IMPERIAL LECTURE SERIES

List Tailoring

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There are two things that people need to understand when talking about list tailoring. The first is a definition for the term "list tailoring" itself, so allow me to provide one.

You are making your list tailored whenever you give ANY thought WHATSOEVER to what the list is going to actually be played against. If you are going to a tournament and you know that there will be a lot of MSU spam and you do ANYTHING with that piece of information (like, say, throw in some missile launchers or autocannons), You are list tailoring. If you know that there are a bunch of marines at your local store, and you use this information to have ANY impact on your list, you are list tailoring. If you know that you're going to play a game against a foot ork commander next game and that information has ANY impact on your list, you are list tailoring.

Any list that isn't made inside of a pure hypothetical world, but rather uses any amount of information about real players and real armies you're actually likely to face off against is at least a partially tailored list.

If, then, basically all lists are tailored lists, then it's really a matter of HOW tailored do you make your list. It's just negotiating the proverbial price now. Let me be the first to say that if your stance is that some list tailoring is okay, and some list tailoring isn't, you're either being arbitrary, or being a huge hypocrite.

The other thing that I think people are missing here is that list tailoring is a form of player skill - one of the few places that player skill matters in a game of 40k. Knowing exactly what your opponent is going to bring and making the exact best list against your opponent in your codex requires a huge amount of skill. Certainly as much as any other aspect of the game.

The real question here, then, is should there be an artificial restriction to player skill? If you see 40k as a competitive exercise, your answer to this question must be no. Otherwise you're a huge hypocrite.

If you believe that there should be limits to 40k as a competitive exercise, because 40k is other things in addition, then it's a matter of making player skill suppression fall in line with HOW competitive you think 40k SHOULD be. Now you're being arbitrary. Why should SOME forms of player skill be used in SOME situations while OTHER player skill shouldn't?

As for me, myself, I fall in the latter camp. When people reach the upper echelon of player skill in 40k (which I happen to believe is actually rather easy), the only way that you can continue to ratchet up the difficulty level is by taking on handicaps. Handicapping one's self, of course, is the opposite of being competitive. While it takes a lot of skill to exactly tailor a list against an opponent, it takes MORE skill to win with a crappy list, and it takes way, way more skill even than that to play with a non-optimized list against a list which has been tailored against you.

Honestly, I feel much better about myself for having won this game (me with a non-optimized-against-WH, take-all-comers list against a list that was clearly tailored to beat mine) than if I had won that game with a perfectly crafted list to destroy my opponent. In this case, I feel better because I won on a higher challenge level, not because I was as competitive as I could have been. For me, placing winning with more difficulty over winning at all is something I arbitrarily have decided on.

Of course, I can in no way look down on people who list tailor without switching from me being arbitrary to me being a hypocrite. If I have chosen a certain set of morals, I can't be judgmental when other people choose a different set. I may think my way of playing 40k is better than the purely competitive way of playing it, but if my opponent is playing to the maximum possible congruency with the way he thinks 40k should be played, I'd be a jackass to criticize him. Or a giant hypocrite. Take your pick.