|Denewer @ deviantART|
The 'CONCEPTS:' series is intended to be a range of articles discussing certain commonly used (and sometimes misunderstood) terms and army building techniques, such as Balance, Redundancy and Duality. I think it's useful to establish a common framework for these concepts to help frame conversations, and also to help clarify my own thoughts on these matters. I have built up my understanding of these concepts from a large variety of different sources (many of which are listed under links!), and I certainly to not claim to be the originator of these various ideas!
What is balance?
Firstly, lets rule out some alternatives.
For me, balanced does not mean 'a large selection of different units chosen from a codex'. Often referred to as 'battleforce' or 'rainbow' armies, having an army with, for example, a squad of terminators, tactical marines, scouts, assault marines and devastators all lead by a captain may take a 'balance' of squads, but it is certainly not what we're looking at here.
In this context, it is also not 'avoiding taking too many of anything'. The antithesis of 'spam', I would expect that some players choose not to repeat particular elements at the risk of offending their opponent's or own idea of what would be realistic in a typical army of their choice. Examples of what this version of balance would try to avoid are 'missile-spam', 'razor-spam' and pure mech or footslogging armies. To a lesser extent this also rules out very characterful themed armies, like an all biker, deathwing or death company forces.
Neither is it necessarily 'having strong shooting, combat and movement abilities'. Whilst this is not ruled out in my understanding of balance, it is quite possible to achieve the criteria by focusing on one or two of these aspects. Of course, the best armies may well encompass all of these, but it is not always the case!
Before we get to my definition, a little background on my approach to gaming. I like the idea of having an army that can take on anything, whether it's going to be for a tournament or playing a friendly game against a random army. I also don't want to spend my limited time and money on stuff that never gets used, and I want to limit the number of games I get stomped just because of a 'bad matchup'!
All of which leads me to the following conclusion:
A truly balanced army is one that 'has enough tools in enough numbers to have a fighting chance against anything'.
What does that mean exactly?
To build an army that meets this requirement we need to understand not only what tools, or battlefield roles, need to be filled (e.g anti-infantry, anti-tank, threat ranges and scoring to name but a few), but also how our particular army/units/wargear work together to achieve this. Just one example would be if the best anti-infantry unit fills the same FOC slot as the best anti-tank unit, then there are some difficult decisions to make!
Creating a good balanced army is no easy task. Experienced or gifted players may grasp this straight away, but it should be possible for anyone willing to spend a little time and effort (like anyone reading this blog!) to persevere and improve their lists and gameplay.
So, food for thought then! Do you agree? How do you manage to balance your lists?