Games Workshop is running it’s big Fate of Konor summer campaign, and I had a chance to play a game with my brother – my Eldar vs. whatever Imperial figures we could cobble together into a coherent force. At the time I had made a joke – “Whoever wins, Chaos loses”, as neither one of our groups could be describes as sympathetic toward the Ruinous Powers.
But this got me thinking – how influential are Xenos players choosing where they put their victories on a campaign system like Fate of Konor?
The answer: A whole hell of a lot.
Me being me, and this being Variance Hammer, I decided the answer was to simulate a simplified campaign. Essentially, an equal number of Chaos, Imperial and Xenos players would randomly choose their opponents and play a game. This means there are six total “types” of possible games:
- Chaos vs. Chaos
- Chaos vs. Imperium
- Chaos vs. Xenos
- Imperium vs. Imperium
- Imperium vs. Xenos
- Xenos vs. Xenos
Note that these don’t occur at the same frequency, because there are multiple ways to get some game types (i.e. game type 2 could be Player 1 Chaos vs. Player 2 Imperium or vice versa) while others (and Faction X vs. Faction X game types) have only one way of occurring.
To each of these, I assigned an impact on the overall Imperial or Chaos campaign score. I assumed, as with the rules for Fate of Konor, that a Chaos victory added +1 to the Chaos score, and an Imperial Victory added +1 to the Imperial Score.
Now we get to the Xenos. If Xenos players randomly choose their side, then things are relatively balanced. But what if the Xenos players have a preference?
I’d argue, narratively, they do. The Eldar and Dark Eldar are both not particularly fans of the Ruinous Powers, nor are the Necrons – they’d probably be pleased as punch if they could press a button and shut the Warp down for good. The Tau are usually portrayed as the “Good Guys”, though they have some bones to pick with the Imperium as well, what with setting the Damocles Gulf on fire. And the Tyranids and Orks…probably don’t care, as long as there’s snacks/a good fight involved.
Notably absent are Chaos-aligned Xenos.
So let’s assume for this campaign that everyone has an equal chance of winning (a generous assumption, but one that makes the impact of player preference easier to isolate), but that 2/3rds of Xenos players will use their wins to help the Imperium, and 1/3rd will help Chaos.
What does this do to the Chaos players chances of winning the campaign?
The TL;DR version: They’re doomed.
Below is a figure showing the cumulative score of the Chaos and Imperial sides of a campaign involving 1,000 games. The Imperium wins handily, with a 96 point lead.
Not good, but of course, this is only a single campaign. However, I simulated the campaign 25 more times, and this was the distribution of score differences that came out of that:
The average has the Imperium winning by 150 points, and Chaos never takes the lead over the long run. Under these conditions, Chaos is essentially set up to fail, and never really has much of a chance. The picture of the single campaign I posted above? That’s the best showing Chaos had.
What about a slightly different scenario, one where Xenos players are more rare? I re-ran the same analysis assuming that there are twice as many Chaos and Imperial players as there are Xenos players. Again, first a picture of a single campaign (the best of the bunch) and then the distribution:
While Chaos has a decent run for the first 200 games or so, in the end, even their best showing is a loss. The average is a little better at a score difference of -95, but again, in twenty-five simulated campaigns, Chaos never wins. Xenos players either have to be trivially small as a percentage of the player base or have very, very weak preferences as to who wins to give Chaos a chance over a large number of games, and frankly, I don’t think either one of those things are true.
Now GW is doing some things to mitigate this – every new planet essentially restarts the clock, which keeps the Imperium from getting truly far up there with a cumulative sum compounding week-on-week, but I have my doubts that, with the number of games being played, if this is enough. Now, of course many of these assumptions can be flawed – particularly the bit about all armies having an equal chance of winning. But that’s an assumption I think GW has been making in this summer’s campaign, with no one needing the scales heavily tipped in their favor.
The problem being, if the Xenos players have a preference for one side or another, a very powerful advantage is essentially built into the system.
The upside for the Chaos players? You’re the underdogs – if you pull out a win, it’ll be even more spectacular. And maybe, just maybe, you should buy your local Eldar player a beer before your next game.
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