The Road to WTC: Meta Dependence in List Design…. Part 1


I’m not even sure I know how to change pictures anymore.11

(Assume usual inserted thingy here about footnotes and the suchliike)

So this is a subject I’ve thought about a lot1 and it’s an easy one to overthink.
I figure that since our good friends2 at overload online are also (Overload Article) talking about similar stuff at the moment, now is the time to throw this one out there.

Here’s the scenario:
I need to play two circle lists in a tournament (Hypothetically).
I design one with a specific tactic in mind to play against Cryx.

Super-secret anti-cryx tech

Super-secret anti-cryx tech

I design the other one to deal with pretty much everything else (Lets say it also doesnt like high ARM…hypothetically)

Super-secret anti-everything tech

Super-secret anti-everything tech

I then take my “anti-cryx” list to my local store (lets call it “Masgard games”)

Their realm, surprisingly similar to ours

Their realm, surprisingly similar to ours

where my local Cryx opponent (Lets call him “Leremy Jee”) agrees to a game.
He drops Mortenebra. It’s built specifically to counter Circle lists that are built to counter Cryx lists.
This is because at his local store there’s some douche that has spent a long time making Circle lists to beat Cryx lists. So he has evolved. It’s my own damn fault.

Not actually a Cryx Caster.

Not actually a Cryx Caster.6

BUT, his list performs well against my Circle list as a result.
So what do I do? Here are my options as I see them:

A) Assume that Leremy Jee’s lists are not the lists that other players in a more general meta will play.
B) Assume that they ARE reflective of the more general meta and therefore adapt my list to be able to deal with them….at a cost to it’s ability to deal with the more commonly held “cryx list”

If I follow path A, then I really now have different issues….do I:
A) ask Leremy to play lists that he knows are going to lose to my list, since I built it to beat them…simply to give me practice
B) play other Cryx players who arent as good as Leremy in order to get practice against THEIR Cryx lists
C) rest on the theorymachine.

None of those are good options either.

If I follow path B, then I can have some great games against Leremy, but I have no way to know whether my anti-Leremy list is going to be any damn good against not-Leremy.

As a result of this kind of inward-feeding, it becomes quite difficult to use your local meta to test anything that you intend to take anywhere else. So I often have situations where the lists I’m testing in Houston are quite different from the lists that I then take to a major tournament.

I have the version of the list that I consider to be “more generalizable” which I virtually never get to practice, it instead gets a lot of theorymachine.
Then I have the version of the list that I “test”5 which is tailored, though normally only minorly, to meet what I expect to find in any of the lists I’m likely to test against.

For example, my local meta is more likely to involve errants, blackbanes and Rhyas than the national meta. As a result my test lists more commonly feature things that help against those, or are missing the things that get hurt the most by them, while my tournament version of the list may keep those things (or not have them, as the case may be).

Probably the Legion warlock I've played against the most other than Vayl2

Probably the Legion warlock I’ve played against the most other than Vayl2

This is a strange tightrope to walk since it’s almost always guess-work to establish what the “national” meta will bring to tournaments. You can certainly find what the high-profile members are likely to bring, but it’s very easy to get side-tracked into working out lists to beat something that you simply never run into.

I feel like the conclusion that I’m slowly coming to, which is pleasingly similar to that arrived at by Anthony in his recent hacking the cortex article, is that a lot more of tournament performance comes down to being able to play your lists well on the spot, formulating plans on the fly from a larger catalogue of potential plans in your head, rather than executing the same plan every game with precision.

At which point my question becomes: “Do I even need to try to practice specific matchups?”

This was a picture that caused me to remember my "i before e except after c rule" much to my pleasure.

This was a picture that caused me to remember my “i before e except after c rule” much to my pleasure.

Aside from the obvious benefits of becoming familiar with any given casters specific “tricks”, spells and feat. I’m not arguing those.

I’m really just questioning whether having won a previous game going first against denny 2 on destruction played by Jimmy, makes my list choice correct, or indeed has any bearing at all when I’m playing against Ryan with Denny 2 on fire support, going second in a tournament. 9

Are we, and here I generalize to all of you12, too focussed on trying to get specific experience, when really it’s not of the value that we ascribe it?

If it IS worth as much as we seem to act like it is, then how do you go about getting it? In a limited local meta, how do you seek out effective experience against Jake Van Meter’s Saeryn list?
Is it realistic to expect that if you’ve played a few times against a local guy4 playing a similar Saeryn list that you’re in a position to assess how well your list will do against Jake? Are we all just fooling ourselves?

I’m stopping part one here in order to actually publish it since I’d really like it to be up around the same time as what I’m considering to be it’s sister article on overload.

If you’ve got thoughts, comments etc, please head to the forum thread

Road to WTC thread

Also, you can now follow me on twitter, though I have no idea how. Look for bobliness, I’m on there somewhere. I’ve totally tweeted and stuff. I may even do it again.

1 Turns out I think about a lot of subjects a lot that really make my wife sad. I mean it’s hard to have a conversation when one of you is talking about the ongoing issues of global pollution and the other is talking about the on-going difficulties of countering Gorman.8
2 “Friends” in this case meaning “fellow people that post completely esoteric articles on the internet for some as-yet undefined sense of self-gratification”. Although given what some people post on the internet that would fall into that category, I should probably amend to read “fellow people that specifically post completely esoteric articles about Warmachine on the internet for some as-yet undefined sense of self-gratification”. There’s a lot of wierdoes out there.7
3 Or at least the small part of you that wants to be part of the best country in the world at a miniature wargame. Specifically this one, since we’re not playing any of the other ones. Or at least I’m not. You never know with Will, that guys probably playing everything.
4 Assuming that you dont live wherever Jake is currently living and hence dont have Jake as a local guy.
5 Which at the moment means “play against Legion, Menoth or Cryx repeatedly since noone seems to be playing much of anything else at the store at the moment” 10
6 I’ve thought about this a lot…1..sigh….and I’m pretty confident they added her to the game before they realized that they were going to put in Convergence later. I mean honestly, she uses jacks. She is quite clearly intended to be in a completely different faction, it just didnt exist yet.
7 Some people write articles about transformers…I mean that is CLEARLY a childish pursuit unsuited to the modern man. Except for when it also involves dinosaurs, then I’m probably all-in.
8 Wife: “It’s like the whole world is blind”
Me: “I know! And there just doesnt seem to be an answer!”
Wife: “But there should be!”
Me: “Right, I mean why the hell doesnt circle have a good way to remove stealth solos from range?”
Wife: “….”
Me: “That’s what we’re talking about….right?”5
9 I mean Jimmy has probably never Chiriboga’d with Cryx units at all, how do I train to counter the Chiriboga..without access to Chiriboga?
10 Note to self: Future article on how restrictions within your meta shape your list design….wait, that’s probably also this article. There’s no way I have time to cover that in this article and still finish this damn thing and publish it today….sigh, I guess that makes this part 1. Which probably means by the time I write part 2 there’ll be a part 3 and 4.
11 Every time I sit down to write one of these articles, or even work on one I started previously, I feel like I’m relearning the whole damn process all over again. As a result I end up cutting and pasting from previous articles of my own, in order to avoid having to work out how I did it. This has ended with a bunch of random stuff making it through multiple articles for no good reason. Fortunately I staunchly believe that every joke is improved by telling it over and over and over again.
12 That’s right, all three of my readers.

Author: bobliness

I'm an Australian living in Houston, Texas, I started playing Warmachine/Hordes in March 2012 and I consider myself to be on a continuous learning curve that I'm not sure will ever end. I play for strategy and combinations, I am in no way a qualified hobbyist or painter though I admire those that are. No, I dont know Chunky, but the other five people that live in Australia tell me he's really swell.

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