Sunday, 10 September 2017

Let's make Epic great again! Castle Assault 2017

Letting loose the dogs of war...

Note – This is largely a stream of consciousness, if you don’t feel like a long read skip straight to para 5…


First things first, check out the army gallery here... it's absolutely worth it. 

I’ve been someone who has really loved Epic Armageddon since my first into game. In that game some Imperial guard I borrowed got absolutely reamed in 2 turns by a well refined Orks list run by a mate of mine who graciously pointed out every mistake I made at the end of the game, I took notes. One thing I took away from that game however, the thing that has defined my experience with Epic from that point is that the balance in this game is garbage. This is a paradox which I have been unable to reconcile with fact that I’m also a highly competitive gamer who will inevitably invest much time and energy building, refining, practising and generally getting gud with any system that I play.
      If you’ve been following the adventures of the Australian Epic scene you have seen this scenario played out over and again, in no small part due to my own fault. What I learnt in that first game is that you might want to run a company of Leman Russ battle tanks because they are so cool but in reality a selection of smaller cheaper formations will probably crush that unit because of odd rule mechanics like clipping assaults where a unit like shining spears can jump out shoot that company of Russ with shiruken pistols in FF and somehow make all the tanks explode because they are so inspired…
      In tournaments we have seen this played out over and again, Cancon being taken out by my Squat force that was deemed so bad the entire race has been extinct since, Castle Assault being stomped by Feral Orks where I absolutely min/maxed the hell out of a list abusing orkeosaurus, and again at Cancon this year where the Eldar we had only kept out by the skin of our teeth took the inevitable win with massive activation spam. The result I realised was that the highly competitive players of the Aus scene had essentially dug their own graves driving away many new players through our own efforts in breaking a game which was fragile to begin with.
      All our efforts to restore balance to the game met with failure, any attempt to gain traction in the quagmire that is Taccoms just led to massive frustration with the intransigence of an elite few and if anything that forum has pushed more players out of our game than any other factor. The attempts to balance internally though composition systems at out comps also didn’t take well so we reached a point where I personally thought we were pretty stuck. I found myself less and less interested in the competitive side of Epic and watched as even the efforts of our most passionate advocates couldn’t stop the stagnation, then came Castle Assault 2017…
      I didn’t make it to CA17, I was shattered at that fact but it clashed with another major comp on my calendar and I was caught between a rock and a hard place. I saw the lists when they first came out and sadly with only a couple of days lead before the event I didn’t have the time to do a full write up but the first thing I noticed was that there was no bullshit lists in there, no orkeosaurus, nothing with more than 12 activations, no Biel Tan at all either. In fact there was a beautiful spread of lists and races and I actually struggled to call a winner straight up. It seemed that though all the efforts to enforce balance from the top down had failed the community had developed a solution that I had never considered, they decided to just stop being dicks.
      It actually made me wonder how much the meta is impacted by the presence (or absence) of the most competitive players. I know that when I’m going to any given comp I’m looking at whose on top of the food chain and trying to predict (and therefore counter) what they would run. Given that I wasn’t going this year and that this year’s Cancon winner was the TO it cut down the pool of such uber-competitive players to a much smaller group and those that did come brought really balanced and quite friendly armies.
      The link to the lists is here and I would encourage you all to check them out, the final results saw the closest finish that we have had in years, a far cry from the typical result where one player is so far ahead of the pack that the last round is really irrelevant. Spoiler alert we ended up with marines taking the crown which is amazing just of itself. But the most exciting bit was still to come, when the winner was announced and in the following days the response was universally positive…. There were no cries of “yeah but he only won because of the list” or anything of the nature. People were genuinely happy with the results after having genuinely enjoyed themselves for the weekend, it was so refreshing for their not to be controversy.
     It is my sincerest hope that CA2017 has set a new standard for play in Australia, the solution is simple, don’t turn up with a hideous concoction of game breaking gimmiky crap, turn up with something that everyone would enjoy playing against and if you win, so be it. This is a community driven game and we have so long forgotten that, it is really easy to point fingers at lists and Taccoms forums and blame our shortcomings on overseas groups but ultimately if we want the game to improve it’s up to us.
      Here’s to more results like this, more new players joining up to our glorious game and a bit more inspiration for anyone who is involved.

1 comment:

  1. Good read. I too have struggled with just playing and the tourney/Cons. I truly miss the once a month Epic weekends. Sucking suds and ball breaking. Sadly now I only get to play at the Cons. As it is, every Con's Epic is a tourney. Tourney play is just that. It is a smack down.

    About the same as playing 5v5 on Wednesday night after work and playing Sundays with 11v11 travel team.

    I believe you sir are more like me, you would rather drink beers and play, just to play.