Kirb your enthusiasm!


"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, April 27, 2011

Optimisation: Kirby's take

fester and Mike both encouraged the completion of this article with their respectively linked articles. Yay for them. A common theme throughout the Internet when a tournament is run is the mocking laughter by the general masses who go against competitive play (I'm looking at certain forums and blogs) when the list isn't the perfect and precise list construction often recommended for tournament play. I notice a lot of griping directed at blogs who encourage such competitive play, specifically levelled at their lists and how boring, bland and generally 'spammy' they are whilst being touted as the theoretically best lists out there. Yet referring to the previous point, they don't always seem to win. Let's look at Tony at Adepticon and NOVA or MVB's Imperial Guard list at BFS. They are excellent lists, run by players with extremely high knowledge of the game and their army. But they aren't the ultimate in optimisation. There are tweaks which could be made to make the list 'more optimal' but this doesn't matter to the success of these players due to the balance between power and personal comfort with the list they have generated.

fester and Mike have explored this concept quite well in their articles so I'm not going to repeat what they've said too much but rather drop my opinion and thoughts on the matter.

In the end, general ability trumps army list but player ability can only get you so far. If you don't have the tools for the job, you're going to have a hard time winning no matter how good you are. This is a key reason many of the older books like Orks, Daemons, Chaos, etc. are considered 'lesser' armies. Even if you're a significantly better general than your opponent, if they are using the new books with a decent army list it's going to be a tough game. When you get generals of equal skill level however, the list begins to matter significantly in what options the opposing generals have and how capable they are of flexing their intellect on the tabletop.

In theory, the optimised lists popularised by YTTH are the best around. They have the least (if any) wasting of points. They have a combination of maximum firepower, defenses, durability, flexibility, duality, speciality and often focus a lot on mobile shooting units coming at you from all sides. There's nothing wrong with these lists but they do generally fit a quite specific mindset (MSU based) which does require a lot of practice before it is understood. Many people seem to think they can take an Internet list and start winning right away. Not going to happen, no matter how good the list is. Another associated problem with these lists is the initial start up cost which is often in the several hundreds of dollar range depending upon where you live and how well you know your local provider.

What this boils down to is not that you shouldn't listen to the blogs who expound upon these concepts and produce army lists, I'm one of them and that would be counter-intuitive! Same with AbusePuppy, SneakyDan, Sir Biscuit, etc. We all have something to offer as long as you don't expect our copy-paste lists to work. They might be amazing lists in theory and work for us but unless you have very similar thought patterns and personal preferences to the list writer, you're not going to enjoy the same level of comfort and therefore success with the list. Rather, use the ultimate optimisation lists from the Internet as a guideline. Take the list and make it yours and you'll find yourself not only enjoying yourself more but winning more. This will generally involve some loss of optimisation as the proposed lists online are generally pretty tight and have little wiggle room in this regard (I generally have around 50-100 points of 'options' whilst Stelek generally has zero).

Is this bad? No. It's still ultimately going to be a good list (unless you butcher it :P) as the core concepts of good list building are there. There might be some drop-off compared to the original list or other fully optimised lists and if you run up against an equally skilled opponent with such a list you may be at a slight disadvantage but as Mike points out in his post, your army is more likely more reliable and you have fiddled your list so it fits you. These two points can overcome that tiny disparity in theoretical list power on the tabletop. Ultimately this is trying to say fully optimised armies aren't the only way. They may be the theoretically best armies out there but that doesn't mean they are going to work for everyone and having a tiny bit of unoptimised aspects in your army whilst still having a core list which is very good, doesn't change the list so it's terrible.

In the end as fester said, make sure you are comfortable with the army. Some people have the ability to switch armies at the drop of a hat and mesh with their new playstyle. You'll often find you are capable of doing this after many years of playing multiple armies as you gain the experience to do so but you'll still often have a particular preferred way of playing each army or specific list. We're human and it comes with the territory. Embrace it and use what you see online as inspiration or a guideline and remember, a good list doesn't have to be perfectly optimised.

Now go have fun. Or something WAAC like that.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...