Hobby Roundup (Week 3)

Again, far too little hobby actually getting done at the moment!  But lots of interesting stuff going on in the hobby community.

Bit disappointed by Shieldwolf Miniatures cancelling their shield maiden vs orcs kickstarter.  They had over the £30,000 funding they were aiming for 7 days in, so to pull out because they wouldn’t have enough is really bad planning – if their target wasn’t high enough to cover the project, they hadn’t planned right.  Great looking minis, but I think I’ll steer clear of them going forward.

Some really cracking stuff coming out at the moment – the new Fyreslayers for AoS have been getting very favourable mentions.  Too high magic for me in theme, but amazing craftsmanship.

Seeing lots of enthusiasm for Guildball, and judging by event sales, its continuing to grow. I’m eying up a union team at the moment, but I’m trying to be good, given a plastic mountain taking up lots of crates.    I really feel that its a good game to try though, so hoping to sneak in some vassalball.

It looks like the next week will just be sorting hobby stuff rather than painting, but hopefully will get back to the point that I’ll start actually using a brush again – I need models sorted out and primed to sneak in a few minutes here and there!

Why Age of Sigmar isn’t for me

In one of my plans for 2016, I mentioned fantasy models, especially for Age of Sigmar, probably weren’t going to get a look-in, and hinted that the subject was worth a blog post in its own right.  Its a very contentious issue, so first, let me spell out a few things.

These are just my opinions.  You may love the game and models, or hate them – thats fine either way!  I’m quite happy whether you play or not!  In addition, I’m not really a fanboy type mentality – you can hate rules, but love the models, or love the game but hate the fluff.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Finally, get over Warhammer Fantasy – I loved that game, but it’s pretty much defunct except for occasional games with mates.  Loving Warhammer Fantasy Battle doesn’t mean you have to love or hate Age of Sigmar – try to see it as a new game.

I see a game as being built from 3 main pillars.  You have the background, or fluff.  You have the rules for the game, and finally, you have the actual quality of the pieces or models.  For a game to work for me, you need to have at least 2 of these (and often one spills over to another).  I’m afraid that from my perspective, Age of Sigmar doesn’t pass that criteria.

First, the background and fluff could have been systematically designed to leave me cold.  I’m a fairly traditional fantasy chap, and love the standard old races – your hobbits, wood elves, high elves and so on.  In addition, I like magic to be something rare and unusual to your average citizen, rather than high magic settings where everyone is infused by power x from god y or artefact z.  Everything in Age of Sigmar is superpowered – from god warriors of sigmar to god warriors of the chaos powers, through star demon lizards and elemental fire infused dwarves.  It just fails to grab me.  I’m fully aware this is a matter of personal taste, and I suspect those who grew up with World of Warcraft rather than Lord of the Rings will absolutely love it.  The silly names, all clearly designed for copyright purposes, don’t really work for me either.

Second, I’ve tried the game more than once, and I really haven’t enjoyed it.  The rules only cover 4 pages, but lack clarity, and lots of rules need specific knowledge of specific “war scrolls” or unit cards.  Its a lot harder to get a feel for the overall game.  The lack of points costs is something I’m a bit ambivalent about, but it doesn’t feel like there are many options apart from some scenarios to replace them.  Its bloody difficult to work out what should be a fun game sometimes unless you’ve a lot of experience playing AoS or use home-brew systems.  And the simplistic combat rules just leave me cold.  Multiple groups of fast elves gang up on some slow dwarves, and just queue up to take turns hitting?  Erk.  I was hoping for a fun, simple skirmish system, and to be honest, it probably is.  But people use it to play army encounters, and that gets sluggish and not really fun for me.  So while I understand that some people enjoy it, and see the simple rules as a great way to introduce people to gaming, it doesn’t work for me.  Its OK, I’d play a game if someone really wanted to, but I’d rather play something else.

And then finally the models.  Age of Sigmar has, in theory, some utterly amazing models.  For me, the problem is that they follow the fluff and all tie into the super-powered theme.  So while I might grab an individual model here or there, I haven’t seen anything that makes me think “I want an army of those”.  To put it in context, I think I can field 750-1000pts minimum of pretty much every 40K force (except the recent admech).  And thousands of points of my favourites.  I’m really their core audience for army buying, and I’m just not excited enough to even pick up the starter set.

So yeah, I fully understand why people love it, and the models are gorgeous in detail and design.  But the underlying theme leaves me cold, and the rules aren’t good enough to counter that.  Honestly, there are a fair few flaws in the 40K ruleset.  But the fluff, theme and models are cracking, and carry my enthusiasm through the few games that get derailed by odd rules issues.  That enthusiasm isn’t there for AoS, so it makes it much harder to get excited.

Of course, when they finally release Aelves, I’ll probably change my tune.  I love pointy ears!

Hobby Roundup (Week 2)

Well, still no real hobby so far this year!  Fascinating stuff happening in the hobby world within the #warmongers community though – Frostgrave and Of Gods and Mortals go from strength to strength, Dropzone Commander seems to be making a bit of a resurgence, and Kings of War seems to be proving massively popular as a ruleset, though acceptance of Mantic miniatures seems a way off yet.  Star Wars Armada enthusiasm seems to be settling back down until the next wave of releases, but X-Wing enthusiasm , especially with the Force Awakens tie-in, seems off the chart.

Horus Heresy stuff is still the hot ticket on my social media feeds though!  The original legions, in all their glory, boosted by the Battle for Calth plastics, are probably a good 50% of my vicarious hobby fun at the moment.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to painting some Imperial Assault stuff, especially some of the main characters that pop back up the in the new movie.  Just awesome!   2016 is looking like a great year for hobby!

2015 in Wargaming – Kipper’s Thoughts

Its been a very interesting year in terms of hobby!  I think the key word for 2015 has to be “change”.

There are 2 major forces for change, I think.  The first is that some major franchises are pushing into the wargaming space.  Aliens vs Predator and Star Wars Imperial Assault hits the 28mm sci-fi skirmish scene, Star Wars X-Wing and Star Trek Attack Wing hit starship dogfighting, and Star Wars Armada and Halo Fleet battle hit strategic fleet battle simulations.  People who wouldn’t dream of playing Warhammer 40K are playing these and getting sucked into the wider hobby.

The 2nd big change has been the demolition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle and its replacement with Age of Sigmar, a much simpler game with a much higher fantasy tone.  Some people love it, others hate it, but it has certainly opened up a lot of eyes to trying new games and systems.  People who never dreamed of buying anything but GW miniatures now happily buy miniatures from all sorts of places to play a wide range of games.  The world of fantasy games in particular is now much more open.

There are other factors as well – Infinity and Malifaux go from strength to strength, and Guildball has been massively popular out of nowhere in the fantasy sports arena.  But people do seem to be really looking at the broader industry to a much greater degree than ever before, and the quality of mixtures and games has skyrocketed.

I know my hobby patterns have been shaken up massively this year.  I’ve got into Malifaux a little, and got into Star Wars X-Wing and Armada a LOT!  The death of Warhammer Fantasy has paradoxically got me very excited about fantasy models again, and  I’ve been enthused for lots of new games, like Kings of War, Frostgrave, Of Gods and Mortals, classic 3rd edition and 6th edition warhammer.   Dark Elves have been resurrected, and Dungeon Saga has opened me up to new model lines – a mantic undead army is tempting in 2016!

40K isn’t getting me excited like it used to.  Some individual models being released are magnificent, but the general trend is leaving me a bit cold.  I’m not sure why – I think its the new scale of battles.  It feels like replicating the old epic stuff in 28mm – I don’t really want to play with loads of fliers and titans (though I may have and Eldar Titan to paint up in 2016!!!) and superheavy tanks.  I really enjoyed 5th edition with infantry on the ground.  I’m still enjoying painting models, like my tyranids, but it’d take some pretty amazing offers or superb models for me to buy much.  Of course, I suspect a cracking novel or a good game or two will change that up entirely! 😀

I’ve also broadened my paint selection quite a lot! I’ve moved from GW only through Army Painter, and now into Vallejo, particularly model air and airbrushing!   I’m now very keen on finding the best paint for the job regardless of brand…. though I do prefer dropper pots!

I’ve seen a big move to gaming online between physical events, with x-wing, armada, malifaux and guildhall all having strong presence and support on Vassal. Infinity relies a little more on 3d and line of sight, but there are infinity modules too.  It helps encourage people to know the rules and play, and really strengthens the community around the games.

 

Although I haven’t been able to game as much as I’d like taking part in events like #WAAC charity raffles have been tremendous fun and very rewarding!  In more ways than one, having won a force of Malifaux Ressurectionists!  I hope I’ll get more games in, and more painting time next year, but most of all I hope its just as much fun!

Age of Sigmar and Kings of War – simplifying fantasy battles.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle is dead!  Long live … Well, what is the heir to WFB’s crown?  2 games really stand out – its replacement, Age of Sigmar, and it’s competition, Kings of War.

Age of Sigmar is the new approach taken by Games Workshop.  It focuses on individual models, to a much greater extent than Warhammer Fantasy Battle ever did.  Indeed, it goes further than 40K does, and that was always more of a skirmish feel than Fantasy ever was.  Individual base shapes and sizes don’t matter at all, allowing individuals to have fantastic bases and poses.

Kings of War is the fantasy battle game produced by Mantic.    It focuses on units, to a much greater extent that Warhammer Fantasy Battle every did.  Each unit is largely governed by the base size.  Individual models don’t really matter, not even being removed as casualties (which allows a unit to have great fixed dioramas and poses).

Both games are designed to run significantly faster with streamlined rules compared to the classic WFB model.  In my test games, Age of Sigmar seems to play better with smaller forces than a traditional WFB game, while KoW scaled up better – the system stayed elegant, while AoS got increasing clumsy.  On the flip side, AoS gets more interesting as forces shrink, while KoW doesn’t scale down well – the use of units as integral models stops being effective with one or two units on a table.

Tactically, the war of manoeuvre that was present in Warhammer Fantasy Battle is much more present in Kings of War.  Flank or rear attack an enemy unit, and you are truly going to cause some damage – facing doesn’t really matter in AoS at all.

On the flip side, the presence of mages and heroes are much more vibrant and present in AoS (to the point where many wonder why its worth taking a unit!)  Spells, powers, there is a real range and uniqueness to the individual characters – in KoW, heroes and mages are pretty limited.  Units and warmachines are kings of the field – much more like historical gaming with Roman or Greek armies.

At the end of the day, I think it really depends on which aspects of WFB you enjoyed most. Mass army tactics?  Kings of War is probably your choice.  Varied models and more fantasy magic and powerful heroes?  Then there’s a lot in Age of Sigmar to enjoy.

Both system offer core rules for free – Kings of War has slightly limited army lists but the points system makes pickup games and tournaments easy to play, while Age of Sigmar seems to rely more on scenarios for balancing games, and you’ll need to invest in books to get these.

I am fascinated by the two opposed approaches to simplifying the game of playing out a fantasy battle.  The model, or the unit?  Magic, or strategy?  I do like the original WFB editions … but I remember how long a game could take.  I think simplifying the core rules is the way forward, and time will tell which approach was correct.

There are lots of other games out there, but few are in direct line to succeed WFB.  Warmachine and Hordes are amazing games, for example, but they are definitely more based around skirmish level encounters, and individual models, and focussed on a tight tournament play style.  They aren’t an obvious replacement to WFB using similar minis.

Building an army for new 40K players

Building a 40K army has changed quite a lot over the years, so I thought it might be worth jotting down my thoughts on putting together an army list. The main book tries to keep it simple, so it can be tweaked for each individual codex for each army, but that does leave it rather confusing too!

(Do take a look at my earlier post here which looks more at choice of army rather than the structure)

Bound and Unbound

First, there are two basic types of army.  The first is called bound and essentially means that your army list is built entirely matching some of the various formations and detachments that are available (we’ll come to those in a moment).  The second is called unbound and means, basically, that you are fielding whatever models you have without some of the normal combinations.  You might have some detachments or formations in an unbound army (and may get their additional benefits too!) – it just means that you’ve broken some of the normal army building rules, and it’s great for narrative games.

Formations and Detachments

Well, these are actually pretty much terms for the same thing in practice.  I think when the edition was first written, it was intended that “Detachment” would be an army list sized group, or close to it, while “Formation” was designed to be used for small platoon or even squad sized groups, but they are pretty much interchangeable now.  I think technically detachment is applicable if there are bonuses that only apply if your army is “bound” while formations are self contained.

There are two detachments in the main book – the Combined Arms Detachment (which is the standard force org chart we’ve used over the last few editions of 40K), and the Allies Detachment (which is what we’ve used as standard for allies for a while too!).  You have to take a HQ unit, and certain number of troops, and it puts restrictions on the number of each type of unit you can take.  If everything in your army is part of a detachment or formation, then these detachments grant some extra bonuses – objective secured for the CAD, which means troops override other types if near objectives.

Early releases in 6th edition used those two detachments, and additional formations were sometimes provided in additional Dataslates.  More recently, we’re seeing large numbers of formations and detachments within the codexes themselves – whether its unusual formations like the Harlequin and Necron codexes, or the simpler ones for Legion of the Damned or Codex Inquisition.

Where it gets a little more complex is some of the more advanced detachments are built out of smaller formations, and the bonuses stack.  Codex Necrons has a detachment built entirely out of smaller formations, and it allows some really nasty sets of bonuses to be built up.

Thoughts

When written, I feel the original concept was to have a simple standard detachment for tournament games, and a slight advantage for following “traditional” patterns of armies, while allowing new players to field whatever they had, and for experienced players to try out those wacky fluffy concepts like dreadnaughts defending an abandoned fortress monastery from an work horde.

In practise, the ability to combine any number of detachments and formations means that you can generally build a legal “bound” army that gets you 99% of the way there.  You can take a valid “bound” army of Eldar with all wraith warriors using a data slate, for example. There are Space wolf formations of dreadnaughts that could be used to get you towards a dreadnaught only army.

My recommendation would be that a starting player go with the combined arms detachment from the main book as a starting point.  One HQ and 2 troops is a great starting point, I think, and it stops you overloading on one type of specialist troop like elites, fast attack or heavy support.  Use unbound armies for custom games to tell stories, and get jazzy with formations once you have a better grip on the basics.

Warhammer 40K – Getting Started!

Someone asked me on twitter what a good starter army is for 40K, and I struggled to answer.  You’d think it’d be a simple question, but its surprisingly complex!  There are lots of variables.

Playing the Game

There are two main factors in playing the game for beginners (in my humble opinion).  Those are:

1)  Is the army forgiving?  Can you survive a simple mistake?

Space Marines are brilliant here.  Make a simple mistake, and your well armoured, high toughness troops probably aren’t going to be punished too harshly.  Armies like Eldar or Dark Eldar are glass hammers – if you play them well, they are brutal, but make a mistake and they shatter!  That’s not ideal for beginners.  On the flip side, armies like Grey Knights are small numbers of high value troops – there isn’t a lot of depth to absorb casualties from mistakes. Orks, Guard and Tyranids have numbers which can really help absorb hits and keep going through the game.

2)  Does the play style suit you?

This is the hard bit!  Everyone tends to naturally play (or at least enjoy playing) in a certain way.  If you like to dig in and hold a position, you aren’t going to particularly play well with an assault army of genestealers!  If you enjoy fast moving positional play, slugging over the ground with hordes of infantry with Guard or Orks isn’t going to work either.  Again, Space Marines work quite well here, with enough firepower to dig in, and enough speed and close combat ability to push forward too.  If you get a few games in and learn what your favourite bit of the game is, it’ll really lead you to an army.  Thats where a gaming club or GW store can really help get you started.

Cost

Starting to collect a 40K army is expensive.  There are ways of justifying it, by comparing the value you get out of each unit over your years of gaming compared to going to the pub, but the simple fact is collecting a whole army is a significant investment … and thats before you take into account hobby equipment for painting and assembly too.

If cost is a factor, then the smaller the army you need, the cheaper it’ll probably be.  Grey Knights are brilliant here, with a range of options that allow you to field a reasonably competitive army in just a few models.  Armies like Guard, Orks or Tyranids can be be brutal to buy a full army and get them sorted and up to speed.  Marines (particularly Dark Angels) work well as they feature in the starter set and campaign sets, giving you a tremendous value starting point.

Thinking of what minis you already have makes a difference too.  If you’ve played Space Hulk and want to get into 40K, you already have a fair number of gene stealers and blood angels, for example.  If you’ve picked up some chaos demons to play WFB in the past, starting a chaos force will probably be cheaper!

Excitement!

At the end of the day, though, its quite rare that people get into the game purely as a game.  They buy into aspects of the fluff (and the fluff does usually match the play style to some degree).  If they love the desperate stand of a dying race, collecting and playing Eldar will be much more exciting for them than playing Dark Angels.  If they love Aliens, collecting genestealers will be much more appealing than Tau, while the reverse will probably be true if they love Robotech.

Its not just the fluff, though, its also the available minis.  GW minis are great, and some are very exciting at the moment.  Its not a good time to collect Sisters of Battle though, no matter how much you like the fluff, as there are almost no minis available, and those that are are out of date.  On the flip side, if you love the new Harlequins, then you’ll probably feel a bit disappointed with snap together Dark Vengeance minis.

What do others have and know?

To some degree, a good starter army for you is one that, well, is yours!  If your two friends already have Dark Angels and Crimson Slaughter, starting with the Dark Vengeance box set isn’t going to get you excited.  Space Wolves with a rivalry with both?  Now thats fun!  Or Imperial Guard led by Cypher!  If someone is new to the game, then introducing them to those rivalries can quickly lead to a fun, inspirational army choice.  And if you play Blood Angels but know a lot about Eldar, then if your friend starts an Eldar force you can help introduce him to the universe more than if he picks an army you haven’t had any interest in.

Summary

Its a complex enough game that there isn’t a perfect answer to the “Starter Army” question.  I think the best way is to try a few games as different forces at a club or GW, read some of the fiction and see if anything excites you.  If everything’s pretty neutral, go with logic, and start with the actual starter set!

Hobby Enthusiasm

One question that often comes up on twitter discussions with the #warmongers is how do you build and maintain hobby momentum?  After a hard day at work, looking after kids, cooking meals, making time for the missus, how do you focus energy on hobby in the small amount of time you have left?

It’s a very difficult question to answer, largely because the answer varies so very much from person to person.  Its especially true between gamers and hobbyists!

As I can’t answer for everyone, I thought I’d answer for me!  How do I maintain my hobby enthusiasm?

I think the main way, for me, is immersing myself in the fluff.  Read The Gildar Rift?  Come away wanting to paint Silver Skulls!  Flick through a new marine codex?  Get inspired to finish off the old Imperial Fists!

I also find looking at the pictures of other people’s minis on twitter hugely inspiring.  I’m never going to be a Golden Demon winner, so some of the top end stuff can just seem mindblowing, but its seeing successful techniques on #WIPWednesday, and the continual progress of others knocking out minis really makes me want to paint more, and try new methods.

A good sneaky way is to try to have a longer term goal.  I’ll probably go up to Sheffield around my brothers birthday, and we’ll try to get a game in – having a new painted army for the event is a great goal that keeps me motivated!  I loved painting up my Sisters of Battle command squad for #WAACPainting – thankfully I started early enough so I didn’t feel pressured.  Those sort of deadlines work for me if they are far enough away.  Trying to paint up a unit for a game next week?  Too much stress, and I won’t enjoy it.  I might get it done, but hobby enthusiasm for next time will be down.

I try not to force hobby too, but have a rule with myself that in my available hobby time, I must do something hobby related.  Can’t face painting marines?  Get Space Marine running on the Xbox 360.  Can’t face painting Tyranids?  Pop Aliens on the telly!  It means that next time I’ll have recharged enthusiasm, and don’t feel that my limited hobby time has been “wasted” by doing something completely different either!

Finally, I find a real key is to have 1 to 3 models on the paint table that really aren’t for gaming – just purely for hobby and painting fun.  I try to paint these to my very best standard, not churning out a unit or gang for the tabletop.  And I try new techniques – different shades or paints, different ways of blending, different ways of doing eyes.  It feels like my abilities progress more with these, and I don’t feel the pressure of getting them done like I do with game minis.  And often I find I can use them for something unusual like an inquisition warband, or something fairly accessible like Open Combat.

I hope that helps someone – its certainly helped me think about maintaining my enthusiasm through 2015, which is never a bad thing!

My #WAACPainting Progress (Update 7)

Well, my painting progress has been limited – I’ve added some basic gun metal and started some light white/wolf grey mix shading on the white, but not got very far.  No photos, unfortunately – I’ve been taking snaps when I finish a stage, and haven’t got that far!

However, I now look the part while painting, thanks to #WAACwear!

2014-07-01 19.47.46

40K – My general thoughts on picking an army in 7th Edition

OK, here are some of my initial thoughts on picking an army list for 7th edition.  I’ve been really struggling with this – with all the data slates, formations, 40K approved forgeworld, unbound armies, and a frankly terrible section in the 40K rulebook for how to pick an army, its difficult to know where to start!

I decided to boil it down to some basic principles!

1 – Know Yourself

First, think about what you enjoy playing.  It sounds like a simple question, but its actually pretty complex.  There are two main aspects here – what sort of gameplay do you enjoy, and what models/fluff do you particularly appreciate?

Those two might overlap, but you can find there’s actually quite a difference between your favourite models, and the way models act on the tabletop.  I’m lucky – I love the Sisters of Battle models, and the combined arms mix, working with a short range firepower approach, really works well for me!

If you love the look of dreadnoughts, but don’t like the way vehicles tend to explode at the sight of melta, perhaps look at Eldar or Tau models, where the larger suits are monsters/characters, rather than vehicle types, for example.

Be aware of costs – if you pick Sisters of Battle these days, you’ll be struggling to get minis anywhere except direct from GW at full price for all metal models, for example.  Don’t get into an army you’ll find frustratingly hard to collect because of financial limitations – collecting a 30K forge world only army on a student lifestyle isn’t going to be easy!

Try to really think about what you’ll enjoy seeing on the table, and what and how you’d enjoy playing.  If you’re a new player, the latter might be hard to fully appreciate right now – honestly, if you enjoy the look of the models and the fluff, that’s probably the main thing right now.

2 – Know your enemy!

This isn’t about knowing the army list you’ll be facing (though that can help, of course!).  This is more about knowing what sort of games the people you’ll be playing with enjoy.  If you’re facing people who go all out to win, stacking their lists to leverage the most effectiveness in standard missions, well, that sucks, but for a competitive and sort of fun game you’d have to do the same.  If you’re facing people who want to do loads of custom missions and have wacky fun, then heck, not too much point picking a list until you have an idea of the particular game and scenario.

Most of us, I suspect, will be playing against folks who have armies they like, with the models they enjoy fielding, ready to go for a standard sort of points cost (generally 1500 or 1850pts).  In this case, you’ll probably want to pick a force that is reasonably solid, but focuses more on troops you enjoy than necessarily packing in the absolutely best choices (like taking Thousand Sons as troops rather than three heldrakes).

For me, if I know people are fielding Eldar and Marines already, I’d rather take a different army, so that can play a big factor.  Even if you really want marines, you might want to field Imperial Fists rather than another batch of Ultramarines.  Not a big deal, really, but it can play a factor.

3 – Know the 7th Edition 40K Rules

This is a big factor in picking an army, and I can’t stress this enough – to understand a codex, you really need to understand the game rules.  What do those special rules do?  How do power weapons work?  How do the missions normally deploy?  What is a standard detachment force org chart?

I’m not going to go into this in to much detail – its not a tutorial on the rules.  What I will mention are a few differences in the new edition that I’ve come across that you should bear in mind.

Tanks!  Tanks are generally much improved from 6th.  Changes to the damage table means that a lucky shot is much less likely to take out a Land Raider with a lucky shot.  Troops in open topped vehicles are vulnerable to flame weapons, though, making flamers even better!  Flyers are still good, though not quite as dominant as in 6th. Challenges are more brutal, as wounds now spill over to the rest of the unit – buying time by throwing sergeants at greater demons doesn’t save the rest of the gang anymore, so individual combat monsters are more of an option again.  Flying monstrous creatures don’t seem as good as they were, but still reasonably effective.

The psychic phase is now pretty important, so a psyker or sorcerer is worth looking at this edition.  Essentially, some decent anti-tank weaponry and some anti-air (or airpower of your own) is pretty important to hold your own.  If you intend on fighting up close (whether defensively or offensively), flamers are pretty important now.

All the missions have one loophole – if you wipe the enemy out, you win by default.  If you want to go down this route as a regular strategy, going for weird unbound armies and/or maxing out on heavier monsters/tanks and flyers is probably a plan.  If you want to play the missions out, and use the force org charts, you’ll need plenty of troops.

4 – Know your models and codex!

Finally, you need to know what models you actually have available, and the rules in the codex for fielding them.  If you’re just starting, and only have 500pts of Blood Angels, well, that’s what you’ll want to field.  You won’t be worried beyond that!  If you are trying to pick an army to work towards building, or out of a range of models for a longer term player, then you need to know more about how each unit plays, what the points costs is, and how they work together on the battlefield.

These days, a good start is to look through your units, and pick the ones you like playing best!  Although we want to follow the Force Org Chart for the “battle forged” bonus, which really helps with objective based missions, there are ways around it.

Once you have your list of favourites, take a look at it.  Does it match the force org chart already?  Old school marine players will probably have knocked up a fairly standard codex astartes list on autopilot, matching the chart automatically, for example.

If it doesn’t, then take a look at the available allies, codex supplements and data slates.  If you love possessed in a Chaos Space Marine force, for example, use the Crimson Slaughter supplement!  You get to field possessed as troops, making it easier to meet the FoC requirements. If you love wraith knights and wraith lords, you can look at the Iyanden supplement and/or the Ghost Warriors formation data slate, giving you many more options to field an army while meeting the FoC requirements.  If you want 3 marine HQ types, look at taking an allied detachment with different chapter tactics (play them as a different company in your chapter, for example).

If your favourite choices are way out there (like just picking a Phoenix Court for the Eldar with all the phoenix lords and the avatar as your whole army), or all Harlequins, then you have to go unbound.  That’s not a drama (and even the weirder choices may well start appearing as formations or codex supplements these days).  Just be aware that you’ll probably have to look at either tabling your opponent, or wiping their  troops out first unless he’s unbound too.  Not everyone likes unbound armies, and they may not want to play you with one – having a more standard list as a backup (if you have the models) isn’t a bad plan just in case.

Taking you through it

OK, lets go through this step by step, to give you some practical examples of what I mean.

1 – Know Yourself

I love 40K, so I have a silly collection of models I adore, though I’ve not been adding to my collection much of late, so I’m tank and infantry heavy, with very few flyers.  I really like the vibe from around 3rd edition with models – they settled down to have both detail and character, while I feel the more modern models, though fantastically detailed and flexible, lack some of the character.

I really enjoy playing an aggressive defence kind of game – I tend to advance and hold objectives, or move forward to let me move back in a fighting retreat.  I don’t enjoy close combat that much compare to running gun battles.

Bam – Sisters of Battle have the look and the play style ready to go.

2 – Know your enemy

My main opponent is my brother, Saint Aidan, who, like me, is quite a fluffy player.  We like themed games, but unfortunately our window for gaming is very limited.  Neither of us go all out to win (he fields Thousand Sons, and I tend to field pretty models rather than by whats good!), but we do have to grab our games quickly, so having a fairly standard list ready to go makes sense.  We’ve both been playing from 5th edition at least, so our armies already pretty much match the FoC – we won’t go unbound unless we have a particular scenario in mind.

I could probably use his devotion to the Thousand Sons against him, but that’s not really how we roll!

3 – Knowing the Rules

Hah – this is largely perfect for the Sisters of Battle!  Flamers?  Sisters love em!  Anti-tank?  Repentia, Exorcists and melta weapons!  Combat monsters work well?  Celestine and a Canoness could be great here.  Tanks for the troops?  Immolators or rhinos not only preserve the troops, they become scoring.  Its ironic the rules changes in 7th largely favour an army that almost can’t really be bought now!

 

 

Anti-air?  Erk!  As a fairly patchy codex meant to hold us over until the line is re-released, there isn’t anything here! An Aegis Defence Line or Bastion might be needed to give some protection.

If I was fielding Imperial Fists here, I’d be thinking of a storm talon or raven for airpower, a predator or landraider for firepower, missile launchers and flamers in the force, perhaps a dreadnaught or two, and a slew of tactical squads to take objectives (probably in rhinos)

4 – Know your models and the codex

Well, I’d probably field a straight Sisters Army at this point, but I could add an inquisitor for some psyker backup and a quirky warband!  Possibly with a valkyrie for some air support too?  That would still be battle forged, be fun, and fill a basic gap in the SoB codex. I have them … but as they aren’t assembled yet I’ll hold off for now!

If I’d taken a different path to this point, I could be looking at a pure Harlequins army with 6 or 7 units of harlequins to roam the battlefield causing chaos (ironically, as Chaos is their main foe).  In that case, I’d have to look at going unbound, since there aren’t any formations, data slates or supplements that can bring me closer to fielding that particular force – though I could look at an eldar force with minimal rangers for troops, 3x harlequins as elites, a farseer as a harlequin High Warlock (or shadow seer in the new terminology), Dark Reapers as death jesters, and DE allies with another harlequin unit, a Succubi as a High Avatar, and some minimal warriors for the troops contingent.  I’d probably go unbound and just field loads of straight Harlequins though 🙂

Summary

I hope that helps the way you think about picking a force now.  Start with what you like and how you want to play, take into account the folk you’ll be playing with, then structure the models you have (or will have) around that, taking into account the nature of the game, and looking at the various data slates and formation options to let you field an army as close as possible to your favourites while avoiding the Unbound option if possible.  If you go unbound, just go totally crazy!