Fritz here. There is much debate on the internets as to what army build is best. Redundancy, mech, min/max. Over time the best one or two army builds for each codex rises to the top and gets copied everywhere on the tournament and local gaming scene. The formula, while very predictable does work- take the “best” units and spam them out. Best being defined as what works in the codex with the current rule set and mission layout.
For Eldar it is a jet seer council, and then spam the rest with five Fire Dragons and five Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents till you hit your point level. IG is even easier, spam chimeras with vets and valks with vets. Codex Space Marines? Vulkan. Space Wolves? Razorwolf? Tyranids? Tervigons and gaunt farms. These are the units that work best within the current frame of rules known as 5th edition.
Personally I see two problems with this, the first is that it is easier to formulate a plan to counter said lists- everybody is taking them, everybody is talking about them, and chances are you are going to be facing them at the club and tournaments. Just as there is a wealth of information out there about these lists and build there is an equal amount on how to beat them. Where is the surprise? Isn’t “warfare” all about surprise? I know JWolf is the military historian so maybe he can correct my quote, but I read somewhere that eight out of ten battles recorded through history were won by a surprise attack.
So what about taking the opposite approach to building your army, head off the beaten path of the internet and mine your codex for another angle, something overlooked, or not popularly considered?
Consider build an army based on surprised- exploiting or combining units to create something completely unfamiliar for your opponent to face. Unfamiliarity creates opportunities for mistakes, and mistakes are how you lose 40K. At higher levels of play, its the not most gifted tabletop general who wins, but the one who makes the least errors. Here is a brief example of my own spin on this concept…
Enter my harlequins who are still pounding the table in 5th edition. Hey somebody has to play them, and only in 40K can you play a wargame with clown models who go around killing everybody. In my 1750 list I have Eldrad, two groups of Pathfinders, three groups of Harlequins, and three Wraithlords. The theme of the army is to lure my opponent close enough so the harlequins can kill them in the assault, and the “trick” that accomplishes this, among others is that long to mid range shooting, is a waste of time. Can’t target the clowns out of 24” inches thanks to veil of tears, the pathfinders in cover get a 2+ save, and the wraithlords are hard to kill being T8 and using cover. If you want to kill me you have to get close to bypass VOT or use flamers/rapid fire shots, and getting close is what I want, my opponent does the work for me.
Now of course we can go back and forth arguing how to beat this army, and how I’m going to beat your army, the internet is great at that, but take step back for a moment and imagine yourself facing this army on the table. It doesn’t play like anything you have faced before, or perhaps read about on the forums, etc. I’ve got a plan and experience on how to use it, and once the game starts you don’t have much time to figure it out before I’m bringing that plan into play. This is the element of surprise that I am talking about- how can YOU get a similar feeling in your own list. The skill a formulating a battleplan on the fly from behind the safety of a computer keyboard is very different than doing it live at the tabletop.
Ironically if you take your various net lists and carve out a few hundred points for some sort of “surprise” you may do even better then my Harlequin list since everybody knows how netlists play right- until you drop your little surprise. My challenge to you is what is that surprise going to be?
What armies can YOU put together to tread the off beaten path? Chaos Daemons Fatecrusher lists? Blood Angels scouting baals lists? ‘Templar terminator hordes? I want to see some quick list breakdowns and the tabletop surprises you have pulled off.