I started thinking about this the other day and was wondering if anyone else out there ever thought of it like this.
When we sit down to build an army list, we usually have a point limit in mind. We spend a certain amount of points on buying the stock, non-upgraded units. Inevitably we either have some left over or we make room as we go along and add "upgrades" to those units.
The simple question is this, do you tend to buy Offensive or Defensive upgrades?
Let me explain the difference...
I'm talking about the upgrades you buy for a unit, NOT how you play it on the tabletop.
You can buy lots of Defensive upgrades for a unit and use them for assault or the other way around, buy Offensive upgrades and stay back, that's not what I mean. I'm talking about classifying the upgrades you buy and then looking at where you've spent your points for your force.
For example, I buy a Dreadnought for it's base cost.
I add extra armour (Defensive)
I add Venerable status (Defensive in my case)
I add a lascannon (Offensive)
Now this doesn't determine how I must play my Dreadnought on the tabletop, but I've basically spent more points on "upgrades" trying to keep him alive than I've spent trying to kill my opponent.
If I look at my Deathwing as a whole, it breaks down like this:
1500 point list
Point cost of stock units: 1310
Point cost of all Defensive upgrades: 100
Point cost of all Offensive upgrades: 75
That's 100 points I spent helping me stay alive. Would those 100 points be better spent on something that can do additional damage to my opponent?
Now some upgrades are clear, like smoke launchers being Defensive, others may be both Offensive and Defensive at the same time. And some, like weapon changes may only change your capacity and not necessarily improve anything. Although I would say that most weapon upgrades are Offensive since they are generally accepted as "better" weapons you are buying for your unit.
For those who ever played Magic, it's the difference between playing White and Red. White's focus was more on self preservation where Red's was more on outright attacking.
And so I wonder, if you spend more points trying to stay alive (defensive upgrades) as oppossed to trying to kill your opponent (offensive upgrades), who will do better in the long run, the guy who tried to stay alive or the guy who set out to kill the other one outright?