Sunday, 25 March 2012

Plateau'ing -When you hit it. Pt.1

I feel like I'm having an issue lately. My gaming seems to has plateau'd, not peaked but hit a ceiling of sorts. I'm at a point where I'm a decent player but I don't feel like my gaming is progressing, so I'm going to try to analyse why and see what I can do to change it.

I'll start with where I feel I'm at game play wise. In the last tournament I played in, I placed in the top 1/3 out of 60+ players.
 I ended up just below my goal.
I find my way to top tables but can't hold on once I get there.
I can't overcome my counter lists and get into that top tier of players.

 I've also noticed that when I'm playing against someone I tend to have a "go to" strategy for each army/build. And without spending a minute or so before the game planning a strategy according to the mission and the opponents weaknesses and strengths, I deploy.

And it ends up being either that strategy crushes like it should or it completely falls on its face without a chance to adapt. But even with my biggest counter, GK. I tend to do the same thing every time. Deploy forward to get as many lance shots early as I can, pray to the dice gods and hold on for dear life. And its not working, and I do it over and over and over with different versions of the same list.

Change is needed. So I've looked at my play and lists and there are a few things that need to change. The list, the strategy, the mentality.

The first, the list. I've looked at the types of opponents I play and the lists I usually go up against. At the last tournament, which seems to have the usual turnout of army types about a third was GK then everything else was pretty split between Necrons, Wolves, DE, Guard, BAs then about 1-2 players on high tables playing the rest of the armies. So what do I build for. I need an all comers list that can specifically stand against GKs and the other top 5 lists. But have the capability to take on the occasional odd/gimmick/KP denial list. With the most played army being my complete counter this makes GKs my focus.

So what are their strengths and weaknesses when facing DE? GK's are a blunt army. No sublety to be found anywhere in the codex. Loads of mid-high str weapons almost all being twin-linked BS4 with range matching or beating my own. Give them the ability to ignore any form of suppression by passing a pyschic on a 10 and they are mostly unstoppable. Loads of assault defense, firstly being that all GKs start with Force Weapons. Nullifying FNP and multiwound creatures usefulness. Being able to jump to iniative 6 for free or 5 points also hurts most of my combat units having a chance to kill in combat before being hit.

GK weaknesses against DE. The first being speed, Psycannons lose half their firepower when moving, and Psybacks can only move 6" and fire. Dreads can only move 6" and fire. Granted dreads have 48" range, they are always going to be in the back getting cover. How can we use this to benefit ourselves? Make them move into range, and overwhelm with targets? Maybe. Use Nightshields to keep out of midfield fire range? Possibly. Reduce fire by reserving and striking when we come on? Use the few resilient troops we have to eliminate those targets? There are a few different options here that could work. Second weakness, low body count. Most GK lists tend to roll MSU with lots of razorbacks and small cannon units. These means its easier to pick them off and gain KPs, you may get and large Terminator unit now and then but most units are going to be 5 marines with guns, they die like marines. They're going to get their armor save most of the time and be hidden between razors to stop assaults. So we make them roll. Poison, missiles, assault, any attack that makes them roll armor saves. Or use a unit that nullifies that armor altogether. Incubi, Disintigrators, Liquifiers etc.. The options are out there. We just need to make them fit.

So now we need think what do the other armies in top tier have that are different enough from GK to warrant deviations from a GK tailored list. Scarab's, bigger squads, better close combat, Long Fangs, Veil Immortals and the rest is basically loads of AV11-12 hulls and MSU units. So what do we need to stop this? Lets build.

I've been looking at one of the top U.S. Dark Eldar players and the lists he's taking and needing a change I'm going to stray from my standard Hellion/Spam lists and build towards my enemy armies with what I know will kill them.

List Phase 1
Archon w/HB,SF,ST-135(IC/Marine Killer, Boost Str to become mid-late game Tank Killer/CC Monster)
Haemon w/SS-65 (IC/Specialist Killer, Also Pain Token booster for Incubi)
6x Incubi in Raider w/EAS,SP-197 (Marine Killers/Immobilized/Low AV Killers)
5x Warrs w/Shredder in Venom w/EC-115 (MEQ/Infantry/Swarm Killers)
5x Warrs w/Shredder in Venom w/EC-115 (MEQ/Infantry/Swarm Killers)
5x Warrs w/Shredder in Venom w/EC-115 (MEQ/Infantry/Swarm Killers)
3x Wracks w/Venom w/EC-95 (Home Objective Holders/Pain Token Manip)
9x Reavers w/3x HL,CCx3-294 (AP1 to open up priority targets, CC's for Mobs/Swarms/Eliminating entire squads)
9x Reavers w/3x HL,CCx3-294 (AP1 to open up priority targets, CC's for Mobs/Swarms/Eliminating entire squads)
Ravager w/FF,NS-125 (Anti-Tank, NS to reduce incoming damage from mid field or to bait long range in)
Ravager w/FF,NS-125 (Anti-Tank, NS to reduce incoming damage from mid field or to bait long range in)
Razorwing w/FF,SC,NS-175 (AT,Infantry,Swarms with Alpha Strike from reserve, Supersonic to contest)

Could be solid, will playtest soon to know for sure. The list has a mix of close/long range fire. Loads of S6 and Templates to take swarms and mobs. Reavers need to get an early kill to survive later, Incubi and Archon need to have models in the open to charge. Possibly split them to take down separate units if they are 5-6 MEQs. I think this list needs to deal with parts of an army at a time. Instead of trying to drop 3 Dreads and open up the front row of transports, I need to focus down 1-2 dreads and demolish 1-2 transports and units early while minimising losses.

That's all for part 1 of the list. Pt. 2 will focus on changing my strategy and changes/optimisation to this new list.

Keep it dark,
Kabalite out.


  1. wow i completely get this feeling. i have hit it with Guard a number of times. what i;ve found is that although i rarely end up changing my list that much, i always learn something when i do play something a little different for a while. I quite like the list you suggest as well, it is different enough o be a challenge for both you and your opponent. after playing you at Blog Wars II i am amazed i don't see more Reavers in good lists, those things are horrible!

  2. Yeah I've hit the "plateau" a few times.

    Few ways to attack it.

    Changing up is quite solid. But standing back and examining your thought process is good as well.

    By far and away the best thing to do? Keep playing. Try everything. Sometimes, doing the wrong thing 10 times in a row, on the 11th you find a hidden gem or an odd tactic that might just work.

    When I played FPS's or Arena competitively (for money) we'd keep on changing it up. Sometimes we'd just be wrong and sometimes we found something that just broke people apart. Your never going to get it right every time, and sometimes your just "flat".

    I think a lot of the time in 40K people are scared to just do something completely off the wall because its their only game that week or they might only get a couple of games in, but utilising your practice time the best you can is what will make the edge. You know Plan A will net results "1" "2" or "3", and your Plan B might just about get you there 50% of the time. If you know that, just drilling it can be counter productive, it closes you off from other possibilities (I did this with my deathwing a lot unfortunately).

    Its like in games against Atreides, I often was so intent on trying to get to the win I'd follow route A far to harshly, when really, while we have a friendly score board (my deathwing putting me far, far ahead, bitch :P) we actually couldn't care less about the result (our best game to date, imo, is when I actually lost on tertiary, with literally the narrowest of narrow margins. My fondest game was a draw).

    I like the list though, we do need to do a Sons day at WHW or Maelstrom opposed to just the obligatory "between round" chats.

  3. Having discussed IRL, I haven't got a lot to add here...I believe that playing your army repeatedly has some something new and see what the lads say, you'll pick up something, even if it doesn't go as planned..also I can swear (to the great Corpse God himself..) that playing WITH the armies you get stuck with can help a lot in understanding..change of perspective is very often useful in all things..

    Most important, 100% agree with Bully.. keep playing, keep working at it and don't let the head drop..take names with other armies!

  4. @Ven Yeah I'll have to try playing with other armies at some point to see both sides but my 2 toughest matches are sooo boring to play. I need to just suck it up and do it. lol

    @Bully Definitely agree on a Sons day, we need to get one up and going. I need to keep playing, learn this new list, make minor tweaks while still keeping the same list and get ready to crush some heads in Brighton.

    @Atreides It kinda sucks hitting the standstill, but its just a part of progressing it seems. Definitely going to try reavers more, people don't really expect them, so don't really prepare for them, I love taking caltrops even though they are expensive. Can't wait to bomb some hordes and scarab swarms with them. Just have to keep them alive. lol

    Can't wait to try this list. Now to find the rest of my reavers >.<

  5. To touch on Ven's point - hand your army over to someone (like Ven) and let him play it, and you pick an army that you feel matches up strongly (cough, GK's) and try and pick it apart.

    Stepping into the other shoes, you might see ways in which the DE could exploit what you think is weakness in the GK's (or whichever army) that much easier.

    We used to do it in FPS's - cold runs. We'd defend with "no one", and get our extra players to run into cross fire and fire lanes to make sure we had things. They'd see gaps that could be exposed. Or like in COD where people used to go on empty maps and ping grenades/mortars to work out exactly where to throw them when it was a real game.

    Essentially to know your own army / list / team you need to play it from within and without (thats zen mother fuckers)