In the Finest Hour Episode 20: Analyzing Your Opponent’s List

The first thing you probably do at a tournament, after sighing dejectedly at the terrain you’ll have to play on once again, is take a look at the army list your opponent hands you- but how much do you actually know about what it says, and which parts of it are important?

This week, we take a look at how to understand what’s in an opponent’s list and what parts of it are going to be critical to the game; we might not be able to help you parse the Full Text Battlescribe Nightmare (no human can, it is a riddle in an enigma in a conundrum), but we can give you some pointers on what the likely candidates for your concern are as well as what kinds of questions you’ll want to ask yourself (and your opponent) about what is there. From there, you can build a battle plan and break down what their battle plan is, hopefully with the end goal of coming out of the match victorious.

Also, later this week we will have a special preview episode of our Patreon bonus segment, Crosstalk, where we chat lists, meta, and more general 40K strategy with a guest each week. If you’re interested, keep an eye on our Facebook page or Podbean for the inaugural event.

Episode Music: Dankmus
Icon Artist: Rylan Woodrow
Sponsored by: Mindtaker Miniatures
Our Patreon: In the Finest Hour
Directed by: Sean Morgan
Edited by: Shaylynn Allen


About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

3 Responses to “In the Finest Hour Episode 20: Analyzing Your Opponent’s List”

  1. Avatar
    Zweischneid April 22, 2019 12:53 pm #


    40K has a pretty good system to scale up or down the time you need to play: points. Just play 750 points instead of 1750, and it‘s much shorter.

    That said, I like 40k because it is a sprawling, cinematic 3-5 hour epic. If one wants quick games that can easily do a 10-15 round GT in a day, one could just play Shadespire or Magic, etc.. It‘s not like those things don’t exist. Why change the one thing scratching the 5-hour itch to be something that already exists plentiful in the market? And if you did, would you change Shadespire, etc.. to fill the „games that last 5 hours and aren’t as rigorously designed for competitive“ void that 40k would have vacated?

    Also, GW published updated, more complex terrain rules in the 2018 CA in the Cities of Death section. Hard cover, soft cover, high ground, etc.. . If you want something a bit less beer-&-pretzel and instead with more granularity, give them a try!

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy April 22, 2019 1:53 pm #

      Points don’t actually scale very well for the game; while it functions reasonably well in the 1500-2500 range, above or below that the basic game engine and turn structure stop working as well (even if you modify the size of the board.) At 1K or 750 things become incredibly swingy, and at 3K+ firepower armies will often dominate the game entirely, since they can cripple or destroy everything that would be a threat to them on the first turn.

      Of course, it’s just my opinion that the game should have a “faster” mode, but I think it’s one that more than a few others share, and I know GW has realized some of the limitations of what they are doing when it comes to streaming, drawing in new players, etc.

      As for the updated terrain rules in CA2018: they just aren’t enough. They don’t come anywhere near solving the problem of cover being insufficient to blunt the damage output that is possible to get on the first turn, and honestly most of them are more just gimmicky rather than actually having any significant effect on the game. (We do use them in our non-tournament games fairly often, incidentally, I just don’t feel they are much of a solution to tournament issues.)

      • Avatar
        Zweischneid April 23, 2019 12:06 am #

        I don’t think the ever-growing lethality of 40K, outstripping both terrain-rules as well as the general mathematics of wounds, armour saves, etc.. is something fixable or a fault to the terrain rules. And, if the trend continues, would again out-pace new terrain rules.

        If 40K was in a reasonably good state: offensive potential of armies vs. defensive potential of armies, (and people found 8th ed. fairly lethal compared to 7th on release), any subsequent codex simply dialled up the offensive output of armies far more significantly than the defensive side.

        You’d essentially need to go back to index-40k and re-do all codexes with a more “balanced” approach. For every additional offensive re-roll added (e.g. Wisdom of the Ancient in the 1st Codex, Marines), you’d need to include a defensive counterpart. For every extra activation (e.g. Honour the Chapter), give armies a counter -1 activation power. For every Only in Death, give armies a way to bring a model/unit back. For every change in shots or attacks from D3 to D6 or whatever, add more wounds or abilities for units to take only half shots. For every new mortal wound thing (e.g. Hellfire shells), add more ways to stop mortal wounds. Etc..

        Maybe not exactly tit-for-tat, but simply focussing on making every army more offensive, more +1 to hit and wound and more reliable charges and more shooting and more double activations, etc. without defensive rules in equal measure, it’s inevitably gonna skew towards lethality the longer it goes on.

        And it just taking a new round. List the Vigilus Ablaze changes that add a bit of defense, like the WL trait that halves damage, vs. all the stuff that again adds more offensive re-rolls, more reliability to charges, more bonuses to hit and wound, etc..

        There’s really no terrain-fix there for what is a structural flaw(or design) in dialling up army-damage output without dialling up their defenses anywhere close to the same amount.

        If GW sold late-7th publications on ever more special rules until in drowned in complexity, GW is selling late-8th publications on ever more reliable ways to deal damage and kill stuff, until it drowns in lethality.

        GW can maybe push that trend another year or two (or tournaments may go back to index-40K, before the offensive-spiral started, but nobody really wants to play that), but there’s really no fix for that aside from an edition re-set, certainly not through a change in terrain rules.

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