Friday, April 15, 2011

Jumping into the Pool

Counts-as armies. People sure do seem to be up in arms about it. I think the big reason people are upset about it is due to mis-naming it, or perhaps the lack of an agreed upon definition.

I think the issue comes in with the distinction between a counts-as army and a proxy army. Doing second first, a proxy army substitutes one model for a completely different army. This past weekend, I played a buddy of mine and wanted to try something I had never played before, Logan Grimnar. But I don't own a Logan model. So I pulled out random terminator #3 and used magnates to give him a axe and a power fist. This model was a proxy. My model didn't have Logan's Storm Bolter, but it was easy enough to tell my friend that Mr. Axie-fist was Logan. With a proxy army you have this for the whole army. Space marine bikers as Thunderwolf Cavalry for example.

 In my opinion the key to a counts-as army is WYSIWYG. This can and should be easy for one space marine army playing as another space marine army because a melta is a melta is a melta even if one of them has nurgly spikes on it. In the grand scheme of things and from a purely competitive point of view, this should really be all there is to it. If your model is supposed to have a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield, and your model has a hammer-type weapon on one arm and a shield-like thingy on it's other army, you should be good to go.

But there is a grey area. What do you call an Ork army that uses the Imperial Guard codex? To me that is a proxy army because you are using BS2 T4 Orks to represent BS3 T3 cannon fodder. But what if the Orks are all carrying Lasguns and are completely WYSIWYG? It gets murkier and murkier.

How about making Necron as Adeptus Mechanicus? Now you are using an established codex to represent a nonexistent codex. Is it counts-as because you are scratch building minis to represent something that my look completely different? Again the line between proxy and counts as is blurred.

I think a lot of the conflict comes when more hobby-minded players mix with more competitive-minded players. The hobby guys want to see what they can do with a bit of green stuff, plasticard and their imaginations. The competitive guys don't want to be taken by surprise. And I can see both sides of it.

No matter what you think, this is a hobby. Its about building and playing with toy soldiers. There are always going to be those people that want to let their mind run with their ideas and create some fantastic creations. On the other hand, in a competitive environment, if I had invested a lot of brain power in remembering what a Tau burst cannon looks like, and what an Imperial Guard multilaser looks like. I don't think I would appreciate 10 minutes of, "well anyone with this type of gun you've never seen before is a meltagun, and anyone with that type of gun that you've never seen before is a plasma gun." This leads to confusion and hurt feelings and perceived, "I lost because I couldn't keep track of what his army had, and he only did that so he could win."

So there is a lot of counts-as hate from the competitive players, but oddly enough there is a ton of counts-as hate from the fluff guys as well. Make yourself a Night Lords jump pack army with the Blood Angles codex and you'll probably not hear too much from it as the current CSM codex will not allow you to field a full jump pack army. But woe be unto you if you make a Razorspam list because the Razorback was not created until after the Heresy.

The reason I bring this all up is that it seems lately, everyone wants to play anything and everything with the Space Wolf codex. This has lead to a lot of Space Wolf hate. According to BoLS, there were 40 requests at Adepticon for counts-as armies and 38 of those were to have an army use the Space Wolf codex. The really startling thing is that with 43 Space Wolf players, only five of them were using Space Wolf models. How can this be?

For what its worth. I don't really have a problem with either a proxy army or a counts-as army. But then again I am not a competitive player. Most of my games are beer and pretzels games, so there really isn't much on the line. Just be prepared to be looked down upon if you are running a counts-as army because its possible the guy you are play has been screwed (either in his opinion or in actuality) by someone using a counts-as army, and for Russ' sake, don't be the guy that screws him and ruin it for everyone else!


  1. That seems to me a very reasonable look at a contentious subject, and well-written. Cool blog too, a good mix.

  2. I think the other issue is quantity. Having a proxy for a couple of units isn't bad but if you've got a load of tactical marines representing a jump pack army then you're causing confusion.

    Obviously competitive games are different but that's down to the tournament organisers to sort out.

  3. Thanks for the comment Porky, I do what I can.

    FtF, I can see using a total proxy army for an army you are thinking of buying, but haven't committed to yet. I only have one 40k army and if/when I choose to do another I am pretty sure I'll be playing some test games before I start purchasing.

    That being said, I would certainly be sure to let my opponent know before hand.