Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making a Tournament List

Lately I've been trying to hammer out lists for my team's Ork army for upcoming Adepticon.  Please don't get me wrong- I'm not convinced it's going to be a 'balanced' event at all, but my friends have trusted me with making the lists, and I'm trying to deliver.  Before I talk about why it's harder than you would think, I figured I'd instead mention my methodology in making a competitive take-all-comers tournament list.

First, I suppose I should talk about the basics:

1)  Your goal should be to win every game.

Perhaps this sounds a little selfish or something, but why play in a tournament with a competitive list if you don't try to win the whole thing?

2)  You don't know which armies you'll face.

It's true.  You can't control who you play- you can only control the margin of your own wins/losses.

Therefore, 3)  You should make a list that will give you the best chance to win every game you play in a tournament.

If you can't deal with one particular build, what will you do when you run up against it?  Curse your luck?  Tell people you would have won the whole thing if you hadn't gotten an unlucky draw?  Maybe you'll do that.  You'll also take one up the chute, and lose the tournament.  Remember:  It's not a competitive list if it can't take all comers.

So, the basics are out of the way.  You want to win tournaments, there are things that every list has to be able to deal with:

1)  Vehicle Spam

This one is generally obvious, but bears mentioning.  2 melta guns in your army are not enough, if you want to win a game against a 15-vehicle Guard spam list.  Are there those lists out there?  Most definitely.  If you can't see how your army could (reasonably) take on an army of that sort, you need to make adjustments.  Melta is a good option, as is strong close combat that can damage AV10 consistently (after it's moved 12").

2)  Monstrous Creatures

Also something to worry about.  Whereas some armies only have a few of these, some are going to take spam lists, and their combined 36 wounds at T6 and a 3+ save are going to cause trouble if you can't deal with them realistically.  S4 attacks won't do.  Templates won't really do much.  What realistically kills them? High-strength AP3, Power weapon spam, etc.  If you can't beat monstrous creatures, you can't consistently win tournaments.

3)  Infantry Spam

Green tides, gaunt spam, ...footdar?  Heh, these armies all exist.  You need to be able to deal with them, and efficiently.  No, your 2 Razorbacks with TLHF won't do.  Close combat elements usually work well.  Ironically, templates really don't do that much good against these guys.  It looks great in theory, but they'll be spread out, and what sort of difference is 5 gaunts if you hit/kill them?  I suppose that's a topic for later.

4)  Power Armor

Or its equivalent.  Necrons have about the same survivability as Marines, and there are a ton of marine players out there.  You need to be able to get rid of lots and lots and lots of power armor.  Every army has a way, you need to make sure you have some.

5)  Elite Close Combat Armies

These guys are tough to deal with.  They don't have a ton of models, but they'll have elements that are extremely tough to deal with, including high T, good armor saves (2+, or a 3+ invuln), multiple wounds, etc.  You need concentrated firepower to be able to deal with these, or your own good Combat element.

6)  Death Stars

I suppose these could be included in with #6.  Thunderwolf cavalry, Nobs, Seer Council.  There are lots of them out there.  If you can't deal with a deathstar, you lose the game.  I guarantee it.

7)  Land Raiders

Maybe it seems like this is covered under 'vehicle spam' but I think Raiders are a whole different animal.  Lots of marine players take them, and if you can't kill one AV14 on all sides, you really can lose the game quickly.  Never underestimate your ability to lose an entire game to a single Land Raider.  Yes, it happens all the time.  No, 2 meltas do not have a good chance of taking one out.  You need more than that.  Especially if they bring 2 Raiders.  Or 3.  Lol, Blood Angels can take 4 or 5.  Gotta do something to them.

8)  Shooty Spam

This one seems a little weird, but hear me out- if your opponent has an overwhelming amount of firepower, you need to have a way to get to them.  Whether it's with scouts, deepstrikers, fast vehicles, etc, you need to make your list capable of dealing with that withering firepower.  If you can't, then you lose that game every time.

9)  Denial Lists

These lists are frustrating, because they don't try to win a game by killing you, they just try to make it so that you can't win, and they can potentially zip in and take the objective at the last minute.  Do you have a way to deal with these?  You need a plan, and units that can keep them off objectives.  I forsee this list becoming more and more common as tournaments with a W/L/D format become prevalent.

10)  FNP Spam Lists

Only a few Codices can pull this off- Blood Angels and Chaos (with 'Nids at a close 3rd) come to mind.  They'll try to flood you with FNP on every quarter, giving their troops extra resiliancy, that can only be efficiently negated through the use of power weapons, AP 2, or double strength.  This is something lots of Guard armies have trouble dealing with, since they don't usually have enough plasma to quickly deal with 60+ power armored dudes with a 3+ then a 4+ afterwards.

...and on and on it goes.  If you're taking a dreadnought-heavy list, what are you doing about trying to kill Monstrous Creature spam who have a better Initiative than you?  Gotta have something that can take them down easy.  It's not gonna be the dreads, that's for sure.  What about if you're playing Orks against a Raider-spam list?  Can you consistently deal with 2-3 Land Raiders?  No?  Then your list isn't competitive.

Depending on luck has worked in the past, but... don't do that to yourself.  Please.  It doesn't work nearly as often as people seem to think it will.  What's the point of winning 2 games and losing the last one?  It's just going to piss you off.  I guarantee it.

There are probably builds that I missed above.  You just need to be prepared. The key is to make a list that has flexible elements that can take on more than one 'threat' in a tournament.  For instance, a squad of Grey Hunters w/ a Wolf Standard, Melta Gun, and Wolf Guard w/ Fist/combi-melta can take on tanks, hordes, most power armor, Land Raiders, etc.  Lots of flexibility.  Just like missile launchers can take on MC's and Vehicles, and help with just about everything else.

List making is a necessary step to winning a tournament.  If you don't spend time on developing a good list, then nothing you can do when playing is going to let you win against your single 'un-beatable' opponent.  Practicing against those kinds of lists helps a little bit, but honestly, if you don't have the tools for the job, you aren't going to have much success.  A hammer won't do what a drill does.

Does this make sense?  They're the steps I go through to create any list I want to take to a tournament.  What do you do, when you're making a list?  Did I miss anything?  Did I make any kind of sense?  I want to know :)

1 comment:

Thor said...

Looks like you covered it all, at least the major things worth mention at least.

I just wanted to agree with you on your points. When I first started doing tournaments, just small ones at the LGS, I tended to favor more gimmicky lists, one-hit wonders. When they worked they worked well but when they failed they failed in spectacular fashion. Building a list that's able to deal with anything they face may lose some specialization but the gain in flexibility and knowing there's no glaring weakness in your army wins out every time.