Thursday, March 25, 2010

List synergy

A lot of the time I see people making lists that lack the synergy needed to carry out their battleplan.  You see lists that's supposed to be fast take slow units that slow the rest of the army down; or an army that takes too many reserves and it gets dissected on the field turn by turn.  This post will hopefully help people realize these issues and how to improve upon it.

Let's look at some example lists that preform well in battle and analyze why they work.

Eldar Castle list (Defensive):
2x large units of Wraithguard
3x Wraithlords
A squad of counter-attacking Harlequins + Shadowseer

The entire army moves slow but the units here are incredibly resistant to damage.  The big to note about this list is that the army's movement speed is the same.  Everything moves as one, the tempo remains constant, and nothing is left stranded or out of reach of immediate assistance.  The Wraithguard, Avatar and Wraithlords are all really tough with their T6+ and 3+ saves.  Eldrad offers great protection to the army via zone wide psychic protection and Fortune on your units so you get that armor re-roll.  Your shooting is primarily short-ranged but with guide  your Wraithguards' no armor save instant death shots become really intimidating.  The main weakness of this army is CC, but that's why you have Harlequins with a Shadowseer hiding behind your Wraithguard as the ultimate counter-charging element.  Overall, this list favors a more defensive player's playstyle but has all the right tools to make it work.  It moves as one, shoots at one and reacts as one.

Blood Angels list (Offensive):
Chapter Master Seth
Honor Guard in RB
Librarian w/ JP in a squad of 10x flying ASM
2 more squads of ASM in a Rhino and Razorback
Corbulo with the ASM in the RB
Furioso Dreadnought in a Drop Pod
3x Baal Preds

This list functions in a mindset completely opposite to the Eldar castle list listed above.  This list is fast, completely geared towards assault and concentrated pressure.  Seth and his HG bodyguard turbos forward with the rest of the army while the Baal Preds lay down suppressing fire.  The Librarian and his squad of ASM flies behind the rest of the mechanized army, providing them with 4+ cover.  Everything moves at 12"+ and above; most elements moving at 18" and popping smoke because they want to reach combat ASAP.  Blood Angels excel at speed, close combat and extreme early game pressure.  You force the tempo of the game to change because of your speed and your opponents must react accordingly or be destroyed.  That's the entire purpose of a fast, hard-hitting army.  And that's exactly why stationary elements such as Devastators don't really work in a list like this.

Space Wolves list (Balanced):
Rune Priest
Arjac Rockfist
4x squads of Grey Hunters, 3 in Rhinos, 1 in LRC
2x squads of 6x Long Fangs with 5x ML

The advantage of Wolves is that they're a very balanced army.  At the same time, they're a very powerful army because they can do almost everything really well.  Space Wolves have strong elements of shooting, CC and psychic abilities; thus, they can build balanced lists better than most armies.  In short, they're basically C:SM who can shoot better and assault better.  The Long Fangs provide long range firepower and the 4x solid squads of Grey Hunters excel at close-range engagements.  The Rune Priest can support the field with long range attacks or medium range denial and Arjac Rockfist destroys most things in close combat.  Because of the army wide counter-attack special rule, Space Wolves can receive a charge just as well as charging into combat themselves.  This makes them an extremely flexible and powerful army.  Unlike most armies, Space Wolves don't need to force the tempo of the game to remain effective.

With these examples in mind, I hope it's easier to see what a good list should look like.  You need a list that can move together and take advantage of the strengths of your army.  If you have a fast list, don't take slow units that will slow the rest of it down.  Concentrate on the strengths of your book and play with units that'll take advantage of that.  Your strongest list will always be one that fits your playstyle.  That's simply because instinctively, you already played out the battle in your head before it even begun.  Yet another reason why copying winning tourney lists off the internet doesn't guarantee victory.


rpthomps1111 said...

I think you made a really powerful point about movement and the idea that the army should move together in some cases. You can make sure the army stays together virtually as well. If a biker squad goes 18" and can be fire supported at 18" that is the same, IMO as moving 18".


Derrick Whittet said...

"Yet another reason why copying winning tourney lists off the internet doesn't guarantee victory."

Good post overall, and had to emphasize the quote above. It applies in fantasy as well as 40k, and it's something I've seen countless times.

People really need to build their own lists, try things out. Sure, certainly talk to others, get their opinions and most importantly discuss the "why's and why nots" of everything. Not to just do what your told, but to build a good understanding of why each unit is in your army, and how you're planning on using it.

It's not like where you can just use the current favourite character build and win by default. A "poor" list using units that are technically underpowered but chosen with specific purposes and a well thought out battle plan will stomp all over lists copied from tournaments without understanding.

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