Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Minimalist List Design

Alex Fennel's Necrons

This article isn't a wisdom-soaked diatribe on cutting the fat from your lists.  It is a quick note on my need to do so.  Please note that I do not diminish the necessity of skill in the game of 40k, but this is an article about list-building.

A story popped up in my Google+ stream today concerning a quote on design:
"Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away."  - Terre des Hommes, 1939
A lot of lists which win in game stores rely on pure, dumb muscle.  These are your heavy-shooting Grey Knight and Imperial Guard lists and the gimmicky Cron Air and various deathstar army lists.  These lists are capable of leaving you with a relatively good feeling at a tournament, but do not guarantee a win or a place in the finals.

You'll see quite a few tournament-successful lists which have some odd things in them.  There are ICs which defy convention and units with strange numbers.  You'll notice things like units of 6 or 7 Grey hunters Tony Kopach's lists.  Alex Fennell likes to use a Monolith.  Some of these choices may, at their core, stem from a devil-may-care attitude, but don't let them fool you. These are all tools with clear uses in these lists.

The next time you look at a list and are trying to cram God-knows-what in them, stop. Just stop and think to yourself, "Well, wait a moment. What do I need?  What job do my dudesmen have to perform? Are they good at it?  Can I trim from some of these units, or make a cheaper choice, and have it perform the same exact task?

It seems like lists built with this "fat-trimming" style do three things well; they give you more room to add more tools to get the job done, they let you fit the army to your play style, and they confound your opponent.  These three factors could be a winning combination.  Of course, it may also simply allow you to fit that one fun unit that you just have to get in there because you love it.

This, of course, is just a theory. It has to be observed further and tested.

I have, by no means, learned to perfect this style of list-building.  I'm going to be focusing on this concept in 2013.  I'm going to stop assuming a certain squad size or unit is necessary.  I'm going to look at tasks which need to be performed and select from my pool of resources to determine which unit in which configuration is best for the job.

No model will be safe from this culling.

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