13 May 2009

The "WFB metagame"

Someone recently started a thread at Warseer regarding collecting army lists to counter Daemon armies. On of the first responses stated:

"Well, what you are describing is known as the metagame, and is very influential. In MagictG, it´s the usual game: Someone comes up with an unbeatable new deck. Everyone copies the deck, and suddenly the tournaments are full with these which always win. As a result, people develop an anti-deck that is specifically tailored to beat this one deck but doesn´t stand a chance against anything else. In the end, a tournament list looks like this:

45% Killer Decks
45% Anti-Killer Decks
10% Bystanders
(Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit here...)

I´m surprised this concept seems to be new to Warhammer players? If an army list dominates the tournaments, then take something with you that helps against it!"


"Learn to play the game properly, most armies are effective when used right."

Which trailed off into the topic of list tailoring and I completely lost any enthusiasm for reading further.

But I think those points above nail it. WFB has become a "metagame" of list writing, where what's actually going on down on the tabletop is far far less important than the list you make. Lists have always made a difference to a certain extent, but with the system's increased reliance on special rules and "killer combos," the game has effectively become Warhammer Fantasy Listwriting, rather than Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

I haven't been to the local WFB night in a while. Today I'm free and will be heading up there. I figure I've lost enough with the same balanced, "combined arms" Empire army, and figured I would write a new list that may actually stand a chance. It started with the brace of steam tanks, the arch lector and three mages. I initially added some infantry, but then realized that having actual rank and file guys was more of a liability than anything else, and removed them...

...and that's when I felt any and all will to play the game drain from me...

So I will be heading to the local game store to socialize a bit, and maybe bring some figures up to clean & assemble for the next modeling/painting project while I BS with the guys a bit.

The only gaming I've done in the past two months +/- were two fairly fun games of WAB and FoG. I should be itching for a WFB game. In fact, I am . Just not WFB in its current incarnation. I'm dying to play some tabletop games. But as I stated above, I can't get past that engineering involved in writing an army list. And if I don't optimize my list to the one or two "builds" that's most efficient, there's almost no point in putting the figures on the table.

So I'm going to continue painting, and getting in games of WAB when I can, and maybe give FoG another shot. Also thinking about trying to dig up some interest (teach non-miniature-gaming people?) some DBA or MoW. But for now -- and I don't know how long -- WFB just generates far too little enthusiasm for me.

I like pushing little toy soldiers around on the table and rolling some dice -- not accounting.


  1. WFB is falling into the trap that has killed 40k 4th ed for alot of folk (me included) list writing won the game before you even hit the table. From what I gather 40k's 5th ed had addressed this with its overall mission approach instead of just trying to table your opponent ASAP. In WFB's current form the only way to steer clear of this is don't play D-bags or people who don't "get it" and play in events with composition rules or just with friends. Its sucks to say but we probably need to wait until next WFB edition to fix everything they currently broke with the new books. Remember GW writes rules to sell models not for tournament play, or least that's their excuse for not playtesting things extensively

  2. Yeah, I played 40k from the original RT release up until 4th ed. killed it for me, too.

    I heard similar things about 5th ed, but then it also sounds like they're starting to undo any ground they gained with that, already.

    The thing is, I don't really play with any d-bags. Besides, how do you determine what to take or not take? Where are the limits?

    While 6th edition wasn't perfect, it was the best edition so far. (Ignoring my nostalgia for 3rd edition.) But they're really started unraveling that.

    I'm going to sit on my WFB stuff for now, but when 40k did this, I sold off 3 armies and haven't looked back. I don't want that to happen with WFB, but I'm not going to play a game that frustrates me more than it gives me enjoyment.

  3. Welp as a fellow Empire player I try to run pretty generally fluffy lists based on theme and do ok, of course I get still get crushed by silly VC and Daemon lists but..my rules of thumb are really simple try to keep a 33% cap on Heros, Core and then Special and Rares combined, Don't take duplicate rares and dont do things you know are abusive..3 units of Flamers or 2 steam tanks..what ever. People need to actually read their army books and try to make an army based on theme (and when I say theme I dont consider building an army around having maximum power dice "a theme")
    ...that's one of the major problems with Daemons. people just design WAAC lists and dont read the damn book...you should not be running multiple heralds of the same god, you shouldn't take duplicate gifts, Forces of Chaos are now working together, so no monotheistic lists, etc -these things are implied but not spitulated..part the problem with GW's rules is the Brits just have a different mentality about gaming than we do...while they gleefully dice off a rules dispute, we'll have a thrown down in the parking lot over one., It's takes a Black and White, airtight set of rules to appease us. Overall I think by the book restrictions to the Army Org charts would fix things..they are open ended now they are just too easy to abuse.

  4. I have commented a number of times, that if someone wants to be as competative as possible with WFB Empire, then no one would take foot troops

    Fortunately I only play against good friends, the only wargames club I go to only plays historical, and even they dont get so uptight about rules.

    I couldnt play in a club where people get too mad at a rule

  5. John:

    From what I hear, the UK GTs are pretty hardcore -- more so than the US.

    In fact, look at the WD Empire articles and advice on their web page. The studio solution to Empire's competitiveness is to run a gunline. :/

    As far as themes, I think that's just too difficult. I've been doing a Marienburg themed Empire army, so I've stayed away from arch lectors & steam tanks, and flaggelants, for example. Granted, some of that hurts me a bit. But that's sort of the point, too. By not taking the arch lector (practically a must-have) and at least one STank, my army is far less competitive than even the fairly balanced lists I face. It's like they've built in "must have" selections into army books.

    But back to defining themed armies, who's to criticize an Engineer's Guild themed army? Skaven Clan Skryre? WE Treemonic legion? Totally within the realms of the fluff. But also some of the most complained about armies before the new VC, DoC & DE books hit the scene.


    That's the thing... after playing Empire for a while now, I've learned that more often than not, my infantry (three large blocks of them, each with two detachments) are usually more of a liability than anything.

    More often than not the game hinges on something like taking down the enemy mage-brigade, uber-hero with deadly magic item combo, or bigass monster (Thirster, dragon, whatever.) If I succeed in that, then I win. If I fail at that, then I lose. The infantry is just a side-show that, at best, pushes the game between minor wins/losses to major wins/losses or massacres.

  6. Yeah I have heard that too, I was referring to mindset of the guys that write the rules..If you read Jervis and Gav that's their point of view..GT's do bring out a whole nother animal in people. If your talking about being competitive- tournament wise your limited to sticking to ones that have strict comp guidelines if you want more well rounded lists, other wise its anything goes, and anything goes GT's are where the problems started if you ask me. Some of theme'd list you mention are just broke (Skyre) people who run them ought to know better..I give you big props for running Marienburgers! Anyway I still hold out hoping people want to play a good game rather try for an easy win.

  7. When you stated that you didnt want to play after you took the foot troops out mirrors my feelings exactly. Let me know when you want to do some DBA. I havent played in 8 months. Have you tried the Big Battle version?

    Lancaster 2012

  8. Lancaster 2012? Is that wishful thinking? ;)

    Yeah, I dusted off the DBA book and started looking into some potential armies. I'm contemplating trying to get some local non-gaming friends interested.

    I played BBDBA a long time ago.

  9. Just say "NO" to Baltimore. I'm just agitating,since I dont usually go anyway,I stick to Cold Wars. But at least I'd like that option.

    Lancaster 2012