From Four Pillars to One Whole: Building the Perfect Army


Welcome to Warhammer Tactics, where you get practical tactical advice to help take your gameplay to the next level.
Today, we’re going to be talking about one thing: Synergy. Have you ever heard of the expression “greater than the sum of its parts”? It’s used to describe a phenomenon where we observe multiple parts of something working with each other to create a stronger effect than you would expect from said parts. In the Grim Darkness of the 41st Millennium, Synergy is still around and it’s still important. Through understanding and applying Synergy, we are going to improve a step beyond the Four Pillars. If you haven’t seen or don’t know what the Four Pillars of Army Design are, you should check that our first and then come back! For your convenience, here’s a link!
In the context of Warhammer 40K, we achieve synergy when the units in our list work together to accomplish something otherwise not possible. The easiest way to do that is by properly utilizing our support pieces.

    Like this, but with mini’s and dice!

We can think of a support piece as any unit whose main purpose is buffing other units. These models are almost always characters, and usually they’re HQ choices, which makes including them easy.
Every army has at least a couple support pieces locked away in their HQ section, and occasionally in their Elites section. You can easily increase the synergy of a list by swapping out a character in your army for a better support piece, or, if points allow, adding another support piece all together.
For example, let’s say I play Imperial Fists, and I’m playing with 3X 5 Devastators with 4 plasma cannons. That’s a lot of plasma, but it’s pretty dangerous!

An easy way to help ensure our Devastators can easily overcharge safely is just by taking an extra Captain on foot, and keeping him cheap. Possibly, you could give him  a Power Weapon if you’re feeling like splurging. If you place your new Captain right next to all of your Devastators, you simultaneously make all of your plasma cannons far less likely to explode, and you also make them more accurate thanks to the Captain allowing you to re-roll one’s to hit. Talk about a double whammy!
Obviously, this is a very simple example, but the basic idea applies to every army. Knowing what support pieces you have available and using them properly can really push your list to the next level.
But, there is another way to increase the synergy of a list. It’s harder to recognize and achieve, but it has even greater results on the table. I’m talking about taking units that work together and compliment one another.
Let’s say I’m playing Blood Angels. I’ve already included a bunch of Death Company and Sanguinary Guard in my list, so I can seriously bring the pain. But, I don’t have a good way to clear out enemy infantry that are preventing me from killing the really juicy targets.

This is what we want to happen. Unless you’re Chaos. Then you pray for a miracle.

I can throw my expensive hammer units into the enemy’s face, but that’s not a great gameplan, since most good players and lists will have infantry to get in my way . If I add in some anti infantry firepower however, now I’m in business. It can be something as simple as giving some Scout units that I’ve already taken  heavy bolters, or including a Redemptor or two. With these kinds of changes,
I can punch a hole in the enemy infantry, and deploy my deep striking heavy hitters onto the enemy vehicles and fire support and really lay down the pain.
This is just an example of a few different units in a list working together. The real pièce de résistance, the magnum opus as it were, of synergy is writing an army list where everything synergizes with everything else in the list. It’s at this point where your list ceases to simply be a list of models, and becomes a cohesive fighting force, a masterpiece of miniature warfare. As the title says, if you come up with an army list where everything flows with each other,  you’ll have gone to the next step of army building.
In execution, every army has its own path to achieving maximum synergy. Some armies will take lots of play testing, others not. For some armies, maximizing synergy is obvious, for others it can be quite complicated. But no matter what army you play, you can take your game to the next level by working on increasing your Synergy. And if you look at your list and think about it in terms of what we talked about today, I guarantee that you’ll see more success on the tabletop.
Well, that wraps it up for this one. Make sure to check out the next Warhammer Tactics, where we’ll delve into improving our Order of Operations!

More to Explore

alpine gt 40k

Alpine GT 40k Winning Lists

These are your Alpine GT Winning Lists results from afar! This past weekend saw the Alpine GT, a 9 round, 57 participant

Latest Articles