Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Army List Series Part One - Types of Lists

There are a large number of ways in which you can approach creating an army list. From 'fluffy' builds all the way up to competitive tournament lists, everyone wants to see their list, their miniature heroes, their army at the very least succeed in some area of battle, if not stand victorious once the last shot has been fired and the last punch thrown.

What I am going to look at next are the type of lists I have seen produced. Firstly we have the fluffy type list. By this I mean the type of list where a named character from a codex is chosen then, based on the information given from any sources to do with that character. For instance my Ragnar fluff list there is the closest I have to a fluff list. The young Wolf Lord is known for using drop pod assaults and that list was written with that fact in mind. These types of list may not be the most competitive and won't turn up on many tournament tables, but they are certainly fun and add to an element of realism (as far as that is possible when imaging the goings on in the 41st Millenium!). They help tie your battle into the established background of the grim dark future, making you a part of the long and detailed story.

The next type of list is not too different from the fluffy list. This list I like to think of as the experimentation list. In this type you try out new units, see what they can do, how they work with other units and, ultimately, whether they are worth another chance on the table. This type of build can be great fun if that new unit does really well for you, but can also be hugely frustrating and disappointing if the unit fails to live up to your expectations. This list from a Space Wolves/Imperial Guard v Necron battle has not just one experimental unit in it but two, as both Ulrik the Slayer and Arjac Rockfist were both untried by myself prior to that game.

It won't take long for an experimentation list to evolve into one of three directions. Firstly you will have lists developed for fun and friendly games. This can be a combination of a fluffy list with an experimental list with a healthy dose of units thrown in that you just enjoy using. Many an enjoyable Friday night has been spent using this type of list. For me it allows the greatest amount of diversity in my lists and really opens up all units in a codex.

Following the experimental list you may develop what is known in certain areas as a 'deathstar' list, in which you will normally find an armies best units and individuals coupled together to form a super unit that can tear huge chunks out of the opposition if they can be deployed successfully. They also tend to be rather difficult to take down and while their points cost may be rather high, the devastation they can cause is phenomenal.

And now we reach the pinnacle, the final, the ultimate type of list there can be - the tournament list. There are a million different types of tournament and all will be crammed full of people who have honed their lists specifically with the aim of being the best. They will have removed all units that have limited use, all units that are very hit and miss with what they can achieve and instead fill the lists with units they know will perform with weaponry that can take on all comers. And this is where I believe the main difference between the fun lists and tournament lists lays. Tournament players have to have a list that will take on anyone at any time in any situation. Fun lists are generally set up for one opponent and can be tailored to suit that opponent as the list writer pleases.

So there we can see five different types of list that I have come across so far in my year or so back in 40k. If you have any further types of list I'd be interested to hear about it and how it fits within the five talked about here. The next part of the Army List Series will look at writing the list itself, what to look out for and how to set it up so you are approaching the table on the right foot.


  1. I have a different approach to list building then the five you have listed. I would say it falls in between list type 4 and list type 5.

    Essentially I like to build my army list around the unique units to that codex. For example if I am playing CSM why would I want to field an army that uses a Chaos Lord, CSMs, Vindicators, Raptors, or Havocs? If those are the bulk of my Chaos Army I should be using the SM codex. By fielding an army with the unique units of their codex you play to that army's strengths and maximize its' potential. I wrote a two part post about this with relation to my CSM a while back. In the next couple weeks I will write the follow article outline how I applied it to my CSM army.

  2. That is a way of looking at writing lists I hadn't even considered. It will use all the special units that aren't found in other marine codices and will help your own army stand out a bit more, as well as maximising the threat of your chosen codex.

    That being said, I have only really used the Space Wolves and all their units are sufficiently different to most other Space Marine units that I've never had to think about that sort of differentiation (excluding the tanks which are all similar in each marine codex).

    The article you have listed there is also a very good read as well. I'm very much looking forward to reading more of your blog.

  3. There are still minor differences between SW and SM. Lets look at Grey Hunters and see what makes them different: Wulfen, two special weapons/zero heavy, and the ability to have two power based weapons in the squad. The two power based weapons and a Wulfen with rending is huge especially with counter charge. So why not take advantage of this.


Thanks for your comment it is very much appreciated. I hope to hear more from you in the future!

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