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40K Deep Thought: What is a Fair Army List?

3 Minute Read
Apr 10 2011

An army list is an army list – or is it?  My experiences at tournaments are starting to make me reconsider…

I think we can all agree that there is some level of army list that is acceptable.  Every tournament and local events have their own minimum requirements for lists.  Lets take a look at what you commonly see out there.

The Pickup Game Standard

We’ve all seen these.  Big or small, on a full page, or scrawled in the margins of a printed page, these barely readable lists are more for the mental organization of the army’s owner, as opposed to the opposing player.  If you can manage to even make out the handwriting, its pretty hard to get much out of these lists as an opposing player. If you’re lucky they may even add up correctly.

Just the Facts Ma’am

These lists are printed and easily readable with basic information given at the unit level.  You get some points breakdown and even the occasional callout of wargear now and then, but there is a level of fine detail that such “top-level” lists don’t usually provide.  

The Full Monty (Army Builder, or other programs)

These lists give you full details in a highly organized fashion.  You see stats, wargear, points, even rules summaries in some cases, and all in a common format.  Pretty much everything you would ever want to know about an opposing army is on these lists.

So here’s the issue.  For the major tourneys, there is a lot of mixing of different types out there between the Just the Facts Ma’am and the Full Monty.  While some will say that there is no gamesmanship going on at the tabletop, others counter that any player who presents a smaller set of information to his opponent is gaining an advantage whether he planned for it or not.  WargamesCon requires Army Builder files for example so its all apples to apples, but that is a chore in and of itself to verify the lists and difficult to scale up to to very high numbers of attendees.  Many other events simply require something that is printed and not hand written.  Verification and error checking is often spotty at best.

~So where should the line be drawn and do you think players are taking advantage of army list formats for personal gain in both tourney and pickup game settings?  If you’ve been on the receiving end of this type of thing at a big tourney or your local FLGS, lets hear from you.


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