Saturday, December 3, 2011

1500 points - A different animal

Lately, I've been doing a good amount of 1500 pt games.

For me, this is a complete change to how the game plays at 2K.  Let me riddle you guys something:  Does the number of units you have under your control changes from 1500 to 2K?  Yes, most of the time.  It could be a lot more units in transports, a more aggressive MSU approach, 2 huge squads of something or a boss character.  Does this change how you play the game?  Most definitely.  Your strategy, tactics and game sense will change depending on what you add into your army. This is certain.  What isn't certain for me is your level of generalship and play style.  For me, it's difficult to judge whether or not I play more conservative at lower point levels than I do at higher point levels.  The thought and need of unit preservation stays the same no matter what level I play at.  I always want to get the best bang for my buck.

So what is point level for me?  At 1500 pts, the scale of the game is different.  There are less units on the battlefield, you feel like you're playing a skirmish rather than a battle and you see a lot of different archetypes.  Is scale the only thing to change at this level?  I feel that at this level, one needs to make certain cuts to his army in order to preserve what is effective.  Let me flesh out an example with my own Dark Eldar army:  At 2K points, I take Vect and 3 Blasterborn Venoms.  At 1500 points, I drop Vect for an Archon and I remove the Blasterborns completely.  Crazy right?  Vect adds a lot to my army because he can get away with things a normal Archon can't:  One of which is a game-changing ability to Seize Initiative.  Aside from his beastly stats as a melee monster, taking away the Blasterborn takes the number of lances I employ by 9, and the number of 36" Splinter Cannon shots down by 36.  This is a huge change to the army!  Not only has the scale of the game changed, the number of options I have have been drastically reduced.  Tactically, it also means I have less units to contest and less kill points to give to my enemy.

But wait, does this mean all armies are effected in the same way?  If you look at my Space Wolf army, going from 2K to 1500 requires me to drop Ragnar and his retinue of Terminators.  My CC killing potential goes down by a lot, but the core of my army stays the same:  3 full squads of Grey Hunters, a Rune Priest and enough anti-tank for my meta.  The same could be said about my Blood Angels:  Mephiston goes down to a Libby, 1 Baal and 1 AC/LC Pred gets dropped (roughly).  How big of a change is that?  Is it any bigger than the changes I made to my Space Wolves and Dark Eldar?  Ah.. so maybe there is a point to this post after all.  Let me ask you folks a riddling question:

Does the scale of the game (in terms of point level) change the playstyle and dynamics of all armies or just some armies?  If you look at the example I provided above with Dark Eldar and Space Wolves, which army do you think is effected more?  Some guys in my club think Tyranids isn't even viable at 1500 points.  If this is true, then it brings us back to the age-old question of GW game design:  If the design team does intend on balancing the game, what point level do they balance it on?

I leave you guys to your thoughts.. but get back to me quickly because this is good.

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