I always had mixed feelings about the introduction of allied detatchment rules along with the release of 6th editon 40k onwards – on the plus side it is a great opportunity to bootstrap into another fully feldged army in a modestly bite sized hobby chunk, but equally on the downside it facilitates powergaming and potentially broken, unfluffy combinations in a game not widely know for its balance to begin with. I never really liked the that this encouraged a ‘pick and mix’ approach to armies which aim to mitigate or circumnavigates the core theme, flavour or limitations of an army i.e. adding close assault allies to alleviate that weakness in Tau armies or fearless Space Marine HQs allies to Imperial Guard armies to buff morale.
Ironically, of course allies didn’t end up breaking 40k as much as I expected as you still need to meet the HQ and troops requirements, but arguably the rise of formations from 7th editon 40k have and has been met with much gnashing of teeth from the more competitive elements of the hobby community because they are usually way more broken than attempts at abusing allied detachments. 30k is much stricter in what allies can do and so it doesn’t allow transport sharing or unit joining like 40k does – stopping some of the potential for abuse.
Having finally completed my first 30k army in the form of my Warp Cult, I do fancy starting another force, but don’t quite fancy having to concentrate the time, money and dedication required for a full 2,000pts+ force. An allied detachment would seem to be a sensible compromise – something I can start off with relatively small investment in time, money and effort, but then expand later to a full force if it appeals enough after a few test games.
So what ally options would seem interesting for Warp Cults? I’m looking for something with a different play style and hobby challenge, something which adds to the narrative of the army, but without really being deliberately abusive or unfun to play against.
Wordbearers would be a natural choice for a Warp Cult ally from a fluff POV and I even have a small force already painted. That said I just think it dilutes the core of my Warp Cult list – tanks and horde infantry. Adding marines just pushes it towards being a more ‘standard’ 30k force and my mind simply dilutes the theme and effectiveness. The most interesting options would be to opt for the Dark Compliance themed list from Book 6 – which actually allows them to be a more integrated force with Wordbearer HQs being able to lead Cultist infantry and/or use them as disposable meat shields.
The only problem with this is that competive events tend to exclude the use of Book 6 themes as they are optional and some narrative events do too as they don’t fit the background story to the event (i.e. Istavann themed events will only feature Legions). I like adding a dash of Wordbearer HQs for flavour, but can’t come up with anything which excites me from a hobby POV. I’d love to run a Dark Compliance list in a Calth/Shadow Crusade themed narrative campaign against an Ultramarines force, but that is quite a niche purpose.
Takann-Reva had quite a few militia armies with Solar Auxilla allies. A common element was the use of the SA Tank Commander upgrade as an Allies HQ to add in a variant Leman Russ Squadron, Malcador Infernus or Valador – a very efficient way of adding more tanks which are very complementary to the Milita force. While I think this is really solid from a competitive POV (having a Valador would have given me a real edge in the Takann-Reva games that I lost), this doesn’t seem different enough to excite me on the hobby side of things – it will essentially be more of the same and doesn’t really appeal as something to extend into a full army in its own right.
Also, I am stuggling from a fluff POV to build an interesting narrative link here to a Warp Cult to SA.
Now going with Knights or Dark Mechanicum allies really appeals for a number of reasons: firstly it is a completely different contrast to militia in terms of play style as it can be made to be very elite and low model count. A couple of big stompy robots defintely appeals from a hobby POV after having burnt out painting a hundred militia cultists and Knights have cross over potential as it is easier to repurpose them as loyalist rather than traitor as well as for for 40k play too.
A Knight allied detachment would just be two models and actually is relatively economic choice with a much more favourable £ to points ratio than Cultists.
I think I’ve sold myslelf on this idea now so time to do some more research into the different traitor Knight Households 🙂