Friday, November 25, 2016

The Myth of Bad Armies

The Myth of Bad Armies

I think a lot of people were expecting this after my last post.

Reactions to my last post were mixed.

I was surprised to see so many people actually upset that I was claiming Orks aren’t as bad as everyone has said. But before I go on with the meat of this post I want to step down from my soapbox for a second. I know I speak from a pedestal when I write this blog, partly because that’s how these kind of blogs work, but also because I like to think my tournament results have given me a bit of a position of authority. But I’m someone who enjoys the game, just like everyone else, and some of the more spiteful comments I received in the last week or were pretty hurtful not just to me but also to the people I play with. I don’t understand why some people took my post as some kind of personal attack, but I certainly received a lot of personal attacks back, questioning my integrity as a player, saying I cheated, or claiming I only beat bad players. Rather than respond to all of those individually, I want to remind everyone that insisting your own army is bad competitively, and insulting someone who put up good results with it serves absolutely no purpose. It doesn’t make you a better player, it doesn’t make anyone else care that you think your army is bad, it won’t make GW update them, and it ends up just making me and maybe some other people reading it feel bad. If my post was that big a blow to your pride that you felt the need to personally attack me and others, you might need to re-examine what you take pride in.

Alright. Back up to the soapbox. In a more constructive manner, let’s discuss WHY so many people think Orks and other armies are bad, and how we as players can look at them. This will be strictly in a competitive sense, but I’m going to address casual play at the end.

Out With the Old
I’d bet the most common problem for people who claim that armies like Orks or Dark Eldar are bad is that they’re upset the old staple units have fallen out of favor. Trukks, Boyz, Nob Bikers, Raiders and Venoms are all formerly powerful units that just don’t work well competitively anymore. The thing is, this happens to every army. While it’s more obvious when these units are advertised as the core units of the army, like in the above examples, it’s not restricted to them. Almost every week on reddit I see people asking “Why are terminators bad?” “What happened to terminators?” “How do we fix terminators?” Terminators are a unit in several competitive codices that have fallen by the wayside thanks to meta shifts, just like those units in “bad” codices. Orks have plenty of good units right out of their codex like Lootas, Warbosses, Deffkoptas, Warbikes, and even Grotz for troops, these just aren’t the units that have traditionally been their strong point.

Best Buds

Another problem of people clinging to old styles of play is those who refuse to use allies. There is no reason to shoot yourself in the foot like this when making a competitive army. CSM and Dark Eldar are armies who both have very good battle brothers who they can bring plenty to the table for. If you want to continue playing your old favorite army in today’s competitive environment, sometimes the best way to do that is to just bring some friends. I’ll also quickly address people who say using FW or supplements is somehow wrong in tournament play: This is an old mindset that has no place in the current state of competitive play.

The Bandwagon
One last problem I notice is the often perpetuating cycle of “bad armies.” People say the army is bad, so no one brings them to tournaments. Then people point to the fact they aren’t popular in tournaments as a reason that they’re bad/not popular. 40k already has a massive copy-cat problem where people try to pick up the S-tier armies because they believe it’s the only way to win, and discouraging innovation by believing only the popular armies are good ones perpetuates this problem.

You can take any army to a tournament and do well, as long as you’re willing to make concessions to change up your old style of play, maybe by adding allies or getting rid of your favorite units that aren’t as good as they used to, but don’t let the myth that your army is bad discourage you.

So what about casual play? This is going to be the hardest for a lot of people to grasp I think, but casual play is casual. If you’re having trouble winning with your army in casual games, no matter what army it is, one of two things is happening. Either your opponent is not bringing an appropriate list to play with you, or you are a poor player or have a poor attitude. Casual games are about both players having fun, and if one of you isn’t, both of you have failed. Standing there complaining about your codex will not change that situation, because if your codex gets buffed the next day and you start sweeping all of your casual games, then your opponent won’t be having fun. Most people already ask their opponent if it’s ok to bring someone like a Superheavy to a casual game, or to play a unique mission. There should be no problem saying “hey, I want to bring a big horde of Ork boyz, please bring an army or pick a mission that will be fun for both of us.” It’s on the two of you to create a situation where both of you have fun no matter what armies you want to play, and if your opponents are otherwise good players, maybe it’s time to look at yourself and ask if it’s your own attitude that’s stopping you from having fun, not your codex.

Alright, that got pretty heavy. Back to business as usual next week. Don’t forget to send me those entries for the Dark Angels painting competition! It ends December 6th!


  1. I saw the post that I believe inspired this. This toxic player agrees; it's about the craftsman, not the tools.

  2. I 100% agree with this. The biggest issue I see with some people is that they either don't have the money to afford the models to make their army work, or don't play to the mission that is given.

    I stopped playing CSM because I couldn't afford the expensive Forgeworld models that would make my army more playable. Our local ork player refuses to switch up his tactics because he can't afford to buy models at all right now, so he resorts to using Boyz spam.

    As for missions, I tell people this all the time and they don't listen that the mission is more important than killing my models. I've seen someone in a maelstrom game pass up getting a few points just to take out a single unit of mine, and that ended up costing them badly. Or in the Ork player's case: He just rushes his army into combat ignoring the fact that their is a mission at all, then complains that he's losing his games by 10+ points.

  3. While I agree with pretty much everything you posted here, this doesn't do anything to dispel the "myth" that some armies are bad.

    If your army has to rely on spamming a few key units and there are a host of objectively bad entries in your codex, your overall chance of winning depend on specific mission types rather than player skill, then your army IS bad. Just because it may work well in a certain niche doesn't change that, a good army should be balanced enough to have a wealth of viable lists and give the player tools that enables him to consistently perform well in most situations, so long as you've prepared for them.

    In my experience, that's what people talk about when they say an army is "bad", not that it's necessarily completely worthless, but that it suffers from very bad options and requires monobuilds, spam or other sort of crutches to perform adequately.
    I may be able to consistently win objective games with Zhadsnark biker spam, but that's one good list for an otherwise bad army, I'd still like a actually good codex that lets me play with stuff like Nobz and Flash Gitz without asking my opponent to gimp their lists.