Something that does not get mentioned too often but is implied a lot here on the boards is the concepts of 'opportunity cost and benefits' . We discuss is a lot but it is not often given a name. When theorycrafting it is very easy to use the hard numbers, abilities, spells, etc. that we see on the cards of our beloved models and compare them to the other given items on the other models' cards; "This fellow does what this fellow does only this one has more armor and this one has more defense.". This is a natural and right aspect of the conception and construction of any wargame force. We as players decide how we want our particular force to function and we weigh the pros and cons of each figure relative to our primary idea. High armor, high defense, fragile-but-potent, etc. are all examples of lists that most experienced wargamers have seen and likely played, in these cases leaning toward skew lists that make your opponent answer their riddle; 'How do you deal with all of this thick Khadorian armor?' or something similar. Other lists are balanced, often containing a decent ranged game, some melee punch, solo hunters, etc. and these lists tend to be answer lists. They offer their players answers to as many possible questions as their opponents' lists can ask; "You have stealth and here is my answer. Over here is my answer to your infantry. My caster has Purification to answer your debuffs.".

When crafting our lists we have a tendency to only weigh what we can see on the cards, discounting what is either not readily apparent or not easily quantified. A great example of this is our requisite faction ability; Tough. It should not be relied on or counted on but rest assured that your opponents most likely hate it. Tough is an ability that is not easily weighed or measured yet when you pull out your trolls, Slaughterhausers, or what have you then you can say with confidence that it will impact the game. You may never realize its impact or be able to isolate it and demonstrate it but for the most part Tough affects the game just about every time; this unknowable coolness is the opportunity benefit. Trolls pay for Toughness in their points yet we cannot say for sure exactly what we have paid thus Tough has an opportunity cost; some tiny percentage of the points that are in our army could have gone to a more concrete idea such as a beast with one more point of armor, one more point of speed, etc. Additionally you must weigh the possibility that Tough will hose your plan and not just your opponent's. I have been caught by my own Tough checks on many an occasion which is another opportunity cost.

Another cost/benefit that Trollbloods get is their medium bases. We pay for those in the costs of our models, no doubt, but we also reap a definitive benefit. Having untrampleable infantry is a fantastic defense that is hard to assign a points cost to. I imagine that many of you have used Mulg to trample over five small bases, snack on four of them, goad from the fifth, then smack the living crap out of some poor sap warnoun before snacking on him just out of spite. Mulg kicks arse that way. Now consider that every time you put down your lovely medium-based Trollbloods you are giving your opponent the proverbial finger when it comes to trampling your little men which is not a bad benefit. The flip side of that is that our infantry take up a lot of space; the cost. This particular example could probably be stretched out and analyzed a ton but I think I will leave it at that.

A much broader example of what I am trying to illustrate is in something as basic and simple as our caster selection. Each time we pick up a caster we pay a very large opportunity cost and, hopefully, gain a large benefit. By simply selecting Hoarluk Doomshaper, Rage of Dhunia I am paying a large cost in a lack of infantry support but gaining a large chunk of beast support in return. This does not have an points associated with it yet it undeniably carries a certain cost/benefit ratio. These concepts are at the core of many of the good debates that you run into on these forums. One person says that unit A is thebest in stuation B, but this person over here insists that it should be unit C instead of A. The truth is that both can be the best and in many instances the one that you use is the one whose opportunities you are best able to take advantage of. Neutralyze (of Legion fame and I think a top-table competitive player) has said many times that you should play the warlock that you feel most comfortable with and not the one that is commonly thought of as the best and, even though I am a casual player, I could not agree more. By playing a certain caster a lot you learn by instinct that caster's mechanics and interactions, what they can handle, what they cannot, and how you should use them in any given situation. Underlying all of that is this oftentimes vague concept of opportunity costs and benefits.

This little blurb is geared toward the newer players. I was feeling introspective after my Warmachine today and thought that maybe I would post this. If anyone has something they would like to add or sees something that could use polish please speak up. If it is too intangible to be of use then let it fall into the pages of history.