[REQUESTING ADVICE] Alternative balancing

If this article is too long, let me just get to the point up front. In the comments, please give me your input of a specific army list you have played that seemed well-matched to another specific army list. Thanks!

The last time I was this into 40k, there was no World Wide Web, no established tournament scene in the Midwest (US), and no netrage community. FLGSs were king, and I was blissfully unaware of minmax lists, monobuilds, and WAAC neckbeards. [Read More]

Frankly, since I've returned to 40k in my old age, I have yet to really get pissed off at anyone in person for being obnoxious (a small pet peeve of mine) or by people arguing using anecdotal or even fabricated data (a HUGE pet peeve of mine). Of course, there's plenty of both to be had on the Internet, and I've certainly been sucked into my fair share of discussions that are based on the aforemention anecdotes, strawman arguments, fake mathhammer, and false conjecture. The truth of the matter is that balance is really a ridiculous concept in 40k. I'm not saying that tournament 40k is bad; I think it's awesome. But there are simply too many variables to definitively deem it "Fair" or "Broken" or something in between. This is not unique to 40k in terms of tabletop games. Scenario based games that give the end user autonomy over force construction are never going to be quantifiable in a way that can account for human nature, differing skill levels, etc.

But what about a closed system with handicapping? I'm not much of a chess player, but I do enjoy watching games. Because the F.O.C. is locked in for chess and there are no random rolls, the only practical variables that influence the outcome are turn order and the skill of the opponents. Imagine if instead of the typical chess layout, you were allotted points to allocate towards selection of pieces. What would you do? Rookstar? Bishop Spam? Pawnblob? Knightwing?

So I'd like to try something a little different. I'm not stupid enough to think this will be anything more than a way for me to prioritize my model building and to have an excuse to buy more models, but I think it's worth sharing.

I'd like to create an army list for each and every army that is as close to my definition of balanced as possible relative to the others. Point costs will be variable. There are a few ways to do this.

You could take some monstrously strong build like a Leafblower and then work your way down. So let's say you pick 2000 points worth of minmaxed Space Wolves. What do you think the points cost would be to make a Tyranid list that would beat it half the time, assuming each player was familiar with both codices? 2800? 3500? I really have no idea, and obviously, this doesn't mitigate enough variables to make it a truly balanced system. But it IS an alternative, and it would probably work best for people to play together frequently.

Alternatively, you could start with the strongest build using the weakest Codex and work from the bottom to the top.So, hypothetically, you could start with 2000 pts of Tau and end up with 900 pts of Grey Knights. You get my drift?

There are a few problems with this, of course. We have not eliminated nearly enough variables to call this methodology balanced, and the vagaries of dice-rolling will always throw a statistical outlier or two into ANY conclusions we try to draw about balance.

But it isn't really about any of that. I just want to play 40k with all of the armies, and I want to play in an environment where I have a chance of winning.

Ulterior Motive
Of course, this is just a huge ploy for me to justify buying models from every 40k army. Is this really THAT bad of a reason? Is it ridiculous to think that I could grab two armies off my shelf and expect a close game as long as my opponent and I know how to play the armies?

So here's what I'm asking: Can you folks identify some good lists that match well together? You can even say something like "Army A would be competitive with a 2000 point SM bike army if Army A got to have another 500 points in HQ and HS only". Or feel free to expound even more...with all this talk of Rankings HQ and the Adepticon rolling into town, I'm exceited to hear your advice.

If I get a bunch of "Huh?" comments, I will edit and amend the text to clarify.


  1. Hiyo; the hard part of doing this is the combinations are simply endless from a specific list standpoint. While I like the idea of handicapping, I'd point to other systems that deal with complexity a bit more handily: MtG for instance, and the 'sideboard' - which is intended to deal with varying shortfalls and mismatches. The system recognizes it has paper/scissors/rock and goes out of its way to allow tailoring to accommodate for it. IMO, this would be the 'best' approach for a tournament, but the difficulty is simply the execution.