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40K: Are We Meant To Play One Army At A Time?

4 Minute Read
Dec 7 2017
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Is soup the new grimdark normal?

Back in the days of yore when I started playing 40k during the change from 2nd to 3rd edition, being a player was easy. When you got into 40K you picked an army and built that army up. Once it was battle-worthy you took it out and played with it. Slowly over time you might start additional armies and play them. Still no matter how many armies you might own it was easy to say what you were playing in a game. “Today, I am playing, Space Wolves, or Chaos Space Marines, or Squats.” Simple. But that’s no longer really the case. Now players mix and match armies freely. So lets take a minute and talk about what we are supposed to play.

In The Before Time

As I said, once in the misty past players tended to play one army in any single game. Aside from the rare special event, you had one army and you stuck with it. It was overall pretty simple. This persisted for quite some time until allies started to creep into the game. To a lot of players this is still the way the “game is meant to be.”

The Age Of Fist Bump Buddies

Then came allies. Allies spent several editions being a pretty big part of the game. There were a number of ways the game dealt with them. From charts and matrices to just “take what ever you feel like.” As the ability to take allies freely grew “armies” began to become fuzzy. If your force is composed of ten units from 5 different books – then what army are you playing? Everything became a blur.

The Age of 8th

When arrived 8th dialed back the allies portion of the game a lot. While you can still take “allies” they have to come from you own faction now. The forces of the Imperium still fight together, but no more Chaos/T’au alliances. Overall 8th’s system is a huge improvement over 7th’s. Still some people are unhappy with the prominence of mixed, or soup lists.

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Are Books Even Meant To Be Stand Alone

Part of this seems to be a bit of “this is how things were done in the past” to me. The old idea was that Codex’s were stand-alone books, and all you would need was one to field a force. For some armies this is still true. Armies like T’au and Necrons don’t have any other factions or groups to combo with. Nids are also a lonely race, but still get Genestealer Cult and Astra Militarum. Imperial, Chaos and Eldar forces however all have lots of options to combo up with. There is nothing random or unintentional about this. Several whole armies, such as Talon’s of the Emperor or Ynnari only work in soup lists. Building lists from multiple books is not just something you can do, its something you should and are encouraged to do.

A New Way Of Thinking

The biggest thing players need to start thinking about is that they now play factions. Not a Codex or an Army, but a faction. I firmly believe you are meant to be playing these factions as a whole. Soup lists are a part of the game and the game is designed to reward them. Moreover, as I’ve talked about in the past, they are fluffy. True, soup detachments aren’t rewarded, but lists featuring 2-3 detachments from different factions are rewarded. Because of this players really need to stop thinking within the confines of a single Codex.

So far I’ve seen Eldar and Chaos players do a great job of this. I haven’t seen as much from Imperial Players however. While crazy soup lists were a thing, I’ve not a seen a lot of say, one Space Marine detachment and one AM (Either type!) detachment lists. At the end of the day, I don’t really think a lot of these lists are meant to stand all on their own. Yes they can, but they come together and form a greater whole. It’s up to us players to figure out how to make that work.

What do you think, are armies meant to come out of one Codex now, or from a whole faction? Let us know, down in the comments! 

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