List Building: It's Important
What's the turning point of a game? The Assault Phase? No. The Movement Phase? Closer, but still not quite. Deployment? Well, that's certainly a major factor, but even with the best deployment in the world you'll have an uphill battle without one vital element - a strong army list. Whether you have a seal clubbing session or an hour and a half of painful, unlubricated ass-rape will be decided at the list-building stage, so open your ears. In a dice game, there's precious little that's assured - this is why movement, deployment and list-building are the most important parts of the game. You know where your deployment zone(s) are and the boundaries of them, you know you can move 6" (except Difficult Terrain, which you can move around), and you always, ALWAYS know what's in your army.
Must - have units depend on the style of your army, there is no IWIN button.
This is untrue. I'm sorry, but as other before me have explained, you playstyle is not a unique and special thing. It's why you picked your Codex
, not why you picked your army. Par exemple:
'I swapped out my Heldrake for a squad of Thousand Sons - I think the resilience of a 4++ and numbers is better than the AV12/5++, and I think I need the Scoring presence. Footslogging infantry fit my playstyle more than a Flyer.'
This, while an extreme example, is wrong
. Heldrakes are better than Thousand Sons. I don't care about if you like space egyptian marines, and neither does GW - you will buy the Heldrake and love it if you want to compete. Your 'playstyle' doesn't matter - the Heldrake is superior.
A better example would be on that's more common;
'The bikes are in the list because I need a retinue for my Biker Lord, and with 2 attacks each, 12" move, HoW and T5 they're a pretty good combat unit. They fit my playstyle as well, fast combat stuff is my preference.'
Isn't it everyone's?
This is almost convincing - all of these things are true. Bikers are
fast, they are
tough, they are
cheap. But they're not as fast, as tough, or as cheap as another Heldrake, which would incidentally have a higher damage output with the Baleflamer and Meteoric Descent. Here, your playstyle of fast assault units is again debunked - a fast shooting unit is simply better, because you almost certainly have no method of making the Bikes as good as the Heldrake, and certainly not for such a low cost.
There is no one way to make a competitive list as unit selection and your own usage of tactics invariably effects how effective the list is as a whole.
Tactics - ah yes. Important, but not in this sense. Tactics is knowing where to move your Heldrakes and when to use your Combat Tactics - it's either using the good units you took (some things are point and click, but you still have to know where to point - TH/SS Terminators are a great assault unit, but you don't charge 30 Boyz with them), or making the most of a crappy unit you need (usually found in older codices' Troops slots, but present in some newer ones - yes, I'm looking at you, CSM). Tactics is important, and will get you a long way, but it's not the be all and end all. A player using a well-constructed 3-Heldrake/BBoS Lord/Cultist/Havoc list will do better than the same player using some godawful 3++ Lord with his ubar Thousand Son army with Warp Talons (why is this article so centric on CSM? I think I might be paranoid). List-building defines tactics.
'A good general with a bad list will beat a bad general with a good list'.
That's as maybe, but what if the good general comes across another good general, but with a good list? Well that's when defeat happens, and usually we want to avoid this. You know what? Good generals with good lists also beat bad generals with good lists, but also offer good games to other good generals/listbuilders. This results in happiness all round. Not really a myth, this one, just a non-sequitur that crops up annoyingly often.
The Lost Archive of Non-Heldrake Related Content:
Imagine, when you're building an army, that you've got loads of little bars, multicoloured if you like, and labelled 'Ranged Anti-Tank', 'Scoring', 'Resilience', 'Anti-Air' and so on. A balanced list will have all of these bars filled to a degree - some combat units, some anti-air, some scoring power, resilience etc. However, most really good lists have a few of these filled to a very high degree, with some nearly empty. Your Codex dictates some of this: an Imperial Guard army, for example, will tend to have low 'Combat' and 'Mobility' (although you can mitigate these and fill them to an extent; you can take the Flyers to add mobility, and Straken/Power Axe Blobs to add Combat, but bear in mind that even if you centralise heavily on these you will never have Mobility as high as Dark Eldar or Combat as high as Daemons), while a Dark Eldar army will tend to have 'Mobility' and 'Ranged Anti-Infantry) in spades, but with conversely weaker 'Scoring' and 'Resilience' (and therefore can take Coven units to reduce Mobility and Ranged Anti-Infantry to add to Scoring and Resilience. Trade-offs.)
The greatest lists, as I mentioned earlier, focus on some of these to the exclusion of others; the 'glories' of 5th edition produced Razorwolves, Venomspam and Draigowing; each capitalised on the strengths of both Codex and Edition to produce a real nails list. 5th edition rewarded mech and shooting; Razorwolves and Venomspam both brought these in absolute gob fulls
, while Draigowing abused the crazy Wound Allocation rules of 5th and brought horrific Resilience and Scoring.
These concepts apply in 6th, and are responsible for the Heldrake rimming session above. 6th rewards mobility and shooting. Flyers combine both of those for the most efficient price as they don't pay any points for extraneous close combat ability; it's as if you could buy Grey Knights without the Force Weapons for 17pts per model. You totally would, because despite the Force Weapon being a really, really good deal (most armies would pay 20pts for a Nemesis Force Sword, let alone a MEQ with full gear loadout, Storm Bolter and
said 20pt weapon), it's not a deal you actually need. I'll just say that again; a good deal on something you don't need isn't a good deal at all
. If your Fire Warriors could take Power Swords for 2pts per model, you still wouldn't, because 12 Fire Warriors is better at shooting than 10 Fire Warriors, and Power Swords don't actually help you with Scoring (what you're taking Fire Warriors for).
This is why Terminators are a poor choice; the model is really cheap for what it has, but you can't and won't use all of it, so you're wasting points. Hence why Flyers are so efficient - the Dakkajet has no durability, no melee ability, no Scoring capacity, no kind of buff to the army outside of it's kill power, which is why it's a ridiculously good deal. You pay for speed and guns, and NOTHING ELSE (and to attempt to justify my Heldrake rant above, this is why said flying anus dragon is so good; it pays only for speed, resilience and an extraordinarily efficient gun - you don't have to pay to make it Scoring or pay for it's Close Combat ability, and let's be honest, you're not really
paying for what it has, or if you are, you're not paying enough. But no more Heldrakes, we're done with them, right?)
This all loops back to the idea that imbalanced armies actually tend to be better than balanced armies; it's far better to specialise in one or two things and be really good at them than to be kind of ok at everything (and this leads to the use of tactics due to how you and your opponent's armies match up to one another, and so if you're really good at one or two things you can establish complete dominance in that area, but that's a different article.