What's in a List?

Warhammer 40,000 – I've been playing and painting 40K also exclusively as of late. Not that you couldn't tell based on the current glut of content on this site. Granted I'm not playing 2-3 times a week with a tournament every Saturday like I used to back during the heyday of 3.5 Edition with the special assault rules and god-like Chaos marine book. But I am getting a game in every other week at a minimum and as such am really getting a grasp on the subtleties of seventh edition. I'm still not 100% on all the rules all the time and don't do a whole lot with crazy formations yet. But on the whole I really like the game.

I like having options (which is why the 3.5 Chaos Book will always be my favorite) I think at the peak of my 40K addiction I had five unique chaos marine armies, sisters of battle, space marines, dark eldar, eldar, lost and the damned, genestealer cult (using lost and the damned rules) and a bunch of small warbands that were used for Necromunda and 40K. Somewhere around 4th editon I sold off most of my 40K stuff because I found other games I liked better that were seeing more play in my area and in my playgroup. 

I picked up every edition and gave it a shot but sixth and seventh edition really grabbed my interest. It seems that in the last few months seventh editon has really taken off wth the casual groups I play with. The tournament scene may be a different story but at this point in my life I play games for fun not to grind through crushing noobs to snatch a $50 gift certificate. (Besides I can't remeber outside of GT's the last time there was a 40K tournament in the Detroit Metro Area.)

Anyway what's in a list? When I build a list I start with a theme in mind and base what I build off that theme. For example if I want to play the Star Phantoms Devestator guy the obviously I'm going to take a bunch of Devestators and Heavy Support Options to make best use of his cool ability. Will the list be strong? Hopefully but in my mind I'm building to fit this theme that may or may not come off on the tabletop. Most of the time it doesn't because I don't want to sound like a neck-beard explaining the nuances of my list and why I chose each choice and how fluffy it is. I do that for myself and will share if asked but not everyone is into the fluff of the game and most don't want to be bored with your intricate story.

Have you ever looked across the table and been able to figure out the theme or story your opponent might be trying to convey? No really have you? I think for most people they look across the table and see the best choices of units and models from what is available to their opponent. (Or you might look across and think WTF is this guy thinking those units suck) In previous editions you generally knew what was in each codex or at least had a general idea of what to expect when you looked across the table.

Lately I tend to see quite a few giant walkers, tanks or other lord of war type units on the other side of the table. Granted many of the games I'm playing now are 2000 points per player so it is easier to fit those models in but I can't help but think how crazy it is that these rare unique units are used in almost every conflict. I mean I get it if you drop $100 on a model you want to use it as often as possible, but I can't help but think they've become to much of a focus in the game. Don't get me wrong I love all the fun toys and like to play them as well.

My issue really comes down to how that skews my own lists. I find myself including units that I don't necessarily like to play all the time just because I know I won't have a good time if I don't have a shot at taking out threats that will just remove swathes of my army if left unanswered. 

So what's in a list? Do you take fun stuff you want to play or do you take stuff because you know you'll need to deal with specialized units?