Friday, March 21, 2014
Netlisting: Issues and Dangers
Net listing, the big evil bogeyman and much maligned practice of "noobs" going online to find uber lists so they can wreck face. Well its a little more complicated than that. Certainly people go online to find answers to their 40k problems, whether that is issues with their army list or tactics against the latest and greatest army. To the extreme of finding the most powerful list online and taking that to use against opponents at tournaments or not. For me, I see all of these different things as part of a greater whole that lets call net listing for lack of better term.
For the most part I do not see "netlisting" as a bad thing from the perspective of trying to gain additional knowledge about your or another army. That is what most people do, go online looking for information on their army and units and good ways to use them. Hell that is what has brought many of you here, looking for answers regarding the Imperial Guard. And as someone who posts tactics articles, I see it as my responsibility to walk the line and on one hand, give solid advice, on the other not just give it all away and take the critical thinking and choice out of yours.
Where the danger lies, and the practices that I disagree with, is where no critical thought is allowed and a list is taken from some self proclaimed seer of knowledge. One this is simple mental laziness, I understand that being new to game means not knowing the nuances of building an army list but to put no thought or effort into your army is simply lazy. The only way to truly learn what will work is by trial and error. Play games and tweak your list, I still am constantly tweaking my lists that I use and trying new things out. This is how you stumble upon good tactics and units, ones that the internet has usually already declared dead and gone.
This game is growing and as such, many units and army styles are more than playable despite what common opinion may think. The other issue is that it reinforces the trend of stagnation and list blandness. This is depressing to me. My experience gaming has been one of each gamer taking their own view of how that army should be, incorporating their experiences and what fluff they like. Seeing people just going with the current favored list is just sad. But that is the choice some make. I would hope people would use their army in the way they want to, attempt to streamline it to as good as it can be and use it.
This is not to say that if you find a tactic or unit online and use it makes you a bad person. Far from it, the internet is great for the ability to get the communal experience and knowledge that is out there. It is hard to be able to play with every unit in your codex and against every army out there, so this is a great way to see what other people have done and see how to work that experience into your army. Its where the line is crossed and little more than copy and paste is done that this happens.
Now this has more issues than simply me thinking its a bad thing. The danger that is the real issue, is that you do not learn how to make lists for your army and approach it with critical analysis. Its the reason many go online in the first place, they can't figure out what to do with their list or how to fix it when they are struggling. Instead of getting advice and trying things out, which usually means losing more games than winning, the person gets a list that is proven online and runs with it. But rarely is the understanding made as to why that list is good, nor the person taught as to how that list was made and the conclusion reached.
This is the fault of the list poster. I see it as my responsibility, as a member of this community, to help people and new gamers out. Help is not doing it for someone though. I'm not going to be there when you are facing an army that you have never faced before, and though my list is teh awesome sauce, you will prob lose and end up frustrated and angry as to why you failed. It takes two, the first being the person silly enough to take such a list, and second the person giving that list out in full knowledge that he really hasn't taught any lessons to those that are in need of it.
I love to share what I know and my experiences, which is half the reason this blog exists in the first place. But I also don't see it as my responsibility to simply hand you the answers. This is why I do not post detailed lists and don't publicly review them. I am more than happy to review what you send me and give you my thoughts and suggestions. But I am going to try and get you to think, often simply asking "have you thought about trying this?" is often enough to get the other person started and take it from there.
So I caution you when voyaging these dark waters of the interwebs, not to take the assertions of those that claim to know the army that wins at face value. If you are still learning and figuring out the nuances of list building, the best advice I can give you is to go to your store and play games, talk to the experienced players there, and constantly tweak and change. It can be hard, as no one likes to lose and many want to win right now. But with patience and help you can figure out how to build a list and the subtle differences with your army. Always remember that an army works for someone because THEY built it. Unless you know that person and that army intimately, it will be hard to use that army as you lack that insight that is critical to using any army.
I am happy to do tactics articles on units and talk about basic army structures, but I see what you do on the table to be more important than the choices before. Having a good list is important, but more important is understanding that army on the table and how to maneuver and use it in the different situations you will face. If you are having issues, please feel free to comment or send me an email. If you want me or someone to look over your list, I recommend doing it by email first, as it takes some of the ego out of it when something is done on a public forum. But I will say the best is always face to face with a person you know and trust, or with someone you know has experience. The internet is only good for so much.
So hopefully this helps understand this and where the dangers lie, mostly in how dangerous it can be to lose the opportunity to learn and use your own critical thinking. Beware of those that have the answers and what they offer, including me :p. But if it's candy, that shit is legit.