Home Forums Sci Fi General Sci-Fi How Big Are Warhammer 40K Armies?

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  • #73384
    irishserb
    Participant

    I don’t know if there are many 40K gamers here, but figured I’d ask about this just in case.

    Over the weekend, I had opportunity to stop at several hobby/gaming shops, some of which had painted 40K armies on display.  Most of these painted armies  were simply outstanding; positively beautiful work.  The one thing that surprised me about most of them was the size of the armies.  Particularly given the range of figure and unit types available within the game system, they struck me as being very small.  Many had less than thirty figures/monsters/vehicles.  Is that typical?   I would have expected  the armies to be larger on average, and a few where, but the vast majority had a couple of units of troops, and a few other single figures, vehicle, machines.  What is the typical size of a Warhammer 40K (or 30K) army?

    Just curious.

    Thanks,

    irishserb

    #73397
    craig cartmell
    Participant

    It is more a case of how expensive are they?

    Old grognards like myself often have hundreds of W40K figures and dozens of vehicles going back to the eighties.

    But if you are a newbie, the entry cost is staggering. A 1,500 point army will cost you hundreds of pounds…

    Cheers,
    Craig

    The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare

    #73400
    Mike
    Keymaster

    40k is a skirmish game though is it not?
    30 infantry and a few vehicles seems about right?

    #73404
    irishserb
    Participant

    I had a brief involvement in 40K around 1989-90, but haven’t had opportunity to play it since.  I always thought of it as “skirmish style”, with individually mounted and managed figures, but not really skirmish in scope.  The guys in the group that I briefly gamed with back then had many dozens to a couple hundred figs each, and I guess that sort of stuck with my perception of the game.

    I recently started reading some of the Horus Heresy books and briefly toyed with trying to get back into it, since I would have endless opportunity to game at the local shop, but I priced out what appealed to me, and just can’t afford it.  I quickly came to realize what Craig mentions about price above.  Anyway, like I said, I was just curious as to typical army sizes.

    @ Craig, do you still use a lot of your older stuff, or does it get replaced by newer figs?  I have a bunch of old IG that I recycled as a post-apoc/sci-fi company, maybe 120 figs, but like I said, don’t play 40K with them.  Love those older figs though.

    #73411
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Judging by some quick research I did just now, a normal-sized tournament army for 7th-8th edition of 40K (8th being only a few months old) is 1500-2000 points, with 1850 a common points value for some reason. That’s intended to be a suitable size range for a three hour game on a 4′ x 6′ table. So, do some image searches for 1500, 1850 and 2000 point 40K armies, and that should give you a good answer to your question.

    The tournament standard is probably the best benchmark you have to go by. It seems to me that most GW gamers nowadays apply tournament rules for army construction even for pick-up games and other non-tournament situations – the point being to make the pre-game “information handshaking” as quick and effortless as possible. IMO, that’s one of the few strengths that the GW games still have going for them (but I personally don’t much care anymore as I’m entirely a “collect both sides” type of gamer-hobbyist these days).

    Incidentally, the lower limit for a viable battle is supposed to be around 1000 points (which apparently is small enough that you’re supposed to be able to make do with a 4′ x 4′ table), so you might want to search for that as well.

    I was into 40K (as a game and not just a setting) in the 3rd edition days and it seems to me that armies have become somewhat bigger since then, but often with more gigantic vehicles, mechs and monsters, and fewer grunts in return.

    The one thing that surprised me about most of them was the size of the armies. Particularly given the range of figure and unit types available within the game system, they struck me as being very small. Many had less than thirty figures/monsters/vehicles. Is that typical?

    From my experiences of GW stores and independent stores with a GW focus, the armies on display are often the small starter forces from the “introductory” boxed sets. Maybe that’s the kind of armies you were seeing? For instance, the Dark Imperium boxed set seems to contain a 22-figure Space Marine force and a Death Guard force of 30 figures and one smallish vehicle. One is expected to expand the armies from there with further purchases.

    I recently started reading some of the Horus Heresy books and briefly toyed with trying to get back into it

    I’m in a somewhat, but not entirely, similar place. I gave up on 40K after a period of devotion during 3rd edition, but my interest in the setting is returning with a vengeance. I’m not interested in playing official 40K anymore (nor 30K, which I know next-to-nothing about other than what I can remember about the old fluff for the Horus Heresy), but I do want to wargame in that setting again using whatever alternative rules and figures work best for me. I might want to game adventure/skirmish scope encounters in 28mm using at least some official GW figures (mainly because proxy Eldar are hard to come by), small massed battles (what “proper” 40K gamers do in 28mm) in 15mm using the Vanguard and/or Onslaught proxy figures if those ranges keep expanding, and Epic-scope or even larger battles in 3mm using the upcoming Vanguard range.

    40k is a skirmish game though is it not?

    I don’t fully agree. On some days you might catch me referring to 40K a “large skirmish” game depending on the context, but given the kind of hulking monstrosities most armies seem to include nowadays, not to mention the aircraft, I don’t really think that “skirmish” describes it well. Even in the old days (as I knew them, well past the Rogue Trader era) when a typical army might well contain numerous robust tanks, the term didn’t really fit. Granted, I do regularly refer to Beyond the Gates of Antares as “large skirmish”, and it’s almost the same size of scope as 40K, but still, it’s at least a bit smaller.

    #73439
    Cameronian
    Participant

    As the whole thing is based on points and everything costs points, it’s not difficult to build up 500 to 1000 points worth and not have a huge number of miniatures on the table. If you don’t intend to play the actual game in competition or otherwise then using the figures under different rules is likely the best way to go.

    I put together four 40K armies made up from old 2nd and 3rd edition figures and organized them for ‘Hordes of The Things’ (HOTT), each ended up well over the 24 point limit in the rules.  Cost wise it was way cheaper than 28mm historical. It played OK but lost the character of the models, e.g. a Tyranid Carnifex is an awesome beast in the 40K rules but far from that as a behemoth in HOTT.  So I’m currently adapting simplified 40K 3rd edition rules to play on hexes.

    http://justhott.blogspot.co.uk/

    'The time has come" The walrus said. "To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--Of cabbages--and kings--And why the sea is boiling hot--And whether pigs have wings."

    #73485
    craig cartmell
    Participant

    Of course if you want to play W40K as a skirmish game you could play In the Emperor’s Name, which is free 🙂

    Cheers,
    Craig

    The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare

    #73489
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Does it not have stats for individual models anymore?

    #73526
    irishserb
    Participant

    Yes, it has individual stats.  And I noticed tonight at the local shop, that the basic starter box  only gives you about 15 figs per side, which seems like around half what the last (or maybe it was two generations back) gave you.  So maybe the force size is more conventionally scaled to skirmish these days.

    On an aside, I don’t think individual stats necessarily dictates small or “skirmish” scope, but that probably deserves its own discussion.

    #73527
    Stroezie
    Participant

    If you want to play 40K skirmish (ie. a small unit of 10 to 20 guys) check out Shadow Wars Armageddon it’s basically Necromunda but with the regular troops instead of gangers.

    If you like small scale skirmish, check out http://planetares6.blogspot.be/?m=0

    #73533

    Vanguard Miniatures does a very nice “not WH40k” line in 28, 15, 6, and now 3mm.

    I am almost tempted to buy 30 bucks worth of 3mm figures, reduce measurements from inches to 5mm, and make a huge coffee table WH40k game, just to tweak my nose at GW. 🙂

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #73539
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    And I noticed tonight at the local shop, that the basic starter box only gives you about 15 figs per side,

    Are you referring to the Know No Fear starter set? I wouldn’t really say that the contents of that box qualify as two “armies” by regular 40K standards (at least, not to the best of my understanding of said standards in 8th edition). The whole set is little more than an appetizer. There’s even another (i.e. a third) official starter set called First Strike with only 6-9 figures per side, so Know No Fear should be viewed in the light of that fact. Essentially, Know No Fear and First Strike are both pared-down versions of Dark Imperium, which is the “proper” Starter Box for 8th edition, the one that corresponds to the starter boxes of previous editions going all the way back to 2nd edition. Dark Imperium has 22-31 miniatures per side, and those are still small armies that probably won’t buy you a ticket to a typical pick-up game unless for some reason you’re going to a venue where exceptionally low point values are the norm.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Rhoderic.
    #73540
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    We play around 25-40 Power Level, which for space marines tends to be a couple squads, a character or two and a dreadnought. It works really well at that size.

    About the same size as a 2nd edition army actually 🙂

    I’m not sure about tournament sizes, I’m too old for that scene.

    If you want to playin a club, you gotta ask the people there, if you’re on the kitchen table, do whatever works for you.
    I think 40K in general has always worked better at slightly lower points totals.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

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