Duality, Redundancy, Optimisation and other bad words…..

So there’s a lot of ‘buzzwords’ used to describe what ‘competitive’ armies need (or are alleged to need).We hear the words ‘Duality’, ‘Optimization’ and ‘Redundancy’ thrown around a lot in the community but what the hell do they actually mean to the average gamer?
You hear complaints about ‘net-lists’ making all armies end up the same or ‘Spamming’ units making your army competitive but boring to look at and/or use.
I’m going to endeavour to explain these mythical terms as simply as possible and what they should mean to the average gamer who wants his army to be both pleasing from a ‘fluff’ and appearance point of view and also wants to win games while simultaneously trying not to sound like a patronising prick* while I’m doing it…..
* I’m sure you’ll let me know how well that goes…..
Here we go…..
Duality.

That should do the job…..
Typically meaning that the unit can take on both infantry and armour in at least some way. An obvious example of this would be a Tactical Squad with a Flamer and a Multi-Melta, usually in a Rhino. It can deal with infantry with it’s Flamer and vehicles with it’s Multi-melta and is unlikely to ever be in a position where it’s useless against the nearest enemy to it. This has the added advantage of causing your opponent target priority issues as it’s a threat to everything, but not enough of a ‘Death Star’ unit to warrant him unloading everything he’s got into it.
Now it should be obvious to any reasonably experienced player that this unit has some weaknesses. One of the more noticeable ones is that it has to rely on krak grenades to kill ‘Walkers’ like Dreadnought which is never going to end well for the Tactical Squad. A solution to this would be to give the Sergeant a Power Fist ‘just in case’. However It’s important not to get carried away with this train of thought as it’s easy to waste a shit-load of points on ‘just in case’ upgrades.
Of course from a modelling point of view this should in no way limit our creativity to any real extent. There are an infinite number of unit colour schemes to choose from, models with ‘special’ weapons can be given extra attention and there’s usually at least one Sergeant, Champion, Nob, etc. model that could benefit from a nice head swap or impressively painted back banner.
Optimization.

Well that seems pretty optimal to me…..
Lets keep our first example of the Tactical Squad mentioned in the above section. While the Power Fist would have been an occasionally useful option, it inherently contradicts the purpose of the unit which is to be a Midfield ‘melta-bunker’ that occasionally toasts Orks that are stupid enough to be walking about while there’s a 5th edition game of 40K going on. It’s designed to perform a set of tasks in an efficient manner, not to go running off getting tied-up in combat by Defilers…..
So we decide what the units going to be used for, give it the equipment it needs to do that job (while not being irritatingly mono-use) and save our extra points for something more generally useful.
Does this make our army boring though?
Well, not necessarily…..
As I mentioned at the bottom of the ‘Duality’ section there’s much that can be done from a modelling point of view to give models a unique look  Just because your army list isn’t full of unit upgrades doesn’t mean the models themselves can’t be as intricate as you like and getting the best out of such units as a gamer requires more player skill not less for the most part.
Redundancy.

A visual example of the concept…..
Okay this one is a bit trickier…..By it’s very nature ‘Redundancy’ in a game of 40K (for the most part) means having more than one of a unit in case the first one gets blown to pieces, eaten by something, dragged into the warp, immobilised by driving over a tiny crater, etc…..
The most common way to do this is to find a unit that does the job well and then take 3 of the fuckers…..however…..most of the more recent codices have more than one unit that can do the same job so you don’t necessarily have to take three of exactly the same unit selection in order to have redundancy. Just enough units that can do that particular job well. Should you have six of the same unit in your army there’s no reason why they should look exactly the same. Different squad markings, unique trophies, squad names or insignia on vehicles are all ways of adding a touch of individuality to each unit without causing any issues with WYSIWYG. The added advantage of adding these unique touches to each unit is that it gives those people who like the ‘fluff’ of an army ample opportunity to use these as basis for the story behind the units in question.
In Conclusion.
Despite my reputation amongst my friends as a ‘competitive’ gamer I also have background stories for most of the units I use and a theme to most of the armies as well**
** even if it’s occasionally a bit tenuous…..

Whether your using a Space Wolves Razorspam list, a pure Jump Pack army or any of the other so called net lists or ‘spam’ armies there’s no reason why they can’t be as elaborately modelled and as fun to use as anything the Fluff Nazis can come up with…..

I think those amongst us who have mad painting and converting skills should apply those principles to more competitive armies and the other guys who play purely to win should look into adding that extra touch of individuality to their own armies. Of course if your one of those bastards lucky people who can play well and who’s armies look awesome then stop being so smug about it well done……I suppose…..

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