Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rocketry and list-building

Earlier today (or possibly late last night), I had a (very mild) epiphany: rocketry and listbuilding are, in some ways, very related activities.  No, seriously, bear with me here - there are some similarities between playing with little plastic and metal toy soldiers and lighting an extremely flammable substance in order to hopefully propel a cardboard tube with a pointed wooden tip at high speeds.

For starters, both involve lots of money.

Okay, kidding aside, here is my point.  I often sit down and, armed either with ibodger or a deck, start to build an army.  To an extent, I know what works for me and what doesn't.  I know what I can do with Lord Carver and a bunch of farrow brigands (besides lose, anyway).  I have a Terminus list that seems to work fairly well for me, although it needs some tweaking.  But, when I have a new unit or caster, I don't really know how well it will work with my playstyle and in my local meta.  I can read all the forums that I want, but until I actually put Ossyan and Hypnos on the table together, and play some games with them, I don't really know how well they work for me.  And, one game isn't really enough - you need a larger sample size to determine if your wins (or loses) are flukes, or serious problems with the list.

So, how does this relate to model rockets?  Well, right now, I have three rockets that I have been working on this week.  Two of them are relatively simple builds - an Estes Viking and an Estes Wizard - similar, though not identical to, other rockets that I have built.  I am building them mainly because they can take C motors, and are light enough to hit roughly 1600 feet with the right motor.  (As I said, I want to take advantage of a club launch with a flight ceiling higher than 1000 feet).  So, just like a Carver + Brigands list, or my Terminus list, I feel reasonably confident that, even though each kit is new to me, they are similar enough to what has come before that they will take off and fly without a problem.

The other kits - an Estes QCC Explorer - is a considerably more complicated.  It's an entirely new type of build - and, just as is the case with a new faction, or even a new unit or warcaster, it may not perform the way that I think it will.  I have build lists that I thought looked good on paper, only to get slaughtered (repeatedly) on turn 2, or were fine in general play, but could not handle scenarios.  Likewise, there is a chance that, come its inaugural launch, the Explorer will explode into a thin cloud of cardboard and balsa pieces, rocketing upward at 200 mph or so.

In other words - theorymachining is a good thing, but until the figs and the dice hit the table, no matter how good something looks on paper, you can't really know how well it will do.  You may have a pretty good idea, based on experience, but when trying something new, sometimes you just have spectacular failures.

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