If a list is good, should we suggest fundamental changes to it even if those changes would improve the list? Now, this is something I’ve struggled with from time to time, especially with Gunlines. I know that the best Gunline begins with three Typhoons and three Autolas Predators, has two CML Terminator Squads or three shooty Dreadnoughts, and has at least four Crusader Squads with either Lascannons or Multi-Meltas, and a Marshal if points allow. But how should I give advice on a forum? In the past I’ve made some long posts and advised changes that would drastically alter the list but make it virtually the Gunline I just described, mostly because I thought (and to a great extent still think) that the standard Gunline, if the correct choices are made, is the best list (excluding Drop Pod lists for the most part since they are very different and hard to compare) and why would I ever give advise other than the best?
If someone puts up a Black Tide list, you shouldn’t specify changes until it’s a Gunline, but at what point is it not too far to suggest changes? This depends on what the list writer wants. Does he want ways to improve his list or does he simply want opinions? Did he write the list attempting to make something (such as a particular unit) work or did he have a starting point and is trying to optimize the list?
And that’s the key word. Optimize. At a certain point, you are no longer improving the list, you are optimizing it. There is nothing wrong with optimization, but it does away with excess, it overrules certain basic builds, units and upgrades because they are simply bad. But you have to be careful and show discretion when you give advice as to whether the list writer wants an ‘optimized’ list, or just a good list.
A good example is a list I’m going to be writing soon, a Foot-Gunline. The idea is simple; maximize shooting output without taking any vehicles. Now, what if some random stranger comes on and says to drop a few things and put my guys in transports, maybe even buy a few Predators? Even though that is good advice, it changes the list. Rather than being almost unique, I will end up with a regular Gunline. Improved? Yes. Best advice? Not in this case.
So what is the point where a list starts to turn from simply ‘Competitive’ to ‘Optimized’? More importantly, in which cases do you need to give advice towards which one? Hypothetically (though probably not realistically) you could make a Competitive Black Tide list. When should you give ‘Optimizing’ advice and when should you just congratulate the author on making Black Tide almost work? That is subjective and I don’t have the answer, but I can at least help to keep it in the minds of anyone who reads this.
Now, remember that this is meant to be an exercise for myself (see first large paragraph) and is not directed at anybody except maybe the hypothetical stranger from the last paragraph.