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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Playing what's on the table...


As this blog and others often promote competitive play and really get down to the nitty gritty of what is good or bad, I think an important aspect of the game is missed (this can be applied to Fantasy, too). It doesn’t matter if your opponent’s list is good, optimised, not optimised or just plain bad, you play what’s on the table against you. I know when a fully optimised and streamlined list is put on the table against a really bad army the result is almost guaranteed before the first die is rolled but there are a lot of factors still to consider. The most obvious is the generalship of both armies but there is also the psychological factor of complacency (oh btw, thanks everyone for asking how my assignments are going! >:().


So you’ve set up against an IG army and across the table he’s got 0 meltaguns and is relying completely on his Vendettas/Russes/Manticores/etc to down your armor but has got a ton of plasma vets. Whilst this army is much worse against a Mech list than a list with meltavets, you deal with what’s on the table in front of you. Like Puppy’s article here, mistakes and practice are key to the game you are playing right there and now. Theoryhammer may demand you win, but theoryhammer often falls on its face without a good understanding behind it. Even then, the dice deities or crappy playing will see you undone at some point.

What this is all about then is analysing your opponent’s list and harks back to my Armies in 5th articles and Puppy’s article about knowing your enemy and yourself. Even if the opponent’s army is sub-par and you can write an essay on how to improve it, how do YOU beat it with YOUR list right then and there. If your list cannot, it’s not what it could be (unless it’s a ‘for fun’ or ‘fluffy’ list). If you can’t, your generalship isn’t what it should be and needs to be improved. If you know the rules inside and out for the general rules and army specific rules, you’ll be working out how to beat your opponent’s army even before you roll for the mission, deployment or who goes first (ya no hiding your list until all that is done). With each phase gone by you know you have to run less possibilities but you should still be operating within the framework of your analysis upon your opponent’s army list. Blogs like this try to teach this by analysing what’s good and bad about certain units, how to operate or beat certain army lists, how to build army lists and analysis of tactics and army lists sent in. But we can’t teach you everything and understanding the concepts we bring forth in our posts and applying them to your own games, your own lists and your own tactics means you’ve learned something.

A really basic example upcoming. You’re versusing a Tau list which is often touted about as being good w/TL-MP Crisis suits and Fire Warriors in Warfish using Fish of Furry (FoF) tactics. You’ve got a good and balanced mech list and we are going to assume the terrain is balanced, generalship is equal and the dice rolls aren’t skewed (I saw that magnet!). This type of Tau list is sub-par compared to what is accepted amongst competitive Tau gamers because MP suits don’t provide enough anti-infantry and it is compensated for through Fire Warriors. The balanced mech list should therefore recognise this and target the suits and Broadsides first as these are much more likely to damage the mech army. If it was a horde army however (i.e. Tyranids), the might target the Warfish w/Firewarriors earlier than the Mech list to stop incoming firepower (though in reality the Hive Guard are popping the Suits anyway as T6 doesn’t like S7).

What this example and what I said before is highlighting is don’t assume you’ve won or will have an easy game because a less than optimal list is on the table across from you. Play what’s against you. If the guy has Holo-Prisms, make sure you perma shake them. If a guy has Plasma, make sure you don’t get within rapid fire range w/your low Sv models and your Mech can push up more than against meltaguns. If they guy has a massive squad of Chaos Termies don’t assault them. If the guy has TL-MP suits over MP/PR suits make him pay for lack of good anti-infantry firepower and get those Marines out of Rhinos and rapid-firing. As a general of a good army you have tools available to you and you need to be able use your swiss army knife like you (thinking of age appropriate simile...) know computers...(sorry older generations!). Your tactics must be as adaptable as your list and the more rigid both are, the less likely you are going to play effectively and enjoy the games.

Again, whether you’re playing the best list, the worst list or a list in-between, you need to know what your opponent is capable of against your army. Harking back to Puppy’s article, this means you need to know the rules for everything and practice, practice, practice! When you pick up your new awesome list, play against sub-par lists to make sure you know how to handle them. Play against all types of army styles (horde, MC, bikers, Mech, hybrid, etc.) to make sure you know how to handle your army against them. As a blogger I can only offer you so much. As a reader you can only learn so much. As a player you can only play as well as your practice and learning allows. So keep reading 3++! But challenge me and the other authors (not be a wanker, challenge) to explain what we mean or how we would deal with this scenario or that scenario. Send us battle-reports and how we would of done it (I know Loring, it’s coming) or requests but most of all, never underestimate what is being played across from you. The guy may not want to spend $300 on updating his army but has played with that army for a decade. Whether it’s great or terrible, you play the list and your opponent, not what it should be.

6 pinkments:

Chumbalaya said...

{^}

I agree in a big way. We focus on lists so much because they are the easiest to quantify and examine objectively, but they aren't the be all or end all.

I can recall several occasions where my super awesome army has been taken down by a suboptimal list either due to superior play from my opponent, mistakes on my part (most commonly deployment), or just poor rolling (though I am loathe to give myself an excuse like that).

Play lots, it's really the only way to get better.

kannascrusade said...

Excellent post, Kirby.

BigDunc

HolyCause said...

I have to say the number two reason for me losing games is the "oh shit" factor (the first one being carelessness as I posted before). This is either from not remembering a certain rule or forgetting wargear or a part of a person's list.

The real sting for this came to me when some outflanking Chosen roasted my heavy weapons by tank shocking on the table.

Reading PDF codices is a total pain in the ass so the Maelstrom games sale recently put on has allowed me to acquire all of the current codices for a modestly cheap price, so there is some planned improvement.

I agree with Chumb however, nothing beats getting in lots of games.

AbusePuppy said...

Very good article overall. The hardest part of playing against a list is learning to evaluate where it fails and how to use that. Plasma, for example, is not only lacking because of cover saves, but also because it's rapid fire, limiting when you can shoot with it; understanding that the plasma gunners effectively have a 12" range, unless they want to concede mobility to you, is a major part of being able to exploit them.

Thor said...

I'm late to the game here but just wanted to say good article. So often I'll play someone and they won't even ask what I have for weapons, it amazes me. I'm talking casual gaming at the LGS. I will end up telling them just to be fair but they just figure if I'm playing Marines then it's like fighting any other Marine list.

Kirby said...

It's a common misconception of the 'competitive' view of Orks and CSM. These armies suffer against top-notch lists like the new SM+variants, Tau, Eldar, DE, Witchunters, IG but just because they aren't the best doesn't mean they still can't beat you. Same with armies which spam plasma instead of melta. If they get you out of your tanks, they have an advantage.

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