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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Army-wide redundancy: is spamming a shortcut?


I firmly believe that there are three levels of armylists: (1) there is the collection of models, or "battleforce" list as they are sometimes called, (2) there are spam lists, which are points efficient and have natural redundancy as units are taken in multiples, and (3) there are good lists that don't spam per se, but rather find many means of applying similar roles into the army, and despite taking a variety of units, maintain a good level of redundancy.

Let's begin by looking at why spam lists are good. They often employ the most points efficient choices, thus ensuring that the list is optimised, and if they are able to find a good combination of units, they will have good balance and redundancy. By taking the exact same units, you have multiple choices performing the same role, and thus ensure that your list is not relying on any single element. This makes the list very robust. I'm not trying to say that a spam list is bad. I think there is enough evidence to prove that they are great. However, I think we can take it even further.

A list that combines different units and elements (the best known example perhaps being Ben Mohlie's Vulkan marines) can offer more solutions, or more tools into your toolkit. The problem with these armies often comes from the lack of balance or redundancy. Easily, a list like this might not have the same level of redundancy as a spammed list. However, in a good codex, we know that there should be multiple 'good' units for every role, and by taking these different units, you also make your opponent's target priority more difficult. Not only this, but you have more 'counters' in a world of rock paper scissors. A single land raider can be a real asset against certain lists. Not a game breaker, but something that could give you an advantage. Similarly, dreadnoughts can be awesome in some matchups, whilst still providing the same role as any fire support unit.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that by taking that single drop pod or thunder fire cannon, you open up more options, options that sometimes can be exploited. A predictable list is easier for your opponent to counter. This third level of list building is what I strive to. However, it truly requires skill and understanding to make such a list, and I'm sure I will fail many times on the way.


  1. Great article, could not agree with you more, and it is something I have always strived for in my lists. Not only are they more fun to play, they allow for you to be more strategic, and your not stuck painting 6 rhinos and 60 Space Marines the exact same way.

  2. Well... yes?

    Spam is simply the direct route to saturation and redundancy. The issue with not spamming is the reduced saturation - it becomes easier for your opponent to decide what guns will point at what when there isn't a wall of very similar targets to deal with.

  3. Thanks guys.

    @ Von: is it really easier to choose target priority from an army of slightly different units? If the list doesn't rely on any single element, then I would say target priority becomes more difficult.

  4. I suppose it depends.

    If there is only one effective unit in a given FOC slot then spam is the only way fowards. On the other hand, if you have multiple effective choices in a slot then variety becomes an option.

    I certainly think that some of the new books work well because there are multiple legitimate options available.

    When it comes to target priority... well predictability is a useful thing. If your army has a clear, shoot this, then this then this feel about it then you can plan to deal with that. When all of your targets are the same you have no idea what your opponent is going to try to take out first.

  5. Then again, in many instances (e.g. long fangs) there are clearly certain units that perform a certain role (that are spammed). If you have a variety of units that can all perform the same role in slightly different ways, it can be more difficult (like spreading out your missiles on different platforms).

    I agree, older codices often have little choice.


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