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I've been reading a lot of stuff lately on Yes the Truth Hurts. It's a gaming blog, primarily GW stuff. I won't post the link here, as I don't want to send LO readers away, just referencing where some of the below material comes from. If you haven't read it, Google is your friend.
For those who are familiar with it, the owner of that blog has a... unique tone with his readers. I'm not asking anyone to like that (I certainly don't, and have said so), but attitude aside, his articles, both on general 40k play and specific army-building, have been thought-provoking to say the least, and if the new ideas he's inspired in me work out, the advice I've gotten will be nothing less than game-changing.
It's gonna take me some time before I can get there, however, and in the meantime, I wanted to share some of what has taken me to school. Some of this stuff has appeared here and there across the 40k forums here on LO, but not all of it, and I would like to start a discussion on some or all of these topics.
Before we get started, a few notes:
1) This is supposed to be a POLITE discussion. ANY nerd-raging or bad attitudes will be curtailed, and quickly. In short, if you can't be polite, don't bother posting in this thread. Full stop.
2) The aforementioned blog is written primarily from a competitive gamer's perspective. The advice, the authors assure me, comes from countless hours of tournament play, including grand tournaments, but I beg those of you who prefer "fun" gaming to please stay with this. I personally believe it is possible to build a competitive army that won't drive opponents to make accusations of cheating, and I think it's possible to build a "fun" army that will make it to the finals, if not farther, at Games Day. Part of the reason I am starting up this thread is to help break down what I honestly feel is an artificial distinction between "fun" and "competitive" gaming. I don't know GW's position on this debate, but I feel reinforcing that invisible wall kills the spirit of what this game, and this hobby, are really all about.
3) I welcome and STRONGLY encourage feedback and counter-arguments to what I will begin posting here, but in addition to #1 above (which bears repeating), please put some thought and detail into your responses. If I say, for example, that Telion is a good addition to a scout marine squad, please do NOT post, "No, he sucks," and offer no elaboration. Get specific. Tell us WHY you don't like him. When have you used him? What happened? Are you sure it's the unit that's the problem, or do you think in different hands he would have performed differently? One-line general statements won't help us learn anything, which leads me to the next point:
4) The primary purpose here is to provide perspectives on gameplay. For some of us, these perspectives are not new. For others, though, this may represent some new ways of thinking. No one, least of all me, is trying to tell you what to do. I'm only presenting what has, to me, become a totally new perspective on playing the game. I hope you all can learn something from this, as I have. I'm not trying to insult anyone's army, playstyle, favorite unit, or anything like that. My hope is to add to the knowledge, starting with marines, hopefully moving on to other army sub-forums here, too. If you hate what's presented here, well, stop reading. I'll get the message and go away.
5) I am NOT copying and pasting one word from YTTH here. That would be unfair to Stelek. All I'm doing is noting what has struck me, and I hope all of you, as new and/or different. All credit goes to Stelek and YTTH.
General List-Building Concepts: What Makes a Good Marine List?
The following general guidelines assume 5th edition 40k gameplay at 1,500 points or better, and an interest in building a general list to handle all comers, not just nids, or orks, or your friend's brand-new all-mech IG force. These are thrown out as general topics, but I can get into greater detail if there's an interest:
Threat Management: What part of your list handles:
If you don't have a MINIMUM of one answer for all of those, you might be in trouble. Also consider that you need special equipment for this. See below.
Mobility: In case you haven't noticed, 5th edition got everybody crazy about vehicles again. If that's not enough motivation, consider how much cheaper in points a Rhino is. Regular codex marines (as opposed to the infantry/cavalry SW, the jump-pack BA, Deathravenwing DA, and LR spam BT) are at their best when meching up, so do it, and stay inside. Rhinos let you shoot from inside them, so you don't need to get out. Remember this!
Mind the Store: Yes, yes, I know, I just said to mech up, but with one exception: It's not a bad idea to have ONE troops unit on the ground to cover the home objective. This could be scouts with camo cloaks in cover for that fantastic save. You get the idea.
Duality: A buzzword on YTTH, and one concept that really blew me away. Time was, putting long and short range weapons into the same marine squad was a silly prospect. Today, they go hand-in-hand. A maxed-out marine squad can take a multi-melta AND a flamer in the same squad for FREE, which will make your opponent wonder what you're going to do with it. That's a good thing.
Rely not on the wound-markers: Many players may think the abovementioned 10-man tac squad doesn't need the flamer, that the 9 bolters are enough. Au contraire, especially if you mech up. Which would you rather poke out of the fire point of a rhino to take out an advancing horde of orks or gaunts: a bolter or a flamer? Get used to the idea that the bolters are nothing special. That way, when they DO take something out, it's a pleasant surprise, not an occasion to wipe your brow in relief.
Redundancy: Another YTTH buzzword. The only thing better than ONE good unit is TWO of them. Having two identical vehicle-killing units going after that Battlewagon serves two purposes: First, it doubles the chances that you'll pop it. Second, it makes it twice as hard for your opponent to stop you from doing it.
Points efficiency: quantity over quality: We've all been there. We saw those great special rules, or that shiny, fancy model, or both, and said, "So what if that whole unit costs 800 points? It will OWN, and it looks so cool!" Trouble is, that 800-point unit, at least in the SM codex, cannot kill more than one unit a turn unless it manages to get into CC with two units at a time and wipe them both out in the same assault phase. That unique situation will only happen if your opponent slips up, and relying on your opponent to slip up is bad planning.
By contrast, eight 100-point units have the POTENTIAL (again, under ideal circumstances) to knock out eight separate units, or at least engage them. In an 1,800-point list, the aforementioned 800-point gorilla is nearly half your list, and in a 1,500-point list, that's MORE than half your army that can only take out a maximum of six (seven?) units a game. Even if the rest of your list consists of 200-300-point units, that's a maximum of four, maybe five units, in an extremely top-heavy army.
A more balanced opponent, which fills the army with 150-200-point units can have as many as 10 units in the same size army. Now granted, a 150-point unit won't fare well going toe-to-toe with the "gorilla," but two or three of those units have a good chance ganging up on one of your "other" units. If you're not careful, the "gorilla" will take out 2-3 of the opponent's units, only to find itself all alone staring down 1,000 points or more. Sure, the gorilla may have to get pecked to death, but he will go down. No one unit is that indestructible.
Sorry for that long last one. If this is too dense, I can break this out into separate threads. Meanwhile, discuss away!
Canew, did you want this somewhere besides the SM Army Lists forum? Seems like something the whole 40K community could benefit from (maybe, I'd have to check those articles). Either way it doesn't seem to be critiquing army lists.
*This message will self destruct upon review*
*grumble* *mumble* Wrong %$&@^# place *grumble* *mumble*
I know you asked for detailed replies and I apologize for mine being so short and little elaborated. There is little for me to discuss as I agree with the above concept, and these are the considerations I take into account when creating an army list. Why I am posting, however, and what I would be interested in, is how this concept has changed. Sure, there were inevitable changes from 4th to 5th, triggered by the changes in the rules and balancing. But what was the old concept? What changed?
Sure, mobility is huge in 5th and was not really necessary in 4th, and since vehicles were more expensive and easier to take out, they were less popular back then while mechanization is the new way to go. But redundancy, points efficiency, quantity over quality, flexibility,... are those not timeless standards? Not that they're not worthy of being pointed out. No offense intended. I'd just like to know: what were the old standards?
Then there's the multi-purpose UNIT. I've always thought that the best armies out there were the ones with single-purpose specialist units working in sync with each other. The older marine codices definitely supported this idea. Today, a full marine squad can take a missile launcher and flamer for free. Time was, you had to pay points for BOTH of those, which discouraged players from taking both, as there was no way to make the most of your points investment. In 4th edition, flamers were MUCH less useful than they are now, and rhinos were too expensive to use.
The result: hordes of groundpounders dashing from cover to cover and torrenting bolter fire, with a powerfisted sargeant to handle cc. Today, the name of the game APPEARS to be multi-melta+flamer+rhino=win.
Again, if I've just been utterly clueless for so long (certainly possible), and this is all old news to you guys, let me know and I'll yank the thread.
Personally, I have a slight disagreement with duality. Squads should be designed to do a certain job, otherwise they won't be good enough at it. Luckily, space marines "aspect" as such is variety, the ability to fulfil any role, whenever one may want to. S4 guns can hurt all but the toughest creatures; our durability makes us one of the hardest troops in the game; krak grenades give us a chance against vehicles in combat; power weapons/fists allow us to hurt heavy armour; and special weapons and heavy weapons allow us to do kill hordes/vehicles/MCs. Duality causes you to waste this variety as you waste other shots/attacks from other guys, resulting in a inefficient squad.
A good space marine list must focus on this variety but MUST remember not to wander. By not wandering I mean, there is no point giving a vindicator extra armour, its role in the army is not to transport (move) but to shoot. Or a devestator squad with four different weapons and so on.
Squads should be focused in their role (or roles, as long as the majority of the unit can fulfil that role) to make sure its done. HOWEVER, we have nifty tricks to get round this. Machine spirit allows us to fire a LRCs (and LRRs) multi-melta at a tank whilst the bolters(/flamers) massacre infantry. Combat-squads allows us to have two squads that can do different things, or one that may waste a few weapons but will never have a turn of doing nothing and will have more shots.
To sum up, duality is helpful, but you can never prepare for every situation and it is not vital. Take Eldar for example. Their units are specialists, but to solve the problem of the weak spots in the units they support them with something that fills that spot and gets its own spot filled in (dark reapers with a counter-assualt unit; banshees+farseer (anything +farseer).
Onto redundancy, its amazing up to a point. If your list has too little units, the opponent can choose between them with ease, even with little knowledge of the codex. A variety of units should be taken, but they should be DOUBLED if possible (and not tripled). The only things that doesn't fit this is troops and most of our heavy support (3 vindicators is hard!!!).
Also, if you do use redundancy, think of the pair as a bigger squad, but with the benefit of not shooting at dead things and two leadership tests. In this way, they'll fulfil their roles better.
Finally, threat management. I'll just be quick on this one but I disagree with a few points.
1. Anti-psyker is hard to find in a space marine list, we have the 100pts librarian and... ... ...the 100pt librarian? And even then the hood is only 24" range. And of course we all know that a list does not NEED a librarian to be really competitive. Instead, you should analyse which category the pysker is and send a unit thats good at killing them over.
2. Deep strikers??? Why are they special, they're either infantry, MC or vechile. Your units should be able to kill them anyway without being designed to be awesome at closeness.
Also, allies solve these problems but allies are meh. Lastly, concerning these "special units": Whatever you do, DO NOT ignore them, but running away from them is viable and killing them before they do their job is even better.
Well, there was my say. Apart from that it seems good advice.
My comment was merely motivated by the fact that the thread title provoked expectations that weren't really met. Thus my inquiry as to what the old concepts were. In effect my criticism is in regards to the title (and only that). This sort of thread is a good thing to have, but should maybe just be named "Ideas on Gameplay" or "List Building Concepts" without promising revolutionary epiphanies.
To contribute a little: lists should be built from a holistic point of view. I would not agree, for example, that multi-melta/flamer/rhino is necessarily the best outfit for a tactical squad. People tend to ask which units are good, and then throw them into the mixer to make their army list. This is not what making army lists should be about. The same unit's performance will vary from list to list, because the army always performs a whole, as one big single entity. Units have to go well together, they can't be judged in absolutes, only relative to a frame - the rest of the list they will go with.
An easy example: multi-melta attack bike squadrons are among the most efficient tank hunting units for most mechanized builds. Undeniably a good choice for most of them and perfectly recommendable. And yet I would never recommend them in bike armies. Bike armies have a different holistic concept where multi-melta attack bike squadrons just do not fit in. Bike armies are a different frame. Attack bike squadrons are still the same unit, the same very mobile and very effective weapon platforms cheap and ballast-free enough to charge them into the enemy army, unload on their vehicles and get shot in return. But bike armies have their bike squads to take care of targets that need to get melted, while they dearly need their fast attack slots for long-ranged fire support which bike armies don't have otherwise. Etc...
So trying to fit in with the above mentioned list building concepts is a much better way of building an army than inquiring what units are best. Build an army in a way that you have everything you need: enough means to deal with any kind of threat, enough redundancy, enough flexibility, enough mobility, enough scoring capability - as is all detailed above. Always see the army as a whole and evaluate each unit in its context.
I also think that cutting out the spam forces you to have a lot more variety in your list, which can, depending on composition, suggest more complex strategies which are harder for your opponent to think through. If, for example, your opponent knows how to handle bikes, the Khan list won't present a lot of challenges. If your list has two units of bikes and a TON of other stuff, then the opponent will only know right away how to deal with two of your units.
2. They are special because they can plop onto the board behind your lines. If you're going mech-heavy (and I think you should with standard marines), it's easy to lose that home objective (see "Minding the store" above). Again, an inquisitor with two mysitcs and at least one really big gun will force your opponent to think twice. Personally, I'm a little concerned about spores, drop pods, or daemons dropping out of nowhere. No, it's not the most important thing to worry about, but it can be a game-loser if you're not careful. Then again, if your experience against deep-strikers is different, I'd love to hear more. How have you handled them? War stories, please!