Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cry Havoc
List Building

Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war

- attributed to the dramaturge Shakespire (fl. M2)

The first thing a player does when choosing an army, collecting a second army, or re-tooling their current army is build a list. Each player has their own ideas on how to successfully build an army list. The method I used to build my Space Wolves is the same method that I espouse to those that ask my assistance with their armies. Deathwolf's tenants of list building are as follows:

  1. Collect What You Like. Warhammer is your hobby. That being said it takes a lot of time/work to assemble and paint your army. By choosing the models that you like you can make the process more enjoyable. Furthermore, playing with models that you enjoy will ensure that the game is still fun even when you're not winning. Let's face it, no one wins all the time. Sometimes we make a mistake or our dice are cursed and victory slips through our fingers. During games like that it's nice to have an army that you enjoy playing because even though you lost, you can still enjoyed the game.
  2. Know Your Army. Learning how to play your army and knowing the limits of your units is incredibly important. Even "good" units aren't necessarily good at everything. For example, Walkers kill Thunderwolves. Surprisingly, it took me several months and numerous lost games to learn that lesson. I now rely on Long Fangs and Grey Hunters to take down Dreadnoughts and Defilers. By learning the strengths and weaknesses of the units available in your codex you can select a balanced army that contains the tools necessary to achieve victory.
  3. Make Sure You Have Anti-Armor. Tanks and transports are everywhere. In order to have a chance you need to take weaponry that can handle units with an AV. One lascannon isn't anti-armor. You need to be able to reliably handle the enemy armor that you commonly face. Of course the flip side to this point is facing a horde army. Meltaguns and lascannon generally aren't much use against Tyranids or Orks. You need to have enough anti-armor weaponry to deal with enemy vehicles but not so much that your army won't be able to handle a foot army.
  4. Play to Your Strengths. Each of us has a way that we enjoy playing the game. Some people will turn any list they build from any codex into a gun line, while others like to rush forward and get stuck in close combat. There are many different styles of play. Identify your style and build your list towards it. For example, I like the Imperial Guard valkyrie model. When the kit was released I bought three of them and made a 1000 point Imperial Guard list. Here was the catch, I'm not a big shooting phase type of player. I consistently misplayed my short-lived Imperial Guard army because it didn't conform to the style of play that I generally prefer. By creating a list that plays to your strengths you ensure that both you and your army are working in conjunction rather than at cross purposes.
As I said before, those are my basic tenets of list building. I know other people approach the subject differently and we could all benefit from your ideas. Please post your thoughts and comments.


  1. The biggest point in the above post is number 2. When building the list and then subsequently playing it, you must know the role of each squad in the army as well as how the army plays overall. When evaluating units, If the unit cannot make as many points in kills as it costs, its not a unit I routinely select.

    Either say I like playing X and make that army or I like this army, how well does it play and what are the play styles then select the units. Some armies are limited in what they can do. Not many people run an assaulting Tau army. Is it possible - yes, practical no (well unless there are enough drones - but I digress) so really Tau is all about the Shooty. For Chaos, how do you want to play chaos? Assault - go Khorne and understand that you are going to lose units getting to the enemy, but once you get there, expect a bloody slaughter. A combination of Nurgle and Khorne so you have resilient units and some hitting power or something completely different. Its all about playstyle, but ultimatley it comes out to what you want to get out of the hobby.

  2. not all units should be for killing, for instance plaguebearers,not the best choice for killing but for holding an objective there are few better but its unliekly they will kill their points back. Also their are models that basically just improve ur army, aka fateweaver or space marine characters that change combat tactics, they are expensive and probably wont make their total cost back directly, but overall the buff is worth it. but each sqiad should have a purpose, be it anti armor, anti horde, etc... just my 2 cents

  3. Or be random. Throw your opponent off. Play a guard army that charges into the enemy. An Ork army that lays so much dakka at your opponent that they're caught off balance. Nothings funnier than a well planned army being laid low because they thought your guardsmen will sit back shooting and then find yourself ground down by wave after wave of bayonet armed loons! Bayonets and blood! BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD RON!!!