Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Cheating Army List

by SandWyrm

Heh. There's quite the row on BoLS right now about what an acceptable army list printout looks like. Evidently Army Builder's 4-page, deforesting wall-o-text printout is the be all and end all of army list creation methods, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a WAAC cheating scumbag.

This streamlined, 1-sheet list format, which I took to Adepticon and is more verbose than I usually use, is evidently an underhanded attempt to conceal vital information from my opponents. Despite the fact that nobody once complained about it:

95    Company Command Squad w/3 x Melta Gun, Regimental Standard
55    + Chimera (Multi-Laser, Hull Heavy Flamer)
70    Primaris Psyker
100    Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta Gun
55    + Chimera (Multi-Laser, Hull Heavy Flamer)
100    Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta Gun
55    + Chimera (Multi-Laser, Hull Heavy Flamer)
100    Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta Gun
55    + Chimera (Multi-Laser, Hull Heavy Flamer)
115    Veteran Squad w/3 x Plasma Gun
55    + Chimera (Multi-Laser, Hull Heavy Flamer)
145    Veteran Squad w/3 x Flamer, Doctrines (Demolitions, Grenadiers)
145    Veteran Squad w/3 x Flamer, Doctrines (Demolitions, Grenadiers)
    Fast Attack
130    Vendetta Gunship
130    Vendetta Gunship
130    Hellhound w/Hull Heavy Flamer
    Heavy Support
165    Leman Russ Demolisher w/Hull Heavy Flamer
150    Leman Russ Battle Tank w/Hull Heavy Flamer

1850    Total Points

Why is this evil? Well it seems that "new" players supposedly need to have half of the codex reprinted, including statlines, in order not to miss rules that they don't know by heart.

I maintain that if you don't know the overall game rules and the basic rules for each army, including what you need to roll to wound a Guardsman, Space Marine, Eldar, or Ork, then you're not ready to go play in a tournament. Especially one as big as Adepticon. It would be be like telling someone who's painted 3 minis that they should go enter the Gold Daemon. What's the point? It just frustrates the new player and whoever he draws as an opponent.

Lists need to be clear, concise, and emphasize any differences from the standard codex entry. Which is all that an experienced player needs to know. Making every Kill Point and Victory Point value a separate line is also huge boon at the end of the game. It speeds things up, eliminates errors, and is clear to my opponent.

As opposed to this (no offense intended to the owner):

Let's say I'm a newb:

Why does it say "squadron" when it's just one tank? Are the Sergeants worth a Kill Point? What's the actual point value of each squad in a platoon? There's little numbers all over the place. What do the brackets mean? Why are all these stat lines the same?

I've used Army Builder before, and I still have trouble telling how many troops are in a squad. I'm more likely to miss something important (like melta bombs in a Vet Squad) in the cluttered AB format than in one more similar to mine.

Besides which... For an experienced player, Army Builder is actually SLOWER than using Excel or Notepad for generating a list. I can make lists in my head while driving around. So dealing with the poor user interface of the AB program is intensely frustrating. I'd rather just type stuff out.

And finally, you have to buy the software. Which, because of it's dubious legality, is slow to update and known to be wrong on occasion. But that's what you get when you depend on amateurs to update your data files for you just to avoid GW's IP hammer.

What do our readers think? Am I out of line?


  1. I completely agree with you.

    I personally hate the AB lists for pretty much the same reasons as you. I already know the general stat lines for most races, and I just want the basics. I want to know what special equipment/additions everything has and that's about it.

    The AB template is far too confusing.

  2. Also agreed. Thank you for being a voice or reason.

    I'd much rather have a simplified list with pertinent upgrades noted, than the overwhelming wall of text AB spits out.

  3. Also agree. My army lists tend to look alot like yours with some minor differences.

    AB is just confusing and its not something you can just glance at to get some info.

  4. I concur. I agree with RuntMcRory that AB is very confusing. I am sure if you use it often then you understand how to decipher it, but I have not used it personally and when someone hands me an AB list, I look at the army name and the points value and I toss it aside.

  5. I obviously agree with you and I got 55 likes. I am clearly the best =D.

    I've just always hated how AB gives you Marines have combat tactics, frags, kraks, a bolt pistol, bolter and ATSKNF? Well good thing AB was there to remind me! Now what special weapon do they have...

  6. You and I have exchanged a few comments over there and I have to say I still disagree with some of your comments. The problem with this epic thread of hate is that it's spiralled into about 15 different topics.

    For starters, I will agree with you that AB is shit. It usually does more harm than good when trying to explain an army to an opponent. Hell, it's hard enough to use as a reference for your own army during the game. As long as you provide a list that clearly describes what you have and how much it cost, great.

    The comment that I still disagree with you about is what type of player should be going to tournaments. I haven't met you, but you seem to have an above-average grasp of the 40k rules and codices. Which, coincidentally, is why I read your blog. The issue I have with your comments is that you are the exception, not the rule, when it comes to your average tournament player. Players should know the rules and how thier army works, I agree with you on that. However, I disagree that a player has to have knowledge of other armies to participate in a tournament. Players should go to tournaments to gain knowledge of other armies and playstyles.

    Would it be prefered if they had an encyclopedic knowledge of the game? Of course. Anything that makes the game go faster is helpful. Will the player be successfull without it at least a basic understanding of thier enemy? Most likely not. My point is, that player should still be given the chance to go, lose, and learn. In reality, not everyone is able to get a lot of games in against different types of opponents. Not everyone can afford to purchase and study every codex out there. For many players, tournaments are thier only chance to see armies outside of their normal play group. Besides that, most tournament lists are very different than what you will see in an average FLGS.

    Anyway, I enjoy your blog and hopefully you'll be able to stop cheating, find some friends, and get out of your mom's basement soon ;)

  7. Ya, it takes longer to read AB print outs, as you have to read multiple lines for one unit sometimes, and is just cluttered in general.

    The one thing the BOls article was keen on was the part about the tyranid player not listing Shadows of the warp. Special abilities should be listed, especially at a "official" tournament scene. Every information doesn't need to be listed, but enough to make someone who doesn't know aware.

    Sandwyrm, your list is fine. Though if your Primas psyker wasn't aptly named, Having psyker listed after him would be nice. Thus I'd inquire about his powers when I read the list.

    I had gone to a tournament recently, and one of the players was upset cause he didn't know what Furioso blood talons did until they hit his squad. His opponent showed him the list and had "Blood Talons" listed on the dread. I say if he didn't know what the equipment or rule is/does and yet doesn't ask before the game then that is his fault.

  8. I agree wholeheartly. Around here nobody really used the AB anyway. The standard in Germany is a programm called "onlinecodex". Runs both either browser based or using the java engine and looks like this:

    *************** 1 HQ ***************
    Charlie Townsend
    - - - > 50 Punkte

    *************** 1 Elite ***************
    Das A-Team, Hannibal, B.A. Baracus, Faceman, Murdok, Schwarzer GM-Van
    - - - > 205 Punkte

    *************** 2 Standard ***************
    Charlie's Angels
    3 Engel, AK47 Kalaschnikov
    - - - > 210 Punkte

    Pokemons, 1 x Pikachu, 1 x Glumanda, 1 x Smettbo
    - - - > 25 Punkte

    *************** 1 Sturm ***************
    Roadrunner, 1 x Meep
    - - - > 70 Punkte

    *************** 1 Unterstützung ***************
    Inspector Gadget, Gadgeto Hammer, Gadgeto Radar
    - - - > 125 Punkte

    Gesamtpunkte Leet-Armey : 685 (the army list itself was a first of april joke)

    I mean GW battle reps don't state the profil and special rules... so are the designers cheating each others? Bols really is the glutter press of the 40k blogosphere.

  9. I always write mine out in Word rather than futz with tthe copy of AB I have. There are too many errors and non-user friendly things in AB to be worthwhile.

  10. :-) See, I kind of go the other way and use my ancient AB (2.x) for my lists... Mind, it's been years since the last time I played in a "non local" tournament, but I'd rather give the opponent too much information on my lists than not enough, especially if it is something non standard. The IG list cited is pretty standard, and so a moderately experienced player should really know what it all is, but I have to admit I'd be pretty lost facing something newish like a DE or Demons list as I don't play them or own the codexes... :-) 'course, just me, the bigger tournaments might be run differently...

  11. I use AB, like it just fine, as does everyone in our group. But I get that it can be cluttered. (The entries on # of attacks are a particular source of "WTF?")

    But see the truth of the article: hiding information is bad play. That's pretty much it. Players should NOT be expected to memorize every damn thing about every damn army. OTOH, I'm not sure AB is the answer there. Lists should be transparent, and YES, listing every power (including every grenade and special rule) is necessary for good transparency.

    When you exclude people from a tournament for not knowing every friggin' models' wargear or rules, you intentionally hurt the tournament scene.

    The advantage of AB is simply standardization. If that's what's needed, however, the tournament should provide a form/format and go from there. (vs. forcing folks to use commercial software)

  12. "I've used Army Builder before, and I still have trouble telling how many troops are in a squad."

    I have problem telling how many troops are in your squads...

    I add number of models in squads:

    95 Big Mek (kustom force field & cybork body)
    85 Big Mek (kustom force field)

    75 Lootas x5
    75 Lootas x5

    106 Shoota Boyz x11 w/ Nob (power klaw & bosspole)
    40 + Trukk (reinforced ram)
    106 Shoota Boyz x11 w/ Nob (power klaw & bosspole)
    40 + Trukk (reinforced ram)
    112 Shoota Boyz x12 w/ Nob (power klaw & bosspole)
    40 + Trukk (reinforced ram)
    112 Shoota Boyz x12 w/ Nob (power klaw & bosspole)
    40 + Trukk (reinforced ram)

    Fast Attack
    35 Warbuggy (twin-linked rokkits)
    35 Warbuggy (twin-linked rokkits)

    996 Total

    Also on a separate sheet (usually backside of army list) I add statistics for all my models, weapons and vehicles. Somehow my adversaries get calmer when I can show them - in print - that my deffkopter have 2 wounds, not one :)

  13. @lehcyfer

    I list squad sizes when they're variable. Veteran Squads and Command squads are always 10 and 5 models (plus advisors). So there's no point to listing them. But Stormtroopers always require something like the following:

    105 5 Stormtroopers w/2 x Melta


    XXX Psyker Battle Squad (6 + Overseer)

  14. @WineShark

    "When you exclude people from a tournament for not knowing every friggin' models' wargear or rules, you intentionally hurt the tournament scene."

    Exclusion isn't my goal. Promoting realistic expectations is.

    I write a lot about how tourney formats shouldn't punish new players. But the new players have a responsibility too. If you don't know the basic rules, the rules of your army, and the major rules for the popular armies, then how well can you really expect to do? How much fun are you going to have struggling with the basic rules AND the unfamiliar realities of playing in a tourney?

    Let's not kid ourselves. Requiring AB-style printouts won't save the newbs, while it will only annoy the experienced players. I used AB when I first came back to the hobby, but soon abandoned it when I got experienced enough to do the lists in my head. To a lot of us, it's a crutch or set of training wheels.

    Do I know every rule in every codex? Heck no. But I know the major rules for each codex. The minor rules either come out in play or in the questions I ask during the game.

    If I get tripped up by something, like I did on Saturday when I didn't realize that Flamers of Tzeentch ignored armor saves, well I'll know that next time, won't I?

  15. @Lord Fancy Pants

    My knowledge of the game rules isn't exceptional.

    In fact I'd say I'm worse at remembering rules details than the other competitive players in my area. My brain just can't remember specifics, like names and stats, without a LOT of repetition. Though I can remember obscure process details with perfect clarity.

    That's why I always describe what my IG orders actually do when I use them. Because I can't for the life of me get their names right.

  16. Excel, it's what Real Men (tm) game with...

    Honestly, the whole BoLS thread on this was just an excuse to throw a match on dry grass. I read the thread and all I could think of was, "REALLY? REALLY?".

    I have friends who use AB and they like it. Being a Real Man :P I use Excel because I like to do derivations of lists and piddle around with the numbers because I find that fun.

    Somehow, without the intervention of the U.N., we can all agree to game together peaceably.

    Also, I really dislike spending my hobby pennies on anything that isn't a figure, and that included cases, paint, brushes, etc. though I do it because I need those things to make and keep good looking armies.

    I don't need AB. I don't really see where it adds that much value.

    And cheap. Did I mention I was cheap?

  17. You know, that's the best feature of Excel as an army builder. Just clone the worksheet and modify. No need to click on units and checkboxes all over again.

  18. No need to load or save either. I have tabbed worksheets for all of my armies and can move between them at will.

  19. As a newb that will shortly be facing a tournament, I have to say I ABSOLUTELY want a LIST and not just a player declaring "this is this and that is that".

    How the list is written is sort of important as well, because if I want to look a rule up in my opponent's codex, I want to know where to LOOK.

    I actually had a case Monday when I really didn't believe what the opponent was saying and almost asked for his codex. I would not at that point have had any idea how to look it up.

    Luckily my partner knew the ability in question and could explain it to me. In a tournament, I won't have that luxury. I want to know EXACTLY what I'm facing, not just the different models from normal.

    However- whether you use AB, Excel, a McDonald's napkin- I don't care, as long as I understand what you have in what slots, at what costs.

  20. And for my opinion. I love AB! If I ever write a list I prefer to write the stat lines down because it makes a differnce to me. Hate to hate on all you haters of AB, but for a competitive player like me who takes into account the minor details, I prefer a statline. I want to know if my Thunderwolf Lord is going to hit you on a 3 or 4. I want to verify what you have before I make my decision, and I don't want to ask you everytime or even once, because I don't want to hint at my stategy. Maybe I am a little over the top, but that is my preference. And I have 'caught' honest mistakes numerous times by seeing statlines on an opponents army lists.

    Just Saying!

    Pass the hateraid!

  21. my sentiments exactly spag. i knew there was a reason why we liked each other. love me some AB.

  22. Well that and because your orks are so squishy!!! LOL!! And I wide!

  23. If you don't know what something is and you don't ask, that's your fail.

    Ask if you don't know. If you don't want to ask, purchase all of the codexes. If you don't want to purchase all the rulebooks, photocopy the last page with all the stats from someone who does.

  24. I went with BattleScribe for the express purpose of getting a simpler output than AB. Fortunately, I got the files 3 days before GW axed their system.
    As for tournament players, you should have a general idea of how other armies work. It's not my job to teach you how to fight me at a meeting that is on a near professional level.
    You wouldn't take your minivan to a racetrack only to complain you didn't know other cars go that fast. Tournaments are for experienced players who can game hard and quickly. Explaining every special rule, or bringing a phonebook for a list is unreasonable and bordering on rude.

  25. I use Army Builder to output lists. The judges get a full list, all the upgrades and standard gear listed, and I toggle the output so it shows what all the special abilities and weapons in the list do. My opponents get a tournament-output style, with only the upgrades listed, and also the list of special abilities and weapons.

  26. dude i agree with you, and its not hard for someone to edit an army builder list to change the rules on it to agree with something he made up....its an easy way to cheat a game and i always ask for the dex rule not an army builder mock up

  27. I have to agree. I had A.B format it's complicating to read, if you show your opponent a A.B list they might not know the special rules for said units as codex specific anyway and you'll just explain it to them like you would.

    The list you did is fine and all mine look like that. Just tell people rules before hand or explain what the rule is when you come to use it i.e daemonic possession no shaken/stunned vehicles etc ;)

  28. Not trying to be negative but,

    @Revolt and Dorn,

    Of course tournament players should know how other armies work. DO you know every rule for every codex? I bet not. If I told you I always hit on 2's would you believe me? No. At least Army builder has a validation process that is somewhat comforting. Nothing is perfect, but other's can prefer something else besides what you desire.

    My bad, or might I say your bad if you can't read a 2 page army list a decifer what is important information or not. I believe you stated, "Tournaments are for experienced players who can game hard and quickly". I don't really see the problem.

    But any list is fine for me except one hand written without the correct wargea, point costs, and statlines.

  29. Hey, that's my list! :)

    I didn't find your list at all confusing, nor do I find AB lists confusing. I use AB because it is a recognizable standard format and cannot be twisted by anyone as an attempt to hide information from them. Like it or not, AB does give a great deal of information on the units in your army in a fairly concise (if repetitive) format. With Grey Knights, a lot of that specificity will be pretty well required.

    The argument that AB costs money doesn't really hold a lot of water in an argument about tournament players. AB is a tiny fraction of what I spend on this hobby every year - I spend more on paper, I think.

    I haven't found the BoLS thread (yeah, I don't read everything, sue me) mentioned. I do think using AB protects the player from any appearance of impropriety, which is simply the best course for a tournament player.

  30. From a mostly-newb and not yet ready for tournament-level play individual, I prefer people show me a list with all the stats and special rules since I don't know every codex (and don't have the memory capacity to memorize them anyway). I do understand the regular 'pros' not feeling the need to do so.

    However, I do think that there are alternatives to Army Builder that are free and fairly easy to use once set up. The number 1 option to me would be OpenOffice spreadsheets. It's free, and for our purposes, would work just as well as MS Excel. Once you set a worksheet set up with the fields you want, it's easy enough to fill it in when you make new lists.

  31. idk, i just think sometimes people get waaaay to emotional over a game. mind you i love my 40k, and i love gaming, and devoting a large portion of my life to it, but in the end. its a game.

  32. My army list:

    ??? points of dudes

    Leader dude with cool looking sword and cape 160 points
    Other Leader dude with hood and emporerz lightening and F/U demon zone 102.75 points

    5 dudes is big armor with even bigger hammers Free points

    10 dudez with gunz in tank 205 points
    10 other dudez with gunz in tank 205 points
    10 camper dudez in cloaks 30 points?

    A couple of better dudez with better gunz in better tank - ahh, I forget how many points.

    A few of those things that look like flying shoes. 100000 points

    10 dudez with rocket packs and cool giant fist thing 5 points

  33. caulynn: see now THATS A LIST!!! you forgot
    1 dude who has a shiny halibut. winning!!!

  34. I also use AB. I'm personally too lazy to build my own excel template, and AB is a reasonably widely accepted standard. I don't see any benefit in the vitriol of this particular discussion. AB is a tool, if it works for you, use it, if it doesn't, don't. I like it because it creates a useful reference when someone unfamiliar with IG says "that's not right!" It's less cumbersome than flipping through the codex, though I will always have mine with me wehn playing. All of that said, I don't demand that anyone else use AB.I'm ok with players who have a readable printout showing unit types and point costs, but I do take issue wiuth folks showing up with their lists scribbled on a collection of bar napkins a big chief pad in large crayon.

  35. @Spaguatyrine: Don't take what I've said so personally. I'm in no way bashing people who use AB. I'm just saying it's unreasonable to expect everyone else to use it as a standard. It's a good program with a lot of great features, I just prefer a simpler output so that I can mentally digest what my opponent has brought against me faster.

    Having read every codex, I do have a base familiarity with everyone's special rules, but flipping through a codex or looking at a printout for specifics, on the spot, seem just about as fast as eachother to me. :)

    I think I'd move to AB if it could include the relevant FAQ information for my selected units in the printouts though. That's a real headache to track sometimes.

  36. Some lists are bad because they have too little information, but some are just as deficient because they have /too much/ info. A full list of unit and weapon stats is in the back of almost every codex. AB drowns the relevant info in a sea of easily accessible trivia.

    The lists I like are the ones like Sand's because you can tell at a glance what makes each unit special.

  37. Not sure about the rest of yous, but I can't think of a single game of 40K where I had too much information about my opponents army. Sure AB puts out alot of things that as a veteran player we already know. How does that have a negative impact on your gaming experience? No I must confess that I have used AB as well as made-at-home lists printed from my computer. Do I have a preference? No. As long as you can look at a list and see everything you need to know about a unit, then I think you have met the unwritten requirement of a proper game with your opponent.

    I think your list is fine, but I also know alot about Codex:IG. However, I do feel that adding stat lines would be beneficial.

  38. most of the locals know I'm a sucker for ArmyBuilder. Mostly because until recently the old, free copy of AB2.3 (probably a copy of the same one Pchappel has) still worked for all of my armies (WH, DH, IG).

    the IG codex update urged me to upgrade, then I still had to export most of my army to .txt because AB got some stuff wrong.... like not allowing platoons to use a heavy weapon. dur.

    I do like the new output options in AB 3. I use an abbreviated output. I prefer my opponents at least give me a typed list.
    it's not hard.

  39. ok. and Jwolf's comments cracked me up. There's a lot of times I don't wade into teh stoopid.

  40. I am going to side with the AB crowd here. I play so infrequently nowadays that I really like having all of the stats in one place for quick reference. I find that I typically reference my list far more than my opponent does. So to this end I find that AB actually speeds up the game.

    However the most important aspect of AB for me is the avoidance of the perception on cheating. Now before I get another 40 responses I will reiterate that I am looking to avoid the appearance of cheating, actual cheating is sad and I am not touching that here. If my list has any complexity or nonstandard rules I don't want to catch my opponent off guard, in my experience nothing can sour a game quicker than feeling like you just got blindsided.

    I get that AB can be hard to read at times, especially if you are not used to the
    formate. Rather than singling out someone else let's look at my Lust-Wing army. At 1500 points I have six kill points and almost three pages of army builder text. Admittedly it is daunting to wade through the mess which is a full wolf guard squad in the AB formate. So what I do is number each squad and then on the back of I list out in pen what each squad is composed of, I also take pains to tell my opponent what each squad has during deployment.
    I feel that handing my opponent the full list in a standardized form with a easy to read summary attached Is the best solution. Having said that I would rather make a mistake from too much information rather than too little information. It mike suck but at least I don't feel like I was cheated or deceived.

  41. One thing I've discovered is AB's alternate printout options. There's 1 or 2 that I think are actually labelled "tournament printout" that just give you the important stuff and have everything separated and organized by line in a much more pleasing layout than the typical AB Clusterf*ck that drives everyone batty!

    I usually just print mine out as you do, though


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