What drives you to create a new Army? For Stormcaller, it’s all about the Lore.
I’m not talking about building models for that next 1850 tournament. I’m talking about really investing in a story and bringing it to the table. “Hey Stormy, are you one of those guys who hates on competitive players? ‘Ere we go again…” Of course I’m not bashing people who build to a list for a very specific purpose…winning at competitive events. It is their choice of how they play the game. Many, many people play that way.
I am not one of them. I certainly play to win, but the models I bring are not part of a focused, optimized list. By the way, some of the best painters in the business travel the tournament scene. No doubt about it. But there is a fundamental difference in someone who builds models to fill the slots in a tournament list, and someone who builds an army to tell a story. I happen to be the latter.
Let’s start with the issue of lore. Reading Black Library novels is actually something I spend more time doing than building and painting. I pride myself on a solid knowledge of the backstory, whether it be Horus Heresy or 40K. I am really enjoying listening to audio books and podcasts now (After Ullanor is being re-broadcast) of books I read many years ago; The Eisenhorn series in particular.
It is the story that drives my interest when I am considering a new army. My first army was Space Wolves, and I arrived in 40K in the middle of 3rd Edition. The Ragnar books and a shiny codex were available, besides all of the general backstory I would need. As King continued to write about Ragnar, I became more and more invested in the Wolves. For me, the story was driving my army build in terms of models and narrative. I built what I felt was an army reflective of what the Space Wolves would take into battle. Today, we hear about Wolf Stars and how powerful they are on the tabletop. All fine and good. However, they provide a great example of “building a list,” not building an army.
My next army was Grey Knights, inspired by a enjoyment of the Alaric series by Ben Counter. Just as a side note, I am not an army hoarder. At least until now, I have sold each of my armies to finance the next one. Not sure if that puts me in the minority, as I have several friends who own at least three separate and distinct groups from various 40K codices. I have certainly had a few regrets, like selling all of those beautiful drop pods, or if Games Workshop brings out a new dex for Nids – having sold that army off months ago.
For the most part, though, few regrets and I have enjoyed owning and playing each new army in its time. My Grey Knights included at least one of almost every unit in the dex, with the exception of Purifiers. Not that I wanted to create “all-comers” armies that could take on anything, it just seemed right that an army inspired by story should include most of the units in the codex.
After my Grey Knights, came Hive Fleet Prometheus. This was my first time buying Forge World kit. I bought a Barbed Heriodule. Barney was a sight to see…still is in point of fact. He is one of the very few Nid models I kept when I sold them about 18 months ago. If you are at all interested, take a look at some of the original posts on my personal blog, Shadow of Prometheus.
Prometheus was truly inspirational to me as a hobbyist. It even led me to embark on a terrain building project, and write a couple of very short stories involving the infamous carnifex Old One Eye (I had actually converted a fex just for him). This was also a time of experimentation, and through this, a marked improvement in my painting quality. I mention all of this because if I had simply been preparing models for the next competitive event, I would not have had any interest in other aspects of the hobby.
Then along came a spider…Ad Mech. I have long followed the lore and novels of the Mechanicum, and had a keen interest when a fan-created dex was published several years ago. So with all the shiny new objects in the window, it was time to move on from Prometheus and start building that Ad Mech army. Of course, no Ad Mech force would be complete without a suitable Adeptus Astartes swim buddy, and the Iron Hands seemed a damn good fit.
I had been a follower of Iron Hands lore as well, and already had a copy of Clan Raukaan on my hobby bookshelf. Prometheus (with a few exceptions) was sold and the process of building an Admech/Iron Hands force was underway. In keeping with the narrative inspired build, I turned my army into a quick reaction force, and only have Scouts supported by Land Speeder Storms as my troop choices in the Iron Revenants Strike Force. I also have Centurions and other heavies for support, but Scouts seemed a great way to tell a story.
At the same time, I have significantly expanded my Forge World inventory, adding a Cerastus Knight Lancer, a Caestus Assault Ram and Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer. I don’t believe I would ever have purchased, built and painted any of these models if my focus was on building to a list. But I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with each of them as the opportunity has presented itself in narrative or friendly games of 40K.
In each of the above examples, the story has driven my initial interest and subsequent development of each army I have owned. This may be an unusual way of doing things, but it has really added to my enjoyment of each one and lends itself to expanding my hobby interests and skills at the same time.
Now we come to the present. Stormcaller is NOT going to sell his Iron Hands/Admech. That being said, I have my first batch of Thousand Sons models built (but not painted)! My enjoyment of the Sons started with my reading of Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns (is that Pros’pero or Prosper’o?). There have also been a few other short stories and audio dramas that included the Sons, but there has never been the chance to really build an army around their story.
That all changed late last year with the release of Wrath of Magnus. Reading the story, as well as the rules, has sent my head spinning. I was going to focus on the Sons only in terms of modeling, but the way the story reads I will be building all sorts of daemons as well. Heralds, Pinkies, Blues, Fire Babies, Screamers, Flamers…all need to be part of the master plan. Another first…I actually purchased the limited edition of Magnus The Red. The model is amazing, but the story is even better.
One more time, I am diving into the deep end, and know that the investment in this amazing army will provide a bazillion hours of enjoyment. Not just on the tabletop, but in the reading room, on the workbench (or the island in my kitchen that passes for a workbench) and in the bar talking to my mates about hobby progress and the latest Horus Heresy/Gathering Storm developments.
For all of my friends who are committed tournament players, I know this is your way of enjoying the world of 40K (and 30K as well). Cheers to your success! For those of us who thrive on the backstory and the inspiration it provides, may we continue to revel in our connection to the lore and the way that it drives our hobby choices.
How do you 40K?