Army jumpers and bandwagoneers – bad for the game?
So, we’ve all seen them. The Grey Knight codex came out and suddenly a ton of people play Grey Knights. Necrons the same. Now as 6th has come out with allies and the release of Chaos Space Marines and DA looms, I am sure it will happen again. Some people play these armies, have for a long time, or have expressed interest in the army prior to this. They purchase models and paint them, and have fun playing them regardless of the result of the army.
THEN, there are those that are army jumpers. I also call them bandwagoneers. You know the type. You grimace as your army that is chugging along, week by week becoming ever more painted, models meticulously converted, highlighted, detailed, and based and you play against…well, grey plastic. They surf the web and forums, find great combos, and rock those combos until something better comes out. HOWEVER! This DOES sell lots of models as whenever ANYONE starts a new army they buy a codex and a bunch of models. So that MUST be good for the game, right?
I say no…it’s not.
Few reasons. First, no one likes playing against an army that is not painted (and sometimes not even assembled). Most don’t mind when it is partially painted, especially if that person is making progress. I feel bad playing models that aren’t painted, but my lists wouldn’t be able to change very quickly if I stuck to painted models only and as I have painting ADD I paint here, there, then back here again. But to have grey models. Models without arms? Vehicles with tracks not glued on, or bases not even flocked? People can make a LOT of progress through painting an hour a week, or 10-15 minutes a day. Watching TV by yourself? Paint while your at it (my preferred time to paint personally).
Another reason is abuse. Grey knights come out, and suddenly everyone hated grey knights. For the old grey knight players (like myself) who got pounded again and again with the old codex to finally get a new codex that everyone hates because of straight up cheese ruins the new book. It did for me at least. But it is not inherently cheesy. If you run a GK list with common characters (grand masters, champions, inquistors, librarians), have a blend of units (not 6 psyflemen dreads), and use units that will invariably add to the strategic value of the army (interceptors and cullexus assassin for example) but are not commonly seen. But no. Everyone runs Draigo. You see lots of vindicare assassins, techmarines with all grenades, and stormravens (with Draigo win inside…). Thus, these armies become less fun to play against. I suspect it was part of the reason why ‘ard boyz was gotten rid of. Plastic v plastic armies with cheesy spammed lists…yeah, not the goal of GW for the feel of the game.
But army jumpers lead to exploitation. They don’t cause it, just cause it faster. The influx into any new army of people seeking a way to exploit every possible advantage out of an army will simply lead to rapid dissection of the codex, throwing away the fluff (because Draigo apparently appears in EVERY grey knight army, or damn near…even in small skirmishes), throwing away the pages with non-competitive units, and ending up with a 12 pages packet of rules. But how does this REALLY hurt the community.
Because GW knee jerks. Take lash for example. While I didn’t experience it, apparently lash/oblit was the cheese combo of choice. But GW changed psyker rules, and continue to do so, favoring anti-lash. Do they have something against CSM? Of course not, it’s a product, but if the CSM armies exploit these powers to be devastating it can a) make people just dislike playing as the lists have become so common or b) make more people just use CSM resulting in lower product diversity (which with anything, diversity is critical to maintain high levels of production that way if CSM become not so great they don’t lose a lot of customers). But ultimately, those who play CSM in a manner that is not exploitative (and are known not to play in this manner) suffer regardless and it generally, for lack of better words, sucks.
Luckily, GW has seen this army jumping and has now added allies. How does this help? It allows army jumpers to pull in other units. This might mean that, with allies, seeing the same 2 lists is much less likely and if anything army jumpers will keep an army long enough to at least get it primed. With allies there exists endless possibilities. It also encourages people to learn the fluff behind alliances as well. GW has implemented allies in a manner that suggests that they will not be exploited.
But it will be. Quickly, the internet community will rip apart the 6th ed. rule book, finding every last wording error or oversight and dig their claws in for a quick win. They will pair up units that create the greatest synergy and suddenly we will see grey and metal versions across the table from us until GW reacts and FAQs the combination away or changes interaction to force them to run the unit differently. So will allies fix the problem? No, of course not. It is the nature of the game. The game draws some who consider themselves alpha personalities in a game that is…well, a game. GW does not offer cash for tournaments as it would attract more of these exploitative WAAC players which ruins the fun for the rest of the community and ultimately reduces variety and diversity (because there are certainly “top-tier” or better codices out there).
Well, that’s my two cents, thanks for reading,