Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Some passing thoughts: Stats, News and Grey Knights

I am a little addicted to my blog statistics.

People who know me are already aware that I am the sort of person who likes my numbers, my spreadsheets and probabilities. I like having data, and reading it, and interpreting it, and working things out from it.

For those of you who don't have a Blogger, you get all sorts of shiny little tools you won't be used to if you only have Facebook or Livejournal or G+... You get a graph showing you pageviews by a variety of times, how many views your most popular posts have got, some common traffic sources and so on... I find myself enthused to post about different topics _just_ to see how many people read it, and from what source.

This has led, however, to my first mistake. Some spambots seem to read everything on the internet, giving a referral page as some wierd link which tries to get you to download all sorts of nasty things that want to do mean things to my computer. Fortunately, my various virus thingummies and firewalls said "no" loudly, and no harm was done.

I've also been looking at a lot of blogs recently in my lunch breaks and computer time, and I've noticed that a lot of the smaller blogs seem to mirror announcements and so on from the bigger blogs. I won't be doing that, because really, I just regard it as annoying filler.

I read the news forums on Bell of Lost Souls and sometimes Warseer for my 40K rumours, and maybe a dedicated news blog. Seeing six other minor blogs I read to get a feel for local hobby all repeating the same rumour over and over? It gets old. Maybe it provides a service to a particular local group of readers, and if so, fair play to the writers in question. However, if I do end up writing stuff up here about a recent release, it will be about my reaction to the news, in true gonzo style, rather than the news itself. You can get that anywhere.

So, I move on to my final topic of the evening: Grey Knights. It appears that the internet community as a whole is on a huge whine-fest following Adepticon (a big US convention with a large tournament) about how the Grey Knights codex is so "OP".

Firstly, emotive unsupportive statements make you sound like a petulant child. It's infuriating, dull and I have no interest on it. The only thing worse is reading the comments page of some of our more partisan newspapers, or more unfortunate sections of the BBC website.

Secondly, Grey Knights are popular because low model count reduces the barrier to entry for the army and are easy to transport - not just because they are a particularly effective army, or because they are easy to learn.

Small and elite forces in most wargames I've played have a tendency to be hard to plan to defeat. The Grey Knight Codex is very well written and has some beautiful sneaky tactics, flexibility and variation to change what used to be (in my opinion) a very dull, samey army into something you can do multiple successful builds with.

I also think that they are given a significant advantage by the US tournament scene. The US tournament scene has taken to running pre-written custom missions with a mix of objectives, kill points and victory points which the Grey Knight Codex is incredibly well suited to face. How can you really complain about game balance if you're playing with a bunch of what are essentially house rules which aren't actively supported by the games designers in the first place? Of course armies are not going to be playtested and balanced against those houserules, but the book published missions and deployments.

Finally, looking at the US metagame in particular, I think a lot of people are relying on safe army builds that were developed before the advent of Grey Knights. Going off the published 'high end' lists that aren't Grey Knights, they rely on a few tried and tested combinations, and while there is a lot of talk when a 'non standard' build or Codex wins, and people constantly deride 'netlists', they are still used as the basis of an awful lot of the lists I see published from the US game in particular.

I don't pretend to know or understand every current Codex - I'm still getting back into the hobby, you understand, and I'm not spending my money on buying every new Codex as its released to better study it and understand how to beat it. But if your local metagame is heavily favouring a particular build, army or similar - have you considered working more on beating it?

In my local GW, the veteran's night main challengers are Imperial Guard, Blood Angels and (my personal nemesis) a Tau list. I am constantly evolving and trying out new builds for my Guard to try and do something about these pesky Tau - but I won't expect to see that happen on the UK or US national tournament scene.

I think the two major considerations at the moment when dealing with Grey Knights is considering whether or not any local house rules (such as mission variations) are unreasonably favouring them, and secondly, whether your army is well tailored to address the unique issues fighting Grey Knights brings. They may have a game advantage, they may not, but perhaps rethinking how you're playing might give you some insight in how to improve your win loss record in future.


  1. Good to see someone with the same understanding of me. Through the store, i see alot of stuff, and Grey Knights are popular, though the adepticon stats do not reflect relality, just as you say there bubble!
    A nice well rounded blog post,

    1. You know, if I had more readers, I might do something like ask people to come up with some suggestions for the best "brutally slaughter Grey Knights" list people can think of...