Thursday, February 26, 2015

DE: A response to the spoiler army

School's back in session.

Hey guys, I'm going to write a response to a post that I saw on The Dark City about the problems people have with the Dark Eldar codex.

Yes, as most of you know, I'm not a fan of the current book either.  Sure, it might not be the most powerful book out there, but what I really didn't like about it.  I was largely disappointed by the seemingly forced player options that pollute the entire book, and I felt that the book was largely uninspired and bland.  When people read one of my reviews on any given army book, one of the things I notice is that people think all too much on whether or not it will be competitive.  Yes, competition is hugely important to me and I want the book to be successful, but that's not why I look at book and shake my head.  As a player, I want to be able to take multiple choices that promote my options on the table-top.  The only way I'm going to feel good about this is if the points I'm investing in said unit is well-spent.  That's how you achieve value in a dice-game based around point restrictions.  You cannot change the outcome of poor dice rolls, but you can choose what kind of army you can make to mitigate your chances on losing.

So where does Dark Eldar fall compared to the other books?  That's a tough question because there's no number out there to describe them.  Dark Eldar, as some of the boys over at Frontline Gaming say, is a "spoiler army".  It's one of those armies that do so incredibly well against certain matchups because of their innate army design.  What are we talking about exactly?  Well, our ability to take long-ranged poisoned shooting attacks, and our ability to spam out a high value of lance attacks at seemingly dirt cheap.  With the 7th Ed. book, the only thing that the book did was make those things better (although at a few nerfs in other areas).  For the most part, you can now Venomspam to your heart's content, and with multiple CADs, you can now bring more lances than you ever need through the employment of multiple sets of Ravagers.  I didn't mention this before, but maybe that's one of the reasons GW decided to double nerf them both in points and with the loss of Aerial Assault?  Nah, that would be giving them too much credit.  Let's just say for now that some of the things in the book got invalidated (such as almost all CC, in an already shooting-dominant meta), and some things just got easier to spam.  Why else would empty Venoms be so readily available in the RSR detachment?

Now that we know what a spoiler army does, why isn't that a lance-heavy or poison heavy army do well in tournaments?  For one, over-exaggerated strengths come with great weaknesses.  Just like in any army that someone designs for a tournament, he plays for the mission package and all possible matchups that he will commonly face.  It just happens that the US have one of the most diverse metagames there is, mostly piloted by experienced generals.  Due to Dark Eldar's inherent strengths and tendencies to mass-produce cost-effective units, DE generals tend to build polarizing lists and rely on the dice gods for pairings.  This is largely because the more balanced approach is just not strong enough to face most adversaries on the table-top.

What does this mean exactly?  Well.. let's look at some Eldar builds for a second for matchup purposes.  Let's say you enter the 1850 event in the LVO with a lance-heavy DE build.  It should do OK vs. a WS/Dual WK build, but the effectiveness will drop dramatically depending on how many Wave Serpents he has.  To make things more complicated, if he's running a psyker-heavy build and you didn't splice in psychic yourself, Telepathy might throw the entire matchup into a deciding loss.  Now take the Venom-heavy build for Dark Eldar.  What does it do vs. WS/dual WK?  Kill the two WKs maybe and play the scenario or auto-lose.  Against a purely Mechdar list, you have about a 1% chance at winning vs. a competent player because Venoms are completely dead weight.  The vast majority of points spent will be target practice, which is one of the reasons DE players hate drawing Mech IG too.  They put out 4x the shots you do and pen you on the same amount you pen their stuff, but for half the points.  Sounds bad?  Is bad.  Anyways, let's say the if you pull a FMC Demons or Tyranid list with the Venom list, all of a sudden you're jumping for joy because that sings to the strengths of your army.  With a lance-heavy list, you may not do as well, but it's still possible to win the game if you play correctly.  In a big tournament like LVO where hundreds of people will be looking for that big win, it's eventually up to you to knock out that Tyranid FMC list so they don't face it later.  Likewise, you will be hoping you draw that and not the IG carpark.

This is why I say that Dark Eldar is difficult to place in a tournament setting.  If you min-max your lists as hard as I do, you will discover that too many lances or too many poison will cause extreme shifts in polarity; making certain matchups almost unwinnable.  I like having a fighting chance regardless of matchup, which is why I'm willing to take less Venoms for more lances because I feel that's where my army wants to be.  I can rely on gunboat re-rolls for shorter-range poison since it's more accurate, but at the same time, it's highly vulnerable to explosions, in which case MSU Venoms makes a better use of points.  More on balance later.

I'll say this right now, I don't think Dark Eldar can compete as a primary army in an arena as fierce as LVO.  Why?  Because we just don't have the tools or sustain to play in that type of arena.  We excel at damage, but as mentioned several times above, we shift too hard in either polarity.  It also doesn't help that I can count on one hand how many tournament-viable units we have from our book, but when people ask me about my Eldar, I can go on for hours.  This isn't any of our faults per se, but running DE as a primary army in a major event will have its consequences.  The first of these will be power polarity and designating yourself as a "spoiler" army, or trying for a more balanced approach and being outclassed by other armies.  Out of these two pretty sad options, players tend to look away and explore the third, more logical option (because the goal in tournaments is to win).  That third option is unlocked through the allies chart.  There's no hiding the fact that Eldar allies makes your list stronger; especially when the DE book can provide the poison/FMC protection while Eldar supplies the durability, anti-armor and other meta-specific counters (more answers exist in the Eldar book).  While both armies can put enemy armor to shame, Eldar can do it with longer-lasting units, and that's what you need in a good game between two experienced generals who can fully exploit eachother's weaknesses.

Do I agree that Dark Eldar is a "spoiler" army?  Yes I do.  It's their very design intent to be like that and it's largely due to the poison mechanic.  I personally don't like it because I think it forces us down that pre-determined spoiler path, but I also don't mind it because someone has to put Tyranid FMC spam in their place.  However, I will say that I'm not done with my Dark Eldar just yet.  My most recent pure DE list at 1850 puts out a healthy amount of poison and lance shots and it only gets worse the closer my opponents get.  For how to use this kind of pure DE list, read about it here.  I've really been enjoying it quite a lot, although I'm about to change it up big time vs. the Necron powerhouse players that's been plaguing my area.  That's when I bring out the Double CAD Lynx.

LVO Update:
Results from LVO, out of 256 some participants, the biggest major this year so far for 40K.
  • Highest placing DE is Rank 29, scored 45 battle points, running Dark Eldar with Eldar allies.
  • 2 people ran double CAD Dark Eldar, placing 101 and 165.
  • 6 people rank Dark Eldar/Eldar total
  • 2 people ran pure DE, came in 193 and 218.
  • There were only 2 Eldar players who took DE as secondary, one placing Rank 15, and he did so by just taking the WWP (shocker) + throwaway.
  • There were 30 Eldar players at the event.
  • There were only 10 Dark Eldar players at the event.  Only 2 placed in the top 100 (29 and 81).

Can't I'm surprised, none in the least.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

DE: Double CAD Lynx

Time to serve up some Eldar justice.

Hey fellas, I've decided to make a list to combat the emerging Necron threat that's been plaguing my area. Have you guys seen the new book?  Some of their core mechanics seem absolutely bonkers.  Why is it that they never die and can re-roll to get up so many times?

I'm only building with the elements that I have available to me since I don't feel like buying additional models to make it happen.  The only thing I'm going to be custom building is that Farseer on Jetbike.  I need to get some of those new Harlequins masks man!

15 KP

CAD #1
Farseer, Jetbike, Spear, Mantle = 160

5x Dire Avengers, Holo/Scatter/SC = 210
5x Dire Avengers, Holo/Scatter/SC = 210

Nightwing = 145

Lynx, Scatter = 430

CAD #2
Archon, Blaster, Haywire = 80

5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120

Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125

The Dark Eldar are there to supply the additional Lances while the Lynx + Telepathy Seer does the heavy lifting in the list.  With the Scatter Laser, I can make my Pulsar Twin-Linked for some serious 2x Strength D 5" templates of doom.

I'm not sure how this will play out since it's using MSU mechanics but with one big centralized target to deal the majority of the damage.  Someone brought up that I should think about a Skyshield Landing Pad for a 4++, but that defeats the notion that I'll be moving around everywhere with the Lynx and the Jetseer.

Thoughts? I'm very curious.

Monday, February 23, 2015

BFG: Working on something big

40K lore and spaceships.. so good!

Hey guys, not much from me in the last couple of days and I can explain.  You probably know that I've been doing a lot of WHFB with my Skaven and Vampire Counts, but you probably don't know that I'm working on something on the side as well.  I've decided to bring back a game that I hold most dear but haven't gotten around to playing for quite some time.  That game is Battlefleet Gothic and I'm proud to say that I'm working on a houserules package for it.

What does this mean exactly?  It means that I'm doing a re-write.  Not a re-write in the sense that it's going to be a completely different game, but a re-write for this prehistoric game that will make it fresh, fast, modern, and exciting to play.  For now, I'm simply calling it BFG2.0.

Let me tell you right now what my design goals are with this pet-project of mine:
  • Modernize the old ruleset to match the current 40K system
  • Improve game speed and fluidity by cutting dated design
  • Introduce alternating player turns for more interactive gameplay
  • Utilize visual gaming aids to better track board status
  • Increase design space for future additions and game balance

No randomized leadership, no goofy random movement, no gunnery chart (gasp!), just simple, easy to understand rules that will maintain the strategic depth that is BFG.  Add in a few new things like Admiral Traits and a few balance alterations and you have yourself a pretty solid game.  Currently, I'm working on the Chaos fleet and I would like to get at least 4 factions in the game before I go public.  Right now I have Imperial, Chaos, Eldar and Orks (matching the upcoming video game).

I am definitely looking for playtesters for those of you who are interested!  Just drop me an E-mail and when I'm ready for the next phase, I'll let you guys know.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

DE: Harlequins with the Kabal

Too much caressing and kissing, not enough actual killing.

Alright, so here's the deal.  Harlequins are coming and they're looking pretty damn fine for those that want to play all kinds of CC.  While that is really admirable, it doesn't really work in an edition like this one where shooting is king on the battlefield.  When they first spoiled the Solitaire, the huge nerd in me got super excited because the idea of Eldar in melee makes me happy.  Unfortunately, this went away big time when I looked at the stats and saw that there was no protective bonuses outside of the 3++ invul and a prayer for a bad shooting round.

Here's where things changed a little bit.  Then, I saw the formation that allows you to take a Solitaire, Deathjester and Shadowseer and all of them gain Stealth, Shrouded and a special rule that says they have to be by themselves.  This suddenly makes them a lot more playable, but at the same time, you have to ask yourself exactly what these three characters offer your existing Dark Eldar?  The first thing you will notice is that a package of all 3 is not cheap, not by a long shot.  The Solitaire himself is 145 points and if you upgrade the Shadowseer, you're taking even more points on him.  Then you consider where the Shadowseer is going to be if he can't join any units, or what will he be doing outside of DSing near the enemy and hopefully trigger some leadership shenanigans coupled with Armor of Misery.  He sure won't be taking the psyker powers that targets himself and the squad he's with because he's by himself.

Is that worth the points investment?  The Solitaire by himself might be worth the 145 points you spend on him if he comes with Stealth and Shrouded but that's stretching it too.  At the end of the day, he's still a T3 3W model with a 3++ save.  A good round of bolters should be enough to drop him, even if he's rolling 2+ to save on covers, much less if you're not taking this special formation.  The Deathjester is kind of comical because he can just hide back in a ruins and sit on his 2+ cover save, but a quick burst from an enemy Wave Serpent and he's dead before he can do anything.  This is just funny to me because a lot of people are super duper pumped about this release.  I know that it has to be the excitement that GW are willing to do something so niche, but it bothers me because people are not really thinking about gameplay applications here.  To be psyched about the Shadowseer and what he can potentially offer to the table with his psyker powers is one thing, but to realize them on the battlefield is another.

What kind of footslogging lists do you plan on running to take advantage of the Shadowseer?  I know that none of these cool looking models will find its way into my DE list because frankly, it only weighs it down to take them.  Speaking which, I'm not even sure if DE can take them so this entire post might be moot, but seeing how one of the WD's mentioned "Eldar United", I'm assuming that these Harlequins will be available to supplement both armies.  No matter what, you probably won't see any Harlequins in my list.  Crazy space clowns are super cool in the fluff, but from a competitive mindset, they leave much to be desired for.

For those of you guys curious about the Holo-fields being different in the Harlequin Codex vs. the Eldar one, expect a errata coming soon.  I don't believe GW will let two of the same special rule go with different meanings for long.  Yes, this means that Wave Serpent spam will take a nerf.  Good, it's been a long time coming.

Friday, February 13, 2015

GDS: A good RTS game

Creating a good RTS is difficult.

I'm really feeling this deep emptiness inside that is the lack of a good RTS games. I just feel there's so many out there these days that have been a disappointment one way or another. Let me use this time to vent, and express what I'm looking for in a modern-day RTS. I believe that in order for an RTS game to be successful, it needs to be built with the modern-day business model in mind. What does this mean? This means you take the best from all the games you've played in the past, highlight it and bring it to light. Then, and only then, you innovate and take it to the next level. I believe that that is the recipe to creating a modern-day RTS that can accommodate the needs of the modern gamer (which frankly, has ADD).

  1. Focus on the action, the fight, the grand strategy, tactics, and execution of said tactics. What does this mean? Limited base building. The focus should be on the combat. E.g. WiC, CoH/DoW2, Ground Control, Wargame, MOBAs.
  2. Depth. This would also mean that there's depth in the actual units that you're using. Everything should feel unique and have its own purpose, or why else are you taking it? The games that I enjoy the most are the games where you're able to get mileage out of the units that you're purchasing, either through superior positioning, micro or unorthodox use. This is one of the things that StarCraft does especially well, and one of the reasons why certain units that should lose on paper, win through skill and placement. E.g. StarCraft, CNC Generals/RA3, CoH/DoW2, MOBAs.
  3. Map control for resources. My favorite model of map control for resources for me is CoH/DoW2. You have multiple resources (as a game should have, luxury resources), but you fight for control of it by going out and acquiring land, capturing this land, and holding this land. The fact that you can cut off enemy resources depicts the cutting off of supply, which not only captures the fantasy that is WW2 warfare, but adds another layer of strategy for the player.
  4. Build your own army, army customization. What makes players really excited? Player options. I'm talking about player decks. Can you see two competitive players argue for hours about what is the best options to take? Sure, me and Tri do it all the time in ALB and in Red Dragon. I used to argue with Parfait for hours in AoE3. Player decks that allow a player to customize his army the way he wants is one of the most fun and infinitely challenging things about any game. It stems from DND and table-top games in general, and it works really well because it sings soundly to the OCD competitive player. There's nothing that compliments the feeling that you are truly in control than designing your own army. E.g. DND, Warhammer, Wargame, Total War, Age of Empires 3.
  5. Get in the fight, now. You have X amount of starting resources and this should be enough to get you into the game fighting, participating and having fun right away. I'm not talking about 6 SCVs here, I'm not talking about building starting buildings and more workers, I'm talking about the fact you have enough resources to start fighting, controlling territory and capturing ground. Then, you capture more land, gain more resources, and share in the momentum that is truly warfare. War is about momentum, and only the winners know it. E.g. Ground Control, DoW2, Wargame, all MOBAs.
  6. Lastly, the game should be built with spectators in mind. It needs to be exciting, energetic and explosive. Visually, it needs to be impressive and interesting in a way that's easy to understand, even if you have never played the game before. This is how you capture interest. In terms of gameplay, it needs to be easy to understand, but difficult to master. That is the hallmark to a successful game and the lifeblood to future success. eSports is free marketing in today's social media-driven environment. More people will buy and play your game if they're exposed to it, and they will only be exposed to it if people play it, stream it, and share it. E.g. SC, Hearthstone, LoL.

This is my list for now guys, thanks for reading. I'm not in the position to start my own gaming company, but you can bet your ass in hell that if I did, I will make an RTS game and take it to the next level.

Monday, February 9, 2015

HUGE End Times: Archaon reveal!!!

Spoilers R' Us!

Check it out yo.  You can thank our Chinese friends for this.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

End Times: New Bloodthirster model!

Here's what's coming to kill everyone.

Quick, everyone gang up on Chaos!

Tyrion is alive, Incarnate of Light?

Nagash, Elves, Humans, Dwarfs, everyone against Chaos..

The new Bloodthirster in all its glory.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Skaven: A more well-rounded list

So many rats, so many possibilities!

After exploring the prospect of fielding double Storm Fiends, I still feel that that particular configuration is not the better list.  If you think about all the weaknesses that Storm Fiends present, there's just too much risk in fielding two units of fatty gun rats.  What if someone brings a shooting dominated list and you're not playing the Storm Banner?  Chances are that you're going to get out-ranged, possibly out-gunned and that you'll have a bunch of dead fatties on the table before they even attempt to make their points back.  This is no good.  You never want to enter any kind of competitive environment where you're banking on your opponents not showing up with particular lists.  That's almost asking for trouble.

Enter the more balanced list:

2400 ETC
12 deploys

Grey Seer, Plague = 275
Dispel Scroll, Ironcurse, Gem
+Screaming Bell = 200

Grey Seer, Ruin = 320
Power Scroll, 4+ Ward

Chieftain, BSB = 124
Halberd, Shield, 4+ Ward Armor

Warlock Engineer = 45

46x Stormvermin, FC, Razor Standard = 392
50x Skaven Slaves, FC = 106
49x Skaven Slaves, FC = 104
1x Giant Rat Pack = 23
1x Giant Rat Pack = 23
1x Giant Rat Pack = 23

5x Gutter Runners, Poison, Slings = 90
5x Gutter Runners, Poison, Slings = 90

3x Storm Fiends, Rattling Cannons = 255
1x Warp Lightning Cannon = 90
1x Warp Lightning Cannon = 90
1x Doomwheel = 150

In this list, you basically take everything that's good about Skaven and stick it in one list.  All the characters minus the Doomrocket Caddy sits in the MR2 Stormvermin unit with the Razor Standard.  Depending on the matchup and what the map looks like, you either deploy tight with 5, 7 with 2 on each side, or a full horde with 10 across.  The objective here is that you have 2 Grey Seers slinging magic out from the Bell unit, ODing on Warp Tokens while you push up with Storm Fiends nearby the BSB.  This strongly compliments your already lethal magic phase since Skaven has some of the most brutal ranged magic spells.  I'm trying out the Power Scroll lately because I really want to capitalize on the power of magic so I can take full advantage of my double Grey Seers.  Everyone that matters has a 2++ ward save vs. magic attacks thanks to the Bell, and the 2x units of Gutter Runners will fend off any warmachines that stray too far from support.

The thing I like most about this list is having the 2x WLC and Doomwheel as support for the Storm Fiends.  There are a couple of things that Skaven fear more than anything else and one of them is big monsters and fatties getting into close combat.  If you haven't noticed by now, rats are not the best in close combat and the Skaven try their best to tie up good combat units with plebs while you blast them away with Rattling Cannons and Warp Lightning Cannons.  While the Stormvermin are pretty decent in close combat, Skaven prefer to win the dirty way.  As you can see, this list poses a stronger threat element against more list combinations than just double Storm Fiends.  The WLC gives you confidence that you can destroy clumped up infantry, counter-battery when needed, and provides you with a long-ranged answer to advancing monsters.  Of course, things typically goes to shit if a dragon manages to reach your lines, but that's why you have the Doomwheel to assist in such times.  When things get hairy, send in a spinning rat wheel powered by warp lightning.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Skaven: Storm Fiends and ETC Draft 2.5

Shoot everything that ever lived.

Well, it looks like ETC put some pretty sizable restrictions on Storm Fiends as predicted.  They were a little bonkers against certain list archetypes, but they were not without weakness.  You can find the latest copy of ETC Draft 2.5 here.

Here are my observations:
  • They utterly changed the metagame because of their high impact ranged offensive ability.  A unit of 3 puts out 9D6 S5 AP magical shots that re-roll wounds and ignores almost all shooting penalties minus cover.
  • They are fragile, and Ld.7 is death magic bait.
  • Suffer vs. armies with superior shooting elements: WE, DE, HE, Empire, Dwarves, even Ogres with Leadbelchers. With 18" range and 24" threat total can be counter-deployed by longer shooting elements.
  • Suffer vs. light councils, any army with magic missiles, Warlocks will draw dice every time and they cost less than half the points.
  • They will do very well vs. knight-heavy armies with minimal shooting, to a point where if you roll well, you will earn at least 2x their points back if played well.
  • They can do very poorly vs. armies that have more shooting elements than the Skaven player and thus, are a complete waste of points. A direct comparison can be made with the Abomination, which costs about the same points as 3x Rattling Cannons. In those cases, the Skaven player would rather have the Abom since it can absorb more damage.

Case in point -
Regular Skaven configurations in the Rare slot in ETC, all of which I have played so far:
  • Abom, 2x WLC, Doomwheel
  • 2x Doomwheel, 2x WLC
  • 3x Storm Fiends, 2x WLC, Doomwheel
  • Abom, 4x Storm Fiends

Look at what you give for Storm Fiends: The Abomination for its durability and power to kill entire units by itself while not being vulnerable vs. shooting, including cannons (bar the flaming ones). If you take the Abom and Storm Fiends configuration, you give up the ability counter-battery or heavily damage elite units because of the lack of WLC. You also miss out on the Doomwheel, so you lose the ability to deal with monsters that hit close combat.

To sum up Storm Fiends; they are fragile, they are hit and miss, literally, from their 3D6 shot variations to their effect in game vs. different comps. Killing one drops the power of the unit by a third, whereas something like the Ironblaster, Skullcannon, or Organ Gun maintains its power, lethality and ingame effect regardless of power inflicted onto the unit. They are also Rare so if Skaven players must sacrifice other powerful elements in their army to use Storm Fiends.

I can remember these of the top of my head:
2 Games vs. HE
3 Games vs. DE
1 Game vs. WE
4 Games vs. Empire
2 Games vs. Ogres
2 Games vs. Dwarfs
1 Game vs. VC
2 Games vs. WoC

Storm Fiends with Rattling Cannons did major work vs. 2 Empire lists with minimal shooting and knight buses, 2 games vs. Ogres because of 1 Ironblaster and 1 tiny unit of Leadbelchers, absolutely mauled a VC list because he has no shooting and my WLC destroyed the lone Terrorgheist, did serious work against the WoC because of limited shooting. They suffered vs. a light council Empire list and another with knights and heavy shooting, suffer horrendously vs. the Dwarfs because of 30" Organ Guns and super accurate cannons, and suffer vs. 35+ Archer, RBT HE lists with Shadow book, DE was just a pain to play against, possibly even more than WE.

Overall, the Rattling Fiends have some very swingy effects on the metagame.  They can either completely wreck unprepared armies or those with small shooting elements, or they can be utterly destroyed by the right kind of list composition.  This, is a problem in itself because it causes too much polarity in game balance.  No balanced army should show up to an event and just feel like Storm Fiends are uncounterable by their army.  I feel that Vampire Counts eats shit the most from the new gun rats.

With that said, let's explore the latest comp on these guys:
  • Each Stormfiend in a unit after the first model 1 pool choice

This basically means that a unit of 3x will cost the army 2 points out of the 5 total that you can take.  I think in its current form, this is pretty fair as you are now locked out of the Storm Banner or other tricks if you take these guys.  This makes shooting armies that much better vs. the Storm Fiends because you can no longer pop banner on their turn after you get a round of successful shooting.  Of course, you can still take 2x units of 3x Rattling Fiends and the Storm Banner if you so choose, but only if you take nothing else.  So what does this mean?  This means that we should test just how truly these Storm Fiends are impacting the meta.  Are they absolutely destroying everything you face?

I want to try double Grey Seer for all the nonsense that you can throw out with enough Warp Tokens.  Essentially everyone important has a 2++ ward vs. magic and the double unit of Rattling Fiends will put down enough lead down field that your opponents' army will either fold, or do have the right elements to fight against it.  Jam up whatever you can with Skaven Slaves and continue to mow down your opponents' stuff while Gutter Runners takes out any warmachines.  The single WLC keeps fatties honest and the rest of the list speaks/shoots for itself.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Games and XCOM vision

Get ready for a deep article.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of game-related soul searching on how I view games in general.  For the most part, I play games to have fun.  A lot of old friends ask me if that's really the case because most of them don't believe me when I say I play to have fun in the game.  Why?  Because my definition of fun can be very different from theirs'.

For me, I have the most fun when I can maximize the effectiveness of whatever I'm playing and defeat my opponents with better use of strategy and tactics.  When it comes to looking at my personality, I am a Spike first and foremost, but I also relate primarily to the Tuner subgroup of this particular gamer archetype.  You probably won't find me as particular innovative, or the type of person to come up with "HERO's Winning Combo" or whatever, but you will find articles on this blog dealing with how to maximize your army for a particular purpose or ideal.

Before I even get to enter the strategy or tactical portion of the games I'm involved in, I try my best to maximize my chances of winning through list design.  In MTG, I look at mana curves, CMC, speed through playtests, and the quickest way to win through a certain combo.  In Warhammer, I maximize the chances that I can win with my list and I do that through numbers, different unit choices and effective bucket lists.  Most of you will believe me when I say that if I was to take a percentage of total time spent on Warhammer, it would be 70% list building, 20% playing and 10% putting new models together.  When there's nothing to put together, I still maintain a 70-30 ratio of army design to actually playing the game.  Does this seem crazy to anyone?  It shouldn't, especially if you're a competitive gamer before anything else because you understand just how important theorycrafting is.

Over the years, I've calmed down a fair bit when I'm playing my Warhammer.  The game has become a little more wild and there's generally a lot more craziness going on at any given time.  I used to take the units that are the strongest in the game, but for the last 6 years or so since I started this blog, I've been taking what I enjoy fielding.  This can be anything from fielding more models that are aesthetically pleasing to me, units that fit my particular playstyle or units that match my particular strategy.  That's why you see half-mech Mech BA, full Mech Space Wolves with Predator tanks, lance-heavy pure DE Kabal, Pure Grey Knights, Elite Imperial Interceptors, and now the Two Towers Skaven.  Once I latch onto an idea, I work as hard as I can to make it work to the best of my ability.  Sure, I dab into mixing other competitive options in to maintain variety or to maximize my chances at winning (e.g. splashing Eldar into Dark Eldar), but I get the greatest satisfaction in winning with something that I find thematically appealing.

After I maximize my lists, I put it on the battlefield.  Now, I don't know about most of you guys, but I figure the guys that enjoy reading my blog are gamers first and foremost.  I mean, all the shit I write are about list building, strategy and tactics, and you know by now that I haven't painted in god knows how long.  The reason for that is quite simple:  The time I could be painting can be better spent on maximizing my army lists and playing more games!  I really enjoy playing the game more than anything else, and that's the god honest truth.

When I do play the game, I look at the game in what I like to call, XCOM vision.  Let's just take a game of Warhammer for example, or even X-Wing.  The game is pretty much made out of numbers disguised over heaps of gorgeous plastic models.  When I look on the battlefield, I don't really think about the fantasy of the game I'm actually playing in the present.  What I mean by this is that I'm not actively forming a story behind the game that I'm playing, I do all that stuff in hindsight after the dice has been rolled and the game is over.  When I'm actually playing the game, I'm looking at percentages of me winning combat, the percentage of the enemy unit still being there and me overrunning, what's the chance to miscast on the next spell, and a thousand and one scenarios how my opponent will react if I choose option A, B, C, D..etc.  That is what my mind is doing when I'm playing the game and if you guys have played XCOM before, the game is basically a string of decisions presented by percentages that you, the player has to deal with based on how you maneuver.  A friend asked me once when I was playing eCaine why I am always moving around the table, measuring my control, looking at 30 different units, while constantly squinting my eyes and scratching my head.  I just told him that out of the 17 different assassination vectors I thought about, this is the best one.

I find that this style of playing the game to be a double-edged sword.  After all, am I really enjoying a game if I'm looking at the game like a complicated math problem with a thousand different answers?  The answer is yes, for me at least.  I just enjoy this kind of play because that's how my mind becomes challenged, and I need it to be challenged when I'm playing a game.  Unfortunately, this is very rare among table-top gamers and one of the reasons why I get frequently mismatched.