Friday, March 18, 2011

Building your First Army - FOR THE WIN

Yesterday, I talked about choosing your army and how to buy it. Today is all about putting it together properly with an emphasis on Strategy and tactics. Yes, there are modelling techniques that relate to strategy. Knowing just a few will make your army more effective and your gameplay go smoother.

I mentioned "What You See Is What You Get." is referred to as WYSIWYG, yesterday. This is a really important rule/idea to keep in mind when you begin planning your army. You don't want to just start throwing weapons on guys because it looks cool, everything needs to match up to the lists you intend to play. Typically each unit and each sargeant within the unit will have different weapons options. Make sure you set aside the weapons for the models and place them accordingly. Missile launcher on a troop and power weapon on the sargeant for example(not Vice Versa). Just taking some time to match up the models with the list you intend to play will save you from spending more($$ & time) later.

The same principle applies to tanks and transports as well. You need to look at the standard wargear for each unit you are modeling AND the weapon/armor upgrades. With tanks the main things are of course the weapons, but little things like searchlights and smoke launchers must be represented on the actual model as well.

WYSIWYG may seem a little overwhelming at first, but you will pick it up quick. Games Workshop does a good job of supplying most of the weapons upgrades and options available with the applicable kit. Having all your models actually represent the wargear on your army list will make gameplay easier and more accurate. Keeping track of an ambiguous melta gun(not modelled) in a squad makes you pretty dubious when you are within hairs of double penetrating a Land Raider.

Now that you've matched up your lists with the actual models and weapons they come with you'll need to plan a few more things before building. I've learned that there are a few general things you can do to make your army easier to play and thusly more effective. Primarily is putting in modelling queues for identifying one, similiar unit, from another. For instance, Blood Angel Assault Marines are a troop choice and come with a chainsword, boltpistol & grenades as standard wargear. I have several identical units of Assault marines and until they are painted with squad markings(pretty much the last thing you paint) how will I tell them apart when I assault with 2 or more of my squads? Well, what I did is made all the guys in one unit Left handed chainswords, another right handed chainswords and yet another all with pointy helmets. You could do another with no helmets, all with the swords in the air, another with the pistols in the air, one squad all looking left another looking get the idea. Believe me when I tell you, this helps a lot(especially in close combat).

Another big modelling tip I can give you is Banners. Yeah, banners.... Place them strategically, use a lot of them. Now this is bit of a nuance technique, but I feel it bears talking about now. Depending on what army you are playing is what models you may have that are in desperate need of cover saves. Typically this refers to: Demon Princes, Dreadnoughts(smoke is only one turn), Wraithlords, Rhinos, Mephiston and a lot of other things. Specifically what I mean is confering a cover save to a unit that is not in cover or does not normally benefit from being in cover(i.e. monstrous creatures or vehicles). Remember, that TRUE line of sight from the models eyes you are shooting from to a Monstrous Creature or Vehicle requires 50% + obscurity to gain a cover save. You can use a few well placed banners, say on the back of a Chaos Rhino or two to COMPLETLY obscure a properly modelled Demon Prince, getting a 4+ cover should be easy. A few banners properly placed on the backs of Ork Boyz could obscure a Truck or Can. Banners are not the only way to do this either. This principle does go both ways, so if you have obscured the vision of a Dreadnought who wants to fire then the enemy may benefit from a save they may or may not normally get.

Don't Flail. This is a simple one but keep your profile low. Don't mount your troops or walkers on tall bases, there will be times you want to hide them. Don't wave the arms of your Wraithlords around or in the air. Don't stand your larger units on their toes or elaborate pedestals. This will cost you cover saves. I don't even use the pintle mounted bolters marines that come with Rhino kits.

I'm getting long winded...Finally MAGNETS!! I can't say this enough, magnets! In my last article I talked about buying them before assembling your army to save you time and money. In this article I talked about units having different weapon and armor options and how they may be interchangeable at times. The fact of the matter is: you will change lists more than you change underwear(way more, possibly). Having said that you, you will be a lot happier if you take the time to put in some magnets from the starts. If you had one guy in a Dark Eldar Warrior squad who could switch between a Dark Lance and a Splinter Cannon( or whatever other long/medium range weapon they could switch with), then you wouldn't need to buy another unit of models or make your unit sizes smaller. My friend magnetized the arm of his Thunderwolves to switch between Storm Shields and Lightning Claws and on the other hand he did Frost blades, Thunder hammers and Lightning claws interchangeable via magnets. Now he doesn't have to spend $500 in Canis models. Tactical marines can have the Las Cannon and Missile Launcher guy Magnetized or the sargeant's power weapon arm interchangeable with a power fist.

So these are some common sense tips for modelling your armies for ease of play, combat effectiveness and budget smarts. In the next article I'll go into actually playing this army you've lovingly taken the time to decide upon, purchase and assemble so sensibly. TILL THEN...PLAY WELL, ROLL BETTER!

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