Sunday, 1 March 2015

List Building: Rule of Cool

If you walked into a Games Workshop store and asked the friendly shopkeep which army should you start, you are more than likely going to be asked one question, "Which army do you like the most?". It makes me beg the question, why is this the only time we take the look of an army into the equation when building a force?

After being part of the hobby for a while, why does it seem that whenever someone discusses a "cool" unit in their army, it is usually followed by a reeling off of special rules, ap values and the like? Whatever happened to taking a unit because you liked the model?

If I was to give a piece of advice to anyone, I would say that when building a 40k army, only use the top two thirds of the codex page. That is what you use to build an army, the rest of the page is what you use to play the army. Go mad, just select the units you think look cool and play them, unbound lets you do that, or if you want to stay battle forged, fill in the gaps later.

I don't hear many people say that they collect and paint the models first, then make a list from them later, it all seems to be, write list, get models to make the list. More often than not, the list isn't as strong as they want, they lose a few games and the interest is gone.

I'm going to be picking up the work on my Dark Eldar again soon, and the list of things I want to get, are models I want to paint. A Voidraven, Scourges, Mandrakes, I'm not too bothered by how they work in game yet, I just want a cool looking force.

Once you've played a few games, and perhaps found a few weaknesses that need patching up, you can still use the same method. Say you lack the punch to deal with heavy armour, so you want a lascannon or two in your army, filter the units to those that can take a lascannon and take the one you like the most.

The Harlequin range has appealed to me in this way, I've bought everything so far because the range is awesome, I have no idea how it is all going to fit together on the tabletop, but i'm not worried about it, I want a decent looking army first painting the units that attract me the most. It's even the reason I have Wyches in my army despite them not being appealing rules wise.

This way of looking at list building is probably not the best if you are a committed tournament player, but I definitely feel that that mindset is used far too often when it doesn't apply to your situation.


  1. This is why I still use Monoliths, am looking into converting Flayed Ones and why I have Assault Centurions over the typical shooty ones.

  2. Yeah rule of cool can be a refreshing change to build and paint to. It really helps spice up the process of creating an army, and toucan always do the 'less cool' units at a later date if needed.

    It is often more satisfying to game with units you are proud to have converted/painted than a cobbled together net list that you have no affinity to (I am speaking as a strictly uncompetitive gamer mind :) )

    1. You can (darn auto correct) not toucan :D

    2. But "toucan always" sounds so much cooler!

  3. Oh trust me, I'm speaking from an noncompetitive viewpoint too. But I see too many people who are starting out or don't fancy the tournament scene going to the tournament gamers for advice. If anyone asks me "Should I take X unit", the answer is always yes, because you want to take it. Get a small squad together, put it on the table and make up your own mind, there is so much fun to be had in figuring things out on your own.

  4. I'm with you on this one (mostly). I buy and paint models simply because I like the looks. I'm going to be spending so much time building/converting/painting that I want to actually like the models I'm looking at. I play Eldar, Tyranids, and IG because I like those models. Both have seen swings in their capabilities over the years, so just build and paint what you like, the meta will swing around. You get more respect playing a subpar army and giving a good game than you do taking the latest internet hotty list.

    I too bought all the harlequin models and I'm gonna play that army till I figure them out. They are just too cool.