All games of warmachine start with your army. Before you hit the table you will have to build an army list that details what your army is made up of. List building is the process of constructing your list; choosing what to put in your army. Lists can be built for a variety of formats and are endless in possibility, however for the purpose of this article we are going to talk about the most common form of list building – 75 points single warcaster/warlock. This is the the most common list type because most tournaments are played at 75 points.
So what are you trying to achieve in list building?
Lists are designed to do something. When you hear people talk about “teching for” it means they are including things in their lists that will counter what ever they are facing. If you think you are going to be up against a lot of Cygnar, then things with electricity immunity is a good idea. If you are playing the Makeda 2 – tough no knock down “kit kat list” – then anti healing or grievous wounds will be really powerful. This process of building a list to do something is at the core of list building. With this in mind we have 4 levels of list building:
Level 1 – Play what is cool – pick the models you love, the characters that interest you, throw it in a list and have a blast. What you are looking for at this level is a list that contains the things you want to play. This level is all about playing games.
Level 2 – Play what works – pick models that work together, support each other or make sense together. If you are taking winterguard take Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich (Joe for short) if you are taking Haley take thorn, if you are taking a caster with battlegroup spells take lots of beasts/warjacks. What you are looking for at this stage is taking things that synergise and you can start building a game plan around this. This level is all about having tools that work well.
Level 3 – Play what wins – build lists that have a game plan (like level 2) that works into the armies you are going to be up against. Joe and winterguard are awesome – they hit accurately and from long range. They are useless against stealth models so if your local meta has a lot of stealth in you either don’t include them or you have to get something else in your list so they can shoot stealth models. At this level you need to understand what you are up against and build lists that can play into these types of lists. You don’t need to counter them – you just want a game into them. This level is all about having the tools to do a job.
Level 4 – The next level – When you get to the peak of warmachine you can get to a special valhalla with list building. It looks like the matrix. At this level you either have the list that is defining the meta (you are playing the list that people are thinking about at level 3), or you know what the meta is now, what may start coming next and you start planning your list on the next jump for the meta. E.g. Stormdivision theme list is released – storm lances are going to be everywhere over the next 3 months – you put together an anti electric list that counters it. This level is about being a ninja.
As a newer player you will build lists at level 1/2 and as you progress you will get to level 3 which is where most competitive players sit. The only difference between level 2/3 is understanding what the meta is. It’s the leap of going – “these models work together well” and “these models work together well into X”
Golden rules (no gold included)
So how do you go about building a list? Before getting into theory we wanted to share our golden rules of list building that we stick to:
Play what you know – Play models you know, especially when starting out. If you are constantly learning the rules of your models, checking stats, you’ll find you spend more time looking up information then playing the game. As you progress you will build up a feel for how models work together and perform on the table – playing models you know will usually give you much better results then playing ones you don’t, even if they are “stronger”. When starting out don’t change your list every game – get a feel for your faction and how certain lists work and build from there.
Know why – Your lists should have a reason why they are built as they are. When playing lists having a plan/understanding what your list is trying to do means you know what to think about at the table, you can review how it worked afterwards and see if it is working/where it needs change. This isn’t a rigid, step by step plan for every step of the game, it’s a reason why the models are in the list. If Joe is in to buff the winter guard then you know you need to play him near to the winterguard and keep him safe etc. Pro skills.
Play what you enjoy – you will do far better and get more out of the game if you are playing lists that you enjoy playing. If you are having fun you are more engaged in the game, more tenacious with learning, more apt to get practice in and above all you are enjoying it. This is a game after all!
Play your game – you will read about lists, casters you need to tech for, matchups that are rough etc etc on many reports and blogs. If it isn’t something you are facing in your warmachine universe then don’t worry about it. Yes you need a list that can take on the Haleys if you go to a national tournament; if you don’t have a local cygnar player then don’t worry about it. If the internet says you need x and y to beat Wurmwood, and your local circle player only plays Tanith, then x and y may not be useful. Play what is infront of you – this will give you great experience of building lists and playing them in the way they were designed so when you do start facing other casters, you have the skills to beat them.
Hopefully this give you some ideas for how to start list building. Our next article is on how to start list building. We are also discussing list building on the Murder of Crows podcast next week (episode 24) – see you next time!