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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Warhammer 40k/Fantasy Tournament scene & metagame


This is prompted by an e-mail in from jasonc which you can see below. Although I've posted this email out of order this has been a potential article for ages with the internet's propensity to throw around the word 'meta.' I therefore thought it appropriate to post jasonc's email for a reference point.

"Hey Kirby,

Just a thought; what do you think the hardest lists on the Aus tourney scene would be?

I mean, US and ETC are mech-mech-mech, but Aus isn't. Is Mech still the best way to go about taking on Aus (harder) lists?

Following up from seeing your FNP blood angels assault marine army for example. An eldar shooting/tank force surely would struggle, relying on prisms, dragons, wave serpents and vipers?

Or a Guard list that spammed hydras and autocannons (again vs Blood Angels FNP).

Do you have any thoughts on this in general? I guess you could say that armies in general would struggle vs FNP BA :) Or maybe they aren't as hard as I imagine them to be. But the basic point is do you think max-mech is still the way to go for hardest armies in Aus?

Cheers
Jason"

So first let's review what the metagame is (again) and why it doesn't exist as strongly unlike in other gaming systems. From the lovely source of wikipedia:

Metagaming is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.

Notice 'transcends a prescribed rule set.' This is very important for 40k (and Fantasy) because at appropriate point levels (generally 1750+) balanced lists can be built (see my balanced lists post within the next day or so). In a lot of other gaming systems this is not true and 'predicting' what your opponent is most likely to take based upon the metagame can be beneficial. For example, let's say in Magic The Gathering green lists are very popular and beat gold, blue, black and white lists but not red lists. Red lists trump green lists but suck versus black lists, etc. This is obviously a very black and white situation and unlikely to be so simple but assume a player realises green lists are very popular and takes a red list and then wins. After a couple of tournaments or games people might start making red lists until someone brings a black list and so on and so forth. This is using external information which goes beyond the game (your knowledge of popular opposing player decks in this example) to 'affect a game' and basically gain an advantage. I'm going to be very clear here.

This does not exist in 40k.

I'm going to be very black and white here I know. After some conversations I thought I'd put this in here to make it absolutely clear what my thoughts are on this. Balanced lists do evolve over time (look at psychic powers) but rather than evolving around what other players find popular or are likely to turn up with at tournaments, balanced lists change in relation to rule releases. Specifically in 40k & fantasy, new rule editions and army books. This is also not to say there is a metagame paradigm amongst un-balanced armies (as you'll find there is) but rather there should be no such thing at competitive events. Furthemore, articles about the metagame aren't productive for the hobby as a whole and I think should be leaned away from (i.e. what does tourney X show us about the unfolding metagame, etc.). So, back to your regular article :).

For example, someone thinks pure mech lists are going to dominate tournaments so takes a mass meltagun army to counter this. Like the red list in the MtG example, it has weaknesses against horde armies (which are more likely to run against compared to a single color in Magic but not the point here) so if he runs into any of those his day is over. Unlike the MtG example, if he runs into a balanced mech list (let's use my SM mech list as an example) it's not an auto-win even though he's 'tailored' against a mech list because the SM mech list can handle the anti-mech army no matter what platforms it is based on (i.e. infantry, tanks, MC, etc.). Whilst the anti-mech list may have an advantage in terms of damaging the mech list, the mech list is still very capable of damaging the tailored list because of its balanced nature. The anti-mech list is part of the design philosophy for alpha strike lists NOT metagaming.

No matter how much external knowledge you have of likely opponent lists at tournaments in 40k or Fantasy, it will gain you minimal advantage over a tournament setting against balanced lists because balanced lists are designed and capable of dealing with whatever is placed on the table before them (again see my article shortly). What this means is metagaming cannot exist when people are running balanced lists (I will freely admit it does exist when people don't) because you cannot 'affect the game' by using 'external knowledge.' It is important to note there is some advantage gained (i.e. the anti-mech list will do well against mech lists) but

What is amazingly unique about the 40k community is the willingness to believe in a metagame and accept the outcomes and reasoning behind this. However, if an opponent has prior game knowledge of what his opponent is likely to run and he changes his list accordingly, it's tailoring. Consistency please. Metagaming is tailoring based on expectations as you are looking to gain an advantage. It still doesn't exist in 40k/Fantasy due to multiple balanced lists and army books but I thought it interesting to note the divergence in acceptance for tailoring/metagaming. Community wide and it's okay but not so singularly.

So, what does this mean in relation to jasonc's email? There is no 'top list' style for any tournament. I can take all of the armies found under My Armies to any tournament, in any country and be confident in my ability (holding generalship and dice constant) to do well (i.e. based on lists only) because my lists are balanced and can deal with any opposing list with a reasonable degree of success (still waiting for that balanced army article aren't you?). So to jasonc's question, there are a lot of top armies and army types but no singular army that I think is any better than any other. The aforementioned Blood Angel lists do well due to their balance whilst the linked SM list will also do well. They are both balanced lists but opposite ends of the spectrum (foot vs mech) and can do well because they focus on 5th edition game mechanics rather than 'metagaming' against popular armies.

27 pinkments:

VT2 said...

This is one of the best posts on this blog.

Matt Varnish said...

Agreed. While there are always going to be local variations to think about, IE, one local guy around here who is a top notch general and has pretty much every army under the sun, has had his BurnaWagonz called cheesy, a balanced list should always be able to do well against a variety of opponents, more so than 'one-trick-ponies'

I usually feel dirty if I take a net-list, so will always throw in a weird unit no one ever sees, and it has a psychological impact on some players. Ripper Swarms in my Nids, and I play up the fact that they have 45 attacks on the charge for 90 points, Squat Trikes (IG Rough Riders) x6 = 13 str 5 I 5 power weapon attacks for like 65 points, things like that.

Anything to throw your opponent off can be enough. I find I usually have an easy game if as soon as I see the guy deploy his army, I don't even need to see the army roster, as its straight-off-the-net and know what I need to do. The more challenging games to me are ones where I have to think, and where my opponent is thinking outside the box, to use a corny catchphrase, but here it applies I think.

Again, great article.

GMSN said...

Agreed. I usually find myself in a easier game if my opponent is playing a net lists, since right off the bat I know its "tricks". Meanwhile a horde gaunt list with venomthropee, no zoantropes, and only one stealer squad ground me into paste.

Warr said...

Disagree with your statement there is no metagame. For example, the very definition of what constituted a "balanced list" has changed over time with different rulesets/codices (mech being good means now you need some way to deal with it, same goes for psychic defense as of late).

I've debated this point over at YTTH as well but let me know your thoughts.

Kirby said...

@Warr; I had this convo with Puppy last night which is the reason for the additional paragraph. Balanced lists change over time based upon rule releases (i.e. increase in FNP = minor recurrence of plasma; increase in psychic powers = psychic defense) not based upon what is popular at the time. As stated in the article, balanced lists do evolve over time but a metagame implies a constantly changing paradigm which when using a balanced list isn't true.

Whilst tailoring your list to a region (i.e. horde Orks) will benefit you, going to a tournament like NOVA or Centurion with a clear competitive component is going to net you minimal advantage as you are highly likely to versus multiple balanced lists which vary across the spectrum of army styles. I.e. Tyranids = MC/horde, Bikers = bikes, BA = infantry, IG = mech/infantry, etc. A 'metaed' list isn't going to be able to meta against all of those lists which are common and balanced but a balanced list is capable of doing so.

Again, yes a balance list evolves but minimally and based on rule releases. There is little to no metagaming in between rulesets unlike in games such as Magic. There is minimal advantage to gain by using external knowledge outside of the rules when balanced lists are being played at a tournament. If players aren't running balanced lists then they are a lot easier to take advantage of and I agree (as said in article) there is a metagame in that sense but if players (and specifically tournaments) encourage balanced gaming, this exists to the point of irrelevency.

GreyICE said...

@Kirby

Really? So the best lists can take any number of any unit?

I find that hard to believe. If one player brings a balanced 'take all comers' list to the table, and one player brings an army that kicks its ass, that's not going to end well. In fact, every good list metagames. EVERY LIST.

You think I'm wrong? Head over to this site:
http://www.baldandscreaming.com/army-lists/nova-open-army-lists-tony-kopach-tournament-champion/

Now, what exactly does that list do against wolfwing in terminator armor? 2000 points of terminators coming out of drop pods with Cyclone missile launchers and all that jazz? Logan Grimnar accompanying a squad of long fangs with meltas raining from the skies?

Oh lets be honest, there's 5 whole rhino chassis, they all die, then it's footslogging your marines to get them away from the mean people in terminator armor with power swords, and praying your meltas get there when the squads have a guy in power armor holding a storm shield bravely or whatever. Yes, they're MSUs, so they die slowly, but in a very real sense they have no ability to get the Terminators OFF the objectives, while the terminators have every ability in the world to walk into them and come out the other side laughing.

He brought 6 whole weapons that beat terminator armor.

Okay, so what does the tournament semi-finalist do?
http://www.baldandscreaming.com/army-lists/nova-open-army-lists-mark-ferek-%E2%80%93-tournament-finalist/

Oh yeah, he crushes wolfwing beneath his boot. Meltaguns everywhere. 3 preds with lascannon sponsons. Every damn thing in his army is fast, and you can't leave any of it alone. Even the boring Baals can still rend your face off.

Look Kirby, it's rock paper scissors, forming right in your face. Rock-paper-scissors means there's a metagame.

GreyICE said...

Now, why do you think there isn't a metagaming? Simple. You haven't followed Magic. But Magic can teach you so many things.

Until recently, there was a format in Magic that was unexplored, called 'Legacy.' At any given Legacy event, the consensus 'best decks in the room' would make up 10-20% of the tournament. They'd inevitably be well represented in the T8, but occasionally dregs like Pox and Burn (two strategies that can best be summarized by 'LOL PLAGUE MARINES' and 'Orks in Battlewagons') would place. And people would argue there was no metagame and that you couldn't design for legacy, because of this.

And they were right. There was no metagame. Was there metagaming?

OBVIOUSLY! You can't escape it. What's the best metagame choice in an undefined metagame?

THE TAKE ALL COMERS LIST! Your 'glorious holy grail' is just a metagame army. Legacy had three 'take all comers lists.' Threshold, Goblins, and Landstill. Details are unimportant, but they basically made up most of the best decks, and would inevitably place well.

Now, how does this apply to 40k? Well, Legacy, like 40k is currently doing, got more competitive. This has two effects. Players who like to win take decks that are better able to help them succeed, and players who think there is some 'spirit' to the game where you 'shouldn't play good lists' get pushed out or adapt.

Is this happening in Warhammer? DashofPepper, a finalist who placed well with Orks, is buying a Space Wolf army. Similar to the ones at the open. Why? Because he has to fight and bleed and suffer with those orks to get the same mileage as he can out of a Space Wolf army. Do you think this will happen elsewhere? Yes.

And what happens then? Will there still be ork players? Sure. They won't be as competitive, because the competitive ones, like Dash, will be switching. And what happens then? The Wolfwing doesn't HAVE to fight his way through Dash's orks, or Hulksmash's demons, he can bring a list custom designed to kill the hell out of mech marines and beat the ork and demon players through superior playskill (they're obviously not good, they're playing orks/demons).

One of the 'take all comers' lists has survived. Two are dead. The rest of the meta? It more can be said to 'acknowledge all comers.' Or have a strategy against many. Sometimes the strategy is to lose - a metagame develops.

There are aspects to the 40k tournament that keep metagame armies from developing. You can't have a 'minor victory.' Wolfwing cannot pull off a major victory versus some lists, because it's not balanced. Best it can do is pull out a small, little victory. And with points being king, you have to blow your opponent off the table. Huh, that's changing. Comp scores do fuck such armies (they're designed to help 'take all comers lists' because 40k has some dumb idea they're the holy grail). Comp is dying. Some codices can't field competitive armies, so good players with money sunk bring the old armies. Games Workshop is either driving those people away, or releasing codices for them that are good (and thus gravitate towards single playstyles).

The metagame is inevitable Kirby. You can't escape it. The best you can say is that currently the best 'metagame' army is the take all comers list, because the metagame is badly defined, and the current best 'take all comers list' is MSU Space Wolves/Blood Angels.

Kirby said...

@GreyICE; your original example is...flawed and ignores a large part of what I said. Balanced lists can beat tailored lists with regularity, enough regularity that tailored lists don't have a significant advantage against the lists they tailor against to offset their disadvantages against what they are weak against. With a tailored/metagamed list at a tournament you are basically hoping to have a good tournament bracket where you don’t end up facing your nemsis but even then, the type of list you do well against can still beat you. Sure a plasmaspamming IG army is going to have a much better time as a tailored list against BA Foot lists than a melta spamming IG army as a tailored list against Mech armies because mech armies have goodies inside but BA foot lists can still beat plasmaspamming IG thanks to deepstrike, VV, ML devs, etc. The advantages you gain from tailoring/metaing are not huge in 40k because of 5th edition game mechanics.

There is no rock-paper-scissors with balanced lists. You highlighted Tony's list, Mark’s list and a Loganwing list w/Pods (not Chumbalaya's list). Ignoring the issues of Loganwing in Pods, of course Tony's list is going to be at a disadvantage against the majority of top lists because it's not optimised. Tony did a bloody fantastic job of using the list but it has more weaknesses than a similar list such as Stelek's. Even then, you bubble-wrap against those Termies and suddenly the meltaguns/MMs aren't doing as much damage and Wolfwing has given away some of it‘s mobility advantage (move and shoot S8 pewpew?) against whatever breaks them. Tony could use his TWC Lord to virtually smash half that army with appropriate charging. Stelek's list versus proper Loganwing? (i.e. Chumbalaya's without Pods) He was scared shitless of the army because of the suppression fire it can put out even though he has lots of AP2 weapons. AP2 weapons or lack of AP2 weapons mean diddly, it’s your ability apply firepower. All Chumbalaya had to do with his list against Mark’s is shut down the Preds and he’s just stop 6 larcenous. Stelek’s or Tony’s has a spread of firepower across the units, etc.

What you completely missed from the article is 40k under 5th edition (and Fantasy under 8th assuming they produce good new army books) can create lists which can take all comers and still beat tailored lists. If all the Ork players supposedly disappear or suck (which is a huge fallacy btw), you still have to deal with Tyranids, BA, SW, Vanilla Bikers, etc. who can put out a fair amount of ’foot’ models. Hell even your own Loganwing example which means you cannot cater towards mech otherwise it does become rock-paper-scissors. I’d rather stick with my balanced list which can deal with all of those lists and still handle tailored lists.

Comp scores do jack crap to balanced lists because balanced lists are generally considered low comp. Battle points, major/minor victories, etc. also do not promote competitive gaming because lists which win big/lose big (I.e. rock lists) on average do better than balanced lists because they are more likely to win big. So ultimately a balanced list will go un-defeated but lose by BP to armies which lost but won big in early rounds, etc.

Kirby said...

There is no single playstyle. Look at the competitive armies out there. Eldar, DE, Tau, Witchunters, Vanilla SM, BA, SW, IG, Tyranids with lower competitive levels from DH, BT, DA, Chaos, Orks. All of these have varying play styles amongst them. Just look at BA, SW and IG. They have so many different list styles it’s not funny and you’re claiming there’s a single playstyle? How? Mech may have dominating and inherent advantages in 5th but armies like Tyranids, SW, SM, IG and BA can all do no mech or half mech lists which are very good. This is balance. You take a list which isn’t balanced and tailored/meta’d against Mech and those other good lists which aren’t mech or semi-mech will have an advantage over you. Even the bad lists which aren’t mech based such as Daemons and Orks will be on level playing fields with you.

All you’ve done is state balanced lists aren’t good when they are. Stelek’s list is balanced. Mark’s list is balanced. Tony’s list is balanced whilst not tip-top optimised. Same with Dash’s (limited by being Ork’s). Chumbalaya’s, etc. can all deal with multiple play styles because multiple play styles can be fielded competitively.

Auretious Taak said...

Part 1:

I disagree with Kirby on this, and will quote his first line of the article which runs contrary to his concluding summary of no metagame existing: "So first let's review what the metagame is (again) and why it doesn't exist as strongly unlike in other gaming systems.".

So, basically, there is a metagame Kirby but then you say there isn't and that the metagame is basically tailoring to the edition of the rules itself. I can agree with that at least, in 4th edition 40k, plasma spam and static firepower armies were common place. In 5th edition 40k, mech and mobile heavy fire/melta is common place. Thus tailoring to a specific rules set.

Stating thata metagame doesn't exist is bullshit and we all know it. If it didn't exist then Ork Nob Bikers which were prominant especially in the US tourney meta for a good 8 or 9 months before the Guard came out and brought a counter to these armies (Psyker battle Squads and Callidus Assassins laughing as they ID the whole army/half the army in one shot/combo), would still be dominant these days. Do we see them at tourney's anymore? Why? Because people have built counters and made counters available to the metagame. Critical Mass lists which are very common these days alongside Mech lists in general all give people a percieved metagame and people build in counters to these dominant army lists. As a result, all comers lists which are designed to take on the dominant armies in the metagame scene worldwide are able to be constructed. Taking a metagamed all coemrs list from 4th edition doesn't work well in an all comers list from 5th edition which falls in line with your concept of armies tailored to a differing rules edition set but in so doing this is based off of a metagame. Withouta metagame, you can take whatever the fuck you want and you'd ahve a fighting chance. There wouldn't be need for this blog or the vast majority of threads on here or other 40k blogs the world over purely because you can take anything and do well as an all comers army. Sure, general tactics like "suppression firepower" which I quite like as one of your own articles, is great in general, however, under your concept of no metagame in existence, then the article doesn't have as much bearing because people shoulodn't be taking a large amount of anti-tank weapons like krak missiles for example to torrent into squads of speeders or light transports because hey, tehre's no metagame in existence for this article as a president because, as you say, no metagame so nothing to be expected.

Auretious Taak said...

Part 2:

I'm gonna weigh in with an Aussie view based off of my own experiences in the tourney scene in Aus this year and from discussions with prominant 40k players/TO's at/of said tournaments because to my knowledge, Kirby has played in what? Lords of terra and that's it and until I badgered him solidly, he refused to register up and post on Wargamerau which is THE METAGAME BASIS OF ALL AUSTRALIA OUTSIDE OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA WHICH IS A NON-COMP TOURNEY SCENE.

Jason,

The metagmae in Australia is based off a comp system.

Unlike the rest of the world where a non-comp system is prevalent and people play the hardest lists imaginable to table your opponents as fast as possible, Australia doesn't allow this to happen. The reason you are having issues with Blood Angels and feel no pain is because you are playing to the australian metagame. I run a razorwolf critical mass variant which usually has an alpha strike element to it. This sort of army with massed mobile AP 2 and AP 1 weapons just sits and laughs at FnP as it bypasses it enmass. Anything else brought along torrents into a unit to pile on the wounds with weight of fire eventually claiming casualties.

That all said, whilst this sort of army works well against other armies in a non-comp environment, in the australian comp environment, most TO's will REJECT such an army. Why would they reject it if there is no metagame? Comp is in essence a metagame of its' own creation. It has a scale of army strength and army strength alone. Alot of Tournaments have the comp based off of the strength of the armies as a whole committed to that tournament but many go off of the general percievances of comp and what is acceptable. If this didn't exist, then Kirby's flawed assumptions and statements of a lack of a metagame in Australia would be fine, but it's not because it exists.

Auretious Taak said...

Part 3:

The best way to look at it Jasonc, is that in Australia, lists dominant in the U.S. are NOT going to be seen at the average tournament, indeed a razorwolf/critical mass army at 1500pts with their 10-12 light vehicles is way over the top because the meta-comp-game does not allow for so much anti-tank firepower needed. Half the number iof vehicles is the upper range you cane xpect in Australia and indeed horde armies are considered over-powered as well.

You will have noted that on wargamerau any mention of orks see's people cringing at how cheesy they are, yet in the rest of the world, in non-comp environements, orks are indeed a lower tier army. Why this difference? Because in a non-comp metagame, people bring in massed vehicles, which Orks have no reliable massed emans of dealing with. in a similar way, tyranids also struggle, and this is why there is debate over the tyrannofex being so essential witha Rupture Cannon. In Australia, a tyrannofex doesn't need a rupture cannon ebcause you aren't expecting so much armour. For the same reason, orks running 1 unit of Loota's is great, but running 2 or more is seriously frowned upon and you lose a shitload of comp points and thus the overall comp score is the lower end towards resubmittal.

The upper end of armies you can expect Jason will run armies that should be able to table opponents within 6 turns. Games are much more drawn out affairs because people aren't running the hardest armies from a non-comp environment. The emphasis on enjoyable, sports friendly/centric tournaments means that a metagame around armies seen as being softer exists.

Kirby, your mind set is great. But it is narrow-minded and heinously wrong in teh context of teh Australian Tournament scene as well as the rest of teh world. If there was no metagame then people would take whatever army mix they wanted and battleforce afrmies would actually do well. That they don't is because people metagame around them. So yeah, there's a metagame. More importantly there is a worldwide metagame and local regional metagames and metagames involving both comp and non-comp environments.

Cheers,

Auretious Taak.

GreyICE said...

@ Kirby:
Jesus Christ man, go read this article stat:
http://www.baldandscreaming.com/rants/dakkaitis/
Please.

Then when you post things like:
"All you’ve done is state balanced lists aren’t good when they are."
You'd know how annoying it is. When I say something, don't say something totally different.

I said there are several flaws in what you are saying in your list. First, you said that balanced lists are not a metagame choice. They're the metagame choice in an undefined metagame. When you have no idea what people will bring, bring something that beats on everything pretty well.

This next part becomes silly. Here's why:

What you completely missed from the article is 40k under 5th edition (and Fantasy under 8th assuming they produce good new army books) can create lists which can take all comers and still beat tailored lists.

Any list 'still can' beat tailored lists. But lets say that you throw in a few plasma because you're expecting terminators. And someone, with full knowledge that you have a handful of plasma guns, builds a terminator list.

If this game has anything resembling balance, guess what? They win. Because your army has stuff in it that doesn't do well against termies. Missile launchers. Flamers. And so on and so forth.

Look at Tony's list. His list, in many ways, is a Mech list balanced to take all mech lists, and hope other comers die to the usual stuff that other comers die to. You complain that it wasn't a proper take all comers list.

Maybe that's true. Maybe it was the best list?

fester said...

@Taak
"Without a metagame, you can take whatever the fuck you want and you'd have a fighting chance" (some spelling fixed)
Thats what I do, and yes, I do have a fighting chance at every tournament. Ignore what you expect to find and bring something that fun to play.
Yes, I play Orks.

Kirby said...

@Taak; When something tends to 0, it’s pointless to consider it unless we want to send something into space. Can be important then ^^. Tailoring to the rules is not meta-gaming. External knowledge outside of the rules is needed for metagaming. The knowledge needs to be above and beyond the rule-set such as knowing what armies/play styles are common, etc. See the quote in the article and further clarification below. Nob Bikers stayed around for so long because people didn’t know how to deal with them. I can deal with them with my balanced lists which are not IG before IG came out and after IG came out without any shifting. You take away their support if there is any, delay one squad and feed MSUs whilst you focus fire on the other. This is how balanced lists without counter super units deal with super/poser units.

Comp has nothing to do with the meta. I take my balanced lists no matter what. If there are restrictions (I.e. must have more Troops than Elites/Heavy/FA) then I make my balanced lists around those or don’t attend (more common obviously). If a TO rejected my list, they’d not get my money, simple as that. Comp simply gives balanced lists a lower overall score, it doesn’t change how they are played, etc. Comp is a subjective external force applied to 40k, not a metagame tool. As the article alludes to, I can and will take my balanced lists anywhere and be reasonably confident they will do well assuming generalship/dice is held constant because they based on the paradigm of 5th edition & the current codex releases. Yes, this paradigm morphs minorly (new word by Kirby) with new book changes (see plasma creeping back in ever so slightly) but it’s not external knowledge which is driving this shift but the introduction of new rules.

Kirby said...

~

The whole point of this article which seems to be missed is that by running balanced lists the metagame is limited to the point of minimal consideration. A very talented analyst could pick up the game for the first time and by reading the rule-sets for each army and the main rule book, pick an army and in theory write a decent theory hammer list which is balanced. You don’t need to play games to figure any of this out and sure, as stated in the article you can metagame/tailor to the common army of the area/day/whatever and gain a minimal advantage but there are enough competitive balanced lists which are varied (compare Mech IG to BA foot lists) that this doesn’t net you an overall advantage in a tournament setting. It can if you get the right match-ups but over an extended period of time it is unlikely to do so.

Furthermore, take note of the 1750+ (for 40k). When you start hitting 1500 and less points (more specifically 1000) 40k is not a balanced game and there is a meta trend because there are clear rock-paper-scissor armies. Whilst some armies like Tau and DE are disgustingly good at lower point values, anytime someone takes a rock or something like double raiders they are going to destroy most lists until they come up against a list with horrendous shooting (I.e. tau, DE, etc.). This exists minimally at higher point values because of balanced armies. Yes it does exist in an ‘unbalanced’ environment such as the Nob Biker situation but the point of this article is:

5th/8th edition of 40k/Fantasy when run competitively does not have a metagame. Last time I checked when I discussed the gaming systems here, I’m building competitive and balanced lists unless otherwise stated. It’s now spelt out all the clearer.

There are no rock/paper/scissors in the top lists. Yes Blood Angels do better than say Vanilla Mech against Tau because their strengths play to the Tau’s weaknesses but Tau don’t auto-lose that matchup but rather 40/60 in the BA favor. Against a lot of other lists Tau has the advantage 60/40 but when running balanced lists you’ll find there is very little deviation outside of this. Yes you can tailor your list to counter certain balanced lists and you could push that envelope to 70/30 but that army you tailored against is still in with a decent chance of beating you. Add in the reduced effectiveness against other lists and is it really worth the gain? No.

Again, in lower points and other gaming systems where one cannot account for everything in a balanced list, this can work. I don’t care about lower points because these games weren’t designed for that points level (or if they were, they failed at it =/).

GreyICE said...

@Kirby:
Again, you are misdefining a metagame, because you like the idea that 40k doesn't have one.

Lets take your example of Tau. Tau have 40/60 vs. Blood Angels, and 60/40 versus most other armies.

If you know that the two major armies coming are Mech Guard and Space Wolves, are you fielding Tau (assuming that you own the models, and are well practiced with them)? Probably. If there's only going to be 1-2 Blood Angels players in the room, then you can probably dodge them. Even if you DON'T dodge them, does it matter? You can probably beat one once, you know you know your army well (so, no metagame, right?).

Now, say that you hear people talking about how awesome the Blood Angels are for weeks, and watch people setting up practice games with tons of Blood Angels.

Do you grab your Space Wolves out of the army box they're hiding in? Yes, I think that you do.

And that's a metagame choice. It's not that you don't think you can win one 40/60 matchup by virtue of being a better player. It's that playing a 40/60 for 2-3 games is gonna blow chunks.

Finally, take your last statement. If players like DashofPepper, Hulksmash (who brought a silly army), and others were at a tournament they played 100% seriously, competitive style, they'd probably all have some varient on mech marines, maybe mech guard.

The fact that it's 40/60 actually HELPS metagaming. If you're 70/30 versus mech marines, is it worth it to be 40/60 versus Foot Eldar, Tau, and Horde Orks? Sure. Because, as you noted, you can still win a 40/60 matchup.

If you autolost to Horde Orks, it would make it much worse, but you won't. And you gain % points versus horde orks because no one good is going to be bringing them.

Simply put, this seems like a huge mental block regarding a metagame. You have all the components of one - a game where you can customize your lists; units that work well against some things and poorly against others; and a defined set of rules and strategies that never changes. Add to this that it's soft rock-paper-scissors, so you can beat bad matchups as long as you get a little lucky and aren't playing a good player, toss in how few really good players there are... yeah, there's a metagame.

VT2 said...

When you remove comp, dispell the feeling that competing is a sin, and assure everybody that playing to win is natural, things change.

That's when you end up with multiple space wolf armies that all look different, and play different to one another, yet are all capable of competing with each other, as well as all other books.

VT2 said...

"Now, say that you hear people talking about how awesome the Blood Angels are for weeks, and watch people setting up practice games with tons of Blood Angels.

Do you grab your Space Wolves out of the army box they're hiding in? Yes, I think that you do."

Why would I?
My tau blow blood angels out of the water easily.
Same with space wolves.

That's the whole point of a balanced army.
It takes on everyone and everything equally well, without need for tailoring.

GreyICE said...

@VT2 - read Kirby's post again, it was a hypothetical. Also, your take all comers list does not 'beat everyone equally.' That's utter nonsense.

VT2 said...

But it does.
That's why I play it, and why it's 'competitive.'

Tau hybrid = competitive.
Ork horde = not competitive.

To be competitive in 5th editon, you must have a balanced army.
Once you do, you can compete with all other balanced armies, and you'll destroy every unbalanced army.

Auretious Taak said...

But VT2, Ork horde in the Australian meta = competitive, indeed frowned heavily upon because it is so hard to beat. Apparently.

We're talking australian metagame here in relation to the original email. You can't sa your Tau Hybrid is competitive but Ork Horde isn't when in your meta-area, it is and so it must be the same worldwide, because that's bollocks.

Also this:

[quote]VT2 said...
When you remove comp, dispell the feeling that competing is a sin, and assure everybody that playing to win is natural, things change.

That's when you end up with multiple space wolf armies that all look different, and play different to one another, yet are all capable of competing with each other, as well as all other books.

[/quote]

Have you played in many comp tournies VT2? Liek major comp tournies inside a comp environment as standard?

Your statements here are completely against the overall feelings and happenings within a comp environment, specifically the Australian East Coast meta-comp environment.

Competing isn't a sin in a comp environment, the level of power of armies is just greatly handicapped is all, people are still playing to win, it just takes longer.

Throw in the fact you DO see multiple space wolf armies that all look different and play differently to one another and yet are all enirely capable f competeing with each other as well as other codicies and armies in as varied a theme and bam, this is a comp-environment. It's like a non-comp environment except that all rounder armies are encouraged. This in itself is an arguement that ina comp tournament environment, that a metagame exists because it actually encourages all rounder armies to be played. This in itself is a style of metagame, to dismiss it as non-existant is a flawed arguement because it is there and yes, it promotes good all rounder forces because you can face pretty much anything. Like I said above, Kirby's not had the tournament experience inside the australian comp scene to understand this entirely yet, because words on a screen/paper whatever only go so far, you need to eperience it first hand and see the diversity of armies dropped down to understand this.

GreyICE said...

@VT2 - once again, nonsense. No one has the 'perfect army that can beat everything all the time.' If such a thing existed, this game would be unbalanced, and it would need to be fixed.

Since you don't beat everything all the time, it follows that you beat everything SOME of the time. Thus, it follows that you win a percentage of your games. Note, I only really care about games played by good players (anyone can beat a potato playing anything).

Therefore, maybe your win percentages look like this:

Horde Orks - 45%
Mech Guard - 65%
Mech Space Wolves w/Thunderwolf Cavalry - 50%
Mech Space Wolves w/Wolfguard terminators - 65%
Vanilla Space Marines with 6x Gun Dreads - 75%
Space Marine Bikers - 40%

etc. etc. etc.

Now, as you can see, you 'beat everything.' But this does not mean that your army beats everything equally.

If you think you can just choose 1 percentage, say, 65%, and no matter what your opponent drops on the table, you're 65% to beat it, that's insane.

P.S. I do NOT give a fuck if you think your percentages are different than those given above. The fact is, percentages exist, and thus there are times your army is doing 'better than average' (i.e. you have a matchup that is better than your statistical average win percent) and 'worse than average' (i.e. you're on a match that is below your statistical average win percent).

VT2 said...

What do the percentages have to do with anything?

I'm saying my tau will destroy all non-competitive armies (all orks, all chaos, all demons, all dark angels, all demonhunters), and fight evenly against competitive armies (marines, space wolves, imperial guard, non-stealershock tyranids, etc).

There's no need for me to 'upgrade' to space wolves or blood angels, since my tau are already competitive, and no single book exists in this game to rule them all.

GreyICE said...

*sigh*

So your only win percentages are 100% and 50%? No matter what your opponent brings to the table, either you're assured to win, or it's a coin flip? If you played 1,000 games versus a 50% list, you'd win 500 and lose 500, and the only other option is to win all 1,000?

You do understand why this is nonsense, I assume?

VT2 said...

I never said anything about percentages, at all.
Just that I beat face on all bad lists, and are challenged by good ones.
You seriously think I keep score? Oh, come on. I can play like 10 games a week if I feel like it.

We play 2k points here, because people have realized 2k lets them build 'their' army.

Joe said...

Metagame exists if you think about it. If you just take a decent army without any pre-suppositions then you are not metagaming. The way to beat the meta is to ignore it totally.

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