Monday, December 17, 2012

40k Tactics - List Building

Whether you realize it or not everyone has a checklist. When you get up from the table after eating at a restaurant you check your pockets to make sure you have your keys, your phone and your wallet. Everyone does it even if you don’t realize it; your brain is constantly cycling through checklists. It should come as no real surprise that your army lists usually come out with similar tactics and similar qualities, because your brain is automatically using a checklist on you – even in army list building. So what’s in your checklist and how do you figure it out?

Psychologically your brain should get to its checklist through trial and error. I say ‘should’ because there are individuals who will continue to use a certain technique regardless of the outcome because statistically speaking even a 1% chance happens once every 100 times. Let’s use the example of a man in a pub looking to gain the attention of an attractive woman. One technique is to simply walk up to the woman and ask ‘how about we find out how your clothes look on the floor next to my bed?’ This is a perfectly valid technique, however – most of us know with 99% certainty that this technique will end badly for the individual in our example. After this bad outcome the brain files away that information and adds it to the ‘do not use’ list in our subconscious.

In our next example the young man offers to buy the woman a drink and listens intently as she goes on endlessly about her cat, roommate, boss, friends and favorite character from Dr Who. After hours of incessant jibber jabber perhaps the young man in our example gains access to the young ladies phone number and the potential for a second date where there will be more talk of feelings, hopes, dreams, disappointments and life goals followed by the potential invitation on a second date or perhaps even a ‘night cap’ involving the ultimate goal of discovering exactly how her clothes look on the floor next to his bed. In both cases the goal is the same, the difference is how reliably the goal is achieved. The brain is taking notes and filing this information away for later use – even if you don’t realize it.

In that same line of thinking I have started with some idea’s from Neil over at the 11th Company and modified some, deleted others and added a few. Ultimately I arrived at the following questions: 
  • How will I reliably deal with 2 AV12 flyers? 
  • How will I deal with a 50 man blob squad? 
  • How will I reliably kill 40 MEQ over 5 turns?
  • How will I deal with 3 to 5 shooting squads in transports?
  • How will I deal with Daemons deep striking into my lines?
  • How will I deal with multiple enemy invulnerable saves? 
  • How will I deal with an Aegis Defense Line?
  • How will I provide 4 durable scoring units?
  • How will I deal with multiple wound models in large squads?
Are these questions exhaustive? Of course not, there are tons of other questions out there with thousands of valid answers. These questions are simply a rough starting point to keep in mind when you are putting a list together. Really the point is this, ‘have you thought about how your army will react to X’ and if you have no answer – perhaps you should address it. Answers don’t have to be comprehensive and they don’t all need to be different.  

Hey, if toasters can evolve - so can we!

still practicing_



  1. I like it.

    It feels so long since I've played 6th now (August? Early September?) that I've forgotten nearly all of it, and I certainly haven't played against the new lists: I certainly wouldn't even have thought of at least three of these questions!*

    I think that when family life allows me to ease myself back in it'll have to be a gentle and strictly friendly process!

    - Drax

    * ...Not that it matters much when you play a non-competitive Guard army!