-By: Elliott (PG_E2lio2tR)
In Mk2 of the game there were solos or units that you would see in every army of a faction. Sometimes these were support models (Choir in Protectorate) or the ones doing most of the work (Ravagors in Legion). This mindset is hard to break. When asking for help, it is not uncommon that someone will ask why you don’t have something in the list because if it is a list in X faction it needs to have Y model . There are several arguments for such models, but there are some counter points to those as well. Today we will be looking at some of these points and counterpoints.
Point: Strong use of points
The models that are “auto include” will contribute to the list and are seen as needed for how the faction is designed to play. The idea is also that you pay a “tax” for them being in the faction in the first place so you might as well bring them. A good example of this would be the Choir in Protectorate. Because of how this unit helps the faction’s jacks, there can seem to be a point cost bump to said jacks. If you are being forced to pay more points because of what the Choir does to the jacks then why not bring them?
Another example of this would be the Krielstone unit in Trollbloods. The armor buff that this unit brings to the army can help swing a lot of battles in your favor. The already hardy Trolls of all shapes and sizes will get amped up and a bit harder to knock down for good thanks to what this unit brings. For the points invested in them you get a really handy ARM buff for the rest of the army and can play the attrition game better than most.
The main point here is that you will get more out of the use of these points then if they were invested someplace else.
Counterpoint: Limits design of list
The issue I see with the point is that it will limit the list design options you have. Because of the points invested into these units/models, that lowers what else you can put into the list. By saying you need to include the Krielstone in every one of your Trollblood lists, you are effectively saying that 6 to 12 points are used before the rest of the army is even considered. Those points could have been anything from a unit of Dhunian Knot to a minimum unit of Long Riders. By requiring these models in the list, you are forced to basically design that many points down for a unit that may not fully fit into the list as a whole. By not feeling the need to include this unit (or others like it) you open points up to try new ones that can open up new possibilities for you and different list designs that you could not before because of the points you were using from the “required” ones.
Point:Ability to function known results
You know what the unit will bring to the table. You know the options it gives and how it works. It is a known quantity in a sea of unknowns. With the multitudes of unknowns that can come from a list and in a game, having something that is sold in every list can be helpful. To continue with our example of the Krielstone unit, we know what effect it will have on the army. We know that a +2 ARM bonus is can always be useful in any build. We know how the unit would need to take effect and what it will need to run fully. This gives us a large amount of control and comfort over one aspect of the list during design and game play.
Counterpoint: Known by opponent & how to work around it
The issue with this point is that since you know what the model does, so does your opponent. This will give them the ability to plan around it and know how to either avoid or diminish its effect on the game as a whole. For units like the Krielstone, they can either move models out of the area of bonus’ effect or find ways to pick off the model in the unit to remove it from the game as a whole. If you have a model that has a known threat range with out a way to extend it ( like a beast that is melee focused), they can stay out of the threat range and pick away at it with ranged weapons. Since the models are well known to both sides for what they do, it becomes easier to mitigate their effectiveness on the table as a whole.
Point: Key to many play styles in faction
Every faction comes with an idea about how they play on the table. Circle does the hit and run thing. Protectorate of Menoth is good at the denial game. There are models in every faction that just amps up that style or seems to be the key to it in general. By not playing these models, you are not really playing the faction to its full potential.
Counterpoint: Force of use will limit what your play style will be
The issue I see with this reasoning is that it cuts out some play styles that the faction can play besides the common place one. By locking yourself into having to use models casue they seem to be “required” to play the faction in every list, you can miss out on other styles that no one would have expected from your army.
Using the Krielstone unit again as an example. If you feel the need to put that unit in every army, this will dictate a lot more than just whether you get access to the buff. This one unit will also dictate how your Warlock uses their Fury the first turn of the game if not more. If you do not fill the stone, then you will not get to take full advantage of the bonus you dedicated points to having. It will also decide the pacing of the army. If you can not keep models in the range of the effect, than you are paying points in the list and resources in the game for an effect that is not being applied to what you need it to. Since you will need to keep your models in range of the Stones area of effect, the faster units (Long riders for example) will not be able to take advantage of it. It will cause you to rethink the idea of a fast paced, cav based army. Now would that style of list be viable in Trollbloods? I am not sure, but requiring the Stone to be in the list makes it feel a little less impactful (sorry for the pun) and like it would not be a possibility. By not requiring the “core” models to be in every list, you open up the option of list styles you can play.
Ok, so as you can see, I used the Krielstone in every one of these points. The is actually a reason for this. By doing so, I felt that it would help draw a connection between each one of these points. It is a common thread that I can use to show my point a view without having to explain why a model was felt to be required in a list for its faction over and over again. If I were to do that, I would have to make this post last for weeks. Every faction has models like this. I will be honest. During my Khador playing days, I would have Widowmakers, Eyres1, two Manhunters and Yuri in every one of my lists. This was during Mk1, so I will not go into how many points that was. It was when I stopped and looked at why I was doing it & trying to find other options, that I was able to start finding new combinations and lists that were both fun, new and interesting to field.
This leads me to the other reason for using this unit several times in this post. While posting links to lists that I am looking at and need some help tweaking, it was the one unit that seemed to be suggested over & over again but when I asked why, it seemed that most of the time I got the response of “It is not a troll list without one” or something along those lines. Take my Gunnbjorn list from a few weeks ago for example. When I first started playing it, a common suggestion from some players was to find a way to include a minimum Stone unit. My response was that I could not properly fuel it so the points were better spent elsewhere. This throw them for a loop and were not sure how to respond to that at times or thought I was wrong. Others seemed to understand where I was coming from. We all fall into that trap of thinking this unit/solo/jack/beast/what have you can only improve a list because it is so good in every way.
Now do not get me wrong. The Krielstone is a great unit. In the right list it can do a lot to help and improve the list as a whole. In a Calandra attrition focused army where you want to abuse Starcrossed with high DEF models and have the ARM bonus as a bit of extra protection and the immunity to continuous effects from the CA of the stone as a nice bonus, it makes sense to include it. She has the Fury to fuel it, without hurting her game play. In a Borka2 list where you want to hit hard and fast, the unit may have a hard time keeping up and Borka will not be able to keep it full so you can take advantage of it in the first place.
Here is what I hope you take away from this today: look at why you are taking a model. If you are bringing it in the list because it helps out in key ways and you have a plan to use it, bring it. If you want to bring the something because it is your favorite model in your collection and it is just something you like to field, hey that works, let’s roll some dice. Did your Skorne army enslave a village of Farrow, so all of your Warlocks get a personal group of Bonegrinders (AKA You made up a theme for your collection, so it affects how you build your lists)? Awesome, love the fluff and that sounds really cool. However, if you are bringing something because you feel you have to or it will not be a “real” list for your faction, or because people tell you you have to or else you are not playing the army right, I want you to stop and think, “Why am I bring this? How does it work in this list? Does it actually help or is it just there because I feel I have to bring it?” If feel like you have to bring something just because it is “required” in every one of you lists or the army/faction will not work, stop. Think about it. See if you have another way to do something like that in a different way or bypass the weakness you feel the model/unit covers normally. Do you feel the need for an ARM buff to get your army where you want it safely? Could a DEF buff or a SPD buff or placing clouds do the trick just as well? Feel like you need something to help take care of your Focus limit to support all the Warjacks you want to bring in a list? Is Empowered your only option or could taking your Jr caster and moving a Jack over to it a viable option to use? Sometimes the “required” model is the right move, others it could be a hindrance and actually hurt your game play. Look at all of your options. Look past the common and take a deeper look at everything. What you find may just surprise you and really throw your opponent for a loop.
To the veterans of the game that are reading this. I would love for you to stop and look at why you are suggesting something. Is it because it would really help the goal of the list or is it because you think every list in that faction needs to include this model? Now, don’t get me wrong. To new players I also suggest “core” things. This is not because they should be in every list, but because they help a new player learn the faction. Once they get the hang of that, I will encourage them to step out of that comfort zone and try new things. They want to bring the Skinner in a list? Sure, why not? Let’s try and find a way to use them. Really like what the Precursor Knights look like? Hey we can work with that. By helping them try new models, we learn new things and start to see a larger part of the overall picture that is this game. It also helps us learn what other things do, so it can prep us for upcoming tournaments outside our normal metas. If we stick to just what we know, we will not grow, the game will not change and it starts to become stale. Helping new players expand what they play helps us. It may even help you find a new thing that you would like to try yourself. So, get out there, play games and try new things.