Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Common Assessment

I was reading through my blogroll today and saw an interesting article from 3++ is the New Black.

It basically talks about a need for standardization of tournaments in the hobby. 

I think this is great.  I am educator and a big idea floating around education right now is the use of "common assessments". It basically means that students from class A should be assessed for understanding/performance using the same assessment as students from class B.  If class A's math test is 234 x 45 and class B's assessment is 2 x 2.  They don't show the same level of understanding.  I.E. class B could have a 100% pass rate and still not be as learned or capable as class A.  This is, in fact, padding the system.  So, we all use the same assessment ( a standardized test).  It helps to create norms for what is academically successful, reasonable, etc.  We won't get into much more on the education front as I am sure it breeds quite a bit of angst all around. 

So, how does this apply to Warhammer 40K?  As Kirby put it, a good tournament will seek to balance all controllable variables so that in the end, the best players win games, not the best tooled army, not the luckiest army, or even the army that rolls more dice.  So, if the point of a tournament, defined by Merriam-Webster as : a series of games or contests that make up a single unit of competition (as on a professional golf tour), the championship play-offs of a league or conference, or an invitational event, then the point of said tournament is to decide the player best at the skills being competed for.  In 40k it simply means deciding who the best player is.  

If this is the case, why would we want different measures for this?  Why should one player win a 100 person tournament because they had great comp and a nicely painted army, while in another a player wins in a similar event due solely to win/loss and battle points totals?  It seems oddly inconsistent. 

The fact is, these two example don't measure the same thing.  They measure very different things in fact.

I can hear the naysayers crying foul.  That would be boring! What about all of those people who have nicely painted/converted models?  That just create WAAC gaming trends! 

I would beg to differ.

Boring? Try to tell any NBA or NFL fan that their sport is boring because they only play the same type of game each time.  People attend events to win.  If they don't think they have a reasonable chance at success, why come?  I wouldn't plop down $50-75 in tournament fees + travel + room and board simply to get my butt kicked all day.  Tournaments are voluntarily attended.  Why should we cater to people who bring soft armies to a competitive event?  We don't give the Dallas Mavericks a 1 game advantage in the first round of playoffs simply because they have choked the last couple of seasons. 

If people have nicely painted armies, have separate events where they can compete in the hobby aspect solely.  This can even be done in a tournament, just not added in as part of the overall score for winner of the tournament. Many events have separate paint/converting contests and events that have different prize support and are separate from the games being played.  This is a great way of doing things. 

WAAC is a term created by whiners.  Sure there are some blatant abuses of the gaming system that can go on, but by-in large, 40k is a game where you can create a wide variety of competitive armies via different codices.  If someone makes a rock army, that is their perrogative.  If someone wants to run down the fluff bunny path, that is their perrogative.  I only get bent out of shape when I play a real jerk (which rarely happens).   Otherwise, the hobby is great fun.  Even events with no comp can have great sportsmanship and fun gaming. 

So, I say unto the masses (read handful) of reader of this blog, encourage standardization of competitive events.  The end result of Warhammer or any other competitive game is to win.  Sure we have the added element of getting to completely design, paint, and convert/model our armies, but that has little to do with the intended purpose of the game itself.  It is just an added benefit for the vast majority of us.  To the minority their are painting services.  So, once again, let's assess skill via a common assessment and work towards a little bit of unity in the small hobby we all know and love. 

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