Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier......

While sat down last night putting together some new terrain for Runefang V, I got to thinking about some of the things I most enjoyed about Warhammer (and indeed all wargames).

This is the whole process of list building, refinement and optimisation. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. When I pick up a new army, the most important thing for me is that I have some affinity to that army – be it playstyle, fluff or the models. For that reason I could never see myself playing, for example, Dwarfs. It fails to jump enough – usually all three - of these hurdles. I do like the fluff and models around the Slayers and could see myself building a Slayer army if the rules and playstyle were attractive enough. So for me the first thing is the above attraction hurdle. That is why I am generally attracted to the more “evil” armies in a genre – I find the fluff more interesting.

Once I decide on an army I’ll generally get all the models in the range/units in the army and build from there. This creates a lot of redundancy (and big armies) but it is a key part of the attraction for me as they are why I chose the race in the first place. As a sidenote this is becoming harder as GW move to more and more dual purpose kits e.g. my Tomb Kings have Necropolis Knights (x6), a Warsphinx and a dual Warsphinx/Necrosphinx but no Stalkers. Similarly, I’ve bought multiple boxes of Black Knights/Wraiths, Crypt Horrors/Varghiests but only a single mortis Engine/Coven Throne box and Terrorghiest/Zombie Dragon box. Sometimes the models are just too good not to buy two e.g. the Thundertusk, Stonehorn box.

After I've bought, built and painted then for me the fun part starts. I’ll have a good idea what is considered good regarding a build is and generally you’ll find that my lists are reflective of this… a point. I think it is important to recognise your own strengths and playstyle and while a list might be the new internet “hotness” if it contravenes these it will make your job harder (sometimes it is nice to build a list outside your comfort zone just for variety).

I generally find that when I put the first list together it is about 80% reflective of what I’ll be playing in 20 games time. For me, getting that last 20% is a key attraction of the hobby. I approach it as a challenge to try, evaluate and amend over those 20 games to squeeze performance out of the list that suits a game I am comfortable playing. This may mean dropping one or two units and replacing with new units, changing the size of units based on gaming experience or changing the nature and kitout of my characters. I love this part of the game and will happily sit in front of Army Builder with the Army Book honing my list to what I am happy with.

By the time I get to 20 games this process is pretty much finished and any variation in the list is driven largely by comp criteria. From here on increases in the army’s performance are driven by experience – making the right choices – and learning the best tactic for a given situation. As new books are released you need to learn new tricks but importantly by this time you have a solid foundation for your play.

As I said this style of play doesn’t appeal to everyone and you get the usual comments re powergaming and not playing for fun. But what some people miss is that this is my idea of fun. I like to create lists that best reflect my style of play and hone them until I can get the best out of them. For other people the fun comes in themeing their army – less so these days – or in using an underused unit whether successful or not.


  1. Go on you know you like Dwarfs and are secretly itching to play them

  2. I hope he wont do it too soon, I still owe Pete a grudge match for stomping me in Karak Eight Peaks with his Skaven.

    *grumble*Blimin magical hills, distracting me from my game plan *grumble*

    What tournaments are next after RuneFang, that will be around Wellington?

  3. I have to admit I'm the same... I love tinkering with lists (it drives my wife nuts). One of the reasons I enjoy ETC... I get to think about and help tinker with everyones lists.