Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff: Adepticon Edition

I'd like to talk a bit today about the Adepticon 40k Championships and my thoughts on a couple things.  Tastytaste posted the army lists for the top 16 with a brief analysis of each.  If you haven't yet, take a couple minutes to take a look at the lists, and feel free to ignore any analysis for now.

So what jumped out at me first and foremost about these lists?  Almost none of them are "optimized" to the rigorous standards of the 40k blogosphere.  Many of the lists seem to lack focus, mixing and matching concepts.  For instance, Gagan Thable's Blood Angels list is neither MSU mech, nor pure Jumper.  Had this list been submitting to Stelek or Kirby for review, I'm guessing it would have been drastically revamped, if not eviscerated.  This isn't a knock against Stelek or Kirby (or Gagan), but I think we have to conclude that perhaps the list optimization isn't that important.  

While not optimized, these lists do have something in common: they all are good at killing tanks, killing infantry, and they have reliable scoring units.  If your list has those spots covered, you're 90% of the way there in terms of building your list.  Don't sweat it if your list is slightly quirky or has "out of place" units (like Njal) or has a mixed theme (a la jumpers and mech mixed together).  What matters is the ability to kill tanks, kill infantry, and have reliable scoring units.  That's really all that matters, in terms of list building.

What else?  This isn't the first rodeo these players have with these armies.  You think Brent made top 16 because his Daemon list was overwhelmingly powerful?  No, Brent made top 16 because he has a metric fuck ton of experience with his Daemons, and knows how to make the army win in situations that someone randomly picking up the list would lose in.  While I'm not 100% sure that counts for all the other players, I'd wager that they are all very experienced with those armies.

I'm as guilty as anybody over endless hand-wringing when I write lists.  I spend hours going over my lists and quibbling over increasingly trivial details and levels of optimization.  When the truth is, it doesn't really matter.  If the list kills tanks, kills infantry, and has reliable scoring units I don't need to continue to spend hours more tweaking it.  What matters is playing the army in enough games that I know it inside and out, and can pull out wins that other people would lose.  Don't sweat the small stuff in list building, save your sweat for playtesting. 


  1. With regards to optimisation (I've been wanting to do a post on this for a while)...

    Very little separates good lists from optimised lists but what you'll find and what Nike has insinuated here is that experience is the real telling factor. If you take optimisation and experience together well you get a very winning combination ^^. The problem with many optimised lists is very few people make them because they are often quite expensive or netlist them, don't play enough and give up because they keep losing.

  2. Amen. It obviously works for them, how can it be "wrong"?

  3. As I've been pouring over a list the past two days in preparation for an upcoming tournament, I have to agree. I'm really still getting my legs under me with the army, at least the style I'm using, and I feel ensuring my confidence in the army will outweigh the optimizations I'm grueling over. Later on, as Kirby is saying, when I have the experience and confidence going I can then look at tweaking optimization to push it forward some more.