Chapter Tactics #146: Optimizing the ITC Missions Using 40k Mission Design Theory

Chapter Tactics is a 40k podcast which focuses on promoting better tactical play and situational awareness across all variations of the game. Today Peteypab, Salty John, Skari, and Steve Pampreen talk about the potential changes we can make to the ITC champs missions and dive into what a successful competitive 40k mission set looks like.

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About Petey Pab

Aspiring 40k analyst, tournament reporter and Ultramarines enthusiast, Petey Pab only seeks to gather more knowledge about the game of 40k and share it with as many people as he can in order to unite both hobbyists and gamers. We are, after all, two sides of the same coin.

22 Responses to “Chapter Tactics #146: Optimizing the ITC Missions Using 40k Mission Design Theory”

  1. Avatar
    rvd1ofakind February 11, 2020 7:54 am #

    Just to clarify on my question: “should kill secondaries target the meta”. I agree that marked should be reduced to 6PL because marines are so strong for example. My question was more like:

    With the the current specific kill secondaries we still got the broken unbeatable lists like Ynnari and Broviathan. A big part of them is that they don’t give up kill secondaries.

    Without the specific kill secondaries we should have more viable lists because right now people aren’t taking them – playing 8-12 points down from turn 1 sucks, especially if the other person doesn’t give up secondaries. This means you have to pick stuff like recon which takes 4 turns to complete, meaning: 4 turns of placing models where you might not want them to be, 4 turns of the enemy to counter your secondary, 4 turns that you have to survive in specific locations with a quickly disappearing army.

    So should the auto-take auto-complete secondaries just be removed? Or do you think that would make things worse?

  2. Avatar
    Sam The Sham February 11, 2020 1:16 pm #

    Bring back Pampreen as a regular!

  3. Avatar
    Zweischneid February 11, 2020 10:17 pm #

    The “auto-take” / “no-brainer” secondaries against certain armies need to go (and certainly not stack). Reaper against a Gaunt-carpet, Titanslayer against a Knight army, Gangbusters against a Covens-army, etc.. should be viable, but also balanced options that are equally attractive as other secondaries against these armies.

    As they are, people literally always take them, which in turn means there is no strategic or tactical decision-making whatsoever. It’s just empty, pointless admin with no added game-play benefit.

    Rather than stacking Reaper, Titanslayer, etc, they need to be re-worked and “balanced” so that, say, 40% of people that play against mono-Knights don’t take Titanslayer, or 40% of people playing against an Ork-horde don’t take Reaper, because those secondaries is balanced against other secondaries.

    People freak because (old, no-longer used) Maelstrom formats sometimes have minor disadvantages for some armies (e.g. Tau drawing “cast a psychic power”), but the ITC secondaries auto-punishing some armies with 4 or 8 or even 12 points down in anything but the most ridiculous blow-outs weighs infinitely heavier on the win/lose percentages.

  4. Avatar
    greyknight12 February 11, 2020 10:25 pm #

    I think in this discussion the obvious needs to be stated: Fixing missions won’t fix broken units. They might tone the effects down a little bit, or change what is taken, but you can’t fix 700 points of free units (7th ed) or functionally un-killable units by just changing the secondaries. There’s a lot of talk that makes it seem like changing missions will “fix the game”, and that’s simply not going to happen. You can tweak the meta and modify the netlists a bit for sure, but there’s more to game balance than that and no matter how robust a mission pack is it’s not a magic pill that will fix everything.

    That said, there is a lot of good that can and will come from refreshing the mission packet and I’m excited to see what comes next!

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy February 11, 2020 11:01 pm #

      Very much this. Broken armies are generally broken regardless of format.

  5. Avatar
    greyknight12 February 11, 2020 10:33 pm #

    Also, going to suggest that the link change to a PDF or locked document, I think if everyone can comment/edit it’s going to get really messy really fast.

    • Avatar
      steven pampreen February 12, 2020 6:14 am #

      I’m fine with people commenting on it as those are easily collapsible but only I have edit access.

  6. Avatar
    R3v0lv3r February 11, 2020 11:56 pm #

    Yea, remove seize and make alpha strikes super reliable. Since GW is fairly balancing the deepstrike rules and there is no chance for you to be annihilated first turn … o wait.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr February 12, 2020 12:26 am #

      This also works the other way, when you get first turn against an alpha strike army, then get seized on. Especially brutal if you have had to deploy your entire army first.

      I don’t know anyone that likes the seize the initiative rule, tournament or casual club player.

      • Avatar
        R3v0lv3r February 12, 2020 1:15 am #

        Players will never like a random thing that can destroy their broken combo and will prefer the no risk scenario. It`s your own fault If you deploy super aggressive and get seized on and pay for that.

  7. Avatar
    Ohlmann February 12, 2020 3:01 am #

    @R3v0lv3r : indeed, you show that you don’t like losing your broken combo of deploying second, being first.

    Because you talk of “deploy super aggressive and being seized on”, but deploying conservatively enough when you deploy first *and* have something to do to control objectives and all is sometime literally impossible.

    However, I can easily see how that clutch allow some armies to do non-games, where they seize, remove the opposing army, and win on 1.

    • Avatar
      R3v0lv3r February 12, 2020 11:51 pm #

      Nope, because in CA you deploy first and choice if you want to go first or second and the opponent choice his deployment zone. With decent terrain and the fear of seize you are risking the game if you want to alpha.

  8. Avatar
    Alec C February 12, 2020 3:07 am #

    Something we have been trying in our local meta is making the last few points more difficult to achieve, in an attempt to make games closer and have fewer 20-0 results (we mainly use WTC style eternal war + maelstrom format)
    So a close game stays around 11-9 for a 2 or 3 point difference, 10 point difference is 15-5, but you have to get a huge 30 point win to get the max 20-0.

    This could work for ITC missions; have categories of easy, medium, and difficult secondaries, you have to select 1 from each category.
    Or make the last point in each secondary require more effort, eg 4th point in Reaper requires an additional X models to be killed.

    The idea is to move away from “free” objectives, getting max points should be rare and require a lot of effort.

  9. Avatar
    happy_inquisitor February 12, 2020 1:42 pm #

    I really don’t see any way to keep anything resembling the current secondaries which do not continue to wreck the internal balance of some factions.

    That being said: part of the whole problem is the terrible mismatch in pace of scoring between positional and killing secondaries. Most of the positional ones are strictly 1VP per turn while you can max the killing ones in a single killer turn.

    If the killing secondaries maxed out at 1VP per turn per secondary it would create real tactical decisions for the player. To finish off that Tau crisis team and lose some VP forever or leave some alive to harvest VP next turn but have to deal with their remaining firepower?

    It would make putting units which give up secondaries in your list a bit less punishing, which in turn would reduce the internal balance problems secondaries have always had.

  10. Avatar
    StevOOO February 12, 2020 5:07 pm #

    Secondaries should actually be secondaries in nature. Killing units that you ordinarily have to kill anyways to win the game is not a secondary but a primary.

    The following killing based secondaries should be flatout removed as they are typically autopicks for certain lists:

    Titan Slayers
    Gang Busters
    Reaper
    Big Game Hunter
    Marked for Death (Maybe).

    • Reecius
      Reecius February 12, 2020 5:28 pm #

      They’re actually working as intended. Many of the lists those are aimed at don’t otherwise give up many secondaries.

      • Avatar
        Zweischneid February 13, 2020 2:54 am #

        But then they give up 4 or 8 points automatically outside of super-extreme blow-outs.

        Which is pointless.

        If it’s “intended” to have secondaries that are “no brainers”, it’s simply bad mission design.

        Your podcast literally critizises how mission design that cannot be achieved /too easily be achieved is poor design (e.g. Tau drawing a “Cast a psychic power” vs. Thousand Sons drawing the same card).

        Every Knight army ever giving up Titanslayer always is literally the same problem inversed, without even the off-chance that the draw might not happen (and at percentage-wise significantly more impactful points-value for the overall win/loss).

        If something is an “auto-take”, it IMO needs to go and/or be adjusted so that it’s a meaningful and “difficult” decison each and every game against every army and there is no “auto-write-in” like Titanslayer vs. Knights or Reaper vs. a Gaunt-Carpet.

        • Reecius
          Reecius February 13, 2020 11:51 am #

          In some instances secondaries will be no-brainers but that is not because of a choice the mission designers made but the list building choices the players made.

          If you take an all say, tank army, then anything that is good against tanks is an auto-take against you. That’s not bad mission design, that’s simply the consequence of a choice a player made when creating their list. That same mission choice vs. a balanced army would be a lot less appealing.

          That’s what you get in a game this complex. In the example you use against Knights, that is simply a consequence of an army that is as extreme as a Knight army. You have essentially a single unit in your army, lol, that makes it challenging to design for when essentially every other army in the game is going to have variety. There’s not really a lot of room to move in that scenario. But hey, if you think you can come up with something, by all means, show us what you’ve got. It’s much easier to cast stones than provide a solution =)

          • Avatar
            Zweischneid February 14, 2020 1:12 am
            #

            Well, the same is true for the maelstrom example you bashed as allegedly bad mission design.

            If you take an army without psykers, you cannot score the “cast a psychic power” card. Again, that wouldn’t be bad mission design either by the logic. It’s just a consequence of a choice a player made when creating a list.

            The hypocricy is in claiming you improved upon, say, Maelstrom (even the old, no discard anything) by doubling down on the very things you criticise about, say, Maelstrom.

          • Avatar
            Zweischneid February 14, 2020 1:32 am
            #

            But the obvious improvement is adding a random element to secondaries (maybe not in their current form) so people cannot choose the “no-brainers”.

            If you use a randomiser each game or each turn, you might get lucky and get the no-brainer and be able to score points off superheavies while playing a Knight army in turn 3, or you might get lucky to be able to achieve an engineering point in turn 4 against an army without indirect, but at least you’re not guaranteed it.

            You also force players to build more varied armies that have contingencies for scoring all, or nearly all secondaries against any and all armies at any given turn as you cannot plan on always getting engineers or recon always, while the Knight player won’t give up Titanslayer always, every game, without fault, though he might if his opponent is lucky rolling/drawing the right secondaries.

            Possible secondary mismatch mitigated by a RNG > guaranteed secondary mismatch.

          • Reecius
            Reecius February 14, 2020 5:46 am
            #

            It’s not obvious, lol. The data we have indicates you are wrong. You may prefer it and it may make sense to you, which is fine, but it’s far from obvious. Besides, we had 40% growth last year, that’s crazy. Changing to something our attendees have loudly and clearly told us they don’t want would be foolish. If you want to play with a random mission then more power to you, do it, have fun, and you can still score points in the circuit.

  11. Avatar
    Jace February 12, 2020 8:26 pm #

    Game theory: yeah that’s a thing
    Mission theory: eh, maybe?
    Warhammer mission theory: come on.
    Objective placement theory: hahahaha.

    I want variety to my buzzwords!

    Also, good stuff, love your work, keep it up 👍

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