The first question, I guess, is, what is the army for?
Is it for painting? Is it for playing with? Is it for a particular event? Is it for collecting for the sake of collecting?
I've had armies that fit all those titles, but first and foremost I'm a painter. I generally convert and paint cool miniatures, and then try and make them fit my army... which is probably why I generally lose. What do you mean a squad of lightning claw equipped veterans are useless against tanks and boarding shields?! Surely the coolest miniatures win? No? oh, ok then...
Heavy bolters are great yeah?
Then I guess I'm a collector. I used to have to have at least one of every unit in a codex. I don't have time or space for that these days, but that's how I used to do it.
These days I like to paint with a fully painted army if I can. I'm finally at the point where I can actually field the army I want with fully painted miniatures, but it's taken about 3 years to get that core 3000pts fully painted. I keep getting distracted by cool conversions, 'taking a break from infantry' to paint a tank or three, or more recently by mini games such as Shadow Wars: Armageddon.
What do you mean he wasn't part of my
original 2017 army painting challenge?!
But now I have that core painted and I am playing a lot more than I used to, I'm definitely choosing what I paint so that I stand at least have a chance of winning. It's ok if I lost that one game that I played every year, but I'm playing one game or another at least once a month now, and I don't want to be losing 12 games a year! So the next think I paint will be aimed at giving me a competitive advantage.
However, there's also the mini projects. As I mentioned, I'm about to play quite a bit of Shadow Wars, so I had to paint up a legal army. It's only 4 or five miniatures, but still, it's time taken away from painting my main Space Wolves army... The Mechanicum do look cool though, and it's given me a chance to paint something new. So I guess this army kinda ticks all the boxes: it's cool, there's one of every unit and I'll be able to game with it!
And lastly there is the dreadnought army I'm painting up. I've chosen the army primarily because it will look awesome!! But I have picked the miniatures based on whether they will be cool or not. Plus it is something completely different to paint. I started out trying to get 12 dreads into the 3000pts, but that has shrunk to 10. But still, a whole contemptor dreadnought army is gonna be cool! And might even win a game...
So, how do you pick your army?
theerrantwolf.blogspot.co.uk - a blog dedicated to The Horus Heresy and Warhammer 40k - Get in touch on Twitter: @davetgent