I know it's been awhile since I've written a 40k for dummies post, but I read a post over on GDNMW's blog that got me to thinking. I think one of the biggest new player mistakes might come in the false understanding that a solid or powerful army list will win games. This is purely a falacy. While creating a solid army with no apparent weaknesses helps out a whole lot, an inexperienced player or an inept player will still lose. Like the title insinuates, your list doesn't win the game for you, you do.
Because real life responsibilities and demands cut into my gaming time, I do a lot of my 40k playing on Vassal. I have found that Vassal is a hot bed for new players wanting to learn the rules and try out wacky lists without the consequences of throwing down large quantities of cash only to not have their investments pay off.
In my experience, the patented interwebs lists that appear on Vassal are almost always played by new players who don't understand the nuances of strategy or do not have a complete rules knowledge. In the end, I come away feeling like I just gave a wedgie to the nerdy kid and then took his milk money. The point being, in most cases, these players lose because they don't know how to use their armies.
Even a sub-optimal army can be used effectively. A good player that knows the rules and how to use them to put together a cohesive strategy will more often than not win.
So, if you are new and you have bought the latest toys for your army and you are still losing, answer these questions:
1) Do I know the general rules for 40k well?
2) Do I know my army's rules well?
3) Do I know common methods for stopping my army, unit, vehicle, etc.?
4) Does my army have any apparent weaknesses?
5) Can I stop my opponent from exploiting my weaknesses?
6) Do I see how the individual pieces of my army work together to build synergy?
7) Is there a single unit in my army that I can't afford to lose? What happens if I lose that unit?
8) Can I readily identify my opponents' weaknesses?
9) Can I put together a strategy to take advantage of my opponents' weaknesses?
10) Can I adapt my strategy when things are not going my way?
These are just 10 questions that it would behoove a new player to consider during a game. Notice, almost all of them connect directly to strategy and tactics. Notice, that none of them refer to list building concepts like force org charts, points allotments, etc.
If you take away one things from this post, it is that you need to know your rules. Know them so well, that you can quote them. Tab pages for rules to make them easier to find. Read codexes for other armies as well. Once you know the rules and how the game works, the tactics come fairly readily. Thanks for reading. Let me know if I missed something.