So I’ve started to think a bit more about list design in recent days (actually lots of different design things, like is it okay to give a high powered single target gun to a low RAT model because hard targets typically have low DEF?) and I wanted to codify my process and see if I can refine or improve it any (I may have rambled on some of this previously, but I’m hoping some of it is new…ish).
So first, my process:
Step 1) Pick the War-noun. Be it ‘caster or ‘lock, this model is what dictates the rest of the list and the over-arching strategy on the table. Designing a list without can work, but it won’t be nearly as tuned.
Step 2) Define the victory condition. How does the model from Step 1 want to win the game? Typically it’s one of three strategies: Attrition, Scenario or Assassination. Tournament play opens another avenue, Time. There are multiple layers to each of these conditions, but the general definition serves us for the moment.
Step 3) Identify models that support the primary victory condition. Put them all in a list.
Step 4) Define the weakness or lose conditions for the selected War-noun. How is this model going to lose the game?
Step 5) Identify models that cover or compensate for that weakness. Put those models in a list.
Step 6) Compare the two lists, anything that happens to be on both lists is probably worth taking. Evaluate and compare the remainder of the lists, take what does the job best.
Step 7) Fill remaining points with high utility models (Gorman, Menoth Punch Monks) and support (Choir).
One of the challenges of this approach is that it is really difficult to evaluate models without putting them on the table. For the longest time I dismissed Punch Monks as “cute, but useless” preferring the support offered by a Vassal or a few mechanics instead. Turns out that a single Punch Monk can hold a flag unassisted for turn after turn after turn (DEF18 and immunity to knock down is really hard to kill). Similarly, there was a period of time where I stuck Kell Bailoch into every single list I made, then I tripped across an opponent who knew how to handle Kell and put Kell into the dirt repeatedly. At this time I had a different method of list building: Pick your caster, stick your favorite models in, fill the list with whatever fits. Not a great process but easy to do.
This is on my mind since I recently sorted through a really one-sided Malekus game. My misplays coupled with my bad list (built via the old method) led to a brutal game, one I would care not to repeat. I think my new process, while much more involved, will serve me much better. I’ll probably post a few full blown explanations as I go through it for the first few times (maybe it’ll catch some comments from the internet).