Thursday, 19 August 2010

Building on a Budget: Part One

This man is not enjoying his game of 40K.
G'day all.

While still mired in that 'paint what you have and build what you need' place where I'm actually doing things instead of blogging about them (and, incidentally, doing this blog has been pretty damn good for making sure that I stay boring and actually paint things I buy and build things I scrounge for) I must confess that I've bought some test models for a longer-term project that I want to muck about with next year (or whenever I have a proper job again).

I'll get to what the project actually is later, but for now I want to share something about the way I've planned it.

See, starting a new army has some implicit risks in it. When you're young and foolish and new to a game, you rush into your Local Nerd Emporium and pick up whatever looks coolest and, if you're feeling particularly devil-may-care, you jam together a legal-if-you-squint army list and try to play some proper games with it.

When you're older and marginally less foolish, on the other hand, when your beard is ever creeping neckwards and you justify your toy soldiers to yourself by taking them semi-seriously and writing long, involved blog entries about them, you actually start planning army lists and thinking about how you're going to play the game and what your priorities are.

For me, one of those priorities is competing. I don't feel an urgent need to crush all who stand in my way or anything, but I don't enjoy spending whole games doing little more than remove casualties either.  These days, I'm increasingly reluctant to spend money and time on buying, building and painting things that are frankly not up to snuff on the tabletop.  Avoiding this is more of an art than a science, and we all have a few clunkers in the cupboard (mine are those six Revenant Crew that I'm never, if we're honest, going to use), but there is one way to do it: use someone else's army.

I don't mean go round their house and steal their miniatures or anything, that would be foolish.  What I mean is to keep your weather eye on the tables, the blogs and the forums.  Look at what people are using, what they're winning with and against what, in what conditions.  You have to take this information critically, of course.  Someone boasting a 98% win record but never posting a battle report is probably reluctant to admit that all their opponents are twelve and fielding two Battleforces, a special character and the biggest tank in the range against their well-honed, target-saturating, mechanised-death Space Wolf netlist, whereas someone who's putting up detailed reports of their games and showing you how they use their army to overcome a similarly able opponent, presenting you with the opponent's list and point of view so you can see how they thought the game went, how they saw through or were completely foxed by the list you're interested in liberating.  If you've a competent local who runs a good list and doesn't mind lending you their stuff, rejoice - you get to let the beast out and see if you can ride it.

Sometimes a list that does well in someone else's hands isn't for you; all the reading up on the dominance of Empire gunlines is meaningless if what you really enjoy is mobile short-ranged-to-melee armies.  Borrowing people's armies to find your style isn't a sin.  Proxying isn't a sin either, but if you're anything like me it's confusing; I couldn't look at my Dark Elves and think "these are Dwarfs today".  I'd be trying to play them like what they look like and failing with them.  Borrowing's more my style.

Eventually, you should find something that has proven its competitive worth and is close to something you want to field.  Maybe you want to make a few changes - and provided you understand what the essentials of the build are, that's okay, just don't close off tactical options or take out essential capabilities in the name of some illusive and elusive 'uniqueness' or 'originality'.  At the very least, ask, test and understand the principles behind successful lists - when you come to build your own, you'll understand the opportunites that are available, the capabilities you need and the weaknesses you need to either cover for or accept.

There's no shame in netlisting.  If you're going to drop time, money and effort into a project, you really ought to be eliminating the risk that it'll be a total clunker - which is why I've been looking at Ork armies on blogs all week.

Grimskul is sad.  Four Boys is not a very big WAAAAGH.
There are certainly better choices for the ultra-competitive gamer, but that's not my only priority.  I quite enjoy conversions, even if mine aren't a patch on Dave's or Shiny's, and there's nothing quite like Orks for doing a lot of those.  I also have some ideas for wringing maximum efficiency out of all the spare bits on the Ork sprues, and some coloured spray paints that should speed up the process of getting them on the board nicely.  It also makes more sense, to me, to look into a third system rather than owning two armies for one that I already play.

This is definitely a hobby project.  Doesn't mean I don't want to put up a fight on the table, though, so I've also been watching the recent run of tournament logs on Strictly Average, 3+ Save and Yes The Truth Hurts, working out which of the decent-looking lists I'd most like to build, or which can be adapted to something I want to build without losing out on what they need to make them good.

I shan't bend anyone's ear about the tactical aspects of that process over here, but I will at some point be putting up a post about the list I'm interested in doing, and the way I plan on building it whilst getting full mileage out of my purchases.

1 comment:

Brother Vizlani said...

I just want to say that I really like your blog and I wished that you would post more often.