List Design for Tournaments – Preparing for matchups

There are many important decisions to make when planning for a tournament.  I am going to talk about the aspect of focusing on 2 different lists.   Not every event requires two lists, but I strongly recommend to always bring two lists if the format allows.  This will help you be prepared for a variety of matchups.

One of the first steps is to decide what caster you want to play.  Maybe you’re in the mood to play a specific caster. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that. It makes the game more fun, when you are playing a caster you enjoy, vs one you feel you need to bring to an event.

However, I would then suggest, the second caster be chosen based on the bad matchups your first choice creates.

Simple Example

 You want to play a Gunline.  Your first list is all almost all guns, and your warcaster enhances the range game greatly. 


Opponents that have stealth (assumption – you can’t ignore stealth) (or great DEF/ARM from range attacks) – Many spells/abilities can really hinder  a ranged army.  Deflection from E Haley,  or stormwall from  Epic Krueger can be very bad if your playing a gunline and that’s just 2 examples.

This mean list #2 should focus on something other than ranged.  Maybe a magic focused army, or a melee army.   Or any  combination of those aspects.

 What I have done is created an excel sheet I use that allows me to list both casters and full lists. I can then check off what my primary list can deal with.   When I plan list #2 I am then able to see list #1, so I know which character models I cannot use (assuming you need to worry about character restrictions) and then I try to create an army list that deals a lot of what I didn’t check for list #1

Important – I don’t believe two lists can account for every possible threat in the game.  You may simply have an army that cannot deal with a ton of magic attacks, or cannot deal with an list with heavy magic defense. If you are playing in a local event, you know your meta and the odds of not encountering something, or at least you always know what is super popular in your area.   

For example I will always need to have 1 list that can deal with a heavy ranged army threat, as that is very popular in my meta currently.   

It’s never a bad thing to make some balanced list to be prepared for a variety of threats. (while still building to your casters strength – Entire articles can be written on that aspect alone. )


Example  Excel Sheet  

  • I will improve this document over time. I am sure there is probably another category that could get added. Feel free to message me or post in the comments, if you feel  something is missing.
  • I want to do some sort of “importance” rating for these. For example I think its critical to plan for facing a scenario/lockdown caster as well as infantry swarm and High DEF/High ARM lists. If one of your two lists cannot deal with one of those possibilities, I think you could be in real trouble at an event.
  • The first part of the checklist deals with the type of army that you want to be able to focus on. The second part of the list deals with the types of army lists you need to be careful of in list design.
  • Example – Your making a small model count army that is mostly Heavy beasts. You may need to worry about lists like E Sorcha, that can allow for a lot of spiked damage on small number of targets.




Link to google docs

Author: Carnage4u

I have played Warmachine since 2004. Before that I have played warhammer fantasy for ten years, but I stopped playing Fantasy shortly after starting warmachine. I enjoy every aspect of the hobby. I love competive play, as well as just playing fun goofy lists on casual game night at our local game store. I also spent a good chunk of my free time working on making terrain for our events our local gamestores. I mainly play Skorne and Cryx, but I do own a small gatorman minion force that I have fun playing. Brian "carnage4u" Giese

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