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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 9:21 pm 
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Originating from this thread - clicky - I want to initiate a discussion which will look at Optimality, Success and Proof of Concept in Warhammer. I agree with Rod that while this discussion is interesting to have, it doesn't belong in a topic about MSU/small units.

:: Optimality ::
Optimality in Warhammer refers mostly to unit choices, configurations and equipment. Of course we can talk about armies as well, in which case most people agree about a select few being optimal. As this is a High Elf specific forum, I'll instead focus on optimality solely related to us.

Though optimality is somewhat related to context (e.g. army composition, composition rules, local metagame), some choices are downright no-brainers. For us, I'd say Eagles is a good example. Regardless of the context, you will always be better off with an Eagle.

When considering optimality, it is important to thoroughly understand a unit, its strengths, weaknesses and synergies. This is not an easy evaluation, as initial evaluations might lead you to field things that have unforeseen implications. For example, simple evaluation leads us to believe that a White Lion horde would be an excellent choice: damage output is not wasted per rank and the unit goes from strong to downright terrifying if you try and match it point-by-point against anything else in Warhammer (pretty much). From this, one would think that White Lion Hordes would be an obvious choice, right? To examplify this, last year's ETC saw loads of High Elf lists base their army on 1-2 WL hordes. While you could blame a million things for the results at the end, the fact is that High Elves overall performed extremely bad. The unforeseen implications here are as follows:
- huge footprint
- unwieldy
- vulnerable to templates
- vulnerable to combo-charges
- vulnerable to being chaffed away
- vulnerable to trickle-combats

These are things we generally fear as Elves and it can be hard to understand why taking a Horde amplifies this, until you try it yourself. As a sidenote I view the Lion horde in my current army list as a big weakness. The problem is, I have yet to come up with a good solution for solving it, though I have a couple of thoughts there's just not enough time and games available! When I play against strong opponents, I frequently feel that the Horde's attributes are being used against me rather than helping me too often The lists that did perform well at last year's ETC featured Phoenix Guard, various support units (smaller SM/WL/DP, mostly) and Shadow Magic. Oh you might say, but ETC is so based on matchups and so on. Well, it just so happens that our very own Ptolemy has done very well with a similar list in an uncomped environment where pairing doesn't exist. I should mention that Tethlis has also had some really good games with a very similar list. Coincidence? It might be, but I think not. You see Daemons fielding their Bloodletters, Flamers and Loremaster Heralds and do well in virtually any environment, in the hands of a capable general.

The essence here is that optimality revolves around finding the imbalances that naturally exist in a game such as Warhammer. Of course, some will vary depending on the context, but usually one can spot them fairly easily - it boils down to utility (what a certain choice gives you), cost-effectiveness (though Eagles are great I wouldn't field 30 of them, even if I could, in a 2500 point game) and synergy. I believe that whenever one wants to try something out, the best approach is to limit the choices that are 'risks' (i.e. ones you expect/should expect can form worse than 'traditional' choices) and leave the rest of the list as a 'safe base' - which leads me to my next point:

:: Proof of Concept ::
Whenever someone has an idea, he wants to test it out. Personally, I prefer to test these ideas against fairly strong opponents with fairly strong builds, though not the worst of the worst (example: I played my Furion-inspired list against Iniesta's 7th ed VC bus and the Dragonlord met Rusty's Daemons in a Baptism of Fire) as I believe this holds little value in the first few games. Naturally the opponents and lists you face will vary greatly in skill if you play at an average gaming club, but you'll have to work with what you have.

When you've gotten to play a handful of games, you should be able to realize yourself whether the idea has true potential for success or not. Personally, I felt that the Cavalry Prince did not have this, as there are too many bad matchups. If Seredain, or anyone else for that matter, manage to score some impressive tournament wins, I would be happy to re-analyze the situation. My feeling was though that there are too many hard counters out there and the skilled players I faced really taught me how vulnerable heavy cavalry is. Anyway, this is getting slightly off-topic. The idea is that you should be able to identify if you have enough good matchups and few enough bad matchups to finish, say, top 20% in a tournament, consistently (barring insane dice rolls etc). This can be a complex task, but if you're competitive by nature and you frequently play against like-minded opponents, it should be solvable - especially with the help of the great community we have here.

:: Success ::
Swordmaster recently asked me in the top linked thread how I define success. Given the paragraphs above, this can indeed seem like a vague concept, hard to put into words. One thing I do know though, is this:

If an army list, in the hands of a capable general, is as strong or stronger than any other army list, it is a successful and optimal list.

Furthermore, it's necessary to test a list against other capable generals with equal intentions. As Sturen so nicely examplified it in another thread:
Quote:
You can rate one ETC victory higher than 100 beer n' pretzel wins


I remember Tethlis mentioning at some point that he considered every game outside of a tournament as a practice game for an upcoming tournament. I think this is a great approach to the game, for a competitive player, as it puts things in perspective. Thus, we get a second criteria:

An army list needs to have tournament success to prove itself as a successful list

Note that a list has to fulfil both requirements. If it doesn't fulfil the first, we could simply be talking about a very skilled player. If it doesn't fulfil the second, we could be talking about a gap in skill level or army power level between the player of the list in question and his opponents.

This implicates a lot - first of all that the general has to be skilled. Assuming the tournament isn't among you and 3 friends in your garage, then the pairing, skill and competitive nature of a tournament will match you up against the people you need to match up against to prove your list as a successful one. Don't get this the wrong way, it's not like nobody without a tournament win can say that they have strong lists (in fact they very well might!), but as far as optimality and success go they've only proven the concept (if even that!).

How does one gauge tournament success? We could talk about a single win, but that could be lucky pairings, natural variance or some insane dice rolls. We could talk about finishing top X % for Y tournaments, which makes a lot of sense as you both have consistency and more data. Also, there is RankingsHQ where we can evaluate based on region, army fraction etc. As people have different opinions about this (one might say 10% in 3 tournaments, another 20% in 5), it's up to each and every one to make up his own opinion of what success is, within reasonable borders (if we start approaching like 50% we're way off reasonable). Personally, I'd say that winning 2+ tournaments or finishing top 3 in at least 3 tournaments would qualify for success. Naturally, this involves tournaments of some size, with strong players. Also, becoming top 5 in a country would definitely qualify for having a successful list (assuming the same list has been used).

Many of you will likely disagree with a lot here. If you have a better way of describing a successful list, I'm all ears! We do however boil down to the basic fact that around the world, the amount of players and clubs who play Warhammer is so big, and the environments are so different. I do believe however that in tournaments, the mindset is very similar, almost regardless of where you are. As such, while not ideal, they make the best objective grounds for comparison and analysis from a competitive point of view (which really does make a lot of sense!).

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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 11:54 pm 
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Ill post more when I'm home, but I have a couple problems with your definition, and general emphasis, or as I see it more akin to tunnel vision view, on tournament play.

First, tournaments come in different shapes and sizes, as well as comp rules ( you mentioned this briefly but again, I'm on an iPhone so forgive me). Sometimes your view seems so narrowed on tournaments that joe schmoe playing at a couple 15-20 man RTTs (hell I've seen 12 man RTTs) is better than a score of wins in a highly competitive gaming group. So that's my first problem with this over emphasis.

Second, tournament standings also largely depend on who you face, which is largely luck of the draw. Anthony Spiers' wins in 7th with an unconventional list wasn't liked by a lot of high elf players because two of his games were against 7th edition ogres or other low tier armies. His one "good" win was against a khorne demon list (please correct if I'm forgetting).

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 1:01 am 
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Curu, I have to agree with you on all of the above. I am a "beer and pretzel" player and I'm ok with that (besides, I'd have to go hundreds of miles to find a competitive tournament).

If you follow team based sports (soccer, football, volleyball, etc.) a coach has to take certain strategies and make them work (ie plays, routes, etc).

A professional coach with a successful team is obviously more successful than a professional coach with an unsuccessful team be it the players {Optimality} or successful strategy {proof of concept}.

However, take your successful minor league coach. Player talent aside, in a competitive environment will the professional coach be more efficient, knowledgeable and "out-strategize" the minor league coach?

I will say almost always yes. That is why they are professionals. They have proven their ability to be successful in the most competitive environment. Just like WH tournament players. I see WH tournament players as the professional coaches of their armies.

Nonetheless, are there minor league coaches (beer and pretzel players) with astounding talent? Absolutely.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 2:01 am 
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Curu,

An interesting topic. From the off, though, I'd say it isn't wise to look at the "optimality" of units/items outside of the context of the other units you've chosen to fight alongside them in their army, and I think your emphasis on the importance of tournaments undermines an otherwise useful piece on the importance of army-synergy. Nothing taken in any of our High Elf armies is taken without losing you the ability to take the equivalent points of something else. I think it is by mastering the ability to judge this action/reaction mechanic of army design that we are likely to build good armies. In this line of thinking, you mention the importance of army synergy and how units cannot be relied upon in and of themselves: a good point. You then wonder that a cavalry prince is not a good choice because it has too many bad match-ups, and I think there is a contradiction here. Let me explain.

Hard Counters

When it comes to talking about the importance of army synergy, my cavalry prince is a case in point. There are plenty of hard counters out there which are good at killing cavalry but, against those, I don't really lose out that much. I've spent 192 points on silver helms and my cavalry characters are always free to deploy against something in the enemy army which doesn't have non-magical killing blow or vomit. They deploy late (lots of drops) and are easily fast enough to avoid what they need to. In fact they only need to go with the helms in order to preserve their LOS save for a couple of turns against non-flaming war machines. After that, they can do as they please and form other combinations with my other unit types. As you know, there have been plenty of times where I've chosen to break up the helm bus and run my characters independently. As a result, so far, I've lost my prince only once to killing blow in the two years I've been playing him (and that was completely my fault- more on that later); and only twice to war machines. By contrast, the cavalry-based list you used to play, Curu, saw you using a fixed Helm Bus alongside a Dragon Prince Bus to try and steamroll your way to victory. This was a dedicated cavalry-based tactic which I wouldn't advocate simply because there was not enough staying power for extended combats and, as you suggest, it was too vulnerable to hard counters.

All Comers

The army I play is different. It isn't meant to win solely through the prince- he's only 4 attacks, after all. Instead, a particular one of my units is only part of a patchwork which (in my experience so far) will never be at too much of disadvantage regardless of what the other guy puts down. If I lose one of my lords early, the army still plays fine (though losing both hurts). It's worth remembering that I take the prince because he can do things other elves can't without relying on the magic phase - reliably kill enemy characters, hit anything very hard and take hard hits, over several rounds, against an enormous variety of opposition. It's also worth remembering that I've spent less on the prince than I have on elite infantry, magic and shooting. Basically, hard counters to cavalry are not the end of my world any more than infantry-counters (war machines, template weapons, unit-melting spells etc - the list goes on) are for the majority of infantry-based High Elf lists.

I played against Eldria's (hilariously fun) Throggstar list recently: an army absolutely packed with hard counters to heavy armour. In the end though, although I couldn't put him into Throgg, the prince earned his points relatively easily (I won't give more away at this stage) and the other elements of my army were all likewise able to find jobs to do. I will reiterate, in conclusion, than a synergised High Elf army made up of patchwork abilities, where no single element is so expensive that it will lose you to the game if killed or countered, can take on anything out there. I have infantry, deployment, shooting, magic and some fun toys. If my Silver Helm Bulldozer isn't the best tool, I don't just try ramming with it anyway and change lists when it doesn't work - I break it up, give it some new jobs and turn to the many other tools at my disposal. That's why I play my list. The prince is part of that, but he isn't the point of it.

'Optimality' or Synergy?

Since we're talking about the optimisation of units/lists and their weaknesses, I'll say that my list's great weakness isn't the armour: it's the fact that it's a near-MSU army. To win, I'm looking for combo-charges. These are brilliant but, if you miss one charge, say, from a combination of three units, it tends to pull the oomph out of it and (against the strongest targets) bounce off or get held. This is why I've slotted in the extra eagle for overrun-forcing (where necessary, so I can make counter-charges on my turn), as well as mini-tanks and more steadfast elements to make sure I can get units close, hold, then successfully combo-charge. Such elements include the cavalry characters themselves (neither needs to charge and both will hold their ground), the ethereal archmage (an invaluably flexible tool), the spears (when near the prince) and the gleaming pennant white lions. The extra High Magic-fuelled shooting also helps to soften up hard targets to make combo-failure far less disastrous than it used to be. And here we come to the point: instead of ditching any one of my units because of their weaknesses, I trim them to size and choose other units to mitigate those weaknesses. The cavalry prince is himself, of course, merely a method of mitigating the traditional weaknesses of High Elf elite infantry: fragility, slowness, vulnerability to large monsters.

To encourage High Elf players to build good lists, then, I think we need to focus on how they can make particular unit types work best within the context of their other unit choices, including their abilities to tackle hard counters to each of their units (all units have these). All of the popular builds out there (and in here) contain expensive elements with strengths and weaknesses (typically archmages, sometimes dragons, sometimes cavalry princes, sometimes radiant gem infantry princes). If we broke down the weaknesses of those choices, then discussed ways to counter them with our other unit options, we'd all build better armies. At the end of this marathon, you might then eventually end up with your ideal of Optimality ('which combination of units is best, all things considered?') but, without thoroughly dedicating ourselves to a discussion of army-wide synergy first (a great strength of the High Elf codex), I don't think we'll ever get there. Starting off by speaking of hard counters and ruling things out is not the way (I'd rather start off with What does your army need? Can the army survive losing this unit?).

Tournaments as Evidence

On tournaments, I don't (and probably won't) get the opportunity to play very many (just a fact of life for me, I'm afraid). I attended one recently, though, against players preparing for the SCGT. Certainly an interesting experience for which I'll provide a write-up in due course. I can say already though that, although my experience of tournies is limited, it hasn't struck me as being more difficult than playing some of my regular gaming group and never have I stood across from an enemy army and seen enough hard counters to enough of my units to think I can't win - including the artillary-heavy armies so feared by our elite infantry and (dare I say it) dragons. That is because, simply, I haven't taken enough of any particular unit type to make it my only path to victory. I have made avoidable mistakes at tournies which I've remembered (painfully) for the future. I haven't yet, however, run up against something I felt the list couldn't deal with.

Ptolemy and Tethlis are both very experienced players with very good knowledge of the meta-game and enemy army books (in stark contrast to me), a great approach to synergistic list design and with solid long-term tournament attendance records. I spent loads of time reading Tethlis' posts when I first started roaming this forum, and I learned a bunch of stuff (recently, Tethlis was the sole inspiration for me to switch my archmage to Folariath's Robe. I saw him put his caster into the side of a Tomb King chariot bus and thought: "You cheeky bastard! I'm having that!"). When I become as experienced a gamer and remember all the rules every game (!), then we'll see what I can do. More tournie experience will accrue, then, but you may have to bear with me (probably for years). I've been playing High Elves for much longer than I've been playing tournies. As it stands, of course, I can only play the opposition in front of me and, to date, with some exceptions, I feel my journey has been pretty good in terms of player-quality and my results. I would hope to stand by that record, and my continuing learning experience, in lieu of ever attending the ETC.

Some newer lists, likewise, have had little time to gather tournie experience. The fact that Brewmaster's Coven of Light hasn't blasted any major tournies recently does nothing to dissuade me from thinking that, as a concept, it's one of our most powerful setups (though I think you need to split those swords, Brewie!). Swordmaster's MSU concept also has legs, I think - plenty of bus-based armies out there just wouldn't know where to start. With so many units, learning to control the movement phase will be hard. Once the knack is there, though, I think opponents will learn to fear its 'trickle' combat phase in the same way that people now fear trickle magic phases. We'll see.

Theory Matters

It's worth noting, in conclusion, that tournie results have no bearing on the quality of our regular opposition and do nothing to alter our ability to review all of our units and lists purely through logic. That is, after all, how we build them in the first place. We have access to the rules, to enemy army books and to statistical analysis. Our ability to remember all this data, and put it into practice during a game, comes with experience and is the critical ingredient needed for tournie success. It does not, however, prevent us from seeing that a list has the potential to be successful. Over time, as players improve, their lists will get better even without changing. On the other hand, if I use good logic to build an army but then forget to move my archers one movement phase because I have a hangover (yes, this happened recently...), it's not the fault of the army list! I do not, therefore, think tournie success is ever a good precursor for a discussion of army design: it just closes off too many options for discussion. If we'd started thinking that way back when 8th first came out, we would never have started all these blogs and so many newcomers would start auto-fielding Book of Hoeth + large infantry lists: not, I believe, our strongest or most imaginative build.

Bottom line: tournament results should be the end point of a discussion like this, not the beginning. Which is why I disagree with your emphasis on their importance. Someone building a new army cannot be expected to provide insta-results to show it works. He can simply explain his reasoning, on which we can challenge him, and test it out on the opposition in front of him. I'm really enjoying this process myself and I've also found the community's willingness to engage in experiments one of the strongest qualities of this site. Even so, I've been in the top 20% in my tournaments so far. All two of them...

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Last edited by Seredain on Fri May 04, 2012 3:26 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 2:50 am 
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Really well-said, Seredain - I have nothing else to add in the face of that post.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 3:29 am 
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@ Seredain

Just wanted to say I agree with you and I admire the way you explained your point of view. Thanks!

On tournaments

1. People who attend tournaments and regularly place in top 10 (or any top you want to consider) also play elsewhere. They actually might play more often in other environments.

2. There is a big group of people who attend tournaments simply because this is their only opportunity to play.

3. There are different tournaments and saying they are similar is like saying different groups are similar because they all play Warhammer.

As such you have a broad corss-section of players, experience and attitude.

On ETC

This is mainly team tournament and extrapolating conclusions from the results of a team tournament is misleading. Particular armies have different roles to play in a team. For example, one army can be the one which has the role of point denial to play. As such it does not win much (if at all) but prevents the enemy from earning more so that your team mates can have better match ups and win by larger margin.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 5:39 am 
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To be honest, while I greatly admire the goals of this thread, to me it seems that due to local differences in the tourney scene, the results of what is seen as "sucessfull" would differ so much from each other that a comparison between those results would be impossible.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 8:24 am 
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Seredain makes good points - I have personally seen him play against high-level, tournament lists in a competative environment (eg Tom Cowlin and his Dark Elves) and in no way, shape or form does he come up short.

In fact, (as I'm not entriely sure as I played the Sunday, not the Saturday) didn't you come in 2nd on the last Saturday Waagh?

A list doesn't have to be optimised to be successful. It requires a level of optimisation, but this is subjective. Speaking from experience, (and over the last 5 months I have alot of tournamnet experience) in at least the first 4-5 tournaments my lists were no where near optimised (although placings of 1st twice (fields on 14), and 3 other top 5-6s (fields of 30-40)), but now I'd say my DE list at 2400 is about as min/maxed as I can make it. This comes from playing more and more - the receipe for success is a long time in the making and expecting someone to be instantly successful with a concept from what is admittedly a mid-tier book is asking alot.

Without being a Richard about it, I'd be surprised if more than 1-2 High Elf Armies finish top 3 in the big UK events this year. Dale managed a 15th at SCGT, which I would class as very successful, due to the level of competition and the strength of the books in 1-14 positions (inc 3 Ogres and 3 VCs). Going by your measure Curu, if we see 1 "successful" High Elf army on the UK tournament scene this year, I'd be shocked.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 8:26 am 
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I agree with the statement that 1 tournament win gives more evidence then 100 beer and pretzel (B&P)games. However, not all non tournament games are B&P games. And here lies a problem of the argument. The players that play in tournaments are the same players that play in casual clubs. A tournament can even be mainly players from 1 club. These games are then the same as tournament games. This is where the major league / minor league argument comes appart. There is no difference between a champions league game and a casual game on friday evening if both teams are exactly the same. If you play Roger Federer in a casual game, he is still Roger Federer and that still alows you to say something about your level of tennis.

Another issue is that not all tournament are create equal. You have everything from no-comp to uber comp. Succesfull list will vary greatly between these types of tournament and something that works in one may even be forbidden in the next. You have tournaments with 10 players and you have tournaments with 100 players. Some no comp tournaments players will bring fluffy armies while at heavy comp people will look for the cheesies list possible.

Curu Olannon wrote:
How does one gauge tournament success?

This is the major problem I think of using tournament success as a measure. The reason is that all army books are not created equal. Some are (a lot) more powerfull then others. So winning with a Deamon / OK list will be much easier then with a HE or WE army. So where do you draw the line when calling something succesfull? A tournament win with HE is probably an exceptional result. A top 10 finish? But then what do you do with a tournament with only 10 participants? top 20%? top half? Maybe the top players just picked the top books.

Also looking at relative results doesn't work very well. You're the best placed HE player? Does that make your list good, or just the two other HE players bad players? Or maybe their list is just worse then your list?

A list that wins a tournament is a good list played by a good player. However a list that finishes last in the tournament can still be the best list out there, only it also has the worst player playing with it. After all, it is not just a game of listbuilding, player skill (fortunatly) plays a big role in it as well.

Where does that leave us with judging what a good list is? I think that any list that has documented multiple battles via battle reports that was played in a non B&P setting can be judged. From a battlereport you get an idea of what tactics work and which don't. You get an idea of the opponents skill. And it gives a good idea of what the level of the list is.

As an (extreme) example, Seredain has managed to fill a blog of 34 pages documenting his army. Even without the 2 tournaments you can say something about that list because of the amount of documentation and variety of opponents. True, in a tournament he might face better players. However, if we assume that Seredain is an average general (I believe he is well above average, but that is a different discussion), then he is equally likely to face worse players, since those players come from all over the map. They are not just the best players around.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 11:00 am 
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I think part of the problem here is that HE's are arguably more difficult than many armies to nail down a few optimal builds for. While it is possible.for an average player to just pick up a Book of Hoeth infantry list and consistently finish say top 33% in tournaments this is an exception. The guys doing really well with HE tend to use armies they have honedover many games and that especially suit their playstyle.

Some players are intuitively good at the game and will do reasonably well with a list they have just picked up. I think you are a good example of this Curu. But even you, picking up Furion's power list, found it difficult to play. Whereas.results withyour current list have been excellent. Because I would argu, you are optimizing it for yourself.

But for many of us it is different. I am a slow learner and my placings in tournaments have been consistently low since I stopped playing regular club games about 10 years ago. My goal has been to improve those results to the half-way point and I think tjere are many guys like me.

The point is that the units I am bringing in and the ways I am using them are suited to the job in hand. Now eventually I want to win tournaments and my experiences in other fielfs suggest to me that this is possible. The units and tactics to do so will be different. But I have to build for walking before.I can build for running, as it were!

As an example, I'm finding I need to introduce a small unit of White Lions to help my Swordmasters and DP's out. I've no idea if this unit will stay long-term. But in the here and now it is my optimal choice. Now my list is already developing features that distinguish it from similar ones such as Seredain's. But exactly what combination of units will optimize those features in future it is hard to say.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 11:19 am 
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what is this talk about beer and pretzel games? are you implying that you cant play competitive while having beer and pretzel? :roll:


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 11:35 am 
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I have to say that I also Agree with what was said in the opening post. I have been tested in 8th edition only 13 times, and those times were by players who do not play as much as I have over the years. I will be testing my force more in an upcoming tourney with 30 players over a 4 day span that I have taken off of work for some R&R.

Once my list has been used in a tournament platform, I will know more on if the list works well, what strategies worked and why.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 12:00 pm 
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This thread certainly generated lots of opinions! Let's see what you had to say:

@Arhain - indeed you can call it tunnel vision. It has to do with the similar mindset people have in these situations. Also, consistency and size of tournament should nullify lucky pairings etc.

@Shadow King - you seem to get my point exactly. Successful is not the same as talented. Indeed, perhaps the strongest High Elf list will never be successful by this standard. Likewise, the best soccer player in a less globalized world might never be heard of in the European Championship. It doesn't mean he doesn't exist, simply that he hasn't proven himself.

@Seredain - I agree it isn't wise, but I was proving a point: the game is designed in such a way that natural imbalances are bound to be present. As such, there will be some absolutes with regards to optimality. This is important to realize before evaluating the game, because it is a very basic element in Warhammer. While I believe I get your point, statements like this doesn't give any value to me:
Quote:
Nothing taken in any of our High Elf armies is taken without losing you the ability to take the equivalent points of something else
- simply because it is true for all warhammer lists, regardless of environment (at least until GW invents free units).

As far as the cavalry prince goes, I will repeat the fact that I don't think it has potential for success. If you prove me wrong, I'd be happy to look into it again and perhaps try it out myself. I know very well that you're perfectly capable of wielding this list with great skill, but is the list concept strong enough to be successful? Maybe I'm wrong, as usual nothing would please me more (as more successful High Elf armies mean more fun!). About time, I understand that you have lots of RL stuff and as such can't compete in every GT in the UK. That's perfectly fine with me, I'm not in a hurry so I'll bear with you for as long as you need. While I don't doubt that you don't find tournaments harder, perhaps you have stronger local players than most, or perhaps you aren't playing in tough tournaments? Personally, I felt that the skill level at Crusade was a lot higher on average compared to where I normally play (which was partly the reason why I decided to travel that far in the first place).

Your results thus far have indeed been very impressive, and it is not without a reason I usually encourage people to check out your blog: there's a lot of HE wisdom there. While I think you've definitely proven the concept, it remains to see if it's successful. I think the same applies to Swordmaster's MSU, Brewmaster's Coven and my own Dragonlord: the concept is proven, but is it a successful list?

Hard matchups - indeed the Dragonlord likely has more hard counters than your cavalry prince. This is because when an army has a good counter to the Dragon, it's usually an insanely good counter, which tip the scales a LOT. With that being said, I think I've shown that even these matchups can very well end up in my favour, though they will be games with VERY high variance (as a few dice rolls can easily determine the outcome).

Quote:
Bottom line: tournament results should be the end point of a discussion like this, not the beginning.


My point exactly. The 'final test' to prove a list as a successful one, as shown above. I think our misunderstanding here is related to terms, not what we actually mean. What you could coin as successful (barring e.g. tournament results), I would coin 'proof of concept'. It's a matter of definition I suppose, but as I definitely agree with your above statement, I'm fairly certain we feel the same way.

On a final note, I wonder why you only now brought up why you didn't have faith in my way of running the cavalry prince instead of telling me in the blog a year ago when I was really trying to make it work. I don't log on to Ulthuan to post games where I easily go 20-0 to get dozens of pats on the back and shouts of 'good job, Curu!'. While I certainly appreciate this feedback, my main reason for coming here is to improve as a player. This is also why I believe most members here value this forum so highly, the constructive feedback is vastly better compared to other race-specific forums. I always appreciate people's thoughts on my lists, especially if they don't think it can be successful. As long as the feedback is received with good intentions, I will not mock anyone directly or implicitly and will consider it seriously. I frequently re-visit former posts to re-evaluate feedback, so even if I don't necessarily agree instantly, it will be considered more than once.

@Swordmaster - if you agree with Seredain, who concluded that tournament results should be the end point, then you also agree with me :) The rest is up for definition of terms and words, but the main point is that we all consider tournament results to be the end point.

While ETC is indeed vastly influenced by pairings, you'll notice that my example goes beyond ETC - indeed players such as HERO and Trains_Get_Robbed as well as the aforementioned Ptolemy and Tethlis use this template with great success. I'm always wary to use ETC as a reference without any other backup because of this, but the fact that a list concept has proven successful in so many different environments suggest that this is not coincidence.

@Paricidas - I get your point, I really do. However, everyone here lives in a country where it's easy to attend tournaments with very skilled players. Judging the quality of the tournament can indeed be hard, but if you go to the national championship for example it's pretty clear that the best are present.

@Jal - not coming up short does not equal success. Finishing top 5 for example in a tournament pretty much dictates an average of ~15-5 games. Going 10-10 and 12-8, thus not coming up short, can be pretty far from success.

I take your point about optimization levels and success. The context here though is army list concept, for example Cavalry Prince, Shadow Magic + BoH, Dragonlord etc. Did your concept change throughout your tournaments or did you finetune a given one? I also agree that it'll take time - exactly the reason why I consider most of the army blogs on this site to have proven a concept, but remain to be proven successful.

Lastly, I really like your conclusion. A successful High Elf list, would, in my opinion, have to be surprising. If you really are successful, you should be able to post results that truly will shock experienced tournament players and make them think "this actually works!". With that being said, I feel that we agree on the basics here but differ in terms and definitions.

@Rod - There is a lot of difference between a casual game and a tournament game. I've played against Rusty in a casual environment lots of times, and it's completely different to a tournament setting: the context (stress, performance-issues, time constraints) matter a lot. While Norway beat Brazil after Brazil won the world cup back in the 90's (soccer), we couldn't call ourselves world champions because of that. Brazil was still Brazil, and their stars were all in that game, too. Granted, it's impressive that Norway even won, but I think there's a big difference here.

Indeed tournaments are different! This is also why things that succeed in one environment make little-to-no sense in another, for example hardcore ETC players don't care about Teclis discussions. Most of us play in roughly the same environment though.

Quote:
Where does that leave us with judging what a good list is? I think that any list that has documented multiple battles via battle reports that was played in a non B&P setting can be judged. From a battlereport you get an idea of what tactics work and which don't. You get an idea of the opponents skill. And it gives a good idea of what the level of the list is.


Exactly - it's proof of concept. We can evaluate a concept's potential based on this, which is why the army blogs are so interesting.

As for the Seredain example, tournament pairing would dictate that you have to play strong opponents to finish in a top position. Assuming the tournament is based on pairing by points, which they should be, this will force you to at some point face really tough opponents. Granted, you might have an easy first one or two rounds, but in a typical 5-game tournament your last 2-3 games should see you face fairly equal opponents with regards to player skill. Indeed, variance plays a big factor here, which is why consistency across several tournaments is another important aspect.

@SpellArcher - exactly, High Elves are really hard to nail down with regards to optimal builds. This is part of the problem I try to address here, by giving us a common set of grounds from which we can discuss success and optimal lists.

As for Furion's list, I still believe it to be successful, in the ETC environment. I found it incredibly hard to wield, but in the end I gave it up because I didn't like the way it played: my strengths lie in offense and mobility. Perhaps I could've learned how to use it, perhaps not. I guess we'll never know! Thanks for the kind words, I agree that the results thus far with the Dragonlord have been above my expectations. I still won't call it successful though, according to my own terms: looking at the 2 competitive events I've taken it to, there are too many factors which go against my understanding of optimality and, perhaps more importantly, I believe the placements aren't strong enough (well, can't argue with 1st place, but the other one should've been better).

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 12:10 pm 
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EDIT: forum technical error, removed double-post

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 12:28 pm 
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Interesting thread.

I find that I really don't need evidence to evaluate a list or a style of play. Iv been playing the game long enough at a high enough level that I feel comfortable in judging the strength of a list or concept by looking at it. After that, it's up to the player to make it work.

As an example I can take Seridans list. I know it's good and can work. So when a friend of mine challenged me to try it out at a tournament I did. He did not believe it could work while I knew it could. Now while I did not win the tournament(came in at around 10th iirc) I was in the lead until game 5 where I lose to a 8dice mindrazor and the DE ETC player from Sweden. Now I took a carbon copy of Seridans list(as my friend provided the models) and it was my first 6 games with HE at a tournament and the list ever. I would personally change some aspects of the list to be more in line with the style of play I like, and this is the key. You can never look at a list and say this is great for anyone out there and all should win with it. You need to understand the intricateness of a list and modify it to your own style to do well with it. So for me it's more a question of styles.

Also, regarding tournament results. I can post up a tournament winning 50 model Wood Elves army that includes a Dragon. Now I can tell you that this list is rather bad list and prone to very bad matchups. I can also tell you what style of army will be the best way to play Wood Elves with, none of this will matter unless you as a player understand the style of play and the list I post. It's also important to note that it's not the list that makes the player, it's the player that makes the list.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that a good player will know what works and what dose not work from understanding of the game rather then needing empirical evidence that it will work. :)


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 12:33 pm 
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Quote:
- not coming up short does not equal success. Finishing top 5 for example in a tournament pretty much dictates an average of ~15-5 games. Going 10-10 and 12-8, thus not coming up short, can be pretty far from success.


This bothered me as it seemes you are only measuring success with a tornament style scoring system while to me any win is a success especially in a tornament setting where everyone is trying to win (being competative). Calling a list 'not successful' just because it doesn't massacre the opponent every game is just plain wrong and against what the game is about (fun). Sure fun kinda goes out the window in tornament settings but saying your list wasn't successful because you 'only' won by 12-8 is being kinda 'bad mannered' in my eyes. If you think about it a draw is the best outcome as both players will feel good about their lists (didn't just spend 3-4 hours getting raped for instance). Warhammer is a two player game after all.

I have not played in a tornament and i don't think i ever will (time, money etc). But to say its the last testing ground or THE testing ground for lists and player skill is wrong. As mentioned before the players who go to these tornaments normally have games outside of the tornaments too so what these people just throw lists together without caring when at local club then?

In my opinion you can never get 'optimal' lists. Its like the saying "no one is perfect" there will always be some form of weakness to a list you build and as mentioned you will have to deal with hard counters every now and then. So what is success in a list? To me its the player's ability to adapt and play with their list to any situation. If that is done on a regular basis then i consider the list a success as the player made it a success.

Nothing is proven, only some will have more evidence then you but that doesn't mean you are wrong...unless you still believe in some stupid God theory... :lol:

Even without any tornaments i consider my lists as successful. Optimal? No as i said earlier i don't think there is an 'optimal' list only 'optimal' players.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 12:51 pm 
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Indeed -

My Dark Elf army started with a core list designed to make the most of Shadow Magic, using certain key units. The concept was already deemed to work, my fine-tuning was to find the exact balance I was happy with.

Every tournament I attended after I refined the list to make it harder and harder. Given the current UK meta (Ogres everywhere) I think it's very difficult to come up with a harder list thatn the one I was running upto two weeks ago.

The difference is - it's using a so-called "power book" - success was measured by top 5s/10s in tournaments. Thus I deemed it successful.

With my High Elves, the "yard-stick" is different. I'm going to aim for top thirds for the first couple of tournaments, and then re-evaluate after that making any changes to my list I deem further optimises it. I don't imagine it will be as successful as the Dark Elves. However, 2-3 top thirds in a row with a new army, I'd deem successful.

The main difference here is:

For many army books there is a "nailed-down" concept that works or is considered the "strongest or only optimal"

eg:
Dark Elves, Level 4 Shadow, 30 Corsairs, Blackguard etc
Ogres: 10+ Mournfang, 2 IB, Gutstar
Skaven: Seer (1 or 2), Slaves, 2*PWM, WLC, Abomb, Doomwheel


Having spent a couple of days on this site, I can see lots of different styles, which certain people appear to be doing well with. I think that's where the strength in the HE book lies (well, other than the Specials section!) in that several builds are possible, and reasonably competitive.
I see your point entirely - the idea here is to find the optimal concept, then work on the optimal list, min-maxing that concept as far as possible.

There are certain elements all resonably successful blogs on here seem to follow- the no-brainer that is minimum Core tax. I think that, and the idea that 2+ Great Eagles are necessary for redirection are the only set in stone concepts so far.

The idea then is to develop an overall contextual framework to fit in the “must-haves”.

So far, the lists that seem to be strong (being well-developed lists, played by at the very least decent generals):

Shadow/Book, with PG units
Cavelry Prince/MSU
Dragonlord/Lion Horde
Complete MSU (buy far the least forgiveing of these)
Coven.

I think part of the problem with any of these concepts compared to say the ease I found fine-tuning the Dark Elves is that every single one of these concepts has hard counters, wheras the Dark Elf Shadow spam list was hard as nails without the magic support. Each of these concepts are very different styles of play too – what one style of list finds optimal, another would find redundant, eg: I’m attempting to run a Coven list. There is no room at all in my list for Phoenix Guard. I can see they’re good troops. I can see their uses. They just don’t fit in the system. Conversely, I’d argue they’re a must-have for a Life/Shadow list.

I guess the long and short of it is that while there is no “one list” for High Elves that is currently both successful and optimal (or at least small variations of), I think that’s part of the reason people are still drawn to this army – the options are open, and different players a getting ok results with many different types of lists – meaning that if you fancy a change, you can dust off some of your unused models thus far and change the entire concept of your list. This means your not left with the unfortunate decision I’ve had to make to put my Dark Elves on the side for now as I’ve made them massively points efficient to the point where after my last tournament I can genuinely see no way of developing them further, and thus the urge to play them diminishes as part of the reason a lot of us play competitively is to watch how our list evolves over time.

On a side note: it’s a breath of fresh air to find a forum that is open for discussion and willing to share ideas/attempt to reason through and evaluate choices. This was not something that happened on druchii where players would attempt to force their view on you and accepted no argument to the contrary.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 1:00 pm 
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I think we're looking far too much into this.

My take on the matter is this:
- We can have infantry that have 2 st10 attacks each, without support its not going to do anything.

By support I generally mean battlefield control and general army tactics. Walking forward with a few blocks of infantry and expecting your opponent to just sit there while your infantry run through his army is naive. There are a multitude of ways to deal with elite infantry. He can 1) isolate 1 and concentrate force on another. 2) Template shoot them to manageable numbers for his troops. 3) tarpit them with single characters (or extremely tough to kill characters) 4) go toe to toe with his own elites, and lets face it there are units out there that eat up any of our elite infantry in a straight fight.

Your win condition is getting your killy infantry where you want, when you want, and with enough bodies to kill enough stuff. In my opinion there are 3 solutions to support our infantry. 1) a flying lord 2) damage magic like lore of light spam 3)heavy shooting


1) Attracts missile fire, dragons and eagle lords kill support units on their own, and makes your opponents be a bit more weary in your movement phase. They grant your elite infantry protection through possible blocks and tarpitting. A star dragon or an eagle prince + dragon princes become the initial threat your opponent has to deal with, paving the way for the lions (I think 99% of the time lions will be your block elite infantry) to do their thing. (Mine, Curu's, JWG's (and Seredains which basically follows the same concept) lists does this)

2/3) Both these work the same way more or less. Quite simply by applying extreme range damage (36-48 inches) you put enough pressure on your opponent to get into situations he normally wouldnt, just to escape your ranged assault. You kill monsters, you kill support, you weaken threatening blocks. Then your lions go in and chop stuff up. Furion's etc list did this in shooting. Brewmaster's coven of light does this in magic.

What happens when you don't have this? 6 salamanders or 30 shades + 40 rxbs crap on you for 4 turns before your 10 remaining elite infantry get assaulted by 2 hydras/50 execs + cauldron or 2x30 saurus. Thats not even assuming you don't get one of your infantry blocks stalled by unkillable dreadlord or very tough to kill scar vets on cold ones. Not etc examples ok but the army's problems are magnified when you remove ETC restrictions. Our magic or shooting is already close to as strong as it gets under ETC, but the number of nasties we fight doubles once your remove etc restrictions. In the case of enemy shooting it can triple (looking at dwarfs/lizardmen/woodelves)

The very worst types of high elf armies are in my opinion the ones that have 3-4 blocks of infantry (2 elite, 1-2 core), lvl4/lvl2/bsb with buff based magic (life/shadow) (this includes book of hoeth which I dont rate) and maybe 6 dp and a few eagles or archers. Those are imo doomed to failure. From my experience they might beat some poorly constructed lists but against the big guns I don't trust them to hold. Don't take it personally anyone please.

The above is just what I've written without reading anyone else's posts in this thread, just opening bit.
-----------------

@ Curu. Re throughts on WL block: I field my unit in 10x2. Minimal template damage, its still been killy enough and its not as expensive as a block of 30. I use a very lateral mobile army so I only have them and a block of spears that can take up space. I have lots of drops that allows them to get a good position. With all those factors I still like a big block of lions. I would take 30 if I could find the points, but 10 models is nearly 2x5 reavers! Thats not an optimal trade off imo. Read above regarding supporting elite infantry.

Re: "An army list needs to have tournament success to prove itself as a successful list" Agree there. This may sound petty, but I just can't judge a list based on some friendlies. Or even one tournament. I didn't lose a tournament game with dwarfs until my 12th or so tournament game with them. I only really saw the lists weaknesses then, and it was a glaring one. Maybe I dodged the bullets until then or I just rode my luck. I overhauled it big, I went 9 more without losing, then decided to change just to see if another option was better and then lost within 3 games. I took it for another run and lost within 3 more games. Now I know my 2nd incarnation was better so I'll go back to that and work from there. Thats how I've been testing.

@ Re calibre of tournament games: Not all tourney games are high standard. Sometimes your opponent is a bit new or not the best general and you just know you're going to steamroll (well with dwarfs I can but with high elves things can always go wrong :D). When you fight good players with good lists you will know within 3 minutes just how he deploys the first 2-3 units in his armies.. what his army looks like, which units he deploys first, where exactly he deploys them. Small small minute things. Does he deploy with enough space between infantry blocks to not get pinned by the 1 inch rule. Does he deploy warmachines too tight together so when they pivot to face the target they go within 1 inch of each other (thus unable to do so and fire). Once I saw an ogre player measure his first two drops (single sabretooths) just outside 6 inches of one another to stop potential panic, even though there were going to be within generals range. Small little things that show you its going to be a big fight. Believe me you know when you fight good players, and not all tournament games are like this, and some friendlies are.

I also wouldn't look too highly into worldwide rhq rankings, or even national rankings of very big nations of US size. I see some very high ranked players post battle reports, and they're fighting on table 1 in the last few games and their opponents are playing like muppets. Well sure he's ranked this high if he repeatedly wins 100 player tournaments of this calibre. I see people breaking rules in battle reports (especially stuff like warmachine rules), I see illegal bases that grant advantages, and so on. Maybe the community isnt as rule meticulous, or opponents dont know or whatever. Long story short gauge your success in your local scene first and foremost. I wouldn't flaunt army lists as being the best because its won 1 or 2 bit tournaments, because not everyone lives in areas that can generate 100 people for a tournament. The most I've seen in a tournament in malta is 30. For us thats a big one. I get piss-poor global points but I'd wager we have some very very good players. The only one I know that played in the UK won a heat maybe 6 or 7 years ago, back when they had UKGT heats, which as most people will remember was really the most hardcore of players and lists. He couldn't attend the final. RE our ETC team suffers because even from our limited selection not all of our players can go (I've had to decline for the 3rd year straight now), and because our regular tournaments don't use ETC rules the lists arent optimized, due to simple lack of testing. Its tough to get the best ETC lists when you can only test against your 7-8 people.

Re Optimization vs Synergy. I go with synergy. I use tiranocs, reavers, and an rbt in my army. My dwarfs have used slayers. Not conventional choices, but if I have rolls for them I will use them. Since I've repicked them up the HEs have yet to lose and the slayer list versions have done alright. I have found units that people say are optimal to be suboptimal. IE 40 warriors with GW. IMO that unit is the most worthless unreliable overpriced piece of garbage unit I can take. Of my 3 or 4 tournament losses in the past 14 months they are directly responsible for 2 of those losses. If I had equivalent value xbows or longbs I'd have turned it. For HE I think dragon princes are equivalently worthless. I don't know what it is about them. Maybe I just don't use them right.

1 last point I'd like to make:
The approach of building a list differs from army to army. Some armies can build you all comers that have very good chances of beating any list. I'd rank dwarfs here. I don't care what I come up with, I like my odds if the dice don't betray me. However some other armies might benefit more from maximizing their changes against ~75% of books, while being at a disadvantage against a few others. I'd put HE here, namely Star Dragon HE. It rocks against some lists that can't deal with it, but against the dwarfs/ogres/empire its always going to struggle. I can still win, but it would be much harder. Even the other HE versions all have major hard counters. Its just the nature of the book. Pre dwarfs I racked my brain trying to think of a HE list that can, like dwarfs, fight any army with a good chance. I now believe this is impossible. Now that I'm over this mindset I can embrace things like dragons that can give me big wins, and if required can play for a draw against a tough army.


LA

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 1:34 pm 
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My opponents at the last two events Seredain and Amit (Jal) played were a sub-optimal Warriors list played by an inexperienced player, a very good DE list played by a strong player (Tom Cowlin), another such list played by Amit (who just placed 3rd at the UK's largest and strongest tournament), a friendly Wood Elf list played by a reasonable.player, a good Beastman list played by one of the best players in the country and a hard Daemon list played by an average player. The guys will have been playing similar opposition. So some varietu but pretty respectable.

To be honest HE's haven't consistently won UK tournaments since the days of Rob Lane. Alenui had a little joy, Ant Spiers a good patch when the book was fresh. But the army has never been popular in the Midlands and North of England, where most strong players have traditionally come from.

Strong players have struggled to make Seredain's list work. For example Eldria, who does very well with Daemons and Warriors. But Joey Boy shows that it can be done. At the end of the day though, it has pretty much come through all of it's tests.so far in Serefain's hands.

TSD I'm guessing that you or I would be quietly pleased with a 12-8 against an average player with an average list. But Curu is a very strong player and would expect.to win decisively. I suspect the reason he talks so.definatively is because.he applies such high standards to his own play in the first place.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 1:58 pm 
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SpellArcher wrote:
TSD I'm guessing that you or I would be quietly pleased with a 12-8 against an average player with an average list. But Curu is a very strong player and would expect.to win decisively. I suspect the reason he talks so.definatively is because.he applies such high standards to his own play in the first place.


Quietly pleased? I would be extremely pleased! Its a win i can count and proves that at the very least my opponent was on the same kind of level as me (if we don't take insane dice rolls into account etc). Not only would i win so feeling good about myself but i can assume that my opponent isn't going to feel too bad and angry (or accuse me of cheese etc). Both players can wak away from a game that ended 12-8 with nothing bad to say. But if i would win by 20-0 then i would feel bad for my opponent be they a complete noob or professional gamer. But thats just me and how i treat my opponent though (for instance i always allow LOS against my Dwellers etc even if my opponent is using every little trick in the game to beat me. Even if doing so loses me the game as at least i can go away from it feeling good about myself, not saying Curu and others should feel bad they are great players and everyone should play and think how they like).

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 2:10 pm 
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I know what you mean. I was on top in that last game vs Daemons but my opponent had been slightly unlucky and was feeling hard done-by. I had a combo charge that would probably have given me an 18-2 but possibly even lost me the game. I didn't go for it because I felt the 13-7 I actually got was a fair result and it represented progress for me. Each player has his own expectations.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 3:40 pm 
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@joey - maybe you don't, but I feel that overall, we could benefit from sharing the same set of terms. If everyone goes by their own feelings, we would have next to no grounds to base anything upon. Online, you basically don't know anything about anyone. For all I know, a member could be a former 'Ard Boyz winner or someone who only ever plays against 3-4 friends with the same armies. Your tournament example also goes to show that the quality of the tournament needs to hold a certain level.

@TSD - if you consider a win a win, that's fine by me. In a competitive setting though, winning 12-8 won't get you far enough. Example: at Crusade I didn't lose a single game. The guy in second place lost his last game 15-5 (to rusty). As such, I had 4 wins and a tie, he had 4 wins and a loss. Yet he beat me, and by quite a margin I might add! Warhammer isn't soccer, so in a competitive setting every point counts. If it's in a game with a different environment, then pretty much this entire thread is useless: you aren't trying to find the most optimal of lists to field in such a context!

@Jal - good post. The difference between me and you here is that I have a way taller bar for High Elves. Having seen what certain HE lists/generals are capable of, I don't see a reason why we shouldn't be able to compete for the same achievements you had with your DE. Sure, it's hard, but I think it's far from impossible.

As for your no-brainers, I disagree. All the armies which have a 'proven concept' here share at least the following:
- mage with defensive item (A.C is popular, though some prefer the scroll)
- some Archers (at least) for support
- 2+ Eagles
- minimum core
- elite infantry

It's good to hear that you consider Ulthuan a more, shall we say, promising forum, compared to druchii. I've heard several others say the same, and I hope it stays this way :)

@LA - I think you're kinda missing the point here. I'm not trying to advocate a specific build, but rather explain what I mean with my terms and how I view success. This topic has no intention of us arriving at a 'this is the best WTFBBQ HE list ever'.

@SA - indeed your opponents sound fairly strong, definitely a good field! I think you're in the minority here though, I seriously doubt that the majority of our LGS have the same level as those players you mentioned. I know for sure that mine doesn't (some are really good, rusty for example is currently ranked 2nd in Norway - with WE none the less!).

As for decisive wins and high standards, you are correct. When I 'only' finished 15-5 against the Dwarf player who holds the tournament record in Norway (96 points in 5 games, if I remember correctly), who's also a regular ETC member, I was frustrated that I was unable to win big enough. It's not that I'm not happy with a 15-5 win in a tough matchup against such a strong opponent, but it simply isn't good enough because meanwhile, the 3 guys who finished before me all got bigger wins (20-0, 20-0, 18-2). To put things in perspective - a thorough analysis of my tournament meant that I was only really happy with 1 out of 5 games, despite finishing 4th out of ~45. Sure, a decent finish by most standards, but simply not good enough for me.

Also - your last point is important SpellArcher: sometimes it's important to go for the safe small win. I'm not talking about relative to a tournament placement here, but relative to your own feelings and confidence. I remember very well that I didn't take a rather small risk in my first Dragonlord game vs Dwarfs, because I was so happy that I had managed to come back from a really poor start. I might've done the same in a tournament setting actually, simply because sometimes it's important to prove to yourself that yes, you're capable! The big wins and the rest can come later :)

The really short TL;DR version of this all is that I have high expectations and standards. Thus my terms, such as 'success', reflect this. In no way am I trying to belittle anyone who feels differently, but it's important that people understand where I stand and what I mean, because I know I can often come off as too harsh.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 3:53 pm 
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As for decisive wins and high standards, you are correct. When I 'only' finished 15-5 against the Dwarf player who holds the tournament record in Norway (96 points in 5 games, if I remember correctly), who's also a regular ETC member, I was frustrated that I was unable to win big enough. It's not that I'm not happy with a 15-5 win in a tough matchup against such a strong opponent, but it simply isn't good enough because meanwhile, the 3 guys who finished before me all got bigger wins (20-0, 20-0, 18-2). To put things in perspective - a thorough analysis of my tournament meant that I was only really happy with 1 out of 5 games, despite finishing 4th out of ~45. Sure, a decent finish by most standards, but simply not good enough for me.


Which is what makes ETC so wrong in my eyes. Its supposed to force armies into nonpower builds (non-cheese whatever you want to call it). Instead it makes players want to beat the c**p out of their opponent and not relent up on the attack. This opens the doors to so many Deathstar armies and such (even with the 450pts restriction the armies can still do it). Not saying that all ETC is deathstar but the mindset the players have is "win at all costs and no holding back" which is really not what the GAME warhammer is about in my eyes. So yes i will never enter a ETC tornament so the only people who are entering are all going to be like minded so not so much a problem. But i don't like the attitude needed for ETC which so often will spill over to their friendly games whether they know it or not as it becomes second nature.

At no point am i saying your a bad sport or anything Curu. I just wanted to point out that not all 'success' comes from ETC. Got alittle side tracked here i think with my opinion with ETC rules.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 4:07 pm 
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"@Paricidas - I get your point, I really do. However, everyone here lives in a country where it's easy to attend tournaments with very skilled players. Judging the quality of the tournament can indeed be hard, but if you go to the national championship for example it's pretty clear that the best are present."

Well, perhaps I am the exception from the rule here, but I find it easier to win a tourney game than the so called b&p games:

1st: my country is small, we have only one city that is worth that name, and almost all competetive players play in the same club. We have a refrigerator that continously runs out of Budweiser, so the games there are by definition b&p games. However, I think that the majority of guys there consists of people who have at least won one game at ETC. Every game in the last few months I have played against compeltly maxed lists that put the cheesiest chesse out of our restrictive club-AC. And if not they were training games for the ETC, which also do not come with much of a fluff-flavor into them. As a result, I almost always lose against those people who have more wins in tournaments on their shedule than I have skaven models, so I rank my "b&p" victories much higher than some people here do with theirs.

2nd: Where I play, there are some tourneys for people who do not live near our capital and have some problems to find "normal" games. Hence their only games are tourney games and without sounding arrogant, I find their skills sometimes not on par with mine. In a tourney, I can have 24 white lions waving with a flame banner in front of a hydras nose and some poor guy will still charge it headalong into them. Does that mean that this tournament victory was more of a proof than that of the b&p ETC training win against our most experienced dwarfen player? (I think I won more games during our national league than during 6 months of playing my local dudes, which is not that hard, as I always lose :D)

3rd: I still think that ACs are too different to compare any tourney results. If I came up with a "sucessfull" list, you would probably laugh me from the table for its lack of power, and many "sucessfull" army lists on this forum would be so illegal in my AC that I could never make them work.

4th: If I remember right, the best skaven player on the ETC 2011 showed up with a close-combat-seer in a horde of stormvermin. I do not think that anybody down on "underempires" ever figuered out how this guy did that and I would never ever take the ETC result as a proof that this built is competetiv for a skaven army.

However, there are of course things that will work in every AC and every tourney, like the aforementioned eagles, but if we reduced the discussion here to such common knowledge, we would probably only repeat things that have already been posted here for 300 times.

@Silly Dragon: Well, I have to agree to some point. The worst game reports I ever saw (or heared) were ETC games. Crown-of-Command-guys playing Kongahammer, two armies with sirene song advancing backwards. Well but that has something to do with the ETC draft, as I think most people play WHFB to win (not just to have a sad excuse to drink too much during the week).


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 4:23 pm 
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Disclaimer: this post was begun when this thread had around two replies. It may not fit smoothly into the flow of the thread...

This is an interesting topic and one that I have been pondering fairly often with the advent of so many blogs, each of which does appear successful. First, this is from a purely competitive mindset. I am talking about essentially WAAC, though I don’t think high elves have too much potential for rules abuse. I still prefer to actually play a 12-8, especially if the 20-0 is due to poor dice, not poor playing. I feel bad if my opponent outplays me and then dice screw over it for him. On the other hand, if I outplay my opponent I don’t feel bad about crushing him mercilessly! :wink: In fact I have a perfect example of the first situation that I played online recently that I might start some sort of slow blog with. Anyway, to the point:

How do we define optimal?
If we take optimal to mean the largest possible chance to win with two players of equal skill (which we should) there is by definition, you might assume, one optimal list; mythical and perhaps so powerful that to wield it would be to transcend the mortal realm. But lets break down what actually effects our chance to win:

Our List
Obviously, this is crucial. This is the variable we will change to find the best solution.

Player Skill
This, obviously, makes a huge difference. But less than you might think. If (probably a big if) chance to win scales linearly with skill – that is, if changing skill affects every list’s chance of success equally – then it can be largely ignored. If the list is optimal it will have the highest chance to win under any commander; be they Sun Tzu or Jimmy-who-started-playing-last-Tuesday. More likely, certain lists will require more skill to get the best use from, while being horrible under a poor player. If we assume that certain lists will benefit more significantly from skill, then optimal lists become truly mythical – every list will react differently to its commander and so optimal becomes extremely personal. I think it is mostly likely this way, because a very new player won’t take advantage of the optimal parts of his list in any way; he’ll likely forget rules and blunder his “finesse” units away.

Enemy List
Or, more generally, enemy meta-game. A dragon list might be optimal, until every one of your opponents starts taking three cannons. Annulian crystal is probably optimal – but not against dwarfs. This factor makes finding one tolkienesque list to rule them all as likely as finding clean-shaven hobbit feet.

Comp and Rule set
Comp is easy enough to take into account; there are only a few well-used comp packs out there. Whether or not you play with scenarios; how much terrain you use and whether or not its mysterious; house rules and even interpretation of ambiguous rules can all add to the complexity.

Conclusion
One optimal list cannot be found. Even a list that will work “best” for that meta, for that player, for that comp, for that terrain setup and so on is a ridiculous concept. Perhaps if we had an AI that could play every possible list configuration against every other and calculate victory probability for each match up we could eventually arrive at an optimal list for a perfect, all knowing, player. But, of course, we cannot.

A more useful definition, then, is optimal within a context: the most optimal build for your armies prince; the most optimal rare set up for your army. These can be more easily concluded. We still cannot use empirical evidence to prove the best build but we can define several approaches (say defensive, KB, killy, with a bow ect.) and then fairly easily deduce which approach is most effective. We can then decide which is the most effective defensive setup and so on. This can be proven with math hammer if nothing else.

To take an approach like this to overall list design is probably a good idea. Create several concepts (infantry with book, cavalry prince, coven, dragon lord, MSU, core with shadow and so on) and attempt to deduce which is most effective. For this we need to assess their success: see below. After we have concluded which concept is most effective we then need to fine-tune that concept into the most effective build. Is it better to support a cavalry prince with white lions or phoenix guard? Does an MSU list need an Archmage? One eagle or two? These questions are fortunately not too difficult to answer with some logical thought. Even then we will not have reached an optimal list, merely an effective list based on a successful concept.

Certain lists are more likely to win – and hence more successful – than others in a very general sense. The question is: how do we prove this?

Success
Firstly, I will quote my post from the previous topic, which basically contains my thoughts on the matter.

Sturen wrote:
There are three ways to support a conclusion: math hammer, reasoning and anecdote.

Math hammer is fine for relatively simple conclusions (SM hit harder than WL, BoH is more beneficial to casting success rates than book of Ashur ect.). It falls down when we need to compare the bigger picture (SM are a better unit than WL, BoH is a more effective choice than BoA). Math hammer can provide support to these debates, but not provide a conclusive answer.

It is for these debates we need reasoning. Reasoning is not suggesting that WL are actually the better unit due to stubborn, but suggesting that WL are better because they can fulfil certain roles that SM cannot perform, due to their stubborn. Reasoning is normally the main way that we discuss these sort of debates, but reasoning is purely a thought experiment, it is a hypothesis without the experimental evidence.

Anecdotes are where our most significant source of evidence comes from. You can rate the evidence of a national tournament win higher than that of a solid track record in the local store. You can rate one ETC victory higher than 100 beer n' pretzel wins. Sadly anecdotes are very subjective. We often cannot compare the accuracy of these records easily. In other words, a track record without solid and logical reasoning and potentially some math hammer is very difficult to rely on. While reasoning can arrive at a conclusion that, based on pros and cons drawn from maths and logic, SM are a better unit. This is only a nice idea, we cannot say that it is true for certain without data. Sadly, the plural of anecdote is not data. One thousand games against consistent and varied opponents with either WL or SM would say which is better for certain. Several hundred by varied players, against varied opponent, with varying lists around them, can only provide a conclusion with reasoning to support why what they do works.


I believe, Curu, that you may have misinterpreted me. I said that you could count tournaments more significantly than B&P. That doesn’t (as far as I can see it) actually mean that tournament victories are necessarily more significant than local club wins. Nor does it mean that we should ignore B&P games. What I meant was that saying a list has won X% of its games is irrelevant without a combination of reasoning and battle reports to support it.

Essentially, all the variables above are more important than the actual setting. The only exception to this is that in a tournament game it is more likely (though not certain) that both players are better, are trying their hardest to win and have more powerful lists. It is very possible that an optimal list (or even “the” optimal list) finishes bottom in a tourney due to bad luck, poor player skill and bad match ups. Similarly a talented player with a poor list and good luck can place first. We saw in a recent Throne of Skull (iirc) a very unusual TK archer list place first. It is obviously not an optimal list, yet it was well played, received extremely good match ups and presumably had some lucky breaks. He played the meta, not the game. Because of this I am a firm believer in quantity over quality – which tends to eliminate luck and bad match ups. For me, an 80% win rate in casual but competitive games against varied opponents speaks far more than placing first in a 50 player tournament over 4 games.

This is why we need battle reports especially. These allow us to pick over each game and declare for ourselves where the game lies in terms of the players’ skill, match up and luck. And through this we can decide how much weight to give to that game as evidence of success. If someone simply states they have placed first in three or four major tournaments, I will be impressed. But there is no way I’ll consider their list optimal or even successful without seeing at the very least a run down of what they played against and what they did to get their wins. Neither will I take someone’s word as gospel if they are undefeated for four years straight in their local club. If, like Seredain pioneered, they document loads of wins in great detail, even if some are against poor opponents with unusual lists, I will give significant weight to their list design and opinions in general.

In short, prove success through show, not tell.

If anything here was taken as aimed, I was not taking a dig at anyone, don't worry!

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 4:23 pm 
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Curu Olannon wrote:
@joey - maybe you don't, but I feel that overall, we could benefit from sharing the same set of terms. If everyone goes by their own feelings, we would have next to no grounds to base anything upon. Online, you basically don't know anything about anyone. For all I know, a member could be a former 'Ard Boyz winner or someone who only ever plays against 3-4 friends with the same armies. Your tournament example also goes to show that the quality of the tournament needs to hold a certain level.


Curu. Thats my point. There is no way to quantify a list. The Tournament I won with my Dragon lord was decent. Only about half the top players where present so not the hardest competition there could be, but still a fair number of top players in attendance. And thats just it, any tournament win is highly dependent on the army's and players you might draw. And the only real test of a player or army list would be a invite only tournament where the best of the best would be battling it out. So if you place high in a tournament with a list, I could still think that the list in question is bad. The thing is that you might be the reason that the list is winning and not the other way around. And trying to pin a list as good is not the same as it's the player using it to great success that is the key component. This is why I feel that trying to find a formula to decide if a list is any good or not can never really exist. The only interesting parts is if you as a reader can see the options that a list provides you with and the synergies it has. And this is not something that you can just point at and say that the list is good because of x,y and z. It's an understanding that x,y and z is good because I can use them in several different ways when the need arises. It's about understanding the flow of a battle and how to dance with it.

I guess my point is that if we where to really discuss a list we would have to write a 3 pages long essay on said list. This is not really practical and we often need to summarize the basic thoughts and ideas around it. After that, it's pretty much up to the reader to understand the way a list works, identify if it would work for you and/or what changes would need to be made for it to function in a way that you would like. And if that new way would actually be any good.

btw Curu. Are there any big tournaments coming up in the Oslo area where I could attend? As I live in Gothenburg it's only 3,5-4h up there. And I would love to show you guys how to play Wood Elves on a higher level :P


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 6:51 pm 
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Lots of interesting, and well-formulated opinions in this thread. Even though I don't play HE it's well worth a read. Keep it up.

@Joey_boy
You can find all norwegian tournaments here: http://www.2d6.no/
Arcon is june 23.-24. The next is probably in september, october and a norwegian championship in january 2013.

Btw, Wood Elves is old news in Oslo. Haven't you heard? After the last few tournaments they're the new stealth cheese ;).

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 1:34 am 
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As interesting as all the intrigue, declaration and clarification has been...

Curu how do you suppose we go about this grand idea? Warhammer is as much art than science. Game time guts, pre-game brains both of these are critical. There are going to be huge variances in method, the risk takers and the risk adverse. Reactive and the proactive.

Like any real experiment we'll need parameters to measure results, control, etc. Things we can hold constant, and weaknesses we need to accept in an attempt to provide statistically relevant data.

I think one of the important aspects that is often left out of battle reports is the math behind combats. Hits, wounds, saves, etc. This is important because we need to observe when there are statistical anomalies. In this specific case I think we will be looking for medians, not means.

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 7:03 am 
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Lots of great brain power jammed into this thread! I'll simply state that the caliber of tournaments probably creates more of discrepancy than any other. especially when making some of the stronger claims. For example: I can attend a local tournament, expect powerful builds great player skill and quality. I drive an hour south of my location, and... its mostly fluff players. I'm talking beautifully painted armies whom are all named with great stories. But we're talking armies that look better than they'll ever perform. Ever seen a skaven army without slaves or warmachines? Finally, i'll throw in 2 cents for the general consensus that we feel up here in Northern Ca that our campaigns are highly more competitive than our tournaments. We're not restricted by time or one afternoon of terrible dice. Its week in and week out of rough match ups and grueling gauntlets to determine success. Hehe great thread ;) Just wait till i finish my next 10 phoenix guard and i'll be rocking the Phoenix Star!

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 9:56 am 
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@TSD - I find it interesting how many people dislike ETC without ever having tried it. ETC does not try to keep powerful builds away, it tries to even the grounds so that powerlists can face powerlists on an equal footing. Also remember that ETC is designed for competitive games. Contrary to popular belief, most people have loads of fun playing ETC games, especially in tournaments. I would suppose it's because you don't have the incredibly frustrating elements around (e.g. Teclis) which you simply cannot do anything against and which is overpowered as well.

I do agree however that not all success comes from ETC. Like I said, context plays an important part, and a list considered successful under ETC rules might not be equally successful under other composition rules packs.

@Paricidas - maybe a few places are like this, but again a decent tournament has an effective pairing system so that even if you meet subpar players in the first few rounds of a tournament, by the end you're likely to have faced some tough opponents (or you never make it to the top).

As for Crown of Command congalines, this can be encountered regardless of environment (as long as congalines aren't ruled out). While annoying though, even these things have effective counters.

@Sturen - I think most blogs are 'successful' because if you have the time and dedication to make one, you're way more interested in the game and its tactics than average Joe at your LGS. I agree with your assessment of optimal - pure optimal does not exist, or if it does, it's impossible to reach it. Therefore, optimality must be considered relative to context (as you conclude).

I do disagree however that there doesn't need to be one optimal approach. I strongly believe that it's possible to have several approaches that can all be equally good (thus equally optimal, though this somewhat contradicts the nature of the term). However, certain concepts cannot work and indeed some interesting and promising concepts may very well turn out to be sub-optimal as well.

Your tournament vs game evaluation - I totally agree with. However, since data will be limited, we have to go by what's more likely - and as you say tournaments come out better here. Barring a thorough evaluation of all 'non-tournament' games, it's very hard to tell what a player's been up against in X games. For example, Wamphyri's recent tournament runs mean a lot because we know the context. However, had he tried to say that he simply won Y games using his list, it would mean so much less. While some of our army blogs are fairly detailed, I still believe that tournament success should be the end point, so to speak (see Seredain's post about this in particular).

I also agree that even tournament success needs to be analyzed. In fact, I think I'll start asking what people think of my games, to get a better impression of what others (and not just myself) view the context as, both with regards to luck, opponent skill, list strength and anything else that might be interesting.

@joey_boy - the point is not to discuss a certain list. It's to evaluate an army concept, for example a Dragonlord. I'm currently trying my best to prove that this can be an optimal build. Back in December last year, I decided to spend 2012 trying to make this thing work. Why I see this as important is because there are so few successful High Elf builds. Sure, we might grab an occasional good spot, but there are very few (if any!) builds that are considered very strong (i.e. successful). Thus far, results have been promising but I would hesitate to call it successful just yet. By the same principle, I judge other HE armies.

See Rusty's link for Oslo tournaments (it is usually not where we play though as we're living in Trondheim). I should warn you though, his WE are pretty insane (he won Crusade with them, which featured like all the ETC players in Norway).

@Baleanoon - see the paragraphs above. It's not meant as an experiment.

@thelordcal - can't wait to see your newest creation in action!

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:: Curu Olannon's Vindicators - 2500 points Army Blog (Old book, outdated) ::


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