I was digging through some 40K related files on my computer recently when I ran across this little number that I saved from back in '09 when the IG Codex was first released. It appeared as a post on Dakka Dakka that purported to be the perfect "core" for an IG army:
"I've done a ridiculous amount of number crunching for the IG and come up with a "core list" so to speak that is just grand for taking on any number of opponents, but primarily focused on crushing the current metagame kings: Daemons, Lash/Oblit spam, Eldar Bikes, Nob Bikes. Because if you can beat these guys, you can beat anyone, right? Yeah, pretty much.
Company Command Squad + Astropath + Officer of the Fleet
Psychic Battle Squad (7 psykers) + Chimera
DH Inquisitor + 2 Mystics
Hydra Flak Tankx3
Total: 902 pts
902 points that counter the main strengths of each "top list" while allowing enough points and slots to let you customize however you want. Fill with Russ tanks, fill with Hound tanks, fill with guys or vets or conscripts or whatever, it'll be effective. Some lists will be more effective than others, and some will be more or less easy or interesting to play than others. This is an optimized template to build around; personalize it however you want."
Does this match anyone's actual experience with the IG Codex? Not mine. Anyone who actually plays with Vendettas is going to find that 2 is more than enough. Ditto with the Hydras. And when was the last time you saw a Psyker Battle Squad in action with all the Hoods that are running around these days?
I would have thought that, twenty-seven months on, we could finally put this kind of thinking to rest. After all, we don't play 40K on a bare, featureless table. Right? You can math-hammer things all you want, but that has to go hand in hand with an understanding of how you expect to move around the table and counter the moves of your opponent. There are, simply put, tactical considerations to think about as well. For all the ruckass caused by the infamous "Leafblower" build, I haven't exactly seen it lighting up the tables at the events I attend. Far from it. Like Nob Bikers, it's best days are behind it.
But no, just this week I ran across this type of thinking again over on Librarium Online, as Kroxigor barged in on a discussion on the Leman Russ Battle Tank to let us know how deluded we were for liking the Russ:
"I disagree with the sentiments in this thread. There seems to be a nostalgic love for the russ. I prefer to flood the table in AV12 and firepower.
Lists I favour:
1. Meltavets + Vendettas + Hydras + (Psyker squads) (maybe).
2. Autocannon chimeras + Vendettas + Medusa
3. Autocannon chimeras with hunter killers + more + sentinels + storm troopers (no Heavy Support, I currently have this list in the 40k votewar)
3 Russes surviving even till turn 6 isn't going to table the opponent. A canny opponent will shoot for your units that are easier to kill and frequently have more firepower. I agree with this:
Vendettas/Hellhounds/Meltavets are cheap, do their damage quickly and are fragile. Russes are expensive, do less damage and are sturdy. In my opinion Russes stick out from the rest of an IG list and make the opponents target priority choices easier.
From another angle:
If instead you wanted to move away form the AV12 platform list then I could support the efficient use of Russes. Maybe in a list of autocannon blobs and deepstriking storm troopers (I cannot complement this units ability to fill the gap of Meltavets in instant transport removal) 3 Russes in the backline would work well."
The usual arguments ensued, with me pointing out the benefits of having an AV14/13 tank moving around the field, doubling it's effectiveness. But Krox literally didn't understand my points. He could only visualize trying to hide a half dozen Chimeras behind 3+ Russes for cover while they all stood still and shot. And shot. And shot.
So Why Does This Thinking Persist?
Since my (and others') experience is so contrary to this mode of thinking, why does it persist so? In a word: Terrain.
This is the biggie. If you're not playing with enough terrain, then Mech armies of all kinds are going to have a field day. Particularly if that terrain doesn't block line of sight like it should.
I mean, what do these guys play with? 2 small forests in the middle of the table? Their calculations are predicated on always being able to see their targets. As well as their targets not being in cover to any great degree. Disrupt that, and the math-hammer falls apart in favor of movement.
In Krox's case, he indicated that the level of terrain in my last Tau Batrep was typical for him. While this setup is pretty typical for most of my games at the FLGS.
There's also the old Battle-Point tourney system to consider. In the days before win/loss it made a certain amount of sense to gamble on being able to table 2/3rds of your opponents or always going first. After all, it was win big or go home. But these days, when you're playing 7-8 rounds, gambling doesn't make as much sense. It's much better to win by a little every time than to win big 3/4 of the time and get smashed every 4 games.
So... what can we do to make this mentality go away? I'm thinking terrain standards of some sort, to raise everyone's expectations. Along with a continued focus on transitioning to win/loss events.