Mr. Fluffy goes to Tourney Town Pt. 1

Nothing divides the 40K community quite like the prospect of Tournaments, and usually with good reason.

At the one end of the spectrum, we have the ‘WAACineers‘ – chaps who will gleefully field fluff abominations, lists optimsied within an inch of their lives to eke out every ounce of power and push the competitive envelope to its limits. At the other end, we have the seemingly benign ‘Fluff Bunnies’, religiously crafting their list to adhere rigidly to the dogma of their chosen faction and generally dismissing anything not made from a CAD as being distinctly cheesy in odour.


Fluff Bunny?
not a fluff bunny. Not even a bunny. What is it?

I actually belong to neither of these camps. Like many gamers I have met at tournaments, I try to tread the thin and precarious path between these two worlds, searching for the holy grail of the tournament experience – a Good Time. However this can sometimes be quite hard to quantify. For most a good time is an exciting game with someone who is pleasant company, with the result being of little or no importance. To others, it is not being ROFLstomped by a chap with poor hygiene and social skills to match. Very few people go into tournaments thinking they are gods gift to gaming and expect to win handsomely.



Not the good time I’m looking for. Unless Jenny has some Orks back at her place?

And lets face it – you are probably not going to win. There are X number of other people in this tournament, and unless X = 1, then the numerical odds of winning are not in your favour. But you know what? That really shouldn’t matter. You shouldn’t really be heading to tourneys with both eyes firmly on the cup/bowl/rosette, willing to crush everybody and their grandmother en route to gaming immortality. No, it will be bad for your health. Honestly.

Instead, you should be looking forward to meeting new people, making new friends and having a lot of enjoyable games in a short period of time. Lord knows many of us struggle to find the time for a regular game, and tournaments should act as salve to ones spiritual gaming nourishment, and not serve to diminish your love of the game.


another dawson meme

Yeah, why?

So, with all this in mind I wanted to explore the notion of Fluffy Lists that will allow for both maximum fluff and gaming enjoyment, where you can leave the tournament feeling good about the list you bought and not leaving feeling like the victim of a mugging.

Mugged. Ha ha, get it?

not the kind of ‘mugged’ I meant

The criteria for my list builds will be pretty simple, and try to adhere to some straight forward rules.

1. No Allies – single factions only (and yes, that includes the power armour jerks. No more chapter house parties for them)
2. No Deathstars – now that’s not to say no strong units, just no multiple ICs attached to already great units who also happen to be invisible and can travel 48″ a turn and still assault at the end of it.
3. No LoW or Flyer formations. Now I have nothing against Knights or Flyers per se, as they can be very fluffy and enjoyable in their own right, but at 1850 pts we are still somewhere between Skirmish level and Apocalypse, and as such a LoW or multiple fliers (especially with the recent ‘Death from the Skies’ supplement) can really unbalance a game and make it deeply unenjoyable for the person who didn’t bring any melta or skyfire.
4. No D. D is just silly and belongs in Apocalypse.
5. No Spam. Well, no spamming of strong units anyway, as some army’s actually need spam to be fluffy
6. No Formation abuse. This doesn’t mean no formations, because outside of a handful of crazy ones most formations are actually very fluffy and only give a small advantage in their rules. There will be no Hunter Cadre + buffmander ‘everyone gets tank hunter and ignores cover and twin linked’ shenanigans here.

And with the rules of engagement set, let’s get straight into the first list!

LIST 1: Dark Angels


+1 to my armour save for all these robes, right?

Urgh, yes its power armour jerks I’m afraid, but as they make up a large portion of the possible factions I’m going to have to deal with them sooner or later. Up until the latest edition, Dark Angels were also anathema to most tournaments on account of being generally rubbish. Times have certainly changed.

On a personal note, I am also thinking of taking this or a slight variation to the next big tournament here in Hong Kong, and would love to know what you think before fully committing to the mighty paint job at hand to get it there.

‘The Feared’ 4th Company
1850pts Lions Bane Detachment

Battle Demi Company Alpha
– Company Master ‘Korahael’, Artificer Armour, Power Axe, Melta Bomb
– Tactical Squad (10), Plasma gun
– Tactical Squad (10), Plasma gun
– Tactical Squad (10), Plasma gun
– Assault Squad (5), Flamers x 2
– Devastator Squad (5), Plasma Cannon x4
– Dreadnought (1), Multimelta, Power fist & Heavy Flamer

Battle Demi Company Beta
– Chaplain ‘Azmador’
– Tactical Squad (10), Plasma gun
– Tactical Squad (10), Plasma gun
– Tactical Squad (10), Plasma gun
– Assault Squad (5), Flamers x 2
– Devastator Squad (5), Plasma Cannon x4
– Dreadnought (1), Multimelta, Power fist & Heavy Flamer

10th Company Support
– Scouts (5), sniper rifles

So Multiple Small Units (MSU) is the strategy here, and you are really hoping that 21 units will be too much for your opponent to chew through quick enough to stop you bagging points or stubbornly holding onto objectives with your ObSec hordes. Shooting overwatch at full BS will also make punchy/choppy factions think twice about combat, but will have Tau, Eldar and most other power armour jerks sniggering behind their gun barrels. Stubborn all round is also nice.

In terms of game play, I guess the Chaplain and Company Master would join the Assault squads and generally stay out of trouble or bully weaker enemy units holding objectives. Devastators would sit back and hold objectives while trying not to fail ‘gets hot’ rolls, while Tacticals would combat squad and go forth to make trouble / score points / generally be a pain in the bum.

I think it’s pretty fluffy to take a whole space marine company to war, and it will look awesome all painted up with the correct heraldry, etc. I also think it is very fluffy for Dark Angels to go all plasma and ignore the temptation of more optimal grav/melta weapons. Sure it might will have half of your guys frying themselves before the end of the game, but they are Dark Angels – they love the plasma!

It could be even fluffier if the Dreads were dropped and the Assault squads and Devastator squads maxed out to 10 men, but I think the Dreads will add a bit of variety for both you and your opponent.

As it is, not that cheesy. ObSec across the board is strong, while full BS overmatch is situational at best (pity the poor Ork or Nid player and maybe just ‘forget’ to apply this rule during the game. They have enough to deal with already).

However, the keen eyed amongst you will have seen that this formation also qualifies for the ‘free dedicated transports’ goodness cheesiness rule that would push the cheese rating from mild cheddar to a medium range Brie. Twelve (yes, twelve!!!) free transports are up for grabs here, all of which would be ObSec. It makes your head spin to think about it, but is not as over powered as it might sound. For one thing, we are only talking rhinos and drop pods here. They are not the hardest units in the 40k world to pop open, and your opponent may well enjoy the ‘shooting gallery’ of soft metal bawkses, especially if Kill Points are the objective of the day.

So, to cheese it or not to cheese it? For me the solution to this cheesy conundrum is – like most things in life – to do it in moderation. There is no need to take all twelve, so maybe you just take enough to improve your chances a little. Maybe give the Dreads drop pod to get them in the fight, a rhino to the assault squads for mobility sans jetpacks, while you devastators take a razor back to help them reposition if needed?

So that’s it, the first Fluffy list of (hopefully) many to come – what do you think chaps and chapettes? Under baked or over ripe?



My pathetic progress so far. Only 35 more troops and (possibly) 14 vehicles to go…

  • We certainly share the same view with tournaments. As much as I love creating fluffy lists, when it comes to a tournament I do try and step it up a bit so that I’m at least playing, and not just removing my models from the table. It’s not the easiest line to walk.

    I think you have a very solid and rounded list. I would have no complaints facing that. The free transports, or free anything, that some formations get really bothers me. I like that you’re trying to minimize that when so many would just go all-in.

    • I brought, not a fluffy list, but a janky one to a charity tournament a few weeks back. I lost badly. But a) competition was fierce and b) People dropped A LOT of cash on cheats. Much more than I. So, whatever, it was for charity and the list I played was smaller and easier to manage since I don’t actually game much anymore. But I think in general stepping up game for a tournament should factor in some. (I actually usually play another list in tournaments, just wanted something more manageable.)

      • Agreed. At the end of day, if you had fun then it’s all good.

      • iapedus

        Wait, what? Are you saying people buy ‘cheats’ for the games they will play, as a way of raising money for charity? Ingenious and infuriating in equal measure! Janky lists can be cool, especially if part of a janky themed background story and paint job :D

        • We’ve done that where I play too. It always makes things interesting.

          • iapedus

            I’ve never heard of that before – what kind of advantages are people buying? And for how much?

            • The one I made it to where we did this, you would buy re-rolls. Some go further and let you buy stat upgrades, special rules, etc.

        • Teje

          What is a janky list guys?

          • “Janky” usually means bizarre, strange or funny. Not that they’re cheating, but perhaps unsportsmanlike.

            • Teje

              cool, I get it now.

    • iapedus

      I think a lot of people share our view about tournaments, certainly the majority of those who I have met at tournaments anyway. Pure fluffy lists alone will not cut it at most events, as no one wants all their games to end in a turn two tabling. I would agree that a degree of stepping up is always required if you are going to enjoy it, and just how far you go in stepping it up will be down to your competitive appetite as much as your self restraint in building the list.

      Glad you like the list – free stuff is always a bit of a slap in your opponents face, but when it is free units (and ObSec no less) then it can be pretty galling. Luckily a total lack of suitable vehicles prevent me from taking the freebies, even if I was tempted to do so :)

  • Your list pretty much sums up what GW is trying to do right now – encouraging people to create armies that relies heavily on their background. Nothing is more iconic to 40k than a full battle company of Space Marines. These formations allow you to bring that and still pack a punch. Brilliant.

    I would have preferred more special rules and perks like that over free stuff or free upgrades. It just don’t feel right to get to bring more points than the limit you agreed upon.

    • I agree. The detachments and formations have done an amazing job delivering fluffy lists that are playable, and competitive, to the table. Overall, I would call it a huge success. The freebies just irk me, as you said, because they give you a larger list than was agreed upon. I’m cool with free stuff that can occur within the game (summing for example), because often there’s a counter, and it’s not a given. Yet, a formation that just hands out hundreds of points of free stuff with no downside, and no counter? That’s just lame.

      • iapedus

        Yep I would totally agree, on the whole formations have been good for the game. Its just a few bad apples that have spoiled it for the rest (looking at you Decurion and War Convocation!) as well as the abusive nature of hyper competitive lists when it comes to maximizing the combo effect in the face of any fluff convention…

        • Always the case with anything really. Take Unbound. It’s not inherently bad or flawed, but in the hands of some, it can be one of the most abusive things ever devised in 40K. The game itself often lends itself to abuse, but then giving easily abusive formations too, ug.

          • People who wanted to bring lists in order to “break” the game did so before formations, allies and all of this. The problem isn’t the rules really but the mindset. Allies and formations just make it easier to achieving the goal (and maybe making the lists even more powerful). I don’t really see anyway to stop this in a highly competitive environment. Unless you force comp or other restrictions upon the players.

            List making is a decisive part of the game itself and some people are better at building good lists than other people. It is just as much a skill as movement and target priority is. Tournaments, generally speaking, encourage you to bring tougher lists than you would to a casual or narrative beer and pretzels game.

            • True, and it’s the ease in which things can be taken overboard that’s problematic. GW has stepped up a lot the past few years, however, they still wear blinders when it comes to competitive gaming. The way they see their game, and the way the players do, don’t always line up. GW will see something as fun and fluffy, overlooking the potential for abuse.

            • iapedus

              Mindset is the key, and easily the most perplexing aspect of competitive play that I don’t really understand. Pouring hours of research and rule bending into constructing a super optimised list that will ruin the day of any poor fellow it comes across on game day, and all in the name of proving you are ‘best toy soldier player in the room’? I just don’t get it, and probably never will.

              • I know someone who is a bit like that. I say a bit because he’s not trying to break rules, but he will bring some of the nastiest lists you’ve seen. Nice guy, plays by the rules, but super tough lists. His thing is that he feels things like fluffy, and cheesy, are subjective terms. He’s also very competitive, and he feels that people owe it to him to play just as hard as he is. He wants people on his playing level. While I may not agree with it, I can understand a bit where he’s coming from.

      • I’ve noticed that what actually bugs people is not “Free Points” as such, but “free Models”. I’ve never seen the Free Points thing brought up in the context of, say, Salamanders getting as much as a couple hundred Points worth of free Master-Crafted upgrades.

        I would also argue the “no downside” part of the Battle Company. How often do you see people take that many Tactical and Devastator Squads (and for Dark Angels, Assault Squads) outside of a Battle Company? You have to take a lot of sub-optimal Units to put together a Battle Company.

        The real issue, I think, is less the free Transports, and more the fact that the Demi-Company gives them all Objective Secured. I don’t see nearly the same level of success with other Formations that can provide just as much free stuff (IronWolves, the Blood Angels Veteran Formation). The only other one that comes close is the War Convocation, and even that doesn’t see the success of Battle Companies, again, because there are some pretty heavy Tax Units.

        • You’re right, it’s the free models when you boil it all down, and combined with objective secured everything.

        • iapedus

          That fact that it grants ObSec is definitely the strongest part of the Battle-Demi company formation, and I think GW understand how powerful it is as there are very few other formations out there that grant it. Usually its the trade you willingly make for a different set of advantageous rules, and allowing Space Marins to have their cake and eat it just lends further weight to the argument that they are the most favoured of all GWs children :)

  • I started going to tournaments mostly because I had a limited number of days that I could get Games in, and so why not get three in on one of those days? The more I’ve played in them, the more I’ve found myself enjoying them, even tho I don’t have the Armies or the practice time to really be a top competitor. But I can hold my own, and it’s cool that I’m really starting to get to know a bunch of the folks who I see at various events in the area.

    And I have to say, I really can’t remember the last time I ran into someone who was WAAC enough to make the Game not fun, tho I did deliver an unfortunate stomping a year or two ago to a fluffy Nid player who really didn’t have enough stuff to roll at 1850, and was on his 2nd Game of 7th Ed. It was still cool chatting with him, and I apologized profusely, but he just wasn’t in anything like the same league as basically anyone else there.

    • iapedus

      That’s cool, sounds like you have what I would consider the right approach to tournaments – just enjoy yourself and try not to get stomped or stomp anyone else while your at it (and if you do, be cool about it and have a chat about it afterwards). I feel that guys pain though – my first games of 40K after a 20 year break were in a tournament, where I got tabled by Spawn + Maulerfiend spam and Thunderwolf spam, before picking up a close win over a Space Wolves list as poor as my own Iron Hands. Neither of the stompers were particularly interested in talking about the game afterwards, but my last opponent and I chatted afterwards about our equally poor showing in the tourney and ended up having a much better memory of the event for it.

  • A very interesting idea for sure. Hope you continue to detail your progress and the tournie itself.

    • iapedus

      Will do!

  • ming2005

    Well, I’d characterize the list above as merely basic and not “fluffy”. I think of fluffy as “in character”, so you have the plasma right, but, in true fluff style, you would have to include those Dark Angel units dedicated to searching out the Fallen and are unique to that purpose. I’d rather see the dreads and scouts go away in favor of Knights on Bikes or the other core units that make the Dark Angels totally different from other Space Marine factions. On the fluffy meter I only give your 4 points out of 10…

    • iapedus

      Ha ha, thank you for stepping up and representing the one end of the spectrum!

      I agree that the fluffiness of a list is in its ‘character’, but this was never intended to be an ‘Inner Circle’ style list all about rooting out and hunting down the fallen. That list would be completely different (one that I planned for later in the series) and would very much be built around Raven Wing & Death Wing working together. By your own standards, Including a unit of knights on bikes as a token gesture towards the fluff doesn’t really cut it either.

      This list is about the second company going to war, and not every Dark Angels deployment is about hunting down the fallen. Considering almost all the rank and file DA have no knowledge of the fallen I don’t think a battle company alone would play much part in the hunt on a regular basis.

      Having said that, as a battle company this could certainly have been fluffier – I would have loved to put a command squad with banner in there, but the points limit is a thing and you just cant fit everything in. As I said at the outset, this isn’t about creating zealously rigid representations of the fluff, its about trying to find a happy medium.

%d bloggers like this: