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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

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The unknown/uncommon army factor

So I mentioned in my previous article I’ll be discussing Footdar in a vague sense. This article stems from a comment Fritz made on his blog or BoLS (can’t recall) about bringing an army or tactic to the table (specifically a tournament) people are unused to. Fritz points out everyone has seen Mech Eldar and should have a vague idea on how to handle it but a lot less people see a footdar/Elfzilla list and thus may be confused about it. I agree and disagree with this. Whilst I am of the opinion that footdar/Elfzilla lists aren’t competitive due to a general lack of mobility, survivability, anti-mech and general firepower, Fritz (and Brent) are clear to make the point they are experienced with that type of list and it works for them. Unlike others they haven’t gone around totting footdar as the best thing since I started this blog (or sliced bread if you want a cliché) or others I’ll fail to mention atm (remembering this isn’t about Footdar). Summary: this is not an attack on Fritz, footdar or BoLS. Now that we’ve got that out of the way...let’s look at Fritz’s point.

Early in 5th edition I’m sure many of you will remember the “dominance” of Daemons/Orks/Chaos and the rather long time it took for everyone to adapt to the mechanised edition we currently live in (and now can’t understand how certain foot/hybrid builds are good). These three books were the newest on the block and coupled with a new edition, people were having trouble on the table against them. Call it army of the month syndrome which includes a lot of raging against the newest army for its toys. This is where I agree with Fritz, when something is new and unseen, not everyone is going to be able to cope as well against something they know even if they know the rules/how it plays, etc. Actual experience outweighs armchair wargaming by far.

The problem I have with this, particularly in relation to established books, is aspiring 40k generals shouldn’t be so thrown off by seeing something new (i.e. new codex) that they are unable to cope. This harks back to some recent articles on this blog about playing what’s on the table and Puppy’s competitive article. Whilst not everyone may spend as much time as we bloggers on the internet in understanding 40k, it’s not exactly a complex system. All the information you could ever want on your opponent’s armies are right there, easily accessible and it should be assumed you’d aim for some games against the new army (head down to your local club, new armies get played a lot generally). No magic card tricks or aces in the hole, quite simply the game is very transparent and taking a list to a tournament with a premise of it being unusual or uncommon helping you win games is not a good idea.

Unfortunately, you’re going to come across quite a few new or inexperienced players (or simply non-competitive) at tournaments so it may seem like this works. Hell, even experienced gamers might find themselves befuddled against new armies or an unusual list (either through complacency or not understanding) but in the perfect theoretical world of everyone running a good list and being a good general...well this concept just falls through.

Onto my point about an established book. With newer books/rule sets people have an excuse of the shiny new stuff but older books have been rehashed, looked at, reviewed, come into favour and out of favour, etc. so often, there shouldn’t be any surprises for an experienced gamer which is what you would expect to see at a tournament. Again, I have nothing against Fritz’s use of footdar or how he portrays it but I feel the unusual or uncommon factor of an armylist and an individual being well-rehearsed in using it doesn’t mean it will have an advantage at a tournament (although actually being able to use your army might be an advantage from what I’ve seen).

So do we agree with me, Fritz or both (woo internet clash!)? Do you find some players take a while to adapt to the new or unexpected and are these often newer players and do you find the more experienced gamers just get on with it?

6 pinkments:

MagicJuggler said...

Actually, I find it works both ways. Both those that play a new army and those playing against it, have to adapt. And there is a certain degree of trial and error where people are still trying to find out what makes a good list. With Imperial Guard, there was the phase of footslogging Carapace Veterans and Plasma Cannon Russes that didn't quite pan out. Or the Space Wolf Rhino Rush of Grey Hunter Spam. Or many many Tyranid builds (taking 1x Zoanthroape, 1x Hive Guard, and Doom of Malantai...).

Chumbalaya said...

No matter the army, there is going to be a learning process involved. For some it's very short (Orks) and for others you have to slog it out (any precision build, Footdar, or something weaker).

Nobody is going to be totally familiar with what their opponent can bring to the table, so the best you can do in any situation is relax, make your priorities based on your knowledge (ask questions if you need to) and experience and go from there.

If you're a good player with a reasonably competitive army, you should have the tools necessary to handle anything and the mental strength to adapt to what comes your way.

It's not perfect, it never is, but banking on your opponent making simple mistakes (a lot of Fritz's stuff centers on this I find) is not the best way to go unless you're off clubbing seals.

Kirby said...

I think Chumb's last line sums it up. Go into the game assuming your opponent is as good as you, with a list as good as yours and then keeping in mind the principles of the game is how you should approach each game rather than "I sure I hope he doesn't do this or that!" Whilst you can build choices like that into your army (i.e. target priority difficulties, etc.), if you are hoping your opponent makes the "wrong" choice, what happens whenn they make the right one?

jabberjabber said...

The post rings true for me -- I'm constantly surprised by the number of people who have never faced a daemon army before ... especially given that the codex is hardly new any longer.

The_King_Elessar said...


Anonymous said...

I think the "unusual army" concept can be easily summarised in 1 word: gimmick.

As we all know, gimmicks are bad.

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