I'm convinced that unit scoring in a fantasy battle game makes no sense, at least some of the time

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  • I'm convinced that unit scoring in a fantasy battle game makes no sense, at least some of the time

    As the title says.

    Let me clarify, I totally realize that a battle game like Warhammer or 9th Age or any battle game for that matter has to have SOME sort of mechanism by which a "score" can be determined to decide who "won" the game. I totally understand that for competitive tournaments you have to have some way to determine who got the higher "score".

    But I believe that as a fundamental principal scoring makes no sense for a fantasy battle game, if the game is to be taken purely as an RPG/immersive/two or more player cooperative experience.

    These debates going on about what units should or shouldn't be scoring units is a debate that needs to be flipped on its head because it's being argued from the wrong premise.

    The main issue I have with scoring units is that in a competitive setting scoring/non-scoring units are used, yet AGAIN, to BREAK immersion, by using certain units to block or prevent scoring, again mechanics shenanigans to achieve the higher score by using units not as combat entities but mere blocks with a number assigned to them that the hyper-competitive player then uses like so many dominoes to achieve the overall superior equation at the end, therefore winning 20-0, or 17-3, or whatever.

    The problem I have, as I have always had is not with competitive play in and of itself. It's more some of the mechanisms and mechanics by which games are "won" or "lost" by those who have mastered those mechanics to a fault.

    What scoring does is take the horde/mass aspect of the fantasy battle game and turns it on its head by making the most visually appealing part of the game into little more than "crap" units vs. the more important "golden" units for scoring purposes.

    Now of course fantasy battle games DO need to have objectives. Whether those be capturing the enemy's banners, holding a certain piece of ground, killing the enemy general, capturing a treasure on the battlefield. THOSE types of victory conditions make much more sense because they are tangible things that are happening in a battle that reflect a real, tangible, believable objective that would genuinely achieve victory.

    This is why I believe more firmly than ever that a game like 9th Age or Warhammer was by its very nature more suited to winning or losing by scenario-based victory conditions rather than a pure, scoring element.

    Please understand, this is not a post that is anti-ETC or anti-competition or anti-tournament.

    It's rather just pointing out what I see in my opinion as being a flawed way to determine victory that I think is more abused than other mechanic in the game.

    If a real battle were being fought between two fantasy armies, "scoring" is one of the worst ways to reflect what really took place on the battlefield. Far more realistic and far more tangible and believable would be if an army's line of retreat were cut and could not escape, or its flank were collapsed which resulted in the route of the army, a particularly popular character in the army is killed, or something along those lines.

    I'm sorry to say this: but I see unit scoring as yet another one of those things that is truly not a skill, and most certainly is not true "strategy" or "tactics". Sorry, but I don't. There's nothing organic or battle-oriented about it. It makes a fantasy battle game closer to being two people with spreadsheets and a blank table than it does an actual table with scenery and miniatures.

    What the possible replacement mechanism would be for scoring units I have no idea, I offer no solutions in this post. I am merely pointing out from an immersive gamer's perspective that scoring is flawed and abused on a high level, yet it is that very scoring that masters of the competitive game consider to be one of their greatest skills.

    Given that the game is of course designed for balance in the ETC environment, they have every right to create whatever kind of game they wish for their own purposes. No argument from me there whatsoever.

    But for the rest of us playing this game at local clubs, or at home with friends or wherever else, I see unit scoring as something that should be always secondary to scenario-based victory conditions. Believe me when I tell you from the games of 9th Age that I've played - this game is a FAR STRONGER game and FAR superior experience when it's played based on actual scenarios and real-world, tangible victory conditions than just by the cold, harsh, competitive one on one grid of the mathematical equation championship.
    There are many magic rings in the world Bilbo Baggins, and none of them should be used lightly!
  • Well remember we are fighting battles in a vacuum. In RL there was huge economical and political factors usually more decisive than the battles.

    Historie is rife with examples of countries losing every battle, but still winning (or at Least not losing) the war.

    Since we dont have All that context the game need something to prevent IT just being a slug-fest.

    Scoring is ofc not perfect, but its working quite well and smoothly for standard games though special scenarios are always fun
  • I don't understand if you are referring to the "scoring" labeled ability, wich makes you win scenarios, or points count (killing unit Y gives X points).

    I honestly don't agree, in any of the case above.
    Having some units deputed to accomplish a certain task (ie secondary objective) is key of strategy and gives a powerful flavour to games rather than a simple massacre.
    I don't think complexity is equal to depth of mechanics, i'm more a supporter of simple but effective concepts. And nowadays secondary objectives are indee really cool.
    If you refer to points, they are the best way to represent the balance of resources spent by each faction to reach a result.
    Alessandro Bartoloni - Italy
    Dynasties for the Undying Dynasties!!
  • Scoring by points from destroying units, and/or capturing banners, and controlling secondary objectives is a great way to play games for people who are playing at tournaments and/or playing games with random opponents. It means there is a common language and common usage all players can talk in, and experience.

    If you want more narrative/immersive play that’s where scenarios, campaigns, multiple battles on multiple fronts come in. You can come up with a whole bunch of ideas that support these concepts far more than basing the game off what dies. I’m looking forward to what the Campaign Team comes up to appeal more to myself and my non- tournament mates.

    We fight battles largely with equally pointed armies in an attempt to balance games. In reality this rarely occurred, and it’s likely in our T9A fantasy world armies would also not be equal. A human army may be forced to fight half a dozen Vermin Swarm armies where killing/keeping alive human troops is actually more important than how many Vermin actually die. This isn’t reflected in current rules, but you can certainly do this at home. The rules are a brilliant framework not an exhaustive list of all options available.

    The game can not be all things to all players. It cannot totally appeal to the Narrative/ Immersive/Simulationist etc gamer all the time. None of these players are more deserving than others, but the developers have to stop and end somewhere. The game needs core rules that cover core situations, what you do beyond that is what turns this from just a war game to a truth fantasy experience. Change what you will for yourself and your friends, and report back so others can draw inspiration from that.
  • The main issue I have with scoring units is that in a competitive setting scoring/non-scoring units are used, yet AGAIN, to BREAK immersion, by using certain units to block or prevent scoring, again mechanics shenanigans to achieve the higher score by using units not as combat entities but mere blocks with a number assigned to them that the hyper-competitive player then uses like so many dominoes to achieve the overall superior equation at the end, therefore winning 20-0, or 17-3, or whatever.

    The problem I have, as I have always had is not with competitive play in and of itself. It's more some of the mechanisms and mechanics by which games are "won" or "lost" by those who have mastered those mechanics to a fault.

    What scoring does is take the horde/mass aspect of the fantasy battle game and turns it on its head by making the most visually appealing part of the game into little more than "crap" units vs. the more important "golden" units for scoring purposes.

    @Baranovich , I don't know what this means.


    It's literally too generically written - I can't tell what it is you're specifically objecting to, because your POV is not universal and you're speaking purely in generalities.


    There are issues with T9A, no doubt - but I can't actually tell what "shenanigans" you're condemning.


    Nor can I tell what a good scenario would look like (to your mind). Without this information, it's all just words.
  • If you want more realism / immersion, realize in the real world, there were very few pitched battles like this. Most battles were sieges because no general would risk their soldier's lives in a battle like that unless they had overwhelming odds. The defenders would usually hole up in a fortress until the siege was relieved. So the concept of playing a pitched battle with even forces is flawed in itself.

    "Scoring" special rules is needed because otherwise really fast and agile units like yetis and light troop cavalry would be very strong and be spammed to get the objective. Scoring keyword forces tough choices in army building because you might have a powerful model like a Gargantula that is good at getting points, but you keep in the back of your head it cannot score...so you need to take that into account in list builduing and playing the game. The game doesn't have to be perfectly realistic, just have enough versimilitude and offer interesting choices during list building and gameplay.