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Sunday, May 2, 2010
Building Themed Armies
As a painter I'm often more concerned with the look of an army than with its performance. Don't get me wrong... I like to win as much as the next guy but the visual element and impact of my force on the table is just as important. I've build quite a few 40k and FB armies and they are all based in the background fluff. For example My Dark Eldar are a light raiding force that retains similarities with Craftworld Eldar armies by sporting a Kabal color scheme for the warriors and vehicles and supplementing that with elite specific colors similar to the way Aspect warriors are represented in the Craftworld armies. In the photo you can see the vehicle scheme, the ochre yellow and black of the basic Kabal uniform (upper left) the red garbed Wytches and the tattered Grotesques of the the close combat sections as well as the black and white hard carapace of the Scourges (a scheme shared by the Incubi and bike riders). This yields a colorful army that hangs together and looks like it belongs on the same battleground. A lot of the cohesion is derived from similarities of palette. The reds get the same workup throughout the army instead of unique applications. Same for the yellows and whites. Basing is also a huge deal. The base if a figure often is the largest item in terms of surface area and many details of how the army is intended to be employed can be incorporated into the base. This army is an "all in" army with very few stand off elements. Its not really designed to fight against professional militaries but rather to harass and capture slaves in relatively undefended areas and to be away before a real defense can be mounted. All the elements are fast moving with few if any dismounted troops. I'm working on building a slave barge as a center piece and scenario objective.
In my Ork army the same approach is taken. The army is themed around a specific clan. In my case Evil Sunz because I love the Iconography. I sometimes run them as a Kult of Speed but often just as a vehicle heavy tribe. Other clans are represented but in small ways that support the primary Thundering Horde aspect. I run this as a horde army and very few of the Boyz have anything beyond their basic kit. The vehicles all have the red paint job on some level just for coherency. The army is based with a desert scrub because for the "Rat Patrol" or "Mad Max" effect. I dabbled with Gorka Morka for a time and liked the desert flats feel of the game.
In fantasy Battle I Run a Goblin heavy army built around the idea of a mad tinker and it includes as many different wind up toys as I can manage. Not for efficiency but for the motley carnival look. Wind up toys can be overwhelming if pushed to the max. For example maximum Pump Wagons, Or maximum Spider Riders. I tend to go for the largest variety of odd troops so the whole "Ohhhh look at that!" effect of a traveling roadshow is maintained. Its not efficient at all but it looks great and is hilarious to play. This army is based with paper mache painted in greens for a grasslands effect appropriate to the employment of the Wind up toys.
For my Sisters of Battle I'm aiming for a force that is specifically intended for urban warfare and, even more specifically, pacification and consolidation ops. This means a crowd control element for less-lethal indoctrination of already conquered areas and for rebellious imperial worlds more often than alien conflict. In this regard I use Repressors more often than the more martial Rhino and make maximum use of the symbols of Imperial authority and divinity like the Exorcist. Its all about the pageantry of the Empire when winning hearts and minds. These troops are based with rubble and urban detritus to reinforce the feeling of riot police/SWAT. Heretical symbols and imperial symbols also figure strongly as the sisters are mostly concerned with correcting wayward thought.
One of the great things about running themed armies is that they can evolve naturally over their career. I like to stick to established lists and find the unique thread in the list that suits me instead of cherry picking the best bits from several lists as is so often seen when homegrown organizations are used.