In this edition of Defense of 1500 I want talk a little bit about luck and how it relates to 1500.
Most players have bad memories of losing games to a single dice roll. As an example, losing a Land Raider to a lucky shot in previous editions (3rd/4th) would put you in a serious hole when victory points were a consideration. High risk units like Land Raiders often were left behind because of the point sink. Now with 5th edition it’s not always the end of the world when your Land Raider melts before your eyes, as long as it accomplishes something. 5th edition almost completely removed unit denial that plagued the game before. It changed the game towards something unbelievable: player skill.
Once you stop blaming the dice look at all the variables that played in your defeat and realize that the game has a simple complexity that often goes unnoticed. Things like outflanking, objectives, reserves, troops as scoring, and even kill points showed that GW new focus was skill over luck. As a player you have the power to build many good lists based on your style of play like never before. When a game relies more on skill it becomes suddenly less about dice. Suddenly you end up with games where you lose most your army, but still win because you out played your opponent. Now where dice play a big part, is in player mistakes. Never has dice reflect mistakes like this edition of 40k. With every new codex the game becomes not what unit you took, but how you used it.
This is only magnified when playing 1500, where mistakes (not dice) determine if you win or lose. At 1500 the margin for error becomes slimmer. Every unit can use reserves and with staggered deployment gone a greater depth of play has emerged. Take the trusty Land Raider, with reserves you can at least protect the Land Raider from first turn shooting giving you more control tactically over the battle. Whose mistake is it if I leave it out to die from mass fire? At higher points the use of things like reserves often are an all or nothing affair. Players complain that if they don’t put their entire force in reserve they will get blown off the table. Just the sheer weight of dice can tip the scales from skill to math and make playing for the objectives a moot point. At 1500 nuance is the name of the game.
You don’t have to play a flawless game to win at 1500 it just means play smart. It also doesn’t mean you cannot play without taking risks. This is where plan Bs comes in. Either by risk or mistake having a list filled with plan Bs is important. Now before screams of redundancy echo throughout the land, Plan B doesn’t mean just take the same unit again it means take another unit that does the same job, but differently. This is important, because sometimes if you lost one unit to another, having the same identical unit is not going to help you much in the same situation. Here is an example. You just made the mistake of using a Fire Dragons to kill TH/SS Termies and only killed 1 of 5. Now instead of throwing another unit of Fire Dragons to feed the Termies instead use a Seer Council. Seer Council like Fire Dragons can destroy any vehicle, but have the bonus of being brutal in assault.
To be a better player you should perfect the art of making less mistakes. The higher point levels the easier it is to cover up mistakes. Lose one squad you might have two more to take its place. Misjudge a assault, well you still have 2000 points of other stuff. I don’t want rewards for my mistakes and if I want to play competitively I want the least forgiving, but most balanced version of 40k.
I am not going to lie and say it is easy to play 1500. It is hard to build lists and requires more play-testing, but if your entire game comes down to one die roll it should be because you are evenly matched not because of luck. In the age of Internet generals you often read about black and white situations typically revolving around simplistic lists. It’s so much easier to talk about point costs and throw around words like optimization. It is another thing completely to explain how to use a unit in a specific situation.
When you see a 2000-2500 point game how does it not become more about math or dice? Would you rather play a statistic problem or play a game where it tests your abilities in a more significant way? So next time when you hear players whine about dice rolls, watch the situations they put themselves in including the point level.