Wednesday, 20 November 2013

RaffazzaTime Presents: Panzer on Self Comp (Or Thinking Outside the Internet)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the sledgehammer of straight talking sense is back!
This is, in many ways, a Panzer Public Service Announcement. Take heed.

Having spent the weekend at Reading Warfare, a tournament that used to be known for softer armies and having a laugh, I felt inspired enough to put pen to paper again.

No comp tournaments are on the rise in the UK. This basically means that you can literally bring what you want. It’s OK for Warriors of Chaos players to load up on the most uber Daemon Prince they can dream up. Nobody is going to give a Daemons of Chaos player grief for taking Epidemius and two Skullcannons, or moan if High Elves players turn the noble Prince into an ignoble bus driver with 15 passengers alongside his magically enhanced friends.

What could you possibly have against this guy?
[well, the round base for a start.-Raf]

Or are they?

I have a reputation for being something of a piss-taker on Twitter. And you know what, I completely resemble that remark. And ‘netlisting’ is a pet hate of mine. Just ask Tom Mawdsley – I’ve devoted many sets of 140 characters to deriding his latest downloaded effort. (see Panzer Aside 1)

For the uninitiated, netlisting is the process of searching online for an army list that contains the most optimal combination of units and magic items. This will result in a list that the player themselves will not have written or tested, but that they’re relying on someone else to have honed.

Epidemius, 6 of these, ctrl+c, ctrl+v...

I hate and despise netlisting. I don’t know if it’s the lack of imagination, or the player denying themselves the fun and games of honing their own list in the crucible of battle, but I just don’t see the attraction of taking somebody else’s army list to an event.

I will always attempt to put my own ‘spin’ on a list, and as a consequence what takes to the table is not what would be called optimal. I don’t take 4 or 5 Mournfang and multiple cannons in my Ogre lists. My Lizardmen lists aren’t all rubbish protecting an overpowered Slann and some heroes riding little dinosaurs. I refuse point-blank to take Death magic (see Panzer Aside 2) because it’s such an ‘auto take’ for the entire tournament community at the moment.

This means looking at alternative options, or even something as fundamental as thinking what would suit your army better rather than just taking the latest filth. I personally believe Beasts magic is a better fit for Ogres, as it’s capable of making an already tough unit absolutely unbeatable. Likewise my Lizardmen are fans of Shadow magic for what it can do for them over Death.

Cannons are another case in point. When they work they can be utterly devastating. How many people have had to take their favourite units off first turn because some skill deprived monkey has looked up the phrase ’10 from the back’? But at the same time, they’re not actually that reliable. In the current tournament metagame you need a plan B for when that big monster starts closing on your lines because cannons will blow themselves up at crucial moments.

[Ummm... if you say so...-Raf]

The point of the article is this – a no-comp environment does not mean the players have to resort to the default choices. The optimal choices are strong but they may not work for you or for the army you want to play.

Some players can make a netlist work. Those players are at the top of the Warhammer tournament scene and they’re there for a reason.

For the rest of us, our own work will always perform better in our hands. If you have devised your own way of taking out Daemons Princes don’t suddenly resort to war machines just because the event is uncomped or because it’s possible to squeeze them in.

No comp does not have to equal no originality.

Panzer Aside 1 – It turns out that Tom has had original ideas, he’s just so ponderously slow with the hobby side of things (or his painting bitch Jak ‘my tache is rubbish’ Spedding is) that other people take the credit for them. See the Swedish ETC list, and the RatStar that #fatcraig has been claiming as his for months.

Panzer Aside 2 – I did take Death magic once as part of an experimental double L4 Ogre list. Purple Sun did indeed destroy armies. Unfortunately it was my army many times over – across 6 games I killed 3 Slaughtermasters, 2 Battle Standard Bearers, 29 Ironguts, 13 Maneaters and 4 Ironblasters. The more superstitious players out there will not roll an artillery dice with me present just in case my luck with misfires manifests itself.

Until next time



  1. I think "netlisting" is an overrated issue.
    In Italy, there is a bunch of really good players, who almost every time create their own lists. Those lists will be, time by time, used by other players, but this is not seen as a problem by anyone. If you are not able of making your own list, you are surely not someone I will be afraid of in a tournament. Also, netlists have very well known weaknesses, which can be exploited by good players.
    Of course, there has to be a clear line on what a "netlist" is. I don't think that anyone using an Empire army with 5-8 Demigriffs is using a netlist. Some choices are so good that can't simply be ignored. This may bring to a standardized and predictable metagame, and that's when good players inventive comes into the field, bringing new ideas just when everyone was getting used to something else.
    There is also the issue of comp. Heavy comp incourages similar lists, because it limits the choices of an armybook. No comp can bring two opposite results: on one side, every demon player looking to win a tournament not using two skullcannons would be a fool. On the other, there are many more "open slots" to build your army.
    Finally, what really is not helping, is that army books have a tendency of having few really strong units and many sub-optimal choices. Because a WoC Dragon Ogres heavy army will be really cool, until you face someone with equal gaming skills, but much less imagination and much more will to kick asses.

    1. Hey man.
      Whilst I don't disagree with any of your points really I think one thing needs to be mentioned.
      The issue with this sort of thing is not the top tables at an event. As Ben points out, the people at the top tables tend to be the people at the top tables.

      The vast majority of tournament players are playing in the middle tables. The enjoyment level there can be seriously affected when every person they face is running the German ETC Daemon List, or identical WoC lists (or whatever). Sure, the people running these without knowing their stuff will be unlikely to win an event, but they spoil everyone's enjoyment. Their opponent's because their lists are epically dull, and theirs because they don't do as well with this 'filth' as they thought they would do.

      You are correct re comp (and no comp). The very competitive players will always look to 'break' the comp, nothing ever changes this. Uncomped does at least let you try out fun random stuff you would never be allowed to under a comp system - a Nuln artillery line with nothing but warmachines and handgunners is not going to sweep an event after all.

      I do agree with you that unfortunately most of the new books have things that are fundamentally "better" than others, and this is a real pity. Still, the average player will get much more kudos and 'fame' by running something completely different (for example Triple Terrorgheist VC lists) than by running the current internet favourites.

  2. Really wise words. I admit I didn't think about medium tables, which are the bulk of a tournament. But there is no way discouraging netlists among those players, unless using the "comp score" system many US tournaments were using a while ago (I don't know if it's still common), meaning you get points for your list (the harder it is, the less points you get). First games are played among the same comp score range (meaning you are going to face people who actually know their stuff), and is added to battle points for the "best overall". Of course any winning system which doesn't include only battle points is going to attract a lot of hate from many players.

    On the comp issues, I think uncomped has more downs than ups. What we said about "fun random stuff" is true, until you see a couple of Epidemius lists popping out.

    Regarding VC, I think they are actually one of the best books in terms of internal balance, meaning that most of the units can be effctively used on the field. And Triple Terrorgheist looks rather unfriendly to me XD