I don't usually reference or address other blogs in mine, but some things in the blogosphere have been bothering me lately. It was articles on BoLS that got under my skin recently on competitive list trends. I was further inflamed by articles and comments on other blogs I follow through the day.
There are a lot of people out there that believe in codex "tiers", codex creep, and a changing balance in 40k. People talk about "the big 3" being wolves, angels, and guard. I've read numerous articles on how these are hard to beat and how GK and future releases will break the game or prove to be impossible to beat with tyranids.
In my opinion, this is all poppycock and it's one of the primary reasons I started this blog. Now, I've been playing the game for just over a year and I'm still learning daily. To illustrate my points, I will instead use an ATC teammate.
As you all know, 5 of us went to Tennessee last month for the American Team Championships (ATC). Our team took: Horde Orks, Eldar, Tyranids, Salamanders, and Grey Knights. Notice there were no wolves, angels, or guard. In fact, we were the only team with none of those armies. Our lists were not tailored to beat wolves, angels, or guard either. In fact, every one of the 13 other teams had a wolf player and just about every team also had angels or guard. Despite all of this (and all my losses), we still took 3rd overall.
I specifically want to apply Chris (Courtney) and his Eldar to the aforementioned articles from BoLS and other blogs. Chris took "Best General" with the most battlepoints over 70 players which included 7 of America's ETC team and prominent bloggers. His list:
Banshees + Wave Serpent
Guardians + starcannon
Guardians + scatter laser
Wraithlord + lance/missile
Reapers + exarch/tempest launcher
So with that list he had 0 losses. It's not mechdar, it's not footdar, and there's no spam. It goes against everything the internet tells you to use. People will say "yeah, but the pairings" or "yeah, but the terrain" or "yeah but (whatever)". The reality of the tournament scene is there are players with different skill levels, different preferences in models aesthetically over functionally, and "rock" armies where yours may be "paper" or "scissors". The truth is Chris did request to not play horde orks or mech guard with that list, just like I requested no wolves with jaws and Jay didn't want to face mech guard if possible. That's how the format worked. However, we still put up Chris first against the "X-Men" (Greg Spark's team that took 2nd overall). They got to pair him against anyone on their team, so they chose Bill Kim with his Skarbrand list with loads of fiends and Chris still didn't lose.
The highlights for me were round #4, where Chris played TPM's BA which included meph and termies with a chaplain and furioso in a stormraven, and round #6 against a dual lash prince chaos list with 3 dreads, 3 defilers, and 4 rhinos loaded with berzerkers and plague marines. He was also able to come away with major victories in both games.
Anyways, what I'm getting at here is you don't have to play what the internet tells you is competitive. Everyone's advice is just opinion based on their local meta or whatever tournament circuit they frequent. This includes my own advice when solicited. A skilled general with an unconventional list can still trump an unskilled general with a potent netlist. You can make units like lictors and harpies work if you believe in yourself, design a well-rounded and balanced list, and practice a ton with it. Let me emphasize that practice is key.
I'm going to let the cat out of the bag here and tell y'all that I'm building a grey knight army. Someone requested that I build a new army from scratch and document it for DaBoyz GT 2011. I won't leak my list or concept yet, but I will tell you there won't be any duplicated units or transports. Don't worry, tyranids will still get plenty of love and all my backlogged batreps are still coming.
The reason I mention this now is that I took this new gk army to the 1250pt RTT at Millennium this weekend and took 1st with it. No special characters, no spam. Just a balanced list with a lot of diversity and tactical opportunities.
"Yeah, but pairings and terrain and blah blah blah."
I had to play Jay's tyranids in game #3 and Chris's eldar in game #4. Anyways, I'm not trying to say anything more than you don't need special characters, spam, or netlists to be competitive. You do need the tools to deal with mech spam, hordes, and everything in between. You need practice and a level of comfort to deal with various situations as they arise. You need to know your options such as reserve, deep strike, outflank, and scout, and know the best way to apply these options when DoW and spearhead deployments come up. These were my first real games with gk, but I did play out a dozen games against myself last week just to get a handle on the army and mechanics.
If anyone else has success stories with unconventional "comp" or "fluffy" lists, feel free to share them here.