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Putting an End
Pat didn’t mean that as an insult, but I know a lot of people (myself included) would take any accusation of cheesiness (or as the Brits say, "beardiness") as fighting words. That got me thinking about the whole idea, and here’s what I’ve decided: there is no such thing as cheesy. It just doesn’t exist.
“Huh?” you say. Allow me to explain.
Ask people to tell you what they mean when they say “cheesy” and you usually get a version of the famous saying about obscenity: “I can’t tell you what it is but I know it when I see it.” Some of them will mutter something about “manipulating the army lists to take unfair advantage of an opponent.” Some will give you a bunch of examples. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s only one thing to consider: is your opponent’s army legal? Meaning, does it follow the rules in the main rulebook and the appropriate codex? And if it does, then there’s nothing else you need to discuss.
“But what about those damned Eldar Wraithlords?” you howl. “What about taking two or more detachments? What about (insert favorite example here)?”
I understand, because I used to believe in the concept of cheesiness. During 2nd Edition, I used to rail about my buddy Pat’s Long Fangs, who had a Ballistic Skill of 5 and could nail anything that moved. It used to gall me to no end to think that his Space Wolves were not only better in close combat than my Tigers but they were also better shots.
But consider these points:
It’s always the
other guy who’s cheesy
If the other guy brings all kinds of heavy weapons or power swords, then he’s cheesy; if you do it, then you’re smart.
See what I mean? When Pat took offense at Raja Khandar, I pointed out that if I wanted to, I could accuse him of being "cheesy": didn’t his Warboss run around with a bodyguard of five Orks in mega-armor with power claws? Didn’t every mob that could have burnas? Didn’t he have a Looted Basilisk? We laughed it off, but he had to admit that he could understand what I was saying. I summarize this in the axiom One man’s cheese is another man’s brilliance.
Both sides have
the same amount of points
That’s part of why the game is so intriguing: you can never be sure exactly what the other guy is going to bring. I’ve been gaming against Pat for over 13 years, I know his army lists inside and out, but I still don’t know exactly what he’s going to bring to each battle. Would you want 40K to be like chess, where you know exactly how many and what kind of pieces the other guy has and exactly how they work in the game?
Look at this another way. For what I spend on Raja Khanda, her Command Squad, and her transport, I could purchase a lot of Tactical Marines with bolters. But instead, I choose 10 figures and a lightly-armored vehicle, all of whom could be destroyed (without me able to do anything about it) by a single Ordnance blast (say, from Pat’s Looted Basilisk). So if I want to spend all those points on a unit that can be destroyed with one shot, whom am I hurting?
There are some who advocate that you should eschew taking characters and wargear and use those points instead to take more regular troops. For the price of a Veteran Sergeant with a power sword and a plasma pistol, they argue, you can have three more Space Marines. I don’t fully agree with this: I think you need to have lots of regular troops but you also need (for a variety of reasons) to have some characters with cool wargear to give your regular troops a hand.
But even if you went to the opposite, “cheesy” extreme and had a small number of regular troops and loads of souped-up characters, what would that get you? A small, easily-outmaneuvered and easily surrounded army that couldn’t take significant casualties, that's what. It would be like the Americans at the Alamo: sure, they had some exceptional characters (Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie) who had their moments, but in the end the vast numbers of the enemy’s regular troops (the Mexican infantry) won the day.
This isn’t 2nd Edition anymore. If your opponent wants to spend all his points on comic-book style special characters and tricked-out vehicles, let him--and then teach him a lesson.
What cool stuff
this army has! Pity I can’t use it
And then you take your freshly-painted, recently-converted miniatures that you are so proud of and that you are sure will strike terror into opponents and draw admiration from onlookers and go to your local gaming store, where the first guy you play looks at your army and says, “That’s cheesy.”
What good is it to have a codex with all kinds of special wargear and rules if you feel you can’t use them without being cheesy? Exactly how much fun is that? You can play using just lots and lots of “vanilla” troops and little to no characters and wargear, and if you like that style of play, that’s fine. But I think it’s kind of dull. It’s like watching Star Wars without Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker: just lots of nameless, faceless stormtroopers and rebels shooting at each other. It might be interesting for about 15 minutes, but not much longer than that.
Go back to Raja Khandar Madu. She has artificer armor, master-crafted lightning claws, an Iron Halo, and a Command Squad. The epitome of cheese, remember? In my 6,000+ point Space Marine army I have over 100 figures (that's troopers and bikers--that doesn't count Dreadnoughts, Land Speeders, and tanks). Want to know how many other figures besides Raja Khandar have artificer armor? One (her counterpart, Raja Shamshir Talatra). Want to know how many have a master-crafted weapon? None. How about an Iron Halo? One—Raja Shamshir again, and of course I never use the two Rajas at the same time (because you can’t have two Iron Halos in the same army). Other figures with a Command Squad? None. I think those numbers speak for themselves.
Let me ask you something else: if I’m not going to give such an important person as Raja Khandar (who commands half the Fighting Tigers) the artificer armor, master-crafted weapon, or the Iron Halo, to whom am I going to give those? Some lucky Veteran Sergeant? That would be like Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace running around with an ordinary laser pistol while the guy who flies Queen Amidala’s spaceship carries a lightsaber. Heroes are exceptional people and they should have exceptional weaponry.
Here’s one more thing to keep in the back of your mind when someone objects to your “cheesy” character, “cheesy” wargear, or “cheesy” unit: are they really objecting out of some aesthetic ideal? Or do they have an ulterior motive? Are they objecting because they sweat what they see on your side of the board? I don’t want to dwell on it, but bear in mind that some 40K players will try to mess with your head to win a game. If your opponent is genuinely interested in the “good of the game” they’ll have a minimum of what you might call cheese or at least be willing to make similar concessions to you.
Cheesy makes a
“I would have won if he hadn’t used those cheesy Dark Reapers.”I know I’ve said it myself about a million times.
Saying the other guy was cheesy is a crutch so you don’t have to admit any personal failings. It’s not that you weren’t as good as your opponent or that you made poor decisions: the other guy was cheesy! No need to re-examine how you assemble and use your army, just blame the other guy. Make excuses! Don’t face painful truths, don’t improve, don’t ask for a friendly rematch, just be bitter and mutter under your breath how you should have won.
When you’re confident in your own skills it doesn’t matter what the other guy brings so long as he’s not breaking the rules. Confident players don’t worry about some gimmicky unit beating them: sure, maybe the other guy may have some luck with it, but, as my buddy Pat says, in the aggregate it all balances out.
In 3rd Edition 40K there is no such thing as an “unbeatable” unit. Remember Raja Khandar? Though she and her squad did tie up three of Pat’s mobs for a while in a recent game, eventually his Orks killed her and all but one member of her Command Squad, just like the Mexicans eventually overwhelmed the Americans at the Alamo.
I could go
on and on literally all day, but I think you get my point. “Cheesiness”
is just a totally subjective concept that really has no validity to the
confident gamer. If you play against me, it’s okay with me (within the
confines of the rules) if you bring whatever units you want, whatever characters
you want, whatever wargear you want. You spend your points any way you
want and I’ll spend them how I want. I might not beat you, but I hope I’ll
give you a run for your money.
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© copyright Kenton Kilgore, May 2000.
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