Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Counts-As: is it Good or Evil?

With the national tournament season in full swing, and the Feast of Blades Qualifiers behind us I'm left with one sour note in my otherwise bittersweet song of an experience. No, I'm not sour that I didn't get an invite to the November Invitational and I'm not regretting the army I brought. Out of a long day at Black Knight Games in Littleton, CO, the only thing that has been eating away at the back of my mind is the thought of how people over use Count-As models in their army. Is Counts-As overused in our community?

Since our wonderful 40K community finds it necessary to fill our thoughts with a specific jargin and lingo, lets define what a Counts-As model is. Before I lay my thoughts out on this digital paper, I thought it necessary for everyone to be on the same page in terms of understanding. A count-as model is one that is meant to represent a model that the current Games-Workshop product line does not offer. Typically this is done to represent a unique Independent Character from any given codex or the like.

Recently at the Feast of Blades tournament at Black Knight Games in Littleton, CO there was a player who had a footslogging Grey Knights army which consisted of a total of ONE model from the Grey Knights range. This is not meant to tear away the accomplishment or the way he played, I am very happy to have met this gentleman and watch him take it to us all without hesitation. But, the thought still comes to mind of how over used counts-as models are these days. I mean come on, this Grey Knights army was completely made up of EPIC 40K titans that counted as Strike Squads and Psyfleman Dreadnoughts.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for that one badass conversion to lead your army or that one highly converted Dreadknight which has been taken over by the demon gods which you use for a Demon Prince. But at what does someone take it over the top? Some may say a Bleached Bone clad Lysander counts-as Belial is too much and others may say that Chaos Space Marine army counts-as Space Wolves is blasphomy.

Personally, I think each army could use a unique centerpiece. Whether it be a highly customized Land Raider to take your death dealing Terminators to their gory retribution or that one off chapter master that no one has ever seen before which was comprised of bits from 12 different kits and manufacturers. But from my experience, granted it is limited, too many people take the counts-as concept too far. Two examples come to mind of counts-as being taken too far. First was a "Space Wolves" army that consisted by of nothing but Chaos Space Marines, I mean come on in what universe would the emperor allow that. Next, is the "Grey Knight" army from the feast of blades that consisted of approximately 10% Warhammer 40K models, that one really takes the cake.

This leads me to my final point, how do these injustices affect your gaming experience. I think most of my Forgotten Chapter brothers will agree that having one or two count-as showpieces is almost necessary in our friendly games. But what about the tournament scene? I think the concept of counts-as degrades a tournament when it comes to not only playing but scoring. When most of us attend a tournament we have more than just winning on our minds. Nervous jitters, tactics, your army's rules, general rules, and other codex rules should be whats on your mind. Players should not have to memorize what each of your counts-as model represent in your army list. Not to mention that a lot of tournaments are basing part of their painting scores on how much your army is converted. Where in the Codex Astartes does it say that a marine has to be mutated to get brownie points on the battle field.

What is everyone else's thoughts on this?


  1. I think it detracts from the gaming experience significantly when you battle with an opponent using the incorrect models or representations that are clearly models from another codex.

    It shouldn't matter as far as tactics and game mechanics are concerned but if you are happy with that, stick the Vassal and leave it to the people who take time to create an army to the standards shown in their codex.

    I think only in the case of something like an Ad-Mech army can you really get away with something like what you have shown in the picture there. I would be happy to play against a force like that and have an opponent tell me they were representing guard or marines or whatever as long as the army theme was consistent.

    It shows a high level of craftsmanship to pull something like that off well and I have no problems with counts as when there is no codex offered but they are such an active part of the fluff as Ad-Mech are.

    I think playing your chaos as wolves or playing any other vanilla chapter as wolves or BA is a bitch move. Man up and have some pride in your ability to play your codex.

    The grey knight army sounds ridiculous as well, considering the quality of the offerings available from the factory and the poseability of the plastic kits.

    I guess I am pretty old school when it comes to this, my World Eaters are Khorne Berserkers from the C:CSM and my Red Scorpions are Vanilla C:SM, I wouldn't run them any other way.

    Good topic, I hope they rule it out for the 6th edition because it seems it has gotten out of hand a bit.


  2. yes Red, let's rule out creativity for 6th edition... seriously, great plan :P i am sorry for the sarcasm, but i find that attitude to be somewhat bigoted.

    this is a hobby, and it is one which can be approached in as many different ways as theere are people who participate in it. anyone should be able to build and play whatever army they like, using whatever rules they like. if you don't like the army they have, or the rules they are using you don't have to play them.

    you could also be constructive. if you find their army confusing, say so, and maybe suggest ways they can improve that aspect while sticking to their theme. if they are playing chaos marines counting as space wolves, ask them why. perhaps they have written a 5000 word fluff background and their theme perfectly fits the space wolf rules, or perhaps they simply cant stand using the outdated and banal rules in the chaos codex. either way, it is their choice, and you should respect that.

  3. It is all a matter of opinion but in my opinion if someone was to come up with chaos wolves I'd be fairly annoyed they didn't even put the effort in.

    The only way it would make sense is if they took the time to convert all of them to at least slightly resemble what they are playing. If they can't be bothered to make the effort then buy the models.

    As you say Atreides this is a hobby in which case you should use what follows that hobby. You can be creative but make it make sense.

    In a friendly game do as you as it's just a bit of fun but when there's something on the line it's really unfair for them to make you remember what all the count-as miniatures are when trying to focus on tactics and such like.

  4. I am a big counts-as fan. I'd much rather see a variety of models, even if it's just a bunch of different "Space Wolves" instead of a sea of light blue sameness. If blue Space Wolves are considered fair, green or red Space Wolves should be fair as well.

    I think you should mix the background, models, paint, and rules you like as desired to a reasonable degree. As long as it's clear what everything is, why should I be upset at what the other hobbyist did?

    Is it really that confusing if you run into:

    -An army of Ultramarine-painted Terminators and Land Raiders and the player says they're using Codex: Dark Angels?

    -An army painted as Raven Guard full of Assault Squads and Baal Predators and the player says they're using Codex: Blood Angels?

    -An army using CSM models and the Space Wolf rules, where the power armored guys with bolters are Grey Hunters, the terminators are Wolf Guard Terminators, the guys with missile launchers are Long Fangs, the Rhinos are Rhinos and so on?

    -An army using Thousand Sons CSM models and the Necrons codex, with TS as Warriors, disc riders as Destroyers, and Silver Towers of Tzeentch as Monoliths?

    If I can take their army list and look over their army and tell what everything is, I think it's a good counts-as army. If it's a bunch of too-similar things that I can't tell apart, it's a bad counts-as army.

  5. I agree that Red, Green, and Brown painted Space Wolves are ok since they are obviously going to be modeled correctly where the long fangs have missile launchers and scouts are scouts.

    Where I take issue is when codex/species cross over to another codex/species. If someone takes a squad of Genestealers and calls them Space Marines, how is that obviously not right?

    Now Space Marines are a totally different story, I have no problems with someone running blue Blood Angels or red Black Templar. The reason is because no matter what you are using Space Marine models for a Space Marine codex. That is where the hobby comes in, you should be able to paint your models in whatever color you desire. It's called creativity.

    When I play Tyranids, I want to play Tyranids not count-as Tyranids.