A few nights ago I played a game against another local in Des Moines, Matthew Catron. After the game he asked me how I go about building and play testing new lists.
I replied that it is not really the list, but the player behind that really matters, then we went into what happened during the game. I think that’s the best way to improve as a player, not to look at what was in your opponents lists after the fact then decide to take something that would have performed better, every time you play against a different list, the counter list changes. This strategy won’t get you anywhere long term. What is more important is to take a step back and assess yourself as a player, but here is my process. (Please feel free to share yours in the comments, I want to hear from you).
First when I build a list I start with a concept. If you were playing the game, what is it you want to ram down your opponents throat that makes them take a pause, and have to decide how to deal with it, or they lose. The concept doesn’t need to be gimmicky, it just needs to be your ideal conditions, here are a few examples;
1. pIrusk and High def infantry. Between his feat, and Iron Flesh can make it hell for unprepared lists. Even lists that have a lot of auto hitting or blast attacks can have their effectiveness dramatically reduced by undying loyalty. A favorite of mine.
2. eHaley with a bonded stormclad, Gorman, and Anastasia. This is a quintessential time walk. Haley’s feat is bad enough, but when you can black oil and virtually espionage at will, it gets ugly fast.
3. eFeofa jack spam. I’m sure you’ve heard phatasian talk about it. It’s rough to play against with plenty of blast damage to knock out infantry, and more armor than most lists can chew through.
It goes on, but you get the idea. Make sure you have a purpose for each selection in your list, every component needs to make your win condition stronger or stop a common ability that will shut down your condition.
After you get your initial list built, you start play testing it, duh. Play to win, and play with a very critical eye. Don’t get flustered if you lose. I see players all the time at the shop get worked up about losing games. Unless the game you just played is in a tournament, it doesn’t matter, and even if it is in a tournament it’s no big deal. Keep track of how you initial components perform, and think about other choices that could fill the role you envision for each component better.
Case in point Keith’s pCaine list typically has 20 long gunners. For the May 2012 Mayhem Cup he substituted Max Nyss for one of the units. I liked the change, I thought it added more damage potential, and as a Khador player I equate Nyss to AWESOME!!!!!
Keith HATED it from all accounts. That lists strength comes from sitting in a zone with Boomhowlers and a Centurion, then shooting the poop out of you. The Nyss lost out on double tap, and to shoot they needed to be closer to the zone then the long gunners, which means they die faster. He essentially lost at least a quarter of his ranged firepower.
Lets discuss reviewing your games with a critical eye for a little bit.
Reviewing your game is not complaining about dice. Don’t do it, ever . . . EVER. It is a waste of time and it makes you a whiner, and a cry baby. I don’t care if you kept track of your rolls and it averaged 4 on 2D6 last game. You’re still being a baby. I hear people curse every time they roll under a 6 on two dice, I get annoyed listening to it. You don’t need to justify why you lost a game to your opponent, or spectators. Dice happen, we have all been there. Get over it and grow up.
What I do mean it really think about how the game played out, and how it should have played out, and how you can improve what you did. This is the hard part because it means admitting that you made mistakes. Here are mistakes I made in the last few games I played;
1. I forgot to pop the Old Witches feat, this allowed two warp wolves to trample over blocking infantry to my behemoth and kill it.
2. I left a carnivean at 3 health. I then walked pEyriss over to death bolt him. I hit and killed it. Sub-lesson (a), when pEyriss ends her move next to Black Ivan her activation ends – NO SHOOTING. Sub-lesson (b), if you’re going to forget something like that, notice it right away, I didn’t remember until the turn ended, and I told my opponent to put that carnivean back. If I had remembered earlier Ivan would have just killed the carnivean instead. Sub-lesson (c), don’t leave Harkevitch in charge/trample range of a carnivean, even if you are sure you will kill it.
3. Don’t get excited when Beast threshers Ayanna, Holt, and a Vanquisher, and forget that he also needs to roll against the UNIT of temple flame guard. The inverse of this is of course don’t let Beast get such a tastey thresher.
4. Don’t forget that even though your WGI are engaged with a reckoner they can still walk over and block it from reaching Karchev.
5. eGrissel has dash, this means that she can just walk out of melee and shoot Irusk. This is bad for Irusk. She also has a good gun, and ROF 3. This is worse for Irusk.
I make mistakes all the time. Good players make mistakes all the time. Good players accept the mistakes and responsibility for their losses, and turn the loss into a lesson for the future. Again when going through your list, ask yourself, was there a component that is failing in its role, or is there something I still need to learn.
Finally when going to a tournament, play what you know. The pIrusk list I took to the January 2012 Mayhem Cup, I had played for the last year. I took that list to most every tournament I went to as one of my two lists. I’ve probably played it at least fifty games. I know how it resolves problems, I know what tricks are at my disposal, and I don’t forget anything about it. I KNOW the list inside and out.
Knowing individual components of a list, is not the same as understanding how they mesh. I played with pEyriss for years, but I forgot about intolerance. Games are lost all the time because people forget the abilities on their models, don’t do it. The way Nyss interact with Valachev and pIrusk is not the same as their interaction with pCaine. The less you have to think about what your units do, the more you can think about how best to use them.
Playing your best means knowing your list.