fair point, I hope?

The core of your point is undeniable, but you need to take a step back: if you can take measures to stop your opponent scoring, your opponent can take measures to stop your measures. So assuming equal skills by both players, luck once again becomes the weighing factor.

Which is no different than how 40K, even at its best, has ever been; assuming both players are equally skilled, a tiny handful of dice rolls (to go first and to seize, particularly) have always, and will always, tip the balance one way or the other. If your stance is that you can recover from that, then I can't see how you could argue that tactical objectives present an insuperable difficult given the wider range and greater chance of drawing useful options; if your stance is that you can't recover from that in the same way you can't recover from a bad hand of tactical objectives, however, than I can't see how you can even play 40K, as it must seem just fundamentally broken.

So much of your argument seems to revolve around "if everything goes wrong for me and everything goes right for him I'll lose and that's not fair", but while that is true, it's also something you could always say. If my Terminators roll nothing but 1's for their armour saves and your plague zombies always make their FNP saves, there's nothing I can do; I've been screwed by the dice. Sometimes that happens, sure, but the easiest way to keep it from happening is to have a wider field of options to draw on, not a narrower one, and that's what tactical objectives give players.

Going first/seizing isn't quite as cut and dry as it once was, though. While the player going first had an advantage in that he will be shooting first, the player going second has an advantage in that he gets the final chance to capture and contest objectives. Its not perfectly balanced, but there is still an element of fairness there.

The difference between Termies failing all there armour saves and picking up bad mission cards is that one is much more likely than the other.

Yeah; given the amount of firepower most Termies come face to face with, they're far more likely to fail their save than you are to draw a hand full of mission cards you can't accomplish while your opponent draws nothing but easy d3 cards. ^_~

Of course your opponent can take the same actions, also denying objectives.

But every point spent on scoring is a point unavailable for denying, leaving you with more army for denying than your opponent. This would be leverage within a tactical line even though you're unable to score.

Ultimately I disagree with your core point, which is that randomness necessarily increases luck to the detriment of skill. Both elements can be affected in tandem.

But, whether the tactical objectives follow the former path or the latter is still to be seen.

Being able to spend more dice on an important target doesn't solve your problem of rolling badly.

You roll badly. You commit more fire to kill the unit. You lose the opportunity of those recommitted dice could have killed. You rolled badly, and now your opponent lost 1 unit where it should have been 2.

This isn't resolved over the averaging of the dice, it's resolved by rolling ABOVE average. That is, you need to get lucky once you've been unlucky.

" That is, you need to get lucky once you've been unlucky."

Well, yes… that's what averaging out means.

And it might average out, but only over multiple games instead of dice rolled within a game.

Well, look at it from my point of view: as a father/stepfather of 3, I don't get to play 40k as much as I once did. When you only get a game in once every two weeks (if I'm lucky), waiting for games to average out is going to be a loooong time. I'd rather not take that risk and stick to tried and true old school missions.

I played a Maelstrom of war mission yesterday.

I have only one real comment on it. It was a lot less annoying for my opponent, who I'd given the deck of mission cards, than it was for me, rolling on the stupid D66 table.

Couldn't you both have used the deck? (I haven't gotten my copy of the new BRB, so I'm not sure if it's one deck per player or not.)

You're supposed to each have a deck since you each roll/draw and then score the objectives separately.

Eh, just share the deck; unless things fall just the perfectly right way, you're not going to be burning through the entire thing in five to seven turns anyway. And yeah, the d66 table is a complete hassle.

Yeah, I probably will in future. Wanted to see how it played out, though.

It's fairly likely that they never really intended anyone to play it using the table, but someone pointed out to them that it needed to be there or they'd have to package the cards with the rulebook. 😛

That has to be the case, it's really clunky playing without the cards but really smooth with them.

Is it actually a conspiracy if it's really obvious?

I don't object to them wanting to sell the cards (Hell, I bought some!) . I do object to the method of using them just with the basic book being so annoying, especially because I use 40k in my work (Autism Therapy. 😛 ) and don't really want to have to get TWO decks.

You really can get along with one just fine. There're thirty-six cards in the deck, and each player can only score a maximum of three cards a turn, which means even if both of them play perfect games you'll still have to go straight up to turn 7 to run out of cards in a split deck. And in that extremely unlikely case, there's still the rulebook to roll on if you need to come up with tiebreaker objectives.

Yeah, you don't even need the cards. They're just convenience. You could, for example, print up your own cards, or a laminated chart for checking off the ones you've already rolled.

Yup. Set up a label sheet with the names of all of the cards, then print and stick the labels onto the front of a cheap deck of playing cards.

True that. I played them for the first time the other day, and tried using a standard deck of cards (A-6 from three suits as the objective cards, (7-Q and suit order for 41-66).

The ‘hold objective X’ was super easy, the card said it all. But it was a colossal pain to interpret and look up the others, then remember what they were, much more so than I’d expected.

I’ll probably buy the cards for next time, unless they are ridiculously priced. Although, there could be merit in taking four suits A-6 from a standard deck and playing ‘objectives only Maelstrom’?

anyhow I see knee jerk reactions to many things. my only advice is just try it out a few times and if its not for you than fine. I just hate people complaining about something that they have never tried (in gaming world and many other places)

I'm almost positive you were doing it wrong. Where do you live? Maybe I can offer a few pointers.

If the thought of playing a slight variation to a game involving toy soldiers is even as remotely uncomfortable as challenging your sexuality, I suggest you 1.) find a new hobby, and/or 2.) chillax, because you're taking WH40K (and yourself) way too seriously.

I was merely exemplifying that one does not need to experience every single thing the world has to offer to know wether one would enjoy them or not.

A perfectly valid point…but are you going to stick your nose into every conversation where people are discussing gay sex and bitch about how much you wouldn't want to take in the ass? You've made your point, and to some small extent I can see where you're coming from, but seriously…some of us want to fag out for a minute in peace, that cool?

I don't think stating an aversion to gay sex is strictly gay-bashing. Narrow-mindedness, sure, but it's hardly a categorical statement of prejudice.

It's the tone, more than the text, too be sure. Of all the categories of choices he could have made, he went to one with a loooong history of being used as an insult to virility/manliness/machicismo. If he had said "I don't have to try foie gras to know I wouldn't like it" I don't think it would have carried the same implied rhetorical insult as going with gay sex.

Then again, I'm LGBT and not a French chef, maybe I'm being sensitive. Still, up thread Desc440 has been extremely belligerent and insulting, so maybe I'm being observant.

Personally I think you're being sensitive. He might be raging asshole, but that doesn't mean what he said above was gay bashing.

I would act less like a raging asshole if people stopped twisting my every word and making groundless inferences.

Mmmm. It's certainly possible that's what he meant, and I wouldn't say it was at all a great example to pick, but on the flip side a gay person could also have said "I don't have to try straight sex to know I don't like it" and I don't think that would've been offensive. Generally speaking, sexual preference is a fairly strongly-ingrained trait (which is part of the reason getting acceptance for LBGT individuals has been so strong over the years.)

Just to make it crystal clear: there is nothing wrong with gay sex, and I was not implying in any way that it was. Just like Maelstrom missions, it is simply not for me, period. There is nothing further that ought to be infered from my choice of example.

I think it's the notion that you equate gay sex, something you're apparently aware that you shouldn't try, with Maelstrom missions, something you're simply unwilling to try out of what appears (from my perspective, and perhaps the perspectives of Ish and others) to be pure prejudice might link your prejudice against Maelstrom missions back to gay sex.

Well sorry, but no. There is nothing wrong with gay sex, just as there is nothing wrong with liking Maelstrom missions. Both of these things just aren't for me.

Most of the maelstrom missions’ more egregious design flaws are well mediated by opponents agreeing to redraw/fudge when bad luck draw combos happen beyond simply “be aggressive and flexible!” This makes them difficult, of course, to use unadulterated in a tournament format aimed at fairness (since competitive opponents aren’t necessarily inclined to fudge on a stranger’s behalf).

I think the Maelstrom has some good ideas and concepts but the randomness of their execution is poor. I think a lot of TOs will look to take the concepts and apply them within their own missions but not use the exact system.

You could very easily just make the tactical objective cards the secondary objective in a mission; it would let you leave the primary as generically balanced and still reward people who bring armies capable of the widest variety of tasks.

I think the mix would do a great job in a tournament setting to get players to hybridize their army lists instead of optimizing for one style of play.

Agree – see the most recent post.

I'm going to do some playtesting of missions with these involved and see what we can come up with for a sort of plug and play option for locals / small tournaments, etc.

Great Article JRBunn! Good explanation to a part of the game I am just starting to read in depth after my last 6th edition tournament this past weekend.

@avatar. I love randomness in 40k. I feel top players can deal with random better than average ones. In fact people who cannot change their strategies mid game might win at local tournaments but will lose at large tournaments abroad because they cant deal with the “brain drain” of randomness. (Per my second post)

@desc440- definitely appears like complaining/whining because you only want a static game; Like chess or pong. Your opinion of course.

@tournaments there will surely be alterations to make 7th more playable in that environment. We are worki on that as a group now.

Good bye 6th.

The chess argument is about as valid as me saying people like randomness in 40k because they want to play Yatzhee but with cool models.

I like the concept of the objective cards and I think most of the worst problems can be addressed by players or tournament organizers simply removing some of the cards from the deck. Having an objective system that rewards tactical flexibility helps to make the game more enjoyable for people who are interested in a more dynamic game. Choosing whether to score your objectives or deny your opponent is big decision that has to be made very turn, and rewards people who can think on their feet. Yes it is random, but with a few tweaks it can be a far better random then they Chaos Boon Table.

On the other hand, people who like to work out those killer combos and the re-rollable 2++ are not going to care much for these. They prefer a more strategic game to a tactical one, and aren't going to like things that make it more difficult to win the game before it starts. There is room for both or even a combination of the two, IMO, like using the cards for secondary objective, for example. I hope that both formats find their way to the tournament tables. If the Maelstrom missions are handled well, it might be worth going to a tournament just to watch. Now that would be something.

Ah sod it, I'm going to build my lists to do nothing except decimate the opponent. cant score if you're dead!

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