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3 Things I’ve Been Thinking About Lately… (January, 2006)
Presented (in no particular order) for your consideration….

Black Templars: Better Than I Thought
I used to think that Black Templars were the Paris Hilton of 40K: mindless, not THAT interesting to look at, and receiving of inordinate amounts of attention. Why so?

“Mindless” in that it never took a whole lot of thought to putting together and playing a BT army: load up on basic guys with close combat weapons and bolt pistols, add your uber-powered HQ (don’t forget Mr. Mandatory Emperor’s Champion), put them in some Nigh-Invulnerable Land Raider Crusaders, and shove them at the enemy. And don’t forget to take the “Hit God On a 3+ In Hand-To-Hand” vow. Oh, yeah: that took a lot of brainpower.

BT’s never topped my list of visually interesting Marines either: that black-and-white color scheme is really cutting edge, isn’t it? Must have taken—what?—about 15 minutes to paint a squad? And the crosses—yes, I got the idea that they’re Crusaders in space. Bretonnians in power armor? No, they weren’t even THAT interesting.

For me, BTs were even more dull and contrived than Dark Angels (“We wear robes! And we’ve got a daaaaaaaaaark secret! Ooooooh!”), but apparently I was the only one that thought so, because every time I went to a tournament or other gaming event, there was at least one BT army there. And they were just damned annoying to play against. The armies themselves, I mean—just about every BT player I’ve met has been a decent fellow.

It irritated (but did not surprise) me when I heard that the BTs were going to get their own codex. With all those folks playing BTs, it would have been fiscally silly of GW not to milk that potential cash cow with a full-sized book and some new minis. What irritated me was the thought that GW was going to devote still more time and effort to Space Marines when Ork and Eldar players have been waiting years now for new books and models (and what of the Dark Eldar? Never mind. Some of us do just fine with what we have, heh heh heh….)

Black Templars
Black Templars by Lance Tracy
Photo © copyright Lance Tracy, March 2002. Used with permission.

But once I actually saw the new BT figures and got my mitts on a copy of the new codex I relented a bit. I wouldn’t say that the new army list is particularly thought-provoking, but it has more depth and character than the old version found in Codex: Armageddon. I like how the revised vows tie in with the Emperor’s Champion and how you have to pick them ahead of battle: no more switching vows between tournament games. There isn’t a whole lot one can do with the black-and-white scheme, but the new minis look cool: you gotta love the bolters chained to the armor, even if it is a little S&M. 

I’m not enthralled with the new BT’s: they’re still “Camelot in 40K” and they’ll still just come rushing across the board at you (unless you play Nids). I usually buy the latest codex that comes out, for Themed Army Ideas and so that I’ll know what the enemy is capable of, but I’m not going to buy this one. Nevertheless, I have a new respect for Black Templars. They’re now more interesting than Dark Angels. 

I wonder if a lot of BT players bought the new Space Marine codex last year. And if they did, do they feel gypped now that their new book—which does NOT require the SM codex—has been released? I mean, they spent $20 on Codex: Jarhead and now they can’t help but spend $20 more on Codex: Crusaders. Which leads me to my next topic….

How Do Young Players Afford 40K?
I started playing 40K back in 1987, and for even for someone in college, working part-time, like I was, it wasn’t that expensive. If I recall correctly, the RTB01 box of plastic Space Marines was about $12 for 20 guys, Rhinos were $20 for three, and Land Raiders were $30 for two. Yes, they were sold two to a box and you could get them for $30. At the time, that was about the most expensive thing GW offered.

So when people ask how I built a huge (7,000+ points) Space Marine army, I tell them it was pretty easy (painting it was not easy, but painting 7,000 points of anything isn’t easy). 

As I flip through White Dwarf and as I visit gaming stores and I see the prices that GW wants, though, I wonder how on earth younger gamers—kids in high school and college—are supposed to afford this stuff. No one’s selling Land Raiders for $15 a pop anymore.

You may be thinking: Oh, Christ, he’s going to launch into a tirade about prices being too high. Like I don’t read enough of that crap on all the forums. I’m going to the Drunk Dwarves site right now. 

Just hear me out for a second…please? It’s been said many, many times before, and I agree with, the following:

Games and miniatures are a luxury, not a necessity. 

No one puts a gun to your head and makes you buy minis.

Figures and models produced today are much higher quality than the versions that came out years ago. If you want high-quality minis, you have to pay a higher price—quality is not cheap.

GW offers plenty of plastic, lower-cost minis for basic troops.

You don’t have a right to cheap minis.

GW is a business and businesses need to stay profitable. No GW = no 40K, and no one (besides my wife) wants that.

I’m not talking about me: my job pays me heaps; it’s not hurting me to plunk down over $300 for a new army (as I did for my Lizardmen-Tyranid force). But I wonder how some kid working the drive-thru at Mickey D’s—or some college guy delivering pizzas—is going to afford that. If I was in their situation again, I couldn’t afford this game.

I read in the papers that teenagers have all kinds of disposable income—enough to buy iPods and X-Boxes and keep Jerry Bruckheimer in the movie-making business, apparently—but I didn’t see that when I went to a tournament at my local gaming store recently. There was a teenager there who had bought some second-hand Marines on e-Bay; he told me that he wanted to expand his army (small enough to keep in a shoebox) but that he couldn’t afford vehicles (how much DO they want for a Rhino these days?) and certain, “elite” figures and characters. 

I believe him. Have you priced Terminators—even the new plastic Terminators—lately? $50 for 5 figures: $10 each. I realize that the days of three Rhinos for $20 are long gone and are never coming back, but still….

If you have to ask...
If you have to ask, you can't afford them, kid...

I just bought five sprues and two bitz from Mail Order and spent over $70. Again, no sweat off my back, but what happens if/when I stop playing this game? Who’s going to be buying all this expensive stuff when we older, more-well off gamers quit? Will the younger players limp along, saving up their hard-earned cash, scrounging up stuff here and there, trading or buying secondhand stuff, asking Mom and Dad to buy them a Land Raider for Christmas? Or will they just say, “Screw it—Playstation’s a lot cheaper” and abandon the hobby altogether? 

Army-Collecting Obsession
I’m in no immediate danger of ditching the hobby anytime soon. After years of having just one army, my overly-large collection of Space Marines, I succumbed to temptation and built up a Dark Eldar force. For a long time, that contented me. Then my friend Pat was selling his Necrons, so I picked them up from him. Then I became fixated on the Lizardmen figures from the Warhammer Fantasy range and built a 40K army, using the Tyranid rules, around them. 

Lately, I’ve been flipping through White Dwarf and seeing the new Dwarf models for Fantasy and I’ve been unable to stop thinking about getting some of THEM and building yet another army (my fifth, for God’s sake). Some guys my age (pushing 40) go nuts for cars or floozies or both: apparently I’m subconsciously dealing with an underlying midlife crisis by buying little plastic figures—strange, but it seems less expensive (and less marriage-disrupting) than the alternatives. 

I’m giving myself a few months to think over this urge—maybe it will go away. But if it doesn’t and I actually buy the Dwarf figures, what rules would I use for them? 

To narrow my choices, I’m considering the armies that I have and that my friend and usual opponent Pat has; if I add another army to our collections, it should be something different. There’s no point in me using Ork rules, for example: if I wanted to play an army using Ork rules, I could just borrow his Ork army. See what I mean?

Currently, Pat has:

His wife also owns a large Eldar army. So, the only armies we don’t have between us are:
  • Tau; 
  • Sub-codex Marines like Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Black Templars, etc.;
  • Chaos Marines; and, 
  • Lost and the Damned
So for maximum variety, my 40K Dwarfs (don’t call them Squats!) should ideally use the rules from one of the armies in that last group there. Tau would be good if I wanted to emphasize a hi-tech angle, but the Dwarf models don’t look at all hi-tech, and stats for individual Tau are very weedy and definitely un-Dwarfish. Nah. 

I call Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Black Templars, Space Wolves, White Scars, and other Marines that have special rules “sub-codex” Marines, but I’ve also heard them referred to as “chocolate” Marines (because they’re not “vanilla” Marines—get it?). As I mentioned in Vanilla, My Favorite Flavor, I avoid basing any new army after one of the “sub-codex” Chapters because doing so dilutes the unique nature of the Chapter you’re imitating and doesn’t make your army nearly as interesting as you think it is. So, no basing the Space Dwarfs (don’t call them Squats!) on any of those Marine chapters.

I’ve considered using Codex: Chaos Space Marines. Normally, I find World Eaters and Iron Warriors tedious, but I thought I could make an interesting army using the rules for either. But again, why bother aping another army? The Chaos Codex, with all its unit choices and veteran abilities, is flexible enough that one can make a cool “generic” army. A few things are keeping me from doing that, however: 

1) Chaos Marines are, well, a lot like regular Marines, and lately, I’ve become disenchanted with Marines; 

2) If I overcame my ennui and actually built a CSM army, it would probably be Red Corsairs, a la Rai’s Reavers;

3) The Dwarf figures, while cool, don’t look sufficiently hi-tech to count as having 3+ armor saves and bolters. 

So….that leaves using the list for the Lost and the Damned from Codex: Eye of Terror. I did just that in a Themed Army Idea posted last year. I’m thinking about the following army list:
  • Arch-Heretic (HQ)
  • Small number of Big Mutants (Elites)
  • Daemonettes (Elites)
  • Bloodletters (Elites)
  • Four squads of Traitors (Troops)
  • Two huge squads of Mutants (Troops)
  • Sentinels (Fast Attack)
  • Chaos Hounds  (Fast Attack)
  • Three Leman Russ tanks (Heavy Support)
L&D Troops are kind of weedy—you would think 40K Dwarfs would be better than Toughness 3, Leadership 6 or 7, and 5+ Saves. When you’re taking basic profiles, the only happy medium between the Barney Badass Marine and the Pathetic Scrub Guardsman (Or Eldar Guardian, or Tau Fire Warrior) seems to be the Space Marine Scout—and I’ve already built a lot of Scouts. Eh, whatever. My 40K Dwarfs won’t be as tough as one might think—at least there will be lots of them. 

As if THAT weren’t enough, I’m also seriously planning on forming a sub-army of my Fighting Tigers and adding some Daemonhunter allies. But that’s a story for another time…. 

© copyright Kenton Kilgore, January 2006

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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