Saturday, May 7, 2011

And the pendulum swings

So all of this recent talk about redundancy versus utility (from Spaguatyrine) and other talk about optimization begs a question.  I feel like the community is really wanting to rebel against something here, but they aren't quite sure what it is that they are rebelling against and where to go from here.  We are punching at shadows it seems.  So what is the real issue here? 

I think there are a few things going on here. 

1) People are fighting against the social stigma of the netlist.  They are realizing that netlists don't win games, people win games.  It isn't as simple as buying the models in a Stelek best-of list and playing it.  Why? Fester says it best here. People are waking up to the fact that they have to be able to play the netlist to succeed.  If you don't fit the play style of MSU marines, you will experience frustration.  While the armies are theoretically well built, on a person-by-person experiential basis they aren't performing as well as they could.  So is the list failing or the player?

I say it's the player.  What does this mean?  It means that the emphasis should be placed on the player, their play style, and their level of gameplay rather than building lists.  I am an advocate of putting together a list, sticking to it for awhile and gaining some experience with it.  Alterations, if any, occur in small increments.  The best generals know their armies in and out.  Even with sub-optimal lists, good generals win tournaments.

2) This leads to the next thing.  Players are beginning to see that non-optimized lists are okay to play.  Individualized, theme-y lists are good as well.  BUT they are also seeing that rules knowledge and tactics go a long way.  As GMort said, "Playhammer > Maths/Theoryhammer pretty much every-time." We are seeing a pendulum shift back towards blogs teaching about these things instead of just spinning out lists for people to try.  This is also a good thing.  I personally, always try to explain my thoughts on an army list as I generally build a list with an idea in mind and how I intend to play the units I include.  People need to see this to develop their own thoughts and ideas on how to play.

I think these steps are good.  I think the back and forth between bloggers hashing out definitions of redundancy and what it can or cannot be is great.  This is good.  It is drawing the focus away from what is perceived as redundancy and towards what redundancy really is. I am a big fan of redundancy, but I think it is really good to see that redundancy isn't only list spam and MSU.  It is a mindset in list building, but it isn't only assembly line stamping out units for lists.

So, where do we go from here.

1) Accept people's desire to include non-spam, non-MSU lists.  Redundancy takes on many guises.  I think a new term we need to add when teaching players how to build lists is synergy.  We need to educate players on how to build synergy in lists because this is a combination of list building and execution on the battlefield. We need to encourage them to take a look at their lists and define where strengths and weaknesses lie.  Furthermore, we need explanations of why things do and don't work when we give list advice. 

2) Help people learn to use sub-optimal units in an optimal way.  Now this doesn't mean trying to make a terrible unit out to be a winner.  It simply means helping players use their models to the best of their ability rather than telling them to go out and buy more models.  This means being more accepting of players' ideas and allowing them to flourish instead of trying to mash everything into the round peg hole.

3) Talk tactics.  Teach gameplay.  Give out scenarios to show practical application.  Let list building become a secondary discussion.

I think we are on the right track and as such we are at a critical juncture where we can let this become a quagmire of disagreement or we can take the building tension and pour it into shifting the overall discussion into a new direction.  To make better players, not better lists.  To create good players, not poor players with good lists.  I think that is what people want.

Feel free to let me know what you think.  Comment.  Is this the right direction to go?  It's my belief that this is what people are asking for.

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