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Simon Says

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

40k List building tips from Gobstyks 40k Travel Team member and ITC regular Simon Miller





So, Mr Williams has asked me to write up an article on the difference between chasing the meta and just playing the stuff you like and getting it to work.


“The big difference between the 2 is expense and by god can it be expensive to chase that mythical beast that is called the 40k meta.”

A new 40k army will generally set you back £300-400. So, in the last few months if you wanted to stay on top of the meta with the best army that would have meant in March 2021 you needed to buy a dark eldar army, come May start again with an Ad Mec army. Also, you would have to be a quick painter to get the most use out of the army as you will generally only have 2-3 months of tournaments before the cycle starts again.


The second difference is that most meta chasers will rely upon net listing to be able to keep on the top of the meta. This also keeps the army purchase cheaper as no chaser wants to buy models that are never going to see the table top. As the top player of any army will spend a huge amount of time reading the book and looking for those perfect combo’s that pull out the most point efficient and over powered combos to give the army the best chance of winning the event. So by copying those best lists you can speed up the process and have a ready made list.


However, relying upon net lists and buying new armies every few months creates its own issue as this means that each new army and lists has to be learnt from scratch and without enough reps with the army you will never reach top tables or use it to its fullest potential. This is why you generally don’t see a meta chaser or a net lister winning major events or GT. However, this type of meta chasing can get you regularly to 3-2 at event and maybe even a podium at a smaller event. The other main difference is that you will never get the same satisfaction from a meta net list as you do from taking an army you have written and designed yourself and refining this list to its best and being successful with it.


However, the process is very different. You first have to come up with a concept, an idea or simply find a unit that you love that you want to use.

Once you have that idea of what you want the army to do, how it will work, then you have to build the synergy which involves a deep dive in to the codex yourself and pulling out all the threads you will need to make it work on first look. You need to find those key units that you must make maximum use out of to reach your goal, the key warlord traits, relics and powers to make the units as effective as possible. Then once you have the first list written comes the fun bit of testing, testing and more testing. This is where the list really comes to life and you learn the trick and nuances of the list that allow you to be able to beat those people who have no real idea how to play their list. It’s during this testing phase that you would also pay close attention to what worked, what didn’t and the weaknesses of the list and what you need to fill those holes. You have to try and test the list against numerous different types of list. So close combat lists, leaf blower lists, all comer lists, horde armies and psychic heavy lists.


However, you don’t want to change too much during each change otherwise it will become much more difficult to actually work out what changes makes it better and what is just a band aid.


So then you have your list and you have played it to death so you know how to use it in every situation and that is going to give you the best chance to do well at an event.


The next time you hear someone ask "What's the best list" You'll know to tell them that the best list is the list you enjoy playing with even if it's not going to win big tournaments.


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