Thursday, March 29, 2012

The "Assigned Seats" of 40k

Ok, so everyone went through some schooling in their time, otherwise I don't know how they'd even begin to try to decipher the rules that GW puts out on occasion :D.  So chances are on your way up the academic ladder, at some point or another, you came into contact with the system of assigned seats.

So to explain, Assigned Seats mean that someone of authority (usually a teacher or professor) dictate where people sit in a given space.  Whether there is a reason to it, just alphabetical order, or what have you, they tell you exactly where you will be sitting for what could be your entire time within that course.  Now, most people are not a fan of this system.  They'd rather have the freedom to sit where they want.  But lets look a little further.

Even when given the choice to sit where ever they wish to determine the assigned seats, people will still harp about the system.  The idea that it limits the freedoms of people and what not.  But take away the assigned seats, and people will still do the same thing.  They will walk in, and sit down just where they had the day before, and the day before that.  It's routine.  While very soothing and comforting to follow, it means that people will limit themselves subconsciously.

Oddly enough, when I attend my Grad classes, I tend to move all over the place.  I sit in a different chair from the day before the try to mix things up.  I fell like it helps make the rooms less monotonous, and keeps my interest up.  I do get teased for doing it occasionally, but that's something I'm pretty alright with.

So how does this all apply to 40k?  Well let's take away the academic surroundings and apply it to 40k.  If we replace the Teachers with GW, the students with players, and classrooms with the game of 40k itself, we can start to make a fair analogy.  If GW tells you how to play the game, or limits your options to such that you can only play one or two ways (the limitations set forth by assigned seats), we'd all probably get a little miffed and maybe even stop playing.

But really, they don't do that too much.  Of course some options are less useful as editions move forward leaving some codexes in need of an update (see codex Eldar and codex Tau).  However, even in these cases, GW never really tells us you have no option but to do thus.  That's something we do all by ourselves.

In my opinion, players of 40k are less and less likely to try new things these days.  To a point people will find something they like and stick to it.  Now there is absolutely 100% nothing wrong with doing what you like.  But we start playing the same things over and over again with little or no change brought about.  This is where we players start assigning ourselves seats.

So what am I getting at?  Here's an example.  In the good old Space Marine codex, the trick Combat Squads is a very free-form rule.  It allows us to break up the squad into two 5 man units, but at no point does it ever say how.  However, almost every time I see it used, it's a Sergeant/Special +3 in one, and a Heavy +4 in the other.  I was talking with Heretic, and just speculating, Why don't people put the sarg, special and Heavy all in one unit?  Do this with something like 4 squads.

For instance, in that case, you could have a 4 5 man units near the back field, all with a lascannon, plasma gun, and whatever you'd like the sarg to have.  Then you'd have 20 bolter toting marines, all of which you could place in or around each other.  Now, usually those bolter toting bodies don't do much, because the special and or heavy weapon's usually dictate what you're shooting at, but in this case, you are free to lay on the 20 bolter shots out there into just about any infantry target heading your way.

Is it perfect?  No, but it's something different.  I think people are too interested in listening to the internet meta these days to actively try new things, or try out less conventional tactics.  A while back I wrote an article called "Make it Count" where I tried to utilize every point I could in an army.  The above example kinda follows suit with that principle.

But overall, I feel like most everyone falls into a rut now and again, playing the same thing over and over again.  it could be out of pure and absolute joy in what you run, and if that's the case, more power to you.  But maybe it's out of lack of money to buy new things.  Not all of us have the luxury of starting a new army when we get bored of our old ones.  But if you look through your codexes, I'm sure many of us could find a unit that we never really got around to playing, or a list altering tactic that we'd never really tried (Looking at that Armada List Heretic).

All in all, GW has put out a game with a fantastic number of options that I feel many of which are almost never tried.  I personally am having a hugely fun time not only playing a new army, but trying as many units from it as possible.  It makes each game I play unique, and gives me a great sense of how some units work, don't work, and how they stand up compared to the internet's perception of them.  Maybe this is just how I like to play because it's how I learned to long, long ago.  But there is something to be said for breaking the mold every once in a while, and just trying something crazy and seeing how you make it work.

Who knows, you might just have a blast and fall in love with the game all over again, or find a unit that you never knew you loved that no one else really gives the time of day.  I certainly know I have found a few of those.



  1. Sky Claws are the shit...just saying!

  2. " Why don't people put the sarg, special and Heavy all in one unit? Do this with something like 4 squads."
    -Easy answer, what's the plasma gun doing? Also what about the sarg? in a vanilla marine list where combat knives on regular marines are nowhere to be found a 2A powerfist or PW do wonders. What happens if you get shot and fail that leadership test? you just lost a SW a HW and possibly a PF. . .bad idea mate.

    "I think people are too interested in listening to the internet meta these days to actively try new things, or try out less conventional tactics."
    -LMAO the internet meta? You do know that the meta has not changed in 18 months right? Honestly it still ranks like this Imperium>everything else. Run tanks win games, unless you build to beat logan wing GL trying, GK deepstriking skrew ur day. There you go, that's the meta at this point. Tanks, logan wing, terminators everywhere. NOW lets evaluate OUR local meta. The better players follow the meta while the new players are unaware of the meta and get washed over. Roughly two weeks ago there was a tournament where you can see just what I am speaking of. Those that knew the meta, read other lists, won games. I played against a foot marine list. . .they didn't have a leg to stand on ;-). I played against a fateweaver demon list and was terrified because he knew the meta and how to run demons. Instead of suggesting people pay too much attention to the meta at your FLGS I suggest we start introducing the meta to new players more often. The majority of 40k players quit because they lose games. Why do they lose games, because they wasted money on bad units. Why did they buy bad unit combinations, because no-one good and honest has been at our FLGS in the past 9 months to tell them otherwise and help the newer players.

  3. "But if you look through your codexes, I'm sure many of us could find a unit that we never really got around to playing"
    -This works for imperial armies, the reason being a marine is a marine the statline wont change. Ok, maybe if he is on a bike, but overall he still is just as easy or hard to kill. Now lets look at a xenos codex, I'll leave tau, eldar and tyranids out for obvious reasons. Instead I'll pick on the newer codex, Necrons. Deathmarks. . .hmmm sniper guys, they look cool sound great BUT what role do they fill? Do they kill light armor, no not well. Do they kill troops. . .yeah 5-6 of them assuming no cover saves and then you lose a 10 man squad of guys. My point is this, yes GW may have a lot of units in the books BUT how viable are they at 1500? 18.5? 2k? Many of them require other units in the book to work. SO you are trying a new unit but that unit has dictated your new list WHICH defeats the whole purpose of trying something new you enjoy. Instead of something new you end up having to try something far in left field that doesn't play to the strengths of the army. Trying one thing new, sure, that one thing forcing you to change everything. . .yeah I dont buy it.

    GWs downfall is something you need to accept: There are BAD units, period. Some units are terrible in every list (vanguard I'm looking at you) and simply do not work and are not point effective: See this article for what I mean:

    Now GWs competition, warma/hordes. yes there are bad units. . .BUT this is negated by an assortment of casters that allow these units to function depending on who you want to play. SO a 15-20 dollar model makes units work differently where GW requires you to spend 70 dollars for 10 GK or Assault marines which function the exact same way every game unless you magnatize weapons and backpacks. GW does limit their players. I think the vanilla marine codex was onto something with HQs actually benefitting and changing the feel of the army, this almost made units like vanguard and sternguard useful. GW please for the sake of your game make HQs less static and more dynamic, make them lead my army into battle with a vicious cry of blood lust and make my army feel unique because of my option of HQ.

  4. I will be brief and concise:

    Reasons why people don't try new things:

    1. Stuff costs way too damn much.
    2. Too many units are complete garbage (look at the Necron codex, "assault troops" with INT 2? Costs the same as TH/SS Terminators but are worse?)
    3. You never know what GW will pull out of its ass next. Whether they will buff a unit, nerf a unit, what new releases will do. I was going to buy/build a complete Baron Sathonyx DE army with a bazillion Hellions and Reaver Jetbikes and Ravagers etc, but then Grey Knights (read: Cleansing Flame, INT 6 Marines) came out. Way to poop on my parade. Necrons and their mass AV 13 vs str 8 guns (or str 6 melta lol) was just too much of a blow. When my fun pet army falls on its face whenever someone wants to pull out two VERY popular armies (especially GK) it's just a no go.

  5. I won't argue that variety is the spice of life and the spice ... must flow. I will argue that we have a case of observational equivalence.

    What we can observe is that we have 40k down at the keep on Saturday. Why we have it isn't as clear, it may be that Dave said 'lo thou shalt play 40k only on Saturdays'(top-down), it may be that the group got together and compared schedules finding that Saturday worked best for everyone (bottom-up), or it may be that people decided to play on Saturday and everyone since has joined in the tradition (mixed). We can't tell from just seeing that we play on Saturday.

    Choosing what you want to do with your army is perfectly fine, but it seems that your analogy, assigning your self seats, is not. Either it is or it is not.

    In your example of combat squads, let's look back at the maniple articles I wrote. The special weapons were generally short range and could always function in some capacity if they moved, so it made sense to put the weapons that could move and shoot together and the one that couldn't in a separate group. This allows both to work as best they can. This also spreads the threat of the upgraded weapons around meaning that if you want to kill all of them you have to get wounds on two squads, not one. If you throw them all together your opponent can take them all out easier than if you split them up. The bolter bodies may not be more than shields for the special weapons, but shields are nice to have if you're getting shot.

    Being different is not in itself a virtue. You may be an Orthodox Jew, but the fact that something non-kosher is different isn't a reason for you to eat it.

    The whole idea of 'the internet meta' is a problem of sample size. We have (generously) maybe twenty players in the Muncie area. If we try to analyze what works well we have only twenty different people's experience to draw from. Areas on the internet where people discuss 40k means we can draw on a larger sample and get more people's experience as to what works and what doesn't and get a more accurate measure.

    I'll pick a bone with Rionnay and Kai later.

  6. This article isn't intended to say that meta is bad, or that using redundant unit choices is horrible. In fact I said that if you play units you like or that work for you, more power to you.

    The article is just a single players observations on the choices made by the 40k community (both local and via the internet).

    I should have made it more clear, I apologize, but the target games for this was not really going for tournament, or even trying to be competitive. Obviously we all want to win, that's why we play. The idea was that in fun games with friends (especially those you play more often) it might be worth looking into different units or tactics just to change things up a bit.

    The meta isn't bad. I guess it's my personal feeling of wanting to discover things for myself. It's why I don't use strategy guides, or look on forums to figure how to put stats into characters. To me it's like striking off a checklist rather than playing for yourself, but again, this is totally opinion and not meant as a judgmental statement in the least.

    As for cost, I can fully understand that one. I think we all can. My answer for that would be to utilize proxies. Again since we're looking a free form or "Beer and Pretzel" games, hopefully your opponent will be ok with that. If nothing else, testing a unit via proxy models is a great way to determine whether or not you like the unit enough to buy them for future use.

    Thanks for the points guys. Hope to hear more.

  7. "It's why I don't use strategy guides, or look on forums to figure how to put stats into characters."
    -This is completely different. You are comparing a game that requires physical money and just as much if not more time than an RPG to a simple RPG or statline game. Why would I want to waste my time during 5-7 games of trying a unit (you can't play them once if you think that's a fair sample ur wrong) when like heretic said I can pull a larger sample online? My time is more valuable than that. You want to learn for yourself which would make you more intelligent but stop and think; Would you go to a graduate school for 4 years when you can go to another school that gives you the same education in 2 years?

    LMAO beer and pretzel? Well godfrey you're goign to get your wish. GW is announcing the cancelation of 'ard boyz and the throne of skulls events. (find the details at GW has to cut costs because people are starting to gravitate away from the game into a game that is much more balanced and has more than national tournament a year. . .

    Lastly just played a game of 40k, I forgot how utterly boring it is :-/ so slow paced so little thinking and honestly all you do is pray your dice roll well.