Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dark Eldar Vs. The Universe!

I thought I would foray into a codex vs. codex ranking and compare my thoughts on how Dark Eldar stack up in a game against other Codices. I’ll be using a ranking system of 1-10, where a 1 is a colossal challenge to not get blown away and 10 is a game I expect to win with one hand tied behind my back.

*ponders* Hrm….but then there are some codices that have builds ranging from 1-10. I’ll have to break down some codices by build.

*ponders more* And then I had a realization. I’ve seen people try doing this for various codices before, or ranking codices in competitive order, or assigning tiers to them. And at the end of the day…it is all meaningless. There is no value add in doing so. Codices can’t be compared in a vacuum, or ranked against each other because the definitive factor in a game isn’t the lists at play, it’s the general behind them. And we already have a ranking system for generals – its called RankingsHQ.

Hulksmash is beating people up with Tyranids. I can’t imagine facing a Tyranid army that I wouldn’t almost laugh off the table. I *do* laugh Necrons off the table…and my Necrons are undefeated.

If 40k commentators were to shift into professional sports, the game commentary would sound like this: “Gosh Terry, the Patriots are in bad shape going into this game. The Cowboys are spamming the new Nike cleat, which is entirely overpowered. I saw them doing a pre-game voodoo ritual over the football, and the Patriots don’t have any good anti-voodo in their roster. Don’t even make me start in on their helmets.”

Nothing about the coach, nothing about the team..”Oh! The Cowboys won the coin toss. Game OVER for the Patriots.”

It frustrates me that people keep wasting their time comparing tools when they should be comparing coaches…or in this case, generals.

John: “Well Terry, Hulkmash is good at disarming opponents with his mood and getting them to joke and take the game less seriously, which is a definite advantage on his side of the board.”
Terry: “That’s true John, but Dash looks to be in the Dark Eldar zone, no doubt wondering how many of his models he could prime in Hulksmash’s blood before someone pulled him off.”
John: “Well, they’ve both brought the tools to deal with each other, so we’ll see how this contest plays out. Where would you place your bets?”
Terry: “That’s a tough call John. Both of these guys have fearsome tournament records. Dash is playing his tried and true Dark Eldar, and Hulk brought out his Grey Knights for the first time in a major tournaments. They say practice makes perfect.”
John: “Well we’re going to put that to the test in the battle between these two titans. Who’s going to make the first exploitable mistake?

No discussion of army builds in there. We’ve both got the tools to beat each other, just like almost every set of players who face off – and people get too tied up in what the tools you brought are, and less about how you use them. I saw the armies that made it to the top tables at Adepticon. Most of them are lists that I would be glad to face off against. But there is *NO* army that I will face off against in overconfidence if I don’t know the general thoroughly. And if I know a general thoroughly enough to be overconfident, we don’t play – outside of tournaments.

That’s the secret of my success. I always presume that the person across the table from me is better than me, and is going to make every decision that will hurt me the most. At the Alamo GT when I faced off against what looked like a bad Vanilla Marine army across from me…I didn’t gloat to myself. He was sitting at max battle points the same as me. That’s what’s relevant to me. If I get a chance to face off against Tony(?) the D.C. Wonderchild at the Nova Open this year…I don’t care what army he’s playing. I care that he’s 16-0 on the GT circuit. I hope that I crush his skull in and bathe my models in brain matter (figuratively of course). If I do, then I can vicariously believe that I could have won Adepticon if I had gone. If he beats me…its going to be because I made mistakes, and he exploited them. Post-loss, that’s the sum of my thinking…what did I do wrong? Where did I lose this game?

That’s my thought of the day. I started with thinking about comparing DE to other codices, realized what a useless waste of time that sort of comparison is, expounded on generalship and the woeful lack of recognition of it in our hobby, and ranted for a bit.

The other day someone said, “I don’t understand how you always win. You should at least lose SOMETIMES.” I do. My DE lost twice last year. I’m sure I’ll lose again in the future. I don’t win because I’ve discovered a super-secret awesome army list. I have the same tools that everyone else does. I win because I’m exceptional at judging people, making evaluations of them, and zoning in to exploit the PLAYER weaknesses. I wrote a pretty lengthy section of how psychology fits into 40k in my DE tactica, which resides on Dakka Dakka for the moment. Game Five of the Alamo GT…I’m getting absolutely crushed. Murdered. I have been the whole game. Every shot whiffs, every enemy shot explodes a DE vehicle. I end the game winning. I won because of Dash vs. David, not because of DE vs. Blood Angels.

Ponder that the next time you hear someone (hopefully not yourself) complain about a weak codex, or about a game being decided by dice.

*EDIT* A friend of mine who's opinion I respect tells me that there's too much ego in here confusing the message, so let me add this edit to try making my message clear.

NO codex can be ranked or tiered by itself. Such a ranking or comparison system is a fallacy. Generalship determines the success or failure of each army brought to the table. The addition of two examples (Hulksmash with Tyranids, Dashofpepper with Necrons) was meant to illustrate how my own personal thoughts about codices in themselves can be turned on their head by the general piloting them - which is why it is never safe to be overconfident going into a game.