Tract of the Tarrasque: The (Legal) Modification

This solves everything.
Ok, it doesn't quite solve everything, but it makes the cool artwork of Jared Von Hindeman legal again in the DDM game.

We are releasing a modification for the Tract of the Tarrasque map that will permit an acid-free corridor of movement for large and for squeezed (Huge) creatures. The map still has its quirks - that's for certain. However, with this key modification, it falls within the realm of playable if skewed maps.

The modification comes in the form of released a PDF file that includes an image that measures 5.32 cm by 5.35cm. Some of you may want to cut and paste this on a scan of the map and photoshop it into place. But that's just crazy. The easiest solution is this: the PDF gets printed on a label (or sticker) available in any stationary shop and applied to the existing map of the Tarrasque.
(Some really computer-savvy folks may even adjust the PDF to get multiples printed on one label sheet, and that's cool too!)

This is the first in a series of notes and articles directed to developing small maps. So why are we doing this?

The theme for 2014 is simple and elegant.
And that is, 200 point arena.
Get your friends playing.
Lets reconstitute our player base!

/dgs

Comments

alepulp's picture
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Cool - thanks.

Justjooaivan's picture
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Nice, thanks Tried, great fix.

200 pt Arena, I like it.

tried's picture
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Well yes. That would be very cool.
But I was hoping to build to that...
Wink

Justjooaivan's picture
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Oops. Damage control.

alepulp's picture
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Haha , yes. I have to admit that a 200pt arena version as the main event would put me off,

tried's picture
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Insofar as you are a repeat winner of the event, I've no qualms with putting you off your game.
Now wait til I add back morale checks for bloodied units.
mwahahahahaaa!

(Which is, incidentally, coming as a variant format).

alepulp's picture
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I miss those... I did prefer the chaos of seeing a level 15 mini run off the map Smile

Justjooaivan's picture
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Yes, morale checks add a nice strategic element to the game that many appreciate. I also suggest we add 8x critical damage and an extra die roll before the game where both players roll a die and if one rolls 20 and the other rolls a 1, the one rolling 20 automatically wins the game 200-0. This would add interesting tactical elements too.

alepulp's picture
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That sounds like an element of a bad matchup in Arena Smile

Justjooaivan's picture
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Bad matchups are bad matchups, independent of the format.

alepulp's picture
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In Arena you have a larger likelihood of one - I've passed on the idea to Stuart for his input. UK Nationals will likely be in November and I'll ask them then also for input. Big smile

wonderer13's picture
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Ok , to add my two pence worth...........

As a main event , my answer is nope !

Changing the rules , adding parts of Original rules , bringing back morale etc we could call that evolving .
Player base at present is shrinking !.

Arena can be over in minutes , is usually brutal .

Stuart

PhoenixInferno's picture
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A bad matchup is a bad matchup. A good band should either meta with map choice or items, or just accept the loss.

And if matches can be over in minutes, then maybe you can play best of X? I like this idea, personally.

alepulp's picture
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What's wrong with assault? It isn't broken... why change from it for a main championship event? All formats have good and bad sides, but Arena has way more bad sides. It's over too fast, it's not strategic enough, it's not interesting in terms of warband choice, the maps are too small - nowhere to hide, too little choices for out-manoeuvring opponents.

I'll show my hand here - I'll happily play 200 arena as a side-event. It can be a nice "stress reliever". However, and I might be alone with this, if it became the main event, I'd not bother turning up.

PhoenixInferno's picture
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I wouldn't say that there's anything WRONG with Assault, but for the purposes of revitalizing the game, it might be nice to push a format that required fewer figures.

The upside of "nowhere to hide" is getting to engagement sooner. I admit that this is not without its downsides since cover and careful spacing is a fun aspect of the game for some as well, but if you've noticed from the new format ideas that Tried has proposed, earlier engagement seems to be the direction he wants the game to go.

alepulp's picture
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I have noticed that - but the question is "why?". It actually makes the game more 1 dimensional. I don't think this will "revitalise the game". I think, as commented in a private email from Wonderer13, that this would do the opposite.
Arena was a good idea, and, for less challenging tournaments it is fine to play. But it's too boring for a major event. At least, that's my view - and I've played it Smile

tried's picture
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Full blow assault is not a way to garner new players.
That is, by now, pretty much proven.

Nor is it particularly satisfying as a tournament format, since games frequently do not resolve within 1 hour. Perhaps the floor rules should be redone to permit 90 minutes/round, and this might address the issue.

These Formats, btw, are for inclusion as standardized options in a new tome. The best of the old and a few of the new will be in there. Some of the more astute will realize that a championship can be set up such that each round is played in a different format (with or without a different map). This makes warband building an exercise in analyzing complex possibilities.

As far as arena being not tactical, that's a bit of an overstatement.
Its not been played tactically because it has never been treated tactically. Its been the fun cousin. This by no means indicates that this necessarily has to be the only role, however. I suspect it could be very tactical, and the meta would lean down considerably in the 'right' play environment.

For example, last year's championship warband? (choose one). It probably has an Arena Equivalent.

That said, the 'fun' aspect of arena is still a plus. I get beaten by players I consider less experienced all the time with Arena. And I am pretty sure they get a kick out of beating me.
Of course, it doesn't keep the Illuminati on top. But that's not my goal.

Ira's picture
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As a note, I think Arena 200 is a very interesting format, and I commend Tried for supporting it.

It's definitely more beginner friendly because there is more luck involved, and that's good for the game. It's also easier and less expensive to put together a viable warband. The more experienced player will still win most of the time.

Regarding smaller maps causing faster engagement, I think that's great.

Possible suggestions to further improve the Arena 200 point format:
- Continue to create new Arena maps so it approaches the number of Assault maps.
- Consider increasing the time limit to 40 or 45 minutes to help more games finish.

Thank you!

Justjooaivan's picture
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In my experience Arena matches tend to have as much strategy as you decide to put there. Of course, if you decide to build a team that is very straightforward in what it is trying to do (melee chargers on Crossroads), your playing is more simple and requires less planning. There are quite a number of great "tech" or "gimmick" bands out there, though. If you want to play mindless melee rush, the Arena suits you likely the best of all formats. Which is not to say that those bands will be very successfull. And, as noted before, some very cool pieces become playable in Arena (check out Skeletal Tomb Guardian, for example, which is pretty much unplayable in Assault due to its low defenses).

alepulp's picture
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Obviously, I sit in the minority here. Still, I love DDM, and will play major assault tournaments, and fun 200 pt arena. But if 200 Arena takes over, it's not what I'd travel for. Sad( Sad(

Since the very start of DDM in 2003 people would play slowly, games wouldn't run to the end, and so on. That's never actually been a problem. If someone takes too long - warn them. 5 figure, small map, DDM... the numbers shows its dumbed down and less able to provide options.

I don't see Arena being more than an enticement for beginners to get into the game, and a fast version for a "for fun" game. A bit like blitz chess, vs. the 2 hour, serious version where the mind can be involved in careful strategic work. Stuart compared this move with that of warmachines, where they wanted to entice new players with a new "arena-like" version of the game. No-one plays that any more as the existing gamers left - Stuart and Wayne joined DDM instead. The last exchange with him included this challenge:

"If they introduce this as the next step , then I feel it would be in it's death throws as a game , rather than a step forward .

What do you think ? As a group we hardly play now . Would you honestly travel to play arena ."

I wouldn't.

The EU gaming scene is very small - I might be wrong, but certainly the people I have spoken to in the UK are of like mind. A main event Arena would mean that they'd vote with their feet - as would I. Don't dumb the game down to make it more chance-based, with less strategic options, just to make the game faster. There's nothing wrong with the existing main format. That's my view, and, I think, it's shared with those I have been playing with here.

Keep Arena as the "dumbed down cousin", entice new players in, but give the main event over to more skills-based gaming - Assault. Arena, as you mentioned, gives in to much more chance on the dice. That's boring and not why I play the game. Those who enter the game through Arena can then, easily, move onto the real game of skill. I am about to introduce a new UK player to DDM using Arena as the format. But I'll tell him that it's a far deeper game when playing the "real" format; assault

Justjooaivan's picture
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While Arena might, or might not become the official "World Champ" game, nothing is preventing us from doing a serious full fledged Assault tournament as well. We can call the winner a "moral champion" (pun intended) if we like. In the end, even though we play for "honor", the title is really somewhat secondary to being able to get together as a group and play, right?

I know I spend about the same time planning my Arena 200 team and my Arena 500 team as I do on my Assault 200 when I know we are playing these formats when we arrange our EU champs. Nothing changes for me, really. In the end, we just want people to enjoy themselves. Championship tournaments are rarely the place to introduce new players anyway, or are they?

wonderer13's picture
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You'll have to excuse me for being a little slow on the up take .

If 200pt assault doesn't grab you , where tactics , war band synergy and luck , in my case a lot of luck , as i'm sure other players may agree or disagree .

How is 200pt arena going to win new players into this great game ?.

Before travelling to Finland this year , as a group we played in a couple of gaming shops . We had a lot of interest . But little follow up .

Cost wasn't so much an issue . More a lack of figures for sale in the shops , and a good lack of support sponsership .

As a fun secondary event , I have played and won events , however it would not encourage me to travel .

Stu

alepulp's picture
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My 200 pt Arena warband took me 4 seconds to build (I'm not joking - I was on site as I was told we'd got the date of the Muse concert wrong, so then I just randomly chose two good pieces and some random magic items - and I came 2nd). My 500 pt Arena warband took me less than a minute, and Stuart played it and won the 500 pt Arena. Compare that to my 200 assault warband which took months of careful practice and changing the warband to include support pieces of all kinds to synergise with strengths and weaknesses. There's something to learn from that about the two formats.

Now, I understand that if it became the main event, people would put more effort into developing that game. But not me - there are many options, sure. Some pieces can come into play that aren't in assault, sure. Equally, MOST pieces that are played, and interesting, in Assault will NOT be played. So we're exchanging a larger pool, for a smaller pool. But the game is too random, too one-dimensional, and too quick. A bit like blitz chess. Anyone can win with a few lucky rolls. That's not the way I want to play a game. If others do want to play it that way, that's fine - but then it's not the game I have learned to be passionate about. And I (maybe just I) wouldn't attend. Or if I did, I would just go to say hi to good friends, pull out a game of ticket to ride in the evening, and then go sightseeing.

alepulp's picture
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It should also be noted that the "Illuminati" are the people who keep the game alive Tongue

Koen's picture
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Wow, long debate here Laughing out loud Maybe it should be copied to the forum somehow?

Anyway, my 2 cents. Arena or assault would not be the deciding factor for attending a major championship for me. To be honest, i never really spent much time on my assault warbands. For Mons I simply looked at the rakshasha, though something like: 'oh, shiny!' and added some other decent pieces. After that I made a few different more competitive warbands and played them on Vassal, one of those warbands won every single practise game but it lacked the Rakshasha Tongue

I think that if Arena is the 'main' event I would prepare in a similar way. Make something funny, then create a few 'strong' warbands and see if one of them clicks for me. If not, go back to the funny warband.

The thing that I miss most in Arena is the 'fodder battle', which can be just as interesting as the main fight. But if I can play more Arena games on a day i'll be happy with that.

tried's picture
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**"It should also be noted that the "Illuminati" are the people who keep the game alive."**

True, but alive and on life support.
28 players worldwide engaging in the highest levels of competitive play. And at least two are the children of players. In reality, its probably something like 24 families.

I have other projects doing on, at least one of which has a publisher onboard. So I need to know where to put my resources. I have at least two big projects that are directed to expanding DDM, but I need to also calculate how many people will benefit from each use of time.

As far as all the worries about a way forward goes, its pretty unlikely that Arena would become 'the' game pushed forward by the guild. But to have one season that featured this format it in an attempt to build a player base (and only then introduce the more complex parts of the game?).

I really don't see why people have such a profound problem with that.

alepulp's picture
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If it is a way to recruit, that's one thing, and, as I wrote, I support it. It's brutal and fast. It's simple and carries very little strategy - perfect for beginner. It is even fun - although not as satisfying (even if the game didn't end up going to 200 pts) as assault.

I am not sure what your plans are - apart from promoting Arena. If that's so - great. It is a doorway to the more adult version of DDM.

However, as the main, major competition, event, it's not suitable. Even if just for one year.

I am trying to get buy-in from my Italian friends for this year's EU Champs, and I know their gaming style really well (I played in their championships 3 years) . They like the complexity of OE, activations etc. Lots of strategy and tactics. They left DDM in 2008 after the restart because the new game was too simple and because they felt WoTC wasn't listening to the community. They also quoted the problem of WoTC wishing to promote 4e, with the minis game integrated. I guess that I would struggle more than I am if I suggested yet another dumbed down version of DDM to them to play at the championship.

I should also say that there are two ways of growing the game that I try to do as best I can, and have time to:

1) Bring in new gamers - pro: never played before, new blood, new ideas. Con: There are hardly any minis for them to get hold of (solution, maybe, introduce Arena with fewer mins, but that alienates the second group)

2) Get the old guys back - pro: they have existing minis, they already know the rules, there are LOTS of them. Con: They have to have something they want to play (I suspect, not Arena. Solution: Provide assault as main event, Arena as side event). Strangely enough, the two young lads who played at the EU Champs fall into this category.

tried's picture
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[1] I'm not positive it carries very little strategy. I would agree that very little strategy has been put into it to date. But, for example, if there was to be a rotating map schedule with one tile per player to modify each map? I'm pretty sure the strategy ramps up.

[2] I think the notion that one version of DDM is 'adult' and the other is not, is, at its simplest level, offensive.

alepulp's picture
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I love the idea of going back to tile placement. I'm probably one of the few that remember those days.

I will retract "adult", but I did not use it as anything more than a way to describe a simpler game.

Moraturi's picture
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I feel that Arena is just as challenging as Assault. A player has to be well aware of how the warbands synergize, and look for those synergies. Across both (all) formats, there will be some players who scrutinize and take time to plan and build, and there will be some players who put creatures into a warband just so the points add up. That is going to happen, regardless of format.

I spent months leading up to GenCon going through 200 pt Gladiator warbands for that mini tournament, and it didn't have enough players to hold the event Sad . (I did the same thing in years past for other non-Assault formats (100 pt Gladiator, 50 pt Arena, 121 Goblins v orcs, 500 point Arena, etc). Personally, I like to build and tweak warbands. Changing formats is a good way to keep interest in the game.

Don't change the standard format from 200 Assault, but keep adding variety to the side events. I don't go to Cons to play in a single event. I go to play, in general, and the same thing can get monotonous.

I don't think the format matters as much as the player's mindset.

Cheers

alepulp's picture
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I agree with Moraturi 100% Smile

Mr Tulip's picture
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Dejavu.
"Real" chess used to be played with 2h+2h+something times.
The arguments and reactions when faster play was called for were hilariously similar to the opinions on this thread - and similarly emotionally argued.
Also the drive to diversify game and broaden viable meta... brings to mind some chess variant proposals such as randomized pieces (officers) starting positions in chess.

I do find Assault 200 "deeper", and at its best more rewarding format
Yet I can rarely mount the determination to build a team & strategy and train & execute in games at the level that brings out that "best" in this difficult game.
For me, most times Arena is easier to enjoy - it is similar enough, yet different enough.

Many feel same way about different speeds of chess.