I’ve come to a realization that blogs such as 3++, Yes The Truth Hurts, and forums such as DakkaDakka or Warseer will only get you so far when it comes to list builidng. Yes, I understand the concepts of math-hammer, and I understand the general themes of 5th edition (namely that mech is king).
However, in our little corner of the world, the meta-game has it’s own distinct local flavor (it’s blueberry with a sprinkle of DEATH!). Many people have honed their lists in preparation for leafblowers, razorspams, and a million other brutal lists that dominate the internet scene. However, they arrive at the shop and find something completely different. In many ways, our FLGS is stuck in 4th edition. This isn’t necesarily a bad thing, and it can throw some people for a loop. I guess it can be summed up in a single sentence. Your opponent doesn’t care that you have 20 meltas in your list because all he has is 150 orks.
A good example is Hulksmash’s Tyranid list from his blog here. It features a lot of small, fast bugs for a good, assault based list that can really put a hurt on Av10-13. It would admittedly struggle against AV14 spam, but Hulksmash doesn’t run into it very often. It’s a good example of meta-gaming your local enviroment. Another example is a recent game against our local Black Templar player. I was not prepared to gun down 70-80 marines in a 2000 point battle. I’ve already made changes to my Space Wolves list by adding a more credible assault threat. When I played my Tau last, I took three hammerheads and piranhas instead of my usual broadsides because I knew I would not face the parking lots that most of the usual GTs attract.
Now, I also consider player skill when I head into our local tournaments. This isn’t always possible when you are headed into a larger tournament at an unfamiliar location, but if you generally see the same people in your group, you’ll find yourself meta-gaming the players as much as the army. For example, there are alot of new players at our store who are just picking up Grey Knights. In the hands of an experienced player, I might consider shifting my list, but so far that hasn’t been necessary due to rookie players still getting a feel for their chosen army. When one of our veteran players brings a new army to the table, everyone at our FLGS does some mental calculation. Over the next couple of weeks we see the army lists change, and parity is restored.
Most of the more successful armies in our FLGS employ a mobile infantry style of play. The common theme is lots of models, little or no AV (this is starting to change), and lots of anti-mech options. This field is as diverse as Ghazzy led orks, biker marines, shrike marines, all terminator deathwing, or daemons. Does this mean a mechanized MSU army cannot do well? Absolutely not. It does however mean that I will more likely take a lascannon/DCCW dread over a rifleman dread since I know that I’m likely to face A) T4 Wound-Abuse units (Nobs, Paladins), and that I’m very unlikely to face 7+ AV vehicles.
Now, a true TAC list is capable of dealing with any of those armies. I’m not saying that the internet is full of a bunch of blowhards (although it is), but you can’t simply take an internet list and expect the same results no matter where you play. I’m parroting what Thor has been preaching for some time, but I feel that the point bears repeating. You cannot simply take a “good” list and expect to win with it anywhere you play. There is always a rock to your scissor somewhere.
In conclusion, it’s good to remember that not every meta is just like every other. Don’t think that you NEED to build a list a certain way because your friends/internet tells you to. Trust your instincts, your experiences, and think about what you are likely to face in the day, weeks, and months ahead.