Featured in the last No Quarter was a write up about the 3 main archetypes of list building or play-style: Attrition, Assassination, and everyone’s favorite, Control. After going over the tenants of these types PP asked the reader if they thought there was a fourth type. Well that got me to thinking, is there a fourth way that I’ve seen people approach the game or even how I may have built lists in the past and I think tonight really solidified that the answer is yes. I’ll explain and let you be the judge.
So what is this mysterious fourth type you ask, well I would like to term it the “mind screw” list. What I mean by that is a list tailor-made to mess with the opponent’s mind. “Well isn’t that what a control list does?” one might ask. Well yes and no. I’ve heard people talk about hard and soft control lists before. The former being a list that outright strips your control, think Haley2, Gorten, Magnus2, Kruger2, or even the Harbinger. They turn your models around, get you out of position, take activations away, or debuff your models to the point that they are almost taken out of the game. I feel this is really what they were covering in the article. Now not that this doesn’t mess with one’s mind but I feel a majority of these happen during the opponent’s activation or at the very least you are fully aware of their impact when you start your turn so you can at least try to plan around it.
Then there is what one might call soft control and maybe this is where my fourth style resides. These are non-overt elements that are not fully defined until they happen and that is where they prove their power. Things like counter-charge, pursuit, admonition, witch-hunter, bullet-dodger(dodge in general) and others that allow one’s opponent to make movements or actions during YOUR turn. So at the beginning of your turn you have absolutely no idea how or when your opponent will trigger them or they might just put enough doubt in your head that you “go into the tank” trying to find a solution to each one. Now normally, an opponent will only include one or two of these in a list and while annoying, they can be worked around. Oh, that model has counter-charge, well I’ll just engage them before they have a juicy target. Well that is all fine and good until your opponent stacks them up into one list and you spend the first 10 minutes of your turn thinking, well if I move here he will counter-charge and if I move this model he will pursuit and if I try to cast a spell here they will shoot me… and at least for me what invariably happens is that I forget just one of these and it ends up costing me big time. The other element to these is you don’t always know when or how your opponent will trigger them. I can assume that my opponent will use retaliatory strike on the first model to hit it but maybe they hold out till the third and get that crit that knocks down or slams my fully loaded jack. Maybe they don’t move the jack I charged with a pursuit-ed model but another jack to setup an assassination run the next turn or the caster to dominate the flag.
I also want to wanted to pay special attention to dodge. Wow have I spent a lot of time just going over how I can possibly stop the model from moving if I miss. I could increase my odds of hitting but dice always happen. I could try to encircle the model so they can’t move out of my melee. If I have access to knockdown that could be an answer as long as they don’t have access to a cheap animus or spell that stops that and if I actually have something with knockdown ability that I’m sure I can hit with!
To finish up, lets talk about how these abilities affect me once I’ve started my turn. What happens when I’m halfway through my models to setup an assassination run or grab scenario and I accidentally forget about that one critical ability that allows my opponent to suddenly move a model into the zone that I have nothing left to attack with or move into a charge lane or engage a model I planned on being a critical part of my turn. Well if I’m playing on a timed turn or death clock the affects can be catastrophic.
So I guess it really depends on whether or not you think of hard and soft control as two distinct style or just two sides to the same coin. Do you have a different definition that you would give to these terms? Maybe you don’t think that soft control has as much of an affect on you. I’ll concede it’s probably just very much the antithesis of my play-style. I love to plan out a whole turn and consider all my options before the first model moves. How do people usually play into lists like these? They obviously aren’t overtly powerful or everyone would run them. They do have counters and they do depend on being run by a skilled and practiced player. What do you all think??