01. May 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: Comment

Or to be precise army lists – the process of referencing a particular rule-set and associated documents to produce a points based list for gaming.

Lots of talk about them at the moment, Kipper has just posted a load over on the FoD while The Rambling Wargamer has commented about the stealing of personal lists (as apposed to)  lists posted online and I read recently a very good article in praise of points based army lists.

I’ll start off be saying I generally don’t use point based lists (pbl) when I’m gaming other than as a general indication of relative strengths, but then again most of my gaming is solo and outside of the ‘slot’ that pbl are aimed at.

You see pbl are a mechanism to allow two or more people to turn up at a predetermined time and place and have a evenly matched game based on the pbl.

What could be wrong with that – nothing, it enables what, to be honest, is the majority of gamers, to ‘get a game in’.

It’s, (pbl) goal is to provide an evenly matched game that can be played to a conclusion in one sitting usually 3 to 4 hours. most rule sets these days are points based, even the ones that aren’t usually have a bit at the back to allow you to calculate points if you wish!

In short it provides a neat package, a pick up and go, an instant solution to wargaming.

Well maybe not, but it is a mechanism that many are happily using but, it doesn’t always work.

Take the newbie who has faithfully read all of the ‘non rule’ fluff that accompanies his chosen army and has built what he believes to be a pretty good force, and happens to be paired off with an old hand who’s brought along his ‘tournament army’, or the diced for scenario that actually gives one side no chance at winning or the ‘fluffy’ army that can’t inflict any casualties on their opponent, I’m sure that we all have similar tales.

Which goes to point out that pbl don’t always produce what people assume they do – a fair and balanced game.

Now if you look at the sources I mentioned above you’ll see that the pbl is not some abstract that’s divorced from the hobby but in some systems is an integral part, to be encouraged and enjoyed as much as any other part of the hobby, I have spent many hours myself in the past building army lists.

To lose a hard fought and close battle can still be fun, to be totally rolled over by superior tactics can be an education but to be beaten by an opponent because their army totally outclasses yours in such a way that you can’t even inflict a casualty is boring!

I like one-sided fights! the trick is to define a point where the outclassed force can claim victory.

The two links above illustrate the good and the bad (in my mind) regarding pbl, over on the FoD Kipper has enthusiastically put together a number of lists for fun (and probably with the hope of wining a few games) while The Rambling Wargamer describes situations of ‘stolen winning’ lists in what seems to be an atmosphere of ‘killer list making’.

PBL are NOT new they were originally created for figure collectors of different periods to play each other (early Greeks vs Imperial Romans for example) and as such are a way to facilitate gaming but as in all things can be exploited by the unscrupulous win-at-all-costs gamer.

I suppose the whole point of this is to say that like Democracy pbl are the best of a bad bunch and to be made to work for the benefit of all need to be approached with openness, flexibility and fair-play.


  1. Yeah, there’s definitely two major approaches to games – either scenario based (which might be recreating a famous battle or setting up a heroic last stand), or “balanced” games based on some sort of points concept – even if thats pretty loose, like “we’ll each take three heavy tanks”

    Both forms of gaming have their place. I prefer playing scenario based games, generally, but they do require a heck of a lot more investment in time and setup, normally … and are more likely to be less fun if the scenario isn’t set up right.

    Given a club environment, like the overlords, or occasional games every couple of months with my brother, a simpler points approach is much easier, unfortunately. I’m sorting out my models to get a whole slew of playable armies, and work out what I need to add or build to those that are rather out of date, and the first step there is to work out army lists. I don’t think they are particularly competitive lists, and I can certainly vouch for how little fun it is to march a reasonable “fun” PBL into the maw of a tournament quality, total abuse of the rules list. I’ve been thrashed in games where I’ve been outplayed and enjoyed it, but games where people are abusing the lists are just meh 🙁

    I really enjoy building lists, but for me most of the fun is about putting army lists together that match the fluff (whether thats a force of Space Marines or a roman legion), rather than working out how to win a game. Not that winning is bad, of course 🙂

    Its quite fun working out your own “points” – every game with my bro involves working out the MVP unit and threatening to cut the least effective unit in a very sports team kind of way, which is amusing too 🙂

  2. The Rambling Wargamer

    I’m with Kipper, playing fluff-based armies is always the most fun (for me). I don’t do tournaments, and I find a large percentage (perhaps half) of those that do are the kind of people I wouldn’t want to play given the choice.

    However fun writing fluff lists is, the points system is (as Kipper mentioned) easier. Much as I would love to play a battle in which, say, the entire Ultramarines First Company fought off the forces of the Tyranids, to play it by the fluff would be horrendously expensive and take ages – the points system simplifies things, and actually vastly reduces the potential cost!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *