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Let's talk about "feels like an army"

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Hi fellow admirals, warlords, kings and queens, tyrants and all generals lurking in this forum.

I want to ask a question, What do you expect/want from your army?  I'm not talking about rules or collecting 2000p to play some games. 

I'm going to throw some pics of armies and warbands from other games, just for the fun:


Empire (Warhammer Fantasy):


Dwarf (warhammer fantasy):


Dreamer (Malifaux):


Lannisters (Asoiaf):


Nords budle (Conquest)


Btw, all this games have something really fun about their armies, you can build them around a specific theme. You can repeat the same Duardin troops (slayers) and try to make a Karak-Kadrin force. The Dreamer can use their own Nightmares to build a full thematic list. Lannisters can play as Clegane army instead of lannisters, Nords can play as Savage berzerks with a lot of monsters or maybe with a Jarl for a more grounded army. You lose options doing that, but it's part of the fun.

So, what do you expect/want from your army? 

Imo, I want to feel that my Kharadrons are not a theme, but a military branch of an entire civilization. I want to look at my 6000 points and feel like they are not just 3 troops repeated again and again with  the the same 5 centerpiece models in the middle. I want to theme my army about a chartered company, pirates or big game hunters even if that means that I can't use Grundstock units. 

Edited by Beliman
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For me, it's about a diversity of units and roles for those units. Some of this is gameplay, some of this is lore--this is an area they have some overlap. I tend to want an army that makes use of every resource a faction has, or that has a solid reason for not doing so. I like include a mix of blocks of infantry, faster scouts or outriders, ranged troops (assuming the faction has them), magical units such as priests and/or wizards (again, assuming the faction has them), and often some kind of big unit like a monster (usual caveat). It feels more like the faction is...well, putting the effort in. Really mustering their hosts.

Some factions get a pass on one or more elements. Monsters, wizards, priests, and shooting are not part of every faction's roster or strategy. And while I might look askance from a lore and flavor perspective if someone made a Cities of Sigmar army entirely of heavy cavalry and wonder what their supply line looked like, a similar all-cavalry Blades of Khorne could be justified as feeding on the slaughter and desolation they leave behind by the power of Chaos imbued into them. But in general, skew lists feel less "army-like" to me unless the skew is around a theme instead of a unit type.

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To me its about matching narrative to models and gameplay. An army won't feel complete if there's something missing from it that should be there to match their narrative or in game playstyle. It doesn't really have much to do with diversity of unit types or anything like that.

For example I think Ironjawz already feel like a complete army, despite only having like 7 kits, because they cover all the things ironjawz would want to do, honestly I think Ironjawz might be the most complete feeling army in the game.

On the other hand kruleboyz don't feel complete, despite having more kits, as their models are all rank and file infantry or heroes, with nothing to lean into stuff like what the breaka-boss does or the snatcha boss does. There's clear holes there where we have leaders with no-one following them. On top of that they have army composition issues, because they want to play as a mixed arms force, but don't really have the proper diversity of units to enable that playstyle. They also don't have anything that feels like it leans into their focus on fighting dirty and laying traps. The rules tried to bridge the gap but didn't do a good job imo.

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Depends on the project. Sometimes i want to keep things simple and collect models i like and paint them close to box art. Sometimes i have a clear vision of how i want my custom army to look like and i will convert, magnetise, greenstuff and kitbash to make things look more unique. I dont prefer one over the other, it just depends on my mood.

Edited by Gitzdee
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I really want to comment in this thread because "feels like an army" is probably one of the main things that makes a faction appealing to me.

I currently have three main armies: Soulblight Gravelords, Ossiarch Bonereapers and Cities of Sigmar. If there is one thing that unifies those three armies, it is strong "feels like an army" appeal. If I had to reduce that to more basic properties, these would be my thought:

A good "normal dude" unit.

One of the important things that makes an army feel like an army is that there has to be a normal guy that I find appealing. Skeletons for Soulblight, Mortek for OBR, a bunch of different basic foot troops for Cities... I find it hard to get excited about an army that either had no good normal dudes, or where normal dudes cannot (or usually don't) make up the backbone of the army. For example, I like Stormcast. But as basic dudes, they don't really do it for me. Even the basic Vindictors are a bit too elite looking for my tastes. On top of that, many Stormcast armies don't even like to run a lot of the basic Stormcast guys. Stormcast lists are frequently sub 30 models. For a while, lists were dragon rider heavy, or Evocator heavy, or Annihilator heavy. Which is cool from a painting standpoint, but results in a really small-looking force that kind of does not "look like an army" to me.

On top of normal dudes, there needs to be variety, too.

Cavalry, ranged units, artillery, war machines, monsters... Not every army needs everything, but to look like an army, I think there needs to be at least some variety in units. For example, OBR is a small range, but a few units of Mortek Guard, some of the big boys, some heroes, a crawler, maybe a harverster... To me that starts too look like a believeable army form the ancient era. One of the big draws of Cities for me was the potential to build something that resembles a modern "mixed arms" force: Infantry, tanks, helicopters, artillery and (since AoS is a fantasy game) magic. I think this is also the reason why I never really got that excited about Nighthaunt (even though they are cool models and I like Death stuff). It always seemed like most lists were composed of different, kind of similar looking ghosts all in the small to mid-size range. Or, on the other extreme, FEC Terrorgheist spam is also not something I am interested in.

I don't just want some kind of fighting force. I need to be able to believe that these guys do something other than fight, too.

As in, I have to be able to believe that the army is part of a civilization that has some sort of culture and exists for reasons other than just to fight. It's one of the reasons why I never really warmed up to most chaos armies, but most of all Khorne. I just cannot imagine those guys existing independently of the context of being a faction in a war game. Generally, all factions that seem to just not value the life of its members at all fall in this category for me. So also something like Daughters of Khaine or Dark Elves at their most cartoonishly evil. But this "rule" is pretty easy for me to get around by just writing some fluff. OBR are a good example. They are literally purpose built to fight for Nagash, but it's explained in enough detail that I can buy it.

I want to stress that I don't think "feels like an army" armies are superior. Not feeling like an army is not a problem in my mind. Some factions make it work: I find Sons of Behemat pretty appealing as a faction (the price is turning me off more than anything else), and they do not feel like an army in any way. However, that is part of the appeal in their case: They are cool because they are just so huge and terrifying that even just three or four of them are an existential threat to individual kingdoms and cities. They should not "feel like an army", but just a collection of individuals, because that is what their fluff is trying to sell.

In my mind, "feels like an army" is also not (or not just) about realism or believability. Plenty of armies are internally kinda inconstistent and the worlds of Warhammer as a whole have always been anchronistic. I don't particularly mind that: I think part of the appeal of a fantasy world is that it can be more varied and exciting than the real world (even if that does not always make sense when you look too closely).

Edited by Neil Arthur Hotep
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Two Categories:
A - From a Listbuilding Standpoint
B - On the Table

A: Diverse Units roster - At least one unit for every role: Damage, Tank, Missle, Speed. Even better: Additional Elite Units for some roles. Example: There are Namarti Thralls and there should be Akhelian Infantry with heavy armour.


B: On the Tabletop - Quite some models/Units. One of the few armies that currently feels like one is SBGL. It has a variety of units, and a lot of units on the table.

Armies that feel like warbands and not like armies: Fyreslayers, Idoneth, Kruleboys, Stormcast.
Why Stromcast? They have very little on the table, while the few units that are used don't feel elite enough and they usually rely on fat cheese to win (absurd shooting or weird combos). So I see them as a rather weird warband of pseudo-elites.

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Me personally,

I just want the skaven to destroy kill sigmar, which would lead-make much more interesting space… er I mean sigmarine-things.

and to be able to field a 31’000points army of skaven and to be able to field-play any kind of skaven list that can currently make up a legal list (which is already the case so let’s stick with 31’000points)

Edited by Skreech Verminking
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