Friday, September 10, 2010

Don't be stupid, ya moron.

Hello urchins. 

I thought I’d swing back to 40k for a bit to share my experiences at ‘Ard Boyz semifinals.  I learned a valuable lesson about paying too much attention to playing cute lists that look amazing on paper, but are actually unbalanced in practice.  I ignored the results of my playtesting sessions by deluding myself into thinking that an unbalanced firepower list would be able to blow my opponents off the board with alpha-strike ability and without needing any close combat capability. 

I’ve been playing 40k for 15 years, you’d think I wouldn’t make mistakes like that, but this is a great lesson in human psychology and the ability to make yourself believe what you want to believe.

So I played a Vulkan Drop Pod list with something crazy like 14 multi-meltas, 10 flamers, 9 heavy flamers.  My playtesting told me the truth I didn’t want to hear: the army had a cripplingly powerful alphastrike that could wipe out half of someone’s army first turn… and then not finish off the rest.  In one game I killed 3 battlewagons and two units of wound allocation shenanigan Nobz on turn one, while killing two large units of Lootaz.  It was pretty great.  But then the next 6 turns I proceeded to get swamped by the rest of the stuff I didn’t kill and ended up with a close loss. 

To delude myself, I said that it would only happen against Orks.  Against a mech-marine or mech guard, I would kill all threats turn 1 and they would be neutered.  Only when I play tested vs those armies it happened again.  Yes I could kill the scary half of their army, but after that all I had were some dreadnaughts and footslogging marines with no power weapons and they could grind me down.  I should have realized that I could only really beat rock lists, but against a balanced list where every unit is a threat, killing half of the threats isn’t enough when, unit for unit, their whole army is better than mine.

Half of a good army is better than a full crap army.  And that was the lesson I ignored when I convinced myself that having an epic alphastrike was the be all, end all of 40k.  By losing 2 Multi-meltas, 2 flamers and 1 Heavy flamer from my alphastrike, I could have added a unit of 10 TH/SS terminators.  I’m not saying that change would have won me either of the two losses at ‘Ard Boyz semis, but it would have improved my chances immensely by giving me the thing my army lacked, a tough close combat element that could kill the other half of the army after the first half got blown away.


  1. Interesting post.

    I don't understand how you can alpha strike from pods with MMs, which are heavy wepaons.