Monday, December 12, 2011

Game Theory: Threat and Risk Assessment

Most people who know me would wager their lives on me forgetting my own birthday, so I've had to design a system that allows me to identify and track my opponents most dangerous abilities. It had to be very simple, while being flexible enough to cover every possible opponent, and so I decided on the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The Feat, Spell, and Model system is really simple, and it involves picking up your opponents cards, with the intent of remembering just three things about his list. 
  • Feat
Feats have a tendency to derail your plans if you don't anticipate them. Everything is going well, you line up to crush the puny Legion skank, and suddenly her entire battlegroup becomes immune to melee attacks. I've seen plenty of games lost because someone forgot his opponents feat, so don't.
  • Spell
The second place I look is the spell list, because nasty tricks tend to hide there. These are never as obvious as the feat threats, but occasionally it saves your bacon. I choose a single spell to remember, and this is usually something like Purification on the Harbinger, or Warpath on Kromac. It's great if you can remember all the different tricks a caster can pull, but you rarely need to remember more than one to stand a chance.
  • Model
The third thing I memorize is my opponents main threat. I usually decide on the most obvious ones at first (if Molik Karn is on the table, then Molik Karn is on the list), but occasionally an opponent will reveal his hand/spell/ability, causing a new evaluation to occur.

This does not mean you actually need to Focus on the model/unit, nor even kill it, but it means you need to keep it in mind. You know that Molik Karn can come at you from 20+ inches away, but only if you leave models he can use to sidestep, so remembering to keep models away from that zone is the key.
  • Summary
There are more than a hundred different casters in the game, and I've given up on getting to know them all. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is not the solution to every problem in the game, but it does allow you to dodge the most obvious deaths, and diminish the impact of many feats in the game. You still need to think, you still need to ask questions, and you still need to know as much about his list as you possibly can, but the Flying Spaghetti Monster will allow you to dodge the worst of it.


  1. This can be difficult however, if the main threat (or other big threads) can get an increase in threat range, by a spell or something else. But this is an interesting approach non the less. I've actually been struggling a lot with this issue since the very start, even having trouble remembering important stats of my own models xD It has gotten better of course, but I still find it hard to remember important stuff against casters I've faced numerous times. This might be a better way for me, only trying to remember the most important stuff :)

  2. The thing with forgetting your own abilities is easy, just write it on the back of their base :)

  3. I was actually quite inspired by your way of doing this. I noticed it when I played your Terminus list at the masters :) I'm planning to do something similar myself, writing words like "Terror" on the bases of WSC for instance and "Abomination" on DJ, Terminus and so on. It actually looked kinda cool on your bases I think :)

  4. I found myself doing this the last few games I played. It made a world of difference. Reznik's feat didn't hurt much because most of my casters stayed out of range until it was clear (and those that didn't made a couple great fire rolls). I made sure to lock down his reckoner and swarmed his errants before they could get a bead on my caster.

    I did overlook Madelyn, however, and that almost cost me the game. Stupid paladin shenanigans.

  5. FSM. I really like this, simple and easy to remember.

    I just realized I keep forgetting BLT Terror. I may just put down a spell token next to him for it.

  6. Back of the base, it's easier than counters, you see it every time you look at the model, and you avoid clutter on the table :)

  7. On the back of the base. Do you paint the word or icon there, do you tape a piece of paper on there?

  8. I just paint it on, in white block letters. I tried other colors but they all stood out and looked weird.