Monday, April 20, 2015

What to do about Eldar?

What the heck is up with GW and Eldar? That is more or less the question I think a lot of us have been asking this last week. And despite an initial freak out, I'm honestly over it. Not because Eldar are not as strong as they appear, (they are) but because it's a condition of the game that now exists; if we want to play this game, we have to accept it. I'll try to explain what I mean by that.

With the tidal wave of rumors and confirmed rules for Eldar floating all over, I honestly took a step back to reassess my approach and consideration of this game which I have invested a lot of time, money, and effort into.

When the White Dwarf pages leaked last Tuesday, I went through stages of grief including denial, anger, and despondency. I was in disbelief that Games Workshop could be so out of touch with their game to give significant boosts to an already powerful army.

I took most of Thursday away from the internet and the game to clear my head a little bit, and when the full book leaked on Friday, I was ok. I couldn't really articulate why, but there was a recent Torrent of Fire article that helped frame my thoughts a little after the fact. Definitely check it out, then come back.

In the article, Wyatt brings up the idea that blaming or getting angry about game balance is unhelpful and ultimately, pointless. We have no control over it. As someone who wants to be a "competitive" player, you have two choices - play what's best, or play with a handicap. Getting bent out of shape about a "bad matchup" does nothing for anyone who wants to get better.

While Wyatt's example of Street Fighter characters made a bit of sense with me, I came up with a sports analogy that helped me wrap my head around it; you can compare not using the best army/list out there to using a wooden bat in high school or college baseball.

If you use a wood bat, you know it has less pop than a composite or aluminum bat and is heavier and harder to control. However, being able to succeed with a wooden bat can translate into a higher ceiling of success at the next level. That could be why you use a wood bat, or it could be you just like how it feels or sounds, because it's more "real" or "true" to the spirit of the game (sound familiar?). In this case, you're not using the wood bat for future success, though that could be a side-effect, but if you also don't want to train for 6 hours every day to make the Majors, it's probably not going to matter.

Deciding to not play the current top army or list can be similar. On one hand, it can make you a better player. On the other, if you don't have the time to put into the game to become a top player, using the best equipment isn't going to change your chances of making the show.

The other side of accepting what is the most powerful army out there is the ability to keep up. Trying to stay at the forefront of the meta is clearly going to include a heavy investment of time and money. Time possibly more than money since, as I alluded to before, just having the equipment doesn't mean you know how to use it optimally.

On the other hand, and where I've settled, is just accepting that there is an imbalance of power across the game in terms of armies and lists. If I'm not going to buy in to the newest and greatest, then I am going into an event accepting the fact that I am not using the best tools available to me. That's ok.

You can get more out of the game when you accept your lists' power level and that of your opponents'. Firstly, don't blame "bad matchups" for a loss. Examine what you did that exacerbated the power difference between the lists. Similarly, look at what you did to mitigate your disadvantages. If you can bring yourself to examine the game in this way, you'll have more long term success and know your army better.

I am being a bit long-winded here because this is a lesson I need to take to heart myself. I haven't had the heart to go back through my past battle reports, but I would expect several to include mentions of bad matchups. By using that, or anything else like bad dice, as an excuse for why I lost, I'm taking away an opportunity to learn about my list, my army, my opponent's list, and my opponent's army.

So what am I going to do about Eldar?

Personally, I am re-dedicating myself to my main army. I know I've said it before, but I'm going to cut down my purchases and work with what I have. I like Necrons, and still want to paint them up and get them in game shape, but I know at this point that for NOVA 2015, I am not comfortable enough with them to be able to relax and have fun with the game while playing competitively. Instead, I'm going to stick with my Tyranids and excel at things I can definitely control, like my painting and conversions.


Last year at NOVA I made the top 10% for painting, but at the detail judging, I dropped a few points (from 70 to 64). This year, I want to go up a few points during the detail judging by incorporating more conversions and painting each model to the best of my ability. For my projected army, this includes about 4 custom converted Lictors, 1-2 more converted Mawlocs, converting or improving my bastion and display board, and finally retouching or replacing one of my flyrants, which just isn't up to snuff compared to the others.

So, my response to Eldar is to dedicate myself more fully to my hobby first, and learn on the table second, with game results in third.

Now, what are you going to do about Eldar?