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40K: The Illegal List Conundrum

4 Minute Read
May 9 2016
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With multiple detachments, hundreds of formations, dozens of codexes how can we keep a list legal?  Explore a growing problem in the competitive 40k. 

In a world of multiple detachments, hundreds of formations, and dozens of unique codex supplements how can we possibly keep a list legal? Dive into this topic with CaptainA as he explores a growing problem in the competitive 40k scene.

Being human beings, making mistakes are a part of life and there is no getting away from that. In 40k the chance of making a mistake with your lists has gotten quite large considering all the resources you need to check. You might need to consult the rulebook, codex, supplemental codex, and ITC FAQ all at once. A War Convocation with White Scars allies could be pulling from 4 different codexes, 2 expansion resources, the rulebook, ITC FAQ, and the relevant GW FAQ’s. Its no wonder that some people make mistakes.

We’ve seen many winning lists dubbed illegal after the fact by the community. I’m not going to name names  as this isn’t a witchunt article, rather I hope it to be a push towards a solution in the long run.

No Man Is Safe

illegalI know for me, when I read about others using illegal lists that my hackles got raised and I was a bit self-righteous about the whole situation. That is until I did it myself. Just recently at Storm of Silence I ran an illegal list. It was a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but an illegal list nonetheless. I didn’t receive a ton of backlash as I didn’t do very well, but if I had I’m pretty sure I would have had a large amount of community uproar.

My crime? I had two relics on a Chapter Master. Pretty small, but then again most every illegal list lately has been pretty minor. Many people I know have made assumptions that these illegal lists were on purpose, but now I’m not so sure. It was an honest mistake and I even went through everything in the codex and double checked points and whatnot. I now feel for those fellow illegal listers.


I wonder if the true lack of penalties at tournaments might be part of the problem. Adepticon has it that the list must be corrected right then and/or that the illegal unit in question can no longer be played with. That’s it. Other tournaments haven’t had any real overturns happen after the fact which is understandable. If an illegal list is found during or after the event, what should happen? I’m thinking for the Guardian Cup (a GT I run in the Portland, OR area coming June 4th-5th!) might institute an autoloss that round and force an immediate fix. At least that. What do you think? What SHOULD happen to a player with an illegal list?


helping-community-300x80I really want to focus on solutions to the problem itself. One thing I’ve done recently is start a Facebook group called the ITC List Checking Tournament Group. Its goal is to provide a place for people to post a list and have other community members double check for legality. Some people have laughed, other think it is a great idea. What do you think? It is an open group for all to join and participate. The only real rule would probably be if you want feedback, be prepared to give feedback and support!

Another solution or this is to have the pairing system – I’m looking at you Best Coast Pairings ? – be able to accept a pdf of the list before an event and allow the community to see each others list. This would do a few things. One, it would allow other people to find an illegal list before it is entered into the tournament. Two, it would make it so that no one could switch lists between rounds, which unfortunately I’m sure a player or two has done. Playing Tau? List A. Playing Daemons? List B. Playing Space Marines? List C. Subtle changes would be hard to find. Third, it would cut out the mass amount of paper needed to be printed out for an event. People could check their opponents list on their phones and not have to worry about printing off mass amounts of lists.




With the amount of resources a player can use to make a list, combined with our own imperfect nature, illegal lists will continue to be a thing. It’s up to the player to work on double checking their lists, but a good community should also be willing to help solve the problem instead of looking to heckle and throw rotten tomatoes at those that make these mistakes.


What do you think is the way forward for illegal lists at events?

About CaptainA

Aaron is a longtime gamer of many systems. He is the Forum Master for Frontline Gaming and is also the current main TO of the Guardian Cup GT in Portland, Oregon. He has also recently expanded his repertoire and entered the second hand Warhammer business.

Author: Pablo Martinez
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