Saturday, May 14, 2011

Making Fluffy Armies is About Telling A Story

Gmort had a guest author who provided his thoughts on making a fluffy force without sacrificing effectiveness. His thoughts are pretty solid and worth a read. Essentially his point is that just because the fluff says that a certain type of force "won't have a lot of unit X" doesn't mean you should have NONE of unit X."

That's true, as far as it goes. That gives you some flexibility in, say, your Salamanders army to put a Land Speeder or two in, as long as you aren't running three squadrons of three, and still be relatively fluffy.

However, I think you can be a bit more creative than that. We have the opportunity in our painting and modeling to really tell 80-90% of the "story" we are trying to tell, and we only really need to rely on the army list for that last little bit.

People that try to create fluffy "lists" are really missing the bigger picture - most of the fluff is in the visuals.

For example, if you looked at my Space Wolves Loganwing army LIST, there is literally no way that you could identify it as 13th Company.

Here it is, for reference.

So, it's a pretty standard Logan-wing, right? Nothing that obviously makes it 13th company, right?

Well, when you look at the force on the board (and if you are familiar with 13th Company) it becomes pretty obvious what it is.

The armor is dark grey, not that pussy off-blue that GW decided is "space wolves grey." They have red and gold trim. They have armor that is a mismash of regular and chaos bits, including a good representation of chaos backpacks and chain-axes. Instead of Stormbolters (because Chaos doesn't have them and I figured that the Terminators would be the first to get them if they found some) the Power Armor guys toting Stormbolters actually have twin Bolters, one in each hand. I figured over ten thousand years some of the guys would have gotten pretty handy with a bolter (or two).

The point is that I don't rely on my list to tell the story. I just make sure that my list doesn't actively CONTRADICT the story. Here are a few examples where I either made list choices or OVERCAME list choices to keep the army true to my story:

-All Wolf Guard (I had considered using some Grey Hunters). Why? Because Grey Slayers have been fighting the forces of chaos for 10,000 years. They are all either veterans, or they are dead. No Grey Hunters.

-No vehicles. "Drop pods!" you scream. Well, the Drop Pods are actually runic stone circles of the same dimension as drop pods, with a rune priest standing in the middle. See, the 13th company travels around in the Eye of Terror relying upon their powerful Rune Priests rather than spacecraft.

-Powerful characters, low model count. Again, having a Wolf Lord and a Psyker as powerful as Logan and Njal makes sense if they have been fighting since the Horus Heresy and lived. Also, they don't have access to a lot of bodies so they don't have a lot of troops on the board.

-Thunderhoof Cavalry. The 13th Company doesn't have any access to the real-life wolves of fenris (There are no wolves on fenris. Except for the wolves, of course). But they still like riding around like madmen chopping peeps apart with their Wolf Claws. So they stole some Chaos Steeds and "domesticated" them (I suspect Khornate Chaos steeds don't care who they are trampling to death. Blood for the Blood God!) and use them as their mounts. (Full credit to St. John for this fantastic kit-bash idea).

So at the end of the day while my LIST is not terribly "fluffy" my ARMY is extremely fluffy. And extremely potent.

This is the kind of balance I'm talking about when I refer to Competitive Hobbying. It's using that noodle in your brain housing group to figure out ways to satisfy all your desires; to kick ass, tell a story, and look awesome doing it.

All at once.

You can't do that unless you develop all your skills - modelling, converting, painting, list building, playing, etc. Even fluff knowledge. (By the way, I still have a long ways to go on ALL these fronts).

Ok, those are my whimsical wanderings for the day. I'm off to clean up dog crap from our lawn from our asshole neighbors (I'll catch you one of these days, prick) and then mow the lawn and clean the bathrooms. I'm hoping after those joyous chores are done I can get a bit of painting done and head into town to throw down with my Nids.

Your thoughts are, as always, welcome.