So this is the 5th installment of teh series. If you are following this then maybe you can guess where I am going with this multi part series of strategic articles.
I think at this point it's important to define the terms STRATEGY & TACTICS.
When you build your army list you want to craft it such that you can implement your strategies. Some armies have multiple strategies such as eldar & Space Marines. Chaos daemons can also be built such that they have various strategies. Other armies are best at a single strategy and often these are the strongest. You should choose your strategies such that they are easy to acheive if you want to win a lot.
Your tactics evolve and are played out based upon your strategies....
Strategy > Tactics
Here is a simple example that illustrates strategy versus tactics and how they are coupled. Suppose you have a basic Space Marine army and you are playing a mission that features holding multiple objectives. Your strategy is to start off shooting with some movement towards the objectives. You don't want to over commit your army early so that you can see how your opponent reacts and then make adjustments if necesary. So you start off playing conservatively. By midgame you want to have put youself in a position to be able to hold the majority of the objectives for the win while also being able to contest the other objectives. You must decide by midgame which objectives will be the easiest to hold and which objectives you can contest. Obviously the more objectives you can hold the better your chances of winning. By the endgame you should be either holding the objectives you have chosen or be in a position to take & hold. Random game adds an element of surprise and against a good opponent you may have to take some chances.
A mechanized Space Marine army will rely upon tactical squads in rhinos or razorbacks to move forward and grab objectives. Assault terminators riding in Landraider Crusaders or Redeemers will clear the objectives so the tactical squads can then hold them. These are your tactics. It's all simple on the surface but by playing conservatively and not over committing during the early game you will have several means of acheiving your goals. Landspeeders are an excellent choice for contesting objectives but they are also quite fragile. If you protect them in the early game there are better odds they will still be around by the endgame to contest.
Armies such as eldar and Space Marines are inherently shooty. Eldar are also highly mobile while Space Marines are mobile. The tradeoff is that Space Marines are tougher and can sustain more damage. Both armies tend to be limited in numbers but have many specialist units that excel in specific roles. Tactical Marines are a Jack of all Trades but by splitting these units into combat squads they become more specialized. A top tier army can crank out massacres while a mid tiered army can just win. I was talking to a friend this evening and he said the basic value in playing meta list is it will perform well based upon it's track record as proven by the many people who win with it. The meta list will perform well against most any army so it is more forgiving if you make some mistakes early in the game.
I am not a proponent of meta lists but I do respect them. To me the main problem with any meta list is that other good players also know what to expect and can counter them. I prefer armies that are seldom seen by the specific build. Your opponents may mistakenly identify them as a meta list and expose themselves at some point in the game by making the wrong decisions based upon their incorrect evaluation. Of course some meta lists such as mechanized IG are so strong they can force a win due to their inherent strengths regardless of early mistakes. If you do decide not to run a meta list this can make you a better gamer since you have to think outside the box. If you can lull your opponent into a false sense of security into the midgame then you will have the opportunity to grab the initiative during the endgame and deny them the win.