Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Oh Noes! Sub-Par Units!

I recently read a comment on BoLS about how Ogryns are not being taken in Imperial Guard lists because they are sub-par when compared in the grander scheme of things, and more specifically compared to other options in the codex.

First off, lets get it straight, they are indeed 'sub-par', as are various units across just about all of the army lists out there. Its a fact of the game that there are basicly always going to be better all round choices, or better choices in countering the 'meta game' of the time.

So whats the problem?

Well, contray to what some very loud and often self important voices imply out there on the forums and blogs, not every game is a tournament game. By far the majority of games that I, you, and just about everybody else out there plays are far more casual. Such games are not a matter of life and death, they are not Olympic sports, it does not matter at the end of the day if you win or lose, and, get this, at the end of the day nobody really cares *that much* about your win/loss record with toy soliders. What matters is you've spent some time enjoying your hobby, hopefully with friends, or at least in a fun atmosphere with someone you don't know so well.

At the risk of starting to sound like one of Jervis' Standard Bearer articles its really far more about the experience, then it is about the result of playing. So, if you like a particular model, knock yourself out and put it on the table, think a particular theme is fun but worried that by turn 5 you'll have nothing left, who cares? Give it a go, if you think it looks cool, you need no more reason! Take a look at your codex sometime, and I bet there are units in there which you've always passed up either because they are 'sub-par' or because you simply don't have enough points after you've taken the all singing, all dancing, no brainer choices. How about next time you put together a list for a evenings casual gaming you take two or three of these largely ignored units or models first, then put in a bit of the bread and butter, rather then the other way round?

I'm sure there are some people who will look at my little rant here and put their head in their hands, or perhaps come up with a counter argument as too how its a game, and a game is about winning. Yes your right, but simply, thats not the only thing its about, because our hobby is a rich and diverse one as long as you don't take winning too seriously.


The Inner Geek said...

I agree with you. But then, I think a game is about playing not winning.

AbusePuppy said...

I think it's not just "it's a game, it's about winning," but also the fact that many of the "subpar" units are not just that, but also lack any compelling reason to take them in their codex. If you enjoy their fluff/model, great, go for it, but it's hardly surprising that new players aren't attracted to units with poor game stats and limited model options.

That said, there are plenty of units I like more than I really "should," so I'm certainly in that boat. But understanding how good a unit is- or isn't- when you take it is an entirely valid desire, because it lets you choose the degree to which you want to handicap yourself.

eriochrome said...

I try to build my army collections such that I can field every unit in the codex (maybe not every option for every unit). This unfortunately leaves me in a very bad place in the meta where people spam the best unit for each choice for their armies. I cannot field an army with 2(5) dreads, 6 razorbacks, and 3(0) dakka predators and I cannot really field an army that can beat it either.

I can field an army with any of the following 9 man honor guard unit, 10 man foot vanguard, 7 man jump vanguard, 20 assault marines, whirlwind.

eriochrome said...

Or just the foot battle company.

Da Masta Cheef said...

Its a damned shame that there's an ocean between you & I, as we seem to have a very similar outlook on the game. Indeed, I went on a similar rant on my blog earlier this week.

Der Feldmarschall said...


It's always fun to take units like Ogryn, rough riders, etc. and see how they do against one of your mates down at the shop. Especially if the models are nice.

The group I play is mostly veteran gamers so I want to keep the army list semi-competitive so the game lasts past turn 2, but my armies are mostly the models I like to paint up and it's a bonus if they happen to be 'competitive' units.

I know list building is a big part of many wargames these days, but I do long for my earlier experiences with historical games where the terrain, scenario, and forces available were all set before the game. Most of the time by a GM. It was then up to you to figure out how to best use what you had to accomplish the mission. Just playing through the various challenges supplied most of the fun.

Not many generals have their whole armies made up of grenadiers! :-)

eriochrome said...

Remember you go to war with the army you have not the army you want.

I think that GW gaming could get a lot more play out of fixed or limited lists but GW would not want that since people would not have to buy the meta of the month units. I also sort of rains on some of the hobby if you do not have control of your lists but then again do you really have that much control if you want to win with certain armies.

Darkwing said...

Hear, hear.

Ogryns aren't my cup of tea, but I totally agree with your main point. Casual gaming is all I care about. Competition is fine, but it's all about having a fun game for me.

Just recently I was playing a game of Space Hulk and the game had just ended when we realized we had been using one of the rules entirely wrong. If we had followed the rules properly I would have won the game, but I didn't care because the game was extremely close, and had a dramatic ending. If we did it "right", the game wouldn't have been nearly as interesting.

Commissar Dave said...

Well said mate. I don't put them in my army as I feel they dont fit with my theme. But I do like them, and I think they do play a huge part in a guard army with their strength and the ability to take enemy fire.

So who cares if they cost a fortune in points and so on, at the end of the day it comes down to what you want and feel in your army.

Admiral Drax said...

All good stuff, Gravis; as always.

I enjoy playing more unusual units: sometimes they can even give a gaming edge, but mostly I like people coming over to see the models or simply to mention how "You don't see those very often, do you?".

That last bit, by the way, is the single most common phrase you hear from strangers when you're out walking a corgi like ours. Those older readers of my blog know whereof I speak.

Wholehearted agreement from this quarter.

Col.Gravis said...

What a lot of responses!

Inner Geek, agreed.
AbusePuppy, I'm not really saying its not a valid desire that you should choose units based on effectiveness, its more that so many people see and say that there is no alternative other then to take the same old optimum units and builds, even if they like other alternatives for other reasons.
eriochrome, thats a good call in collecting I think!
Da Masta Cheef, I dont disagree there! Though I have been known to cross the pond! I'll have a look at your post later.
Der Feldmarschall, I agree its fun to take something different, and perhaps unexpected, and as you clearly know you can of course can do that while remaining competitive. Its interesting you bring up the idea from historical gaming with set forces and particular objectives. While I don't think its practical for general day to day casual games, it certainly is something which could reignite the 'right' sort of hobby in some cases I think. Maybe theres something in the idea of scenario packs, not from GW, but from us the gamers.
DarkWing, indeed Ogryns are just one example, between everyone reading this I'm sure we could easily list dozens between the different lists. Your example about Space Hulk says it all those about how casual gaming spirit ought to be I think. Its about fun, not 'glory'.
Commissar Dave, exactly!
Admiral Drax, thats also quite true, when everyone is playing for the expected metagame, sometimes the unexpected can actually be advantagous even. But more importantly, as you say there is pleasure if fielding such units and models.

AbusePuppy said...

Fair enough, I see a lot of non-competitive players who are basically complaining that other people care about winning the game, which sorta bugs me. (If you don't care about winning, why do you care if I do?)

The internet often tells people that there's only one way to build an army and win, but more often than not, not only is the "best" army actually kinda bad (like Meltavet spam or Nob Bikerz) but also the book has plenty of other options. With the unfortunate exception of Tyranids, each of the 5E books has at least 3-5 top-tier competitive builds that are significantly different from each other, and usually they have a dozen or more major builds that are very strong- and that's not even considering getting into decent, middling, or merely okayish armies, all of which can win games with a good general at the helm. Even if you're just concerned with effectiveness, there's a wide variety of things you can field and very few units that don't have at least some uses.

With the pre-5E books this is less true to varying degrees- some of them, like the unfortunate Tau and Eldar, don't really have very many options, but even then the suckiness is often exaggerated.

In the end, you can win with any unit you want to, it's just a matter of how you do it and how much you want to work for it. If you love a unit, you can (almost always) make it work.

J Womack, Esq. said...

I play games for fun, not because I must win. This means I build armies I like, not the Mega Cheese Army of the Month.

That's why I like Praetorians, Tallarn, Rough Riders, etc...

This comment brought to you by the 'word' futscr.

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to BoLS. They and everyone like them (Stelek, TastyTaste, seem to be intent on pulling all the fun and variety out of the game.

Willard said...

Hmmm, the thing about units is they can't really be analysed in isolation. What looks like a subpar choice per se can fill an incredible niche in the right army.

Was recently using Ogryns in an all foot Guard army with nearly 200 models; combined with Commissar Yarrick they absolutely rolled over everything enemy army (much to the horror of people I was playing against).

Are they a must win spam it netlist choice? No. But there's very few units that are.

At most tournaments on the top ten tables in the last round, looking down, and you never see a typical netlist. People who need the crutch of a spammed netlist actually aren't you know, good at gaming.