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The Middle Sixty #3: Abandoning the Fluff

Guest Column by Jason Byrd

Today we are going to cover fluff. This is one of the most important topics in this series of articles. I don’t know about the rest of you, but epic battles between armies of elves and undead were what got me into Warhammer Fantasy twenty years ago. I liked the stories. I liked the color schemes. I named all my characters. From there it was an easy transition to 40k. Space elves and space zombies? Hell yeah!

Fluff is important. It is the reason most of us got into this hobby in the first place. What I’m about to say is difficult for some people to hear: Fluff has no place in competitive play. I’ve heard a whole host of arguments for keeping to the fluff. I’ve heard players complain about the ITC format allowing too many detachments or about allies being allowed because it doesn’t make sense in the fluff.

Stop. First, the ITC format is great. It’s not perfect, but it’s far more good than bad. More to the point, it’s not going away so accept that you’ll be playing in it. The same can be said for the other competitive formats around the world. Second, we are talking about competitive play here. Come to compete. You have to have a win at all costs (WAAC) mindset. You have to be absolutely brutal with your own composition. If a unit isn’t consistently performing it’s time to replace it, even if you have to take a riptide wing with your space marines.

It starts as far back as choosing your force. Pick an army because it feels right to play, because you understand how it moves and how to use it effectively. Don’t pick an army because you like the color scheme or the background.
Now, within the above statements are two places for fluff. First, if you’re playing Eldar anyway, and you like the colors of Yme-Loc over Saim-Hann, paint Yme-Loc. Second, you can take a break from the competitive mindset and play narrative games.

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