Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Army Building 101 (not List Building 101)

It occurred to me over the last few months the way I build armies is a bit different than most folks.  I guess it is because I fall into the proverbial "collector" bucket.  Over the years I've seen two main methods for army building.  One is the popular build a list, or use an Internet list, then buy only the models you need for the list.  Essentially you buy only what's effective.  Certainly it can be a cheaper option and it's also the method employed by most of the hardcore gamers.  Another method I've seen employed is to first come up with a great theme for the army and buy the models to build the theme, including any of the required bitz.  This method seems to be employed by the hobby or narrative gamers.

While I'm more of a hobby gamer I've chosen to use a different method over the years.  I actually don't have any idea of what army list I will use or what the theme will be when I start.  Those things will develop organically after I get painted models on the table.  To get started I typically will buy the entire range of models.  I will buy multiples of units that I think will be in use more, like Dwarf Warriors for example.  I will I will also buy more of what I can get a good deal on.  Battalions are particularly helpful for this.  Also, I don't necessarily buy everything all at once, it may take me a couple years to collect everything.  All of these purchases combined typically puts the army in the 4-5K range.   This first group of units will become the backbone of the army and I will get all of these assembled and painted before I play a single game with them.  Getting them on the table may take me 6 to 9 months.  To speed up the process I avoid conversions and employ the best army painter tricks I can come up with, or scour from the Internet.  This also gives me a chance to practice painting the army's color scheme.  Once painted I will start playing as many games with them as possible.  Through the gaming I will see what units work, what tactics don't.  Also a theme will start to emerge that I will develop. I then purchase additional units to take the army where I think it needs to go.  I will round out the theme with more extensive conversions and paint jobs on the new units.  I then just keep adding more units to keep the army fresh and growing.  They are essentially living armies, perpetually growing.  They are never actually complete. 

Since the start of 6th edition I've used this method because my Southern California gaming group played about 2-3 big (20-30k) times a year.  This meant I needed to have larger armies.  It also means that I have fewer larger armies rather than many smaller armies.  Currently I have a 12k Tomb Kings army, 6k Dwarf army and 12k Orcs & Goblins painted.  Side note - I've NEVER played Orcs and Goblins so I am stoked about getting the new book. 

Brawler Bash preparations permitting I hope to do a proper photo spread for each of my armies in the near future.


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