Monday, January 23, 2012

Steamroller 2012 - Why Deathclock is the best

I did some preliminary thoughts about Steamroller 2012 (here) at the time that the beta rules were in the hands of only a few individuals.  Now the full rules have been released and it's time for the 2012 tournament season to begin!  There is some very different things about Steamroller this year compared to the last (in my opinion, for the better) and while I will share a couple of those differences in this post, I want to focus on the issue of timing.  In SR2012 the issue of timing games has become a little more complicated and unpredictable, but for those of you who might get a headache from reading about all of the variables and multiples and tie-breakers (it really reads more like a textbook), I want to make a case for a small little timing variant known as Death Clock.

What is Death Clock?  It's a variant in the SR Scenario that uses the Chess Clocks variant, with the twist that the tournament organizer (TO) doesn't call dice-down.  Here are the words from the SR2012 packet:

Chess Clocks – Instead of timing each turn, chess clocks will be used. Baseline round times with no
variable are used, but the chess clock replaces the turn length. Each player’s clock will be set based on
the following equation:

Base round time × 0.53 = Player clock total (rounded up to the nearest minute)

When a player moves a model, rolls dice, or takes significant time to make decisions during the other
player’s turn, the player whose turn it is has the option of switching to the opponent’s time on the chess
clock while these actions are resolved.

When chess clocks are used, a player must take meaningful turns, fully activating all his models, or risk
disqualification. If a player’s clock runs out of time, that player loses the game.

Death Clock – Use the Chess Clocks variant. Additionally, dice down will not be called in any round.
 The addition of Death Clock means that "dice-down" will never be called and the game is essentially played until either a player's warcaster/warlock is dead, or they run out of time.  So why is this best way of running a tournament?

4) Simple to Understand
Play until you either run out of time or someone wins.  Simple.

3) Control Over Time
I hate the frustration of feeling rushed.  When I only have 10 turns to move 50 points worth of models, it can be a little daunting when I'm rushed.  While there is the advantage of having a turn extension in timed-turns, you still are left sometimes either not using the entire time you're given, or you run out of time.  In Death Clock you can spend as much time as you need - even if an extension wasn't enough!  This will be even more important in scenarios that use Reinforcements, as your turn time doesn't increase even though you're playing with 20% more points!

2) No Random Round-Length
I've already discussed at length my opinions on randomness, but to summarize: I hate randomness.  More specifically, I like to plan things, and not-knowing when the round ends would get me very upset if I had a plan and got interrupted during the middle of it.  What if I'm able to kill the warcaster this turn and need a lengthy turn to do so?  I would be beyond upset if I ran out of time randomly.  Instead, you always know how much time you have on your Death Clock and you only have yourself to blame if you run out of time.  Placing the blame on something I can fix helps me feel better about the outcome of the game (in my favor or not).

1) No Tie-breaker Shenanigans!
If you've looked through the SR2012 rules, you'll notice there are a couple pages devoted entirely to tie-breakers.  When "dice-down" is called, it means that if a game isn't finished, everyone has to figure out who technically won by some complex table and calculations.  No one wants to do that!  Instead, with Death Clock you just keep playing until someone wins - even if it means they run out of time.  No dealing with tie-breaker tables or rules, just play until someone wins.  No problem!

So the next time your local Press Ganger wants to host a steamroller event, tell them "Death Clock is the best!"
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