Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Thunderstruck - Achievement Tournaments Reviewed

As I look back on the weekend that was Thunderstruck, I thought I’d share my conclusions on an achievement ranked Malifaux event.

As I mentioned in my last post, Thunderstruck had 55 achievements, with the winner of the tournament being the person who had racked up the most achievements after three games. As a secondary countback mechanism, our TO used Tournament Points to resolve any tie breaker situations.

If you click on the picture below, you can see the achievements we used. This sheet gives you an idea of whether an achievement can be completed once or several times within the three games we played.

So what is it like to play in an achievement orientated event? Well my experience was that it made for a much more relaxed and less competitive event. Our Henchman did a good job of relaxing the barriers, he allowed unpainted crews, increased round times and there was a broad enough spectrum of achievements to ensure everyone could score.

We played through three of the new gaining grounds missions, which in itself was an education for everyone, with some fierce fighting to capture the treasure or be king of the hill.

At the same time, I think we were all conscious that winning was only going to net us one achievement point per game, so you saw people playing their hands open or cheating blind, letting your opponent pick their crews, or trying plays they'd normally not risk to get their achievements.

It all creates a more light-hearted atmosphere, and I think it probably emulates some of the play testing that Wyrd went through in the development of the game. What do I mean by that? Well next time you play a game, try a round with your hand face up and you'll see a lot more decisive play, because you know exactly what your opponent has in their hand. Try a turn where your control hand is face down and you cheat blind, you'll have a lot more fun and at the same time your wins and losses in the turn become a lot more epic. That's what I mean.

So does the achievement concept work in a tournament environment? Well my own experience would have said yes but after speaking to a couple of attendees they had mixed feelings about the concept.
There was feedback that some of the achievements weren't possible with certain factions and you also need to look out for achievements that favour a faction. I had several people say I had one in the bag because I could easily end a game with more models than I started with. In reality I didn't, but that was down to me still learning Kirai.
Meanwhile Mr Fantasy, being the sneaky out-of-the-box thinker that he is, found a way to maximise his achievements whilst minimising the risk to his crew selection.

Picture the scene, you have a sixty soulstone pool to play with. You know you can earn six achievement points if you let your opponent choose your crew and it contains no duplicates. How do you ensure that happens, well you only take a 28ss crew, of all unique figures. Yeah sure you can pick my crew, oh and you don't really have a choice because even dropping the cheapest minion will exceed the master's cache.... Oh and they are all unique so that's 2 points per game. Like I said, cheeky, and my hat is off to Mr Fantasy for thinking of it. This from the man who had only played three games prior to the tourny! Achievement Tournys level the playing field.

So if you're careful with your achievements, are there any other gotchas? Well if you look back to the score sheet you might pick up on another, but if not, then my advice would be to design a score sheet where you can differentiate on the achievements earnt per game. It sounds trivial but when you want your opponent to sign off on your achievements, its a lot easier to distinguish if you can see what was achieved that game.

If you follow these points then I think you'll have a great time and put on a unique event that veterans and newbies will enjoy. I know I did, even though I only managed a humble middle of the pack position and 24 of the 28-31 achievement points I was predicting going into the event.

And here's the KRAGS crew at Thunderstruck: Back Row Mr Guild, Mr Neverborn and the grinning loon, on the right, is me, The Aspiring Ressurrectionist, meanwhile in front we have Mr Fantasy and Mr Arcanist.

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