Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Play Them, Why?

Recently, I've been looking at new stuff that's been coming out, and/or whether or not I really want to put the time, effort, and money into acquiring the army. As such, I figured I'd share some insights I've had on the process, since we all tend to come to the army decision a little differently.

They Have Cool Fluff
Honestly, the 40k universe (...at least for those of us that are into it, y'know) is a cool place. Granted, I'd not want to live there unless I was working for the Tau, but it's a neat setting. It's old, it's well-developed, and there's lots of room in the fluff for just about anything you might want to do.

Most of the armies have a very characterful background, and sometimes this is what draws a player in. You can have an army full of epic heroes or villains a la the space marines and their chaos step-siblings, all the way to an army of faceless guys just doing the best they can with what they have (IE: IG and Tau). There are monstrous, soulless things that go 'bump' in the night like the Tyranids and Necrons. There are the inscrutable Eldar, the psychotic Eldar, and the fanatical Inquisition troops.

Bottom line? If there's a role you want your army to fill in the grand scheme of the universe, you can probably find one.

Damn, That Unit is Cool!
Sometimes, you thumb through a codex or other info source, and you look at a single unit and think "Man, I'd build an army to field that." For me personally, it's looking at Thunderwolf Cavalry and the Lone Wolves from the new SW codex. Let's face it, some units are simply awesome in terms of theme/looks/what-have-you. Dreadnoughts also do it for me, but it's really a person-to-person thing. Same goes for Grey Knight Termiantors, but I suspect WS5 + S6 power weapons = giddy for most anyone looking to beat someone down in hand-to-hand.

Army Theme(s)
Some codices lend themselves to certain themes. If you want to do an all jump-pack army, for example, you can get away with it in the Blood Angel codex. If you want to do expensive, killy bikers, you can look at the SM, Eldar, or Ork codices.

This also covers the more 'mundane' themes like horde (I don't think you do it with Marines that often) and 'small elite army', or 'mechanized' or 'speedy little boggarts in annoyingly hard to kill transports' (Eldar.). Some of the more 'mundane' ones are also practical concerns; I'd kicked around Guard 'til I realized I'd be painting like 50-100 infantry.

Modeling Opportunities
Some codices have cool models attached to them. It's as legitimate a reason as any to decide you want to be able to build/convert a unit, and ties in with the 'cool unit' or 'army themes.' It also has to do with the codex's abilities; I could very well see someone doing something like a horde of HR Giger's xenomorphs with the 'nid codex, or maybe a Gears of War theme with marines, or a Robotech theme with the Tau, for example.

Codex Play Style(s)
Play style goes a bit with theme. Fact is, armies play different. (surprise, I know) I mean, if you really want a bunch of skimmers, you should probably not play the Chaos Marine codex, and if you like vehicles you really won't get a lot of them out of the Chaos Daemons codex. Each codex has a style or styles, and if you aren't into them, you aren't into the army, pure and simple.

On the other hand, the newer codices tend to have lots of viable options. The IG and vanilla SM codices, for example, have a host of options and most of them are pretty viable. (Marines get slops for Vanguard vets, and the IG kind of hurt for decent elite options outside of the Psyker Battle Squad). You can stay with one codex if it's versatile, and build up a host of models that let you swap playstyles from week to week.

Alternatively, you may get into a new codex simply to try a new style and grow yourself as a player. It's why I moved from SM to Eldar, as they are kind of night and day in terms of codex styles.

Army Power
I expect this one to get the most outcry, but it's as legitimate a reason as any in this hobby. We're in a wargaming hobby; we want our army to be able to kill people and take their land. It's hard to really say which codexes are absolutely powerful, but some codices have more limited effective builds (IE: older ones like Tau, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Daemonhunters and Witch Hunters) and are sometimes simply deficient in some capabilities (Orks, Necrons, and the current Tyranids have issues with killing vehicles, for example).

On the other hand, you have to combine an army's lethality with experience. I mean, I could give a child an AK-47 with an underslug grenade launcher and make them fight a caveman at 20 paces, and while the child's much better armed I think the caveman might still win. You need not only the tools, but the talent. Sometimes this can make crappier armies work against better ones, but then it's the generals in action, and that gets beyond the scope of this article.

At the end of the day...
Most people make their end decision based on multiple factors listed above, and/or some I haven't listed. I'm sure money's always an object, but that's just the game we play. (It's like the joke about playing a well-dressed guy lugging his army in a shoebox: he's playing Grey Knights or Daemonhunters). I'm curious to see what's driven some people to their armies.

On My End...
Space Marines (former)
They're a forgiving army to start with as they're competent all-rounders, but they're also difficult to get right because they're all-rounders. Ultimately, I got sick of painting power armor, as most of their models are guys in power armor with slightly different loadouts.

Tyranids (former)
I may restart them, but again they just had some issues that good players could overcome. I'm a big fan of the theme of aliens (I mean, I saw the movie at like age 6-8, and have a poster of Giger's Alien sitting over my bed...) but they either win big or go home. Plus, I got burnt out painting up all the little ones.

Necrons (former)
I wanted a challenge to play. I didn't realize I'd be committing to buying a crap-ton of Destroyers and such to even have a chance. The heavy metal range also was a turn-off; it drove the cost up for an army that's in dire need of a new codex. Some folks note that "More People Should PLay So You Can Get a New Codex," but I'd in turn challenge them to drop $200-300 on an army that's unreliable and outdated.

Daemons (Currently inactive)
Modeling theme says it all. They've got issues, but their big factor for me is modeling opportunities and...mostly modelling opportunities. Plus, it helps to be able to laugh off the dice killing 500pts of your army before it arrives due to terrible deep strike luck. (Yeah, 12" into my own guys, followed by 'DEATH' on the mishap for fateweaver. Thanks a lot, dice.)

Eldar (active)
Modeling, fluff, and power drew me in. They do flow towards a more limited set of builds, most of which are mechanized. On the other hand, I think the 'dex can hold up well, and the Seer Council is a joy to model.

Tau (active)
Rail guns, battlesuits. Enough said. They're effective when done right, but their codex needs an update to give them variety in their builds.

Space Wolves (prospective)
I like some of the units, but it'll depend on time and money as to whether or not I do them. It'll also depend on whether or not I can execute a theme I like; I've got the itch for an army that's more fluffy and still somewhat effective. Plus, I want to be able to lavish some attention onto the models.

Tyranids (prospective)
If the new codex is decent and the new models are cool, I'd be willing to try to pace myself and do the bugs again.


RonSaikowski said...

I'm in the camp of "cool fluff."
It got me into the hobby and it's been with me for the last however many years.
Nice article.

Raptor1313 said...

I think you really have to love the fluff and the army to do horde armies. I was talking with one of the Ork locals, and he's one of the guys that was playing from the older ork codexes onwards. That's just a lotta models to cover in paint, even if you do it the easy way and wash 'em.

Though, I think you gotta love the fluff period to get into the game.

Mik said...

I like the look of the models first, with the fluff being a close second. Good thoughts all here, well said...

Anonymous said...

Ditto Mik's comment - A model will attract my attention but it is closely followed by the fluff/background. In the case of the new Wolves it is that cool new 'pack' kit - the versatility of it and some of the poses splashed around the codex and WD scream at me to copy them. As a Marine player I have generally been able to shoe horn some of the more recent expansion kits into my vanilla force (ie the Dark Angels, Templars and older Wolf kits) with minimal worry about incorrect chapter symbols etc. The new Wolf kit and the Space Hulk mini's proves a bit harder. This is where the fluff comes into its own - there are loads of stories out there about Marine joint ops so it easy enough to build a narrative around a joint vanilla/Wolf/Angel task force - especially with the advent of the APocalypse system - now there is really no excuse not to diversify into multiple chapters/craft words/septs/hive fleets etc - and it offers new painting challenges - whats not to love.

Squirrel_Fish said...

Well, to be fair, it's a mixture of everything that gets me excited about armies. I love pretty models and the prospect of doing conversions or painting. Meanwhile, just because an army's models are appealing to me doesn't mean I'm willing to spend $300+ dollars on an army that just doesn't play well (for me, at least).

suneokun said...

For me its fluff, followed by models, followed by effectiveness. I sport the Tau, Nids and Guard. In each army I can field a surprising number of tricks, and I believe I have a good grasp on their varying tactics...

In White Dwarf when I was a kid (circa 89-94), they used to print great short stories of guard/Orks/Space Marines and even Warhammer stuff... its that more than anything that got me hooked.

Mercer said...

I agree with you on Necrons. They are hopeless atm. I too couldn't get Tyranids to work, but with the new codex I might give it a try. I'm attracted to Nidzilla.

I've linked you blog to mine btw, http:\\imperiusdominatus.blogspot.com

Raptor1313 said...

Thanks for the link, Mercer. I looked over yours and decided to add it to the blog-roll; hopefully the thing will update.

I think that a lot of people, when it comes to choosing an army list, tend to be a little less tolerant of people with a different POV; there's cries of "CODEX HOPPER!" and other stuff.

I think the game's big enough for all of us, unless you're a douchebag. Then, that's not related to the game; that's on you, and you're forgetting this is a social, consensual game, and if you screw it up you'll have a hard time playing a game eventually.

Hudson said...

Guard: Fluff: the MK-I human amid the horrors of the galaxy, Modeling: Lots of opportunity for modeling vehicles, also some unit modeling: Ogryns, Psykers, and the diversity of infantry the imperium commands.

Space Wolves: Fluff: The most human seeming of all the loyalist marines. err... well aside for the werewolves...err wulfen. Modeling: Even vanilla troopers s/b highly individualistic/characterful. Mark of the wulfen? Yeah I'm going to be looking at ways to model MOW for a few guys. (without just buying the 13th Co. minis)

BJ said...

For me it is fluff first, then models. My two favorite Armies are the Black Templars and the Sisters of Battle. I chose both because I love their backgrounds as well as their miniatures.