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Creating A Balanced And Fun Army

Submitted By: Date: January 30, 2008, 12:00:00 AM Views: 2623
Summary: [url=;u=25408]Oink[/url] A balanced list!? well, what is a balanced list. Everyones idea of this is different and at the end of the day it really does vary from army to army. Some people define a balanced list as an army made up of 30-40% troops. Others as a list which uses all of the force organisation chart slots. In short... you can search forever for what makes a balacned list without ever reaching a conclusion!

But what do I think a balanced list is!? Well, for me, a list does not have to have a percentage of troops to be balanced. For me, a balanced list is simply one which can take on any opponent without being "cheesy".

I know what you're thinking. What the devil is a "cheesy" list. Well, whilst balanced lists are difficult to define, cheesy lists are usually much easier to spot. Cheesy, or beardy, lists are essentially lists that spend as few points as possible in some areas in order to maximise other areas. They often result in armies which require very little tactical knowledge or finesse to play and so are very little fun to play or play against. For instance, a 1000pt Tau army with two minimum, bare bone fire warrior units in one area, with two fully tooled up hammerheads as heavy support! Or Eldar 500pt armies with minimal troops and 3 wraithlords! Cheesy armies also often suffer from the fact that they lack a coherent and justifiable theme drawn from the 40k background. And this is where one must not make the mistake between a GOOD army and a CHEESY one. Not all good armies are cheesy, its just that they are difficult to beat!

For me a good army is the same as a balanced army. This is what I aim for when writing my army lists. Usually, I begin all armies with a theme. And this happens before I even start to write army lists. For instance, my Tau have a set background and this is affected and added to through the campaigns they play. Its their narrative. Their narrative also affects their style and this often dictates how I construct my armies! For instance, my Tau are an elite Cadre, specialising in forward missions, as such I always field lots of Stealth Suits... this bled through to my 400pt combat patrol which includes two units of stealth suits and a unit of fire warriors. Difficult to beat, yes, but all based upon the background for my army.

I also ensure that I field a good spread of units and equipment in my larger forces. This way I can always have things to deal with any eventuality. But throughout this I ensure that my style of fire saturation (hitting the enemy with LOTS of shots) is not lost... and this helps give my army identity.

My Alaitoc army was often called into question. As were many other peoples, simply because of the Disruption table. However, I always made a point of limiting the number of rolls. Other people however, didn't... and abused the Disruption Table... which is most likely one of the main reasons this has been removed from this incarnation of the Eldar codex. In this sense, it was more a matter of thinking about your opponent, and that you are BOTH there to have fun.

Anyway, I think I've rambled on for long enough and my boss is starting to look at me funny so I' m going to get back to work!!!


<a href=";u=7039">Lomendil</a>;

<p class="body">I've found that people mean two different things when they say 'balanced army'. One aspect is that the list is balanced by the rules, that is to say that it's a fair list that doesn't exploit rules imbalances to be more powerful than most lists of the same points value. I think this is the most important aspect. The other aspect is balanced force composition, meaning that the list has a good balance of strengths that leaves it with no glaring disadvantages against any given type of enemy army.

The first aspect is rather hard to define. An imbalance in the rules means that a model or wargear item is too cheap or too widely available compared to how many points it costs, and so a player can exploit this if they want to and legally make a more powerful army than a player that doesn't. Because I like battles to be roughly even match-ups in terms of army power (what's the point of armies having a points value otherwise?), I don't think that exploiting these imbalances is a good thing. Playing to win isn't the same as doing everything possible to win. There's no pride to be had from beating someone after you had a big advantage in army power. Avoiding these imbalances can be tough if you're inexperienced. You can seek advice from more experienced players, or you can squint at the stats and use your own best judgement. Perhaps the easiest thing to do though is simply to consciously try not to make the most powerful army possible, and instead make a decent army while also selecting units that are cool, interesting or simply look good to you. More on this later...

In terms of tactical balance, this looks daunting at first glance given all the different Codex options, but it is quite easy. There are no absolute rules, but when you're still getting the hang of things then try to make sure you can tick the following boxes (this is assuming a 1500+ points list):

- You have a few strong anti-tank weapons, ideally with at least one unit specializing in this role. This could be a specialist squad like Eldar Fire Dragons, or simply a normal unit equipped with anti-tank weapon options like a Space Marine Tactical Squad with a Plasma Gun and a Lascannon.

- You have enough anti-infantry weapons. It's no good trying to take on a horde army like Orks or Tyranids if all your squads are packing Lascannons. You either need some strong anti-personel shooting (heavy bolters, multi-lasers, flamers, ordnance, etc) or some good anti-horde assaulters, or both.

- You have something that can deal with fast enemy assault squads. This could be fast-shooty units that chase after them, or assault units of your own that intercept or counter-attack them, or static shooty units that deploy in a commanding position to gun them down before they reach your lines, or a combination of these things.

- You have enough models to absorb damage caused by the enemy. Even highly resilient armies like Space Marines need this. Don't upgrade your troops with too many squad options, just give them what is directly useful for their role and spend the rest of the points on more models. Don't spend all your points into a single HQ model, a smart player will just Lascannon it to death or avoid it and that's all those points wasted. Spread the points nicely across the army, don't sink it all into one area.

On *FUN*... Well, there are a lot of fun units. Fast units are always interesting since they add a dynamic element to the game. The same goes for units that can Infiltrate or Deep Strike. Variety in a list is always a good thing to have for purposes of fun. Units with unusual abilities add fun as well. Just one or two of these in a list can make all the difference. A list with a theme can be fun too, but don't feel pressurized into doing this - many people don't theme their lists and it's certainly not essential for a list to be fun.

Attitude is extremely important for both balance and fun, perhaps the most important - if you are playing solely to win, and not for the 'art' and social aspect of the game, you won't have as much fun and your opponent probably won't either. You'll also be more likely to powergame. If you start with a good attitude, one that's sporting, respectful to opponents, cheery, not obsessed with winning, able to take bad luck well and not mock defeated opponents (too much...), then you'll find that balance and fun will come much easier to you.

<a href=";u=17163">; Gwaihir</a>
<p class="body">1.  Lists that are so focused on victory, that they ignore variety are unbalanced.  Unit x, y, and z are useless so I will never take them.  This reflects a win at all cost approach that restricts your opponent's options if he wants to have a decent chance to win.  Balance is when you refrain from taking some superior units and have a little fun with inferior ones.  Your opponent is then liberated to do the same, and the game has more variety the spice of life.

2.  If you have won the game before you deploy your first unit, you may not be balanced.  This isn't always true.  The other army may be horribly put together, but it is a good general rule of thumb.  A balanced army is one that relies on skill during the battle more than scheming before the battle.

3.  If you cry cheese or unbalanced more often than not or every time you lose, you are wrong and irritating.

4.  Even when your opponent has an unbalanced army, look forward to the challenge of beating him with your balanced one.

5.  Don't expect strict adherance to a preconcieved notion of what percentage of the army should be from which FOC slots.  If an army has 2 five man guardian squads with maxed elites, heavies and FA, it is probably unbalanced, but don't hold your opponent to a strict percentage.  Some armies will require more heavies and elites than others and can take them without being unbalanced.  Under the current Eldar codex, heavy support weapon batteries are not particularly effective.  A player may want to take them anyway to add some variety.  In order to balance the list he may then need to place greater emphasis on his elite and fast attack slots while sacrificing the number of troops he takes.  Is this unbalanced powergaming. He may only have 20% of his points in troops.  Well, if he is taking wraithguard, swooping hawks and shining spears, the list probably isn't unballanced (at least not in the negative powergaming sense) even though he exceeds the limits of ideal percentages.  You have to evaluate the army as a whole rather than focusing on the individual components.

6.  Along those lines--know thine enemy before thou criest cheese.  I think of Iyanden armies I have played where people see two wraithlords and start screaming cheese while ignoring my swooping hawks, shadow weavers and minimal use of starcannons (2).  The knee jerk reaction is that wraithlords are cheesy without taking time to look at the rest of the list which incorporates elements that aren't as effective and work to balance out the effective units.  Here's a hint, if you don't know a starcannon from a lasblaster or a wraithlord from a shining spear, don't cry cheese.  A balanced non-cheesy list can have many of whatever weapon you don't like without being unbalanced, by balancing the effective with the not so effective.  A three wraithlord, three ten man wraithguard army is not unbalanced and cheesy.  By the time you add a farseer and warlocks you are looking at 1500 points for 37 models that can't hardly move and only have three weapons with a range greater than 12".  It may be tough, it may hit hard, but it is not unbalanced unless it is so by virtue of being too weak.  But many who do not understand the strengths and weaknesses of the units they face will immediately scream cheese and break out into hysteria.


<a href=";u=13549">Hymirl</a>;

<p class="body">Ballanced armies verus Unballanced is something of an unsolvable problem if you're asking which is best. Unballanced armies concentrate on one tactic to the almost total exclusion of all others, this gives them an advantage in one field but naturally by becoming something of a one trick pony you only get one trick, and if thats no use you're in trouble.

For example an army that focuses on assault may find itself playing on a table with little terrain against a highly shooty army, in which case its an almost certian loss because of the damage they'll take trying to assault though a hail of gunfire before they can begin to damage their foes.

Conversely ballanced armys do not have this weakness, by combining a variety of tactics and methods you can have the ability to respond effectivly to any situation. On the contary though by being a jack of all trades you're normally passing up the chance to excel at one thing. Its rare that you'll be handed an almost automatic victory just for turning up but on the flip side its much less probable that you get done over by something you haven't got the tools to deal with.

You might think that learning to play everyone I meet without making a change to my army is the hard way to play 40K and in a way it is. But by learning how to do it you can learn to become a better player and should you take to playing tournaments or other events where you'll play a few people without being able to alter your army you're more likely to be better prepared to deal with a swarm of infantry with what you've got instead of laying down and dieing because you didn't bring the machine guns...


<a href=";u=12367">Goyder</a>;

<p class="body">Why do we play 40k?

For most people, we play 40k because we have fun when we play it. Some people enjoy painting more than they enjoy the game, some people enjoy the Fluff more than the game, some people just enjoy the game and for some, its a combination of all three of these that bring us together in this forum to discuss a similar hobby that we all essentially enjoy.

Either way, its all about fun and enjoying ourselves. And when we play the game, thats what most of us are primarily intrested in - Having fun. But when people make their lists, they sometimes forget a very important aspect about "having fun". Your opponent has to have fun too. When I create and build up a 2000pts army, I make one list (one list to rule them all precious....) to take on all-comers. I don't build several "Anti-Space Marines" or "Anti-Eldar" or "Anti-whatever", just one balanced list. I can't really define a balanced list because it varies for almost everyone, but I would like to hope that most people would agree that it’s a take on all-comers lists, and not specifically designed to battle your opponents. I won’t get stuck into this, because we could argue the definition of "Balanced" and "Powergamer" until the cows come home.

So, how do we go about making a balanced list?

What I do, as mentioned above is that I create one list that'll take everywhere than can take on anything. If I was to fight a Space Marine player, I'm covered. If I go against Eldar, I should be fine. And should I go up against a horde army, I've got plenty of weapons to tackle the big numbers. That to me is the easiest way to do it. When you look at your units in your 'dex, and look at the weapons, try and strike a balance between AP3, and Heavy 3. You want to be able to have enough weaponry to handle powered armour, but enough firepower to fight against that horde of troops running towards you. By not designing my list to tackle a particular opponent, I create a list that is balanced, but should be able to take on anything and anyone and have a good chance of victory.

This type of list should else help the “Fun” value. Most people forget, that they’re not the only people in this game that want to have fun. Your opponent has to have fun as well. There’s no point in playing if you create a list with 34453452435 plasma guns and destroy your marine enemy in 2 turns. Sure, you won! But your opponent probably had a shitty time. The game is supposed to be fun for both people, not just you. I don’t know what most of you enjoy, but to me a good fun game involves either a complete stranger or a mate, some drinks, some laughs and a good time. I don’t care if I lose, I don’t care if I win, its what happens during the game that makes it great. If you go in to a game thinking “I HAVE TO WIN” you won’t have fun. Just enjoy the game, learn from your mistakes and have a laugh when your LRBT scatters into your Storm Troopers. Enjoy the damn thing! Its too expensive not too.

Remember its just a game and that winning really isn’t everything. 


<a href=";u=22948">Killersquid</a>;

<p class="body">I find a good way to make a fun list, is to include units that you think are cool, Don't worry too much on how it will gain it's points back, or how kick ass it'll be. Also if you use something for a while you will learn how to use it well, and then you can  have a competitive list with your favorite units regardless how conventional they are. Also as others said the game is for fun, Don't worry too much if you win or lose, just try and have a good time. The more you enjoy the game regardless how the game goes the better both you and your opponent will feel. So don't sit in silence and just telling your opponent how many saves to take, GO crazy! Talk, yell,laugh, and just have a great jolly time. Happiness is contagious! Think that the most important thing is sportsmanship and you will do well.</p>

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