So checking out some army lists on various forums, reading others blogs, tactical threads, etc. has lead me to do some thinking. And I have come to the conclusion that I don't like powergaming. I don't like it one bit.
Powergaming is all about finding the 'best' units in a given codex and then figuring out how to get as many of those in an army list as possible. This will give the player an advantage over many if not most opponents. Furthermore, powergamers also look for every grey area and loophole in the rules they can find to exploit. This will in fact win them many games. I fear though, that it will not win them many friends! Another method of powergaming is to run out and start a new army everytime a new codex comes out. (This method is much pricier, but still some people do it! Just look at all the battle reports out there that have an army of the newest [at the time] codex on the table of unpainted models!) We all now about codex creep, and the only way to never fall victim to it is to play the army from the newest codex all the time. I am convinced there are players who do just that!
Losing friends is only one drawback to powergaming though, and to some it's not even a concern. If all you are really playing for is tournaments, then you probably don't care if you make any friends. But anyway, another drawback to powergaming is that I don't think you actually ever get any better as a player by powergaming. If the only way you can win is to spam out on all the best stuff, all you ever need to do is put it on the table. If you aren't completely incompetent you will at least be competetive. If you're opponent took a 'balanced' list then they will probably not be able to handle your spammed out army, and you will win. This will only get you so far though, and if you play the same person often enough they will get sick of losing to you and they will build an army list to counter yours. You will get sick of losing and you will re-tool to beat his new army list, and so on and so forth until you are both very good at beating each other. But how will you do against others?
Now I am not saying that you shouldn't take the good units. Not at all. In fact not taking them would be foolish. But the tactical effectiveness of something shouldn't be the only consideration when building an army list for a GAME! Do you like the way the models look? Do they fit the fluff for your chosen army? Are they actully FUN to play with? These should all be other considerations when building an army list.
None of this is to say that you shouldn't play to win though. You should always play to win. Wether you're playing in a Grand Tournament or just a pick-up game with your best friend. Some of you might ask 'How can I condemn powergaming and then condone always playing to win?' Well, it's because they are not the same thing. Powergaming is about exploiting the rules and codex's. Playing to win is about making fewer mistakes than your opponent and taking full advantage of his mistakes. It's about coming up with better tactics, making better use of your army and covering your own weaknesses. This can be done no matter how good or bad a given army list is, and is the basis for good play. If you don't have a spammed out army list you are going to have to actually think in order to win. Your win/loss record might suffer some, but you can take pride in knowing that the tally in your win column is actually earned through good play. Also, I think it is insulting to your opponent to not always give it your best effort. What joy is there in a victory if after the game your opponent just tells you they weren't even trying. It makes the victory a bit more hollow doesn't it? It does for me. Also, neither of you will actually improve as players that way.
Anyways, that's just my take on it. Do what you will, but for me Playing to win is all about tactics, thinking and trying your hardest, while powergaming is all about exploitation and spam, two things that always leave a bad taste in my mouth!