Thursday, June 17, 2010

Order of Operations, or How Do You Write Your List?

List writing, probably the most important part of 40K. Without a list you simply can not play a game of 40K. Now I'm not going to talk about min maxing vs themed fluffly lists, I wanna talk about how you make a list, not what type.

Where do you create your lists? Are you the type that sits down and uses the old school pen and paper or are you the type that uses Armybuilder? I am the type that uses the basic text editor on my Mac. I just sit back, put on some tunes, light up a cig and get to work. I have contemplated getting Armybuilder but it's not available for Mac and I don't want to have to use my netbook all the time to make lists. I also wouldn't be able to use Armybuilder with home brew codexes. 

Now that we have the setup out of the way, let's get to the main point of the article. In what order do you write your list? I mean specifically is there a specific order you write your list? For about 95% of my lists I always start out with my HQs. I think this might be a force of habit because I'm a Black Templar player and it's mandatory to have The Emperor's Champion in any list over 700 points. Even when I'm making an Eldar list I normally start with the HQ choice. I tend to use Eldrad a lot and when I do I center the whole list around him because he is such an effective HQ choice. Now if I go with an Autarch, I'll still put him in first because odds are if I'm running one, I'm playing the reserves game. If I'm running a Seer Council I'll put them in first because they are the primary focus of the list, everything else supports them. Even if I'm running multiple HQs, I still normally put them in first. I'll throw a Chaplain in a LRC with a squad of 10 Initiates and 5 Neophytes so that way the whole squad will be rerolling to hit on the charge (Neophytes don't benefit from the EC's preferred enemy vow). Depending on the situation, I'll split the Chaplain off from the squad when they disembark from the LRC in order to take something else out (Leman Russ Squadrons hate my Power Fist Chaplain). 

I think the only time I don't base a list around my HQ choice is when I'm running a LRC full of Furious Charge BT Terminators with Twin Lightening Claws. They are such an effective hammer unit I have to be able to use them to their full potential, so everything else in the list supports them. 

I don't think I have ever really made a list where I put down my troops first. I have heard of a lot of people doing so but I guess I'm just different in that regard. Maybe there is still a portion of 4th Edition inside of me that refuses to let go.

So share you thoughts or techniques with us. Do you write lists in the same manner as I do? Am I totally missing the boat by not starting out with troops? How do you get in the zone to write lists? Does anyone start out their list with Fast Attack or Heavy Support?


  1. Always hand written so that my opponent or I can go over the math that is right in front of us step by step instead of hidden in a spread sheet. Also I have very little experience with people where army builder programs aren't doing something wrong to cause a problem with my game. Either overly streamlined summaries of rules or completely wrong rules all together cause the same amount of referencing to the book and the math errors are completely out of whack when they are there.

    From a composition stand point I tend to put in my key pieces first. These pieces aren't from any particular force org. slot or unit type it's just what units I feel are going to help me fit the main tactics of the list. After that I try to hit my compulsories lest I forget and after that I fit in as many of my tried and true units as possible in order to shore up the main tactic units and give me some familiarity.

  2. I tend to list my HQ choices first as well. If it's an IC that I plan on joining to a squad, I'll throw the squad in right behind them, but otherwise I tend to save troop choices for last.

    I use ArmyBuilder, too, for whatever that matters. Because I am one lazy-ass mutha fucka. ;)

  3. I always make mine in Excel, because I'm an autistic manchild and also it helps me keep track of points without having to add anything up. It's pretty useful when you're stuck with something 5 points over the limit and you need to play with units to make it fit (that's what she said). It also lets me put different lists - 2000, 1500, 1000, etc - in the same file, as different worksheets. I haven't bothered to do any of the fancy stuff, like auto-magically calculating percentages spent by FoC slot, or anything like that, but it works for what I need. It saves tedious addition vs using a text editor, but is way less overhead and installation that ArmyBuilder or ArmyBodger (which is still in Beta anyhow, and lacks most army lists).

    As for methodology, I generally start with the required choices (HQ and 2 Troops), and then add in the flavor units I'm theming the list around. So, if I'm trying to fit an entire Battle Company in, I add the 6 Tac squads, 2 Devastator, and 2 Assault, and then look at what's left over for adding upgrades or other units. Mech Guard, I start with a Command Squad and 2 Veterans, along with 3 Chimeras, and either upgrade those units or add more Chimera Vets or Leman Russes until I get bored.

  4. I tend to build around troops first, must be a 5th edition thing. I know in 4th I used to use a lot of elite choices, now I dont even look at elites all that much. especially with the chaos force I have started, I am all about the troops. I will probably change out hq's and heavy choices as I get to play more.
    I have on occasion built some guard lists around heavy choices first or even fast attack with marines. I think this all depends on the theme of the list and what I am going for. I fill in the blanks later but I usually plan on each unit being part of a plan or purpose to the whole army. Unless I am just throwing something in for shits and giggles(usually something maxed out just to see how well or how poor it will perform.)
    I generally use army builder, after I have made a rough draft on paper(usually what I do at work when im not driving) to make sure the points line up. Army builder can be pretty bad sometimes.

  5. Armybuilder!

    I used to be old school pen and paper (and still am if I'm at work!) but I find that Armybuilder allows for very fast shifting of points and upgrades between units. I'm more of a coffee man than a cig man but I'm there on the tunes!

    When I write my lists I start with my core - a Rune Priest backed up by a ten man Grey Hunters Pack and a five man Grey Hunters Pack. My aim is to get the "perfect" all-comers list but to get there I try out a LOT of different combos.

    Sometimes I even put together lists themed around ideas that I have for stories. For instance, my Rune Priest is called Einar and is based on the character I completed Dragon Age: Origins with, complete with similar wargear and abilities.

    I'm working towards a Great Company at 3000pts. The list is being constantly revised at this point but will eventually settle in to an all-comers list.

  6. Armybuilder all the way. I usually start with the unit I'm intending to test or focus on. Then either HQ or troops. Followed by Heavy and Elite.

    It really depends on what my motive is for making the list in the first place.