Editorial: Is It Proxy or Is it ‘Counts-As’?

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Where were you on January 28th?  “What,” I hear you ask, “are you talking about?”  That, dear reader, is the day Goatboy dropped a little filler article which you promptly picked up and slapped him with!  So it begs the question: Proxy or Counts-As?
That’s the hook: let’s fill in the blanks.

Bell of Lost Souls is a huge site – sorry haters: it’s true.  Big Red, our illustrious Editor in Chief, is responsible for making sure five articles go out each day, each of which is going to reach a massive audience.

Massive!  World-wide in the true sense!  It isn’t easy but he’s got good help.

And me, but I digress.  (I just thought of a good idea for an article, but I suppose I’d better finish this one first.)

Goatboy is probably the most frequent author, primarily because he’s got a fun writing style and an outrageous output of painted models.  When an article is needed Goat can whip it out no problem… and the people (that’s you!) dig it.

He’s not only the most frequent, he’s probably the most popular.

So I’ll be he was surprised at the response to his Word Bearer’s Counts-As article!  Give it a read if you haven’t already.

The core of the whole conversation is basically Proxy vs Counts-As… and secondarily, has Counts-As been taken too far?

This isn’t a new question, nor is it a new conversation.  In fact, I’m recycling an old article I wrote for Blood of Kittens.  Let’s take a look and see how well its stood up.

July 2010: is it a Proxy or is it ‘Counts-As?’

This could be a short article; I could stop right here (I ain’t gonna) because the answer is pretty simple: use common sense and ask in advance.

Let’s pretend I wasn’t a wordy-attention-seeking-net-stalker (Hi, Jawaballs!) and move on. I decided to ask the local tournament organizer, the Master Manipulator (every store needs one) for his opinion. Hopefully, this will give you some idea where event judges are coming from. Again, I add this caveat: it’s best to check in advance with the actual organizers.

Let me start off by saying in friendly games, I could care less what everyone does. This is purely my opinion on how I adjudicate in our tournaments. I am all for a well made back story to explain why you are using Sisters of Battle to rep your Dark Angels or something silly like that. That is the great stuff fun that people love doing with this game. Just don’t bring it to my tourneys.

The basis of this conversation really boils down to one question. “Why does it matter?”

I should be able to sit down with anyone at any time and look across the table and have a fairly good idea of what is going on. I should not have to question what my opponent is using for what, or whether or not they may have misunderstood some allies rule or something. When models are being set up across the table, I should have a reasonable confidence I know what they are.

That’s fairly straightforward, yes? Let’s move on – with examples.

When someone asks me if a model is a proxy or ‘counts as,’ I typically respond with the following:  does that model have a profile or set of rules that is legal in the current game, and those rules are different from what you plan on using? For the most part if the answer to that question is yes, than it’s a proxy.

Let’s look at an example.

What we have here is a loyalist Space Marine, a Blood Angel, to be exact. Everybody knows what a Blood Angel is and what set of rules to apply to it. Moving on…

What we have here is a Space Goat. Some may be aware that Space Goats painted white are Goat Angels of some sort, but let’s face it: this is a homegrown conversion. A proper conversion is ‘Counts-As,’ meaning it can be used for a number of things. There is nothing wrong with using this model: it isn’t a proxy. Let’s recap.

Using an Ultramarine as a Chaos Space Marine, or an Ork, or an Eldar Guardian isn’t appropriate. An Ultramarine as a Chaos Space Marine is a proxy…

…but a Goat Angel is ‘Counts-As.’

See the difference? Space Goats may use parts from both Loyalist and Chaos Space Marines, but they are neither and thus can be used in a variety of ways. Using straight Chaos Space Marines to rep out a new Codex chapter is all well and good at home, but is it appropriate at a tournament where you may be playing a stranger?

I don’t think so. At the very least, I’m sure we can agree it is a gray area.

So why isn’t it okay to use Chaos Space Marines as Loyalist Space Marines? After all, the Goats are pretty chaotic looking; what’s the difference?

Sort it out like this: does a model have a stat line in the Warhammer 40K universe already? If it does, and you use it for something else, that’s a proxy. Goat Marines exist nowhere except Goatboy’s probably warped mind, yet Khorne Berserkers have a color scheme and set of abilities everyone is already familiar with. Using Berserkers as Vanguard isn’t cool.

But using Chaos Space Marines painted in your own design as Knights of Blood is perfectly cool. We’re all familiar enough with the game to be flexible on a technical proxy like that. It’s a game, after all.

Everyone is going to have an opinion on what’s okay and what isn’t, so again, check with your Tournament Organizers, but to my mind gamers are a forgiving lot. After all, most of us came up with rules for our toys when we were kids; imagination is part and parcel of the hobby. As a last example, Rob over at Spikey Bits has a pretty fantastic Ork Guard. I wouldn’t have a problem playing it and I daresay neither would you; it’s a beautiful labor of love. But what if some dude dropped a ton of unpainted Orks on the table and said, “Okay, this is Guard today, and that Trukk is a Manticore.”

That’s all I’ve got, just a few thoughts to spark conversation and perhaps avoid an uncomfortable last-minute scramble or two. I’m aware some of you may disagree with this perspective; let’s hear where you are coming from.

On Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be posting pictures of my Team Tournament Eldar for the first time. It’s heavily converted and painted to the best of my ability, so drop by and let me know what you think. Hopefully you’ll agree they’re ‘Counts-As!’

Feb. 2011:  Back to the Present

So the pictures are from the objective markers I worked up for the Wargames Con tournament last year, and obviously there are a bunch of sight gags like the Jawa-banner, the Goat-Angels, and the Deathguard with a bullet through his head.

I got a kick out of making them, not to mention using them as ‘examples’ in an article about Proxies.  I thought it was a fun way of illustrating the point.

Here are the questions I’d like to see discussed today:

  1. Are you tired of Counts-As armies in tournaments or do you love seeing them?  
  2. Has a custom army ever caused you problems in a game because you couldn’t sort out what was what?
  3. Do you believe people are taking advantage of it, and using a powerful Codex they prefer to play with models they like?
  4. And is there anything wrong with that?

Go after it folks!  And if you happen to have some pictures or links to cool, custom armies the Bell readership just has to see, please drop the links in or email me at Brent at StrictlyAverage dot Com and we’ll see what we can do to get it some bandwidth!

Thoughts?  Comments?  Hugs and Gropings?

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