Fritz’s Tabletop: What Makes Your 40K Army So Great?

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Beyond the 40K narrative, as we move into tactics, what makes each 40K army so special?


Beyond the 40K narrative, as we move into tactics, what makes each 40K army so special? What are the different factors that as a player of your favorite army you want to take advantage of?

What are the tactics that when you face such an army, you need to be ready for?

This weeks tabletop post starts off with two of the most powerful armies in the game, and one of the most misunderstood armies in the game.

Eldar are powerful, but why? is it the codex, or the current rules of 40K that has them as a top tier I army?


Tyranids? As one of the more unique 40K armies, why are they so misunderstood.

Some would say Necrons rival even the power base of Eldar…


~See you on the tabletop!



  • What makes a 40k army great or not? Math. Simply math.

  • Karru

    If we don’t go to literal definition of “what makes the army great”, the answer is slightly more complex. If you want the literal answer though, Auticus answered that one pretty well.

    First, let’s look at what makes different armies great for people. For starters, the catalyst to make you at all interest of some armies is always their looks. I highly doubt that anyone can say that the only reason they originally started some army was due to them having amazing rules. It’s extremely difficult to learn about the rules for armies without seeing the models or at least artwork first.

    Then the second thing would be either rules or the narrative of the army. The reason why two things take the second place is because this one I tend to find splits many people into two categories which are quite even. Some people enjoy the narrative of the army so much that they really don’t care if the army itself has bad rules. Then there is the other side that plays the army because it has amazing rules and doesn’t care about the narrative.

    So what makes rules great? Simple answer, to quote Auticus, is “Math”. Longer answer I would say is complexity and interesting mechanics. For example, Eldar have their Battle Focus and amazing Psykers. Tyranids have Synapse and Shadow In the Warp rules. Space Marines have Chapter Tactics. These are all good mechanics that some like due to narrative reasons, but most enjoy them because they are good gameplay-wise. They give their army that unique flavour as well as useful mechanic they can base a tactic upon. Those were examples of good mechanics. The best example of a bad mechanic is the Chaos Boon table. D66 table that mostly contains useless “buffs” for your characters. Only way to activate it is to buy an upgrade, cast a psychic power or kill a character with your own character. Not only is it extremely hard to active after the game has started, it’s also so random that you cannot base a tactic around it. This is what makes it very bad mechanic.

    Then you have the price of the models as well as stats themselves for the army. These define your army’s “type” so to speak. Space Marines and Eldar are on the Elite side of the type spectrum. They have “expensive” units that have high stats. They hit well, they have nice weapons and can take hits. Losing even a few models can hinder the effectiveness of your units in these types of armies. Then you have the Horde armies. Orks, Imperial Guard, Tyranids. Low armour save, “low” price and mediocre stats means that these guys are meant to be ran in numbers. Losing even a dozen of these guys really doesn’t cause major damage to the rest of the army.

    Let’s look at some armies that are very similar. Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines for starters. Space Marines are considered one of the Top Tier armies right now, if not THE top tier army. They have good mechanics with their Chapter Tactics, they have multiple Alternative Detachments with great benefits, they have massive amount of support from GW in terms of model and rule releases and the internal balance in the codex is top notch. Surely this means that CSM is very much the same right? Wrong. CSM is priced very similarly to SM, but they have 1/10th of the rules SM has. This means they are overpriced from the very start. Then on top of that the rules they have are very bad. As I pointed out earlier, The Chaos Boon Table. You cannot base a tactic around this one. You cannot guarantee anything from it since it is way too random. Then you have very bad Psychic Powers, heavily taxed Alternative Detachment, heavily taxed formations, mediocre weapon selection and lack of transport options.

    Now let’s look at Eldar and Dark Eldar. Another very similar armies, surely they have better luck than SM and CSM. Oh boy.

    Eldar have the best internal balance in the game right now. There is really no unit that is absolutely useless. They have units that outperform others in their slots, but that does not mean that the remaining units are utterly useless. Eldar have a lot of options thanks to this. They have very good mechanic as well to support them in the form of Battle Focus as well as Bladestorm for most of their basic weapons. These are all nice, but they also have things like Exarch Powers that give their special units something, wait for it, special. Again, great mechanics that you can base a tactic around. Eldar also have great psykers and amazing arsenal of weapons, vehicles and monstrous creatures to choose from. All of the have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they are not extremely bad.

    So what about Dark Eldar? Surely they are also very good since they are very similar to Eldar right? Nope. Dark Eldar also suffer from very similar problems that CSM does. Overpricing is one, the second isn’t exactly bad mechanics. Power from Pain is quite nice in theory. The problem is that the current edition does not support this army. Dark Eldar no longer cannot rely on their speed and distractions to defeat the enemy. They cannot use Wyches to disrupt enemy lines with multiple charges from lightning fast Raiders. Instead, they have to attempt try outshoot everyone, which is hard since they are extremely squishy when it comes to taking damage. They have low armour save compared to Eldar and also don’t have any armour in their vehicles that bear their “heavy” firepower. Jinking does not help either, since their shots are now wasted due to being single shot, not twin-linked and need a 6 to hit. The poison that they have in plenty isn’t helping either. It is most of the time pretty useless, since it no longer gets to re-roll wounds when shooting.

    So to sum it all up in order to answer the “what makes army great?” question. Army is great when it has nice models, great and interesting mechanics that you can base a tactic around, fair pricing and nice internal balance.

  • SilentPony

    What makes my army best? Sales figures, leading to disproportionate attention and updates while the lesser sold armies are left to rot.

  • zeno666

    The best thing with my armies was the money I got for them when I sold them.
    Lucky thing at least one of them was them space marines so people where at least a little bit interested.

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah. I imagine I’ll be holding onto my DE indefinitely

    • Ed Butlar

      Negative comment 2

  • Aaron

    I like the idea of formations, but in practice they kind of break the game; a lot of stuff isnt so bad when crammed into a CAD (although the top 4 still dominate that format)

  • ZeeLobby

    My DE will always be the greatest army in my eyes (1K sons were always a top pick but they indefinitely suck). None of my armies are good game wise tho. They may have their one build which kind of works with some luck.

    • Ed Butlar

      Negative comment.

  • Mikillangelo

    What makes you my army great is WAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!
    Not caring I you lose is a really powerful strategy for enjoying the heck out of a game.