View Full Version : Writing army lists

21-10-2007, 10:55
Hi all,

I'm an experienced warhammer player, and I would go so far as to say I'm pretty good at the game. Last time I entered a singles GW tourney (Conflict London few years ago, when it was a singles tourney) I came in the top 20%.

My problem is though that I'm OK when the models are on the table, but absolutely hopeless at the army list writing stage. As my club has recently been populated with power gamers, this is becoming more of an issue.

So - very basic question - how do you guys write army lists?

21-10-2007, 11:06
First of all, I think of a general flavour for the list to have, what units I want the list to be about, from there, I try to build the list, usually starting with the units I want to build it arround, and then branching into what can and would support it, finally I go into thinking of my local metagame and what needs to be in the list in order to survive

21-10-2007, 11:29
her... I take lots of gobs, and a couple things that hurt (giant, unit of trolls, charriots, depends on the day and the mood). Sorry, I'm not a powergamer either, I can't really help you, but if you want THE (beardy) "army list", do a search in this forum, there wa s a list of all the cheesy (as they say) army lists you could do a few weeks ago iirc. It takes some particular skills to figure out flaws and rules you can exploit to make a bad ass army, I've never been good at that (not that i've tried, anyway)...

21-10-2007, 12:02
I write useful and powerful army lists, but I always avoid generally speaking cheese lists. My own idea is that with an elite army (ex. dwarves or elves) you need many units, with a horde one (orcs and goblin) you can create bigger units, because you become many units anyway. Then, go ahead with your models on field! Avoid putting too many points in one unit, your enemy shouldn't find weak units. Avoid using too many points for characters (that is, if you don't use undeads). Avoid using too many dispel dice. Keep your army list balanced.

But that's only my opinion... I play only 15-20 games every year after all, that's not great experience. However, I'm unbeaten since a whole year.

21-10-2007, 12:35
I look at my armybook, pick what I want to take and then put that in the army.
I then go about making it legal and dropping bits avoiding dropping from the thing I originally wanted to take.

That way my army is what I want it to be, but legal.
Whether the army is any good or not remains to be seen untill it is tested.

For my Tzeentch army I like to generate 2 dice per spell I have as a rule.
Thats about the only rule other than the normal army selection rules that I generally stick to.

21-10-2007, 12:44
I tend to go round a theme, even for Tournaments.

As such, I look through the book, and any relevant background I can get my hands on, then just go through the lists, and pick out what i think looks cool, or would fit.

Next, I go through my selections and look at how they would work in a game setting, and make any adjustments there -- but not sacrificing the theme.

Then I look at trimming it to 2000 points (or whatever)

21-10-2007, 14:35
I fnd that the worst thing that can happen when writing an army list is getting carried away with characters and consequently wasting a lot of points on them. This would leave you horribly outnumbered and with no alternative choices unit-wise.

Some pointers:
-choose your units first, then characters.
-decide whether you want to go combat-oriented,shooty, magic-heavy or balanced/mixed
-choose the optimum unit size for each of your regiments (i.e. there is no reason to buy an extra 5 knights for the extra +1 in combat resolution, it's not cost-effective and you would be better off buying a second unit of knights anyway)
-as a rough guide, don't spend more than 30% on characters (it's a game of armies, after all...). and try to keep the core above 25%. That should give you a nice force with many alternatives.
-Try to avoid the eggs-in-a-basket road: Don't invest on one super unit, you'll be better served by multiple, medium sized, effective units you can afford to lose...
-Power gaming armies tend to rely on cavalry, magic or shooting. Try to include some form of counter-tactic for all of these, without going overboard; 2 dispel scrolls and some dispel dice are more than enough for magic defense, a unit of scouts and some fast cavalry will do the trick against shooting and small charge baits will help you against heavy cavalry.
-Power gaming and list-building can only get you this far...These armies are no-brainers, but a seasoned general can foil the battle plans of his enemy with a balanced list and sound tactical choices.

21-10-2007, 15:18
there are many ways of writing an army list, depending on the objective.

For friendly games, take what you like, or what some piece of fluff you are following indicates (theme armies).

For tournament play you can either go the powergamer route in which case just scan these forums (and any others actually) for the words cheese/GT or you can avoid the powergaming.

I will elaborate on making a tournament valid list, without falling into a cookie cutter hardcore list. You generally want to bear in mind that other people will be powergaming in tournaments, so you need to be able to counter them.

With a balanced list you will not be able to beat a gunline or a heavy magic powergaming army at long range, so you will have to close in. To survive the magic you can take scroll caddies or some magic of your own (depending on the army).

To survive heavy shooting there are several options as well:
-target denial, my alltime favorite, it will annoy powergamers so much that I just cant help laughing when they see that all their shooting has no targets and is perfectly useless. Not all armies can do this, I play a 2000 point slaaneshi beastman army that is probably one of the best lists for target denial. Wood elves also excell at it, dark elves can do it too. Remember that you dont need total denial, even if half the gunline cant hit you, thats fine. It can be combined with other methods.
-target saturation, also known as horde armies. Essentially, too much to kill and usually a lot of units that can block LOS. Most importantly, no expensive targets. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT put that grey seer on a screaming bell, or that orc black orc unit with the lord in the army. If the ennemy has 1 expensive target to shoot at, the cheap ones around it will not make it live any longer. This also requires large numbers.
-tough units, essentially just being able to take the pain and go on. Generally good if combined with target saturation or denial, a mass of orcs or dwarves, an ogre kingdom army etc. Also note that it can be tough to panic/break (think Ld 10 skaven here).

So decide right away if your army will be trying to saturate or deny targets, build it accordingly.

Now that we have worried about how they wont kill you, let's check how you will kill them:
-speed, also my big favourite, usually necessary in full out target denial armies. This relies on you hitting flancs/rear/weak units, while ignoring the heavy hitters. An army like this invariably has problems with dwarves and vampire counts, who have solid units that can hold even when hit hard.
-strength, think chaos knights, run up the field and run them down. Also have problems against dwarves and undead.
-swarm, winning on pure CR, tying up ennemy units. check out skaven forums for in depth tactics here.
-shooting/magic. Never forget them, you will need them. If you are not powergaming they will not win you the game on their own, but they have to support one of the 3 main strategies, think of which one you are using, then see what supports it best. Maybe dropping a rank or outnumbering from the ennemy (swarm), or destroying a small unit so you can get through his lines (speed) or maybe killing off support units before you crush the main blocks (strength).

Once you have built the list, always check if you can beat the local powergamer's armies. What I mean here is imagine a table and deployment, and see that your odds of beating him are acceptable. All you need is a chance to win, not a secured victory, if you are not powergaming and they are, you are generally fighting an uphill battle, but if you know how to play you will like the challenge.

For amount of characters/troops it varies enormously from one army to the next, so get something that suits you.

here is an example of a completely unorthodox list. I have won several tournaments with it, and around here people dont like to see it accross from them. It did however take a few times before people understood how it worked, so I dont expect anyone to understand the fulll mechanics of it on paper (it actually took me a year or so to fully finish and experiment with it).

Demon Prince : lvl 4, slaanesh, deamonblade, soulhunger, unliving idol, diabolic splendor 585 points

Bray shaman : lvl 2, 2 scrolls, braystaff, slaanesh 186 points

Bray shaman : lvl 2, scroll, spell familiar, braystaff, slaanesh 176 points

5 Mounted Demonettes 150 points

5 Mounted Demonettes 150 points

herd, 8 gors 7 ungors FC 119 points

herd, 8 gors 7 ungors FC 119 points

herd, 8 gors 6 ungors CM 105 points

1 giant 205 points

1 giant 205 points

Total 2000 points

Now that is an example of target denial taken to the extreme. The demon prince has not died in over 20 tournament games, everyone stays hidden if they dont have anything better to do. I wont go into detail on the use of mounted demonettes, giants and slaaneshi magic, the tournament record speaks for itself (I lost one game as a minor loss in around 15 tournament games with this incarnation of the list).

So this represents (from the above):
100% target denial with large magic defense
mainly speed, with some strength in the giants and the best supporting magic lore in the game (for speed that is, the ability to control ennemy models is priceless).

It can beat powergaming armies and it is in no way a kind care bear list. But it is not a cookie cutter and it takes experience to play, which makes it a hell of a lot more fun.

21-10-2007, 21:30
Thank you very much to everyone who has contributed thus far, I very much appreciate it.

I tend to go for stuff that I think seems right, almost. Obviously, I try to write army lists to win, but thoughts like "lets have two steam tanks" just don't even occur to me - I just don't have that kind of mindset, because, for me, if both players aren't having fun, I'm not having fun. As I've said, recently my club has become a bit of a cheese tray, so I'm going to need to buck my ideas up...

22-10-2007, 07:19
I like to write my lists so that they excel in one or two areas and have an answer to the aspects in which they don't. i.e. my skaven list excels in magic and has tolerable shooting. To counter magic I have my own, against shooting i have tunnelers, and aginst combat and fast moving armies, i use the sheer number of troops I have to foil their movement and/or out deploy them.

22-10-2007, 17:12
I try to make my lists by taking units that are cheap enough not to cripple me and dangerous against MOST units. None of them will win a straight up fight against a big fighty points-sink unit, but they can all do damage if they need to. They also consist of a couple of anvil units, a couple of hammer units, a couple of mid-range (less expensive) hitters, and some fast stuff to redirect and bait.

All my lists usually end up becoming high on body count and light on gear because it's easier for me to win against most opponents. I play all my armies similar to how I like to play, which is a core of infantry backed up by a couple of big, fast hammer units. I decide on these long before I pick characters.

When I build a list, I also look at the army book/codex and try to see what units work well together and if there are any really good items that combo with characters/units. I also keep an eye out for any points-efficient units, those units that work very well for a relatively cheap price.

22-10-2007, 20:19
I usually start with the Core choices. That's a big decision, just there, since I pretty much decide on wether those units will be the main force, or just support the more elite Special choices.

Powergaming typically involves focus on army strength first and countering army weakness second. The classic Dwarf gunline backed up with an Anvil of Doom does just that: The Anvil allows you to slow down the faster enemy hitters so that your massed artillery can dispose of them piece-meal. It is preferable to counter your army's weakness - being slow - by slowing down enemy units that most rely on their own speed advantage.


22-10-2007, 20:23
I pretty much try to write a balanced list, taking in what units I have, seeing how many points I've spent on basic troops, then I can start to look at beefing up with magic items etc, seeing what I can do to my force to strengthen it.