Wednesday, February 9, 2011

40k: The Two Meanings of Balanced

Yesterday I talked about how many people create lists with only shooty units and no close combat element, and claim their lists to be balanced.  To summarize it, my contention is that a list who can only compete in the shooting phase can never be balanced.

Now this is balanced.
Why are people confused about this?  Because there are two distinct concepts being talked about when people say "balanced" and it isn't always clear which they are talking about.

Generally, what people are talking about when they say their all shooting list is "balanced" means that they have enough variety in their firepower-only list to kill 'all-comers.'  They have enough melta to kill heavy armor, enough missiles/autocannons to kill light armor and MCs, enough flamers/missiles to kill hordes.  In short, their shooting isn't one dimensional.  They won't roll over and die to hordes, and neither will they get smoked by 5 Land Raider lists.  Thus, they can say their list is an "all-comers" list and thus, "balanced." 

However, there is a distinct difference between lists that can "shoot it all" versus lists that can "do it all."  Being able to do everything is far superior to solely being able to shoot everything.  You can out shoot some of the people some of the time, but you can't out shoot all of the people all of the time.  And the ones who can out shoot you, you better be able to out fight.

"Balanced" should apply to your offense, as well as your defense.


  1. Well, I think I mostly agree with you. I think that some armies will fail when you add too much combat ability. For example, my Guard army is constantly outgunned in a 'mirror match' vs. another Guard army. I remain undefeated (or even undrawn, if that's a word lol) against other IG armies however, because I designed the list with the mindset of tactical flexibility over raw firepower.

    I don't have any close combat- I think maybe one of my CCS's has a fist sometimes, and that's it. So the point I'm trying to get across is that if you play a shooty army and you're outgunned in a game, you need a different way to win other than only shooting (which you said). Combat is a good replacement, but there are other ways to win as well, such as outflanking, wise use of reserves, misdirection, etc.

    A guard list who is outgunned and depends on close combat to make the difference for them against another Guard list is still doomed, if you ask me. But for the most part, I agree with you- a truly balanced list needs more than a single way to win.

    Lol, took me a while to say all that. I'll shut up now.

  2. Good point. There are plenty times when it isn't CC that is the answer to being outgunned, like you said. So like you said, what the plan is isn't ultra-important, but just having a good plan for that situation is.

  3. I don't see it so much as being able to necessarily have an ability to make assaults on the enemy and win them, so much as every list needs to have units that can do something with the assault phase. For some shooty armies it could be speed bumps that die in a single phase to slow the enemy down and let you keep shooting them. In other cases it can be tarpits that keep rock units and deathstars locked down for an entire game. It's not so much that you have a need to do something important with that phase, you just need some way to ensure that the opponent can't do anything important during it.

    On the opposite end, a purely assault focused army needs to have something to keep from being shot up before it can do what it wants. In this regard transports, cover generators and support fire get your guys in faster, help keep them alive and reduce the amount of fire coming at you respectively.