Saturday, October 29, 2011

What once was good but now is bad?

It may not be a well known fact but back in 3rd edition I played quite a variety of armies, from Tyranids to CSM: Thousand Sons to Eldar. Sadly, as new versions of the armies/new rules came out, some of my other armies became less viable in the competitive scene and ended up on the shelves of perpetual dust but I wanted to pay homage to some of these armies. Do any of you have some armies you absolutely love but hate what GW has done with them?

First off...

It is sad that in a game where winning really is one of the major goals, at least on the tabletop where all the games take place, that so many armies or units just relatively suck. Sorry GW but cool conversions and painting scores don't help swooping hawks or Pyrovores win games. What I mean by that is that sometimes GW just gets an army/codex or unit so totally wrong and messed up relative to other armies and units that the relative skill needed to make and play said army/units is unrealistic. Take the current incarnation of Tyranids, can you really expect to win with Lictors, Pyrovores and a bunch of Warriors?

Some armies or units are just so not viable in the game right now that you end up seeing such a large regurgitation of "net lists" in the tournament scene. Sure you CAN win with Swooping Hawks and other miscellaneous units (take your pick of units you think are terrible or underpowered/overcosted) but that is not the point, the point is that an army book or unit with said characteristics is doomed to hardly ever (or even never) see the light of day and this is bad news for those people that happen to like said units or armies and also win games. In fact, I would argue that the current meta game and "net list spam" phenomenon is GWs fault.

A case in point would be a look at the trend in army lists/building from 3rd edition to today. The majority of players could take virtually any unit or combination of units from 3rd edition and throw them together and do relatively well. My 3rd edition Eldar, for example, routinely had 3 shining spears with an exarch that had a Bright Lance (this was when they were worse and cost 50 points), some Wraithguard in Wave Serpents, some Storm Guardians and other random things and I usually always won my games. For Tyranids, I used to have 18 warriors and a bunch of Lictors/Gaunts and won most of my games. For Thousand Sons, I just had 2 or 3 units of Rubric marines, a unit of Terminators, some beefy CC characters and a Predator/set of Dreads and won most of my games. Today, if you took any of the above, you'd generally get laughed at and lose your games, most likely. Why? The relative balance of armies/units is so far out of whack in my opinion that it doesn't matter what you take in one army, another army might have a much more powerful/better set of units. I look at IG vendettas for 130 points compared to a Falcon or Wave Serpent which do a whole lot less and cost a whole lot more for what you get. The whole game is filled with such discrepancies and so as a result a lot of gamers are hanging up the mantles of their old favorite armies, can anyone relate?

Anyway, there still "ain't no school like the old school"...

Of all of my armies I ever played, Tyranids, Eldar and Thousand Son's were my favorites and I want to eventually branch the blog out to kind of discuss all three armies. For better or worse, these armies have undergone a lot of changes over the years... One reason I play Eldar now so much is that GW has kind of butchered my other favorite armies (Tyranids and CSM: Thousand Sons) to the point where they are not a very solid or competitive army, at least not like they used to be. So that is the reason for the Eldar emphasis on this blog but I really am a Nid and CSM: TS player at heart too! I've played Tau, IG, Sisters of Battle and even some Dark Eldar and Space Marines of various flavor (since they came in the 3rd edition box set) but I've always come back to my favorite three, Nids, CSM:TS and Eldar.

What are some of your favorite armies that you guys play and how do you like to play them? Have any of you had a favorite army or unit or way of playing that GW totally changed or ruined?


  1. I'm currently on my third Eldar army since they came out in 1st edition (WD 127). Since then, I've played a variety of armies, but one of my favorite armies was my Word Bearers in the Chaos Codex 3.5. I played this army in 3rd and well in into 4th. Because of the demons, I always had different paint challenges to work out and the army was extremely flexible. Sadly, when I got to review what was coming down the pipe (years back) at what is now the current Codex, I sold the army.

    These days, I mainly play the Eldar as I rarely, if ever, play MEQ. I like the painting challenge the Eldar provide and have accumulated a fairly huge army now. It may not be as competitive as some newer codexes, but most opponents rarely, if ever, play against it which creates close games.

  2. yeah, because Eldar is so underplayed people hardly realize how to beat it or what to do against it. They don't have a solid "abstract" if you will in their mind of what to expect the army to do but regardless, I think that even if everyone knew Eldar really well that they are still a solid army and can do really well =). I just look forward to next year to see how GW handles Eldar. Eldar are the Xenos poster child so hopefully they do them justice.

  3. Warp Spiders used to have a weapon that used the large flamer template back in second edition and would determine wounds against initiative. It was quite deadly to have a squad of these guys zooming around. More second edition shenanigans occurred with Wraithguard, in which their Wraithcannons would either wound or teleport their target 2d6" in a random direction.

    For game balance, it is probably better they made these changes, but still, they were fun back in the day. Oh, and I think Striking Scorpions should get Haywire Grenades back.

    More recently I miss Wych weapons from the previous codex, along with the ability for Wyches and Incubi to take Blasters. Oh well, at least I have Venoms now.

  4. >The majority of players could take virtually any unit or combination of units from 3rd edition and throw them together and do relatively well.

    I would argue very much the opposite- if you look at the ratios of "good" and "bad" units in older books, modern codices (that is to say the 5E ones) have a much, much higher percentage of units that can be used in a list. For example, the DE army has... two units that I can't see myself using, bar HQs (Chronos, Voidraven.) The various other 5E books stack up quite well also, usually having the majority of the units fall somewhere between usable and excellent- compare that to the 4E books, where large swathes of the army list may as well be blank space, for all the usage they'll ever see.

    The explosion of "netlists" is due only to one thing: the availability of information on the internet. Magic: the Gathering and other games have seen excactly the same phenomenon and exactly the same calls of imbalance in the time where it was noticed. Many of these netlists are, in fact, quite bad and are often piloted by generals who don't really know what they're doing, so a good player can take advantage of the list's weaknesses and roll them over relatively easily.

    The "take anything and win with it" lists you describe are actually quite bad- if you were winning with those lists in 3E/4E, it's more because your opponents were worse players/list-writers and less because of new, overpowered units in the codices. (This isn't intended as a slight against you or the people you play against- it's only natural for players to get better at the game as time goes on.)

  5. Thanks for the comment puppy, I welcome your opinion but I wonder, have you even played 3rd? Back then it was just VP based game and the average killing power of a unit/army was not nearly as high as it was across the board today so it was a lot more forgiving as far as what you could field. Specifically, shooting was not nearly as prevalent then as it is today whereas close combat was and even at that, powerfists were not very common. So it's really unfair to compare 4th or 5th edition codexes to 3rd. Back in 3rd, Tyranids, Eldar and Thousand Sons all had good choices across the board unlike in the modern codexes.

    Also, its quite an assumption to say "its because your opponent's were quite bad" without having known anything about where I played, how I played or anything about my opponents =).

    As an example, I took that Thousand Sons army to the 2005 LVGT and was the ONLY person to win all of his games and I knocked a few top contenders out of the running as well. So once again I think it is unfair to assume that the armies were bad in the context of 3rd/4th meta game or that the opponents were bad.

    Anyway, the point was that even a "bad" unit as you put it in 3rd was usable in the game back then whereas today it isn't. Try to win a game with Pyrovores or Lictors =/ or even Shining Spears or Swooping Hawks.