Poll Results: Prebuilt Armies

Our last poll concerned the idea of playing a game of 40k with armies that were built for you.   The idea here was that I wanted to balance the teams of an Apocalypse campaign that I’d host by supplying both the army lists and the models for those teams.  That way, everyone could just show up and play without worrying about list creation, model purchases, or whether their team would be up to snuff.

The results of this poll, more than any other I’ve run so far, surprised me, and you can see them below:

[poll id=”29″]

Of the four available answers, I see one as a Strongly Disagree, (“I wouldn’t be interested..”) another as a Indifferent (“I dunno…”), another as a Slightly Agree (“It could be fun…”) and the last as a Strongly Agree (“It sounds great!”).  My–perhaps naive–expectations would be that people would like this idea, so I thought I’d see a bunch of people leaning that direction.

Instead, I got almost the opposite.  A full 35% of people claimed they wouldn’t be interested in such a game at all, while only 7% thought it was a great idea.  The good news is that, f the remaining 58%, most of those were optimistic that it could be fun if it was done correctly. 

So, I s’pose it wasn’t all negative, but it does leave me wondering why things went the way they did.  Sadly, I didn’t get much in the way of comments as to why people thought it was a bad idea.  The only comments I did receive were somewhat skeptical (though optimistic) that such a game could work out–and they provided some nice alternatives to how to make it work.

Without any real opinions to go on, I’m going to throw out some possibilities of why I think so many people might be leery of playing a game with pre-built armies:

  • It is out of their comfort zone.  Some people like to play specific styles of armies (shooty, deathstar, hordes, h2h, etc.), and know that they prefer these to other styles.  Allowing someone else to make their list for them might force them to play a style they don’t like.
  • It removes a sense of self.  People can become very entwined with their armies and their lists.  Some people go so far as to play a single list for years without modifying it, so asking them to play a different unit, much less a different army, might make them a bit uncomfortable.  Furthermore, this is a multi-faceted hobby, so if the models you’re playing with are provided for you, then that means that HQ model you spent months converting/painting is sitting on a shelf in neglect…
  • Lack of familiarity.  Not everyone knows every codex (I dare say very few of us do).  So it goes without saying that to commit to playing a random army that was made for you might mean you’re playing with a list that you have no idea what it does.  This might put you at a disadvantage, and perhaps increase your chance of losing.

I can’t say for certain why people weren’t enamoured with the idea.  Perhaps it wasn’t anything as sinister as I’d suggested, and perhaps I just didn’t explain myself clearly enough?  Or maybe I did, but you had to read an entire blathering post to really get what I was asking, and many people just voted based upon the poll in the corner of the site without reading the post?

Hopefully some of you that voted will step up and justify your reasoning.  Keep in mind, I’m not asking you to defend yourselves: you have every right to choose whatever answer you did.  I’m just curious as to why you chose the options you did and whether there’s any modifications to the concept that would help the idea seem more appealing?  Perhaps (as Cole suggested), if you were just assigned a portion of a force, but you were still given a contigent of points to buy whatever you’d like to supplement them?

As always, I welcome your feedback.  And please remember to vote on the current poll to the right:  let’s find out who knows how much GW paint really costs…

Image Credit:  “I Love Lucy” image copyright by CBS Broadcasting Inc.


9 comments on “Poll Results: Prebuilt Armies

  1. well 40k is a hobby, not just a game.  If you supply the list, the models, the scenario…all were left with is the game.

    My idea was to have everyone bring a list of their own, but then random off armies to players (bearing in mind, internet people, this is between good friends not randoms so no one is gonna abuse our models).  This keeps your hobby in the game as you see your units, and your list, just not under your control.  The idea again being that you A) want to bring a balanced list in case you fight against or with it B) Learn other armies through actual play, not idle chit chat or codex skimming C) have fun

    • Oh, I’m totally a fan of that concept–but I like this idea as well. But I do think you probably hit the nail on the head there in that building someone’s army for them takes away from those other aspects of the hobby (to some degree). That does seem to be a succinct explanation.

    • I would strongly agree with 08ak1’s statement.

      Consider a couple of other points:

      1. A good Apocalypse game is not just a throw down, let’s see who shows up sort of game. The players invest time and effort to get there, get their armies together, sometimes even finish up last bits of terrain. So everyone has “skin” in the game.

      2. After all that effort for preparations, to paraphrase 08ak1, “it’s about seeing how my guys/gals play their part”. Apocalypse is all about the story and for a lot of us, that story involves a character, unit, formation, etc. playing out their part. If you take that away, then you inadvertently depersonalize a key part of the game itself.

      3. People pick the armies that they play for a reason. By giving them some other army to play, you invalidate that motivation.

      It appears that you are attempting to make access to the game easier, which should be applauded, but I think removing the other part of the hobby also removes some of the fun…at least for me. Now would I play in such an event? Yeah, probably I’d give it a shot. Would I want to get involved in a campaign with the same mechanics…that’s not as attractive to me.

      Note: Our group gets together to play Apoc about 2-3 times a year, outside of War Games Con. We usually field on the order of 15-20K per side, with something on the order of 2-4 people per side. We only allow painted armies (i.e. 3 color minimum) because it’s also about the spectacle for us. We play to a scenario (which your campaign will provide). Having seen Apoc games where people just bring all their stuff and then slam it together is Ok the first couple of times, but it really is the story behind the game that adds the spice.


  2. My guess (I’m half of the people that said I’d be strongly in favour) is that while some people see a game of 40K as being a story; a roleplaying game in a way, others see it more as a game.

    For those of us who’ve had loads of fun roleplaying (and who see gaming as a form of roleplaying), the idea of playing with a pre-built army is not just natural, but relaxing (I don’t need to bother doing anything pre-game), but liberating too.   It’s not ‘my’ army, so if I lose, it doesn’t ‘matter’.   My aim is to play the role of that army in that story.   If the role of the army is to put up a last-ditch defence and die to a man, knowing in advance what is expected frees me up to enjoy playing that role to the max.

    I also see prebuilt armies as being a balancing factor.   True, they might be horribly unbalanced by anyone’s usual definition – but they will be balanced in terms of the goal of the story.   In a normal game, if you’re ever tempted to try something weak or new, a small part of you may be saying ‘but why – it’s going to be killed before it gets the chance to do anything’.

    If you see the game more as a strategy game, then playing with someone else’s army is not just a handicap, it’s removing one of the main levers you have to influence the result of the battle (i.e. your army list design).   It’s possibly not so much about the (percieved) increased chances of losing, but the feeling that you didn’t really have the means to even fight to the best of your ability to achieve victory.

    • I wonder after reading this response if you like games like Memoir ’44? That game is packed with recreations of real life scenarios where there is an obvious imbalance to the game (since the forces weren’t balanced in the real battle)?

      • I’ve never played it, and don’t know anything about it.   Going back to the roleplaying thing though, it follows that to draw me in, I’ve got to find the character and/or the setting very interesting.   It’s not to say that nothing interesting happened in WWII, but I don’t automatically think ‘I’d love to play it’.

        Actually, the other thing about roleplaying games is that they tend to be very personal.   i.e. you know the players and the storytellers usually.   So even something that doesn’t naturally appeal, if run by people you trust (or being played by people you like), I’m much more likely to be keen, even if the subject is something that doesn’t jump out at me.

        For a prebuilt 40K game, i’m assuming that I’d be playing with friends (that’s basically the only time/way I play these days).   Some of them would run games I’d be less keen on, but others would run games I’d love to take part in.   Even those that went for things that didn’t appeal to me though (more high-fantasy, high-powered type stuff), as I’d be using their army, I would probably still enjoy it, as I wouldn’t feel I was trying to force the way I want to play (with my army) into someone else’s mold.

  3. Careful, I might just bring my Daemons and hand them to the first person I see with a Bio-Titan!  Enjoy misshaping!  Kidding.

    It’s an interesting idea, but I guess my only problem with it is that I don’t want to get stuck with an army or army build that I end up being bored with. 

    It’s a process getting people to watch rolls already, and I can’t imagine having to continually find the owner of the army to ask which unit that Wolf Priest is.  I guess it would have to be really thought out – and 3,000 points might be a bit much to start something like this.  Maybe a 2,000 point per person limit with no Titans/Heavies that way you still get to learn about a large section of the armies units and how they interact, but don’t have to bug the armies owner so much about who is who or crazy special army rules. For instance Descent of Angel’s isn’t listed in the Vanguard Vet section – it is listed in the equipment section under Jump Packs.  The only way you would know Vanguard Vets get DoA in a BA army would be if you happened to read the Jump Pack section in the Equipment area of the rulebook which states that all infantry with Jump Packs has the special rule. 

    I don’t know asses from elbows when it comes to Grey Knights, Tau, Eldar, or Guard, but I could find my way around Orks, Vanilla, Chaos, and Wolves pretty well.  How would we figure out who gets what army?  Would we base it on who wants to play what, or basic knowledge level of the army?  Handing me GK would be a grave mistake, but giving me Space Pups or Orks would be awesome.  I know basic things about them, I’m fairly familiar with the Codex itself, and I already know most of the army wide special rules (WAAAGH, and Counter Attack respectively).

    • well look at it this way, maybe if you did get GK’s you would learn them during the game and the next you play against them you would have a better understanding of what you were up against!  It’s like having fun while studying!

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