All comers lists, fluff or win at all costs?

This is a Guest Post by Steve

All comers, fluff or win at all costs... Which one are you when you build a list?
The image above (from GW) is perfect for this as it captures the feelings some of us have when we face off against certain lists.

Do you build one list and play that regardless of who else you play? Or do you build a pure fluff list, one that goes along with a certain story that you read? Or do you do your research and mix and match your force into a beat you in the face list?

I have been looking around the different forums and blogs and I have come to the conclusion that there are a pretty even mix of the three out there. I think which ever one you follow tells a lot about the type of person you are.

If you sit down and build yourself an ACL then you really don’t want to have to remember a lot of different items from your force. Which is fine because that means that you also put thought into your force that you feel it can handle just about anything with equal chance at winning. I would say that you are the middle ground between the other two, and you just enjoy playing the game.

Which brings me to the fluff list players, these are the ones that tend to read the stories that go along with their force. They liked a certain leader or story that forced them to stick to strict guidelines for how the army was to be built (like Sarpedon and the soul drinkers or Khadors 701st iron rain). I think they are also the ones that get a unit out and try to find a way to use them even everyone else says that they are a loosing unit.

I think that every force, faction, and game has a unit like that. For me it was my piranhas for my Tau army, I loved the thought of those things on the board. Unfortunately they were not as durable as I had hoped and usually ended up getting blasted out of the sky, but there are times when I would still put 6-10 in a single list.
And before anyone asks I think I have enough to field 14 if I got crazy enough with it.

And then finally we have the WAAC list builders. Some of the people that fit into this category are also in the ACL category, they are widely known as tournament players or even power gamers.

They do the work to make a list that will stand up to anyone (as you would for a tournament) and they are built around the more powerful parts of a faction/army. They have an idea what they want the list to do and some idea what they will need to defend against and that is what they build it to do. Then you have the others that fit into the WAAC category, they are the ones that won’t ever enter a tournament.

Why do you ask? Well because they can’t alter the list to beat the person they are facing off against. These tend to be the ones that gloat about never being beaten, but come up with something that stops them from going to that tournament to prove how good they are. Which they really are not that good they just find the holes in someone else’s army and build to exploit it. They are the players that will ask you to play and then ask you what force you are playing and what you have in it (or wait to see what you pull out) and then decide what army to run against you.

In my opinion these are the ones that bring the game down. They are the ones that make it hard for the other categories to want to play, they are the ones that irritate me the most when I see them hovering about waiting for the next person to play (or victim as it were).

Me, I like to see myself as part of the first ACL category. When I played 40k my list only ever really changed when the points did, and that was only to add or remove units or if my opponent asked for a particular list type.

In War Machine I find that I play with the same list but I change out my caster. And that all depends on my mood, do I want a fun game, a challenging game, or am I helping someone learn the game or their list.
Am I an expert player? No, but I do see myself as a veteran player that like to play the games available.

Win, loss, or draw it is all about having the most fun I can. Winning is nice but playing a good game is better.

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. I feel the same about people who just carry multiple tailored list, then watch you play someone(or see you getting your army out)then ask for a game using their anti-whatever-you-have list. These people are the worst type of player. If someone has a fluff list and it happens to be perfect for stomping my army, but will be challenged to win against other armies, I'm fine with losing.

    I once had a guy see me get a leman russ out of my carrying case, so he starts shuffling lists until he gets to his anti-tank(what he thought anti-guard) list. Little did he know I was just moving the Leman Russ out of my way to get to my 100 guardsmen I always ran in 1000 pt list. Nonetheless, no third turn for him, and one for the little guy(me).

  2. Thanks Ron, but now I will go back into the cave. It is too humid outside and there is this bright shining thing in the sky that makes my eyes hurt when I look at it. Besides it is your fault that I wrote this. If you hadn’t had a so many good contributions to read on here I wouldn’t have felt the need to write it.

  3. good article. I enjoyed reading it.

    I actually write a few All Comers lists, and usually let my opponent pick between the WH, the DH, and the IG. Or I pick what I'm playing as I drive up, then accept the first person that offers a game.

    Heck, I've even had people play me and choose to play one of my own armies against me after they picked with one they wanted me to play. (which was fun, and a little surreal)

    You should come out into the daylight more often. One you get a crust burnt on, you get used to it. But you probably have tasty mushrooms back in the cave....

  4. I think I fall into the ACL catagory. I love the fluff, but I won't base my gameplay around it until everyone else that goes into a FLGS does the same, but at the same time, there is nothing worse than the person who comes into a store and tailors his list to fight the next guy he is facing.
    I usually write my list for the store the night before I go. I write a 1000, 1750 and 2000 point version of the list to fit whatever points values I might encounter, but in essence the list is the same. This allows me to have a few solid games to determine how the list works and what units could be added/removed and in the end it helps me get ready for tournaments and helps me become a better tactician as I will not change my army once I am in the store regardless who I am facing.
    Great article.

  5. I definitely fall into the ACL. I like the fluff a lot, but I feel to restricted trying to build a list around it. I would however do a fluff list for a campaign. I think that would make it more fun and narrative.

    Unfortunately the person I play the most is a WAAC player, constantly gloating about how I've never beaten them. They fall right into the category of "Oh... I didn't have time to make up a list." Then makes one up while I'm pulling my army out and setting it on the table. It's so annoying. I called them out on it once and the pile of excuses seemed endless. Fortunately, despite the utter beating I always take, the games end up being fun and socially enjoyable with them.

  6. The problem with pointing fingers is the classifications are all subjective. What happens when your ACL is seen as WAAC? Does any one fess up to being WAAC? Those few that do label themselves as WAAC will probably tell you they have the most fun while playing a hard fought game.

  7. I am primarily an ACL, but I am guilty of being both a Fluff and a WAAC player at times too, though WAAC is not really an option for me (the way I roll).

    When I build an army I never just build to a certain list and stop, I usually like to have at least 1.5 times the amount of stuff (read 4x or more) of what the normal size game I would play would be. That way I have some options to change my force depending on what type of player I am facing, Newb, other ACL, or WAAC, etc. Also I have a hard time just sticking to one list, so I am constantly modifying and adjust my army till I find something I am happy with.

    Now, Fluff is a big part of the hobby to me and I like to convert and model based on fluff. Also I do not usually play a game very long if the fluff is not something I can get behind and let my imagination run with. I always try to Theme my armies based on some element of fluff from the game or created by me.

    WAAC, well we all have our moments where we are sick of getting beat down and have lost for a long streak and just want to play an army that is going to win some games. Or a new group we join plays at a higher level then we are used too. Sometimes I will take that Fluffy ACL list I run and cut out a lot of the fluff and add in the nasty and go for the win, usually in a tournament where I know others are going to be doing the same. Or when I have lost to a certain opponent every time I play them for an extend period of time.

    However the biggest gamer rule I try to live by is no matter what style of army I play, if both I and my opponent did not have fun playing the game then neither of us won.

  8. I don't get to play as often as I like so most of my play lists are ACLs. I do make a good number of lists designed to showcase or maximize the amount of certain units I find really cool. This does often lead to unbalanced lists with great strengths and ussually great weaknesses.

    When I actually want to use one of my unbalanced unit specific lists I ask my opponent if they mind me useing these silly lists.

    If you are having fun even while lossing its a good game.

  9. Steve P: Great article. Buy some sunglasses so you can come out of the cave more often.

    As to the ACL vs Tailored question, I tend to go for an ACL since making/keeping track of a list for each occasion would tend to give me a headache. Sometimes I win, and sometimes I lose horribly. I also usually try to include elements that will provide some comedy in failure, like demo charges.

    Occasionally, like for a story driven campaign, I will come up with a situational type of list, if the story supports it.

  10. I usually run ACL's since I hate the idea of a tailored list that's designed to steam-max my opponent or max out certain uber-units. Heck, for both my armies I generally run the same list consistently.

    The benefit to this is that I think it really helps to improve my playing and tactical thinking. Using the same list again and again will let a player understand how to best use each squad and how they work together.

    At this point in my playing, if I lose (which happens enough so that I don't get an ego) I feel that I can only blame myself for making a mistake or not having the dice like me today.

    WAAC isn't the point of the game for me. It's to sit back with the guys and have a lot of hilarious moments.

  11. Great article!

    I bridge the gap between ACL and Fluff. Generally, I'll add one of those fluffy units that are not seen that often because people on the internet forums say they are bad units.

    The rest of my force fits in with the fluff but is geared towards being an ACL.

  12. I always play for fun, even in tournaments. My Space Marines can be made into an ACL easily, which is why I like them in tournies. My guard, however, are totally fluffy. Valhallans are too awesome to not make fluffy :D At the same time, the new Guard Codex makes it a very competitive idea which is both good and bad because I may seem like a Powergamer when I have Chenkov and 50 conscripts that run towards the enemy and just come back on when they are low strength. Still, it's all about the fun and fluff for me, though I absolutely love tournies too (most guys I play against are nice and just want to have fun as well. Maybe I'm lucky that I rarely come across power gamers?)

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  14. Ok I won't lie, I normally build to win. Fluff is always good when designing the armies' appearance for me, but I definately build to win. Saying that, I hardly win, so my best efforts aren't worth paying attention to!

  15. Thank you all for the comments. And to be honest I am not really that surprised by the type of people that each of you say you are. It only seems natural for you to gravitate towards each other like this, and it doesn’t hurt any that you have Ron’s site here to discuss that. I think we have all come across that WAAC player and have made an effort to avoid them, but sometimes you just don’t know who they are. Once again thanks for the comments.

  16. See Steve, you should write more, the guys here enjoy your stuff.

    Me personally, I'm an ACL. Of course I build for 1500 points and my list/point level rarely changes. I like the challenge of using fluff lists with their self-imposed limitations and trying to do well with them... like the all infantry Deathwing.

  17. Things you never hear: ooo those Terminators are screwed they've got grots :P

    I personally try to stick to a theme but not make it a totally useless list, 'power gamers' are a real pain in the milky atmoshpere (that was a 'dairy' 'air' joke... fail) just one game in a tournatment ruins the chances for the more relaxed players (whom I hope are the majority)

  18. Obviously when you make this kind of an article, there'll be some subjectivity involved in making the categories.

    Still, I appreciate the gray area Steve's putting into this.

    I think the all-comers list and WAAC have some gray area; a WAAC list is a bit of a 'tourney-minded' list because you can't predict your opponents.

    There's an adage about a swordmaster not needing to fear the second best or third-best guy. It's the new guy that doesn't know what he's doing (and thus cannot be predicted) that you've got to watch for. There are always wildcards.

    And I think that's what the All-comers list deals with.

    I tend to be an all-comers list, but I admit that I spar with the same few folks, so we tend to influence each other. (I think my Grav Tanks are the reason he started bringing Hydras, but I could just be crazy...but he'll still bring Russes when I bring Lances, so there you go.)

    I think there's nothing inherently wrong with WAAC, but the type that keep a binder full of "Anti-this, Anti-that" lists are a different breed. Someone like that might be testing out lists; I'll give 'em that. On the other hand, they might be trying to monkey-stomp you just to feel better about themselves.

    I'll respect more a WAAC type that's a gracious winner and loser. I got thrashed by a guy who's usually a hardcore player, but he is also very FUN to brawl with.

    PS: I'm betting on the Deathwing, not the Grot.

  19. I always bring an ACL but I usually play to win. Why not? It's in the spirit of competition, not about personal gain for me. If we're going to blow eachothers little men to pieces I wanna do it right. :)

    Also, it's kind of hard for me to fork over crazy amounts of cash for something thats not gonna perform. I paint my armies in weeks usually, not months or years, so it's going to be on the table a lot.

  20. Its quite simple really.

    I play a fluff based ACL list.

    I form my fluff to fit my playstyle.

  21. I don't play much, so for me the hobby is mostly painting and planning. My armies consist of whatever I want to paint, so I'd consider them fluffy rather than ACL or WAAC.

    Most of the gamers I run into locally seem very caught up in the WAAC mindset, so I find it's often more fun to stay home and paint instead of setting up my army and removing all the models a few minutes later when my opponent's uber-stompy unit of doom makes 96 attacks and wipes half my army off the table. I especially like the guy at the game store who asks if you even want him to roll the hits and wounds because it's obvious your army can't withstand his maxed-out cheese.

    I suppose I need to find some other noobs who want to learn the game as well, because looking for a training game against the local veterans just winds up being an exercise in futility.


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