by Anonymous Foodie
There is something that needs to be said... that has needed to be said for a long time, really. By and large, there aren't armies that are better than others.
There are armies that are easier than others.
There are few, if notable, exceptions.
Grey Knights against Deamons, particularly if said Knights Gris are designed to be anti-deamon, will lead to a rather one-sided fight.
Armies in transition, caught between outdated codeci and completely new rulesets, will often suffer. Witch Hunters have done a pretty good job of being able to compete behind the hands of a competent player. Dark Eldar could do some dirty things. But both (and now one) were rather, if not extremely, limited in how they approached the battlefield.
But outside of these fairly rare circumstances, a well written list of any flavor is going to be, in the end, a well written list. Put that list in the hands of a good general, and you have a good general with a good army.
Sound good? Yeah, I thought so too.
So here's where it gets a little tricksy, and where most people get to putting ratings on armies that are "worse" than others.
Not all armies are created equal. Before you get all flabbergasted, notice that I did not use the word "worse" there. Some armies are simpler to use. They are easier to play and win with.
Now. Will this mean that a general at level X will have an easier time winning with army Y, and have a better win record as a result? Yes, it does. And this is where the misconception hits, and is unfortunately perpetuated.
But it is a poor carpenter indeed who blames his tools.
I'm going to focus on Dark Eldar for the next bit, and actually not because I play them (though this does lend a nice first-person perspective).
I'm a decent player. I win more than I lose. When I lose, I tend to learn things. But I'm far from unbeatable. So I'm not trying to talk myself up, or make myself sound better than I am.
Dark Eldar are, quite possibly, the hardest army to play properly. This is not just an empty phrase. Open up the codex and read GW's little quip in the beginning. It's in the last one, too, more or less. They are meant to be a veteran's army. They are meant to take more skill to use properly. However, when you have this level of skill, they are one of the scariest things out there.
One of the biggest reasons for this is movement and maneuverability. The one phase in the game in which we can completely avoid rolling dice, and control every single aspect, is the movement phase. If you can point to me an army that has more control in this phase than the Dark Eldar, I will give you something shiny.
This is still a small part of the whole, but it's a start. This is the style of the army. To hit hard, hit fast, but be hit harder is the motto.
Now. Some may be falling back into the "easier is better" bandwagon. But when you look at pure capability, actual damage potential... "easier" is not the same as "better".
Take the Ravager. For scant over 100 points, you have a vehicle that with a threat bubble of 48" will damage a tank.
Haywire Blasters that glance any armor on a 2+. At BS4, you're hard-pressed to find better armor suppression.
What the army can't do is be wielded improperly. I have lost games because of one or two mistakes. Marine armies are notorious for being able to withstand a blunder or two.
Space Wolves are commonly considered a top tier army. I'm not about to say they're not good - it's a solid codex. In fact, it's very, very hard to make a *bad* list with them. You can pretty much pick units at random and have a functional army. The same can not be said for many others.
Looking at Grey Hunters, you have an all-around unit. You can sit and shoot, you can assault, and you can be assaulted (on purpose or on accident) and hold your own. There's not really a bad option, so it's easy to pick a good one.
Before you jump back on the "well that makes them better" bandwagon, I advise to again remember that just because an army that is easy to play has more good options available, does not make their good options better than another army's good options.
Truth is, usually when an army in this game has less positive options, the positive option is far more positive.
Assault army gets into assault, lots of things die. Assault army gets shot, not so much. A simplified but fairly in-line example.
Jumping back to Dark Eldar, there's another kink in the works that, unfortunately, can only be solved with time.
For the vast majority of players, Dark Eldar are a new army.
Probably 50-60% of people who are wielding an army that is notorious for taking longer-than-usual to learn to field properly, have been fielding it for less than a year. Most veterans of the army will straight up tell you that you will lose probably your first 20 games. Then you'll start to tie some.
For a person who plays once a week at a gaming club, for instance, and started the army when they first came out (accounting for assembly time and the like), one could fairly easily still be in this period.
So congratulations if you're really good at beating down people just starting up an army that's far harder to master than your own. Give yourself a pat on the back for that one. You deserve it.
I'm not going to go so far as to say that Dark Eldar, or any other army, are the only one that has the ability to reach Power 9000. I do think that the Dark Eldar army is designed to be harder to learn, but more powerful once learned, than most, if not all, others.
In the end, it's more about the curve.
Space Marines, and their variations, are in large part designed to get new players into the game. They are the poster-child of the 40k universe (and pocketbook). They are generally solid, have a definite "cool factor", and offer a base resiliency that allows for early mistakes, as well as unit redundancy that allows for easy back-up plans.
They can be built well, and played better, and can be easier than many to push around the table.
Sisters of Battle, in the hands of someone who knows how to make good use of Faith, will make you cry. Any unit *can* become the answer to about anything else. In the hands of someone with no idea how to throw around those fancy powers and have units that change roles on a turn-by-turn basis will pretty much hand you the game.
Eldar and Tyranids both require a synergy not seen in many other armies. If flung about piecemeal, they'll be fairly easy to pick apart. When used in proper conjunction, they are far more than the sum of their parts. Such armies are harder to learn, because there *is* a way that they need to be used, a way to make them work well together, but once its unlocked, a flood will come through that door.
Easy-button armies are such because it's a hill that's easy to climb. It's not difficult to grasp effective tactics and pick units that work well together.
But while you're sitting on your hill, I'm looking at mount Everest. And it will take me time. I will have to train. I will probably have to buy some fancy rope. Maybe even do a sit-up or two.
But when I get there. And I will. You will not even see the pee that is falling down upon you like rain, until it is far, far too late.
So be careful kids. Don't be so fast to discount certain players or armies. Because one of these days you'll wish you had prepared and brought an umbrella.
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