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Themed Army Ideas
Jungle Juice

Jungle Juice: August 2006  by Patrick Eibel
The idea of the Jungle Juice articles has always been about helping players create more interesting and flavorful armies. By focusing on enhancing the background and/or tactics of an army, we have attempted to create unique army ideas that players can suit to their actual armies.

Over the last few months, we have received e-mails from several players who are interested in creating Space Marine armies that either have friendly relations with the Tau or are working in conjunction with the Imperial Guard. Here are excerpts from those e-mails:

I am trying to develop a Space Marine chapter that has a reasonable excuse to fight the other Space Marines at the hobby store I play 40k in. So far, I have covered the background story: they were declared heretics after allying with Tau and Eldar but after several decisive victories against the forces of Chaos were forgiven provided they cease contact with the xenos (which they secretly continue). Their biggest ally is the Tau Empire. If there is some way I can use that without breaking the rules that would be great.
I'm using the Lost and the Damned rules to create my army. It's a loyal Space Marine chapter, newly founded, that's assigned a remote planet as their homeworld, and it comes under attack from a Chaos warband, the Despoilers of Arganor (my friend’s army), and therefore has to band together with the local PDF units to repel the invaders.....and that's about all I can write without it turning into a disaster. Can you help me?
I'm designing a Space Marine xenoist army that has allied with the Tau. Is there anything I can do to show this on the models? I've added symbols from the Tau transfer sheet, but that's all I've come up with so far...
The idea of allies in 40K has been around since Rogue Trader, but has fallen by the wayside because no rules exist for incorporating two different Codex lists into the same army. However, there are other ways to construct an army to show affiliations and alliances than just trying to cram everything in one list, and I will present just a few ideas below.

The Army Lists
The Witch Hunters/Daemonhunters and Legion Of The Damned, army lists all present options for incorporating Guardsmen (or Traitors) and Space Marines (either Gray Knights or Chaos). But these lists are very limiting in the units you can use, the Force Organization slots that can be filled, and, in the case of Lost of the Damned, would force you to lose your Imperial “good-guy” status.

Rather than try and force an army concept to fit these codices, it would be much easier to field two detachments of different armies that have allied together. This may not be practical for smaller games (say 1,500 points or less), but you could keep about 2,000 points for each army so you would have the flexibility of fielding either army on its own for smaller games.

You will need to make your opponent aware of how your army is constructed and get their approval, but in most cases I think players will be pretty flexible if the army seems to be balanced. What does this mean? Well, for example, if you constructed a Space Marine army with the Traits Suffer Not The Works Of Heretics and Honor Your Wargear and then allied them with Tau, especially Broadsides, you would have a very nasty shooty army that would be very effective against vehicles. However, your opponent may feel that you have constructed your army with the purpose of exploiting the shooting prowess, and (if they were smart) would not let you field such a beast.

So how do you create an allied force that does not seem to have thrown together with the intent of abusing the rules?  The secret is to build the army as if it was one list, even though it is based on using two detachments. I will use the Tau/Space Marine example, but this could work for Imperial Guard/Space Marine just as well.

To start, you will need to fill the obligatory HQ and Troop selections for both detachments. Since I am using Space Marines as the main force, I will want to select a Space Marine Commander to be the overall leader of my army. Because it’s mandatory, I will select a Tau Commander to lead the Tau troops. An expeditionary force that would come in contact with the Tau and befriend them would probably need to be tactically flexible, so I want to fill the Troop slots with Tactical Squads for the Marines and Fire Warriors for the Tau. This provides the framework for the rest of the army from which we can build.

Ask yourself, if the Space Marines and Tau were to work together, what kind of units would both sides likely bring to the table? Space Marines would be less likely to bring Terminators and Dreadnoughts because they are so rare and, by the same token, Tau probably would have fewer Crisis Suits, Broadsides, and Stealth Suits than you would find in a regular Tau army. Also, since the Tau are already co-mingling with Space Marines, I would not use Kroot, Vespids, or Imperial Guard allies (from Chapter Approved). If the idea is that these two forces have chosen to work together to accomplish some task by necessity, adding other outside elements to the mix is only confusing.

The rest of the selections for each army can be chosen as you see fit, so long as you adhere to the guidelines that we have set. You could even take traits for the Space Marines, as having two units of Tactical Marines will help to mitigate any perceived imbalances. Although you have two detachments to fill, I would be careful on how you build onto your army. Taking three Hammerheads and three Predators and no Fast or Elite choices would seem a little unbalanced. Just try and build evenly across both detachments for all Force Chart slots and you should be fine.

Modeling and Basing 
Perhaps building two separate armies is more work than you are interested in taking on.  You can show affiliation with another army by dressing up your models and bases with bits from the other army. Fire Warrior shoulder pads, Crisis Suit scanners and bits, and even drones can be used to add flavor to Space Marine figures (for Imperial Guard, binoculars, backpacks, and vehicle accessories would make good choices). These bits can be added directly to individual figures or used as part of the flock for basing.

You could also choose to substitute figures from the allied army for a unit in the army you are using. For instance, an Ethereal could count as a psyker (use a drone to represent the better armor save) or Stormtroopers could be used as Space Marine Scouts. By incorporating these figures into your army and developing the backstory, it should be clear to your opponent what represents what.

Color Schemes and Painting
If you do not want to spend a lot of money on sprues for an army you don’t play, you can achieve some subtle associations through the use of color and decals or iconography. A Space Marine chapter allied with Imperial Guard may paint their armor in camouflage or khaki colors, while one associated with Tau could be painted in bright colors and use lining to make the armor look even more segmented (like a Crisis Suit). You may choose to paint the entire armor, or only part, like the shoulder pads or greaves.

Using Imperial Guard or Tau decals to add detail to figures and vehicles would also reinforce the affiliation. The amount of decals and where you put them is left to your imagination, but try to create a consistent look throughout. For a bit of fun, you could add pro-Tau graffiti on your tanks or use Imperial Guard-style markings to identify your squads and vehicles.

Even if an army does not choose to show affiliation by changing their armor or appearance, they may be influenced to change the way they fight. Close association with the Tau and Imperial Guard may influence an army to become more shooting-oriented, take more long-range weaponry, and rely on heavy firepower from vehicles and massed infantry. Selections for the army can be made based on how well they represent something from the allies’ codex (not that you are using the actual army entry). For example, Space Marines using Tau tactics may use Terminators (to emulate Crisis Suits), Land Speeders (to serve as Piranhas), Dreadnoughts with lascannon and missile launchers (to be like Broadsides), and Scouts with teleport homers and sniper rifles (to act like Pathfinders). Marines associated with a unit of Imperial Guard may favor Vindicators (Leman Russ tanks), Whirlwinds (mortars), large Tactical Squads with heavy weapons (Infantry Platoons), and Bike Squadrons (Rough Riders).

The ideas presented this article have hopefully given you some ideas on how to represent your army as having some close contact with another army, either Imperial or xenos.  You will still have to do some work on creating an interesting backstory to explain the association: whether it stems from a friendly sharing of ideas, an alliance forged against a common enemy, or from one army rescuing the other from certain doom. 

Although examples were used to illustrate Tau and Imperial Guard alliances, Eldar, Ork (most likely Blood Axes), and possibly even Necron (allegiance to the Machine God?) would be interesting armies to develop. With some creativity, you may end up with one (maybe even two) viable armies that are visually unique and tactically interesting to play.

If you would like me to develop some ideas for you, check the introduction page of this series for the e-mail address.

Related Pages
More Jungle Juice

Posted August 2006. Used with permission.


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle