How do you choose your army?

My recent daliance with Ex-Illis has once again raised a question which I often find troubling – especially when you are dealing with games that use armies that are points based.

How do you choose your army?

I must admit, my overriding factor in choosing an army is theme. As one of the only players I know who has a fully playable Deathwing army for 40K (as well as a Ravenwing army I can build), I know full well that themed armies can have their drawbacks, and can actuall be pretty poor on the battlefield.

This looks to be happening again in Ex-Illis. One of my great loves of Medieval games are Mounted Knights. As I’ve collected the models for Ex-Illis, my overall favourites are without doubt the Archangels, so I wanted to build armies that reflect both of these preferences.

So, I’ve looked through the factions and selected those with best fit with my required themes…

  • Broken Wing – this faction allows me to field both Evoctai and Nephalim in the same army…so a small and elite army, with some beautiful figures on the table.
  • Avignon – Angels & Knights together in this Papal Army
  • Arth Byddin – King Arthur’s personal troops, Knights of the Round Table – enough said, really.
  • English Crown – The archetypal medieval army. No magic, no monsters…

Now, the trouble I am facing is that my regular opponent is Dave Luff, who has chosen the Artois faction for his army…mainly because this allows you field all units with the exception of English Troops and Papal units with a 10% points discount. So very much an army based on maximising your units/points ratio, rather than a particular theme (IMO, anyway)

The trouble is, I’ve yet to beat him.

My wonderfully themed armies seem to be outnumbered and overpowered by Dave’s generic army – And I find it somewhat discouraging…

Why should this be? Are themed armies inherently more difficult to play, do you think? Or is it a failing in the game system which seems to allow one army to be superior to all others? Or is it simply the fact that I’m just not very good at this game?

I very much have a love/hate releationship with points systems – and the one down-side of Ex-Illis for me – at least for the moment – is that my love of building themed armies rather than generic ‘points’ armies once again comes out second best.

5 Comments on How do you choose your army?

  1. I have recently started playing Havoc! (you can get a copy on Amazon… $20 US). It may help you with your points based issues, at least partially as there is only one army list. You would think it would be a boring game, with little to no flavor but I found it quite liberating oddly enough.

    The best thing is (in my opinion) is that you can use whatever figures you already own. The rules are excellent. Very tactical. Fantasy/Skirmish game. 20 or so figs per side, depending on the point level you decide to play with. You might be able to get a more satisfying game with your figs if you used the Havoc ruleset instead.

    Just a suggestion.


  2. Honestly, if you can’t find what you want hero wise, make a good fluff. For example, my fluff (still in french, sry) makes me able to play almost anything! But if you want to beat him, i recommand broken wings, it is quite easy to play

  3. If you are like me and get pasted regularly, choose what you love.

    However, there are many games that permit both armies designed to win and armies designed to reflect the “historical” reality of the game world. Frankly, some historical armies are simply not very good. Others are only good against specific opponents. Min/maxed tourney armies will crush either.

    One option is to reverse sides and take each others armies – that should balance out any points problems and leave the results to generalship. Another would be to ask Mr. Luff to put together a themed army with his troops to hand and see if that makes a difference in your play.

  4. I use to pick theme armies now I try and pick armies that are “smash and bash” and easier to play…Sigh, OK. I try to pick the cooler looking army…


  5. I think PatG makes a good point, swapping armies is a good way to find out if you are losing due to the army choice or your own generalship.

    However getting back to the question, I love themed armies and nearly all of them have a theme running through them, that could be the armour/weapons I equip the figures with, or something as simple as a colour scheme or a basing standard.

    When it comes to systems with a points system and specific factions as you have described above, then I guess it’s a case of going for the figures you like and try and learn what the strengths are, is there a forum for the game where you can ask for advice for putting an army together to beat Daves?

    Or use the same faction as Dave and equip the army to your tastes

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