The internet isn’t exactly short on personalities who’ll tell you what the next most awesome tournament list ever is (or is going to be) and a few of those might occasionally be correct about it.

Finding a viable ‘Razorback Spam’ list or a decently worked out Grey Knights list (though it may not have many Grey Knights in it) is fairly easy. If your really lucky there might even be a brief explanation about how to use the list included in the post together with some tactical advice which is sometimes helpful. Though some aren’t…..

This is an entirely reasonable way to gain inspiration to start a new army. But what if you already have an army or have been forced by financial constraints (or just Scrooge like tightness) to cobble together an army from whatever bits you can afford/beg/borrow/steal/acquire in exchange for your soul or gain through sexual favours?

Even with your army being a random pile of crap stuff you might still like to increase your chances of winning without resorting to a complete abandonment of your existing army and this is where optimisation comes in. Now optimisation in this context isn’t the same as building an army from scratch using the best of everything available in each slot because some people don’t enjoy that aspect of the hobby at all or for the earlier mentioned reasons, just don’t have the resources to do so.

So rather than build an optimised army, why not simply optimise what you have?

Here’s an informal guide to making a ‘Battle-Force’ army into something a little more viable. As I can’t really cover every army specifically this will need to be more general than specific but certain concepts work across the board.

1) Over-investment in War-Gear.

This is something I see in armies everywhere from my local FLGS to armies used at major tournaments. Often seen on generic HQ’s which seem to have been given one of every option available until they reach the points cost of a Lysander, Eldrad or a Swarmlord though the over-equipping of unit Sergeants/Nobs/Sybarites also fits into this broad category.

Do your units need all this stuff?

The answer is quite often ‘not really’. In most armies the definition of a squad leader is ‘+1 Leadership, +1 Attack’ and that’s really all they are there for. If your planning on sending that unit into assault on a regular basis then giving him/her/it a fancy weapon to chop up the enemy is (in most circumstances) fine. If however that unit spends all it’s time sitting in a transport or hiding in cover then it probably doesn’t need a 25 point Power Fist or similar ‘just in case’.

The other issue with war-gear is it can encourage you to attempt something with a unit that it’s not really designed for. Tactical Squads aren’t really assault units and a Combat Squad is going to get whittled down by a great many enemies whether it has a Power Weapon in it or not. If a unit is designed to shoot give it guns, If it’s designed to assault then give it assault weapons. Marines can (if correctly configured) break this rule via the use of Combat Squads though if you don’t have access to that rule then a unit with a long range weapon and a short ranged one is going to be operating inefficiently 50% of the time against even a semi-skilled opponent.

So to some up…Work out what a unit actually is good at, what it’s going to be doing and give it the gear to do that job and you”ll find that across your whole army that’s saved a good few points.

2) Vehicle configurations.

Though this might be a bit late for some people…..NEVER glue on vehicle hatches, sponsons or turrets…..
If you’ve already done this but were frugal with the plastic glue then you might be able to remove these bits without destroying the vehicle in question. If you used super glue (some people do) then they’ll probably just pop off without much effort.

Magnets are your friends by the way 😉

The fact that most Marine Vehicles are based off the Rhino chassis and most Imperial Guard vehicles are either a Leman Russ or Chimera variant makes reconfiguring them to another purpose very easy. In the context of this article it also means that you can reconfigure vehicles to a more optimum configuration without having to buy new ones. In the current mechanised world of 5th edition your vehicles are an important part of your army and you’ll find that they are equally prone to the issue of over equipping. Upgrades such as ‘Extra Armour’ are a waste on many vehicles as are additional Storm Bolters, Twin-Linked Bolters and other Misc. extra’s. If you’ve got a Land Raider delivering 500 points of Character and Unit or a Dreadnought configured purely for assault then Extra Armour is great, otherwise it’s a waste of points. Dozer Blades are also of debatable use in many armies. This can be an especially dangerous trap for Eldar and Tau players as they have access to a great deal of vehicle upgrades and many of them seem really useful….You don’t need them all though 😉

So our vehicles now have the right upgrades to compliment the army and have traded in the unnecessary crap they had bolted on and our infantry units are revelling in the fact that they now have about a tonne less shit to carry around with them…..Now onto the guy who’s in charge 😉

3) HQ’s

Sometimes, less is more…..

This is a relatively cheap part of your army to reconfigure as it’s generally just the one model. Anybody who’s been in the hobby for more than five minutes should be able to throw together an an appropriate HQ for their army from their bloody bitz box…..

As with units and vehicles it’s the unnecessary bollocks that potentially pushes up the cost to ridiculous levels. Space Marine Captains are especially prone to this kind of configuration but they’re not the only victims of it.

Most armies can get way with a ‘utility’ HQ that supports the army generally with some kind of useful ability. Things such as Librarians, Rune Priests, Farseers and Meks with Kustom Force Fields all fit into this category as they provide an invaluable service to the force as a whole yet are generally quite cheap (around the 100 point mark). If you must take a more expensive choice (such as a Biker Captain to make a Biker Marine Army) then the same rule about piling him with crap he doesn’t need still stands and if your taking a unique special character then you need to be 100% sure that he’s needed in your particular armies configuration as some of those guys have a considerable price tag.

In conclusion.
Though I’m personally of the ‘build it from the ground up to be the most broken ‘have no friends ever’ configuration possible’ school of army design I understand that for some people that’s just no fun. Conversely however optimisation isn’t a dirty word, rather it’s just a tool for ‘tidying-up’ your army a little. Try it and You’ll be amazed just how many points you can save yourself.

If you want any help with configuring an army of your own then my e-mail address is in the top(ish) right hand corner of my own blog which can be found here.

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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