My thoughts on Army Lists
I'm getting up on my soap-box here. These are my thoughts on how an army list should be written (and is blatantly based on how I write my list which is, of course, the best way ) .
I understand that many of you utilise Army Builder for ease of use but IMO its output sucks. Whenever I see it I die a little on the inside. So much information in such little space, all abbreviated and summarised .
You can keep using AB if you want, I don't care (but you'll never see my place feedback on your lists). But for those of you that don't use AB, and are struggling to find a nice format for your list, then this is the thread for you.
The question is "What should an army list achieve?"
In my opinion, the answer is:
- "1/ It should be concise;
- 2/ It should be easy to refer to;
- 3/ It should show that we are not cheating;
- 4/ It should be easily understood by anyone."
I don't know about you, but I can easily fit a (printed) 2000 point list on a single side of A4 paper. But even so I still manage to communicate exactly what the army is equipped with.
The reason is simple - there is no point in writing down your units' default weaponry.
Think to yourself, why are you writing this list? If it is to ask a veteran player to help you with your army list then they will be familiar with the units and what they can be armed with (if they weren't then they're not much good to get advice from, eh? ). As such spamming them with information they already know is just going to annoy them.
If instead it is for your opponent, and they are double-checking everything you did to make sure that you aren't cheating them ... well they're gonna have to sit down with your codex to check everything anyway. Let the annoying twerp look up the default weapons himself, instead of getting on with the game.
Another thing you can do which shortens your army list is abbreviations and acronyms. Now I suggest you be wary of these, as using them too much will mean you fail on 4/ Communication.
The only acronyms I will regularly use are (ccw=close combat weapon) and (bp = bolt pistol).
Abbreviations I use more often (but not too often) and I make sure they are simple. About the only ones I use are (pfist=Powerfist), (vet Sarge = veteran sergeant) and (hvy = heavy).
4 Brothers of Metal (Bike Squad)
Twin Bolter; Bolt Pistol (x2); Meltagun (x2); Frag Grenades
1 Ulrich (Veteran Sergeant)
Twin Bolter; Frag Grenades; Close Combat Weapon (x1); Power Weapon (x1); Combat Shield
Bike Squad "Brothers of Metal" - 5
Furious Charge; 2x Meltaguns; Vet Sarge Ulrich with (Power weapon, ccw, combat shield)
As you can see, the 'good' example is taking up about half the space.
2/ Ease of Reference
This section is all about telling what the unit comprises of at just a glance. I find that this not only helps your opponent, but lets me know exactly what models I need to get from my carry case.
The key to this is about properly organising your list, and summarising.
- What I do is write the name of a unit, and then indent all the upgrades that "belong" to it. Using the same order for these upgrades can help a lot. The order I do it is:
1st - Squad type and name.
2nd - Upgrades that apply to the whole squad (frag grenades, special skills)
3rd - Weapon upgrades
4th - Character upgrades
5th - Wargear upgrades for that Character (I give these an extra indent so it can be seen they belong to the character, not the squad).
6th - Transport upgrade
7th - Wargear for that transport (once again, I give them an extra indent).
- Another good idea is to make the unit type and total point cost easily seen, I generally make them bold type.
- Finally, and quite importantly, I put the total number of models next to the unit name.
Which is easier for the person reading the list:
"Okay, lets see *squints* 4 guys with normal weapons, 2 with plasma pistols. *Squints some more* oh and he's got a sergeant. *thinks* That's 7 guys. Better suggest he ups it to 8."
or: "'Assault - 7'. Only 7 guys? Right, better suggest he ups it to 8."
Frag grenades, 6x Bolters, 1x Plasmagun, 1 Vet. Sergeant with Bolter and Power Fist, Furious Assault, squad mounted in Rhino with Extra Armour, Smoke Launchers
@ 250 points
Tactical Squad - 8
___ Furious Assault
___ Frag grenades
___ 1x Plasmagun
___ Vet Sarge
______ Extra Armour
______ Smoke Launchers
I could look at that and see straight away I need to get eight marines and a Rhino out of my case to make the squad, one of which carry's a Plasmagun and one a Powerfist. I can assume (as per Section 1) that the rest carry bolters.
During the game, if I forget what 'non-WYSIWYG' upgrades they have (i.e. Furious Assault), it's right underneath the unit's name, easily spotted - as opposed to in the bad example where it is lost in the middle. Another example of how useful having a thought-out order.
This is what I really developed the previous two sections for - adding up points easily. Ever make that mistake where you give the entire squad an upgrade, then later on add another model to the squad (with points left over) but forget to pay for the upgrades for the new guy? Or simply just add up the points wrong?
With my method this mistake is easily spotted. All you need to do is print the values in a column, and Bjorn Stronginthearm is your uncle.
Of course, when you copy the list from your computer to the internet, you need to delete the individual points costs so you don't infringe on GW's IP rights.
Unit made up so I can show an example without infringing on IP.
Weapons: Swat members are armed with an assault rifle
Options: The entire team may be armed with Flash bang grenades at +2 points a model and/or gas masks at +3 points a model.
Any Swat member may swap his assault rifle for a shotgun at no additional cost. 2 members may be upgraded to carry tear gas launchers at +5 points a model. 1 member may be armed with a battering ram at +15 points.
Transport: If the squad numbers 10 models or less it may select an APC transport for +35 points. The APC may have a comm. facility at +12 points.
Swat team - 9
___ Flash bang grenades
___ 1x Tear gas launcher
___ 1x Battering ram
___ 3x shotguns
______ Comm. facility
Swat team - 9 _________________
___ Flash bang grenades _________
___ 1x Tear gas launcher__________
___ 1x Battering ram_____________
___ 3x shotguns ________________
___ APC _______________________
______ Comm. facility_____________
Anyone can now see if you've forgotten to include the cost for something; and since everything is in a nice column, a few minutes work with a calculator yields the units' subtotals, and then to the army total.
Well, this is what it was all building up to, wasn't it? Being able to communicate your army list to anyone easily, and in such a manner that your opponent understands. So what advice to I have? None! - well, no more that is .
That "Good Example" in Section 3 is the finalised version that I use for Word documents, at home and at my local club. However, when I post on the internet a few changes are required.
First of all, of course, is deleting the individual points costs so I don't breach copyright. Since I use Word's 'tab' key indenting this is simple because after I've copied the army list into the "Post New Topic" box all the points are in the centre as if the 'tabbing' were still in effect (although no message board I've ever been on will properly post the original 'tabbed' layout if I try, which leads to correction #2).
#2: Since the spacing disappears when you hit "Post new topic", all the lovely indenting showing what belongs to whom disappears as well. I instead represent the indents with dashes, but only bother with things that I would normally double indent (in this example that is the comm. facility. only. Normally it's stuff which belongs to characters and transports.)
Swat team - 9
Flash bang grenades
1x Tear gas launcher
1x Battering ram
- Comm. facility
In closing, I would like to emphasis that nobody has ever had a problem understanding my lists. I have been accepted in to national tournaments with that style list and, finally, last time I posted a list on B&C I got the reply "first of all - very nice, clearly-written army list makes me more inclined to comment. " - CaptainWhizz
(Emphasis added by me)
p.s. In case you're curious, the reason this got edited over 1 year since it was originally posted was because a board upgrade messed with the punctuation.
Edited by Wildfire, 14 November 2007 - 11:00 AM.
altered section re: individual point costs