Sunday, March 10, 2013

2 STC Sunday: Building an Army the HOTpanda Way

The creation of a 40k army for me is more than just glueing a bunch of plastic crack together.  Countless failed armies have found themselves amassed into a pile of useless models.  Unable to stand behind their poorly thought out theme, play style, list, colour theme, models and fluff.  It truly is an art form to create a well thought out army that you can call your very own.  This post that I have written examines the foundation and five pillars that I use to support each and everyone of my armies.  

Step #1: THEME
For some hobbyist this may not even be a factor and or consideration when building an army.  For me this is the foundation.  Without a theme the five pillars that I use to support the army will buckle under the weight of the army.  The reason that I hold theme in such a high regard is because this is where the biggest amount of my enjoyment comes from in the hobby.  I have never to date built and finished an army that did not have a theme.  Every single one of my failed armies either had a half hearted theme or none at all.  The theme is the heart of the army and it is what enables me to get behind the army itself. Now when I say theme I am not looking for a straight forward approach to the word but rather something I can sink my fangs into. The biggest factors that comes into the selection of a theme is the convertibility of the army.  If I cannot cut, chop, mutate and deform the prescription models that Games Workshop has created than I am not even interested in building the army.  Obviously certain armies lend themselves better towards a theme like Chaos Space Marines (CSM) while others like Tau do not.  This is not to say that Tau cannot be themed as I would love to create a Tau army that is modelled after the world of Ashley Woods "World War Robot".
Sixth edition opens the door wide open with the inclusion of allies and this is something that should always be considered.  I challenge you to build more than just your standard Vanilla Marine Army.  Turn it into something else.  Mutate those blue smurfs into something titillatingly and eye popping.  Build yourself an army that you can truly call your own.

It is one thing to build an army and to theme it but if you plan on playing it better fit your style of game play.  If you like an in your face assault based army that acts like a blunt sledge hammer then you better not go and build any that uses a scalpel to deliver its arsenal of attacks.  The only time this may be ignored is if you are looking at expanding your knowledge and concept of other armies when it comes to their performance on the game table. Either way going into the project with a clear thought out play style is going to set the stages for the next pillar in creating an army
This pillar of success considers both the foundation and the play style of the army that you have already selected.  If your theme and play style align themselves with a highly mobile army that places emphases on shooting don't go and build a list that is entirely based around footslogging close combat monsters.  Remembering the previous two steps I go about selecting the various units that fit into the image I have set out to create.  Narrowing down the units allows me to ignore the ones that create holes and cracks in both my theme and play style.  Once I have crunched out the numbers and refined my army into a working list I then bounce it off of my friends and the blog-o-sphere.  Here I collect input on my armies strengths and weakness.  From here I make the appropriate changes to the list that will down play the weakness and increase its' strengths.  This may go back and forth through several phases of development as I bounce ideas off of those around me till I am 100% satisfied with an army list.

This step has caused me the largest amount of grief and lack of satisfaction than any other.  Throughout the other phases of the army the paint scheme looms overhead like a looming plague.  Constantly threatening to undermine the work that I have done.  As such I am always vigilant in the paint scheme that I select. To make matters worse I always want to change my palette for each new army.  Not only do I want to use new colours but I want to try out different painting techniques.  All the while it has to tie in with the theme and play style of the army.  You can clearly see why this pillar gives me the biggest and hardest problems.
This is the stage where the blood and sweat comes into play.  I am simply just applying the above steps into each and every individual model.

Step #6: FLUFF
As the other steps are being hatched out this one is lurking in the shadows.  Methodically planning how each of the other factors can be incorporated into background of the army. Things that I am considering in this phase of the army's development is their lineage, tactics, colour scheme and the name for the army.  Each one being weighed against the other.  Each one looking to balance the scales of justice.  Their is no room for error.  One single hole in the fluff of the army and the naysayers will begin to squawk and shit all over your army like seagull on your girlfriend at the beach.  Finding a hook within the existing cannon that Games Workshop and or Black Library has already establish is must for me.  This is places where you can hook your army's fluff into the world that you are trying to place them into.  Once the hook is set you are free to unleash the creativity of your own mind knowing that you are firmly grounded into the background of 40k itself and are going to stay fluffed.
With a foundation and all five pillars in place their is no doubt that I will throughly enjoy the look, play and feel of the army. Now go build yourself an army the HOTpanda way!!!


  1. Well said and I couldn't agree more. I do the exact same thing with my armies. These processes help engross you into the army and see it as more than those models you push around. If you have no attachment to the army, like the kind of attachment you get by performing the steps you mentioned, then interest wanes quickly.

  2. Glad I am not the only one who like to have a romance with their models. Modelling and painting are without a doubt a labour of love. With the sheer cost of dating an army in this current economic hobby one can quickly find themselves out in the cold. Diving head first into a new relationship is the only way to go.