Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Army List Series Part Two - Creating Your Lists

Where is the best place to start when looking to put together your list for an upcoming battle? There is no right or wrong place to start, but it is worth having a good idea about what you want your army to achieve before you begin putting it together. The aim of this segment is not to tell you what units you must have in your army, but is more of vocalised thought process of what you could consider whilst preparing an army list.

In the opening part of this series, found here, there are a few different builds you can go for.Each list you create you would like to think had a chance of victory given a bit of luck and sound tactics and so I believe that a solid approach to writing any sort of list can at least get you moving in the right direction.

Whether you are confined in your list to what models you have available, or if you have the freedom of being able to use a large amount of 'counts as' models, each and every unit within that list needs to be in some way compatible with the next.

To start with a good knowledge base of your army in general is a must, knowing their strength and weaknesses such that you can then aim to reduce weaknesses while maximising the strengths. For instance, Dark Eldar are exceptional in close combat, while poor at range, while Tau and Necrons rely more on their fire power generally than slicing the opposition up in hand to hand fights and as such these armies will be aligned accordingly.

Knowing your army should happen eventually regardless of whether or not you spend every second studying your army's codex. Knowing your opponents army is a whole other kettle of fish but, simplistically, can be generalised down to help you with your army. Going against horde armies, you want to be packing as many template weapons as possible, while against Marines and similar, plasma weapons and other high AP weaponry is a must, while for mechanised armies you may want to also consider high strength weaponry as well to help blast through that armour. Helpful advice I read somewhere is to always shoot the choppy stuff and chop the shooty stuff.

Once you have considered your army's weaponry you need to think about their delivery system to the forth coming battle. Deep striking elements of your army on to the table, in drop pods for example, could leave units isolated and destroyed within a turn of arriving. So you either need to allow for more units to deep strike with them, enough long range guns to cover them or have fast moving units move to their position to support them. Either way your list will have to accommodate these factors.

Of course, deep striking armies aren't the only way to have your army. If you want to be assaulting as quickly as possible, you need vehicles and mechanisms that allow you to achieve that. However, sending a lone Land Raider up against your enemy will most likely see that Land Raider wrecked before it gets close enough. Sending two would increase both their chances of surviving but the points cost would be very high, but with an improved chance of at least one of them hitting home.

You may also try the foot slogging approach, but to me this relies heavily on their being plenty of cover on the table and units that can move quickly and face up to a lot of shooting before they get into position. For a foot slogging army you will need plenty of ranged fire power to provide covering fire and to find all the cover available, possible using cheaper units to shield your more expensive units running behind them. 

A good, solid army list will not be created without some experimentation, but this very experimentation can lead to many a situation where you can discover more about your army than you thought you knew. An army list compiled with a particular aim (with a back up just in case!) will have more success than a random collection of units that combine with multiple objectives in mind. It makes sense when written down, but how many people starting out would have one maybe two units running around on their own trying to flatten their opponent, while having the rest of the army sit back and try picking things off at range, just to see their whole army get wiped out pretty quickly? Possibly not that many, but I did and have now evolved my early lists to give me more balance and support than I originally had.

What makes you decide what units you are going to take, or do you only have one list and make that work against all armies? Do you consider what you want to aim for before writing your list, or does it change depending on your opponent? Id like to hear more from you guys, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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