Monday, December 28, 2015

"Meta" is stupid.

I decided to write up a little rant here.  I don't tend to rant because, honestly, results always speak for themselves.  It is when someone actually questions this basic law of reality that I start getting a little warm around the collar.

For those who even care about such things, let me tell you that if you look in the top 40 ITC rankings as of today, you will find the names of no less than eight people who attend the events I'm at.  That's just the ones whose names I know.  5 of them are in the top 25.  I normally wouldn't bother pointing that out.  I don't find that particularly relevant, because it ignores the FAR more numerous games you play outside those events which are no less difficult and against the same competition. That being said, it was brought to my attention on a forum I frequent that my "meta sucks".  I laugh for all the obvious reasons and wanted to offer a point of reference people can't argue with.

Aside from these players, a large number of other notables play in my "meta".  One of them placed in the top 5 of 'Ard Boyz when that was a thing, and the field of competition was pretty large every year (basically you had to win 12 games in a row, just about, to make it).  Another pair are twins (the infamous Skewis brothers), who win nigh every tournament they enter, though they play less now.  I myself have gone undefeated in 50+ player events in several states, and once more at a heavily comp'd event.  I attended TSHFT, plus a couple Seattle GT's and never lost more than one game.  I have a sack full of medals and other honorifics for the various other tournaments and Best Generals I have won, not just in 40K but also in Flames of War and Star Wars X-Wing etc...  Pretty much any tabletop game you can compete in, I've probably got awards for.

Why do I waste your time tooting my own horn about all this, other than to squash some know-nothing on another forum who thinks, wrongly, that he knows me and my meta?  Here's why:  the idea of meta is stupid.  I want to address that.

Even though I play in what any fair minded person would consider a strong meta (decide for yourself but I 'd say I do), and complete with the usual Forge World nonsense and uber builds showing up from Portland Oregon to Vancouver BC, it doesn't matter.  Every single person reading this blog plays with the same codex's I do!   Everyone has access to the same online resources I do.  Every one reading has the  same rulebook (give or take the occasional linguistic difference of course).  Everyone.  If people choose, they even use the same house rules (ITC for example).  So really the only difference in "meta" is whether or not you use ITC rulings or something similar for the event!

Yet this word has been expanded by people to mean a LOT more than that.  They have pooled player quality, list strength, and a variety of other less significant factors into a thing they collectively call "meta".  Those things aren't one thing.  They are multiple things.  However "meta" has wrongly been made to mean all of it because people who run out of things to say, attack "your meta" as if they could even know.  Lol.  The last bastion of cowardice for online folks is to attack that nebulous "thing" called "Meta". 

It isn't as if Eldar players on one coast don't know what the ones on the other coast do!  This isn't mysterious stuff.  Suggesting that the lists these people know how to make are different is asinine.  So why don't all armies look alike?  Why is it that in a field of 250 players, you can't find two identical lists or if you do, it's the needle in the haystack?  The answer is, there is no true "best list" against which no one can prevail for Eldar (I'm speaking of ITC-like events).  There is no such thing for Space Marines either.  Several Eldar Generals with highly similar lists to the winners, lost.  How could it possibly happen if the list or codex were beyond any doubt the cause of wins and losses?  Lol.

At the Ambassadorial Tournament this year, two Eldar lists that were markedly different won their respective brackets.  One was pretty well a balanced bag of Eldar tricks while the other was a sledge hammer.  Both got the job done.  The year before?  No Eldar at the top at all.  There really are more ways to skin the cat and a "weak meta" isn't one in which the non-sledge hammer plays nor is the "strong meta" the one in which the sledge hammer plays.  Both were present.  Did the lists win or did the Generals?  Before you say "codex", notice the Eldar didn’t even make top table the year before!

You know where they proved their ability?  On the tabletop.  Not on some forum.

I am often quoted as saying that "The General matters more".  So how is it that a "meta" can "suck" when its Generals are in the top 25 plus those playing/learning against them?  What, did these top generals not take some online personalities pet unit so now maybe they should give their victories back?  Absurd.  These generals didn't subscribe to some online personalities concept of a mythical "best list" so they don’t get to count their tournament wins?  Ridiculous.  It's so stupid to even have to discuss this, yet these are what the online conversations are like.  Keyboard courage is a thing.

Moreover, there are several excellent Generals in our area who don’t even show in the ITC rankings (or are way down at the bottom) because, like me, they don't care enough about the rankings to bother with it.  Someone told me "well if you're not going to ITC events then…"  Oh really?  You want to know how stupid that makes one sound?  Here's a true story:  the last two ITC events I went to were 8 man affairs in some one's garage.   Lol.  People have a really inflated idea of what "ITC event" even means, just like they do the word "Meta".  I think I got points for those events, if they even get reported.

Doesn't matter.  What I do know is the guy who beat me for the win is really good and he's got the same stacks of wins to prove it that I do.  Beat him if you think you're up to it.  Yet the ITC barely knows who he is.  Thus my disdain for even bothering to mention rankings; but again, apparently, people think they matter so I mentioned them for a point of reference.

Unless we are going to start requiring people to win 50+ events or Adepticon just to have opinions on forums, people need to get over this "meta" argument altogether and deal more directly with one another.  It's a garbage argument.  Every one of those smart asses on those forums would be absolutely silent if that was what was required to be heard.  There would only be a few of us talking then, wouldn't there be?

There is some truth to the idea that in certain places, excellent generals choose to play friendlier lists out of a sense of sportsmanship.  Never mistake that courtesy as weakness.

/End rant


  1. "There is some truth to the idea that in certain places, excellent generals choose to play friendlier lists out of a sense of sportsmanship. Never mistake that courtesy as weakness" - a brilliant and very true quote !!

  2. Thank you sir. Click the Google+1 button if you approve. =)

  3. While I think there is a lot of skill and luck involved I personally think some codexes have obvious multiple "win buttons" and decent unit selections.
    I'll hold no qualms about a Eldar player who plays well, but it's hard when GW encourages certain armies to spam S8 AP 2 48 inch heavy (relentless) *insert a number here* it's like the gargantuan creature, my admech is insanely overpowered when put against marines but even it lacks some of the cheese certain codex are allowed to have for less.

  4. Well, I think that it is a logical certainty that there will never be an "equal" codex and on any given day, any General can be more focused or get terrain that advantages the way he thinks or likes to play and so on.

    My gripe here is this concept that anyone playing in Area Z is somehow magically in a different "meta" than a guy in area B and the guy in area B therefore "must not know" that a certain thing isn't good or doesn't work. Nonsense entirely.

    They act as if the opponents don't have access to the EXACT same websites and codex's and main rulebooks. That is my issue. Even if a particular army works amazingly well for you (as mine do) doesn't mean I couldn't have played a far different version and rofl stomped you. What I played doesn't have any bearing on my "meta" it has bearing on personal taste or even just what I learned along the way that others may not have.

    The "meta" had nothing to do with the quality of the win nor did it invalidate the win. The only barometer that matters in the end is wins and losses. Yet online personalities would have you believe that because they can't "imagine" you winning with X, Y or Z list, you didn't. Lol. I have bad news for them!

    I have unfortunately had more than a few requests for games from people who thought they would simply "codex" me off the table to prove their point. I've accepted a pretty darn high number of them and they left, hat in hand. Why? Because the "meta" doesn't exist. Their super army isn't new to me. I absolutely knew it could exist and altered my list to deal with it in my OWN way. Now they know.

    There's a lesson here: do not under any circumstances listen to any one who tells you WHAT can't be done, in gaming or in life. I have never learned a thing from people like that. They tear things down, and build nothing. If you want to learn, you go and test the limits and find out for yourself. Take what you read in this blog and others. Try to master them. Experiment. No argument about "meta" is going to change whether you won or lost. Win your way. Teach what you learned and learn what others have to teach. Don't get all wrapped up in this "meta" nonsense.

  5. Great article. Funny how many copy cat lists you see in subsequent tournaments where the players of them are getting destroyed. Meanwhile the person who won a tournament with them has moved on to the next thing. Right now with the deluge coming out of Nottingham if you are playing a list from Y tournament 3 events ago the "meta" (whatever that means) has already moved on. I loved when the Tyranid player won the LVO last year with a list that was comprised of mostly disparaged units: to add icing to the cake he called it "lictor shame". Copy cats haven't done so well with it and he doesn't play it anymore. To your point: it's the general, not the list.

  6. It really is the General. The list doesn't hurt, but it's a useless lump of plastic without you. This idea of "meta" is bull crap. Inventive guys like the Generals of the Unorthodoxy Empire (proudly displayed to the right on thie page) find little use for little minds! Sometimes shwing them something they've never seen is a virtue all its own.

  7. it's not what meta means anyways, so...

    1. Yes. The term IS being abused. That is the point. People make it bigger than it is. It's an appeal to higher authority in disguise is all it is when most people use it online and its just bad form. You can say that there is more armor in your "meta" meaning locval area...I guess. But what you can't do is claim that this extends beyond that, that its somehow this miasma of tiers between difficulty. DIFFICULTY is what people really mean when they are talking about it in most cases, but once you start picking apart what that means you realize what a rabbit hole it is. whom...using what? And so on. In other words its just a useless way to refer to things.


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