Like many of us, I'm really looking forward to the forthcoming Apocalypse expansion. I have 5000 points of Tyranids as my main army, and they're still breeding; any excuse to use the lot will be appreciated. And 10" templates are just hilariously cool. But I've thought of something else that cements Apocalypse firmly in my mind as the best thing ever to happen to 40K 4th edition: It allows themed armies!

Think about it. Iron Warriors can take plenty of Obliterators, VDR up a Basilisk and use as much heavy support as they want. Alpha Legion can take nothing but Chosen, who can infiltrate, and use allied Guard for cultists until the daemon codex comes out in '08. Iyanden can use as many Wraithlords as they like, and Biel-tan can go without troops entirely if they want (although I for one wouldn't leave home without Dire Avengers, as they rock). I guess Ork klanz won't be in the new codex, judging by GW's insistence on eliminating the specialist lists, but you can go all out on such goodness in Apocalypse games.

It's not just the 'legion' type themes, either, that become suddenly viable with Apocalypse. The Tyranid 'Flying Circus', an army entirely on the wing shot down by the codex's lack of winged troops and having only 3 Fast Attack slots, is now easily possible - as are, in fact, all-wing armies from any other race who can take them: Chaos, loyalists, Eldar, Dark Eldar, even Witch Hunters or Tau all-battlesuit armies. Every army can now field tank companies, or Godzilla armies in the 'nids' case. (Which can deep strike as well )

As Apocalypse throws tournament-style game balance out of the window by eliminating Force Organisation charts, you can organise your force exactly how you want it. If you're someone like me who actually designs how a typical detachment of your army is organised, you can implement that fully in Apocalypse. If you want to use a Court of the Young King formed out of 6 converted Phoenix Lords, you can. If you want to take 3 winged Hive Tyrants, you can. If you want to make a massive Ork Drop Rok Fortress, a huge Orky asteroid that opens up and unleashes an army of greenskins as well as its impressive firepower, you can (this is a terrain project I've had an idea for for the future, but hell, if I can VDR it and actually use the thing, why not?!). If your army is supposed to revolve around purging the mutant by application of drop-podded Grey Knight Dreadnoughts in surgically chosen locations while the Adepta Sororitas hold their fronts supported by inducted Guard superheavy tanks, you can probably do that as well...

So, more to the point. How are you going to implement this in your own armies?

Personally, I'm going to use my Swordwind Eldar army with the entire 'Council of Seven' that heads their craftworld of Alariel: 7 independent characters and an Avatar. Four detachments' worth, but not in Apocalypse. I no longer have to buy up loads of cheap Dire Avenger or Ranger units to fill up compulsory Troop selections... And I can use as many Aspect Warriors, Wraithguard and Harlequins - all highly cool units - without worrying about running out of Elite slots. Not to mention, Eldar Heavy Support slots are one of the most contested FOC places in the game - not any more. I'd love a Revenant, but the chances of me affording one are, well, very little. I've got uni coming up...

My Tyranids don't really have a theme apart from variety and mad conversions, so in Apocalypse I'll use box sets and whatnot as an excuse to throw everything I can reach onto the table whenever I get the chance.

My future Chaos army, complete with allied Orks and 'Dark Sistren' (a coven of secretive, warp-using martial artists who count as Sisters of Battle) will be very themed. I can use all the infantry and walkers I want - no competition in Heavy Support and Elites slots between Chosen/Dreadnoughts and Defilers/Havocs/Obliterators now. Same with the Orks and 'Witch Hunters'. I want to make a demi-titan (or perhaps more than one), called a Desecrator, about 6" tall and with firepower comparable to a Baneblade's. Oh, and did I mention that huge drop rok thing?