Knowing is Winning

There are so many warhammer 40k armies out there. Sure after playing for a long while it may not seem like it. It does tend to becomes a game of 'oh, yeah I've seen this build before' and I have an idea how to respond. But really there are almost countless builds and combinations of units. To a new player it seems limitless. When does that begin to change and at what point does that alter a players perception of the game?

I often forget that experience comes from playing and usually don't take time to think about how well my opponent knows my army and how that will affect our battle, but perhaps I will begin considering this when I setup for my games in the future.

Ive been on a 40 k hiatus as of late and missed the dark elder codex entirely. I skimmed it, I really did. But I never sat down and digested it like I have all the others. So when I played in a local 10 man tourney last Saturday you can imagine how I felt when on game three my 2 win elder were about to setup against a 2 win dark elder....

I didn't have a stinking clue. That unit does what? Why do they get to reroll hits? Why do my fusion guns only have a range of 6" when shooting your paper tank? Hrmmm, setting up my wraith guard mid field against torrent of fire poison attacks wasn't so smart was it?

My opponent was fotunately a great guy, but he could have fed me any amount of bogus info. I wouldn't have known any better or have been the wiser.

I hadn't experienced a 'blind' game like that in years. The newbie feeling was both fun and agonising. I was begging for a drubbing yet somehow managed to pull out a very sloppy win. It was ugly and nothing like how I would have played the list a second or 10 th time. Regardless, you can bet your bottom dollar I now own and have read the DE codex! I'm a good number of games from knowing them properly but at least I know the basics now.

This got me to thinking about advantages that might exist by playing less popular builds and armies. Is it worth fielding less popular units if your opponent doesn't know how to respond? Where is the balance between power builds and familiarity? Example: leaf blower is still the big boy on the block - but who doesn't have first hand experience against it?

Knowing what to expect from an opponent and army is huge! When I play competitively it is always a huge mental advantage if my opponent says 'I don't know much about guard, seer councils, or the list I am running'. This all but indicates my opponent is either a genius playing me for a shmuck, or a tabling in the makings. After this weekend I think I've realized experience with other lists and armies is just as important as knowing your own!

What do you think? Is competition all about power builds or is it who has more experience?