So I thought I would sit down and share with you some of my musings on list-building and pre-game strategy for 40k.
Apologies if the advice herein seems patronizing/lame/condescending etc, just thought it might help some fellow 40k lovers out there to frame their thoughts when they sit down and plan what to bring to their next game.
Ok… first things first…
1) Points mean Prizes!
So… whats the point limit? Probably seems obvious, but its pretty damned important to know what point limit you are playing. If its low points, you have some real thinking to do re: scoring units (see below) and whether you can squeeze in some elites or not.
This guidance changes if you are playing more of a swarm army and not MEQ. If you are Orks or Nids, you can afford a little more wiggle room even at lower points.
The biggest thing to watch out for at low points is point-sinks (I am looking at you Terminators). If these get wiped out in one turn due to bad rolls or a lucky vindicator shot then game over man!
At higher points its vital to maintain a coherent idea or theme in your mind when picking your army. My experience has been that a throwaway “why not?” choice is exactly that… a throwaway. A good example is if you know you are playing v Space Marines… don’t start taking Whirlwinds just “because”. Keep a theme, keep a strategy!
2) What is my opponent bringing?
Easily the most important point on here… know thy opponent! I am not talking list-tailoring here… cheating isn’t cool. But I do advocate thinking about your opponents army type, and the units they like to use. For example, if I know I am playing Necrons, I know vehicles are a bad idea as Gauss and scarabs make them go away…. So I would favour a foot-slogging list. If your opponent loves Land Raiders (that’s me folks!), bring some meltas/power fists!
3) AP, AP, AP
This usually forms a large part of my list strategy… what armour will my opponent have and how can I defeat it? Probably should be obvious, but if you are up against our old friend the space marine, you want AP3 or better… that means power swords, plasma weapons, melta etc. If its termies, power swords are as useful as a stick of rhubarb, so load up on plasma and power fists!
Remember, if you bring an AP just 1 higher than their armour, that’s paying for something that is as useful as a lasgun for getting through armour. Autocannons v space marines are wasted points to my mind, you are better off with a few more troops with normal guns, your opponent is just as likely to rolls 1s and 2s!
4) Scenario planning
Assuming you are doing random scenario per the BRB, have in the back of your mind “how will my army perform in X scenario?”. If you are bringing just 2 scoring units, for example, how will that cope with any other mission than kill points. On the other hand, if you bring 6 scoring units and cheap transports (see Dark Eldar), how will that work in Kill Points? Could you have too many easy VPs to give away?
Basically you are looking for a balance, 3-4 scoring units should be enough for most games (provided they are fairly survivable). I tend to avoid transports except where absolutely necessary to get your key guys where they need to be (e.g. space wolves and drop pods), as these are too easy to kill in 6th edition and are an easy VP.
5) Who shall lead us?
Last point in what has become a lengthy little list! Pick your leader with your strategy in mind. A trap I fall into all too often is to pick a very expensive HQ choice because of what he does before the game even starts (e.g. makes an elite choice scoring)… but then forget to use him. Take an HQ that fits the theme of what you want, if you are assault heavy, take a combat monster and don’t hang him back, its wasted points, even if he dies, its usually 3 wounds that other guys wouldn’t take, plus its more epic!
I definitely need to follow this one a bit more!
So… I hope the above is helpful to a few folks. If you have comments or disagree with any of this – let me know! Constructive criticism is welcome, but the above is a rough outline of my thought process when I plan out an army for an upcoming game!