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

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Email In: Thinking About WHFB

Timff writes,

"Hello Kirby 
I've been combing through the internets, and have thus-far broken down what I think you need to run a good Fantasy list.

1. General with decent Leadership, and/or a BSB.

2. Wizards that can affect the battlefield in a manner that assists your army. If that's ranged firepower, great. If it's swinging melee in your favor, that's fine too, so long as it fits your army.

3. Core units. Not necessarily Core per se, but units that can hold the line and form an anvil your other units can flank-charge around.

4. Beater units. Units that aren't necessarily tough, but are strong and can deal some serious damage, particularly when supporting the core units.

5. Ranged power. War machines, gunners or wizards that can eliminate a very threatening unit, as every army has at least one unit that you NEVER want to face in melee.

6. Flanking units. Units that can take out enemy war machines/archers/wizards lurking in the back field, and also assist. The core and beater units.

There are also considerations you need to make. I wouldn't refer to these as units, as these aren't so much units as facets that should be built into the units above.

A. Magic defense. Wizards help, but you should probably have a piece of wargear or a unit with some special rule that further assists.

B. Protection from Psychology. A BSB really helps, but for many armies you need to invest in items/characters/banners that help protect you from Fear and the like.

C. Mobility. Your units don't need to be all Fast Cav, but some at least should be faster than your standard Movememnt of 4, to make setting up charges, and making them connect, much easier.

D. Sacrifice and tarpitting. Building in a back up plan in case you start to lose can be a waste of time, but some of your units should be cheap enough that you have no qualms about using them strictly as cannon fodder.

Bear in mind that this is only the product of a few days' crawling over forums, but I think this is at least a decent(?) understanding of what goes into list building.

All the best,



Hope you don't mind getting a reply from me in lieu of KirbySome of your observations are spot on, and since you organized them well I'll address them in turn.

1.  Not every army needs a general who is a glorified Leadership bubble.  Armies like High Elves can make a LD9 wizard their general and apply the points elsewhere.  A BSB is more universal in 8th Edition.  I cannot recall the last time I played with a list- or against a list- that didn't have a BSB.  Simply put, a cheap character that gives a large bubble of Leadership re-rolls is far more useful than a character who simply increases Leadership.  

2.  Wizards are, of course, vital for every race except Dwarves.  For some armies, like High Elves or Lizardmen, wizards can be more than an assistance, they can be the focal point of your offense.  When you build a WHFB list your mental focus needs to be, "in what phase(s) of the game will I be planning to do the most of my killing?"  You then select units to further that plan.  If your list plans to win in close combat or shooting, your casters should enhance your close combat or shooting as opposed to bringing a wizard that is furthering some other agenda.  From a 40k perspective, it would be like an HQ unit that provides an army wide buff to heavy weapons in a theme list of Khorne Berserkers.

3.  This I don't necessarily agree with.  Not every list, and not every army book, requires a solid and immobile center.  My Dark Elf Chariot list doesn't bring any large anvil infantry units.  Each army book has it's own character, and some are as you describe, but others simply are not.

4.  Dedicated close combat units need to be able to dish it out, you're right.  But does a magic based offense list need a beater unit?  Not necessarily.  Does a shooting list need a close combat hammer?  Again, not necessarily.  I'm beginning to see a pattern in your thinking, you have one type of list in mind, which may be valid for one or more armybooks or play styles, but your lack of experience has prevented you from seeing a much wider variety of playstyles available in the game.

5.  I wouldn't say that ranged fire power is necessary.  If you are playing a face beating close combat list, like a Warriors of Chaos Chosen deathstar ranged firepower is neither available nor necessary.  Your casters should have some ranged capability but it's not required.  Remember, if your plan is to win in close combat, you shouldn't have too many enemy units on the list of things you don't want to face in close combat.

6.  Eh.  You don't need these in every list, or every army book.  In a defensive shooting/magic list you don't need any fast cavalry or scouts.  You only need to flank- or protect flanks- if you're advancing combat units into the midfield.

A.  A level 4 is the best magic defense you can acquire.  Here is the problem with your analysis: GW has made magic offense overwhelmingly stronger than magic defense.  There is no defense good enough to consistently stop your opponent from getting off his magic.  Additionally, the common magic items that are considered to be magic defense aren't very cost effective or useful.  And if you invest in a ton of magic defense you will still be blown out by Teclis of a Slann and all your points are wasted.  My advice is to bring a L4 and hope for the best.

B.  Leadership boosts are of variable importance.  I like a BSB in every list, but the other things importance depends on the armybook.  Low leadership armies need a plan.  You have to have a plan so you don't get blown out by half your army breaking due to one bad round of combat.  But high leadership armies like Dwarves and the Elves can skimp a bit on leadership boosting items.

C.  Again, this depends on your list.  A defensive list that wants to sit back and shoot with magic and/or warmachines doesn't need to even consider movement.  Unlike 40k, seizing objectives in your opponent's deployment area is not part of victory, and you don't have to move unless it's part of your plan.

D.  Due to overrunning, tarpits/speed bumps can often backfire on you and allow your opponent to move more than he would normally be able to.  Referring back to my "how do you plan to win the game" mantra, you only need to slow down or tarpit the enemy if you are worried them getting to you quickly.  The above mentioned Chosen Deathstar list doesn't need to slow down the opposing army, it plans on killing them and wants to get to them quickly.  A shooting list often does want to keep the enemy cavalry units from zooming across.  Your unit selection should further your agenda.  There is no one size fits all army building checklist.

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