Did you build the army you really wanted?

I decided to post this because I've finally gotten to the point in my gaming "life" that I'm comfortable enough to build the army that I want to play.

And by that, I don't mean which army (Marines, Eldar, Chaos, etc...), I mean the actual composition of the force. It can be any army, but the question I've always wrestled with is "Am I playing the army I really want to play and not something I feel I must in order to stand a chance on the tabletop?"

It's a question easily dismissed. Sure you think, this is the army I WANT to play... but is it? Look at your army and be honest with yourself. Does Squad 1 have weapon ABC even though you really love XYZ and secretly want to field those? Why don't you?
What's keeping you from doing it?

I can't even begin to count the number of posts with army lists extolling the virtues of this combination over that and why I should take this unit over that one, blah, blah, blah. It's an endless flow of opinions and statistics trying to convince me that this is better than that and that I'll never amount to anything unless I have this unit or that weapon combo and who cares! I have my opinions on list building, but that's another post.

I actually started having this conversation at my FLGS the other week about the new Wolves Codex. I was thumbing through the new Codex and someone asked me a question about the effectiveness of a certain unit... I told him, "I don't know, I'm just looking at the cool pictures."
I don't think he believed me.

But back to the army I'm building.
If you haven't figured it out by now, I love Deathwing armies.
Pure Deathwing too, none of these "other units" that seem to get added for effectiveness. Truth be told, I got the idea for this army a while ago (after seeing something similar) and I've always thought it would be really cool to play.
How effective is it? I honestly don't know. I'm going for coolness now... like I said, I'm at that point now. If I were worried about my win/loss record, I might build something else or better yet, stop playing because I'm not going to win any awards with my track record at this point.

Now before you sound off, I'm fortunate to have the money to afford the units for this army and I can paint them up the way I imagine them being done.
I don't know what to tell you when it comes to the financial aspect other than the hobby is expensive and you can do what I do, save up and buy stuff piecemeal. I'm saving my money right now for the last two models I need. I should be able to get them in the next month or so.

If you "can't paint" as some people say, you shouldn't let that keep you from your dream force either, this isn't about painting or modeling, it's about a completely different approach to army building and the hobby.

One you don't see much anymore.

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. I agree with you 100% on this one. My marine army has builds and weapon load outs that are very unconventional and which I have never seen anyone else play.

    And thats cool with me. The other odd thing is that because I am so comfortable with my builds and load outs I still manage to win more than I loose.

    I am also going this route for my new IG army. I have tried not to look on the internet at other peoples lists. I have just gone through the codex and said "hmmm, that looks cool" and added it my To-Buy list. How effective it will be, I dont really know or care but it will certainly be fun to use.

  2. I think Ive gone the other way. Ive always played just to have fun, and taken the "fun" stuff. For example, Ive had a Possessed Chaos Marine unit ever since they were an option.

    As of late, however, I have started trying to be more competitive and actually looking at what I was taking and why.

    I dont see one way as superior to the other, just two different ways of enjoying the game.

  3. I emphatically agree with this post.

    Sometimes a codex (and thus the rules) might be out of line with the current edition, putting the Mathammer against you. That aside, when you look at a unit or piece of wargear and "feel" that you need to have it on the table your mind is telling you "Forget what other people are doing - you know how to use this better than ANY else." Trust yourself!

    Don't get me wrong - I enjoy tricking out any army with the greatest, too. But for those who don't enjoy using the intertube generated uber-list, realize there is more than one way to have fun (and win!) with this game.

  4. Playing an army which is interesting to me, has always been an important part of my army building style. That said, this is still a game and the army needs to be playable. The army build should be well equipped to handle situations which come up in game play. A lot of the "fun" units have a very specific roll - just account for that roll when building the rest of the army.

  5. I think I'm on the same page with you Ron. I plan on only using my wolves through the month of October, then building a new IG army around a bunch of Vostroyans I've had kicking around for awhile.

    The Vossies will be the HQ and the core, with auxiliary units that will fun to build/convert(Vostroyan Ogryns, Ratlings converted to fit the vostroyan theme) and of course, some suitable vehicle conversions.

    It's funny, when the new Guard codex came out, I started playing/building the wolves, so when the new SW codex comes out, I'm going to switch back to guard.

  6. Ryan: Good point, neither is superior but I think more often that not, people are swept up in the "what everyone says is best" category as opposed to playing what they think is "cool" especially if the two are not the same for them.

  7. My marines started off as "OMFG this model is cool, I need to buy it!" but I have gotten a lot more competitive with them and that shows in what I buy. But that doesn't mean I disagree with you. I started up my Valhallan army with the sole purpose of building a fun army (flamers and grenade launchers plus swarms of infantry. Though that last part is sort of getting replaced because I can't afford that many troops right now and have 5 Leman Russes so I figure it will be a pseudo-armored company which is an idea I like a bit more). I've put them on the sideline right now because I want to finish my marines first before i move on to them and then after that I'm going to start either Tyranids or an all-Nurgle demon army which seems fun as hell too.

    Basically it comes down to being able to play with both mindsets. One army for competition (which is still fun and I love my marines to death) and one (two in the future) just for fun!

  8. PS, Your Belial there, makes me want to build a Logan Grimnar in pre-heresy TDA.

  9. I'm liking this idea. Its already got me thinking about new ways to run lists that just seem more sensible to me than what I am always seeing is the way to run it.

    Thanks so much Ron, another jem of a post.

  10. Good topic Ron, I couldn’t agree with you more on it. But there are times where you need to have a little compromise in your list. Now I am not saying that you should scrap the fun army you wanted to build, I am saying that you should add in one, just one, unit that others talk about as the one that are the uber competitive unit (the one with weapons ABC). Here is one reason I say this:
    When I started my Tyranid army I had a mind set to build a gaunt swarm army, that was quickly sidelined when I got tabled by an all armor army. It wasn’t that I didn’t have fun it just showed me that if I wanted to do more than set up models to take them off I needed to change something. So I added a unit that could take care of armor. Was I a little sad at that yes, was the game a bit more fun for each person I like to think so. In the end I still had the bulk of the army I wanted, just with that one unit added for gaming measure.
    Now if you want to be competitive that is another story but that is not what you were talking about, you are talking about having fun playing a good game. And that is what I am trying to do in my games of Warmachine, add in the fun stuff. Thanks for the good topic.

  11. Thanks for this post. Although I tinker with my list here and there but I still try to build lists that incorporate units that I like and I think are cool. However, units quickly lose their coolness when they repeated get squashed in games without doing much. Effectiveness adds to coolness of course. That said, I completely agree with this post.

  12. OSH: I completely agree! Rules and models are one degree of coolness, but when you see that unit crush their enemies, and hear the lamentations of their women, thats a whole different level of cool.

    To say "this unit of stealthsuits crushed a unit of assault marines in melee", makes them so much more fun to take in future games.

  13. I started off with the CSM Terminator Annihilation Force and wanted to build a Terminator heavy Chaos army. I didn't know about Death Wing back then and my list evolved into foot slogging CSMs and deep striking Terminators.
    After a while I fell in love with Jump Troops and wanted to play Raptor heavy, but unfortunately the only friends I had to play with were power gamers and I was forced to modify my list into a harder hitting Lash/Oblit force.
    I still try to run a unit or two of Raptors and Terminators regardless how unfeasible they might be.

  14. this is apsolutly brillant, i often get the feeling that im not happy with my army and always feel as if its missing that spark of happines for me that i could get from simpily tweeking it to be a happy army. i have even began a totaly new army just to make me feel happy with what im playing with.

  15. Totally agree with you. I've always built my armies to a theme and that's always been more important to me than what's tabletop worthy. I'm more of a fantasy plater but the same goes there. I have my mono-Slaanesh Warriors of Chaos army. I pick the units that look cool over how well they play on the table. I equip with the best looking or most fun item options and I almost always have command groups as they're great fun. I have a strong narrative to all of my characters and the force as a whole and I let that drive my army selection. Mono-Slaanesh isn't the most effective on the tabletop and I have plenty of losses under my belt but I've had a lot of fun with MY army and not the best Math-hammer army.
    My Angels Exemplar Space Marine army is being built on the Space Wolves Codex because it'll best allow me to depict the brutal nature of the space marines I want but I'll only be putting in the units that I choose as opposed to the ones that everyone has already decided are the best.
    In truth I think it's something that comes with 'hobby age' to a degree. I don't mean that as a slight to powergamers just once you have kids and real world concerns I think it's a lot easier to just put your fingers in your ears and ignore the min/maxing side of the games and just focus on doing what you want as you only get so much time to do it in! :)

  16. Everyone can paint. Some people don't want to though and that's cool, as long as they don't claim that they can't paint. I am living proof that someone with a limitless lack of artistic talent can indeed paint to tabletop quality. So there, painting over with:)

    I do love the fluff. That is why I want to play the new Space Wolves. It's chock full of fluff and I really want to play me in Space (on account of being of Viking ancestry). I love how they are a pseudo legion still and wolf stuff and the names and everything. But it honestly suck to get the whole "teh SW are teh ├╝bercheese". Let's all play what we want and be nice to each other.

    I'm starting to believe that it would be fun to have a fluff tourny that is geared towards fun and fluff and moments. With very alternative scoring rules and general funess.

  17. "What's keeping you from doing it?"

    The rules.

    The rules of each codex make it difficult to build the army I would want. A Codex isn't permissive, it's restrictive. You have Pure Deathwing. That's awesome. I can't have a Nurgle aligned version of that, however.

    Of course, I can create my own rules. This limits my play to people I know or who agree. More importantly, I have to spend time working with the rules. Do I really want to spend time doing that? I don't know.

    I think everyone has in mind a type of army they want to play, and gravitate toward that style of play. I play a Nurgle army because that fits with my style of play. I like lots of troops, and I like heavy armor (which makes me wonder why I haven't gone with IG yet!?). I enjoy slow and pondering, heavy hitters. But even still, the rules won't give me what I really want.

    I understand restrictions are in place to keep the game "balanced," but theme an army however you want, if you can't play the army, then it really doesn't matter.

  18. As someone who has only played a handful of games, I am firmly in the "build what I like" camp.

    I will eventually have my army made up the way I want it, but I just like putting together the models and painting them, and challenging myself to develop my skills.

    When I've played I've gotten crushed, of course, but I also learn a bit more about what my units will and won't do, and adapt my list for next time. But I'm not throwing any of my models in a box just because they don't do well in a game.

  19. sometimes I feel I started in the 'hobby' corner, and WANTED to actually win. I loved the =I= fluff and models. for me it came down to a choice of if I wanted to play WH or DH first.

    I'd been told both were non-competitive, but I wanted to prove people wrong.

    I waffle between more competitive lists, and "I just LIKE my callidus asassin" lists. oddly enough, it usually works out that the lists I feel like playing end up being moderately competitive.

    except for the 9 Penetent Engines with Arco-flagellents lists I snicker at freaking people out with.

  20. Very good read, its nice to see that some people still build armies on what they think looks good! I am personally an eldar alaitoc player, and most of the time i build a pathfinder/guardian heavy fluff armies. Though locally i get my ass handed to me by the comp players, i enjoy using my force and especially enjoy seeing my humble guardians take down an assault squad on the rare lucky dice rolls i get. Wish more people played this way.
    Thanks for another good read.

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  22. @Jason: What is stopping you from using Deathwing rules for your all-terminator nurgle force? Sure, you don't get the "rule representation" that you want - but that's just a throwback from the old Chaos Codex that tried to legislate every possibility in the army with some kind of rule - resulting in one of the most un-fun codices to play against...

    The whole point is that the rules are irrelevant. You want a cool-looking nurgle terminator army? Go for it, model one up. In "competitive" environments, you can just use them as Deathwing (or Wolfwing? I heard something about Grimnar making WG troop choices somewhere) while in casual play, you just say two of your terminator squads are troop choices or some other arrangement.

  23. Ron, luckily I find myself in the same boat as you. My last several armies have really been about what is cool over what is effective. Sure I look at what people say is the most effective combo right now and even suggest it to others when asked, but if that most effective combo doesn't do it for me, is not cool enough, I drop and go with what is.

  24. I agree very much here too. Most of my armies are composed of what I want to field rather than what's the "in" thing to be using.

    I'm attempting an Orky Deffwing, with lots of battlewagons to ferry them about.

  25. Wow. It's absolutely great to see like minded folks out there playing the armies they want to play and not feeling compelled to include or exclude certain builds.

  26. Truth is, Ron, there are many likeminded people in this department. Most of them just don't show up @ the store all the time (and happen to post on the internets about strategy a lot)

    The best way to combat this is show people why you love 40k! Show them you can have a blast while gettin beat down by the latest popular list. (or, who knows, maybe pulling a minor win through strategy?)

    Either way, I echo your feelings Ron. When I feel like that I remember to "be the change I wish to see in the world."

  27. Well said Ron - 'Cool' is the very reason I got into the hobby - the models look cool, and I like making my stuff look cool too - it's part of the reason I have found myself making even more individual models, simply to add to the uniqueness and how cool my army looks on the field.

    As for composition, I am finally doing something similar - I love Drop Pods, I love Rhinos and I love the look of sniper scouts with various IG heads - therefore my next army is full of them!!

    I have played countless games, and have, to this day, won only two. I don;t care though - I'm doing my thing, with my guys and that's all that matters. If I played to win I would have given up a looooooong time ago!!

  28. While I will give some attention to a unit's viability with respect to other choices in the codex, my personal gaming style leans towards "fluffy" combinations with the occasional "this is cool" addition. I tend not to subscribe to the "You need to play X list or you'll get nowhere" mentality, as it detracts from the fun, in my opinion.

    In tournaments, though (especially 'Ard Boyz), that mentality does have a place as that is the purpose of the tourney for the most part.

  29. For sure man.

    Since I was 12, all I wanted to do was paint Terminators.

    Playing the game was always secondary.

  30. I get to play so little my armies always tend to be what i want rather than what will win - though that is nice. Having wolves helps especially with the wolf guard although the new codex has cut back on how many weapon options the lil monsters get. But my chaos army is a point on this - i boughtthe doomlord set then spent months trying to get it to fit in under 1500 points and be useful with troops et all and ended up selling one of the terminator squads

  31. For the most part, I do find myself building and playing the army I want to build and play. I'll try out something popular to see if I like it, but if it doesn't gel with my playing style I'm not afraid to ditch it for something that will. For example, I'm finding that I don't particularly care for squeezing Markerlights into my Tau army, so I'm going to save the points and put in more Crisis Suits with targeting arrays. With my Chaos army, I'm even less interested in conventional/competitive wisdom. I'm going with Chaos Lords and close-combat Dreadnoughts, and possibly some Possessed as well. Why? Because they're fun, and my Chaos army is my secondary "cut loose" army.

  32. @Itkovian: Yeah, I know what you are saying. But it's that "rule representation" that I miss. I don't know, but it doesn't feel like Nurgle at toughness 4. I guess that's the problem with the current CSM codex for me, that while I can use so many different units, I don't get a feeling of cohesiveness that I can get with SM, Tau, IG, or other armies.

    This isn't to say that I don't enjoy the hobby portion. I love painting and modeling. I'll paint and model units that aren't all together great, but I love the model. Dreadnoughts are a prime example of a unit that never really performs for me but I still love the model I have for it.

    Maybe I'm just to stubborn and instead of seeing "Noise Marines" or "Thousand Sons", I should see "Nurgle Snipers" and "Nurgle Death Cultists."

    I mean, in this case, the Nurgle Snipers are T3 normally, but through the power of Nurgle, they get T4!


  33. My biggest problem on the tabletop for YEARS has been that I create armies out of want not need. This has led to a 2000 pt Ork army that in it's last game killed about 5 IG before being wiped off the field. (of course other things went into it, but it didn't help)I pretty much just bought models that I wanted to paint. Only very recently have I started trying to pay attention to what a good force is created from, before going ahead and getting 5 lobbas.

  34. Some times pouring over data to make a well constructed list just gets old period. Back when i played Magic the gathering heavily it always seemed to be about finding the uber deck of the current format or the one that beats it out. I began to loathe constructed play for that reason and found that sealed and booster draft games were the most fun because you just had to work with what you had. I hardly have any great memories of constructed deck play but i can fondly tell you about the time i was fielding a fire breathing monkey in crab armor and about twenty or so other odd combos i came up with. I think the same can apply to 40k. Sometimes you just want an army for how awesome looking it is or because the units your using represent a rocking part of a book. Playing tournament hammer leaves you feeling drained, but playing fun hammer leaves you feeling happy!

  35. I'm more of a painter than a gamer so i've always collected and painted the models that I think look cool.

    They've always been done to fit in with a particular look and feel that I was going for at the time so they're always unified in their appearance. They're just probably illegal when it comes to the actual rules.

    But then, who cares???
    not me!

    I've had a few hardcore gamers go off on one at some of my conversions because they're 'not game legal'. Doesn't matter to me, I paint because I love it, not because I have to conform to a ruleset.

    That said, most of my units / squads are legal if I wanted to use them. I just don't let that stop my from buying and painting whatever I want.

  36. Hey Ron!

    Do you plan to make a post focusing on converting/building a whole army of pre-heresy marines?
    In the style of your previous Deathwing entry.

    I for sure would be interested in that.

  37. Peter: Not right now. I've got the look for termies down but I'm no expert on the subject and I'm not quite sure how I would kit out regular power armoured Marines.

    I would have to do some research and I think one of the big things with Pre-Heresy stuff is picking a time period so you know what you have and what you don't have in terms of armour styles and equipment available.

  38. Well, I guess if you get into the hobby you might as well get what you like out of it. I agree that some people may not afford ALL the models they want, but converting stuff helps at least partially to solve that problem. Long live the magnets , green stuff and dry-fitting I would say :)

  39. If you look at some armies, I guarantee that certain builds are sure to lose. A footslogging Eldar army=lose.
    Im not sure how this applies to other armies, but I know that if you arent running a mechanized force its going to hurt.
    Its great to play for fun (and building an army list for said "fun"), but the fun starts to fade when you never win.

  40. See this article is what the "Hobby" is all about. Sure there are uber-lists, but really it's a personal choice. It's what you the gamer/hobby enthusiast wants to bring to the table.

    I win maybe a third of the games I play with either of my Marine Armies, they're not mechanized and I don't care to make them that way. I enjoy modeling/converting and then have a blast scheming up a list that's going to look cool once it has layers of paint. So I loose, to me it's not a big deal.

    Yeah it is fun to win, and even better when my "underdog" list beats that mechanized list.

    Personal rant over...


  41. I build both. My marine army is being expanded into two separate companies with one representing the more competitive side of things and the other completely just for fun. Even better if needed I can mix the two so I get the best of both worlds. I don't mind losing so long as it's a laugh along the way.


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