Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What does "Netlist" even mean anymore?

Playground to the battleground

Adults go from physically aggressive to passive aggressive as they get older and realize that punching people in the mouth isn't nearly as effective a punishment for insolence as ostracizing them is.  So we perfect the art and the internet has spawned a whole generation of people who know how to go about it very well.

"Net Lists"

A favorite way to express this is in referring to peoples armies as a "net list".  I've used the term loosely to describe tournament winning armies that people copy.  Generally winners will post their lists and if its a big enough event they get noticed and emulated.  Clearly the list has less to do with winning than you do, but it's fair to say as I have pointed out before, that people with limited time or limited resources (or both) will gravitate to the most effective single build because they just don't have the time or money to experiment as freely.  And where can they possibly learn that less expensively than the Internet?  That's not a recrimination, just a simple observation of fact.  Some people MUST utilize other peoples experience and mistakes to form their lists.  Some would argue that it shows wisdom to do just that!

What has happened now is that the inevitable slide towards sardonic humor begins and people now refer to net lists in a less positive way:  as lists that only "That fucking guy" (TFG) would play.  In other words it's no longer a term that describes a successful list, its become a term that is derisive and refers more to the player playing it.

Keyboard Courage

As usual online, people act ten times as rude and twenty times as bold as they would be were they in your presence because lets face it, punching someone in the mouth while not as good a punishment, certainly IS still an option in person.  Grown men who play with little plastic toys who don't like to lose will attack the personality of their opponent by suggesting that they "only" won because they played a Net list (as if a list could ever guarantee you a win).  They assassinate the character of a person, which is a harder slap to the face than any open hand can deliver.

Others proudly claim that their list is NOT a net list.  I know I have done it (and again, I see it as a term that reflects successful armies, not a person who is a dick for taking it, so my usage is a little different).  I think most would agree that my lists are in fact here, on the Internet, and that it has had success.  So by MY definition my lists are Net lists!  Yet if shown to someone who is super swayed by the Internet gestalt opinion on lists, I think they might argue that vociferously if they didn't know the source.  Proudly proclaiming your list as NOT a net list (on the Internet) is ironic, but it sort of points to how much the meaning of that term has changed!  You're not REALLY saying that it's not a net list.  You're suggesting that the list you are using isn't the ones "those TFG''s use" in the same way.  it's a sort of attempt at attaining moral high ground.

So on the offensive or defensive side we've twisted the meaning of this term into something it isn't.  

My Take

"Net Listing" (I define this as using lists that you find on the Internet because of widespread acceptance that it is good) is pretty much what you need to do when resources and time are not your friend.  Paying to be frustrated seems a bad policy, and losing can be frustrating even if you're a tinker gnome like me so if you just can't experiment like i can you need to learn from someone who can.  I think it should be worn as a badge of pride when you can avoid using those lists, as it allows you to exhibit your skill and creativity more than your reading ability, but I don't think less of someone for using a successful list!  It literally makes no sense to dislike someone for doing what makes sense, especially in competition.  Even the banner of my own blog has proclaimed since its inception that "What works, works.  Arguing otherwise is a fools errand".

My problem has always been with the unimaginative sort that claims the net lists and their small variations are the  only way to win, or those who resist any temptation to actually think outside that box and allow for other things to also be true in their small minds.  Those people are the problem.  Folks who are always trying to make themselves feel better about losing by pointing out that someone used a net list?  Come on.  Isn't it just possible that the General could have done better?  Isn't it a dice game where not everything goes to plan?  I think so.  

Do you reaaaaly need one?

I think some generals sell themselves short by using a net list.  After all it was designed for a person who thinks a certain way and plays a certain way.  It's so specific to them that it will take a little learning curve for some people to adopt its strategic realities.  Some Generals who "net list" might be a lot prouder of their own wins without the net list.  There are nigh infinite amounts of possibilities (many of which we talk about here) available to the creative and savvy general, and they get to take credit for being the author of a whole new "net list" if it works out!  There is something to be said for THAT!  Having said all that, one doesn't ignore good advice or good sense while doing it.  It also doesn't mean you didn't earn those wins when using a net list which I think is intimated by some people when they use the term against you.  You did.  Until a Wraith Knight isn't the best thing in the game, Eldar will bring it.  Why wouldn't they?  Riptide Wings are a thing.  You're going to see them.  Is it any shock that an excellent formation gets used?  It shouldn't be!  But the question is, do you need it to win?  Or is it just low hanging fruit?  Well if you haven't got money or time, low hanging fruit is probably what you need.  When you have the collection and time to experiment, maybe not.

I think a larger dose of kindness would do us all good.  I am not immune to the human wish to justify my losses.  But at the end of the day, the scoreboard never lies and I think it's better to improve your skill, so that a net list isn't the end of you at tournaments.  And maybe...just open to learning from the one who gave you a beating.  You might get smarter.  Wouldn't that be cool?

To view another philosophy lesson:  More philosophy link!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Warhammer 40,000 Necron Warriors

Decurions are cool and all but I really am not a big fan of the loss of Objective Secured.

Though some will obviously argue the point with me, the reality is that Objective Secured matters and now that we play FormationHammer and Apocalypse as often as Warhammer 40,000, it pays to get down to the basics because elite heavy armies tend to be killing machines more than scoring ones.  There are certainly exceptions, but the exception just goes to show the rule.

So I ventured into the world of Necron Warriors.  I wished to see if there was a way to actually CENTER a list on them and a more traditional picture of Necron might.

The central problem you run into with Necrons is mobility.  In order to get it you pay mightily. Necrons have a hard time accepting death, but because they can be so ponderous, it is no wonder units like Wraiths and Ghost Arks have become very popular additions to peoples armies.  Neither of these is really a traditional unit for the Necrons, but they have become important for the role they fill in crossing the distances more expeditiously.  The same can be said for Scarabs.  They also are a good tool for mobility and speed.

If we want to go with a Warrior-centric force though, and a more traditional one, there's nothing more iconic than the Monoliths and the Necron Warriors.  So I really wanted to feature them effectively.

In looking at the different ways you can include them I had to answer all the core questions:  How to handle armor (answer: Gauss), how to whittle MEQ into bite sized morsels (Answer: Monoliths and volume of fire), how to handle TEQ (tough one at all times for Necrons and they really have few answers, but the Doomsday Ark at least can provide some relief in that way), Hordes (Answer:  Monoliths and volume of Fire), Anti-Air (Their only option:  the Obelisk or Night Scythes) and objective handling (Objective Secured units like Warriors).

When I thought about it globally, the only area a Warrior based force might struggle is against TEQ type opponents and anyone with a really good melee presence.  But then again, anyone with a good melee presence could be gotten around with good mobility, again an area Necron Warriors struggle without fair expenditure.

The first version of the list I could come up with was as follows:

Mephrit Dynasty Resurgence Formation (Monoliths heal D6 Warriors or D3 Immortals)
200 1 Monolith
130pts 10 Necron Warriors
130pts 10 Necron Warriors
85pts 5 Immortals
85pts 5 Immortals
Combined Arms Detachment
65pts 1 Cryptek
65pts 1 Cryptek
130pts 10  Necron Warriors
130pts 10  Necron Warriors
Combined Arms Detachment
90pts 1 Cryptek (Mindshackle Scarabs, Solar Staff)
130pts 10  Necron Warriors
130pts 10Necron Warriors
130pts 10 Flayed ones
Living Tomb Formation
300 1 Obelisk
200 1 Monolith
2000 Points

Now this isn't ITC legal obviously, so if ITC is your thing, I'll get to you in a moment.  What this incarnation of the list does is gives you some of the utility of the Ghost Ark with a LOT tougher chassis (especially in light of the Lance vs. Quantum Shielding ruling from GW that just dropped) and FAR more reach than the Ghost Arks allow.  Ghost arks give you the illusion of mobility but the fact is, you rarely move much faster in one than you would on foot; usually by choice because you want to shoot out of it.  So it is really just a glorified weapons platform to fire from and it's not truly dedicated to mobility even though it can provide some.

The Mephrit Dynasty Resurgence Formation allows you to gain the healing powers of a Ghost Ark on one of your Monoliths.  If you plan to have a unit in the backfield or are forced to, it can do its work. It is mostly meant to project force forward however and protect that force forward.  You do lose Objective Secured on the Warriors and Immortals the Formation requires you to take but never fear, many more are there to pick up the slack.

My next stop for designing this was that I wanted to be able to take three units forward and taking THREE Monoliths would squeeze out the Obelisk which I consider one of the more reasonable Super Heavies in the game.  But lo and behold, the special formation benefit of the Living Tomb Formation allows you to do just that.  The monolith can bring two units through its portal on the round it arrives, bringing the total number of untis I can slingshot across the board (or from reserve as the case may be) to three.  That is plenty, and it happens so much faster than a ghost Ark could have hoped to do it, so much more reliably and with heavy fire support.  Particle whips are not a trifling weapon when they can get position via deep strike on you.

The Obelisk has two useful pieces about it.  First it has an unusual and somewhat unreliable "Gravity" weapon it can use against flying things; and the second is that it can thunderblitz.  Its weaponry is maybe below average as as Super heavies go, but because it can deep strike, it can be threatening a considerable swath of the enemy and gives them less time to actually do something about it which is an advantage other Super Heavies don't necessarily share.  The fact that it allows its accompanying Monolith to drop flawlessly is awesome.

Finally we required the volume of fire and the Objective Secured components I mentioned.  If we are to sling shot things across the board, we need to give them a reasonable chance of surviving counterfire given that they will be right up against the gates of hell when they loose their vicious volleys.  So I used TWO Combined Arms Detachments in order to gain a third Cryptek and of course the Mephrit Monolith adds an element of healing the Ghost Ark would normally give to defray some of the cost of being so bold (and such boldness does always come with a cost).  The Monoliths form walls behind which the Warriors can carry out their mission safely, but barrages will always be a concern and that's where the healing ability can assist a little as can the Crypteks.

The Solar staff is the final little touch for defensive ability.  Three units using Crypteks means a fourth can use the Solar Staff to ablate the enemy shooting; and then use the Monoliths to suck them far away from melee danger after the enemy bites on the bait.  So you have four units that can utilize some form of defensive measure without the loss of Objective Secured and I think it's pretty important for this kind of list to have that ability.  Sure, there's some nice things that come with a Decurion, but if you can create a mechanism like I have to grant yourself enough in the way of defense, perhaps foregoing those other "nice to have" elements isn't such a bad thing.

The Flayed Ones can serve either as red herring or as an actual melee force.  Flayed Ones are quite a bit more effective than you'd think against most targets and they sometimes do get underestimated.  Most would rather have Wraiths in their place.  Understandable.  But the Flayed Ones have more deployment options which pairs well with the Warriors.  What you want is to quite suddenly saturate the enemy with threats, not drip them in and allow the enemy to focus one down.  The Wraiths are generally better, but they have a habit of just not having enough attacks to get through enemies quite as easily as one would like.  It takes a lucky round of rends to get the job done with them.  Canoptek Wraiths are quite expensive comparatively, so all in all the Flayed ones fit a bit better.  A melee unit is always a good idea because even if it can't overpower someone, it can hold them off for a pivotal round while the true threats do their work.  The Flayed ones will tend to break their enemy or die on the correct phase more often as the goal may be than a Wraith unit will (Wraiths tend to get tied up for a while).

Timing is a big thing with this force and so I have null deployed a number of times to draw the enemy into a corner where their drop forces can't support the rest of the force and stranding them all by their lonesome there.

This list has won.  To be honest it has been far more effective than expected.  I can honestly say that in all the games it has played, none have ended in anything but convincing victory.  Some had close scores, but victory was always in sight.  I have a few Battle reports I can post below as to its efficacy against tough and not so tough lists, but overall the list has done a surprisingly good job

As for doing this as an ITC list, it's really easy to convert.  You can literally move the Monoliths into the Living Tomb and the other elements into the CAD's.  If you do, I suggest moving the Immortal points spent into a Dooms Day Ark instead.  I would have done that in this list but for theme.  However, the Dooms Day Ark does add a great deal to this list and I would recommend its inclusion in place of the Immortals as TEQ is, again, always a concern for the Necrons and multi-wound wolfstars are now a thing.  The Doomsday Ark is an impressive tool.

Thoughts are welcome!  Here is a link to a Battle Report someone else did of a game against this list:
Necron v Astra Militarum Battle Report Link