Ding dong, the Warhammer 40K soup witch is dead.
For years soup lists have been one of the major boogeymen of the Warhammer 40K meta. Chaos, Aledari and Imperial soup have all spent swaths of time at the top of the meta. At the same time armies without the option to soup, various xenos, have tended to sink toward to the bottom of the pack. For a long while it seemed like soup was the only real way to play. Now however we are seeing a slow, and welcome, move away from soup lists, slowly breaking them up and bringing improved balance and distinction to the game.
Part I: Space Marines
Nearly a year and a half ago now the 2nd Space Marine Codex for 8th Edition came out. This book was the first big strike against soup lists. It contained rules, namely the powerful Doctrines, that you would only get accesses to if you played a pure Marine army. This was quickly followed up by the so-called “super doctrines”. These are additional powerful rules you only get if your whole army is a certain flavor of Marines. Combined these didn’t make soup illegal, but they gave you strong incentives to not play soup lists, as you would often lose more than you gained.
It didn’t help that Space Marines were strong enough to stand on their own. Still, this was a major push away from soup lists, with old Imperial Soup lists, normally a Marine (Blood Angel), Guard, and Knight detachment each combined, falling out of style in favor of pure Marine lists. The recent updates to the remaining older Marine books continued this tread. Soup now costs you, a lot.
A second, and more wide-reaching blow, against soup was the reworking of detachments in 9th Edition. In 8th Edition taking more detachments was a bonus, as it would give you more CP to spend. In general, you wanted to find ways, often creative, to cram in as many detachments as you could. 9th Edition reversed this, with extra detachments costing you CP to “unlock”. This represented a pretty fundamental change to list build that a lot of players have had to get used to. It also marked a pretty big blow against soup lists. In the past taking a 40k soup army would often net you extra CP to use, as well as more stratagems to use it on. Now, even in armies that were otherwise unchanged, soup comes with an actual cost. Sure you’ll have a ton of stratagems to pick from, but you’ll have significantly less CP to use them.
This brings us to the most recent release, Codex: Death Guard. This Codex follows after the pattern of the Loyalist Codex, introducing a new rule, Contagions of Nurgle, that you only get access to if you play a pure Death Guard list. While it’s likely not as powerful as the Marine Doctrine/Super Doctrine combo, it IS a strong rule, and losing it isn’t something you’d do lightly. This again has the major effect of pushing you away from using Death Guard in a Chaos soup list, and wanting them to be a more mono-faction book. On top of the new rule, they also had “soupy” units, in particular, the daemons, removed from their book, and appear to have lost the option to summon. If you want to mix your armies you’ll have to pay a real price now.
It All Comes Together
What we are seeing is not that soup is being outlawed, but that it is being heavily discouraged. For many armies being used in a Warhammer 40K soup list will cost them special rule and CP. Normally this is enough to outweigh any benefits to be gained from soup, especially as we’ve seen auras get more and more limited. While these armies can be used in soup, you need to a have real, and often unique, plan to make it worth your time. While we haven’t seen many non-Marine books this edition, with Necrons not having the option to soup at all, it won’t be shocking if this trend, of giving armies rules they lose in soup, continues. In particular, it seems like GW wants to break up Chaos soup, with Death Guard being the first step towards that. Overall I feel this is a great move, and I look forward to seeing soup slowly die out.
Let us know if you think soup is dead, and how you feel about that, down in the comments!