View Full Version : What do you think of the Army Books?

10-05-2007, 12:00
What do you think of any of the GW Army Books? You know, how fair they are, good artwork, nice amounts of background etc?
What makes a good Army book, and what doesn't?

/\ I'm asking this cause I'm making a fan army book in full and wanted to know what the gamers actually think make a good army book...

10-05-2007, 12:19
To me, and army book is made or broken on two things: artwork and background.

The art can totally suck you in and give you the feel and look of the army: More than once i've chosen armies solely on art alone.

Background is just as vital. The newer books tend to be a bit light on it, but they're smaller books, so the balance between background and rules remains good.

I do like the WE format of having all the rules at the front rather than spread out, but the newer ones don't seem to have carried it on (well the dwarfs didn't anyway).

10-05-2007, 12:23
Right, so:
Good artwork (ah, right... I can't draw, and people haven't replied to me really about doing artwork, or have been too busy :()
Good background: can do
Rules in one place: well, I was carrying on the format done in recent books with having the rules and the background of the models together, but I'll see what others say before I change it... OK?

vampires are cool!
10-05-2007, 12:30
A strong editing team. If the books full of gramatical or spelling mistakes it canb ruin the feel.
The editing also goes for the list as well. If it has no use, give it one, it owns everything then jack the points up or tone it down.
A army book is a heavy project, one that is very hard to do right - look how long it takes for GW to make them.

10-05-2007, 12:39
I think the artwork is an essential part of the army books. It adds an important atmospheric edge that separates them from the 'feel' of a simple word document or functional list. Artwork is also far more engaging and inspirational than even the background and provides fuel for the image one wishes to take with the army.

As for layout... it doesn't concern me much. I'm quite used to navigating around unwieldy books and am quite partial to the bestiary then list structure with explanation of special rules deployed appropriately. The reference sheets in the back of these later books is a very nice edition to the format.

But yes, if you want to create the lure of an 'authentic' army book I'd suggest finding an artist. Otherwise it becomes a set of fan rules that look as if they could be created by anyone and will possess only fleeting captivation, belying the effort put into the project by the author.

10-05-2007, 12:53
I think that their armybooks are great. The artwork is there to create a feeling to the different units, which is great (especially since the artwork is great). The fluff is necessary for anyone that would like to make a army that fits in with the world, plus it's nice to read as any book.

The two things I don't like about their armybooks is the painting advices that are often current, for some reason I just don't like them. Probably because I don't ever use tham and never had. The other thing I don't like is the prices ^^

10-05-2007, 12:54
I can't stress the editing thing well enough. If it is cheap and made by amateurs, it will probably look cheap and amateurish. I'm being cruel but honest here. If it looks sub-par in any way I'm lead to believe the rules are too, even before I start reading. I'm just not that patient that I'll read through 20 pages and then change my mind.

And yes, every second when I'm not finding what I'm looking for is a second when I'm pissed off at the army book (and its author). Always keep that in mind.

10-05-2007, 13:08
Painting Advice: won't be in there... Modelling will though (since this a fan book, you get to see fan models, and therefore, unique models. Not ones everyone's seen before). So that's OK.
When you say editing, what do you mean?

10-05-2007, 13:19
Not enough fluff in them.
80 pages is too short to put the rules,artwork,coloured pages and fluff in.
They need another 70 pages for fluff and such.

The books would probably cost 20 instead of 12 but I'de pay that for a book twice the thickness.
And im sure it wont cost twice as much to produce those books,all they'de need to do is add fluff and such.

10-05-2007, 13:34
Editing means many things, and small hiccups in all those areas are mostly why something edited by amateurs turns out like it does.

Editing is making sure that everything work together and that the product as a whole "works". That means saying that a text is not good enough and needs more work if it's not good enough. It means cutting out a text completely if it can't become good enough, or if it doesn't make sense in the final product. It means approving good artwork and disapproving subpar artwork. It means making sure that everything is in the right place in the end.

Bad editing is something that haunts most fanbased works. It means letting in bad writing because either you did it, your friend did it or because you can't turn down something that someone else did for free, since they did their best and all that crap. A bad text is a bad text even if Mother Theresa wrote it, and it will make your project look bad if you keep it. This is the truth.

Same thing with bad artwork. Everyone who has a couple of pencils and who's been drawing ultramarines decapitating stormtroopers since they were kids are not artists. There's fan art and there's professional art. Fan art is often "aaaw, that's cute", but it rarely looks good enough to give a professional or semi-professional look. If you have goofy art, I'll think it is a goofy army list. This is the truth.

Same thing with rules. Rules that don't really make sense don't. Rules that are there just so that your units will have something special will look like something you just plastered on. Rules that are "hell yaw, that's rock n' roll dude, they'll be like INVINCIBLE and ****!" are mostly stupid. It's a very thin line, and seeing how much professional game designers with 20-30 years in the business slip up, don't expect to make the best rules ever. But keep this in mind: simple rules are harder to screw up than complex rules. This is the truth.

Don't let this put you off. Just keep in mind that this is the basis of what you'll be judged by. If you announce it as a fun and simple fan-made army lists, you'll be judged by that level. If you announce it as "an army list just as good as GW's/the **** army list that GW never wrote", I'll probably call ************ if you can't deliver. I've seen the "Yeah, this is amazing and totally impressed the GW design team, this is just as good as any list"-set of rules for Cathay/Nippon/Ind. I opened the PDF, read a couple of pages, and decided that it was indeed not as good as a real Army List and haven't given it a try. People are ******** with discerning taste. Keep that in mind when the feedback comes around.

So I'd say that for me to give it a shot, it would both need to have text and rules that are good enough, and layout that doesn't put me off trying to get there. The reader will notice the layout and art before they read a single line, so that is really important to make me wanting to give you a shot. Then, the text will have to keep my attention.

10-05-2007, 14:33
The O&G book really sucks IMO. old pictures... no nice fluff like in the 6ED (though it has nice fluff, but no story telling). No paint guides. Why couldn't it be like the WE book?!

10-05-2007, 14:36
So stories told from the perspective of the people?
And maybe some done by others, right?

And I don't really care about what people say about the book (I'll take all comments), as long as they're fair and just...
Cause at the moment nobody seems to care... :( People have looked at what I've done, but not said anything...

10-05-2007, 14:38
Yes, that's something that's missing: Stories. Just little snippets, something to give you an insight.

The 5th ed. Bret book is packed with them - the current one has 1-2.

10-05-2007, 14:46
Right, how many would be a good number? Minimum of 8?

10-05-2007, 14:48
The quality of an army book for me depends on a lot of things, all of which combine to what you could call the "feel" of the book, which is what makes or breaks it for me.

I like good, well-written, and inspiring content, first and foremost. Content, to me, includes everything of an informative nature in the army book, for army list and rules, to background and short stories. If the content isn't at least mostly good in my eyes, it's not looking good for the overall feel, not looking good at all.

Aside from content is something a little more on the...shallow side? The presentation, artwork, and layout of the book can make a big difference in an army book for me, despite the fact that in the end, it's a mostly irrelevant factor in regards to the army itself. Knowing this fact doesn't perturb me, though, and I staunchly stick to my pointless opinion on the army book's presentation.
For an example of what I'm talking about, we'll compare two army books. To me, a really well done army book was the Ogre Kingdoms one. Don't ask me specifically why, but the overall layout and feel of the book appealed to me. On the other hand, for some other equally vague reason, the Vampire Counts book was aweful to me. It seemed sloppy and rushed to me, for some reason, and I never was able to look past it, or get it out of my head that the VC were a rushed and not well done army, even though I had nothing in the way of experience or "fact" to back such thoughts up.

I don't know, I guess I like army books(and a lot of other things, for that matter) based on some pretty arbitrary things sometimes. I should say though, that I'm pretty pleased with all the newer army books and such GW is releasing, starting at Ogre Kingdoms or Beasts of Chaos, whichever came first I suppose.

10-05-2007, 14:51
Right, the stories! The old army books used to often have quite a bit in the way of characterful short stories...some of the stories weren't even that short;) It was nice to have an "in character" story, and they often really helped you to understand the army or race that much better.

The best example for me in regards to short stories in old army books would have to be the 4th ed. High Elves army book. It had some really awesome short and not-so short stories in it, and really just oozed High Elven character. Now those I miss!

10-05-2007, 15:14
Yes, for inspiration, borrow lots of army lists, both new and old, from other gamers in your area and get to know them well. The 4th edition and most 5th edition books excelled in providing the background and making the army come to life. The most 6th and 7th army books are really good at keeping a consistent art design and layout, and are more easily navigated IMHO. If you can take the best of both worlds, you're golden. ;)

10-05-2007, 15:21
If you want to see what I've done so far (not the most recent, but so far), than look at the "Chaos Dwarf nut" link at the bottom please...
I would appreciate all your comments...
Oh, and just for the record, nobody near me collects, and I've not got any 4th ed. I've got 3rd, and 5th (CD and VC anyway), so I'm a bit limited on what I can use.
Got all the 6th and 7th ed though...
Cheers for the help so far

10-05-2007, 16:05
You can find 4th ed Army Books for $1-3 on internet auction sites. The postage will probably be more expensive than the books themselves. They're not collectors item, and they are sold for dirt cheap prices. I'll check your list out.

10-05-2007, 16:08
Thanks, I suggest you have a look in a minute though, not right now. I'm just going to add a new version to it.
Now remember, since it isn't finished, it won't look great, but I'm the process of writing all the background (I think I've got the rules nailed), and so obviously will have bits missing at the moment.
Stories I've written are at the bottom...

10-05-2007, 16:08
The same army books were used for 4th and 5th, some being updated in 5th. There are some real gems - well worth a punt on eBay.

Hell, if you're that desperate i've got some if you want to trade.

10-05-2007, 16:10
To me, fluff and background are very important. I like to read the background stories around the army. Most army books have a short story where the army in question compltely owns another army.

The artwork is kinda important to set the scene so you know what everything is like, however i prefer fluff so i can picture it myself

The rules are obviously a very important part but secondary lists (gnoblar lists, skink cohort list etc) are always very cool because you can make a small army aswell as your main one.

10-05-2007, 16:19
For one thing, I can't find any. What one's you got Jedi?
Either that, or I just continue what I'm doing (making it up from my head :D)