I've been playing Warmachine for a while now, and have only recently taken a look at the forums. I've been doing pretty well, only losing a handful of times, mostly at 35 or less points. I tried 50 twice, both against Menoth, and learned what the Harbinger, the dirty, dirty Harbinger, is all about.
I picked up my army from a friend in 2008 or 2009, and it consisted of a few jacks, a couple of casters, doomreavers and a squad of MOW shocktroopers. I have begun to round it out since then. Never having read the forums, and unaware of the 'meta', as it were, I forged happily on ahead in Doing Everything Wrong. I ran Butcher lists with MOW, widowmakers, and multiple jacks. Beatsticking was fine in small point games. I added doomreavers and a solo(or trio ) here or there, and got stomped good by Menoth(dirty, dirty Harbinger).
Ah ha! Time to learn. Instead of shaking everything up, I went back to smaller games and started by changing the caster of the unit. I switched from Butcher to pVlad. I still rolled with the same stuff, but added an element here or there: MOW as the line, widowmakers, no less than 2 jacks. I mess about with mortars and field guns, great bears, and solos, but the meat and potatoes of the list is for the most part the MOW line, the widowmakers, and 2-3 jacks.
According to what I've been reading, this is all wrong. Oddly, my win rate is stellar with these various forces. I don't know, maybe everyone armies up to kill scads of light infantry. I actually don't even own any Winter Guard or Pikemen. I have been curious about them, but never needed the units to win games.
I have seen the game start to change at 50 points, and have been getting units here and there to round out a force to hit the tables with at that level. I am breaking down and getting some Pikemen, finally, as well as a merc here or there. I'm going to be picking up some Rifle Corps and Kovnik Joe. I finally picked up Mechaniks(and the UA).
Originally, I was building forces limited by the models I had. Then I went into the force design and began to design my army as a fairly hard beatstick for anti-armor use that was going to survive without relying on powers or the like. I have a hard time imagining having to play Winter Guard infantry, or Pikemen, or any of the other 'essential' units. That kind of talk actually riles up the contrarian in me, and I make faces at my screen. Why restrict yourself to the prison of the meta? That sort of thinking is poor and restrictive and sorely limits you on the battlefield.
Yes, I have games where my MOW do not get into combat. Yes, they failed to 'get their points back'. I still won. They performed a very important function on the map all the same and were an integral part of a larger strategy that led to victory. Yes, certain scenarios are tough(or very tough) because of the slower movement of the heavy elements of my army. That has led me to work on new tactics and new ways to position and plan with the forces I have. I think it's a better solution than sea changes, and certainly much easier on the wallet(though I want shiny new models!).
Short version for short attention spans: Meta seems fallacious to me, unless you are referring to a strictly contained tournament mindset. Freaking out over percieved changes to it seem counterproductive. We have a deep toolbox full of explody bits and pain sticks. We'll be fine. Honest.
Unless I have to fight the dirty, dirty Harbinger.