Goatboy here to wax poetically on the current thing making me lose a decent amount of games lately – craptastic Maelstrom missions.
If you’ve been reading me for awhile you know I mostly play ITC based missions. It is what I fly out to most of the time when I get a chance to play – thus it is all I really test at home. This of course leads me to having a ton of games decided on the whim of a 3d6 and the unlucky nature of my rolling. This also goes in the opposite direction where I have games that I just cash in the exact Maelstrom I need to bring my enemy to heel. I will state here that I am not a fan of their usage but again – without some major changes to how the present them – I don’t see how I can effectively fix it within their system constraints. Plus – having games where my army is either unkillable or devastating and still losing is probably a good thing.
I Have Two Ideas!
With that – this article is all about thoughts on how to rework that system and at least make it less – annoying when you roll the 2 missions over and over again. I think that is the biggest bust factor out of it – when you constantly get that one mission that you have no hope in achieving. I do think the changes they did to have 3d6 rolled and pick from the 3 is a big help as well as the bet on getting more and thus earning 3 points per turn as steps in the right direction.
Mission Cards: The initial thought was to utilize the ETC mission cards. I think it fits in the true “maelstrom” idea by utilizing the cards, having a ton of options, and creating interesting game play. The issue comes from the idea of forcing events to either use the cards, buy the cards, and having opponents making sure they have valid cards/decks. I know we all have memories of Magic games where someone’s deck seemed to easily give them everything they needed to crush your Kobold. While the idea of making custom cards as a selling point to the event is interesting – I do know it isn’t the most valid option for smaller events. You could always utilize a mission sheet with all the options and a dice rolling system – but again that can be complicated for events that try to stay within the 2-2.5 hour time range. ETC can have longer games and thus the complexity can easily be thought through and completed.
Pre-set Missions: The next thought I had was to look at building locked in Maelstroms and to somehow utilize a system for either “picking” your missions or having a set of missions you need to complete before you can move onto the next one. Each one provides different levels of complexity and game play options. I have played an event that had a similar system but lacked some of the structure. Both of these systems seem to emphasis the chances for both players to complete them and thus ensures both teams can have chances to score the objectives.
First let’s look at my initial idea of having a based set of options. You would have a list of 10 missions and each turn you pick 2 to try and complete by the beginning of your next turn. Once you try a mission you cannot try it again – thus ensuring someone just doesn’t pick the same thing over and over again. I would also put in some bonus missions that would generate more points to help let opponents catch up later in the game and have a locked in chance to do so. It would also force you to play for different things in a turn and make your opponent try and respond to stop you – hopefully generating new play that isn’t just the same murder/kill/etc.
Main Mission – Relic
Maelstrom List (2 more objectives are placed in each deployment half – they must be 24 inches from each other)
Hold Relic for a Turn
Move the Relic
Kill a Unit
Kill a Unit
Hold Opponent 1
Hold Opponent 2
Hold Your 1
Hold Your 2
Be within 12 inches of opponents deployment edge
Have 3 or more units and none of your opponents units within 12 inches of your deployment edge
Burn both Kill a Unit and try to kill 3+ units to earn 3 VP
This is just a basic draft on a mission. You get to set up your turns, make plans, and not worry that you rolled the 2 things on the Maelstrom chart you can’t accomplish. I think that’s what gets lost in some games where you feel like you have no way to plan any route to victory. Sure your army isn’t dying, you’re killing stuff, but then you have now options to actually pull out a victory. Plus this idea means no card printing and you can easily tailor these for specific missions to help change things up. I just feel like there has to be a way to fix the random nature and still have the chance for different playing that isn’t just set up for kill kill kill.
Making Things Better
I think the big thought I take from these 2 ideas is we need to remove the duplicating nature of the simplified Maelstrom. If missions could only be grabbed once based on how many times they are present in the deck/list then we would hopefully see armies having to do more then just sit around and collecting the 2 lucky rolls that got them the to objectives on their side of the board. It also means you could hopefully get the no opponent models in your zone at a later time when you have a better chance of stopping – say a drop pod sitting in your zone. I want games to have more drama/excitement and while a random set of missions could be neat – it just limits some of the actual planning a true competitive battle could produce.
~Do you have anything thoughts on how to “fix” maelstrom? Should events just kick it out and utilized a better Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary mission set up? Should we go back to the old days of events with home brew mission formats? Do you think 8th is going to change anything about this?