You may have read in a couple of other articles over the past few weeks about Conflict North 2010. This was my first tournament in about 8 months, and the first time I'd been to a tournament that's well publicised and lists are not vetted prior to the event, and the amount of Carbon Copy lists of what is popular on the internet, was apalling. Don't get me wrong, it was a good tournament and I really enjoyed the day, armies and respective players.
But, after seeing what's going on and inspired by some user comments to replies on other blogs, I thought I'd start a series of articles about the popularity of "trends" and "builds" in 40k at the moment - "All Aboard the Bandwagon".
So in this article, I want to talk about people using "Internet Lists", known around the Blogsphere as "Cookie Cutter" lists.
What is an "Internet List"?
An Internet List is generally a list of several people's devising that has been touted around the Internet, on forums or Blog websites, generally along with someone proclaiming a hefty Win/Loss record along with it.
Internet lists focus around the current trends or - a phrase I don't like to use - the "Meta Game", with a very large emphasis on unit spam. As an example, I'll use a list posted on BellOfLostSouls called "The Leafblower".
2 Company Command Squads – 3 Plasma, Medic, and Powerfist in each, mounted in Chimeras. An Astropath and a Master of the Fleet.
Elite Daemonhunter Inquisitor - Terminator Armor, Psycannon, Force Weapon, and retinue (Mystics, Hierophant, Sage).
Psyker Battle Squad – in a Chimera
Infantry Platoon – 3 Squads in Chimeras with Heavy Weapons, Command with 4 Flamers in a Chimera
2 Special Weapons Squads – Flamers and Demo Charge, Meltaguns and Flamer.
Veteran Squads – Meltaguns and Shotguns in a Chimera. Meltaguns, Shotguns, and Demolitions.
2 Valkyries – Multiple Rocket Pods.
2 Medusas – Enclosed Crew Compartments. 10/2 Ordnance Blasts are obvious.
2 Hydras – 72” range twin-linked no Moving Fast saves Autocannons are obvious.
Manticore – d3 10/4 Ordnance Barrage Blasts.
I've seen many, many, many worse off lists in terms of Spam, but this was the kind of Carbon Copy list that was on 4 of the 12 tables at Conflict North.
If the Internet says it will win, people will run out, spend their hard earned cash and then want to win games with it... It shows on the table as well. Half painted armies, hastily glued together to get on the table - for the sake of a Tournament Win. To me, it takes away the overwhelming majority of the hobby - building, converting, painting, basing - which only serve to enhance the enjoyment of the game itself.
Admittedly, there are people who want nothing more than to be the best at 40k - winning by whatever means. Trawling the internet in search of Uber Tactics to try and beat all the public players they come across. People are fully entitled to do this of course, it's their money and time at the end of the day. The same way I get enjoyment from seeing my fully painted army assembled and ready for picture taking on the tabletop, they enjoy winning at all costs.
The "Must Haves" in your List
This has become more and more prominent in the past couple of years, with the rise in Internet forums, the Blogsphere and "Codex Creep". Nowadays, lists are built around these kind of "Must Have" units:
- Eldar: Jetbike Seer Council, multiple small units of Pathfinders
- Guard: Veteran Melta Spam in Valkyries, Command squad Plasma Spam, Allied Inquisition
- Orks: Nob Bikers and Loota Spam
- Chaos Marines: Plague Bearers in Rhinos, Berzerkers in a Raiders, 2 Lash Princes
- Space Wolves: Thunderwolf Cavalry, screened by Fenrisian Wolves
- Blood Angels: Assault Squads, with the Jetpacks removed backed up by lots of Sanguinary Guard and Storm Ravens.
- Tyranids: Tervigon Spam with the Doom in a Spore
- Chaos Daemons: Skarbrand / Fateweaver combo.
Now of course, everyone is entitled to use these units, after all, they're in the Codex, and I myself use things like Nob Bikers and I bought myself 3 Valkyries because I love the concept of the models.
There are some units that when the Codex comes out, everyone looks at the unit and says "No thank you - that's way too expensive for what it can do." Then, the Internet lists slowly trickle in. 1 writer puts him in and claims an excellent win record and this multiplies and multiplies until slowly, we've got an actual name for that army "build", such as the "Blood-Weaver" list.
I guess what I'm saying in this rant, is that I'm getting bored of a certain Blogwriter here, Forum poster there, posting their army lists to large numbers of readers and it being taken as the Gospel Truth on what NEEDS to be in an army list from that Codex. It summed it up completely at Conflict North when the person on the table next to me said "It looks like some people have been on [A Certain Blog Site] rather than opening the Codex for themselves".
I don't like to moan via the Internet, nor do I like to argue with people or cause rifts. At the end of the day, it's a game of plastic Toy soldiers. Some people want to go out there with the sole idea to win and that's cool with me. What I personally don't understand is why people go out their with Carbon Copy lists they've found on forums as a "How to Win at 40k for Dummies" approach.
I'll relate it to an earlier time when I used to play Xbox games online. There was certain tricks and selections people would make, in order to get an immediate edge over other players, rather than play a game based on skill. For example, Halo 2 had what I would consider an exploit, where a Plasma Pistol shot would be fired at the enemy, then weapon switch to a Rifle and fire, by which time the Pistol blob would have hit the enemy - reduced them to 1% shield - and the Rifle finish them off. Within a week of me first seeing this in a game, it was everywhere.
Likewise, when I have played online sports games, I choose the team I've supported all my life - Manchester United. However, when certain games favour certain players or teams, these are always the ones that get chosen during online play.
Enough of the Computer Game references...
Why play a balanced* game of skill against 2 opponents, when you can give yourself an immediate edge before a dice has been rolled? Some of the excellent moments I've known of were:
- A Necron army getting into the 40k Grand Tournament, ahead of a very tournament orientated Chaos Marine army.
- My "How Not To Play Orks" approach at Conflict North managed to see me end up at Mid-Table.
- An extremely balanced Codex Marine army outplaying another tournament Orientated Tyranid list.
- Seeing a Black Templar list on the table at a Tournament...
Next time you think about writing a list, consider modelling opportunities, paint schemes and what else is actually in the codex, rather than what the Internet says is good and bad. Last night, I saw Biovores and Genestealers on the table. That's the first time in 4 years of playing 40k I've seen Biovores used, and at least 2 years since Genestealers - since the Monstrous Creature spam 4th Edition Nid lists were up on the net.
So have at it guys. If I'm wrong, then let me know what you think and why. This won't turn into a shouting match or a "my stick is bigger than your stick" competition. I'd like a serious and well thought out debate on whether the Internet has done more harm than good with lists.
If RantComplete = 1 Then
* I am aware 40k does have some balance issues, and favour certain things. But personally, I think the game is only as balanced as the players on the table allow it to be.