Author Robert Chandler talks about the importance of preparation before attending an ITC event.
Often competitive players put a lot of stock into list building for a tournament. When someone wins a major event, players will often scramble to find the list and to figure out how they did it. The truth is, top players can win consistently with nearly any decent list, but that is not to say list building isn’t important. It most certainly is. People want to design and build lists that give them the best option to win with their given faction. List building is one of the more important aspects of competitive 40k. So how do you go about designing a winning list?
Know the Missions
The first step in building a list for an event is to review the missions. Most tournaments will provide their players with a set of “primer” missions which will closely match the types of missions you’ll find at their event, or the actual missions that will be featured. ITC missions are set in stone and many events around the country use them, making the process even easier. Let’s take a look and break down the 2016 ITC missions:
– Every single mission in the ITC mission pack uses objectives
– 5 of the missions require some form of interaction with the enemy’s deployment zone for maelstrom
– 5 of the missions require some method of holding your deployment zone for malestrom
– 5 of the missions require you to be able to destroy enemy units for maelstrom
Based on these facts, your army needs to be mobile, durable, be able to capture and hold objectives from your opponent, and be able to drop enemy units quickly. Your army probably won’t be able to do every single thing listed here. In list building, focus on 2 or three of these things to design your list around. The one thing universally you need in your army is the ability to score objective points, which is why Objective Secured is so beneficial in these formats. Tau monster mash is quite killy, but it hasn’t really won anything because it’s ability to interact with objectives is limited in comparison to, for example, a space marines gladius strike force which is full of objective secured units.
Tools to Deal With Multiple Threats
In order for your list to be successful, you need tools within it to deal with multiple threats. Understand also that you’re probably not going to have tools to deal with every single threat type you might face in the game. For example, if your army is grav heavy and you go up against Daemons, it might result in a bad matchup for you. Don’t put all your eggs into a single basket. Grav weapons, for example, are really awesome against a lot of builds, but struggle mightily against many others. It’s impossible to predict what everyone will bring to an event, but if you’re unfamiliar with the meta, you can bank on seeing some imperial knights, wraithknights, riptides, and flyrants. Your army really needs to have some form of answer to these in your list or you’re not going to have a fun time.
Build Around Your Strengths
If the strength of your army is capturing and holding objectives, then design your list around that theme. If you want to build a death star style army, understand that you’re going to have to really start putting in some damage to your opponent by the second turn. Build and play to your strengths and do not try to make up for your shortcomings in the game. Space Marines battle company, for example, doesn’t have much in the means of survivability, but losing a 5 man tac squad, or a drop pod, or a rhino isn’t going to bother them that much because their army is full of units. They will likely play to their strengths which is holding more objectives than you, and will probably forego trying to wipe you out. Don’t try and force your list to do something it’s not capable of in the game. Pick what you want to focus on in the missions and build your list around that.
Synergy and Combos
It’s very important for your army to have synergy. whether it’s the ability to manipulate reserves with a reserve heavy army, or relying heavily on psychic powers with lots of warp charge. Many list designs have built-in synergy, while others require some help from allies or other units in the army. A group of Warp Spiders hitting on 2s is dangerous, but that same group shooting a target with Doom cast on it from a Farseer is deadly. While not a requirement, it’s good to maximize the synergy in your list. You know running a Farseer in an Eldar list is good because they are in all Eldar lists. The reason being they provide a lot of versatility in their ability to buff other friendly units. That said, don’t be completely reliant on these things. Use them to aid your army rather than a crutch to lean on.
In closing, the most important thing you’ll do outside of playing in the event is building your list. It is a crucial step and the first to having success at your tournament. Great players build great lists. Think about how your army can manage the missions, play to your strengths, and build around synergy and before you know it you’ll be winning those RTTs and who knows, maybe even a major one day.
What are some of the ways you prepare for an ITC 40k event? Anything Robert left off the list? Let us know in the comments!