Monday, May 3, 2010
Thoughts on List-Building: Optimization vs. Expression of Self
There's a lot of talk about listbuilding around the internet lately ... some places like Yes the Truth Hurts have been talking about it since their beginning, and places like Bell of Lost Souls does so periodically, to random degrees. Most blogs get around to it, and they advocate different levels of it.
When my buddies ask me for input on lists, I tend to take the stance of suggesting optimization. Why, though, do I do this?
I've never run a fully optimized list myself. I always run one with something different about it, and tend not to buy into "Net Lists." More often than not I find that net lists from various websites touting their own tactical worth match my first scribblings on paper when I'm first going through a dex, trying to see what can be squeezed out of it. Regardless, I rarely go with that actual build.
So ... what causes me to suggest optimization to friends who ask for list advice? Should you optimize your lists as much as possible?
Take my most recent Mech Guard build that I've been using:
Straken + Kell Command Squad
Lord Comissar w/ Plasma Pistol + Fist
6 Vet Squads w/ Fists and Trips Melta (one with trips flamers)
Is this optimal? HECK NO.
If my friends came up to me, I'd probably suggest changes and tweaks that ended it up looking more like this if they took every single suggestion:
Company Command Squad in Chimera w/ 3 Meltas, Banner, Chimera
Lord Comissar w/ Plasma Pistol
6 Vet Squads, all in Chimeras, one with 2 melta + flamer, the rest with trips melta
If the advice was taken, more optimization suggestions would be made ... eventually the list wouldn't look like this at all anymore.
OK, so what am I getting at.
I think that I win more games with my Straken guard than I would with a more optimized list that had more units / more power. Why? Well, Straken suits me ... the way the list plays is far more in line with what I consider to be both fun and challenging than a more "optimal" list would be, and I routinely kick the teeth in of more optimal players. You need to figure out what works for you ... what motivates you ... and what gets you to play better and more intelligently with your units. This isn't about "best of." This is about the reality of gameplay in a tournament, and on an actual game field. It's never the "best" list that wins, not by anybody's standard. It's the best run list, by the best player.
The purpose of my optimization advice when given to friends is I hang out with self-realized, independently thinking and intelligent human beings. They aren't going to write down my advice and copy it word for word. Instead, their lists will be improved in areas that MAKE SENSE TO THEM - the optimizations that fit in with the way their own brains work, and they'll keep their own signatures. The results are more in line with a "successful" version of what they really WANT, instead of a force-fed "best of" list where I berate them when they don't copy my every optimization perfectly.
Couch your advice, when YOU give it to your buddies, in kinder terms ... give it without expectation of them following it, and let them develop into players that THEY are happy with being, themselves. At the same time, don't be a hater from the other front. As the rash of people on the internet who demand you only play their idea of a "best of" rises, so too does the rash of whiney, critical, asshat douches who call anyone running a competitive list a "WAAC asshole" or who try their best to tear down the competitive establishment. Extremism is fail, my friends ... and that's why extremist "best of" lists are as bad as extremist bloggers constantly whining about the competitive establishment.
Get off your podiums, help your friends enjoy the game the way THEY want to better, and think hard about what will best accomplish that (it's not always simply "agreeing" with them). I have. Have you, really?