Everyone loves to win.
Not all armies are fun to win with.
Some armies can be fun even to lose with.
That's basically the focus of this article. Maybe I'm crazy but this is the sort of thing that comes to me on long car/plane trips on the way to play in a tournement...like this weekend.
It was a 1750 RTT up toward Fredricksburg at a little store called "Game Vault". Nice location, good showing, prize support, a well executed RTT. I actually wanted to practice an abbreviated version of my ATC list for the Grey Knights. Anyway, on my 2 hour drive from Chesapeake VA, a thought occured to me. I actually really dislike the Grey Knight codex. It's powerful, and it has some combo's that are just wrong. Some combo's allow players to overcome situations that would/should lose them the game. Some other combo's are designed for winning games possibly at the cost of the other players fun.
My Psyfleman list is one such list. I built it to stop mech, stop people from getting to me, and shoot shoot shoot. It does all of these things quite well. It hums much better at 2000pts where I have all the tools to win any scenario, but at 1750 it's pretty wrong as well. I actually dislike playing it, but it wins games...so onto the tournament it goes.
Game 1 Daemons
I go first. I actually decide to go first against the Daemon and lose a turn of shooting. Why? So that I can get my Warp Quake up.
Warp Quake worked every turn. My enemy never got close enough to do damage to me. He killed a Chimera with a bolt of change and some troops with a couple of soulgrinder battlecannon shots. Coteaz and his henchmen ran off the board after a botched leadership check. Those were my casualties over the course of the game.
His casualties? Blown off of the table by turn 4.
Yawn...but hey! I won right? Yay for me.
Game 2 Space Wolf
Mission:Capture and Control/Spearhead
He places his objective in his far corner behind a building. I place mine probably 5 feet away from his.
Since I'm not using Interceptors...I'm thinking ahead of time that this will be a draw. My Psyflemen quickly show their superiority in shooting against his longfangs. Transports are destroyed/Immobilise b4 they can get into range....shooting is sustained for the entire game even though some of his troops eventually hunker down and guarantee the draw. The only close combat during the game was a unit of Hunters charged by a Venerable psyfleman to tarpit them and take them out as a threat to my objective. Dread and Hunters beat on each other for some 3 full game turns. 'yawn' again. Game result is a draw with me shooting some 1300 pts off the board with my opponent killing 4 chimera's and a few acolyte units. No more than 400 or so points. I could've easily won by using interceptors and taking the second turn against his army...but my list was a smaller list for this tournament with Strikes instead of Interceptors.
Game 3 Necrons (SVDM champion)
Mission: Seize Ground (4 obj)/Dawn of War
Hmmm....multiple objectives w/o Interceptors. After looking at his list...3 turns of nightfighting. Table is heavy LOS blocking terrain. I predict a loss.
Searchlights illuminate targets, but I decide to take out Douchecanoes first...both of them on turn 2 as they come screaming onto the board. (in retrospect I probably should've targeted the three units of wraiths) At any rate, my searchlights neutered night fight, but my poor target selection and his "on fire" armour saves began what was to be a downhill slide for my army. I was hanging on by my fingernails until turn 4 where my luck REALLY began to fail me. My opponent winds up winning with 3 objectives to none. Still, he only kills 1000 pts of my army where I kill some 800-900pts of his.
For myself, the game was boring from the get go. I knew what the result was going to be, and my tactical errors made it all the more evident along the way. I'm not vested in my list so don't really care what dies...now my possibility for victory is gone so..."Why am I playing?"
At the end of the day I win "Best Painted", take my prize, thank the organisers, say goodbye to my friends/new aquaintances, go outside to the truck, shrug, and begin my 2 hour drive home.
On my way home I revisit my thoughts about my army and the tournament thinking...this army sucks.
I win games all the time with it...most of the time they're blowouts. If not...the losses REALLY suck to agonise thru. It was that way with the daemon player, would've been that way with the Wolf player (if I'd had interceptors at 2000) and the loss against the Necron player was a total exercise in boredom and annoyance...no fun at all.
I found myself wishing I had brought my Dark Eldar. They move more, they're more dynamic, I have fun playing them, and it's a list that I've created, I think they're cool, and it actually takes effort to win with the paper airplanes. Even the losses are fun, because interesting things happen still, maybe with my Archon stomping everything...or poison shots ringing out bringing down huge beasts...it's just more fun to play the army....but it's not "built to win". It's built b/c it's what I want to play. What I enjoy playing out of the DE codex.
It's just so much more fun.
Grey Knights are boring to win with. When you lose...well...I built the army to win games so, when I lose, WTF is the point? The army sucks.
So, the moral of the story is this. Think about this situation when your new codex comes out and you start looking for avenues to victory before you begin to build. While you're looking at all the net-lists designed to win games be cautious.
Don't just bring the stuff that is the most point's efficient killing machines in the book. Bring stuff that's fun to play. Bring those archon courts because you like the sslyth models and love beating guardsman face with them. Bring Archon led Incubi because they do amazing things to marines on foot sometimes when they don't get shot out of the sky against Psyfleman players that Yawn across the board at you.
Build a list only to win....and it's boring. It lacks heart, soul, and you will not be vested in it.
Build a list with cool units in it, make your lord an Avatar of yourself. Find neat tactics and things to do and you'll find that you win the game....
...even when you lose