One thing that our Internet community does is push how important the list is. It does it to the extent that many people believe that the list makes the player, and  "if I can get my list down, I will be unstoppable".  I am here to tell you, its not the list. ( I see a lot of sad faces with that statement).

In fact on a grading scale you can see how important the list is to the player. At beginning and poor levels of play (I'm not insinuating anything) the list is vital, and more important than tabletop play. As a player gets better, and more experienced, the list while still important, loses some of its value to the player.

I am not saying that I or anyone else has mastered 40k, or that some of us have "a gift on loan from God". (there are other sites that promote this way of thinking... and yes you know who they are). There is a certain point in the level of play, that the list becomes less and less important. When skill outweighs what they take on the field.

This skill level reaches a point where a player knows how to use his units, and use them to a certain level of efficiency and effectiveness, that makes other people see the light on how these units are supposed to be or can be used on the tabletop.

Do these players play with sub par lists? Not really. By this time, a highly skilled player has refined his or her list making skills as well. While their lists are excellent, they do not always have to be the perfect list.

This I think brings about people playing lists that are not at maximum efficiency and still winning strong. This also brings about some of the contempt we see amongst the Internet stars, saying this guy over there must suck or that list is terrible, or even "there must not be any good players in that tournament or area for him to win with that list." I am saying this is way too much drama. I wish we could move past that as a community, and analyze lists and tactics without the banter.

List building is a skill, playing the game is a skill. However, the list itself is not what it takes to become a top player. The player comes first, as it takes skill to envision how the game will go under a many different circumstances, and to execute the plans on the tabletop to the fullest extent of the army.

I have seen far too many web lists, no matter who they come from, fail. This is because the person that made the list is the best person to play the list. I am not saying that you should not use lists from people online, I am saying take a list and get a game or two in, but ultimately, alter such lists or change them, to suit how you will be playing on the tabletop. Move beyond the list, and become the player.

and of course with less drama..... ( I think I've reached a Zen moment... lol)


  1. While exceptional players can often get away with running sub-optimal lists when going through the motions of clubbing seals, this is a dangerous complacency to be promoting.

    When you have two exceptional players competing, and one brings a good list and the other brought a piece of crap, list strength becomes a deciding factor.

    1. "When the a guy with a fun list meets a guy with a spam list the guy with the fun list is dead."

      Problem is that a good 80% of the time the guy with the spam list has a dead brain preventing him from creating his own list. And creating the list id part of the fun in the game. So I'd rather be dead and have fun dieing than winnining in a boring way. Of course my objective is winning in my own way... but winning is a plus.

  2. Every player has their own style of playing, and should make a list to reflect this.

    I'm best suited to an army which deep stikes within firing range of the enemy and FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!
    Said army must then be able to weather the inevitable retaliation before unleashing another deadly volley next turn.

    Tzeentch fits that very well. Down side: ASSAULT

    However, if a unit of Fearless 4+ Inv Horrors can keep the enemy squad busy a Lord of Change or Prince can attack the enemy. Fateweaver nearby can add some much needed rerolls. Bonus being the LoC and PoT has a chance of turning an enemy to spawn.

    Many would rubbish this, but that is because:


    So in conclusion: find what's best for YOU and do it. Because nobody knows you, your army and your opponent better than YOU.

  3. Natfka, everything you've said is completely true, but when it comes to competitive events, where there is inevitably a mixture of codexes to play against, and you have no choice but to take an all-comers list, and have to win 7 games in a row against potentially great players, there are certain codexes that are just not going to cut the mustard. You can play with your own personal build, and that makes sense because sometimes throwing weird units in presents combinations your opponent doesn't expect, but fundamentally you run into problems with some builds when you're in an all comers environment. Those codexes are the one's that get affectionately called crap, even if they have great units and the ability to play solidly and beat many players, they can't be relied upon to win 7 in a row. Its not a tragedy, but some players make the mistake of thinking the problem is that nobody else is as smart as them so they have a combo that will rule all with a bad book. These players frequently get frustrated after going to a few tournaments and realizing their chosen army really is as bad as other people say.

  4. I agree with you about this completely. I see people playing super optimal lists get crushed all the time by indnviduals that are fielding a insane list of mish mashed stuff... however because they know how to use their list, they are able to make a army that is more then the sum of it's parts.

  5. It's so true. I have a friend that eats every army he goes against with his tyranids. It's scary how well he knows the movement phase and distances. I'll tell you folks, it's not the list or the codex, it's how well you play the game.

  6. I totally agree with you , Natfka. I play tyranids using a list with raveners and zoanthropes and other " fluffy" choices....and my victories far outnumber my the same time , I struggle with my blood angels...what can I say , its like the old saying " its the driver, not the car". I also believe that certain people can only play certain armies/lists. I find myself to be one of those people. The bottomline is , that people can get decent results with their own lists and that this only contribute to the pleasure of gaming!

  7. It's a balance. You can field the "perfect" list and not know how to use it and fail; and at the same time, you can know how to field a "sub-par" list and succeed. I'm of the thought though that for tourney play, I want to make the best list I can in enough time to intimately know how to field it successfully.

  8. >By this time, a highly skilled player has refined his or her list making skills as well.

    I think it's important to note that this isn't always true. Some very good players will stick with a poor/mediocre list out of habit, stubbornness, or misunderstanding. (Of course, some others have found "secret tech" that actually breaks common wisdom, but more often than not it's the former rather than the latter.)

    Play skill and list skill are both important. Learning both of them is something that not a lot of people really go very far with.

  9. I have to agree also. My list is adjusted from one of Natfka's. He provided further suggestions. At the beginning I was doing a great job. As Natfka mentioned opponents will figure out the list. Apparently I've been unable to adapt as quickly as my opponents.

    After a string of plenty of wins I'm suffering from several losses. One of them was from me not paying attention to the game. Different placement of one of my Talos would've drawed. Last game if I would've thought about the game I could've drawed as well.

    As mentioned here and other places. I need to use the right unit for the right job. Something which helped my defeat last several games.

  10. My gaming group tried a very competitive ( and not very fun, actually) series of games with the most competitive, "sure win" lists we could come up with or find. These battles had an almost scientific feel and were not much fun.
    Since that time, we have all agreed to play fluffy lists, and our fun factor has increased 10 fold. We enjoy our armies, playing one another, and with our games have a very cinematic feel--even before 6th ed. 6th ed has made it even better. For us, at least, Fluffy is the new cool.


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