Friday, 10 October 2008

Cross Fertilisation and the joy of playing away!

By Suneokun

I think it was Admiral Lord Nelson who made the comment 'Past Gibraltar, every man is a bachelor!' It was fairly racey a comment at the time and still rings discordantly in my ears now. Especially since Nelson's proclivities in the bedroom and wardroom angled towards the extreme 'Cliff Richard' end of Bachelor-boy...

Anyhow enough of such debauchery, the witty title drawing you in is actually an affectation to a very good point made by Ultramarine Blue, which is that while building up and playing one army in particular is a core part of gaming, there is a joy in getting your hands on a new codex and fostering another man's army (or building your own - but that a collecting digretion!)

"Avast! Ye Gads, good Lord man!" I hear you cry. "Have you gone mad! Playing with another mans army is like playing with another mans tackle - we'll hear nothing more of it!"

But you'd be wrong to say such a thing.

Insights and Gunsights

Nothing gives you better insight into how your opponents view your own army than facing them across the field. When playing the Imperial Guard (as I often do), I'm frequently concerned over the feeble nature of my troops, they die very easily and I concern myself about their Mum's back home... This (slightly weird) view has led me to become over protective of the little 'goit's' and subsequently rather anally retentive when it comes to movement, cover saves and the like.

Turning the tables and facing down the Guard with Dev's Eldar force makes for an enlightening experience. Guard are a daunting and intrasigent foe. They have too many bodies, and if there's enough cover saves about are seriously difficult to wither down. They might not charge you like Tyranids or Orks, but they're attritional qualities are second to none, allowing the army to soak up casualties like no other. Their battle cannons and missile launchers et cetera ad infinitum...

You get the gist.

Fighting your own force. You have the advantage of knowing your enemy well, better in fact than they're commander. However you also quickly discover that those fearsome terminators or sneaking scorpions aren't half as effective as you hoped they would be. This is due to the fact that your own fear of them has been bouying up your reversed confidence in them - confidence missplaced!

Very quickly the strengths and weaknesses of your army are discovered - and this is useful, this leads you to quickly identify your own vulnerabilities, and more importantly gets you into the mindset of your enemy. This helps you to identify the cut and thrust of tactics from a multifaceted (facet - a word I first learned reading 'Inquisitor' by Ian Watson circa 1995) viewpoint. It also gives you really great insights into the 'fulcrums' of some armies.

Space Marines often wear their fulcrum with a big sign saying "Shoot here! I can take it!", however with other armies (like Eldar, Necron, Tyranid and sometimes Ork) the fulcrum can be a little more subtle. For example, while you're out pounding the Scorpions or Shining Spears, his jetbike squadron have just minced your command squad etc etc.

I'm not saying that you're incapable of working this out in your head, but having a practical eyeview of the other armies views will allow you to allocate strangths and weaknesses accordingly. This is the difference between considering the theory and knowing of actual situations.

This has several benefits, for starters you will start to understand which units the enemy will ignore, this is useful. That remnant squad with a flamer (Darksol - Ta me duck!)has suddenly become twice as handy because he's the least 'bullet-magnet' squad on the board.


This way of playing also produces a lovely warm feeling. If you have someone you find difficult to play (because of their attitude, silly games or pedantry) steal their army list! I would actively encourage it. There's nothing quite so enjoyable as losing to your own army, or reversely defeating you own models. There's a satisfaction mixed with sadness and a pride mixed with chagrin... suddenly you'll find that those people you really enjoy playing, but frequently get 'over-competitive' with are great fun to play.

Cross Fertilisation

Once you have a taste for it, the playing of other armies becomes a little addictive. So much so that you suddenly have to consider the next steps in buying. This is where cross fertilisation is key. There are multiple armies that can be fielded with eachother giving you limitless new tactical learning and intelligent gaming. Afterall if the game ain't challenging - what's the point?

As a case in point lets look at the current collections of Suneokun and Devilin. Right now the Kochi 6th are nearing completion alongside Dev's beautifully crafter Eldar Army. The Space Marines are the next step, following by the Tyranids. Dev's keen on Necrons next and I fancy Tau (not literally, they are blue after all). So what do we do?

We Cross Fertilise the armies:

  • Inquisitorial DeamonHunters supplement IG and Space Marine forces. Allowing interesting mixes.

  • Genestealer Cult Army through combining the BroodLord led Tyranid army with the Imperial Guard.

  • Kroot Mercanaries to supplement Eldar, Space Marine or IG Forces. They'd even work for the Orks if paid enough.
We buy cleverly. For example:

  • This Christmas I'm getting a techmarine and 4 servitors. I love the techmarine model, but what I really want is cheap servitors. These boys will work with my Techpriest Enginseer and as Warriors for my Inquisitor.

  • Dev's ordering Rhino's like crazy, they work great in both a Space Marine Army and an Inquisitorial Storm Troopers squad.

Best Model-swap options:

  • Lend your Leman Russ Battle Tank and Chimera's to your Ork boyz from Black Reach to give you transport and BoomGun action.

  • Storm Troopers everywhere, you might seek them here or there, but stormtroopers are a cost effective and useful troop addition to most Imperial forces. And now they come in a pretty Valkyrie flyer!

  • Stick a few Smurf's in your IG force and call them 'DeathWatch' - no-one will notice, honest!

So as you can see, while having one perfect army is great, having lots is better, and if you are going to get Tau, start with some Carnivores. I hope the ideas above have tweaked your imagination! My knowledge of GW is not yet encyclopedic, so I'd welcome further suggestions...

On nother note ... I've received word from a supplier that GW are no longer shipping Hellhounds - it could be that the Hellhound is being released in spring...