Monday, October 25, 2010

Tavern Talk: Multiple Armies Part One

As I am sure we all know, when one picks up the game of Warhammer it is followed shortly by a choice of army.  This is usually a single army which is then built to make a decent list which will be used a lot.  And then to be followed by an expansion to include a few more options for future games.  However, who stays with a single army?  Once you have played one for a while, does it become boring until you branch out to another?  Or, do you stick to a single army?  There are merits to having one major army and to having a number of smaller ones.  What do have and why?  

Kuffeh over at The Trading Post is bringing up a pretty interesting topic.  I have (and have had) lot's of different armies between 40k and Fantasy, and the results have been very different.  I have some theories how it end up going the way it did.

Way back in the mists of history, in the forgotten times of 1994 I started 2nd Edition Warhammer 40,000 with a Space Marine army.  Nothing unusual about that, since that's how thousands of other players started.  I began by painting them as Imperial Fists, but after getting a few units done, I gave up as painting yellow back then was awful.  I know, I know: painting yellow still sucks.  But back then GW yellow was god awful.  So I made the best decision of my Games Workshop career, I changed them to a black, gray, and silver custom scheme.  Long story short, I've been able to change to vanilla marines, space wolves, blood angels, and black templars whenever the urge to play a different style of army arose.

I've had the urge to play different 40k armies over the years.  I made a small Chaos Space Marine force, but abandoned that because it wasn't different enough of a play-style from the Space Marines.  I got bored fast with them, sold them and was done.

When the Daemon Codex launched I was very interested.  Here you have a close combat army (which I like) that is the polar opposite of Space Marines.  Not to mention, Daemons were fun to paint.  I never got bored of painting since each unit was a different base color, and there were always big monsters to paint.  That said, I had way more fun painting them than I did playing them.  Unless you have 18 Fiends (which I didn't) or played Fatecrusher (which I didn't) chances are you couldn't beat a competitive list.  Daemons became my "fun" army list for Apocalypse games or narrative campaigns.  The big issue, though, was that I don't have a ton of game time per week.  I might get in, at most 3-5 games a week.  And if I played an Apocalypse game it was less than that as they are time consuming.  So I decided that playing 5 competitive playtest games was more fun for me than playing 2 fun games.  So the Daemons went on the shelf, collected dust, and then onto eBay where they sold.

During the height of the Apocalypse gaming time for me, I randomly purchased the stuff to convert a Farseer on Jetbike and big bike Seer Council.  I loved them in Apocalypse.  They could easily kill all the nasty super heavy vehicles and they were tough to kill in return.  Playing them in Apocalypse made me want to start an Eldar army.  So I did.  I enjoyed painting them for the same reasons I enjoyed painting my Daemons.  Every unit a different color and tons of variety.  Plus the vehicles were sleek and also fun to paint.  But, and it's a big but, I didn't magnetize the weapons on my Wave Serpents because I was dumb.  Because of that, I was quite limited in what I could do with the army, especially as the "mass amounts of str6 shots" army hadn't really been developed yet and once it became the be-all, end-all Eldar build and I couldn't do it wsiwyg it bummed me out.  Let's not forget: Eldar suck now.  Even when I was proxying and playing an 'optimized' Eldar list, I would still struggle to beat other people's fun lists from new codices.  So the Eldar are on the shelf collecting dust.  I hope that when their next codex comes out they are super competitive, and I'll be right back on.  Plus I can go buy some more magnets and re-do the weapons on the Serpents.

But enough about my life story.  What does it mean?  Like most people, I want variety and get bored of the same play-style.  So I wandered to different armies, but xenos armies are always so one dimensional that I got bored of them too.  I always come back to Marines, of one flavor or another.  I realized that Marines can accommodate any style.  I can play a close combat oriented army, or I can play shooty, or I can play Drop Pod, or I can play bikes, or Rhino rush, or Razorback Rush, or BA jump packs.  With the same set of minis I can play nearly every play-style within the game system.  Once I realized that I can get all the variety I want in one package my urge to play other armies has evaporated.  Until I have all the models I need to play any conceivable Marine army, there is no sense in going outside that box to try a different 40k army.

It never got better than this.

Now Fantasy, that is a different story...  to be continued.


  1. This about mirrors my own conclusions as well. The Marines are so versatile, and can be geared towards doing so many things pretty well. Plus they are the best all rounder, and most supported army with GW. I think I recently decided to do the same as you, and just stick with Marines of some variety for my main.

  2. I think the army you start with plays a huge role in your views. You, having begun with Marines, see that versatility as an asset even though they are rarely superior in any one facet. While I agree with that, I also play Marines, I began 40K with Orks. So, I know the ins and outs of da boyz pretty well and I don't see them as one-dimensional as you do. They certainly aren't as versatile as Marines are, but they do have a variety of play styles available to them.

    In addition, most xenos armies tend to be heavily focused specialists. As noted above, they can branch out but are usually still defined by a specialization. I could see how a player who began playing Marines would view that as restricting, it certainly can be by contrast. I, on the other hand, see it as a focus. If the focus of the army meets your style, as Orks do for me, than it's a different ball game. I love my Marines but I continually struggle with them. It's hard for me to go from such a specialist army to Marines and play them with the same skill. It's not the army, Marines are great, it's that I need a focus as a player.

  3. Thor:

    I have to say that I feel much the same way. I played Orks way long time ago and now BTs while fun, are HARD for me because they only have one thing they're really, really good at. I definitely agree about needing to focus - I say that all the time.