Thursday, 12 August 2010

Tiers For Fears

Maybe it's because my old fella has always done the two things that I have asked of him, that I have never been bothered about how big he is.

But I have never understood the cult of the tier system.

You people on forums writing things like, 'but that's because you don't play a top tier army', or 'now that so-and-so is Ini 3, that makes it a mid to bottom tier army.'

To me this is code for 'I have no idea what I am talking about but the older boys told me to say it.'

Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that there are no issues of balance across army books and codexs. And nor am I saying that any army build can beat any other army build given the roll of the dice - technically this may be true, but let's face it.... yeah...

It's just that tiers are based on trends within a self selecting group. And what is more that the constants within that group change as people gravitate towards the armies that are percieved to be better. Not to mention that when prizes are factored into the equation it compounds the imbalance by allowing the player with the flavour of the month to expand their collection of options for nothing. Quite why TO's don't award trophies and raffle the prize support is beyond me. After all surely it makes the competition mean more if you win a trophy with the names of the last 10 players ot win the tournament?

Since the release of 8th, forums have had threads asking about the tier system.

Which to me misses the point, given that 8th has far more random elements, and therefore lacks the predictability required to construct a ranking system.

But it also misses the point of 8th being a chance to break free of this sterile exercise and build a healthier hobby.

I guess what I really don't like about the tier system is the way in which it stifles creativity.

A fairly common thread that one would see on forums was a new player wanting advice on starting a new army. After the first couple of replies, it would often get sidetracked into a bickering argument about how the particular army was 'lower tier' or 'upper tier', which often as not would get personal. I would read these threads and think 'why on earth would this person want to get involved in a hobby with jerks like these?' All they wanted was a bit of friendship and encouragment, and maybe validation for their choice of army. Yet suddenly for no good reason their dream of, say, an Ork War Boss smashing a skeleton's head in with an axe is being trampled on by some numpty, who in all likelihood they will never meet or play, for no other reason than they are repeating 'percieved wisdom'.

Yeah fine point out the shortcomings of various units, warn the player that certain combinations are dangerous, but don't bang on about how they will never win aginst this army or that army, because the simple fact is that it ain't so.


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