You Are Not A Special 40k Flower

The Mindset

Scene 1: A Flower In The Field

I am a flower.  A beautiful flower in a field of other flowers, but there are none like me. I am special. I will stand out apart from the rest my brethren and solidify myself in the spotlight, making my path, making my way no matter what the cost. What is that I see before me? A boot?

Scene 2: Boot

Boot crushes flower.


The Problem

I keep encountering gamers that want to be the special flower. They want to play 40k their way and I am fine with that. However, when they ask for tactical help and other knowledgeable gamers chime in, their help is rejected with the thought that they want to make their own path and go their own way and refuse those solid played out ideas. Then, which is really the crux for me, they get frustrated when their plans don’t work out and they don’t win their games or do poorly at a tournament.

If you want to do better, either take the advice given, or if you reject it, don’t complain when things don’t work out for you.

The Bell Curve

Bell-CurveIn my experience as a teacher, I see the bell curve in action every year. The basic concept is that there are a few at the top of the bell curve, a few at the bottom of the bell curve, and a lot in between in ability. Most of us sit in that little below average, average, and little above average categories. I see this every year in my students with a topic like reading where I have a few way above grade level, a few way below grade level and a lot in between.  It’s actually very interesting to see this play out each and every year in my classroom. Some years weigh heavier one way or another, but there is almost always that curve that lines up with the law of averages.

It is in my opinion that this plays out as well in the 40k community. You have those players that are at the top and will most likely be at the top of every game or tounament, the players that are often at the lower end, and all those players in the middle. I firmly align myself in that last group. I’m typically a bit in the above average, but rarely am at the top level, although I have been chipping away towards those higher spots.

Most of us are those average players, so I think we need every advantage and a bit of luck to take those top prizes. Don’t shy away from those combos you see online and strategies that work well. Of course everyone wants to be the player that unlocks the hidden code of 40k and go to that top tournament and place first, but it will most likely not happen.

Influencing Your Curve

I’ve tried to talk a bit about things people can do to get better as a players so let me link and overview those thoughts here:

Practice (Preferably against better players):

glaeming thecubeI’ve been playing a fair amount lately (typically at least once a week and then  many tournaments upon that) so I’ve been able to get a pretty firm foundation of the rules, know my army pretty well, and know other armies too. This is important for so many reasons. One main one is that many players don’t play the game right. They move wrong, enter and leave terrain incorrectly, shoot improperly, assault in the wrong order, and don’t even necessarily know how their army may work. You don’t want to be the rules police, so just politely show your opponent where they are wrong as many players inadvertently do things to their advantage….or maybe not inadvertently as the case may be. At any rate, knowing all of these rules can set you up for a major advantage against more inexperienced players.

Good example of this was I got to play against a very nice fellow who hadn’t played against the Centstar and although I explained how it worked, decided to leave his Wraithknight on the table with me going first. Of course I’m going to go after that and take it out as soon as I can. No Stomps? No problem. Talking afterwards that was one of his big mistakes and not one he will make anytime soon.


For the love of Pete, please take those combos and run with them? Playing Orks with Snarf Snarf (Zadsnark)? Please tell me you have a Painboy and Warboss with Lucky Stick and Zadsnark and a bunch of Biker Boyz in that unit? NO? Sorry brah, that unit ain’t going to cut the mustard!

I once played against a player a long time ago that had all this stuff crammed into his Fire Warriors. When he asked about what he could do I suggested that he cut out all that stuff and make it more geared towards one thing or just cut it out altogether as he had long and short ranged guns that he was paying a premium for. His reaction was of the special flower varieity. He wanted them to be a swiss army knife to have uses in any situation. Problem was, the bloated points made that knife the size of a brick and not very usable in any situation.

Read what works and use it!

Stick With Your List (Unless it sucks):

I have been playing my Centstar list or a variation of for some time now. I’m comfortable with it and know or have ideas of what to do in many situations. Stick with your list so you know it very well. Unless it sucks, then change it!

Seek Help:

There are a lot of people offering to look at your list and give feedback. Use it? Frontline has many avenues to get your list rated. Signals From The Frontline has a regular segment on this, Abusepuppy has been doing a regular series as well, and then the forums are usually hopping on these kinds of topics. Ask on the internet or ask around at your game store. You will surely find help someplace.

Final Thoughts

flowerskunkOne of the great things about 40k is that you can make it what you want. You can design your own list, create your own color scheme and backstory, and do what you want to do with the game. That being said, if you just can’t bring yourself to netlist or use those proven combos and have to be your own special flower, be willing to take your lumps! In silence preferably.

Instead of looking for the top prize, set realistic goals for yourself. Start with just winning a game at a tournament! Practice and go for 2-0 or 4-2 at a larger grand tournament. Make your goals realistic for you and take pleasure when you meet them. If you have to be that special flower then know those boots are coming for you and will stomp you into the ground, with a little luck though and a lot of practice, you may just be able to turn the tides on that boot and put it into the ground.

What are your thoughts? Can the special flower make it in a sea of boots? Post your thoughts below and be sure to visit the Tactics Corner for more great winning ideas!


About CaptainA

Aaron is a longtime gamer of many systems. He is an avid community builder of 40k and after running many 40k events in Portland, Oregon, has recently moved to Boise, Idaho and continues to host and run leagues and events. He has also recently expanded his repertoire and entered the second hand Warhammer business. Check out his website at to see how he can help you get rid off your old and unused models.

26 Responses to “You Are Not A Special 40k Flower”

  1. bogalubov December 19, 2015 12:35 pm #

    Good article. I think setting realistic expectations can make a tournament experience a lot more pleasant. Besides most tournaments use Swiss pairings so by round 3 you should be facing lists of similar power levels.

    Anothe great way to stay a unique flower but not get stomped is through modelling. My last game I used 5 different books to build my army. 3 codexes and 2 campaign books for wargear. Some might see that as unfluffy power gaming, but I modeled all the units to fit a theme. That way you get to use the best rules and keep being unique and creative.

    • CaptainA December 19, 2015 12:40 pm #

      Yeah! Modeling and the paint path is a thing all unto itself. You can do some good work in the hobby area for sure.

  2. Requizen
    Requizen December 19, 2015 12:56 pm #

    Great article. This is basically me – I’m always putting together lists with stuff that I think will work and then am surprised when it just kinda blows up against someone running “the meta list”.

    There is a desire in everyone, I think, to be the new cool and make something that no one has ever seen. And you see good players come up with new stuff all the time – after all, someone came up with Lictorshame and made it win! But I think people need to realize that not everyone’s ideas can do that.

    • punchymango December 19, 2015 3:41 pm #

      Yeah. Everyone wants to be Ender, showing up with some brilliant new tactic nobody’s ever thought to try and crushing everyone with their mighty brain.

      Not saying that never happens, but that’s not a realistic goal for most people. Ain’t no shame in it, that’s just how life works.

  3. Beau December 19, 2015 12:57 pm #

    Unfortunately, my extra stinky special Nurgle flower composed of Typhus, Plague Marines, and Rhinos has completely rotted away I think.

  4. iNcontroL December 19, 2015 1:30 pm #

    the truest part of this article is IT IS FINE TO RUN YOUR SNOWFLAKE but do NOT get mad when it doesn’t work. I constantly play that person who has something they KNOW is probably not optimal but when it inevitably dies they start mumbling about the golden days back when it (still didn’t) did.. and how 40k is now “dead” and “I should just play in my garage” etc. It’s so silly.. in all forms of competition that I can think of anyway there are some variances for sure but generally speaking you cannot just run anything and win the whole thing. That is where the realistic expectations comes in as well.. if you simply MUST play Dark Eldar be shocked and pleased when you make top 8 but don’t get really mad when you know they are bad, take them anyway, and end up in the middle.

    • CaptainA December 19, 2015 6:19 pm #

      I think that’s my biggest thing. Don’t complain and don’t auto reject advice when you ask for it just because you want to maintain flower status.

      • abusepuppy December 19, 2015 6:34 pm #

        Few things in the hobby are more annoying than the “How can I improve my list without changing anything” guy. He wants your help, but not your suggestions. He wants to get better, but he doesn’t want to DO anything. He wants the best list around, but is convinced that it’s the list he already has if only he could understand THE SECRET.

        • CaptainA December 19, 2015 8:23 pm #

          Yup! Drives me bonkers!

          Flower: I’ve tried x but it never works.
          Us: Have you tried x, y, with z?
          Flower: Oh I could never do that! That is too much! But x never works.
          Us: That is becuase you have to use x, y, and z together.
          Flower: But x never works!
          Us: Facepalm.

    • westrider December 20, 2015 6:51 pm #

      Yep. I sometimes like running the special flower stuff, but when I do, I understand that yes, I am running Electro-Priests, and they’re going to suck, but they’re a cool enough concept that I want to put them on the table anyhow. If you can understand and accept that, it’s all good.

  5. Ytook December 19, 2015 3:23 pm #

    I don’t play anywhere near competitively, but I love playing either super fluffy lists or ridiculous lists that blow up in my face spectacularly 99% of the time but sometimes come together beautifully completely by chance (and are usually a good laugh either way). I’m very rarely going to win, but goddammit I have fun 😛

  6. CaptainA December 19, 2015 6:20 pm #


  7. Hotsauceman1 December 20, 2015 12:33 am #

    You forgot a piece of advice, dont be a university student…….My playing has tanked sense I started focusing on getting good grades…………

    The hardest part is honestly, finding a player of just enough skill that you can play against them that, while they are better than you, you can still fight them on roughly even footing. The “Play against better players” is useless if there is a massive power differential. If I play, lets say Pajama pants, I would be bent over the table in no time by turn 3. I would learn nothing in a game like that because I would have no opportunities to learn anything. While I say, yes play players better then you, make sure there isnt a massive gap

    • Jp December 20, 2015 5:12 am #

      Not entirely true. Most “better” players are also people willing to help. Why did you get crushed third turn? How can I make the game last until turn 5 next time? One thing I try to do after every game vs lower skill players is to go over their list and their tactics. 10 minute discussion will make all the difference. Honestly how do the higher skill opponents get better if their competition skill level never increases?

      • abusepuppy December 20, 2015 9:15 am #

        And, good opponent or bad, there’s something to be learned every game. If you’re punching down in a practice match, maybe it’s time to try out some things that you don’t normally try- that knowledge might be useful someday when you’re out of other options and weighing your chances.

        Similarly, “bad” players will often bring lists and strategies that you’re not used to facing, and having that experience against non-typical lists can be very useful at big tournaments where you’re likely to see a wider field of players. It would be really embarrassing to scoop to someone’s IG tank list because you haven’t played against tanks in two editions and forgot how to handle them.

    • CaptainA December 20, 2015 9:40 am #

      Guess I disagree too. I’ve gotten to play a lot against some tough players and up here on a regular basis and I feel it has helped me a lot.

      • Vercingatorix December 20, 2015 1:33 pm #

        Agreed. It’s not basketball where the person has a foot an 80 pounds and just drives towards the basket every time.

        I think this hotsauce is talking about taking a bad list played poorly against a good list played well. If you play against that person every week without taking their advice and making a good list then yeah, it won’t do anything.

  8. Deathboon December 20, 2015 7:54 am #

    I have to say, I’ve definitely been guilty of this. In part it’s because one of my favorite Armies is Thousand Sons. I do remember a time when they were more durable, had more sorcerers, and all of them had lascannons for brains. So these days, when I try to build my fluffy thousand sons lists, and remember a time when you could stick to the fluff and be competitive it does get a little frustrating. However, I don’t hold that against others, and I know what the list needs to be competitive i’d just prefer not to break fluff (or can’t afford to invest in demon allies). Recently I compromised by taking terminator sorcerers and running them using ‘counts as obliterators’ which has helped to make them more competitive.

  9. adam Fasoldt December 20, 2015 8:19 am #

    There’s a middle road here as well. It’s important, when asking for advice, to frame your situation with your expectations. Say how far you’re willing to go into douchetown with your list right off the bat. If you do that, then you can hopefully expect better advice.

    It CAN be frustrating, when asking for advice on how to better play a list, the response is “don’t play that shitty list”. That isn’t helpful.

    • abusepuppy December 20, 2015 9:18 am #

      Framing your expectations and limitations is pretty key when asking someone for list help. “Help me make the best possible list in the game” is very different from “help me make the best list for my faction” or “help me make the best list with the models I own,” or “help me make a list that makes best use of this unit I like,” but too often all of these questions are commuted into the generic “can someone help me with my list.”

      • Vercingatorix December 20, 2015 1:36 pm #

        Agreed. I think it goes both ways with advice though. I’ll say “I have 300 points to spend in this list and don’t what to do with it” I’ll often get “Take the bully boys or mega armored warbosses with flash gitz”

        Okay, that’s like a 700 point investment though, work with me here.

      • fluger December 21, 2015 9:01 am #

        I think the best advice asked for and given is best list with models owned. That’s usually the biggest issue.

  10. fluger December 21, 2015 9:02 am #

    My goal for TSHFT is to win 3 games out of 6. Or, get a .500 average. I think that’s a reasonable goal for my current experience level.

    • westrider December 24, 2015 3:47 pm #

      I’m shooting for 4/6, myself. Perhaps getting a little arrogant here 😉

  11. Reecius
    Reecius December 21, 2015 12:13 pm #

    Solid, insightful article, buddy.

    • CaptainA December 21, 2015 4:32 pm #


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