Global vs. Local: Why you should meta-game your local environment

Meta-GameI’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.


  • Anonymous

    Liking this article.  I wrote basically the opposite position a few months ago, haha.

    My conclusion is if you want to do better at national or regional tournaments you need to treat your local players as allies and teammates as opposed to list stealing bad guys you have to plot against.  If you want to win local events, you do have to meta-game against them.

    The problem is in getting good test games in when you are skittish about revealing a new list wrinkle before a tournament.  You don’t want to reveal your new trick, but you still need to test it.  It’s hard to make that decision sometimes.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the reply. I really don’t get out much to regional tournaments so most of my perspective comes from playing a relatively small pools of players. Practice games can be a problem if you want to maintain the element of surprise, but I don’t think most of locals really care that much about surprise.

      That kind of brings up a good question though. Is it better to achieve strategic surprise or is the experience with the list more important?

  • Glad to see this article finally get posted.

    LGS gaming is definitely a far cry from GTs and such. You’re right about the new army bit. How many times have people stood around trying to work out how to tackle Player A’s list or the threat of a new, as in codex, army that players will gravitate towards?

    The best thing to take from sites like 3++ and YTTH is the concepts and the understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish so that if and when we face it at the LGS we have the tools.

    • Anonymous

      I still have more thoughts on the general subject, but it kind of got off the metagame track and more into your “be true to yourself as a player.”

  • Joe

    Yes but the rock might die to everything else so no one takes the rocks..

  • ming from b&c

    I dunno, in our little microverse, everyone packs a case of rocks.  It is almost to the point that the luck of the pairing round 1 will make the difference to your final sttanding.  Being a very stubborn person playing a stubborn army, I’m at the point where I ignore the meta and just play my own game….

    • XRG seems, as you said, to be in its own microverse, as well as what Evan said in his article. We’re generally not really mech heavy, at least by web standards, and most everyone still runs a rock/hammer or two in their lists and the internet will tell you that’s not kosher. It is, as Evan said, like we’re still in a 4th edition mentality with list making by and large.

      I’ve no problem with it in any case. I’d rather play somewhere that isn’t following all the trends than some place that is each time a blog author surmises something is the golden standard.

  • turon

    I like this article 

  • Excellent article. I’ve said it time and again, list building is very dependent on the local scene. I loves me some Footdar, but I’m usually just up against close range nid/ork/khorne armies so the extra firepower helps me.

  • I totally agree, great article.  The idea that there’s such thing as a world-wide meta-game makes people worse players.  It makes people build bizarre out-of-context lists because of what a bunch of guys in say . . . Texas (just off the top of my head :p) are fielding in their long-running rivalries against one another.  

    I’ve said it many times on forums (and got yelled at for my trouble): The world-wide meta-game is an illusion.

    • Anonymous

      I wouldn’t say that it is an illusion, just that it exists only as much as your local group pays attention to it. If I were to go to Adepticon, The NOVA, ETC, or what-have-you; I would certainly think about the “global” meta-game because I have a feeling that everyone else attending (or nearly everyone) is thinking about preparing for it.

      This can really work to your advantage though. In many ways, I know what I’ll face (in generalities) when or if I go to big international event. When I walk into my FLGS on a monthly basis, I have no idea what I’ll face. Truthfully, it makes me a better general.

      • True.  Perhaps a better way to put it is: there is no meta-game, only meta-games.

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