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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

Friday, January 14, 2011

Back to Basics - Writing your list.

Note: this is not about building win/loss tourney lists. This is for people starting out. Remember this as you read this article.

So you've starting to play Warhammer 40K. Great! A rich universe, filled with space skeletons, space marines, space elves, space daemons.... you get the drift. Next are the shiny models, and the armies they belong to, and the painting, and modelling, that goes with them. Even more fun. You know what isn't fun? Writing your army list, only to have your face smushed into the dirt over and over and over again.

Yeah, it happens to just about everyone who joins this hobby. It happened to me for oh, I don't know, 10 years when I first started playing as a youngster ( I think the rad kids call them "noobs" now, goddamned beatnik goodfernothins *grumble*). I had far too much allowance as a kid of 11, and that meant I played a LOT of armies. Like, all of them. Yes, every single goddamned one, and for both Fantasy and 40K. And I was freaking TERRIBLE. Like could not win a game. Even with childish cheating.

Seriously, I was am that bad.

I've found that a lot of my friends that join the hobby have the same problem, whether they are new starters, or coming back from a previous edition. They all seem to have the same problem, and that is list building.
This brings me to the meat of this article - how does one go about constructing a list? Without talking specifically about tournaments (comp or otherwise) how do you make the choices that lead you to create the army that you play games with?

What Codex should I play?

The question. It defines what you will do when you play 40k from this point onward (with this army anyways) Do you take the awesome of pyramids and space undead that is necrons, or the noble (and a little sexy) Sisters of Battle? What you need to do, when selecting your army, is LIKE that army first. Don't listen to grizzled veterans who will tell you that space wolves are the new hotness, and imp guard are unbeatable, but your chosen army is shit, and you shouldn't play it. When you are starting out, pick a codex that you like the fluff of, and go from there. You will enjoy the hobby more if your running an army that you like the back story of, as it gives it more character.

Next on the agenda - design your army list before you make purchases. Figure out what (within your codex) you like, and want to play with, and build on that. Make sure your army has some sort of theme, and make sure you LIKE that theme. When you design your army list, think about how you want to play that army. Armies fall into 3 basic categories

Assault: You have dudes. They have swords, and axes, and possibly hammers. They like to hit stuff with these implements.
Examples: Blood Angels Jump marines, Drop Pod wolves, Orks of any kind, 'Nids of any kind, etc.

Gunline: You have dudes. They have guns. Lots of guns. They like to shoot stuff.
Examples: Tau, Imp Guard, Space Marines, etc

Balanced: Your dudes have swords and guns, but are not picky about which they use.
Examples: Anything, really.

If you match your army list with your idea of how the game should be played, you are probably on the right track.

What units should I take?

This ones easy - Anything you like. No, seriously. But remember this- Not all FoC choices are created equal. In every book, there are substandard choices, which we here at 3++ are quite often happy to point out. Does this mean you should NEVER take them? No. It means you should be aware that those choices will not be the best in your codex, and therefor are not using your codex to its full potential. Is that bad? God no. I freakin love Blood Angels vindicators, but anyone with half a brain will tell you they are bad. Would I take them to a tournament? Probably not. Do I still think they are cool, and would I build a FLGS army with them?
Oh feck yes. Ask any author on this blog, and anyone who frequents the tournament scene, whether they have a fun army as well as a tourney army. I for one can say I have like 3 non-tourney armies that I own/intend to own, and I will play them locally. Hell, I'm even intending to take one of them to all the local tourneys this year, just so I can have some fun in the comped environs.

If your not having fun, your not doing it right.

Refine your list

This ones harder for newer players to understand. The key concept is to play games. Lots of games. Once you have your army, and you start to play with it, don't change it up too much. Many a new player disregards good lists because they don't auto-win for them. The list is merely the tool at your disposal, its how its employed that makes a good list terrible, or a terrible list play really well. Play as MANY games with your army as you can, and then if you still don't like it, make some changes. Read sites on the internet, (3++ IS THE NEW BLACK!) and sift through the information. Realise that what you read on those sites is not gospel (except for here, of course) and that it is merely information and opinions posted by randoms across the world. Any experience is worthwhile having, even if its bad experience.

This is kind of a ramble, so I'd like people to post up their first armies, and what drew them into the game. I think its important to remind people that although we advocate competitive gaming, in essence its still a game, and if people aren't having fun, we won't have anyone to compete against.


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