Why the most hated list type in the game is also the most fluffy.
Soup list are getting more and more attention among major players lately. In particular their showings at major events have drawn critical eyes from people interested in the 40K meta. Our own Goatboy has recently written about them and the problems they present. While no one can deny that soup armies are earning a place in today’s meta, players are divided on how to address the issue, or perceived issue. Today however I am not going to talk about that, or even why people think soup armies are an issue. Today I want to talk about why these armies, which are getting a lot of hate, are actually some of the most fluffy armies around, and why GW is most likely not going to do anything much to change them. So lets dig in.
Soup armies in general are any list that cherry picks units from a number of factions or armies that share the same keyword. They in essence throw a lot of different ingredients in a pot and make a powerful soup out of them. Some of these lists, the most hated, focus on character heavy builds. The winner of Wargames Con took characters from seven different Imperial armies. Others can focus on more mainstream armies, but still pull from several armies or Codexes. The winning list of NOVA took units from four Imperial Factions. While Imperial lists are the most common choices for making soup, other lists can as well. Chaos, especially now that it has more than one Codex, can make some disgusting soup. One could also argue that all Ynnari armies are soup armies.
At first glance most of these armies may seem very unfluffy. Mixing and matching books like that just shouldn’t be done. If GW wanted them to be used together they would have just put them in the same book. And well, to an extent they did, the Indexes. Armies, like the NOVA winning Astra Militarum list are very fluffy when you think about it. What really could be more fluffy than the massed armies of the Imperium fighting side by side in defense of humanity? Or the various Chaos factions being pulled together by a powerful leader to attack the servants of the false Emperor. The Ynnari of course are all fluffy despite pulling from a number of books.
OK, so the big armies being soupy is fluffy. Fine. Whatever. But what about the lists that are just characters? 40K is about armies clashing and massed combat. You just don’t have situations were a bunch of heroes from different factions all fight together. Except… yeah you do. Modern 40K fluff is all about groups of the most powerful heroes fighting together in desperate battles.
Just look at this year’s Gathering Storm narrative arc. Fall of Cadia features battles centered around Saint Celestine, Creed, Crawl, Greyfax, Marshall Amalrich, and a host of other heroes, being aided by the Necron Lord Trazyn and Eldar fighting versus a soup of Chaos Leaders. In Rise of the Primarch the Battle of Guiliman’s Shrine is even more star studded. With Marneus Calgar, Chief Librarian Tigurius, Guiliman, Celestine, Greyfax, Cawl, Grand Master Voldus, Marshal Amalrich, all aided by Yvraine and the Visarch of the Ynnari fighting as a force in the same room. That actually reads like a possible army list. Throw in the whole idea of the Triumvirates and you can see a push for character soups supported by the fluff.
To be fair to those who feel this isn’t fluffy; GW has in fact changed the emphasis on the fluff a bit recently. If one looks back at older fluff, the emphasis was far more on armies and common(ish) troops. Think of Codex: Armageddon, the 2000s version of Gathering Storm. While there are big characters in the fluff, Yarrick and Ghazghkull for example, they are not the big emphasis of the book. Older Black Library books followed this pattern focusing on smaller heroes or unkowns. This was in line with how Special Characters interacted with the game back then. For many editions they were an optional choice allowed if agreed on and not part of the tournament scene.
But GW has changed all this. Newer fluff focuses much more on the big important characters. Guilliman is everywhere leading the fight. Every major battle ends in some climatic dual. Black Library books have also focused much more on the huge important charterers, with books like Dante and Jain Zar telling the stories of the larger than life heroes and villains. And this newer emphasis on unique characters translates into the game. Not only are these characters no longer sidelined to optional status, their use is in fact encouraged. Armies like the Ynnari are built around the use of these types of characters. Many characters are clearly designed to be used in mix faction armies. Soup armies full of characters are now fully allowed – and very fluffy.
Like it or not soup is working as designed. GW has very little incentive to change anything about how these armies work. These types or armies are fully supported in the fluff and fully allowed by the rules. They help GW sell a lot of pricey character models and help serve as gateways for players to expand into new armies. Sure, we may see a few tweaks here and there. Maybe a change to character targeting, though I kind of doubt it. But the fact is from the fluff, to character rules, to the very detachment choices themselves the game is set up for this to happen. The list are legal, and fluffy, and we are going to have to deal with it.
So how much do you love soup list? Do you find these list fluffy? Fun? Fair? Let us know down in the comments!
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