Tactical Objectives: an overview(if you are the TL;DR guy, just skip my shit and get to the end of the post: there is a summarization...)
Having played a few games whit the new shiny "Tactical Objectives", i feel i can write down some thoughts on the matter, biased by my own experience, of course.
For those of you that are not aware of what "Tactical Objectives" are:
with 7th ed we got some rules adjustment.
Alongside the much debated Unbound armies, we had a whole new way of fighting our battles. With TO, no longer we'll be rushing on the last turn to those static objectives with our jestbikes and jump troops, stealing it from our sullen opponent; now instead we can savour the thrill of impredictability even in scoring points.
Depending on the mission (there are six more) you will draw (or roll, if you are poor and can't afford the cards) a certain number of objectives from a deck (or table, if you are poor and can't afford the cards). Those cards, like orders from an higher and careless Headquarter that cares not of your army composition, of battelfield situation and such trifle matters), will give you various goals for the turns to come, from the classic "Capture objective n° X" to "Capture ALL the objectives!", passing from "Pass a Psykic test"...and thats how you score points, still with the omnipresent Secondary Objectives retaining their game changing importance. At the end of your turn, if you achieved one of the objectives, you discard that objective and draw/roll another one.
On RandomnessRolling objectives from a chart is fun. No way to foresee what the cruel gods will ask of you, no way to anticipate what you'll need to do in order to achieve victory.
If the odds remain in the statistically acceptable, you are gold: there is such a variety in those objectives that you'll find at least a couple of things to do each turn.
If you are Bad Luck Brian, instead...things are going to get slippery. Point is, there can be a pretty large selection of impossible objective: just think about a DE army required to "Pass a pasykik test"... or a small, elite army required to "Control all the objectives" (remember the feeling, playing Risk, when you got the "Conquer the world!" objective? How fun.)
Moreover is it fully possible that your opponent will be able to achieve all his objectives in turn 1, basically winning the game by turn 2 ( Maybe controlling objectives 2 and 3, placed in his deployment zone and "Destroy one enemy unit", also granting First Blood and why not, there is also an objective that requires you to get 3 of your units in 12" range from your board edge, and none of the enemy...you can get that on turn one. )
So, randomness is going to play a decisively major role in your games. Tactics, deployment, target priority: all those "kings" shall bow their heads to Fate.
Changing army composition?
In my opnion, this huge array of objectives (whit a solid reiteration of "Capture objective X) vastly favours some kinds of army over another. Specifically, MSU, all comers armies, can have the edge. This is because you can answer 90% of the objectives requests and have enough units to be ubiquitous on the field, contesting objectives and placing units where needed. Still, negating certain objectives to the opponent is a thing: no monstruous creatures, no vehicles, no buildings or fortifications, no flyers, large units, low Characters number... each one of this stuff simply negates an objective or makes it hardly achievable. Now that Unbound armies are real, building a "passive scoring army" is possible (passive scoring means that if your opponent cannot score points...you are!). Death stars are also a good way, sadly, to take on this kind of game.
An hard hitting, though, maybe psionic and fast (Eldar i'm watching you, damn cheesemongers) unit is a nightmare now more than ever.
So, if you play whit TO, rethink your list.
I'll be probably getting two lists, one for regular games, another for TO games.
Filling the gap between players
A funny side effect of this kind of game is that it evens the odds between experienced commanders and noobs. Your skills are useless if your rookie opponent can score 6 points in two turns without even harming you, while you are struggling to get at least the Secondary Objectives... This leads me to some consideration:
first of all, it is frustrating. As an experienced player, i admit i hate to see my army dominating the field and still being unable to get a fucking point.
then, i can see how it is satisfyng for newcomers to be able to stay toe-to-toe with veterans. That's a valuable thing. Many times i saw my opponent losing interest in the game when it was clear he was outclassed and outmatched. With such a random enviroment, you can cling to hope and just have more chances of victory.
every game is an unpredictable game, you will be tested to the limit as player and commander. If you master TO games, you will be truly an hardened, reactive and capable commander. I see TO as the ultimate gaming challenge.
This said, being a grumpy idiot, i will adapt and swallow my bile when crushed beneath the unfair randomness. I'll learn to play according to the vagaries of Fate but definetely i'll still be playing the old reliable objective based games on regular basis.
Slaanesh is not happy
The Dark Prince is the Perfect One. He/She craves for perfection and this kind of game clearly is not, hence He/She is displeased. The base idea is good, but, as almost always with GW, the final realization lacks a proper playtesting to remove bugs. I am well aware that WH 40K is not a balanced game and I'm ok whit that, but to randomize an unbalanced game is a thing that only an Ork would do. Since rules are there to be molded to our whim, i was thinking to many ways to house-rule TO into something more Slaanesh-appealing, basically giving a little more control over the overall dominating randomness.
One of the most important thing to do, could be to give the opportunity to discard an unwanted Objective at the BEGINNING of the turn, instead of the end. This could give us a chance to achieve something this turn and not the next one.
Then we could agree with the opponent to remove from the possibilities those circumstancial objectives (up to 2 or 3) that are simply out of our reach (Psy test for Tau, for instance).
Another possibility could be to select 8 objectives on our own and add 12 random ones to our list, making it somewhat similar to a Magic the gathering deck building...is it trash? Maybe, but i daresay it could be really funny and also thematically more accurate (also this could merge really good with the new Army Objectives found in codex. See the brand new Ork codex...)
Damn, we could just do the three of it!
This last rant was meant to say that each group should feel free to modify TO rules, since they are so unbalanced and out of control that not everyone can possibly like it. This gaming mode has potential, however, and should be played. Better to modify it than never try it!!
What are your thoughts?
I say: GLORY TO CHAOS!!!
-TO is really random. Maybe too much. Randomness will be Queen.
-TO favours some lists over others. You have to change your list building routine.
-In TO games, noobs will be able to kick your arse. Adapt or die screaming.
-TO is not the definitive system. It is bugged. Houseruling it could be a good thing.