The Thought Process Behind "Casual Tactics" is Fundamentally Flawed
This is a topic I’ve skirted around a few times before and I’d like to directly address it. More than most of my articles, I encourage discussion and questions about this.
I’ve received a few requests to cover “casual tactics” on my blog. This vague, and to me contradictory, request has come up enough that I want to address it and explain why it’s both unnecessary and conflicting with my philosophy about the game.
The best way to tackle this is to unpack what people might be asking for when they request “casual tactics”. I’m yet to have anyone be able to qualify that or explain it well, so I’m going to address a few different meanings that request may have. Before we go on, anyone reading this should understand my philosophy about casual vs. competitive play. Casual games are ones where the primary goal is for BOTH players to have fun. Competitive games are ones where the primary goal is to win. Those goals aren’t mutually exclusive, and there are plenty of other goals you can have such as improving as a player.. The terms “casual” and “competitive” get thrown around without qualification a bit too much in this community, so I want to apply a hard-and-fast test you can apply to any game. If the game is at an event where the goal of each player is to win, such as a tournament, or if the game is practice for such an event, it is competitive. Anything else is casual, because in anything besides that the goal of both players should be to have fun. The lack of definition is probably why so many people give me this vague request without elaborating. Hopefully that already sheds some light on why I don’t think “casual tactics” are necessary.
The first and most obvious meaning for “casual tactics” is people might be asking me to discuss tactics for units that aren’t very popular. I more or less already do that, as I am of the opinion that being a good player and knowing your army means far more than the relative strength of your list. My entire Deathwing tactics series covers units that aren’t popular in the current competitive meta, while I often give the benefit of the doubt to units that are mostly seen as bad, such as the Dark Talon.. For those units I do say are really bad, if you want to run them anyways do it. The units that I think are terrible are often ones without a purpose, with rules and weapons that don’t mesh or are even contradictory. I can’t and don’t want to tell you how to play your fluffy units and games, but I’ll tell you how “less than top-tier” units can be used, which I think qualifies as “casual”.
The next definition might be people asking for general tactics, ones that apply to any army, in any game. I’ve already explained before, there are very few “general” tactics in 40k. If anything, I’m often afraid writing “general” tactics are more damaging than helpful. I’ve seen too many players play their army exactly the same way, every mission, every game. Roll the same psychic power tables, same warlord trait tables, same deployment. There is no better way to shoot yourself in the foot, and lack of flexibility in either a player or a list is the biggest weakness you can have in 40k. While there are “general tips” some people could use, such as spreading troops out to avoid blast templates and how to position your models to keep opponents away from an objective, these are usually things that can be learned in-game, especially by asking someone after a game if they noticed things like that. I feel like the potential benefit of “general” tactics is too small to the potential harm of people rotely playing my advice and failing miserably due to lack of ability to adapt. Being more adaptable is almost always the first piece of advice I have for players struggling to win games, and the best way to learn the game is to just play it.
Finally, some people might just be turned off by the fact I always say my advice is for competitive play. To me this is a bit silly, because unit tactics and list analysis can be applied to both casual and competitive games. The only thing that differentiates a casual and competitive game is your mindset. You can still play the game well and use your units to the fullest in a casual game, as long as you do so in a way that doesn’t impede your opponent’s ability to have fun. I even go out of my way to specify that most of my tactics apply to casual games, so I hope this last definition is the least common.
Big wall of text there guys. Sorry, but this was something I wanted to explain and be able to point to it when I get these requests. If you guys want to discuss this, or have questions or complaints about this, please speak up, this isn’t a topic I want to have to address frequently. If you have a request for casual tactics, feel free to ask me what you’re specifically looking for, and we’ll figure out how I can best cover it, or if it needs to be covered.
The new year is starting up, and I don’t have anything lined up for articles. If you have a request, please let me know. I’m still open to doing list reviews on the blog, or feel free to PM me if you’d like review in private.