Tuesday, September 26, 2017

40K - The Importance of Fluff

The last few months have reinforced to me just how important "fluff" is for my wargaming.

What is "fluff"? Effectively, it is the backstory to the game you are playing. It is the reason your army gets up in the morning and goes to battle. While it has no impact once you start playing the game, for me at least it influence everything up to there.

This is some Grade A Fluff 


While I started in Historicals, much of my wargaming has been in the science fiction and fantasy genres. I played 40k exclusively for 5 or so years until the release of the Thorpe Betrayal. At that time I jumped across to Fantasy and played WHFB until GW blew up the world in 2015. After that I played Kings of War until mid this year when "new" 40k dropped.

And this has been as much a "fluff" journey as a gaming journey. I initially walked away from playing 40k because GW wound back the backstory for a lot of armies to a generic "one size fits all". This was most evident in Chaos (where the Legions disappeared to be replaced by Renegades) but also occurred for Eldar (no Craftworlds) and Orks (no Clans). Yes you could make armies but they were watered down versions of what we had had and weren't supported by the rules (specialisation in list construction and diversity based on established fluff).

For the next 8 years I played WHFB and developed a swathe of armies supported by the rich backstory. In particular, the Skaven captured my imagination and Seerlord Morskitta hit the battlefield. I loved the background and really enjoyed the End Times story - well the first four books anyway. The last book was a "Super Friends" X-Men type comic which ended with them blowing up the Old World.

The last couple of years I have been playing Mantic's Kings of War. We have Mantica and 21 factions/races but it is chronically underdeveloped. Now this is only to be expected - GW has had 30 years plus to develop their worlds - but generally Mantic have ignored this aspect of their game. They are currently running a global campaign but I think it is too little, too late.

As it stands, I love KoW the game but have no investment in the Mantic world. Therefore my rats are not really Ratkin but Skaven in an inferior world. I have no investment in the story and I know a lot of people globally feel the same.

Games like The Ninth Age suffer the same problem as to my mind does Age of Sigmar (where a new setting is being developed). However while AoS has the resources of GW to build their new setting, other games will struggle like KoW has struggled.

Back to 40K

The last few months have been an eye-openner for me. I have stayed in touch with the 40k world through the Horus Heresy novels but picking up first Traitor Legions then new 40k has been fantastic. 

I can read well developed sourcebooks backed up with 40k novels. And rather than generic these can be very specific. So I have devoured the Night Lords Omnibus, Fabius Bile and Lucius novels and these have inspired me while I build and paint my armies. Suddenly I'm invested again.

I'm constantly finding little nuggets where the established backstory is being fleshed out and this is driving how I am looking at my army and what units I want to bring to the table. Currently I'm reading the Codex:CSM and the content is making me excited for the upcoming Eldar Craftworld codex and that of the Tyranids.

Now fluff doesn't mean much to a lot of people but for me it is a key plank of the hobby. Nobody does it better than GW and encoutering it again is like catching up with an old friend.

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