Swap Out Miniatures

Using Swap-Out Units 
to Get the Most Mileage from Your Minis

One of the main purposes for this oversize Imperial Guard modeling project - I have currently modeled the entire 1st Battalion of the Ice River Guards in their close to 7500 point glory (apocalypse, here I come!) - was to create a versatile force that can be used outside the Warhammer 40K setting.

For example, if I wanted to play Stargrunt II,  I could easily translate the figures I have into SGII terms - the system is designed for that. Ditto Striker or Striker II. However, if I wanted to experiment with other unit types or doctrines?

For example, if I wanted to experiment with rough riders I doubt I would use the horse mounted rough riders (though the Attilan figures would mesh well with my Valhallans). I would want something a little more hi-tech. I have some Void jet cycles (by I-Kore) that would make passable Rough Riders (gotta love counts as!).

I also picked my forces to translate reasonably well to other games and settings. For example, Warmachine is a popular game in my area. My Valhallans make usable Winter Guard in a Khador army. Just add some Warjacks and we are ready to rock. I could also use them as Red Blok troopers for AT-43 (though I admit, the pre-painted figures for AT-43 are tasty). The Rackham figures would make good Guard grenadier figures if you took the Carapace Armor doctrine. Being Lyubov is located out in the Eastern Fringe in the Glimmerdrift Reach, they have access to technologies the rest of the Imperium might consider to be HeriTek so I don't have to change my fluff all that much when using the force in other games.

My hover tanks would work in most sci-fi settings - which I intended when I modeled them. The standard GW tanks are usable in a low tech setting but in most situations, the hovers make more sense. In a WH40K game, the hovers are strictly VDR (Vehicle Design Rules).

For my opposition forces, the Tau make good generic aliens and the Tyranids make good generic space monsters. I happen to have a Chaos Marine army on hand, while not particularly generic they mesh well with my general collection. Adding my old Warzone figures to the mix lets me field Genestealer Cults, Lost and the Damned, Chaos Cult or Traitor Guard forces.

I have added a few figures from the AT-43 line (the pre-paints are great, ready to play out of the box), some old Void figures from I-Kore (they have some figures that make good snipers and partisans), a few warjacks and some scratch builds. I also have a Mobile Infantry company than 'counts as' Space Marines or Grenadiers to round out the human forces collection.

This broad selection of figures allow me to go to my collection for an army for almost any game. My guards have seen action under Starship Troopers, Stargrunt II, AT-43, Battlefield Evolution, Striker, and Warmachine rules with reasonable success in each case. The swap out figures for these games include a few Warjacks (warmachine) and some infantry walkers (AT-43). They have even functioned as Israeli and American troops in the Traveller 2300 setting campaign a few years back with a friends Orks standing in for the Kafirs.

They can serve as Khador, Terran Federation, New Israeli, Red Blok, Imperial (Third Imperium), Russian, Israeli, or even American troops(I have built standard bearers to carry American, Israeli, Terran Federation, Red Blok, Soviet, Russian and Third Imperium colors as well as my regimental colors). Pretty versatile if you ask me and they give me good value for my gaming dollar. I have gotten some ribbing from my mates over my approach - and of course, after giving me grief over it they adopted it themselves. But on balance, I can pretty much play whatever my opponent wants with the figures I have on hand.

In case you haven't noticed, I tend to collect armies that represent a particular theatre of operations. This is true of my fantasy collection (Orcs, Night Goblins, Common Goblins, Army of the Necromancer, Chaos, Dwarfs, Averlander Empire and Bretonnians) with the Averlanders being my primary force. The collection representing actions that might be fought in and around Averland (web site coming soon).

My 40K collection represents actions that might be fought on or around Lyubov. Even my Battlefleet Gothic collection follows this pattern - allowing me to play BFG or any other generic space game with my figs (I like Full Thrust quite a bit).

By looking at what games are being played in your area, you can choose an army or armies that are reasonably similar and have analogs in a variety of settings. The Guard is well suited to this approach because practically all games include men with rifles. (The same reasoning makes Empire, Bretonnian, or Dogs of War good choices for fantasy generics). Keep your forces reasonably generic and you can stretch your gaming dollar and the value of your painting time.

I wouldn't, for example, invest in a Dark Eldar army; not because the figures aren't cool - they are - but because they are too closely tied to the 40K universe and don't translate well to other settings. However, while pontificating on this very point at my FLGS, I was asked by a newer gamer who had just purchased a nicely painted Dark Eldar army from one of my mates in anticipation of the new Codex, if I couldn't think how to make her new army portable. Being the great and gallant Graybearded Sage that I am, I decided to try and help the young lass out. Dark Eldar, as the more erudite readers of this site may be aware, are the current incarnation of the Eldar Pirates of Rogue Trader fame. Space pirates have been a staple of science fiction since David Langford wrote "Sex Pirates of the Blood Asteroid" in 1979 (which, by the way, is a rousing good read and definitely a must see for a budding Dark Eldar player). The stealing the idea right out of the title, I suggested being Dark Eldar are everyone's favorite bondage freaks why not play up the space pirate angle even going so far as to adopt the Sex Pirate angle. After thinking about it for a minute or so, the notion began to grow on her - sort of like athlete's foot - and much to my surprise she decided to go for it. Space pirates raiding isolated colonial outposts of just about anyone makes the army very portable. Being against all flags, it doesn't matter much what setting the battle occurs in. The opposing side is the 'Law and Order' force while the Cabal of the Blood Asteroid are the pirate force. She liked the idea of her pirates being sort of an Amazon-type force bent on stealing unsuspecting citizens to use as pleasure slaves/breeding stock by this hearty band of rogues (shades of the Slaneeshi 'Cult of Pleasure' from Warhammer Fantasy'sStorm of Chaos campaign).

What I learned from this brief exercise in fluff building for a fellow gamer was that given enough thought, you can invent a reason for your army being almost anywhere - by maintaining an eye toward portability in your fluff you can greatly expand the reach of your gaming dollar while allowing yourself to indulge in whatever army strikes your fancy.

So there you have it, keep it simple and reasonably generic and you can use your collection in a variety of settings. Keep your collection consistent within itself and you have ample fodder to teach someone else how to play your favorite game(s).

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