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:
- Horde Orks (Kan Heavy)
- Nids (Horde or MC Heavy)
- IG (Mech w/10-14 AV12+)
- Space Wolves (Razorspam/Loganwing/My list)
- Mech Orks (26 Vehicles)
- Wound Allocation Death Stars (Crushers, Council, TWC, Nobz)
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.