Guest Editorial by Skari: Balance in List Building part 1

Hello Frontline Gaming Fans! Skari here again from with another guest article. This time I will dip into the wonderful world of balance.

Balance within list building and having an encompassing list that will face it all. Reece has been having a lot of fun lately with a jack of all trades Marine list, and this is the theory that will be discussed here today.  I shall talk about the main impressions of these sorts of lists from an outsiders perspective. The beauty of their inner workings from a tactical perspective and finally I shall dabble in the Law of 9’s Theory that I have been using to great effect during list building, which I find works well for such -TAC- lists. Here is part 1 of this 2 part series.

First Impressions:

You walk up to the first table at a tournament. Its round 3 of 4 and your opponent is running the run of the mill cookie cutter space wolf list that you have read about over and over on the internet. His(or Her) list is full of point cost effective units, multiplied ad infinitum to fill up points. There is little to no freestylin’ in his(or her) list building and you will be able to dictate target priority quite well. Now, this player looks at your army list… puzzled, looking up at you he asks “mandrakes?” (also, flayed ones, blood claws, dark angel scouts fit here as well, etc…). With a smile you reply “yup!” little do they know they are in for a surprise.

A -TAC- list will look sort of ad hoc when displayed, it has a little bit of everything. Each tool in the tool box has a role to fill and when it is called upon to perform they will do so admirably. As an outsider looking into such a list sometimes the choices within the army do not make any apparent sense. The meta, local gaming group or other experience can really shape the way lists look and are used on the table so it is hard to pinpoint the inner workings of them sometimes. As for cookie cutter “net lists” yes they are hard hitting, yes they are efficient but they tend to suffer from two very glaring weeknesses (this is from a competitive standpoint); a- they will usually have a hard counter (rock paper scissors syndrome) or b- lack of target priority categorization for an experienced player (other than sheer saturation usually). This means that everyone who reads the odd blog or watches a video online will usually know what this list can acheive and what it aims to do, and by deduction can then pick it apart.

This brings us to the inner workings and the tactical symphony that a -TAC- list can create:

A chimera parking lot is just that. A sitting lot that shoots one chimera at a time… sometimes you move something other times you don’t. Any form of razorspam is the same. The volume of fire is intense but with good use of terrain, some luck and good tactical play a good general can pick apart such a list. Now, sometimes it can be very challenging to play a -TAC- style army. But, when wielded effectively they are a real prick (pun totally intended) to deal with!. Each unit though must work in unison in order to achieve results and the role of every unit will change. That whirlwind, amazing in some matchups and hence blowing light troops off objectives, but against marines… a little different trying to snipe out characters and weapons hidden with volume of wounds. That flamer dread being a frontliner, or bait. And in this lies the real challenge for every aspiring -TAC- commander; You must adapt to every situation, or fail while trying.

But this hardship is also the -TAC- armies greatest strength. Being ultimately flexible against a huge variety of different opponents. This means that it is not only good at a regular gaming night, but also at any tournament that you might want to attend.

Next time we will read about the benefits of flexibilty and the law of 9’s!

Cheers. Skari – out


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

4 Responses to “Guest Editorial by Skari: Balance in List Building part 1”

  1. Son Of Dorn August 31, 2012 12:27 am

    Nice editorial. 🙂
    It would seem TAC lists are ususally only effective in the hands of very skilled players. That being said, 6th edition does seem to reward balanced lists and I’d love to see them become the new meta 😀

  2. CyclonusAlready August 31, 2012 5:03 am


    I much prefer the TAC style of list building. I’d rather fight at a slight disadvantage than come up against the antithesis of my army. And yeah, I play guard and I have meltavets and vendettas and manticores. But I also an infantry mob, and sentinals. It diversifies the army, weakens it vs some but by hedging my bets I can ensure that I’m never completely down (unless the dice gods decide so, but hey nature ‘o the game).

  3. Xzandrate August 31, 2012 5:42 am

    The TAC list definitely hones your generalship skills than using the internet best of lists, for exactly the reason you alluded to. Net lists are built to beat the top lists, other net lists (though they were usually someones TAC list before it found success), So when you come across that TAC list, you don’t have a strategy laid out, the list can fall apart.

    You see this all the time for those “broken armies” or “weak armies”. The old Dark Eldar codex was my favorite example, I can’t remember the number of games through 4th and 5th I almost recieved a snicker from my opponent as I laid down my Dark Eldar, usually to be followed by a gapping mouth as their super army got tabled by an army they had dismissed and had no strategy to fight. I’ve seen it already in 6th, a brand new system with tons of intracacies that we’ve yet to figure out, and I was dismissed when I dropped Nids because they sucked in 5th.

    I look forward to additional parts to this article.

  4. Skari August 31, 2012 4:11 pm

    Glad you liked the article.I agree 6th does seem to reward balance (Heavies and FA scoring for example).