We have all heard people talk about "Filth" lists and how unfun they are. Generally people are talking about armies that are so tooled up that they are nearly impossible to beat and are usually owned by "power gamers". What actually makes something a filth list though?
I was listening to the most recent episode of Tales of Sigmar the other week, and it got me thinking about filth lists. They brought up a few examples, two of which were the Skyre list for Skaven, and the Kunnin Rukk list for Bonesplitterz. I definitely think both of those armies are super tough and really hard to beat unless you have the perfect counter for it. Do I think those are "filth" lists though? No, I don't.
Let me explain. To me, both of those lists fit a theme, a theme that is pretty narrative and conforms to the Age of Sigmar backstory. The Skyre list is meant to represent an army of Clan Skyre going to war, which means lots of war machines, Warlocks, and of course, Stormfiends. This will hit hard as nails and may not be the most fun to play against in all games, but it fits that army's theme. It's "fluffy" in other words, really mean, but fluffy.
The same with the Kunnin Rukk army. You could argue that a bunch of orruks with bows doesn't fit the lore that well, and you wouldn't be all wrong, but it still fits the Bonesplitterz backstory. They are hunters, so yeah, they would bring a lot of bows to bring down the larger beasts they are hunting. Plus, generally, it's an all Bonesplitterz army, and as the Facehammer guys love to hear, it's a narrative army ;). Again, it's super tough and can decimate a lot of armies, but it works within the backstory of the Realms.
The armies I have a hard time with are the "filth" lists that make no sense in the setting. One we hear about a lot are the ones that contain Kairos Fateweaver, Sayl the Faithless, Lightning Cannons, Bloodthirsters, and just anything else that is nasty. Yes, I'm sure you could create a narrative to fit that, and if you legitimately do, then more power to you. When I look at that though I just see any army with all the best stuff cherry picked to be good on the tabletop with little thought to the backstory for it.
This isn't a wrong way to play or anything, especially for tournaments where the objective is to win after all, but it personally just bothers me. It takes me out of the game, because even when I'm playing in a tournament setting I am still trying to put a narrative spin on it. I like to think of all of the games I have played as a part of the history of my army as they march to war within the Mortal Realms.
Now, having said all of that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with collecting an army that way. I just wanted to point out that some of the armies that people talk about as being filth are actually quite fitting to the setting, they just also happen to be good. If someone was to plop down a Skyre army across from me on the table the game might go quick, but I wouldn't be upset about playing it. This is all just my opinion of course, and for me, a bit of narrative theming can redeem a list that others think of as "filth". For other people this may be "filth" regardless of the theme, and that's perfectly legitimate. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking any of these type of lists within a competitive environment. If you're there to win, then go for it, just be prepared to possibly be seen as the person with the "filth" list.
To help weigh in on the issue I have asked for a little bit of help from Dan Heelan of Heelanhammer, here's what he has to say on it.
The other issue that can compound peoples dislike of these armies, which is worth pointing out I think, is that they can on occasion be seen (at tournaments at least) being made via questionable use of models and/or minimum paint standards. So you might have ‘proxied’ characters and/or units for example, i.e instead of the beautiful Sayl the Faithless model from Forgeworld, you can have someone digging a model out from another army that is roughly human form. This isn't a new thing, it dates back decades really - I could do a photo album of examples! In 7th Edition Warhammer Fantasy a prime example was 3x5 flesh hounds represented by chaos plastic hounds, sprayed white and washed red with some sand. Probably the most famous example in recent times was a 8th ed Daemon army, made entirely from cheap plastic insect toys (the army is now famously called ‘The Bucket of Bugs’) and sprayed the appropriate colour for each god, with plain sand (unpainted) glue to the base.
As a person that quite enjoys playing against Filth™ lists, the above is really the only thing that upsets me in this regard, but I do think some thought should be given to the enjoyment of your opponent. If you are playing down the club against a player who is brining something you know to be a balanced (or even soft) list based around a theme for a nice evening game, turning up with your well oiled mixed destruction army of doom is not going to lead to a fun for them. There is even an element of this for tournament play. A recent example being the shooty BoneSplittaz list - it is very powerful, but takes so long to roll the dice you will be lucky to finish the game. Your opponents interaction is basically limited to taking models off!
There you have it, some words on Filth™. For me, and for most of my gaming buddies, ‘Filth’ is a term given to a (perceived) super powerful army build, often associated with players that enjoy finding the hardest list possible. On that, I myself have often been guilty of this over the years……….
What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time,