Tuesday, January 8, 2013

List Construction (A small tangent)

In this post creating a list is the central topic, touching upon planning, commitments, and working towards the final product.

I understand that what I posted yesterday was actually starting another series, but I just really wanted to write this post up because of my personal interest in creating lists but also as I am preparing to enter the Hobby Challenge that the Independent Characters have begun (this being the second time they have done the challenge).  So I figured that this would be as good a time as any to put up a short blurb about creating a list from the get-go before the army is even complete and making sure that it has some sort of story.

I am one of those individuals who believes that any list can be made fluffy and while I do not always approve of optimal lists I always accept whatever they are because even though they are cheesy I can always come up with some crafty story to show why our two armies are battling.  I often like to think of odd lists as challenges when I am going up against them in terms of writing the battle report, but this is not a post about that.  So assuming that the codex/armybook/faction has been picked already but none of the units its time to create a central idea to cement your idea into the entire army.  Now some of this advice was already in the Army Lore segment, but that series was intended mostly for after the army was created, taking your list and adding your flavor to it then.  So generally you want to start with something that really excites you, which is often your leader of the army or perhaps you have some small contingent that has its own lore that you have always been interested in, for instance an army that best emulates a gang of Hivers.  It could be that you have maybe only one or two units in mind that you want to field and the rest is supposed to just work around those units, such as when you have some sick models and the perfect way to customize it that you would want to show it off, how would you then go about designing the rest of your army list?

There are a few ways that you can organize your thoughts and try to create your list.  If you are starting completely from scratch and don't have any of the models bought/built/painted then your list might be designed to scale up from lower points levels so that you can test out how your army plays in smaller battles and work up so that the anticipation of your army doesn't kill you.  This is also a great way to motivate you in your painting so that you don't have burnout from modeling and it feels like its taking forever to get to play your army since the force won't be finished being painted for several months, perhaps a year.  If that is the case then the start of your army construction is simple, start with the required forces, in 40k that is the HQ and 2 troops.  From there you could add whatever you like most about your army, what inspired you for the next level of points.  From there it would really be up to you as to what you wanted to add or fiddle with in the list.

But let's say that it being painted isn't the issue or being modeled, you are perfectly willing to proxy or play with gray plastic as you finish sculpting the intricate customizations that you have in mind:  this being the case you can jump to those larger games that you are more likely going to be playing the finished product in.  This being the case you can really craft the essence of your army, give you something to think about since the practicality of building up slowly is not present.  As such it is possible that you can go full blown crazy with your theme, such as with a hiver gang.  When doing this you will likely find it best to try and narrow down what you want represented in specific, for instant what kind of hive gang are you thinking of?  Will they be a gang like Hell's angels, highly mobile and perhaps bikers?  Or would they be grim survivors in a terrible world, left to their horrible fate by a 'benevolent' emperor and becoming cruel and jaded, taking what they can from anyone but always slinking to the shadows?  Maybe they are in the middle of a civil war on their planet or are a major component of rioters (because outright rebellion would involve the Inquisition and no one wants that) and so perhaps they are well funded gangers since they have cunningly managed to get themselves some support from some rich idealists… and the armor and shiny transports are really quite nice, especially when you don't care for those bastard nobles you're being told to kill.  With these examples I will just give a little more depth so it is clear how you take these concepts and narrow down what you want.  For instance the Hell's Angels gangers like bikes, speed, the thrill of the kill as the wind flies in your face.  Well this could be several armies, such as a Dark Eldar Hellion and Reavers army, Ork warbikers and Nob Bikers, White Scars (and the like), Eldar jetbikes and shining spears, and so on.  But that would be the obvious units.  What would you fill the rest of your army with, assuming you didn't want literally one thing to define your army?  Well this is where it gets tricky and you have to do some thinking and rationalization.  Lets assume your Hell's Angels are very gnarly, grizzled, toughened veterans.  They aren't going to want to be around or associate with any stupid rookies or green recruits.  So you know a few units to get rid of, which would likely be squishy squads such as Grotlings, guardians, kabalite warriors, etc.  Also mobility is key, so if you are looking for any heavy fire power you would probably want to look into vehicle ordnance (not literally ordnance but you know what I mean).  Of course with a group of Hell's Angels their leader has to be the toughest, biggest, baddest, meannest one of them all, an individual who will strike fear into the heart of your enemies!  This might help you decide on a faction to select from, for instance the Ork Warboss would likely be the most suited for that.  Perhaps a Space Marine Captain would be better though since your hivers might be noble vigilantes, left to fend for themselves and taking it upon themselves to help others.  If you are sheerly looking at it from a stats point of view and not any attached information regarding the armies then you would have to look at the difference in their characteristics, the space marine who will attack faster and with more precision and skill or the warboss who will use brute strength and soak up everything thrown his way?  Who do you want to see leading your contingent into battle to scream in defiance at the enemy as they lead the charge against those enemy troopers, whether because they are in your way, or you enjoy the act of slaughter, or even if you are waging this war for some greater good.

This last part is thrown in here to help motivate people and give some encouragement as they work with their selected army after the list has been settled upon and the plans have been made.  Stick with your plan, its likely better than anything else you'll come up with anyways.  If you are having a problem maintaining the zeal in painting and modeling try to spice up how you're doing it or what you're doing.  Personally I really enjoy listening to podcasts while painting.  Audiobooks are another excellent way to pass the time.  Some people watch television or movies but I find it more distracting than helpful, but different strokes for different folks I suppose.  If none of those are your cup of tea, work with a friend or your group to arrange a modeling day where you just spend several hours working on models, perhaps ending it with everyone playing a game with whatever unit(s) they worked on in that time in a battle, whether a large team battle or just in normal 1v1 battles.  This will reward you for your effort and really make you work hard next time the modeling day happens so that your sense of accomplishment can truly be monumental, while also throwing in some more fun if painting is not your favorite thing to do (like in my case).  And if nothing else you can always try changing which models you are painting, if those standard troopers are getting boring just take a break from them and try doing a special model, whether it’s a sergeant or a vehicle or even some special sculpting to really make that sergeant pop as he gets posed heroically posed or triumphant over a dead body of some hated faction.  As time goes on routine will help keep you working and you will see progress come your way if you can find a rhythm to model to, and it will feel less stressful as the accomplishments pile up as the days go by.  Remember most of all that you should take pride in your work, just give it your all and have fun.  Don't worry if it isn't golden daemon standard, or if you get some paint where its not supposed to go, get your miniatures finished and playing with them, then you can go back and fix those tiny details that only you will notice.  Sometimes taking a break is the best way to fix problems, so relax and enjoy the hobby.

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