When I got into 40K four years ago my only exposure to it was from my friends who got me into it. I did some research and found some sites and forums about 40K and Orks, my first army, and absorbed whatever useful information I could find. I was playing very casually at that point and disregarded anything labeled as competitive. In short, I wasn’t allowing myself to be influenced regarding my army and how I played. I guess you could say I was blissfully ignorant.
Today there’s no shortage of places to find tips, strategies, tactics, army lists and whatever else you want to find about 40K. There’s a ton of great info out there but the trick is to read this stuff objectively and not allow yourself to be sucked into the microcosm of information and opinions. It’s one thing to take someone’s advice because it makes sense to you, it’s another to take it because that person said it’s the be-all end-all.
See, I got sucked in recently. With my Orks I had already established my style with them and was doing well but my Marines were a whole other matter. They were still pretty new to me and I was losing more than I was winning. Being that Marines are uber-popular (much of an understatement?), the shear amount of advice for them is overwhelming. I evaluated the advice being given but I took a lot on faith too. The sources were reliable so I knew I wasn’t getting lousy advice. With that advice I set about improving my Marines, adjusting my lists, adapting my play style. There were improvements to be sure but most of those came at the basic level, things like knowing when to stay in and when to get out of a Rhino. I really wasn’t winning any more than before and the feel of the army for me was just wrong.
I had gone from evaluating the advice being given to just accepting it. I was thoroughly discouraged with my Marines and had tried a lot and was getting nowhere. So, why not just take the advice and run with it? I mean, these people know more about 40K than me and a lot more about Marines. Well, the thing all these resources can’t give you is that perfect fit for your style of play. Sure, you can find advice on Mech, MSU, etc, and you can find lists for them but those lists, that advice, isn’t given specifically for you. It will get you in the door, guide you, but it’s you playing the army in the end. It’s like a great chef. Most start out by learning basic recipes but eventually they go on to invent their own version of their favorite recipes, making it their own.
In the end you have to do whatever you get enjoyment from. You simply have to be true to yourself. It doesn’t matter how effective someone says something is if you don’t find yourself enjoying it. For some winning is their enjoyment and any list that achieves that is their happiness. Others are happy just putting down a fully painted army and getting the chance to play with friends. Whatever it is that keeps you coming back and playing games, stick with it and you can’t go wrong.