With the coming of the Eldar, comes the onset of my own personal case of the "Ooooh, Shinies!!". However, I refuse to plan yet another full army. My wallet and, more importantly, my schedule will just not allow it. However, I don't have any problem to with this, as I have had a bit of a hobby-epiphany, a revelation even.
What is this mystical revelation when it comes to the new Eldar? How to handle an allied force, from a modeling and painting perspective.
You'd think it would be as easy as just grabbing a bunch of models and tossing them alongside your existing force, right? Well, technically it is, but at the same time, I'm too much of a hobby-snob to do so. If I am going to field a force on the table, especially from two different Codexes, it has to look like a unified force.
Now there are numerous ways to accomplish this, from campaign markings to basing similarly, and all the way to all-out conversions. This time around though, I want to address how I'm actually going to marry numerous Codexes to my upcoming Tau force. With the versatility of our little blue fish-men, we've got the ability to ally with every force out there, barring the bugs.
We all know there are three levels to the Allies Chart in the BRB, so lets address each individually.
Battle Brothers: Battle Brothers are allies in the truest sense of the word. these are factions who trust each other and can work together the closest. In my opinion, there should be NO CHANGE aesthetically to the allied force. From a painting perspective, perhaps some campaign markings to show allegiance to the main force could be called for, but nothing drastic. With regards to modeling, I'll tie the two forces into each other from a basing perspective, and call it done. Eldar will be Eldar, and Marines will be Marines when fighting side-by-side with the Tau.
Allies of Convenience: These will be folded into the Greater Good of the Tau Empire as converts. They will gain the benefit of Tau technology and whatnot, influencing conversions and paint schemes from a perspective of adaptation and integration into the Tau culture. In terms of painting, the color scheme of the allies will match the Tau, with Tau Sept markings, noting them as loyal members of the Empire. Modeling Allies of Convenience will be the most enjoyable conversions, I think. From simple kitbashes of Fire Warrior and Pathfinder bits with other kits, to converting and sculpting Tau-themed armor and weaponry. No matter what, these forces will look like they belong with the Tau.
Desperate Allies: This is going to look and feel like a forced conversion into the Tau Empire. No true sharing of technology, these will look and feel like the "red shirts" of the Tau Empire. We're talking nearly the same level of conversion and paint work as Battle Brothers, actually, only for the reverse reasons. Shared campaign markings become brands of forced alliance. Modeling ties will be at the least basing similarities, to perhaps some form of physical shackling or show of forced role.
Now, while I've deliberately tailored my outlook on each level of alliance above for the Tau Empire, the above outlooks could obviously apply to any army and their allies.
What have you done with your allied forces?
Don't forget to drop into my previous post, celebrating the blog's second birthday and enter to win a piece of artwork done by myself, with the gaming subject matter by the winner!
(As a another note, the artwork at the top of this post is not mine, and I found it in a Google search. Kudos to the artist who's work it is!)