Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How I build an Army List

Well I figured I should put this out before I put out the second part of my Tyranid article. That way I don't have to make that article incredibly long by including my overall though process instead of just the units, tactics, and reasoning.

So I was having a recent conversation with Shep via PM on Dark Eldar army building and it got me thinking further about how I build my army from the get go. I started by explaining that I build my lists by considering how each unit will function and what their role will be against each of the following:
  1. Horde Orks (Kan Heavy)
  2. Nids (Horde or MC Heavy)
  3. IG (Mech w/10-14 AV12+)
  4. Space Wolves (Razorspam/Loganwing/My list)
  5. Mech Orks (26 Vehicles)
  6. Wound Allocation Death Stars (Crushers, Council, TWC, Nobz)
These are generally the threats I take into account while building my list. This is how I create my toolbox. For deathstars you need a unit that can either out deathstar them, destroy or limit them at range, or marginalize them. You need enough ranged or combat anti-tank to neutralize mech heavy armies. You need the ability to eliminate walkers either in combat or from shooting. You need the speed to contest enemy objectives and to catch fast enemy units. All of these things need to be taken into account when building a proper 5th edition list. Some people out there will tell you that planning for "Deathstars" is pointless since a competitive list won't take them. They'll say the same thing about horde Orks, Nids, Kanwalls, and multiple MC's. This is a trap that a lot of people fall into building a maximized list. They ignore that for the first 2 rounds of a GT you have a decent chance of pulling things like this because the truly nasty lists haven't settled out yet so if you don't plan for them or consider how your army will handle them then you could find yourself pulling an early loss or draw.

I've found that this is where the more esoteric units from my codex start to make an appearance. Things most people completely disregard in a codex suddenly have a place as contingency plans and as a multi-tool. This is another thing that comes into my thinking when building a list. I will take a second look at my book and units I've dismissed due to the internet or initial reads of them being poor units. Each list is a creature all on its own and they need to be tailored to your style. Are you an aggressive player from turn 1 or do you like to focus fire and then move out late game? Are you more denial oriented? Me, I'm a very, very aggressive player and my lists generally reflect that. Even my most shooting phase oriented armies have distraction, pressure, and assault units.

So now that we know where I start from building a list let's look at the actual process. I'm a minimalist when it comes to upgrades. I want more stuff and more targets to saturate my opponents with choices.

My HQ's come in 2 varieties (sometimes both in one); bare minimum required or unit/army enhancing. An example of both in one would be a Ork Big Mek w/KFF or a SM Librarian while just the second would be someone like Logan Grimnar. I'm also someone who takes full advantage of a commander's enhancing abilities. If I'm already spending the points I might as well take full advantage of it. My HQ's also generally create the focus for the rest of my force. It's rare that I'll build an army and then pick a character that fits the force. The only time that has happened for me is Orks in which my HQ's are incidental to the rest of my list.

Since I'm such an aggressive player I've found that I need to play armies whose troops can be used aggressively and have the ability to affect the game. That means I don't take unit to just hold objectives and then load up around the rest of the forge org chart. It probably explains my choice of armies like Space Wolves, Daemons, Nids, Orks and soon to be Dark Eldar. IG are another army that can have very aggressive troops but my take on IG is more than a little different than most so I won't go into them here. All of these forces have troops that can be used offensively. My troops also (with the exception of Nids) tend to be one of the main places I pull tools from. My other tools compliment my troops.

I have found I rarely use my Fast Attack in my mech armies. The reasoning seems to me to be that most of the rest of my force is fast enough that I take full advantage of the killy in other sections. But fast attack takes a much larger role in my non-mech armies like Nids and Daemons.

In every army I play my killiest units come from my Heavy Support or Elite spots. So much so that these are normally my first slots filled in after my HQ. This is why I say my troops are my tool box units. They fill in the gaps created in my army list and make it playable. Sometimes I do fill heavy support and troops first and use elites as my toolbox (see my Space Wolf list) but the essence of my army remains the same. Every unit is designed to enhance the other units in my army while providing redundancy should a unit go down early.

After I create my template here I playtest my lists in local RTT's and against some of the more competitive local players. Now that you know my thought process, at least a small portion of it, it'll help with understanding my future army list posts and the second part of my Can Tyranids Compete article. Hope this helps with were I'm coming from.

1 comment:

fluger said...

You are pretty much, spot on, describing how I design lists. I love the post because I agree with it so heartily. :)

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