Monday, 28 April 2014

Mistakes I've made when list building

Morning all, apologies for missing my tactics post, it's coming today instead. And today it's all about list building, in particular, not cutting corners and doing things 'the easy way'. I'll finish up with a few thoughts about the 7th edition rumours.

I was just tinkering this morning with some ideas for army lists, and as I was doing so I noticed something I tend to do that with the benefit of hindsight I think is particularly stupid. It all comes about from being a bit lazy. Whenever I collect an army, I always have in mind a ‘master list’ that contains all the units I want to have in my collection. When I come to construct a list, the quickest way of doing this of course is to make a copy of the master list and delete units from it until I’ve got down to the total for that particular game. What this tends to result in of course, is me taking out units simply because they’re either the most costly, or because I happen to need to lose those last few points and that particular unit is just right for doing that.


I don’t need to tell the experienced generals out there that this isn’t a clever way of deciding what to field in your army, and doesn’t result in a balanced list.


There is a simple solution to this problem though, and it works in a similar way. I use Battlescribe Pro on my phone for making my lists, and it has a ‘favourite’ function within it, so once you’ve put together a squad with a particular combination of weapons etc you can mark it as a favourite and it will always then be available for selection later, speeding up the list building process no end. Now I always tailor my squads for particular purposes anyway, matching up weapons wherever possible, meaning that I can take particular units to meet the minimum needs (HQ and two Troops, anti tank, anti flyer and anti infantry) and then fill out the rest of the list depending on what else I need to achieve.


I guess the real thrust of this post however is to hammer home the point that if you want to have an effective list, you need to build it from the ground up, not take things out of a list written for a different game level. It will also help to have ‘filler’ units, by which I mean for example a squad consisting purely of bolter marines, with no upgrades or special weapons (in my case it’s a bolter bike squad with a heavy bolter attack bike). If you have an odd number of points left to spend, this squad can be chopped about or adapted to suit the points gap you’ve got available without affecting your specialised units, which would compromise the integrity of the list as a whole.

This week I'm up against the only player to beat the Iron Fists so far, in a 2000 point game. After the result last week, which at times looked a little hopeless when 7 carnifexes were bearing down on my lines, I'm looking forward to another game at a relatively high points limit, allowing me to take toys I wouldn't normally bring. In this instance, it's some of the big boys, though they'll need stripping and base coating tonight ideally!

Finally then let's have a think about 7th edition and the rumours that are doing the rounds. First off, I'm an optimist, so I'm starting from the point of view that GW aren't just doing this to make money, they can do that well enough without new rules, and changing the whole system would be fairly likely to drive many people away from the hobby.

So why change 6th? Here are my thoughts.

1. Too many supplements. GW have released supplements before such as cityfight, but these were always alternative ways to play the game, not part of 'ordinary' 40k. Having released the supplements, I think they like the way they work on the whole, and are therefore bringing those elements, possibly tweaked, within the main rulebook.

2. Assault. My experience with this edition is that unless your whole army is geared towards combat, getting into assault successfully is extremely difficult, with random charge distances and overwatch combining to put a lot of charges out of range. This may be realistic in a futuristic combat game, but it doesn't really lead anyone to want to add the odd combat unit into an army.

2a. Assault part 2. This is about balancing assault unit capabilities. You may have heard me talk about it before but let's look at the marine assault squad. Fluffily these guys are tough as nails and we've all seen images of chainswords ripping entrails from all manner of nasty creatures. In game terms though, a marine assault squad hits about as hard as a powder puff, because a) they don't have a really high number of attacks, b) their strength isn't earth shattering so wounding is often on 3's or 4's, and c) chainsword rules are pants, with a guardsman's rifle bayonet having the same penetrating power. I'd love to see some close combat weapons back to modifying armour saves, by all means keep AP2 for power fists, and AP3 for power swords etc, but the chainsword should be, for example, a -2 to your armour save to represent how it works. This split really shouldn't be too hard to operate in-game, since it's effectively how shooting with different weapons in a single squad works now.

3. Balancing army lists now lords of war are available. These models are game changing, and, in theory at least, could be used in games as low as 600-700 points. This would not only completely dominate such games, with very few armies being able to combat such units at these point levels, but would be particularly 'realistic' as such units would never be deployed without substantial ground and air support (thunderhawk being the possible exception). The rumoured introduction of percentage limits to each section of the force organisation chart would make it simple to limit use of a model such as this without the army as a whole being of a certain size.

So there you have my thoughts, I'm comfy with how psychic powers work at the moment, though I know some are expecting a psychic phase. I'd rather steer clear of this though, because I think different powers should work at different times of the turn.