Is It Your Army, Or Is It Just You?


Pimpcron deals with a touchy subject.

Hello again people of the Internet. The Pimpcron is back this week to explain a touchy subject, and bring some cold hard truth down on you like an enraged glacier.


So What Is This About “Bad” Armies and Units?

First off, I’m not here to say that you complaining about your army is unfounded. There is a serious power gap between the different codices. And this game is not balanced. I’m not here to say that all of that isn’t GW’s fault. But ultimately, the community of gamers that you play in makes all of the difference in whether or not an army is playable or not. If you play Tyranid Monstrous Creatures in a Grav-heavy gaming club, you’re not gonna have a good time. If you play in a hyper-competitive environment, then there obviously are a handful of armies that shine above all others and will own you. If you used to like playing your army a certain way, and then the meta for it changes with a new codex, you’re going to be mad because you can’t effectively play them the way you want.

TyranidsHolds firm in casual settings.

So when people bemoan the Chaos Space Marines Codex, or the Tyranid Codex, they usually aren’t actually saying that their codex sucks; just that it doesn’t perform in their environment, or the way they want it to. That is like saying that butcher knives are terrible weapons: when compared to swords, sure. But compared to fists, they’re not bad at all. We tend to be lazy with our speech and label things with broad strokes.

Instead of saying, “I feel like many of my Chaos Space Marines units need their points adjusted to better match the other books.”

We say, “Chaos Space Marines are unplayable, they are a bad army, and you should feel bad for playing them.”

When we should say, “Blood! Gore! Terror! Maim the Emperor’s followers, corrupt the land of the mortals, and drink their souls!”

khorne-berzerker-02Sorry. Got a little carried away there.

So Why Don’t I Have A Problem With “Bad” Armies?

Well for starters, kind of the elephant in the room, I’m a superior being. You don’t get this sweet living-metal body by being a dunce.

But besides that, the reason why I win games with my Orks, CSM, Nids, and Dark Eldar is because I play casual games. Only in a competitive setting does the real cheese come out and the huge gap in power levels appears. In casual games is where 40k shines and you can bring fun and fluffy armies and still win games. Just a few weeks ago a friend and I teamed up our Nids against another friend’s Chaos Space Marines with Daemon allies, and we just brought fun stuff. Our opponent took some formations and some kind-of nasty combos. We both laughed at our list (which was quite Genstealer and Lictor heavy) and said, “There’s no way we’re winning this. But we’re going to have fun.” Low and behold, we won that game. And I have another friend that has won TWO local tournaments with his Dark Eldar.

genestealers-in-the-grassThis unit is the litmus test to see if your opponent is playing a fun Nid list or not.

Maybe It Is You Though

I have had a couple players tell me that [insert army] is bad and unplayable. But I know from experience that those players are not the best at strategy. No offense to them, but I have known most of them for years, and they hop from army to army, attracted to whatever cheese will help fill the gaps in their abilities. Everyone is different, and there is no shame in being a less-able tactician. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that all people who complain about army power levels are just bad strategists, but in the cases I’ve seen in my personal life, it sometimes can be the case.

But sometimes it is you and not the army. I have ran into this with my Daemons. I have never had much trouble using armies in the past, but when it came to Daemons, it just didn’t seem to gel with me. So what did I do? After losing game, after game, after game with them, I decided to just throw them away. Kidding. I KEPT playing them is what I did. I must have lost my first eight games before I started figuring out how to use them in my local meta. And no, I don’t do Flying Circus or Summonpalooza with them. I do buff with Magic, and take a variety of units that can compliment each other and be effective against different unit types.

99129915022_DaemonsofKhorneBloodCrushers01Also, my list contains 27 of these. Kidding.

These army books are static and inanimate objects, they can’t change until a new one comes out. So what can be changed? The way you use them. It turns out that the way I wanted to use them at first just didn’t work very well. So I kept changing tactics until I found a way to use them that I could wrap my head around. I could have thrown the book on the ground and screamed and cried, or sold my army and been bitter about how “unplayable” that army was. But I was the problem all along. Of course, it would be great if army books could be effective in any build, but that isn’t the nature of the game right now unfortunately. The funny thing is, struggling with playing Daemons isn’t a personal failure on my part, and neither is struggling with your army a failure on yours. Some armies appeal more to us in theory than our abilities can use them on the battlefield.

In the end, I have kind of figured out how to play them, and probably win 40-50% of my games or so. But marginal success didn’t come from quitting or blaming the book. On the other hand, if you really can’t figure out any army, maybe it isn’t for you and you should try another one. And on the other-other hand, the complaints about army books not being balanced are valid complaints, but mostly in competitive settings.

So which one of you actually read this far before mailing me bags of poop?

Pimpcron Signature four kids

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  • Gleep

    Nice article! Always looking forward to your next post.

  • Deacon Ix

    Well done again Mr Cron. CSM are still my main army after 22 years and will always be, recenly though I have been trying to move away from them as I am finding them too easy and want a bit more of a challenge.

    • ZeeLobby

      LoL. I wish I played in your meta! Though maybe you forgot the /s

    • Good on you Deacon Ix, I love my Chaos Marines too. Probably my favorite army. And one of my best win records too.

  • Nameless

    Some examples of what tactics you tried, or changed out would have been useful. As it stands it reads more as people who struggle with an army are just bad at the game – which in many cases simply isn’t true. some armies/codexes have little to no options in certain aspects of the game and will always struggle if that aspect becomes dominant.

    a good example would be the psychic phase, as it becomes more important armies that lack any presence in that phase (Dark Eldar/Sisters of Battle) become weaker and harder to play, no matter what tactics are utilised. in the same way as Flyers become more important armies without any reliable skyfire (Chaos Marines, Grey Knights, Sisters of Battle again) become unable to impact the game.

    This is on top of some codexes being much more points efficient for the same kind of unit. This is mitigated by being a better tactician than your opponent however at some point the difference in effective points will simply out scale any tactical advantage.

    Also anecdotal evidence isn’t really that useful, doubly so without context.

    • J Mad

      Yep this.

    • Karru

      Neatly sums up a big part of the current problems.

    • I don’t agree, even if he listed examples it would still come down to the size of the game, play style, personal preference and would be refuted as unplayable by the internet.
      Besides he did say casual games, which should be just about all that needs to be said.

      • Nameless

        I’m not exactly sure what you are disagreeing with.

        problems of balance between armies occur across the full spectrum of competitiveness and in my own opinion must result in a loss of new hobbyists as they discover the army they are attracted too results in an clearly imbalanced experience.

        • ZeeLobby

          It’s a real issue that fanboys will ignore but GW will at some point need to address. No one is starting new Ork armies locally. And those who’ve had them have moved on to other things. And we’re not cutthroats. All I see on the tables are SM, GKs, admech and occasionally daemons. And they aren’t competitive lists at all, but to drop Orks into them is suicide so no one plays them.

          • ChubToad

            You see GKs? Are you a time traveler back from the good old days of Ward?

          • ZeeLobby

            haha, nah. Like I Said, the major store near us is a pretty fluffy store. Lots of fun to play pickup games at. But the fact that you see GK, but never see Orks/DE/CSM (outside of one guy who only runes the helbrute formation cause they’re dirt cheap to buy off eBay), is pretty telling.

          • I don’t know about where you are but we have a guy who started Orks a little over a year ago near me. He plays mostly with his friends and from what he’s mentioned has had nothing but good time. I know one of his friends plays Chaos marines and I’m not sure about the other two. I see them playing 3 and 4 player games just about every time they want to play. What I don’t really see are new 40K players there. I’ve seen returning players. I’m not there enough to know the new player, if there’s one, and what they’re getting into. It still seems to come down to who people want to play with as much as what army they want to play.

          • euansmith

            The local gaming ecology seems to have a big impact on the fun aspect of the game. The club I used to attend was mainly interested in trying out armies for use in tournaments.

          • ZeeLobby

            You might have an easy answer to why this is the case. He plays CSMs. Even if his other two opponents are pure beatstick factions, he’ll still have a fun chance of winning 33% of his games. That can carry favor a long way. Take my meta: SM, Eldar and Daemons, and I would have around a 10% chance of winning, if I don’t force them to restrict their list building. Considering SM are huge, and CSM/Orks/DE/BA/etc. are relatively rare, it’s probably a common occurrence country wide. Moreso than finding that one rare group that plays those factions.

            As for new players, our store is extremely open to them, and we do occasionally get new ones. It’s just hard for anyone to recommend those lower factions when they know the current state they’re in. You want a new player to win, and feel like he’s getting a hold of the game, not lose 5 games in a row and leave. While I tend to play “dumbly” with new people to give them the chance to seize victory, you just can’t guarantee that whoever is at the store that day will plays similarly.

            I think the biggest issue with lack of new players is the sheer amount of tabletop war-gaming options out there now. Ones that don’t require a social contract for a close match prior to playing. It’s disheartening to tell a new player that they shouldn’t have bought a unit because it’s just downright awful currently. This is true of all games, but most new ones suffer that to a lesser degree.

          • The Ork kid is kinda funny. I was playing there one day just before I met him and was warned to watch out for him. He’s very enthusiastic about Orks in a funny way. He can’t seem to focus during a game, I wonder if it’s him or a generational thing. who knows. I spoke with him any time I saw him for about a year before our first game. He’s pick my brain about Ork stuff, I’m a big oll’ long toothed Warboss after all. We’re working on playing an Ork V Ork game. It’ll be fun.For my part I keep telling him to paint his Orks and he’s been getting them painted one way or another. Which is a good sign. I don’t get up there to play very much. I’d like to play a team game with him and his friends to get a better feel for their group.
            I’ve seen them playing but it seems like they are more just hanging out and playing on their phones. But they seem nice enough.
            For new players I bring lists made with things that I never really use to make me have to work harder. And play lower point games which I hope lets them use their collected models in a way they’re usually do.
            To be honest I loose way more now than I ever used to. Part of it is me being a bone head and doing dumb stuff before I realize I’ve done it. Part of it is not optimizing my list to a point were it doesn’t look like an army any more so much as a MTG deck. I’m set in my ways. I like tones of models on the board. My lists are fairly straight forward. Move, run assault. pick up the read, repeat.

        • Trosty99

          I have to agree with the article, and I want to reiterate what he implied, you get what you put into the game. If you are willing to learn your armies and others and develop your tactics accordingly your going to do well. Chess is a very balanced game but a chess master will beat me every time, because they’ve dedicated much more to their game than I have. The imbalanced experience of new players is due to their lack of experience more than anything else. I’ve played new players with their net list Tau or Eldar with my Chaos Space Marines and I’ve won handily. After the game I take the time to explain why certain things worked or didn’t work for them. Ultimately, like the article states, gamers need to take more responsibility for the results of their game, not the provider of the game.

          • ChubToad

            Well, it’s always easier to blame someone else for one’s losses. And although GW indeed needs to revise it’s ruleset (it’s about time they put some order to the chaos of 7th) complaining and protesting against GW is mandatory for those that feel morally and personally aggravated by their products.

          • ZeeLobby

            Or just people who want a better game in the universe they’ve heavily invested in. You can’t just write everyone off as a whiny GW hater. There’s definitely merit to their arguments.

          • ChubToad

            Not doing that at all. But complaining and using every chance (article) they have to rage against GW is just, well, whiny.

          • ZeeLobby

            And using every GW article to praise GW for the greatest invention since sliced bread is very obnoxious as well. (not saying you do this, and wasn’t implying that you did the above either). Nameless makes some very good points though. I don’t think he’s just whining on every GW thread.

        • I don’t agree that he should provide examples of his so called tactics and unit revelations.( which are as you say anecdotal. )
          What would be the point. Just because one person can do something they have learned to do doesn’t mean some one else will read it and be able to run with it. It still comes down to practice and experience.
          And several other factors. Which leads me to ask how would he even provide any accepted evidence at all?
          He says he’s into casual play. that could mean anything. I’m into casual play 90% of the time my games are 3000 to 6000 points.
          I’m not even talking about using Apocalypse rules. we do that maybe once a year.( the group I play with).
          I think if there is a loss of hobbyists then that’s fine. It’s their time and money and they should do what ever it is they really want to.
          Maybe younger gamers just like other things, things their peer group is into.

      • That is exactly why I didn’t, Steve. Every meta is different. And in the end, what i took and what ended up working for me is irrelevant.

    • ZeeLobby

      A pretty accurate summary. Disproportionate availability of options is worse now than its ever been.

    • euansmith

      The main thing I took away from this is what GW have been saying all along, “40k is not a competitive game, it is all about having fun and forging the narrative.” Personally I think it would be significantly easier to do some narrative forging if the rules/codices contain some sort of balance and weren’t a hideous mess off options and contradictions. Currently it is an example of freedom being slavery.

    • Wolfchild

      I think you’re missing pimpcron’s point. It’s upto you personally to find the answers through play, not thru math hammer and net list net tactics.
      The game is in the playing

      • grim_dork

        Well said.

    • I didn’t think what I tried was relevant, because all gaming stores/opponents are different and things that work for me won’t necessarily work elsewhere. But since you asked, I wanted to start out with a Slaanesh army, and that crumpled. Then i went hard nurgle and didn’t care for that either. I finally settled on a mixed army of different gods. I frequently include fast units like a unit of Bloodcrushers and/or a unit of Beasts of Nurgle, along side slower units (Troops) of different marks, I also Deep Strike Troops, and usually have all of this running along side one or two Monstrous Creatures that are psykers. I like to run 1 Great Unclean One, and one Daemon prince of Tzeentch with wings. Then I buff using them if I roll the +1 Invul and use grimoir of true names. Then I fill out the rest of the list with other stuff I want like feinds of Slaanesh etc. But I change my list every game, so I don’t always take any of that. That is kind of a general theme I use.

      • Nameless

        To be honest it was less to see what had worked and more to see how you progressed though and developed your tactics. Thank you for responding.

  • Malisteen

    Oh, sure, changing environment, or playing non-competitive games, or convincing your opponent to let you play with a large point handicap might give bad codeces an even chance of winning, but when a unit’s rules and statlines just utterly fail to convey the narrative of that unit, or when their rules are in contradiction to themselves or those of other units in the army resulting in all sorts of skornergy, then it really doesn’t matter what your opponents do.

    The Chaos Marine codex doesn’t need any help from your opponents to be counter-intuitive, counter-productive, or just plain frustrating and un-fun to play.

    • euansmith

      Even Space Marines don’t really feel like Space Marines on the table. I guess that is because GW needs to sell as many Marines as it can, so an elite force starts turning in to something more like the IG. Maybe Deadwatch will feel more Space Mariney.

  • Heinz Fiction

    I remember playing my regular IG opponent with my Tyranids during 5th edition. He always brought a nice fluffy list with lots of infantry and some Lemans. After constantly complaining about his bad luck with dice rolls during the first 2 turns he usually tabeld me in turn 3. I managed to fight him to a draw a few times tough. I count that as moral victories…

    • MPSwift

      Against Guard Nids never lose, they just send the next wave ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Nathaniel Wright

    Kidding: The New Not Kidding.

    • I bet you smell bad. kidding. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • The Suave Lion

    This is true. When I play nids in my local meta, it’s always a mash up. There’s dark eldar, grey knights with knight titan allies, csm, eldaraspect host with wraithknight , necron decurion, tau and space wolves.

    The nids haven’t lost yet as I usually run skyblight, cad with flyrant, mucolids, hormies, malanthrope/venomthropes and zoeys. I’ll add in tyrannocyte carnifexes if we do 2k plus.

    They have skyfire and flyers but not a massive amount which gives me air superiority.

    Hell, I’ve even used pyrovores to some decent effect.

    All the games are tough in honesty bar the dark eldar player as dark eldar really hate egrubs, drool cannons and stranglethorn cannons hehe

  • Beoron

    Great article! Thank you so much! This is all very true. We all tend to look for excuses for loosing.

  • Charon

    The main point which this article (as basically any of them) evades is: “what if I am the superior player AND play the superior army?”
    People tend to assume the games are still balanced because the superior player has a good chance with his inferior army. But what if the inferior player has to stickw ith the inferior army while the superior player brings his eldar to the table?
    That is basically the reason why my Eldar are sitting on the shelf. I already win quite a lot games with bad armies. Me playing Eldar is just unfun to everyone.
    If the codices are somewhat close to each other and you have an superior and an inferior plaxer you can easily hand out handicaps.
    Works in Golf. the course is the same for everyone. Now imagine giving out handicaps when player skill AND course are different.
    It does not matter how good or bad you are with an army. That does not change the baseline. You need to get down to ONE variable (player skill) to try and adjust the game.

    • Karru

      Well, that really depends on the type of list you play, in my opinion. As I stated in my wall of text somewhere, my friend who plays CSM mainly also collects almost every other army. This includes Eldar and as I pointed out, he his competitive as he used to go to tournaments quite a bit. He was determined to win with lists that included multiple different units and didn’t spam to win. I dare to say that his Eldar are his second most played army. My win-rate towards them is quite high and not once have I hated to play against him, even if I lost.

      When I’m on a winning streak and can see that some of my opponents are some what intimidated by my list or army, I switch things around. I try different things, I model myself some new interesting units or combos that I’ve never fielded before. This leads to my defeat or a draw and it gives reasons to play against me. Usually after the game I go over the whole battle with my opponent as we clean up. I tell him what I thought he did wrong and how to counter my stuff.

      • Charon

        Anectotical evidence is anectotical.
        Congratz you are a good player that manages to bridge the power gap if your opponent also gimps himself. That is NOT the ideal scenario.
        You should be able to play whatever you like and expect an even game.

        • ZeeLobby

          Man wouldn’t that be refreshing. If all factions at least had the same options that’d be nice.

        • Jabberwokk

          These people don’t believe in the objectivity to say ‘this is inferior to that’ or ‘that is superior to this’. All are the same and equal because we believe really REALLY hard that it is. Even when by all measurable standards it is consistently not. They rally against the idea that some players are better than others and will find and use the best tools available to advance themselves. The don’t believe that this disparity exists so they conclude the only reason the result did not meet their expectation is to blame the player.

          Which is just a form of subtle judgementalism on those whose ability outstrips their own. In short: you have more than me so must be wrong.

        • Karru

          This is how I enjoy the game and this is the way I try to keep new players in the game. Is it bad? If every game I play ends in utter and complete defeat of my opponent, I don’t find it enjoyable. I also don’t enjoy using same units over and over again or the same list for that matter. I like to try new things, combos that might have been over looked, themed lists or I just want to field that new unit I just got painted. Isn’t the ultimate goal to have fun? This is my way of having fun and basically all those that I play with have the same view on the matter.

          I get what you mean, but the possibility to bridge the power gap is not something we can do without gimping as you pointed out. GW is the one that can make that happen. We just have to make due with what we have right now and for me this method works.

          • Charon

            That is fine for YOU. This is not an universal solution for everyone. People enjoy different things. Thats why I think it is wrong to shift the blame to the players when the company charges premium prices for rules and is still to lazy to design properly.

  • petrow84

    Indeed, it’s really up to the players’ environment and personal preference. Your mileage my vary very much because of those factors.
    However, the glaring imbalances are hard to be passed by, especially if you want to introduce the game for beginners.

    Our story (dramatized version, but based on true story):
    2 newbie guys, one picks up CSM with Berzerkers, Second picks up Black Templars.
    Both bought a Predator, and some infantry.

    Conversation Nr. 1:
    Veteran Player: – Wow, awesome Predator, dude! Did you know that if you have 3 in a unit, you can hunt monsters and tanks even more effectively?
    BT player: – Cool!
    CSM player: Cool, then I’ll bring three in a unit too!
    VP: – Erm, you just can’t. You can bring only 1/unit.
    CSMP: – OK, but what about bringing 3ร—1 units then?
    VP: Frankly, you shouldn’t.

    Conversation Nr. 2:
    CSM: – Damn, I just rushed his 5 BT Honour Guard with my full squad of ‘Zerkers, and got my a$& handed to me! How is that possible?
    VP: – Well, did you shoot him first?
    CSMP: – Of course I did!
    VP: – Next time you shouldn’t. That only gave him +1 Attack each.
    CSMP: – But his figures cost only 25 pts apiece! For 4 points they get better armour, better weapon, and also the same rules as my troops!
    VP: – Well, not really, they can pursue the enemy better, and deny the psychic powers better.
    CSMP – Hey, you told me, that these guys were supposed to be the psyker-hater homicidal maniacs, who rock in close combat, didn’t you?
    VP: -…

    • Drpx

      That moment when you see a new player decide to pick up Orks/Chaos/Nids/Deldar in a Tau/Eldar/SM heavy store…like Sarah Conner watching those kids on the playground in Terminator 2.

    • Karru

      That sounds accurate. I have seen so many new people pick up marines and chaos marines. This usually leads to the CSM player picking Marines after a few games.

      • ZeeLobby

        Yeah. And if every one has Marines, of course the game doesn’t look that bad, haha.

        • euansmith

          These are my DE, “Counts As” Space Marines.

          • ZeeLobby

            Hmmm. not a bad idea….

      • jcdent

        Why not pick a better game instead*?

        *not Warmahordes

  • lol_fair

    I play nids cause they look cool and i enjoy playing with them. not really in the know about the meta so much, but i win about as much as i lose and i know i could win more if i was better at the game haha.

  • Thomson
  • Drpx

    It’s clearly the fault of the terrain placement anyway.

    • Sam

      I know you’re probably kidding, but terrain is a huge issue in games. I would say 90% of the games I play (including tournament games) are on boards with not enough terrain, which massively favors shooting armies. I’ve heard lots of terrain is a great force equalizer, but unfortunately I have yet to experience it.

  • jcdent

    When I play Infinity I win or lose because… em… I dunno, I didn’t take heavy infantry with thermoptic camo? It helps that I don’t read internet stuff about playing the game, so I am not infected by ideas about “optimization” and “efficiency”

    Anyways, the best ways to play 40K are Heralds of Ruin Kill Team (even if the new community dexes could use formatting if not balancing), Gorka Morka, Necromunda, Epic (whichever list you like best) or, if you’re absolutely unwilling to try anything new, Combat Patrol/Zone Mortalis under 500 points (no Warlord Traits!).

    • Karru

      My community plays still plays 40k, the actual game not specialists as you pointed out. We just like to agree on a few things and show of our army lists way of in advance and ask if there is something that they’d prefer we didn’t bring. For example, many of new end of the skill spectrum don’t have 10k points of models from which to pull out all possible counters. So I show my list, they point out that they don’t have an answer to 3 fliers, I remove the heaviest or all if they are intimidated by them and fill it with something else.

      This works wonders in my community and we have yet to meet anyone who fills the description of “that guy”. Also everyone enjoys this type of playing. Everyone gets what they want, skilled players get games to try out new stuff and new players get to play the game without getting themselves wiped in two turns.

      • jcdent

        You are a lucky man. I know a guy who plays orks and does zero wining. I think he just floods the battlefield with boys to deal with Tau and stuff. Real orky of him, that.

        • euansmith

          Maybe he should do the really fun Ork thing; terrain making. Ork terrain is easy, cheap and fun to make. If he floods the table with Ork terrain, he’s boyz will have an easier time of making it in to punching range. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • jcdent

            Sorry, typo. He does zero whining. Really happy with his orks.

          • euansmith

            ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Shiwan8

      So, essentially if you deny access to 90% of the units in the game you have a chance to have a good time. Awesome!

      • jcdent

        Only good things can come from throwing anything related to Apocalypse and LoW choices to the wind. Same goes for Warlord Traits and Death from the Skies.

        Ooooh, I forgot 4th edition (I think) Kill Team, that one is great, too.

        Of course, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try 1 Page 40K or FUBAR. I mean, seriously, you’re not playing 40K because the rules are just that good, so why would you care if your Space Marine smashes an ork’s face in on an unofficial ruleset?

        • Shiwan8

          I agree, the apoc stuff is….mostly bad for the game. Regular stuff like mosters, landraiders and such are not so much that really and to be honest 10 warp spiders in a kill team game pretty much own the battle field from the get go anyway.

  • Karru

    First of all, fantastic article. And now my view on the topic.

    The power gap between codexes is huge and exists, there is no arguing there. It requires immense skill gap to bridge it, but most of the time this doesn’t come into play.

    When it comes to “unplayable” codexes, I believe there is no such thing. Every codex is playable, in what way is completely different topic. When I’m personally starting armies and choosing which codex to use, I want to use armies that have multiple options. I rate them by fun factor. The fun factor is based on the style that the army is supposed to be played, viability of units in multiple situations and modelling opportunities. The viability of multiple units is the key factor for me. This is why I rate CSM codex as not fun.

    When I’m designing my army list, I want to include as many different units as possible, troops excluded in most cases. Here is an example of my SM army that I like to run:

    – Captain /w Command Squad in a Drop Pod or Tigurius for HQ
    – 2x 10 man Tac Squads, one with Lascannon and Plasma, the other with Vet. Sgt /w Power Fist and Multi-melta and Melta in a Rhino.
    – 2x 5 man Sniper Scouts /w Heavy Bolter, most of the time I take Tellion with them.
    – 10 man Sternguard unit in a Drop Pod, loadout depends on the opponent.
    – 6 Terminators with Cyclone Missile Launcher
    – 2x Land Speeder with Multi-melta and Missile Launcher
    – 2x Storm Talons, Skyhammer Missile Launcher
    – Storm Raven /w sponsons, Assault Cannon and Missile Launcher
    – Predator /w autocannon and Lascannon sponsons

    This is more of a base, I usually do modifications to this one, for example I don’t take as many fliers if my opponent doesn’t want to face a flying circus, as I have nicknamed it. But as you can see, it has multiple different units with different roles who can still provide support to the rest of the army even after completing that role. I have yet to lose once with this army.

    So, why do I find CSM codex not fun. Simple answer, it is not able to provide this much useful and varying units. Everything in the book is over priced, and you are forced to spam certain units, Cultists and Nurgle Marines. One of my friends mainly plays CSM, has been doing so since 3rd edition. He was a hardcore tournament player for a while, but since now he has kids, he is not able to do so. He has years of skill behind him, he knows the army since 3rd. Yet, every time I’ve faced his army, I wiped the floor with him. Why? Because he likes to use the same army style as I do, not spam to win, but an actual army of multiple units. He runs CSM squads in Rhinos, Cultists, Daemon Prince with wings, Khorne Berzerkers in Rhinos, Plague Marines as backfield Obj. grabbers, Defiler and Obliterators for heavy support. Multiple different units that have certain roles for them, yet my Marines wipe the floor with him. I have played maybe 1/6 the amount of games with my army compared to him.

    The internal balance of any non Marine army is usually abysmal. Eldar and Tau have the best internal balance outside Marine dexes. CSM, ‘Nids and Dark Eldar are the best examples of terrible internal balance. There is such a huge gap between units and there are some units that are completely useless due to another unit that can do the same thing a lot better for cheaper or in worst case slightly more expensive.

    I love Marine models, but there is a point where too much is too much. I finished my IG army a while back and now started doing Orks. I wanted something different. Those two books have been nice since you can still do my way of list building without handing the win to your opponent right off the bat.


    There is no such things as unplayable codex, every codex is playable. Codex if not fun, for me, if the internal balance is bad with some units being so underpowered that you are handing the win to the opponent by taking them. Spamming units is not fun.

    • ZeeLobby

      Playable and winnable are two different things though. I can play DE as much as I want, but even spamming the best units will only result in maybe a 10% win rate in the current meta. Talking pure DE here.

      • ChubToad

        I think you don’t understand what playable means. And it doesn’t mean that you perform the action of playing with it. It means that in the context of playability the army is designed and gives the user a good gaming experience (regardless of how it performs in a competitive environment), while abiding to the rules set it was created for. So for example an unplayable faction, will be one that contradicts and/or ignores core rules of the system it is build for, so that it will be impossible to play with it. This could mean things like models without bases to using d10 instead of d6 for shooting.

        Winnable means that you can win it, not with it.

        • ZeeLobby

          Then I mean technically nothing GW has ever produced is unplayable. But I don’t think that’s the definition Karru is referring to. Obviously any army can be put on the table and played. I agree that playability has to factor in good gaming experiences in our expanded definition. I would argue that right now there are several factions which rarely offer a good gaming experience. So they aren’t completely unplayable, but the needle is reaching in that direction. And this is from a narrative fluffy standpoint. A CSM player can only take so many curb-stompings from Imperials before the army becomes “unplayable” for them. Everyone likes to win, even people who claim they don’t care if they ever do.

          • Karru

            Indeed, when people talk about “unplayable” in game terms, they usually mean that it’s just unbearably frustrating and/or not fun to play. Like you pointed out, a player can only take so much curb-stomping before it just reaches that critical point where you either give up on the game or move to another army.

    • Hunlow

      I think you bring up a great point between the good an bad codecs. With a good codex you have flexibility in how you build your army with a bad codex you don’t. Chaos is shoe horned into playing heldrakes and obliterators just like tyranids are forced to always play flyrants and mawlocs.

  • Phantius Fawl

    Words of wisdom.

    • Shiwan8

      And yet can not survive contact with reality. Prolly works with infinity or malifaux though.

      • Maybe not in contact with Your reality, but there are a hundred different factors. Maybe it is you, maybe it’s not. I’ve never played you. It works for me.

        • Shiwan8

          How many GTs have you won lately? Nova, BAO, LVO, some others? The point is that “this works when I play against myself at home” type arguments are moot. If the idea really works at all it works on a tournament level too. It is that simple.

          • Only if tournaments matter to you. They clearly do to you, they don’t to me. PS: I won them all recently. I used different names though.

          • Shiwan8

            Name another commonly known context with equally clear measuring methods for the power level of an army or armies. We can use that instead.

          • In casual games that is a lot less important. So there isn’t a need to be so precise in how point efficient your army is. I don’t disagree that the game isn’t balanced or that the books can be vastly different in power levels. My point is that casual fun games is how you mostly mitigate the difference.

          • Shiwan8

            It’s not. It’s actually more important. In tournaments you pay to get the optimal list. In casual games you play what you think is cool and if that is less than balanced against the optimal list you will have a bad game. In tournaments you payfor the chance ti win with skill. In casual games you playthe faction you like and either win or lose due to the balance.

  • BT

    Pimp, read the whole thing. I agree to a certain degree, because finding a army to match your playstyle is important. It is something I always tell folk when they want to make a list or pick a army, build it with your play style in mind.

    In my experience, it comes down to 3 things. Good dice, making a good list, and playing the list you made properly.

    If you do any one of those things right, you have a 33% chance you win any match. If you do any two right, you have a 66% chance, and you will win 99% of your games you play if all three work.

    You as the player can only control 1.5 of those 3 things, your list (1) and how you play it (.5, because it is also based on how your opponent plays /his/ list). No one can control the dice, and I have seen terrible armies with terrible tactics do well because of amazing dice.

    I have found this simple set of rules to work for 99% of the games out there. So how does /that/ grab ya Pimp? Mesh with your concept?

    • Shiwan8

      With vanilla CSM what would be the list that will likely do better than marines or eldar?

      • ZeeLobby

        Lol. Don’t think they’ll be an answer.

        • Shiwan8

          I don’t think so either because to answer that means to either admit that one is wrong or to make fool of him or her self in front of a large audience.

          • I think he’s just speaking in generalities. And let’s be honest, whatever list he wrote up to prove his point, he won’t convince you otherwise.

          • Shiwan8

            It is true that I’m not convinced by claims that are easily proven to be false.

      • BT

        This really comes down to your play style, but Chaos is all about being aggressive. If you are not aggressive, you are losing the strength of the base CSM codex. To be frank, you melee them.

        I think Khorn CSMs, due to the extra reach on the charge with the Banner and other perks can really mess with Eldar. They gotta get within 24″ to shoot you, and that gives you a chance to get close enough to shoot back or charge them. With the 3+ armor save, you have a pretty dang good chance of surviving them swinging first at Int 5/6. Make it a 20 man blob and roll them up. Khorn bikes can be even nastier due to jink and T 5, as well as the extra reach due to more movement. Have multiple Characters in the group for challenges, and have a couple of fists for WraithKnights. Oblits with MoT or MoN in the back for fire support are still good, as well as having the ability to DS suicide terminators with Combi-Meltas. I still prefer vanilla CSMs over cultists any day of the week as your troops… they are just very tough to kill, specially in cover. And MoK and a extra CCW means if something gets close enough, you are probably gonna smoke them, even with morale issues. Don’t forget about Raptors either. They don’t care about Eldar hiding behind a wall or shunting away. They can counter that maneuverability really well and LCs with MoK or a MoS with a FNP banner can do wonders.

        Really, the job you have to do is take away the Eldar’s greatest asset, maneuverability. They are T 3 guys in 4+ armor for the most part. They can’t stand and trade shots. But with all of their Str 6 weapons, they take care of Nurgle pretty easy, because it removes Nurgles greatest strength, toughness. I feel Nurgle is the weakest against Eldar, but they were the most popular army in 5th. The FNP banner makes Slannesh number 2 against Eldar. Tzeentch is 3rd, because even a 6+ Invul save is still a 6+ invul save. Terminators and Obliterators are pretty tough for Eldar to take down, and Tzeentch can rival them for Psychic mastery.

        For Marines, well, you can use the above as the example. Marines are gonna have a ton of Grav, but they are not going to be better than you in CC. They have better moral than you, so you can’t skimp on your gear. Pay for the extra CCWs, VotLW and Marks. Stop getting bullet shield cultists and get real troops, and either get Rhinos or get more than 10 to eat the losses you /will/ have. But hey, you can at least take and give bolter fire as well as anyone. Again, death star it up or have multiple ICs in squads for challenges. This is where Power Swords really work well, but have the odd fist/chainfist in each group to give you versatility. And heck, this is where getting Long War really shines. Even in a Tourney, you are bound to face at least one marine force.

        Personally, I was a Emperor’s Children player, always have been… and I hated the old Noise marines so never used them. I hated the Demon forged stuff, so never used them (Hellturkeys). But with the new FNP Icon, my Slannesh army really came into it’s own. With the new 30k models and the updated Sonic Marines, I had the choice of being a shooty or melee army.

        Can Chaos be better? Sure, but T 6 Nurgle bikers don’t do squat against grav or a metric ton of Str 6 or Rending shots. Take a long, hard look at Khorn and Slannesh. Tzeentch is still hard to play, due to Soul Fire being meh and a 6+ save on a guy being meh, but you should be able to out Psyker marines with Rubic squads and even give Eldar a run for their money.

        • Shiwan8

          So, what is the specific list?

          • Skathrex

            I love how you reply to a Wall of Text with a one liner^^

          • Shiwan8

            The wall was nothing more than a dodge. The question was left without answer. The question still needs an answer though it is apparent that it will remain so since apparently it is easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk.

    • That is a very valid point I think. I like how you broke that down. It hadn’t occurred to me that way.

      • BT

        Thanks man.

        I heard a story about a kid some years ago who won Adepticon with Nids, when Nids were considered very weak at the time. He used units that were considered subpar even, but he knew the game really well and he knew his opponent’s codices really well. He just played them right in every game situation, and his opponents were unfamiliar with his units due to barely seeing them. I think this is something you were really striving for with your article. I always took that to heart.

        First, you have to have the tool to succeed. You need to learn your list and codex to give yourself the chance to win a game based on how you play. You have to give yourself the ability to answer the question of ‘How am I going to deal with X?’. Sure, there is a certain charm (and arrogance) about having a list that says ‘I am going to force /you/ to deal with me’, but I think every list can bring something to the table that is a hassle to deal with. When you build a list, you have to be able to deal with all situations and match it to your play style. Gunline lists for someone who doesn’t have the patience to play one will probably not work that well, even if it is a otherwise solid list.

        Then it is all about playing the units right and placing them on the table to give yourself the best chance to win with what you got, good or bad. Understand the risks you take where you are setting up and how you position and maneuver your units. Even if Dice are failing you and you didn’t build the greatest list, if you keep putting yourself in a position to win, you are playing it right. I think your article was all about this aspect.

        Then last, but not least, is the Dice Gods. If your army is based off of pure math-hammer, be ready for math-hammer to fail you. It is why so many tourney players try to remove as much dice rolling as possible from the game, because it can screw you. I am sure you have seen where someone was just rolling out of their skull and destroyed your list, or worse yet, your dice poop out on you. Not because they out played you or were playing a cheezy list, but because they got hot at times when it counted or you got cold when you needed it.

        Maybe my percentages are off, I use to go 25%, 50%, 75%, maybe that is still a more reasonable rating. But if you make a good list that suits you, you play it right against your opponent, and you roll well, it is /really/ hard to lose.

  • Sputnikwriter

    God I’ve forgotten how UGLY that film was.

    • cudgel

      It was a fun flick however.

  • cudgel

    Pimpcrons version of a mic drop is dropping a pack of matches in a room he just doused in lighter fluid lol!

    • lol. I figured this would have been much more of a sh1t storm.

    • Skathrex

      I really really like the Image you used! Made my day!

  • Agent OfBolas

    Bad army is a bad army.

    Good player will do great with crap army, but he will also do much better with strong army.

    The overall crap feel of CSM codex made me finally stop playing WH40k… and I was in it since 1997.

  • Kyu

    I’ve been a Tau, space wolves collector since 4th, I’ve seen them go through periods of being fantastic and not so fantastic. I don’t have the disposable income to start another army so when they dropped down the power scale I had to make what I had work (I never did win a single game against blood angels in 5th =/). Not playing in a highly competitive social group also helps a lot.

    Not everyone is as stubborn as me though and I can see why spending hundreds on an army to have fun with it for a year or so, only to suddenly find that a new ruleset drops and everyone else is beating seven shades out of you with minimal effort can be very disheartening.

  • CatachanCommissar

    I’m glad to play with my 100 genestealer army. It’s a lot of fun.

    • Commissar Molotov

      The “new” dataslates made ’em pretty cool, eh?

      • CatachanCommissar

        I do like the formations, I just need them to have freaking flesh hooks hahahaha *blams self*

  • Dan T

    Scatterbikes say hi

    • JJ

      and here I thought they could only say “Pew, Pew, Pew”

  • In 40k? Definitely the army lol.

  • Commissar Molotov

    Frustrated with the power balance?

    Get in the habit of swapping armies and playing a second game. Seriously. It does two things:

    1) You usually discover the other guy’s army isn’t quite as “point and click” and OP as you thought it was;

    2) Your opponent will find out how little fun facing down a wall of cheese can be, and might even adjust his list-building appropriately.

    • JJ

      While I agree with you in sentiment, I would really not have other people touch my models.

      • Commissar Molotov

        Worried about ’em getting scuffed or dropped?

        • JJ

          if you only knew! I had a player gently pick up one of my converted librarians. Only for him to immediately drop it on the tiled floor.

          To be fair the guy was apologetic and offered to purchase me a new one, but that hardly makes up for the hours spent converting the model.

          • Commissar Molotov

            Oh, no!

    • SeekingOne

      Your point (1) is top-notch. When you play against an army – particularly if your opponent is a good tactician – you mostly see its strengths. It takes playing that army yourself to know its weaknesses.

    • We’ve done this before, and another thing that is fun is to replay the same exact game over again, and try to do things differently. A lot of times the other side will win.

  • Malevengion

    One of the most successful 40K players I’ve faced is an Ork player. He’s been complaining about how badly his army “sucks” for the last three codexes and yet he consistently wins. Why? Because he never fields the same forces twice. Whenever I play him it’s always something different. He plans on how he’ll win the next game and lays his Ork Waaagh out to his plan. Planning how you will win (or how to cause your opponent to lose) seems to be the key.

    • Shiwan8

      How many GTs has he won during the last…let’s say 2 years with the orcs?

      • Malevengion

        I said he was the most successful 40K player I’ve faced, not tournament player. His technique of varying his army depending on his victory plan has served him well and he is an excellent opponent.

        • Shiwan8

          That is great. 40k tournament players are 40k players, though.

          • Malevengion

            True, I meant no slight. Tournament play is almost a different game though. In the casual play that I engage in the players have the advantage of knowing what army they will be facing and (if they’ve played the person often enough ) it’s fairly easy to guess what you have to prepare for. In a tournament, it’s random and full of unknowns. In that situation, you have to get lucky and draw opponents you can handle or go for maximizing the strengths of your army (or armies in the case of all the allies out there) and hope you can crush your opponent before they can get a good shot at you. In most cases I suspect it’s both. I think that the relative disparities between the codexes is greatly magnified in that type of environment and the tournament game is much harder to play in.

          • Shiwan8

            The thing is that if a codex can always be down played and thus everything is balanced against everything if the armies are taylored to be like that. This is why casual games are meaningless.
            This is also why the tournament statistics matter. They tell us which armies are good and which armies are bad. How things work locally mean pretty much nothing outside that context.

      • Damistar

        So if it doesn’t win a GT then the army is useless? You know not everyone plays big tournaments. Some of us actually play for fun with our friends.

        • ZeeLobby

          Obviously playability of an army is personal to the individual. It’s making assumptions on either end which is dangerous. Just because the local ork player wins a lot and loves his army doesn’t mean that’s a universal sentiment.

          • Damistar

            My point would be that a lot of this can be traced back to the perceptions people get from big tournament results. The dynamic necessary to win there causes players to make lists that amplify imbalances in the game. What might be a minor thing locally could be the game breaker at a GT. Then internet forums and blogs start crying about how the game is broke and seeking evermore extreme examples to reinforce their position until finally the meta collapses into a toxic miasma where nobody actually plays, but everyone complains.

          • ZeeLobby

            And I could definitely understand that. It’d help if GW gave them less fodder to feed off of as well. My issue is that GW is selling this as a wargame, which by its very nature is a competition between two generals on the tabletop. As soon as one side has to start limiting, or tailoring, lists to make the game fair, the whole system really needs to be evaluated. What is the point of having points if they don’t result in any real balancing mechanic anyway…

            The fact that I can take 2000 points and make a space marine army that’s top table, and take those same 2000 points and make the worst army ever conceived is a good example of poor internal and external balance.

            And yeah, I guess I just happen to know several Ork players who’ve gotten disheartened over the years of 6th and 7th because of those issues. It’s hard when some factions have 1000 options via allies, and some don’t.

          • Damistar

            I think that the problem is that 40K has never been a balanced game system. GW writes it’s rules to allow players to “recreate the battles of the 41st millenium” so it is more of a narrative thing they’re aiming for. “Story” games work pretty well, such as a heroic last stand or a desperate strike to take out the enemy Warlord. GW has attempted (and mostly failed) at making the game equitable, but it’s like putting chrome spinners on a tractor: it’s not what it’s designed to be.

          • ZeeLobby

            True. Which I think gives players a false idea of the product. And yet clearly, shown with the excitement for the AoS Generals Handbook, a large segment of the community enjoys balanced match play. I’m under no delusion that GW games could ever be perfectly balanced, nor would I want them to be. I do believe the current ally, formation and detachment rules have created far larger gaps then ever before. People will argue that if 40K is a narrative game, then these are simply narrative tools, but there were plenty of ways for narrative players to achieve the same outcome without them. The problem is secretly, narrative players understand that a fair fight is more fun then a hopeless one. These additions give false, or in some cases malign, hope to narrative players that they can “compete” in a narrative game.

            I know we’ve expanded the topic drastically, but I think your last second rings true. If points are not something GW cares about, they should get rid of them. The problem is, as shown with AoS, many players WANT that balancing factor. Now GW just has to put effort into it like it once did. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but I think all sides can agree they’ve gone through a long period where play testing their system has not been a priority.

          • Damistar

            I think that in terms of game design GW finds itself in a Catch 22 situation. On he one hand the players love the background of the game with all the attendant variety and expect the rules to portray that on the tabletop. On the other players want each army to be able to compete against all the others equally and a point system to reflect that. Problem is that the more balanced you make the factions, the more they start to become just like the others. Then there’s the fact that the points are arbitrarily assigned.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. As proven in other systems though it is possible. I don’t think you ever expect to get 100% balance between all factions, but you can at least engineer it so that each faction can create a build that can counter another factions build. That’s kind of how Warmachine gets around it. Sure you can build armor in Khador, but any other faction has options to break through heavy armor.

            The problem is that certain factions have all the answers (SM), while others have only some (DE). And it really sucks when you open your codex and realize that if your friend wants to play list A, there’s really nothing in your book that’ll play well into it.

            Regardless, GW would definitely benefit from rewriting it’s whole valuation system. The problem is that a lot of thought was put into it in 3rd and 4th, and then it was never really evaluated since then. They’ve just tried to keep a single marine worth around X points without really assessing whether that’s true or not anymore. And of course they do no evaluations of the synergy within lists anymore. They add cool synergistic things, but don’t have any method or limitations to restrict the value. If anything formations and detachments make it easier to spam synergistic things worth well above their points value.

          • Damistar

            True, it’s far from ideal. I think each army is made in a vacuum. The designers don’t ask “How will they deal with X?” but instead “What kind of units would this faction have?” and then see wha the mini designers have in their sketchbooks. I think the different armies are balanced internally consistent with their themes. As for pointing, I think a basic Space Marine is the standard at about 15 points, then they add or subtract as they see fit. I think they also lower points for units they think the army should have and increase for the rarer units.

          • ZeeLobby

            Or the process simply doesn’t exist, and decisions are made to sell models. Like the undercoated, supposed to be rare, wraithknight. Or the thematically coated, but extremely over coated, khorne engine. Let’s be honest, the method is extremely loose these days, haha. Internally they may select models based on theme, but internal points balance is notoriously bad as well. Most organizational slots only have 1 or 2 no brainers and a lot of chaff. They’ve basically stuck themselves in useless limbo. I just don’t get why they think having a tightly engineered game would somehow invalidate the narrative.

          • Damistar

            They do put more thought into some armies then in others certainly. There is also the matter of evolving philosophies in game design over the course of an edition. I note that the aforementioned Wraithknight is now a LoW slot too. I think in the previous Eldar Codex they pointed the WK to make it a viable choice in a large field of viable Heavy Support choices. The Eldar do not suffer in that department. I think they also underestimated the staying power of that monster and figured it was just a buffed up upgunned Wraithlord.
            Like I was trying to say earlier, if you make all lists all comer then you will end up with…30K.

          • ZeeLobby

            I never said to make every LIST an all-comers list, I want every faction to have the options to counter every other faction. There is simply no way for DE to counter scatter-spam + spider + WKs from Eldar at the moment. Simply no way. Sure some lists would still stomp others, but at least players could say “well, if i took X instead of Y I would have had a chance”.

        • Shiwan8

          If we do not have easily definable context we can not objectively measure the quality of an army. I could claim that CSM is op and without the properly defined context that claim would mean exactly nothing.
          GTs are a convenient proving ground for armies.

          I doubt that the people who go to GTs would not think that they are there for fun. Actually, having seen and heard enough interviews I would very much assume that they are there exactly to have fun.

    • ZeeLobby

      Just curious, what army do you play?

      • Malevengion

        I’ve played most of them at one time or another for experience and variety. I usually drift back to Space Marines with each new edition so my current army is the Void Wraiths chapter (Straight codex).

        • ZeeLobby

          How often do you use formations/detachments from other codices/expansions etc.? And do you use any specific chapter traits?

          I think SM CADs vs Orks is a pretty fair matchup. It’s when you start adding all the bells and whistles and 400pts of free vehicles, etc that it becomes unfun. I realize that’s all social contracting prior to a game, but it really shouldn’t have to be if the game was written well.

          • Malevengion

            In the interest of full disclosure, my gaming group is mostly narrative players. We have more fun coming up with some storied battle and then fighting it out. (For a recent example we did our own version of the Battle of Thermopylae with 30 terminators and a chapter master guarding a pass against Abadon the Despoiler and his cult marines. ) I don’t usually play with formations or allies and the Void Wraiths just use the Ultramarine rules. I haven’t brought in some of the newer units into play yet (like Centurions) since I’m still getting a feel for how the units I already have work with 7th ed. (Being employed and married tends to limit the number of games I can get in so it’s a slow process),

          • ZeeLobby

            An environment like that definitely helps. I think it’s harder to see the power gaps when there is some limitations enforced by yourself or the group. While that isn’t really a challenge for older gaming groups that have been playing each other for years, a younger group just starting to get into the game would definitely struggle to find that even ground between factions. They would assume that 2 equally point coated models would be similarly strong on the table, which is far from true, and just getting into the fluff, they would not have a narrative niche they could comfortably set themselves in. Not saying it’s impossible but definitely more difficult, and I think your Ork player would struggle to win as many games if thrown into a semi-conpetitive meta. He clearly knows his book is lacking compared to other armies, and he’s not far off the mark.

          • Malevengion

            My Ork playing friend succeeds because he sees options for his Waaagh that don’t occur to other players and he’s constantly changing up his force list to try different things. The point is, he plans his battle first and then designs his force to execute his plan. He’s quite tactically minded and it seems having a good plan is half the battle. He’s also quite competitive and I don’t doubt he’d do pretty well in the tournament scene. I do agree that my group is friendly and fun to game with though and that counts for a lot.

          • ZeeLobby

            It seems that this is a very localized event though. If overnight the rest of your group became uber-competitive and spammy, he would soon find his tactical options relatively limited, especially if he wanted to keep his W/L ratio consistent. I could be wrong, but having attended several nation-wide events each year competitively, I’ve just never seen an Ork build or player make it all that far. The closets for a bit was the Stompa jammed full of meks, but now there are pretty solid answers to that.

          • Malevengion

            Of course it’s localized, as it’s really gaming among friends. He has a certain spark of madness though that would see him do pretty well in a tournament (or at least people would be talking about him for a while at any rate.) It seems to me that the tournament game is “same rules, different world”. Playing among friends you have an advantage of knowing who you’re facing and what tactics they might like to employ. Not so in a tournament where you have to be lucky in you pairing and design your force to deliver as much punishment as quickly as possible. Psychologically, you also don’t have the hang up of wanting to stay friends with people after the game ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I believe it, I wreck-house with my Orks. Meanwhile my friends say they are unplayable. :/

  • Jacob

    A dark eldar player wins two tournaments? Must of played like a true Archon and poisoned the competition.

  • Peter Utecht

    nice article! had the same problems with my CSM force all throughout 6th ed. but now my Thousand sons / Warp Talons list finally works!!^^

    • Hunlow

      ok, i gotta know what your list is and how you run it.

    • YOU MADE WARP TALONS WORK??? I tip my hat, sir. I’ve had no luck with them.

  • Alchemy207

    Wow, a solid article from Pimpcron. Some really good points and good food for thought for a lot of 40k (and WM/H probably) players. Well done.

    • You sound surprised. lol. Don’t usually like my stuff? It’s ok. I can’t be terrible ALL of the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Alchemy207

        Acutally, I usually do like your articles. But this was definitely some of your top work.

        It addresses an issue that I’ve been struggling with lately: realizing that I’m not actually that good at mini games. I gave up playing 40k because I couldn’t do anything with the tyranids I had been playing for 4+ years and its only now that I realize I was just playing badly. Admitting the truth is tough sometimes.

        • Thanks man. I appreciate it! It really sucks that you felt the need to quit. But not everybody has the same abilities. I suck at basketball. No matter how much I ever practiced, I would suck. Simple as that. But then again there is an Einstien quote that is roughly this: A goldfish will spend its entire life thinking that it is a failure if it bases it’s worth off its ability to walk. I know for a fact, I will never be a good Daemons player. Never. But I still try. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • euansmith

    “But marginal success didnโ€™t come from quitting or blaming the book.”

    That really made me snigger. Another good post from the Robo-hostess with the mostest.

  • Hunlow

    Maybe it’s a problem with building armies with “bad” codecs. That was my problem for a long time and I fully blamed my codex. Not understanding how to build a list caused me to lose more games then any other factor, I feel, by a large margin. My biggest gripe is that the codex I use has too many options and ways to build bad lists and few guidelines or formations to help out novice players. I think that a huge reason Space Marines, Eldar, Necrons and Tau are so great is that the formations not only provide great bonuses but also great guidelines for list building. That makes it so much easier for new players to focus more on tactics in a game then questioning whether a piece of your army functions in your list.

  • No-one Special

    I think the lack of player responsibility is always an issue within wargaming, particularly 40k as it isn’t the most balanced of games, and is just as valid a point when looking at the opposite end of the spectrum.
    Those same gamers mentioned in the article who struggle to get anything out of ‘weaker’ armies are invariably the same ones who struggle to deal deal the ‘stronger’ ones and tend to cry OP as a first excuse.
    An example is a recent game I had between my Eldar Wraith army (I know but give me a break, this army was conceived under the Iyanden Codex) and a Marine Battle Company with plenty of freebies. Both highly tiered armies and debatable who would win.
    The game played out to a total massacre of the marines leading to the inevitable criticisms of the OP Eldar and the nastiness of my army etc. You may agree, and i’m not denying the power of the Eldar Codex at all, but my experience of the game was actually one of surprise at how easy my opponent had made things for me.
    Pre-game I was genuinely worried about how my 35 odd Wraithguard were going to deal with 100 marines in cover who I was going to struggle to whittle down with my mostly single shot guns before going down in a blaze of plasma and ML fire.
    But in the game it was made irrelevant, from advancing his units first turn into range of my short ranged guns, to neglecting to damage some of my most effective units (D-Scythes and Warwalkers), to the army selection that left his heavy weapons with far too much to do to be effective (Flakk on his Dev ML’s).

    The result of this is that rather than taking responsibility for his own performance and mistakes, my opponent has displaced that with the opinion that my Wraith army is god-like and unbeatable, despite playing with a top tier army himself that I feel I could have used to beat myself with just a few changes.
    I’m sure if we played again it would be a much closer game, but it still didn’t top the convenient reliance of blaming a codex instead of yourself.

  • Raven Jax

    I agree with parts of this article, and that’s a major reason why I only play casually and not competitively. Still, as others have pointed out, there is a large imbalance in many armies.

    Case in point, my friend and I only started 40K two years ago. I picked up Necrons because they looked easy to paint. My friend picked up Orks because he liked what he had read in the fluff. Neither of us knew anything about the rules associated with our armies.

    He has yet to win a game against me. And I am not taking anything overpowered. I’ve never taken Wraiths or Lychguard. I’ve never taken the Decurion that gives you a 4++ Reanimation roll, though I do get a natural 5++.

    I hardly take anything other than basic troops, who are routinely outnumbered by his massive horde of Orks. But between Orks’ bad BS, Necron Warrior’s 4+ and 5++, he can’t kill any of my guys.

    On top of that, I’VE BEEN WINNING IN CLOSE COMBAT. Reanimation rolls save my guys, and Necrons hit back at S4, just like Space Marines. With low leadership, his Orks often kill themselves due to Mob Rule or run off the board.

    So what did I do? I bought the Tyranid Start Collecting box and am working on putting it together now. Hopefully my friend and I will have more fun playing two huge hoard armies against each other.

    So yes, while I think playing in a casual setting and knowing how to use your army helps, Orks, Tyranids, Dark Eldar, and CSM still need a re-work.

  • rtheom

    I’m always intrigued by what exactly someone means when they say that some people are “better at tactics” than others. Many of the people that I’ve run into that say this typically max out on units with things like jink saves, 2++, high S weapons, and abilities that are a simple duh to use and succeed with. So it makes it hard for me to see that as tactical “superiority”. Maybe that’s my problem though. Maybe I’m so tactically inadept that I can’t look past these things to see the greater strategy running beneath? I dunno… if that was the case, I’d expect for games with different people and different armies to feel a lot different. But they don’t. Maybe it’s just my group. :: shrugs ::

    • SeekingOne

      It’s simple, really.
      Just last Saturday I had a game with my mid-tier Eldar list (just 9 scatter-bikes, a melee Wraithknight, no Warp spiders and some DE allies to boot) vs a relatively tough SM army based on Skyhammer with grav-devastators and a librarius conclave.
      I was lucky to get Invisibility on my Farseer. My opponent got 1st turn – only to declare that his skyhammer would arrive on the SECOND turn. Needless to say, I deployed my WK on the table and on my turn 1 conveniently protected it with Invis, so that his grav-drop won’t be able to take it out.
      When his Skyhammer arrived, he positioned one of his droppods within some 6″ from the table edge – it scattered off the table and mishapped. And grav-fire from just one squad of devs wasn’t enough to deal with my Invis – they killed my bikes but couldn’t quite finish the Farseer. More than that, the second pod was positioned so that the grav-devs disembarked within some 8-10″ from my WK. Needless to say, next turn WK assaulted them and chopped them up.

      This is a real-life example of a series of 3 serious tactical mistakes that prevented my opponent from utilising the advantage of his (rather powerful) formation and ultimately lost him the game.

      • rtheom

        Perhaps, but I’m not convinced him getting the second grav team in would have changed those results that much. Putting Invis on your Knight is still gonna make it really really tough to bring down even with a second, and you would have just used the knight to blast them to bits rather than charging if he had positioned them from farther away anyway. This is pretty much exactly what I’m talking about. Sure, it looks like there’s tactics there, but I’m not convinced the stats wouldn’t have just been on your side anyway.

        • Josh Watkins

          110% agree. after being told by an opponent that he was a better tactician then me after I dropped 32 str8 shots on the only viable target my marines had and only inflicting 1 HP of damage against his eldar waveserpent (6th ed) I sold all of my 40k models an walked away. This game has become so broken its a joke but its players like that that really pi$$ me off

        • SeekingOne

          I think you didn’t pay enough attention to the order of mistakes. The first and the most important one was dropping the Skyhammer on the second turn, which allowed me to comfortably deploy on the board and Invis up before its arrival. Had he dropped his grav-cannons on turn 1, I would’ve had no other choice but to put both WK and Farseer (as well as most other stuff except bunker) in reserves. This would’ve resulted in a totally different game. Farseer would have had to move in from my table edge (we had short edge deployment BTW) – this means that I wouldn’t have been able to comfortably deep strike my WK “behind enemy lines” since it would be out of range of Invis. Let me point out that 2 gravcannon units create a huge combined threat-bubble, and being dropped at roughly 24″ from my table edge those units cover the whole central part of my deployment zone (in fact, with the short edge deployment that would’ve been almost the whole of my deployment zone). Had my opponent done so, he would’ve limited the mobility of my units arriving from reserves quite dramatically and gained pretty much total board control – and that’s what he should’ve done. Of course it wouldn’t have meant an automatic win for him – and it would’ve been wrong if it did – but, using chess terminology, he would’ve had a strong positional advantage and I would’ve needed lots of thought and effort to just even out the game. That’s tactics for you…

          Secondly, the way his units arrived, he made an absolutely correct decision: he didn’t want to waste his grav on an invisible WK and instead went for my Farseer hiding in a unit of 3 jetbikes. Let me assure you, 2 grav-devastator units would’ve been more than enough to completely destroy the unit. That would’ve been instant “Slay the warlord” point and no more Invis, meaning that WK would soon follow the Seer. However, as it happened, with 1 dev unit mishapping, the other one killed 3 bikes and left Farseer standing with 2 wounds. One more tactical mistake that greatly changed the course of the game in my favor.

      • Hunlow

        lol how are 9 scat bikes and invis wraithknights “mid-tier”?

        • SeekingOne

          In terms of Eldar lists, my list is totally mid-tier. 18 scattter-bikes in 6 units of 3 – that would’ve been hardcore. But I hate spamming, and painting up even those 9 bikes was boring as hell. I proxied 18 bikes a couple of times – they were solid but playing them was boring as hell too.

          All in all, you probably haven’t been following the latest trends in tournament-grade list building ๐Ÿ™‚ It is already fairly well-known and proved by practice that the top-tier competitive Eldar units are:
          – Farseers
          – Warp Spiders
          – Scatter bikes
          – Wraithknights with D-cannons

          You can probably throw in Wraithguard with D-scythes as well, although those haven’t been seen in tournament-winning lists for some time. Most other units in the codex are mid-tier, and there are even some really bad ones like guardians, wraithlords, wraithblades, shining spears or avatar.
          Anyway, a top-tier super-optimised Eldar list would be based on those 4 units listed above. My list has no spiders, just a handful of bikes, and my wraithknight has a sword. My list also includes dire avengers, fire dragons, dark reapers and even a couple of DE venoms with warriors. All of which are not bad, but just that – mid-tier.

    • Sounds like I wouldn’t like to play in your gaming group. I agree when you say that they “are a simple duh” decision to use. There is no skill in a net list or a duh auto-take. But if you’re group plays that way, you have my apologies.

  • Xodis

    Id say its a 50/50 split especially with 40K. A lot of units just suck, and a lot of people cant “general” past shoot the melee and melee the shooters.

    • euansmith

      Or as Napoleon said, “Tirez sur les sabreurs et les archers poignarder.” or at least he would have if he’d ever said that, and used Google Translate for his French.

  • charlie

    As a DE player, I don’t need my army to be the best, just a little parity in terms of options and point costing would be good.

    Whenever I’m down my local GW, some of the guys like to chat about all the cool units/formations/data slates/combos/special rules they can use for their armies. I just feel sad that my army doesn’t have most of those, and probably never will.

    • The HC supplement for dark Eldar has a ton of sweet formations. I don’t think i can agree with you, but our metas are probably different. I just won my game this past wednesday against Chaos with my DE and it wasn’t easy, but I out smarted him for a win 5-2.

      • charlie

        Yeh I like the HC suppliment. But again, it only uses 6 units plus dedicated transports. 5 if we consider Urien takes up the same slot as the Haemonculi. You still don’t have any options for the rest of the army.

        My meta is fine. It’s a casual store. I have won 1 or 2 games, had a close game or 2, and got wrecked for the rest. One in particular was very bad. 3,000 DE and Necrons vs Tau and SM, kill points. Got tabled at the top of turn 5, and they have lost less than 500 points. Game ended up being something like 19-2. Turns out DE don’t like an army with lots of AP4/5 and Ignore Cover. But I don’t mind that so much. I know I’m not very good, and that’s not my complaint.

        My complaint is that after the game, when my opponent and I discuss things I could do, there doesn’t seem to be that many options for me, compared to other armies.

        For example: DE have 4 Elite choices. Vanilla SM have 11. DE have 4 heavy choices, Vanilla SM have 12, and Eldar have 8.

        Sometimes there are no options at all. Please tell me a DE ground unit with skyfire. Please tell me a DE unit with D-strength weapons.

        What I’m saying is, I don’t need all armies to be equal, but clearly some armies get more love than others, and when your armies has fewer choices (fewer still when some of them are poor choices) its makes creating an effective list more difficult.

        DE can be good, but when your opponent brings AP5 weapons that ignore cover and line of sight, what can you do?

        • I hear you. First off, I refuse to play Kill points with any of my armies. It only promotes bringing cheese. I only play objective games. DE and daemons really suck with Kill points. And yes, fighting Tau is an uphill battle with DE. I winced when I saw “Tau”.

          • charlie

            Thanks for the Kill Point advice, I’ll avoid it from now on.

            Part of my problem is that my whole army is made up of 3rd ed. models, so I am a little more limited, for instance my scourges only have dari lances and splinter cannons. But I do love the old models, and I like moment of surprise when my opponent realises my tiny old grotesques are actually 3 wound beasts!

            I should probably invest in updating my army, but I have over 2,000 points as it is, and with the state of the current codex I don’t feel like putting much more money into them.

            That’s what I meant when I said I feel sad about it. The codex doesn’t really have anything I feel I really wanna go out and get (except perhaps some Wracks, but only because I love the Ossefactor, and I swear that used to be a Haemonculus weapon).

  • I know for me personally, that there was a time I thought that I was really good at the game. But then I came to the realization it was because I was really good at elementary math and was running power lists that made up for the areas I was not good at.

    When I couldn’t have power lists I couldn’t pull off near as many wins, and needed gimmicks and exploits to win regularly.

    Having a math degree has helped me since then but I am nothing more than an average player that has a fondness for running harder to use armies now and for fun armies.

    I never do good against powerlists but thats not why I play anymore either.

    That being said, in my experience over the decades I’d say that a good player with an average list is a good game for a not good player running a power list most of the time. Lack of ability CAN be made up for with broken mechanics.

    And a bad player with a power list will always beat a bad player with a casual list which is what starts the arms race at most FLGS metas.

    However a good player running a power list will always walk all over a bad player with a power list.

    • euansmith

      “Lack of ability CAN be made up for with broken mechanics.” ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

  • AnomanderRake

    This is a dramatic oversimplification of the problem.

    If you want to play a casual pick-up game the smaller issues are mitigated, but that doesn’t change the fact that (for instance) Dark Eldar are hard-countered by the existence of Tau, or that Grey Knights have to pack up and go home the instant a Culexis hits the table.

    You can play a weak Codex well. You can do fine in a very casual meta. But you can’t play a pick-up game in an unfamiliar environment without negotiating which models (and in extreme cases which Codexes) can’t be used, which frequently ends up just frustrating everyone involved.

    • I agree with you to an extent, I am lucky to have a regular gaming group of about 15 people I play with. But even when I play on vacation somewhere, I don’t have problems usually. Ran into some d1cks, but mostly not.


  • Admiral Raptor

    Pimpcron, you neglected to mention that the problem can easily be both player and codex at once! I’m a bad player who plays Chaos Space Marines. If you were to look at my win / loss ratio you would just see a picture of an arm-less Abbadon sobbing uncontrollably.

    • Hunlow

      *wipes away tear* He cant even cover his face in shame. Poor Abby…

      • euansmith

        What’s he wiping away that tear with?

        • Well you have to be pretty endowed to launch so many failed crusades and keep coming back.

          • Admiral Raptor

            Oh my! It sounds like the mark of Slannesh is for more than just an extra point of initiative…

    • That made me laugh. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • eehaze

    I’d like it if they added some uniqueness to the CS:M codex. As is, it’s mostly just slightly modified versions of regular SM units with a smattering of Chaos Demons.
    It seems logical when I type it out, but the end result is an army that feels really incomplete.

  • Pimpish…bravo. Finally time someone said it.

    You KNOW what’s wrong at the table. It takes the community to fix this, and we can’t be shy about it. I even retweeted this on our club’s new Twitty.

    • Thanks Dave!

      • euansmith

        You’ve gone viral!

        • I have half a tube of ointment if you want it. Should clear up soon.

  • Tore Bolhรธj

    I agree with this metallic enslaver of women. Personally, I enjoy winning a game a lot more if my army is “weak”. It’s the same with video games.. if I played them on the super easy setting, I wouldn’t really be playing.

  • Gunther Clone C

    Nid player, I LOVE playing casual games, and avoid comp like the plague. And it’s for the reasons you provided that I love casual so much. I can just bring stuff, ranging from fluff to straight up ridiculous, and have fun. Great article, thank you!

    • Keep the nid flame alive brotha. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Benjamin Krumrei

    A very interesting article. I sometimes get more hung up on winning than on having fun, despite an awful lot of practice. But I usually have more fun when I travel, to be honest.

    I play Sisters, and in my current meta it’s a pretty tough row to hoe, particularly against my regular opponents. But whenever I play new people, I get tons of compliments on them (partially due to some still pretty boss models, and partially for the novelty factor). It’s particularly rewarding when I run into someone who hasn’t seen my army before, and I get tons of questions from new players. (Usually followed by an awed silence when I answer the inevitable questions about how much a Sisters army costs to put together).

    I waffle back and forth between a somehaoptimized list, which lets me win between 1/4th to 1/2 of the time, depending on their list (in casual play), and going “Screw it, might as well take 9 Penitent Engines, since I’m unlikely to win anyway”. I’ve had some surprising amounts of success with these odd lists, but also some very swift tablings if I run into a particularly bad matchup. I’ve considered going in the tank for allies (beyond the odd Assassin or Inquisitor, or my old inquisitorial gloryboys ) but I just really enjoy playing my Sisters mostly pure. Overall, I still have fun throwing dice, and moving tiny metal women around, but I can understand why my army is not terribly popular.

  • Aaron

    the problem with CSM is how one dimensional their armies have to be to even play casual: cultists and daemon allies, and the black legion sorcerer formation