Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Lost, Now What?!?

In my last post I talked about playing 40k on one's own terms, not buying into the interwebs builds, but instead using trial and error to build a list that they can play well and win with and be somewhat competitive with. 

Let me pause before I go on and state that I am not saying that you can't use the lists that are widely accepted as the "best of" builds.  I would encourage you to read your desired army's codex and build your own list based on your needs, though.

So, what happens when you put together your optimal list, the super cool theme list that you have wanted to play, and you get stomped?

When this happens to me* I take some time post-game for reflection and write up a report card for my army.  You see these in many battle reports and tournament reports.  You are simply looking at how your army performed unit by unit and also as a whole. You are also evaluating whether the problems were due to an underperforming unit or due to a lack of tactical knowledge.

* Looking back over my Warhammer career, I spent the first year to year-and-a-half losing. It was, at points, soul crushing, but I added to the army.  I modified my tactics and I became fairly adept at running my Dark Elf army ultimately coming in 2nd overall in a 100 man tournament.  My dread heavy list has taken on about a dozen variations before it became what it is currently.  It may move on to other things later. 

Generally, I take a look at the non-negotiables first.  For instance, in my dread heavy list, I have to have a Master of the Forge.  There is no way around it.  If I want more than 3 dreads, he has to fit.  So, he is a non-negotiable. His equipment isn't though.  Currently I am running with a bolter.  That's it.  I try to keep him out of fights and occasionally pop him out to repair a dread or vehicle. 

My dreads are fairly non-negotiable, but I found that the army suffers in the assault phase without some sort of elite assault unit.  Thus, one dread has bitten it and been replaced by a hammernator squad. 

I even monkeyed around with the armament of my dreads.  I started out with TL Las/Missile Launcher venerable dreads.  They were operating at about a D or F.  They were terrible, so I decided to throw down 3 Riflemen and 3 ironclads.  The Rifleman were performing at an A or B, so they got locked in.  The ironclads were nice, but their range made them easily avoided performing at a C to D.  I added pods.  That bumped them up to a B or C, but the range issue still rankled me.  Thus, I turned the ironclads into regular dreads in pods with multi-meltas.  I continue to change a portion of my army in isolation to see if I could get the whole concept to work better. This helps to keep the overall theme while adjusting the army to work better and more competitively.

Objective evaluation and playtesting pay dividends in creating an army that works and that is fun to play.  The adage holds true, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." 

So, don't throw out a concept because the first game, or 5 games or 10 games don't work.  Evaluate.  Tweak.  Be flexible.  I think this would prevent a lot of people from just copying the most used lists out honestly. 

There you have it.  Get the army you want, play it the way you want, and make it work the way you want.  It takes some time and will at times be frustrating, but it helps you to create an army that is really and truly your's.

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