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Activations arms race?

 Post subject: Activations arms race?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:39 pm 
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Im wondering if people are in a kind of arms race to be top of the activation count at all costs?

Personally I dont play in tournaments, and my lists tend to be 'fluffy' (though also moderately effective ;) ) But I do keep a casual eye on tournaments and what kind of armies people tend to be taking. I was looking through the epic-uk.co.uk tournament results, which handily list the players army list, and noticed that the activation count seems to be climbing as the year goes on. This is mostly achieved by people splitting superheavies into singles rather than 3's, warhounds singly, fewer upgraded formations etc.

Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on it, good/bad, and if its generally considered a problem? Are list designers aware of it and trying to promote/discourage it? Or is it just coincidence and not really relevant to compeditive or casual play?

For those wondering:
Full Scale Assault March 2010 10.56
Open War 13 May 2010 10.28
Epic London May 2010 10.63
Battle of the Chumps June 2010 13.07
Britcon August 2010 14.67


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 Post subject: Re: Activations arms race?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:10 pm 
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Interesting stats, though you should note that Britcon is 4000 points, so 30% more than the other UK tourneys. I am assuming that the figures are the average of all the armies fielded. The other thing is that activation count does tend to vary slightly between armies.

In the UK, we do like to keep the activation count on the higher side. This is especially true of the Eldar, who seem to become both ineffective and vulnerable if they drop significantly below their opponents. The ultimate expression of this is the 'pop-corn' army that tries to achieve and maintain a 3:2 activation superiority over the opponent. The aim being to make use of the spare activations to acheive strategic and tactical objects

The main problem with the approach is that the power of formations drop as cheaper ones are used, and many lists have inhibitors built in to prevent abuse - eg Eldar must take a warhost for each three support formations. Usually the smaller formations are much more brittle, so become a 'one-shot' weapon. There are also a number of counters to this style of army - judicious use of screening formations, ensuring mutual support, and making the best use of the greater formation power.


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 Post subject: Re: Activations arms race?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:16 pm 
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BotCH was 5 games with differing points between 3,500 and 2,750. Basically a core of 2,000 and 2 x 750 upgrades. As 3 of the 5 games used the full 3,500 you see higher activation counts.

The rest of the year is all 3,000 point games so the average should drop back. That said I think most players do subscribe to the 3-4 activations per 1,000 points in general, with Guard at the low end and Marines/Eldar at the high. Also due to a higher proportion of players using Marines the count is artificial raised.


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 Post subject: Re: Activations arms race?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:11 pm 
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Ah, didnt realise the final 2 tourneys were higher pts values ;( , It seems then that its pretty stable.

11.20 and 11.00 for the final 2 if adjusted for 3000pts so far less increase, probably nothing to really worry about then ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Activations arms race?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:29 pm 
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Activation count is one of those things that will change depending on the local meta, which the tournament circuit in the UK certainly has. It's mainly about setting up and executing killer assaults or making sure such assault's can't happen. In this meta activation count is important. Other groups play differently so activation count probably isn't so important.


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 Post subject: Re: Activations arms race?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:35 pm 
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Anecdotally, activation counts in the UK tournament scene tend to run 1-2 above those that are typical elsewhere.

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 Post subject: Re: Activations arms race?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:16 pm 
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I think it's largely a UK tourney thing. As Ginger says, as long as you can keep it between 1:1 and 2:3 the game is workable with larger formations and lower activation count. So, if you assume the high end is likely to be 12-13, you should be able to get by with 9 and maybe 8 activations with a bit of practice.

A lot of it will come down to play style. Forces with larger formations have to be patient and make sure every activation eliminates or seriously hinders at least one enemy activation so they don't get swarmed by gnats.


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 Post subject: Re: Activations arms race?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 7:57 pm 
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I think it increased in the couple of years following Epics release, it has now hit a level where it is fairly static. In general unless you have 10+ activations you get outmanoeuvred quite quickly, of course you can have activations that kill the enemies which evens things up, however failing activation rolls and the like normally mean those big beasts like Leman Russ companies are scarce in winning lists. I can't envisage a winning list now with 8 activations. It will get chewed up turn one as it will have to move into range of the enemy and not get many hits back, go into turn 2 with a bigger activation disadvantage and a fair amount of blast markers, then typically not claw enough back to stop being out moved for the objectives.
High activation lists typically have redundancy, sacrificial speed bumps and the ability to weather the odd failed activation (OK Joe's Eldar at Britcon failed too many each turn for this, but you get the point).
Currently overall the tournie scene I feel currently favours high strategy high activation, high (at least initial) mobility armies. Though of course things like Great Gargants can throw a spanner int he works and things like Warlocks can be very hard to deal with.
I think they are probably all embodied in a Space Marine strategy 5 warhound!


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