How to Build Unbound and Battle-Forged Armies in Warhammer 40K, 7th Edition
Hot off the presses, the 7th edition of Warhammer 40k brings several changes to the game. Murphy, here, and this time I'm going to write about how to start a game of 7th edition and, more specifically, how to create your army.
The 6th edition gave players more options on how to play, and what they could bring to the tabletop. The 7th edition continues this trend by codifying more options into the rules. Several months ago, I commented to a friend that the next edition of 40k would be like Apocalypse and they would just let us bring whatever we wanted. I wasn't far off! Let's get started by looking at the biggest change, by far.
What Are Unbound Armies?
Unbound armies are either your dream come true, or an utter nightmare. The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle. This single change promises to change the game forever... except it won't. Yes, despite the clamoring that you've heard across the internet, I don't think unbound armies will do much of anything to impact the 40k community.
What are unbound armies? Quite simply, if you choose to play an unbound army, you simply pick whatever units you want, following their unit options and paying the points for them, and then smash them all into one crazy army. You can have as many models from different factions (codexes) as you'd like. Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and Orks? Smash them together, it's okay; it's unbound, so there are no restrictions.
There is are no force organization slots for Unbound armies. You literally just put models on the tabletop, choosing upgrades, etc from their codex, and pay the points. If you want 10 Heldrakes to fly around the field, you can do it. Do you want six or seven Wraithknights to stomp on your enemy? You can do it.
These are terrible examples that will break the game. Armies like these are why people are freaking out. You see, these unbound armies are free to play against regular ones. You can bring your standard tactical squad space marine army, and face off against an entire command of Eldar fire dragons. It's an annoying idea that you might be bombarded by a cheesy list at any given game.
Except that I don't believe people will do this. First, there is an important, bolded line of text in the new rulebook about starting a game:
"... players must agree how they are going to select their armies, and if any restrictions apply to the number and type of models they can use."
Games Workshop wants players to have a discussion before a game starts. Obviously, in a competitive tournament setting, you will not be able to discuss and limit model options before a round begins. However, the organizer will have already had this discussion and made decisions for the tournament. They might simply say, "No unbound armies," and call it a day.
If you play a lot of pick-up games with a group of friends, have that conversation with them right now. Tell each other that you don't want to play games where the best units in a codex are spammed up to the points total. It will save you later aggravation and it will save somebody hundreds of dollars in Riptides that nobody will want to play against.
Why Is There an Unbound Option?
So why did Games Workshop create an unbound option? For two reasons, one financial and one "gaming" related. First, no longer will a customer's purchases be determined by a force organization chart. For instance, "Gee, I really like Predator Tanks, but I already have three . . . and I'll never play Apocalypse. I want to build and paint another Predator, but I'll pass because I can never use it." Now players can purchase the models that they want to build, paint, and play with and have no reason why they can't enjoy all three parts of the hobby.
Imagine new players, especially young players with no experience in collecting wargame armies, might simply select which models they are interested in. They might receive gifts from family members that don't understand Force Org limits. Heck, they might have models from several different armies as they try out new units. Now they can play with these models as they start to build their collection.
The second, "gaming" reason for unbound armies is that it can be a lot of fun. There are a lot of gamers out there that prefer narrative games or collecting armies with a strong theme. What's wrong with collecting a space marine assault company? It's not even particularly competitive. Using Orks as an example, what about a mad-max styled Buggy Army? Imagine a horde of AV10 buggies roaring around the field, backed up with Dakka Jets and Bikers. Cool. Fluffy. Unbound.
What Are Battle-Forged Armies?
Okay, that was a long rant. I don't think unbound armies will change the game much because I don't think that many people will really use it in a competitive environment. For competitive players, we have some semblance of structure called "battle-forged" armies.
For a battle-forged army, you must organize all of your models into Detachments. You may have as many Detachments as you have models and points for. Each detachment offers restrictions on what you can bring and gives you bonuses to balance those restrictions (and to balance against unbound armies). There are two types of Detachments in the 7th edition rulebook, with promises that new ones will be released in army codexes or other publications. Remember, you can mix and match these Detachments and they need not be from the same Faction.
Combined Arms Detachment
- 1 HQ
- 2 Troops
- 1 HQ
- 4 Troops
- 3 Elites
- 3 Fast Attack
- 3 Heavy Support
- 1 Fortification
- Lord of War
- All units must belong to the same Faction (or have no Faction i.e. Fortifications).
- Ideal Commander: If this Detachment contains your Warlord, you may reroll its Warlord Trait.
- Objective Secured: Troops within this Detachment always control objectives, even if enemy units are within range of the objective, unless the enemy unit ALSO has this special rule (so enemy Troops in a Combined Arms Detachment).
- 1 HQ
- 1 Troop
- 1 Troop
- 1 Elite
- 1 Fast Attack
- 1 Heavy Support
- Cannot be your Primary Detachment
- Cannot contain your Warlord
- All units must have the same Faction
- All units must be from a Faction different from your Primary Detachment
- Objective Secured - Exactly as listed in Combined Arms (above).
How Are These Detachments Different From the 6th Edition?
So the above Detachments look awfully similar to what we are used to in the 6th edition. There are two major differences, though. First, did you see the Lord of War mentioned in the Combined Arms detachment? Yep, that's right! Lords of War are now Core 40k. However, remember that bolded line of text I mentioned earlier? You and your opponent need to have a discussion before the game begins to set any limits you think are fair.
The second major change is that you may have as many Detachments as you have models and points for. They do not even have to be of the same Faction. You could have a Combined Arms Detachment of space marines, another Combined Arms Detachment of Space Marines, an Allied Detachment of Tau, and an Allied Detachment of Astra Militarum. That's a lot of HQ units on the table, but it's also a lot of Compulsory Troops, and all before any of the good stuff has been bought.
It can be min-maxed. A friend pointed out earlier that you could bring a Space Marine Librarian as an HQ, and two minimum scout squads in a Detachment. And then bring another. And then another. You could probably bring ten Librarians to a battle.
To which I replied, "Yeah, but then you'd have nothing but a bunch of 2 wound Librarians and a bunch of scouts." However, as a Chaos Daemons player, I can think of using:
What to Use as the Chaos Daemons Player
- Greater Daemon
- 2 Heralds
- 2 Troops of Daemons
With a couple of upgrades, that's about 500 points for that Detachment, meaning in a 2,000 point game, I could about fit in 4 Greater Daemons, 8 Heralds, and 8 Troop units. Would it be over the top? I don't think so . . . unless I used some of those Daemons to summon MORE Daemons.
So even the battle-forged method of making an army is open for abuse. However, I think its ability to open up more options for armies and allies is worth the risk. Once again, encourage your friends not to make cheesy lists, or go all in and challenge each other to make the cheesiest lists possible.
Another important note about army composition. All units are scoring units unless it is a Zooming Flyer, Swooping FMC, (as there is a rule saying it doesn't count as scoring) Falling Back, or an Unclaimed Building or Fortification.
In fact, even Dedicated Transports of Troops units gain the Objective Secured rule in Combined Arms and Allies Detachments because A) vehicles are scoring now, and B) Dedicated Transports count as the Battlefield Role of the unit they were bought for.
So a tac squad in a rhino actually gives you two scoring units on the battlefield. In a battle-forged army, these objectives can only be contested by other battle-forged troops. Do you think we are going to see a shift in the game towards lots of troops with transports? I think so.
Summing Up the Changes
That sums up the changes to creating a 7th edition 40k army! You can either build whatever army you want using unbound or create some restrictions for yourself, get some nice bonuses, and call yourself battle-forged.
But wait, I almost forgot! How do all these crazy combinations of units and factions actually interact on the battlefield? I can have Space Marines, Eldar, and Orks all in the same army, but do they work well together?
Of course not. The 7th Edition has a brand new Allies Matrix that shifts the game back to some normalcy. This simple shift in the allies charts will cut out a lot of the nonsense that we saw in some 6th edition tournaments. No more Tau/dar for instance. I will fully explore these changes in a future article.
In the meantime, why not take the poll below, leave a comment, and check out some of my other 40k articles. Most of my 6th edition articles are still quite valid, though I will be going through them and updating things to 7th edition when warranted. Thanks for reading. Murphy out.