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For all my ranting about always playing a competitive level, I have to bring you this question: how do you guys tone down your lists for fair play? I mean, what kind of things do you implement in your own lists that make them 'friendly' rather than 'monstrous'?
I ask because I've just recently gotten back in to playing WHFB on a regular basis via heading to the regular gaming night at my local RT. The last two weeks that I've been there, I've taken both High Elves and Warriors of Chaos. Both times, my opponents wanted to play against my High Elves. The first match was against Ogres, and the second match was against another Warriors player.
In the first match, I took what I felt was a 'tough' but not necessarily 'cheesy' army. I'll admit that I included the nasty Prince/Star-Dragon combo, but aside from that, the army was rather fairly balanced. I didn't go with the standard Elite Infantry build that most elves take. I played Caledore, went light and defensive with my magic, and took a lot of cavalry (10Silvers, 6 silvers, 5 DPs, 2TCs). The dragon alone wiped out half of his army, and I honestly didn't know that they could be so potent.
Week 2, I'm playing against the WoC guy. I decided NOT to take the prince-on-a-dragon this time, and stayed with the all-cavalry feel. I went hard on offensive magic though, figuring that Warriors lean more towards magic anyways. I had a DMage, the same list but with an added unit of DPs. I had 2x minimum regiments of archers and 2 RBTs. You'd think that with his thick armor, he'd bounce a cavalry regiment or two, and then walk into my archers and mages and play havoc.
I tabled him in turn 5, and he hadn't even made it halfway across the field.
I'm honestly not gloating, but I'm trying to let you all understand where I'm coming from. I'm a very competitive player, and I love winning. I would have been satisfied pulling a Minor or Solid victory out of either of these games. I didn't intend to make a weak list and let them walk all over me- I wanted to build a list that would provide a tight game, and a [reasonably] assured chance of victory for me. I apparently overstepped my goal, scored 2 massacres, and am fast approaching the status of "that dirty powergamer". I keep things friendly, still shake hands, still offer tips and hints and condolences, but I still earned some dirty looks- even though the guy was a regular customer.
Sorry for that little rant there, but I really want to know what the rest of you do to take the edge off your lists, and keep the games Fun for both parties. This isn't specifically about High Elves, or even WHFB. I think that a lot of people could learn from this, and I for one play more than just 1 army for 1 game.
If I ever 'tone down' an army I first create a 'normal' list. Then I think about what the list is really good at and what weaknesses it has, and then make the strengths less strong and the weaknesses bigger. This way you don't massacre the enemy or get massacred yourself. But if they are smart enough to work out what your weakness is then they will be rewarded or you punished if you leave it wide open.
Well, it's the old "friendly" vs. "competitive" debate.
Personally, I don't think they are mutually exclusive terms. While in 40k, many codices allow (on the high-end tournament circuit, anyway) for only one truly competitive build (excluding the new marines, Space Wolves, IG and now nids). The newer, better-written ones, however, allow you to have a "fun" variety of units and models that will still have a decent chance of staying alive.
In short, if you have found that holy grail of "fun" AND "competitive" and your opponents haven't, how is nerfing your own army helping? While it's certainly more diplomatic to "tone down" your gameplay to meet the common denominator, the harder thing to do is find a way to RAISE the common denominator. In the end, though, that will make for a better class of player all around.
Naturally, I'd add that you should be nice about it. Don't be mean. Just suggest that maybe the opponent not forget about the objectives, or consider putting X unit into the list, or rework it like this, or don't forget to guard this flank, etc. Offer help, especially if it's asked for. Nobody likes to lose, but you learn a LOT more from it.
I don't always field the strongest list I can think of, I mix things up to keep it interesting for myself but I don't change things to tone it down - feels like showboating; 'i'm so great I can kick your ass with my hands tied behind my back... etc'
I do avoid specific things that I feel would kill the game totally - sanctuary inquisitors against daemons is the only thing that springs to mind. No star dragon combos in 40k fortunately, even Abaddon the 'game spoiler' isn't all that bad.
I've been trying to avoid the game-breakers in my armies for a long time. I usually try to build friendly lists that are going to be enjoyable for me to play, and that are dominating in one phase, average in another, and not quite par in the third. For my elves it is always dominating in the Movement Phase and Magic, average in Combat, and sub-par in the Shooting and 'Character' sections. I don't know if maybe I'm underestimating the actual strengths of the army or overestimating my opponent's abilities.
I always try to give tactical pointers and tips. I've been told that "praise, criticize, praise" is the best pattern to use. Tell them that they did something well, constructively criticize something they did poorly, and then praise them for something else that they did well. I usually find myself using "sympathize, criticize, praise" though. Something like "I'm sorry that my Star Dragon wiped out half your army- I really didn't know he was that good. But I think your general could've taken me had you not let me get behind you. Good game though, I really though I was done for when that one unit rounded my flank like that."
It doesn't seem to help though, and sort of makes you seem pompous. I guess only being 20 and looking even younger really bothers the older gamers when you beat them by huge odds.
I've spent a few minutes trying to type up an appropaite response, but it just isn't working. My thoughts all come down to "do not go for the tournament mentality" when designing lists. Another thing you could do is to design your army by following one the different composition templates out there, such as the ETC (was going to include a link but can't find a good one...) or the Swedish QFA, and try to make a list that scores a balanced score in one of these templates (example would be getting 15-20 in the QFA template).
Thanks Camel, that actually helped a lot. It's hard to just turn off the "tournament" switch in my mind. I'd be much happier if everyone would either "shut-up or put-up" or just build the hardest list possible. That way at least I know that I'm in the right for taking the hardest list available.
The Comp.Scoring template is awesome. It's the same one that we used at one of our tournaments before we decided to pitch it all to the window and run it 'Ardboyz style. It makes a lot more sense why I tabled the poor WoC player: what I thought was a friendly list was only a 3.25!
This is actually great tool to have handy. It works for both ends of the spectrum- by allowing for a sort of template on what's "hard", but also letting me scale armies back down into softer scores. Too bad it doesn't take army coherency into account. Running a unit of infantry is a LOT more crippling when your army is all cavalry.
Glad I could help. Now, you see that rep button down there.....
The comp template is far from perfect though. I mean it works, but magic gets an ridiculous amount of punishment and the system rewards armies made up of huge blocks of infantry, kinda forcing a certain play style on the players.
One problem will always apply though. Some books are simply better than others. So even if someone do makes the best list they can, there's still a very good chance that most lists will simply roll straight over him (ie. trying to play O&G or OK competitively these days).
As for the OP, have you tried helping your opponent tweak their lists after you played them? It's better for them (they'll get stronger lists), better for you (stronger opponents) and you don't need to tone your list down a notch just for a bit of competition. Even something like "HE are very weak against X, but strong vs Y, and your Z unit was too small to be effective".