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

Monday, May 16, 2011

Termhammer 40K: Suffer not the definitional fallacy to live

So as of today I'm gonna embark on another article series that is probably going to become quite long, but is both necessary and worth it. One of the biggest problems with trying to discuss 40K is the terminology- specifically, the lack of it (or sometimes just the lack of understanding of it.) You can't have a meaningful argument with someone if you can't even agree what the words you're each using mean, so perhaps this series will, at least to a degree, rectify that.

I should like to point out before we begin that I did not make up these terms. I am not attempting to claim I did. I am not saying that I popularized them, that I was the first to use/discover them, or any other sort of self-gratifying internet bullshit that is bandied about constant. For f***'s sake, people, you are not a unique and special flower and the fact that you looked in a (codex, rulebook, your own ass) and came up with an idea does not mean others haven't done the same.

Alright, so the purpose of this series is going to be simple- I want to establish a common grammar that we can all use. If you find a term that works better than something I'm using... shit, go with that, these are just the ones I've seen around or default to myself. What's important is the concepts behind them and how we understand those, not the words themselves- words are interchangeable, concepts are not.

We're gonna start off slow this time around with some easy ones, but that's only so we can build upwards from there. Rest assured that things will get more complicated than this.

Yes, really. Mech (short for "Mechanized") is an army that relies heavily on transports for its infantry and, almost without fail, will also feature other vehicles alongside its transports. (We'll talk about this in the article about saturation.) Mech is important in 5th edition because vehicles are very durable and transports are very cheap, making mech lists something of the default for many armies. Mech also has an advantage in mobility over traditional foot armies, giving it a further edge. Because of these factors, EVERY list must consider what it will do when it faces a fully mechanized opponent with 8-15 vehicle hulls sitting across the table.

Mech is NOT just any army with tanks in it- it specifically refers to those that use vehicles to transport their infantry (and especially troops.) Many mech armies will have at least a small component of models not in vehicles, but generally the number is limited and they tend to be highly survivable (due to being naturally tough, able to hide or remain out of range, special rules, etc.) As the percentage of foot units rises, we trend into the other army types.

The opposite of a mech list, a foot list uses few or no vehicles whatsoever. Unlike mech, foot can come in some very divergent varieties of unit types even within a single codex- Monstrous Creatures are very different from Jump Infantry, for example, but they are still essentially similar in that they do not have any units with armor values. This is important because the way you kill vehicles is essentially different from the way you kill infantry in 40K; vehicles can be stunned or have weapons blown off and move differently than other units, so even models that are superficially similar (like a Mycetic Spore and Drop Pod) will function very differently.

Why are we even talking about foot lists when mech is so awesome? Doesn't 3++ often criticise Footdar, foot Marines, etc, as being bad lists? It is and we do, but not all foot lists are created equal- there are right way and a wrong way to do foot lists. Many armies can field devastating effective forces entirely on foot- SM, for example, can make some scary bike armies, and BA's default list is generally seen to be a ton of dudes with jump packs. However, these lists take advantage of special rules to cover their weaknesses in terms of movement and resilience that mech naturally has- lists that have no such options, or that don't take advantage of them, are merely bad.

Foot armies, like mech armies, are usually not "pure"- that is, they almost always contain at least a small number of vehicles of some kind or another. However, also like mech, as the number increases, we trend into the third and final major army type...

What do you get when you mix foot and mech together? Well, usually you get a poorly-built mess, but at the hands of a good list writer, you get something with the strengths of both and the weaknesses of neither. Hybrid lists attempt to do just this, combining some elements of a mechanized list with some of a foot list. To qualify as a genuine hybrid list, an army needs a significant vehicle presence on the field (rather than just 1-3 of them) and virtually always at least one or two units in transports- often more. (They also, obviously, need some units without transports, but that part isn't hard to remember.) The balance of the two elements can vary, as there is no rule for exactly at which percentage a mech list becomes hybrid or hybrid becomes foot; it's largely a judgement call on the part of the person reviewing the list.

Hybrid lists are by far the hardest of the three to do right, but done well, they have many strengths and few weaknesses, as they have a wide variety of tools to deal with different situations.

Alright, boys and girls, that wraps it up for our first, admittedly somewhat boring class of Termhammer. Next time we're going to get into discussing different types of units and why we care what we call them.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...