My Change of View on Army Composition

Army CompositionThose who read regularly know that attending tournaments is still pretty new for me and I’ve only attended ones held at the LGS. The first one I attended was overwhelming. I show up last minute with an army I threw together in 10 minutes and get handed a scoring sheet. I then spent the day figuring out what the hell I was doing. Ok, so there’s a massacre, major and minor win and the possibility of a draw, all worth varying points. Oh, there’s these bonus points…how does this all work? Sportsmanship and painting, easy enough to figure out. Army composition score…what’s this?

It’s a lot to take in. It wasn’t until my final game I figured out what the hell was going on, mostly thanks to a friendly opponent, someone I played a few times prior to the tournament.

Being new to the tournament scene I found the army composition scoring to be a great factor. I figured I’m going to get stomped so I might as well take the easy points where I can. I had no idea how this all worked out in the end other than I could do well with the scoring in this one area. I also felt, as those who enjoy it do, that it helped level the playing field…well if everyone tried for a good score at least. A level playing field is a good thing!

Fast forward a bit, and to save on senseless rambling, my views have changed. I’m not going to preach how army comp should be abolished, how it’s a cancer on the tournament scene. There’s enough of those posts out there if you want to read them. For me, I feel army comp is holding me back. Not because I want to field some obscenely cheesy list, but because I want to field my list the way I design it. As it is now I design a list in my head and then put it to paper. I then have to go through that concept and throw out things to work into a good army comp score. In the end I’m left with a shell of a list, a shadow of the great concept I had.

In short, I’m only going to go so far as a tournament player with army comp holding me back. The force organization chart is there to restrict armies and keep things balanced, ideally. Adding what is effectively another force org chart on top of an existing one is simply neutering to me now. I would rather face the top players with no army comp in place, fielding what I know and prefer to play, as they are, than face off against them with army comp in place.


I began playing Warhammer 40K in 2006, and have been an avid player and hobbyist since then. I have also been blogging about 40K for almost as long as I've been playing it, having started Creative Twilight in 2009.

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  • Anonymous

    All most comp systems do is change what some of the power builds are, not eliminate them.

  • Very true, as I’ve come to realize. Good players can still work within the confines of a comp system, sometimes even taking hits and scoring lower than others on it, but still end up taking it all anyway. I feel it’s really hurting the newer players more than anything else. Plus, if you tried to keep evolving comp scoring to try and completely eliminate all power builds then the games would just become dull and predictable.

  • Anonymous

    >Not because I want to field some obscenely cheesy list, but because I want to field my list the way I design it.

    This is essentially the problem with comp. In the name of making more lists playable, it removes lists from playability.

    And, as sonsoftaurus notes, comp merely changes what units/builds are powerful. If the comp system penalizes special characters, other things take their place. If it punishes mechanized, foot builds (SW and ‘Nids) become overwhelming. If it rewards troops, non-5E codices become largely unplayable. None of these things “balances” the game, they just change the balance.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. If you have a comp scoring system. On the other hand I played in a tournament that had panel comp that was pretty good.

    They had about six judges from all over the country who were sent the lists before the tournament. They all marked each list individually and the scores were averaged.

  • I think that’s really the only fair way to do it. Have an impartial panel of judges score the armies.

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