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List Commentary "commentary"
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Todd Schneider
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:23 am    Post subject: List Commentary "commentary"

OK, I will admit this has been bothering me for some time. As a relatively newer player to Warrior, I readily admit I do not know the ins and outs and past histories of some of the lists being used and talked about, but there is one thing bugging me on the current commentary thread.
Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of sitting down and dissecting a list, and I appreciate the hard work the Ewan, Mark and others do, but at the end of the day, what they are doing is offering an opinion on how things "should" be, and no matter how well informed those opinions are, they are still biased.

Quote:
I'm astonished he didn't finish at the absolute bottom of the heap; a testament to his experience and skill as a player, no doubt.


This, to me, is the single most important piece of advice to be found on that entire thread. And its buried as a throwaway comment on a list that is judged to be "poor".

In looking at the past NICT winners, the one thing that stands out to me is very few, if any of the lists used, I would consider "unbeatable". They have been beaten in the past, they will lose in the future. Given the rocks-paper-scissors nature of the game, thats to be expected. Are they quality lists? Possibly. But the one very common factor in past winners is that they are all regarded as some of the best players of the game. They know the rules, know the mechanics, and they know the strengths and weaknesses of the list they are playing. IMO, they aren't winning becuase of the list they are using, although I do believe a good list is an important tool in a players arsenal, the fact is what makes a good list, or combination of troops, or how in some cases to even use those troops remains at best a subjective opinion. They're winning because they are good players first, and doing well with lists players consider to be "substandard" is a great example of that, yet its lost in the noise.

From my POV, I didn't become a better player because I went from LIR to Medieval Germans to Araucanians to Berbers, I became a better player because I played the game as often as I could against quality opponents and learned something in each game that has made me a better player. And I still have a long way to go before I get to the rarified heights of a player like Derek or Dave M or Chris, and slapping down a Khmer, Alexandrian Imperial or 10IS list isn't going to automatically make me a better player, is it?

Todd

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derekcus
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 12:03 pm    Post subject: Just a thought

We play Warrior every Saturday at least one or two games. We discuss each other's list. We discuss each other's tactics. We discuss the purpuse of what we are trying to do all through the game. We basically do what the FHE web site does for everyone involved but what we go over in one game would take weeks of FHE web talk. Some armies "Are" just better than others. Some are easier to run. The key to getting better is to find a play style you like and play it until it hurts. That is the hard part. Finding a place and the people to play that are willing to put in the work.

To answer your question. No, some of these armies may not match your play style and actually hurt your game.

Find what you like and works for you. Then when you master that find another army and repeat the process. Etc, etc, etc.....

Derekcus
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Ewan McNay
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 12:07 pm    Post subject:

This is an old chestnut. Are some players better than others? Well, duh. On the other hand, would Derek have won this last year if he'd been running a list that I composed for him from the uber-elite Early Saxons? No chance in hell. Trying to claim that 'all lists are created equal' is frankly just silly.

Or to take your example: has your chance of winning increased with practice? No doubt. Does your chance of winning increase as you get better at (i) choosing good tournament lists and (ii) writing good army combinations from those lists? Equally no doubt. It's a false dichotomy.

Now, at least part of the Florida folks' success comes from Steve's gym. There may be a NE equivalent at some point Smile.
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Mark Stone
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 1:57 pm    Post subject:

The point of the NICT list commentary is not to say which lists are better than others. In an open tournament format some lists are better than others, and I'm not shy about giving my opinion on that matter (nor is Ewan, nor Frank....).

We do the NICT list commentary because we have been asked to, and if you look at the comments of people who have thanked us for doing this over the years:
* None of the comments are of the form "Thanks, now I know which killer list to play"
* All of the comments are of the form "Thanks, seeing how you guys think about these things is helping me learn the game and be a better player"

List construction is a huge part of our game, and an art form in its own right. The NICT commentary merely provides a vehicle for making list construction a prominent part of the discussion here on the forum.


-Mark Stone
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Todd Schneider
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:39 pm    Post subject:

Ewan McNay wrote:
This is an old chestnut. Are some players better than others? Well, duh. On the other hand, would Derek have won this last year if he'd been running a list that I composed for him from the uber-elite Early Saxons? No chance in hell. Trying to claim that 'all lists are created equal' is frankly just silly.


But grading all lists on the same 0-10 scale is not silly? If I as a player, do not like to run Elephants, would I be inclined to give a Khmer list a high score? Maybe, maybe not. I do not know.
And, truth be told, while I have never met or played Derek, judging from the comments I have heard from people who have met and played him, I would not be surprised if he showed up with that Early Saxon list and did well with it.

Quote:

Or to take your example: has your chance of winning increased with practice? No doubt. Does your chance of winning increase as you get better at (i) choosing good tournament lists and (ii) writing good army combinations from those lists? Equally no doubt. It's a false dichotomy.


My playing skill improved the greatest when I played a list noone AFAIK has used, Araucanians. And when I posted a couple versions of the list I was using, they were roundly derided as sub par. The posts are still here, a quick search will show them. Yet I played that army for the better part of 18 months. Yes, I changed the list and how I chose to run it, the lists I started with is nowhere near the list I ended with, I am undergoing that same process with Berbers. Honestly, would I be a better player now if instead of running Araucanians for those 18 months I ran a Seleucid list, or an Alexandrian Imperial List? I doubt it. As past example have shown, what makes a good "Tournament" list is a very subjective thing. Players are going to play what they want to play, and some players will choose lists other people don't like. I like the idea of discussing how a person chose the list they ran, and how they chose to run it, but I do wonder how much these things can hurt a newer player.

Quote:

Now, at least part of the Florida folks' success comes from Steve's gym. There may be a NE equivalent at some point Smile.


Well, I know locally we always try to talk about our lists and games after we have played them. The AAR process has been an invaluable tool in helping me become a better player.

Todd

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:15 pm    Post subject:

Quote:

Now, at least part of the Florida folks' success comes from Steve's gym. There may be a NE equivalent at some point Smile.


Well, I know locally we always try to talk about our lists and games after we have played them. The AAR process has been an invaluable tool in helping me become a better player.

Todd[/quote]

In Steve's Gym we spend the first hour or so of each Saturday picking apart the various lists everyone brought to play. We ask the list designer to explain why he chose that particular list and why he built each unit the way he did. This has the effect of forcing you to think about why you are building your list a certain way. We believe there should be a reason for choosing each unit in your army. The most common questions we ask are, "What is that units job? Is there a cheaper unit that could do that job just as effectively?" It would surprise you how many people don't seem to ask those kind of questions.

We have had many games in which two people are playing, with everyone else asking tactical questions as the game progresses. "What is your plan? What do you think your opponents plan is? Why did you make that move? What should your response be?"

The idea is to make the players think about what they are going to do, in all aspects of the game.

If you think it's a waste of time, look how many players from Jacksonville made the NICT.

Steve Rawls
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joncleaves
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:37 pm    Post subject:

I believe the obstacle between me and possibly doing better than 2d in the NICT is playing Warrior with dedication - like that found in Florida. When I play a lot and focus on it, I do ok or better than ok. When I am playing a lot of other things and/or working on game businesses, I do not.
I don't think it has to do with the figures I happen to have out in my garage.

But, I would also point out, I don't have Early Saxons out in my garage...

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Frank Gilson
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:43 pm    Post subject:

Todd Schneider wrote:


But grading all lists on the same 0-10 scale is not silly? If I as a player, do not like to run Elephants, would I be inclined to give a Khmer list a high score? Maybe, maybe not. I do not know.
And, truth be told, while I have never met or played Derek, judging from the comments I have heard from people who have met and played him, I would not be surprised if he showed up with that Early Saxon list and did well with it.


Grading lists is a shorthand that some find convenient. We humans make generalizations and shorthands for reference to save ourselves time. Is it the best reflection of complicated situations? Perhaps not...but useful nonetheless.

Oh, and there are definitely army lists that were Derek to run them he might not finish dead last, but he would be in the bottom third of an open event...the same goes for myself, Mark Stone, Ewan, and Dave Markowitz. Some lists are horrible for open tournament play. No play skill can 'compensate'.

Quote:

My playing skill improved the greatest when I played a list noone AFAIK has used, Araucanians. And when I posted a couple versions of the list I was using, they were roundly derided as sub par. The posts are still here, a quick search will show them. Yet I played that army for the better part of 18 months. Yes, I changed the list and how I chose to run it, the lists I started with is nowhere near the list I ended with, I am undergoing that same process with Berbers. Honestly, would I be a better player now if instead of running Araucanians for those 18 months I ran a Seleucid list, or an Alexandrian Imperial List? I doubt it. As past example have shown, what makes a good "Tournament" list is a very subjective thing. Players are going to play what they want to play, and some players will choose lists other people don't like. I like the idea of discussing how a person chose the list they ran, and how they chose to run it, but I do wonder how much these things can hurt a newer player.


Sure, Araucanians is 'sub-par' for open tournament play. It's also likely one of the lesser New World Warrior lists were play to be confined to that part of the world. Your play skill increased due to practice and consideration over time. It would have done so with any army. You wouldn't be a better player if you had used a 'better' list, but you might have found yourself with some better results in the battles you did play, from time to time.

Newer players should have, ideally, access to ALL the information and varying viewpoints they can obtain, and hopefully the wisdom from life experiences to make their own judgements. If that's not in great supply, then they won't be hurt too badly by choosing a master and being a disciple.

Frank
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Noel White
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 5:43 am    Post subject:

Don't let it bother you, Todd.
I like to compare the list analysis to the "Hollywood best/worst dressed" lists.
It is after all someone's snapshot opinion that is subject to regional fashions and personal experience.

There is more than math and planning in list construction. You have to purchase the right figures, they have to be painted and based, and your historical conscience might get the better of you once in a while.

I find it very helpful, and I thank those who take the time. The good thing about the analysis is that it gets people thinking about list construction, talking about it, and generally improving their game even if they disagree with Stadtler and Waldorf (who disagree with each other). I know I've learned a lot.

Noel.
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derekcus
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:55 am    Post subject: Early Saxon

Well I was going to run Later Hoplite at my next tournament but now have a new goal. Early Saxons will be run on October 13th at Derekcon 44. By the way everyone is invited to this 25mm only Warrior tournament. If you would like to be on my Weekly email list let me know.

darnd022263@aol.com

My goal is to not be in the bottom third. Also finding that my figs is going to be hard.

Derekcus
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Mark Stone
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 2:58 pm    Post subject: Re: List Commentary "commentary"

Todd Schneider wrote:
slapping down a Khmer, Alexandrian Imperial or 10IS list isn't going to automatically make me a better player, is it?

Todd


I find it fascinating that 10IS gets so casually thrown into this list, and at this point we all just nod and accept that. Going into the 2005 NICT I'd bet that nobody except me and Derek had given 10IS serious thought. Indeed, I was stunned that I was not the only player running this list, but if someone else was going to run it, it makes sense that it would be Derek (or Tim Brown).

In a little over two years it has gone from an obscure list that no one thought about to a serious tournament army. To me, that is one of the huge joys of list analysis: not that some lists are better than others, but that there are so many lists waiting for someone to discover what makes them good.

I've said this in other posts, but it bears repeating: so many times, I've looked at a troop type on a list over and over and said, "These guys suck; I'd never play this list" only to one day look more closely and say "Wait a minute! These guys are the key to the list."

That certainly happened with 10IS. I looked at a large number of required Irr D MI LTS and said "Forget it." Then I finally thought through all the upgrades and variants, and thought about combined arms between various parts of the list. The final insight was realizing that as much as I liked the Later Tang list, I was unhappy with the difficulties in getting the spearmen and the SHC to operate together. Since 10IS had elephants, and elephants can charge together with non-impetuous foot, getting the elephants and spearmen to operate together was natural and easy. Looking at the other similarities between the two lists, I came to the conclusion that 10IS was cheaper, more efficient, and in the critical combinations more lethal.

I've had similar experiences with other lists. I looked at the Pilgrims on 1st Crusade and thought "ick" for a long time until I put together a plan for how those guys could be the key to the army. Not a top tier army, mind you, but very playable once you figure out the Pilgrims.

Same thing with Shang. Like everyone else I've spent years saying "chariots suck, don't use them in any quantity in an open tournament." When Biblical Warrior came out, I started thinking "If chariots were going to not suck, what would that look like?" I spent months fiddling with list constructs around Assyrians, Later Hebrew, and a few others and finally gave up. When Oriental Warrior came out, Shang just popped out as the answer to all my chariot puzzles. I've yet to prove it's a top tier tournament army, but I have no doubt that it's a very playable army.

I have another list right now that I'm monkeying with -- you guys will probably see it at Cold Wars -- where there's a particular troop type I've looked at over and over and said, "What a waste of points; these guys are too expensive and don't do enough" and now I find myself saying "These guys are the key to the whole list."

That's the joy of list construction and the benefit of the NICT list analysis. I guarantee that there are several lists out there that are in the same category as 10IS: routinely overlooked, but in the hands of a thoughtful list constructer ready to become viable tournament armies. And I wish everyone thought about those issues as creatively as, say, Derek Downs and Tim Brown. It would raise the caliber of play in our game, and expand the variety of armies we see at tournaments. Those are huge positives for me.


-Mark Stone
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Todd Schneider
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:23 pm    Post subject:

Noel,

I like the analogy. I do appreciate the time and effort many people, including myself from time to time, give in putting together such critiques. But at the same time, I do feel bothered by some of the commentary, as I am sure others would be by any commentary I would have to offer.

Ultimately, players are going to play what they want to play.

Todd

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:26 pm    Post subject: Re: List Commentary "commentary"

Mark Stone wrote:
I've said this in other posts, but it bears repeating: so many times, I've looked at a troop type on a list over and over and said, "These guys suck; I'd never play this list" only to one day look more closely and say "Wait a minute! These guys are the key to the list."


I call this Stone's Law. Remarkable how true it is - and not just in Warrior by a long shot.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to sit back, close one's eyes, take a deep breath and invoke Stone's Law and then open your eyes again and achieve a zen-like understanding that maybe that list/troop you have been dismissing all this time is just the right thing when taken a certain way....

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Todd Schneider
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:36 pm    Post subject:

Quote:
And I wish everyone thought about those issues as creatively as, say, Derek Downs and Tim Brown. It would raise the caliber of play in our game, and expand the variety of armies we see at tournaments. Those are huge positives for me.


I don't disagree with what your saying, but I wonder how much these NICT commentaries have influenced players choices?

I don't think we'll ever really know the answer to that though.

Todd

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:58 pm    Post subject: Derek - Early Saxon

I'll be very interested to hear an extensive after action report from Derek on his experiences running the Early Saxon army...if he can find the figures Wink.

I think there are many different factors that go into army choice. Playing friendly games with someone locally is incredibly different from playing in the NICT, and thus the army choices vary, and should vary.

One of my favorite armies is Maccabean Jewish, and I have a pretty good configuration, and I would run it in an Open event, or casually, but never in the NICT.

Frank
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