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The Tiger Roars
Guest Commentary: A Year's Worth of Glue
Articles in this series

A Year's Worth of Glue: Part 5  by Duncan Hargreaves
There are many ways to plan an army. Believe me when I say this, because I have planned lots of armies.

From choosing an army to fit perfectly with your beautifully crafted background, to choosing the hardest list you can possibly think of before you even start with the background. Everyone has their own way of doing it.

These usually all seem to tie into several Ďmain methodsí of army building. In this article Iíll be covering a few of them.

Iím going to skip the obligatory Ďhow to choose what type of army you wantí introduction here. Why? I have three reasons:

1. Because Iíve seen it too many times, and I donít even cruise Warhammer articles that much. Most of the ones Iíve seen seem to say the same thing, anyway (with a couple of exceptions). However, none are as detailed as Ken Lacyís excellent (and detailed) look at all the armies available via his rating system.  This will answer almost everything youíd want to know about the armies. Still have questions about certain armies? Then drop by the Millenium Gate forum, and all the members (including Ken) will be able to offer all manner of advice.

2. Itíd be hypocritical of me to do something like Orcboyís articles, talking about general army compositions, themes and basic tactics, when my armies are now mostly chosen by whim. Iíll admit that I went through the stage of choosing armies for play style, but Iíve long since learned to Ďbreakí the codex system and make quite a few different armies suit my play styles. These styles, however, seem to mostly consist of combat horde tactics, or small elite armies who are combat oriented (at least I know what I likeÖ)

The first type of planning Iíll cover is the one I use least: mathematical army planning. Iím pretty sure thereís another name for it, but thanks to an inadvertent comment a friend made, it will forever be Ďmathematical army planningí in my mind.

The basis of this is to use probability to work out exactly how effective your army will be. You first need to work out the army youíre designing this to beat. Iíll use Marines, as they seem to be the most common army. You also need to have the codices for both armies handy.

Thereís an equation for working out a unitís effectiveness: Number of Attacks x Chance to Hit x Chance to Wound x Chance for Target to Fail Armour Save.

Now letís use an Ork boy, in combat, as an example here. Against the Marine, it has 3 Attacks (I always use Slugga Boyz) which hit on 4+, so thatís a ½ chance of hitting. Wounding on 5+ makes that a 1/3 chance of wounding, with the Marine failing his save ½ of the time.

So thatís 3 x ½ x 1/3 x ½ = ¼ of a chance an Ork will kill a Marine in combat.

All you need to do then, is work out the value of an Ork boy, using the equation ĎModel Costí x 1/ĎChance of a dead Space Marineí

So an Ork unit would cost you 32 points per dead Space Marine (in combat).

Of course, then you need to work out shooting effectiveness as well (same equation as above, but replace ĎNumber of Attacksí with ĎNumber of Shotsí) If the weapons AP would beat the targetís armour, then replace the fraction for the save with 1.

Of course, the problem I have with this is that it doesnít take combat damage into account. But then the game wouldnít be fun without some risk, would it?

There is a simpler version of this, which is also a lot more commonly used. What it lacks in mathematic equations, it makes up for in the need for experience with your chosen army. Simply keep a headcount of what does the best in your games while you are building your army. When youíve worked out your over-performers, add more of them to your army.

It also helps to remember what options/units under-perform as well, and either remove those units, or to buy less as the army expands.

The most common way I make my army lists now is to simply make a list of everything I want. Once Iíve got this list I narrow things down until Iím under my points limit for the game.

Now as Iíve been playing this game for a long time, a lot of the things on the list are things that I know I can use effectively. However, many of these units will all fit around a certain theme that I want the army to have. E.G. my Missile Marines: if it donít have a heavy weapon, it doesnít get in the list (aside from the Commander, as I have no choice).

Once Iíve made my list, Iíll start to buy enough models to assemble 500 points of stuff for it. Once this Ďminií army is made, then I play a few games, and refine the main list based on my results, building towards the goal of having a certain theme, yet trying for the most effective army I can have under my (self-imposed) limitations. If my mini-list does very badly, then Iíll overhaul the list, and lower my limitations a little.

My ĎAngelis Mortisí Marine list recently underwent such an overhaul. I noticed that their win/loss ratio was less than stellar. My wins were entirely on luck, except for one game I played against a newbie who was adamant that he was going to combat with his Tau army (Iíve never worked so hard to lose and yet come out with a minor victory before).

The final clue was a team up game I had with two fellow Millenium Gate members (Komad86, and FireberdGnome). Komad and I joined forces, with 1500-point armies, and then proceeded to have the snot kicked out of us by FireberdGnomeís 3000-point Eldar force.

It would be nice to blame the dice. It would be nice to blame Komad86. But the bottom line was that my Angelis Mortis army got off a couple of lucky shots, and was eviscerated (though my commander put up a sterling last stand against a unit of Fire Dragons).

Since the massacre, Iíve taken a different stand on my army. Iíve managed to keep the mobile theme I love so much, but Iíve managed to moderate it a little. I kept my Vindicators, but bought a Predator to accompany them.

The biggest change was my troops. I decided that True Grit had run its course, and that it was time to downgrade the bolters to bolt pistols. I also turned my Razorbacks into Rhinos (made all the easier due to the cost effective army-building I mentioned in Part 3), giving me the points to fill out the combat units to 10 men strong.

I was saddened to lose out on True Grit, though. I really do think that a Marine with a bolter in one hand looks a lot more Ďhardcoreí than a Marine with a bolt pistol (see below).
 


Still, at least I have my NurgleÖ

My last change was made all the easier due to the fact that my army wasnít finished yet. Instead of buying another Tactical Squad and a Razorback, I bought a Tactical Squad and two lascannon Marines. Split into two min/maxed squads, these guys are going to add some much needed fire support to my shiny new Predator.

So I only spent what Iíd be spending on getting the army to 2000 points (actually, I think I saved a little), but I managed to make the army more effective. I even managed to upgrade the speed theme a little (no more moving 6" to fire Razorback weapons).

More importantly, Iíve been quite busy with the modelling and painting with this army. All I need to do now is stick the Predatorís turret together, buy eight more Marines for combat duties, and finish the painting.


Duncan's Marine army thus far

This means that I almost have three armies that just need painting. Iíve also started going back to my local GWís veteran night on Tuesdays. This means that my painting will start to progress, as I donít like making models in a crowded environment.

Next time, Iíll be continuing the army planning advice, with a foray into the type of army that really is my forte: themed armies. Iíll also be showcasing my Undead Marines, my Gobbonids, and also my Missile Marines.

.

A Year's Worth of Glue
Articles in this series



Posted: March 2007. Used with permission.
 

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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