There’s been a lot of talk on the Internet about how to build particularly nasty Unbound lists in 40K 7th edition, including all Heldrakes, or all psykers, or whatever other brutality you can imagine. That’s scared a lot of people off on the idea of Unbound, and they miss how it could be used in a positive way, to build armies based around a part of the story that you might otherwise not be able to mimic on the battlefield.
I’m a huge fan of the background of 40K and seeing it come to life on the battlefield, so I’d like to throw out some ideas on how to set up an Unbound army based on a narrative rather than just curbstomping your opponents.
1. Slaanesh-Possessed Sisters of Battle
If you’ve read Daemonifuge, that’s where I’m getting this idea. There was a Sisters group that landed on a planet to investigate it, and a Keeper of Secrets tore their souls from their bodies and melded them together in some kind of crazy sphere, leaving the bodies to be possessed by daemons, who he later uses against Ephrael Stern and her fellow Sisters. This could be represented with a Keeper of Secrets, Slaanesh Daemons, and Sisters of Battle (just Sisters, no additions like Priest or whatever). Bonus for modeling the Sisters post-possession.
2. Blood Axes
Ork Blood Axes! Not just content to do things like have a bunch of Kommandos (assuming those are useful again). I mean complete with looted Imperial Guard vehicles, or even with mercenary or “rogue” IG elements in the army. The original Blood Axes army list actually included IG squads, so this makes sense.
3. Iron Warriors
Havocs out the wazoo, Vindicators, Obliterators, Basilisks borrowed from the IG… A true siege army, bringing devastating firepower. Leave the daemons at home, Iron Warriors have no room for them.
4. Genestealer Cult
Genestealers, something to represent a Patriarch (Tyranid Prime?), and IG. A Primaris Psyker can represent a Magus. Alternately, Ork Stealer Cult.
5. Ork Freebooters / Assorted Pirates
Or just go the whole distance with Orks: Freebooterz! Shooty Orks with lots of bling, IG to represent human mercenaries, Eldar Guardians to represent Eldar Pirates, renegade Space Marines (CSM)… a merry band of misfits, without much in the way of tanks or artillery, but a scrappy attitude!
6. The Island of Doktor Morko
A mad Ork Painboss (and his assistant Painboyz and Mekboyz) come across a bunch of dead Tyranids and decide to “re-animate” them as some kind of insane creations. Model the Tyranids with extra bits bolted on, wires, tanks, etc.
7. Word Bearers
CSM and Daemons in a big mass, led by a Dark Apostle. Throw in Chaos Sorcerers with Malefic powers for extra bonus, and Cultists to represent local populace forced to fight for the Word Bearers and act as sacrifices to the Dark Gods (stab a cultist, summon a Herald!).
As you see, there’s a lot of interesting combinations you can use, with a background that works.
And as some people have already compared the idea of Unbound armies to the style of “armies” you could see back in the days of Rogue Trader, why not take a “Rogue Trader” army, too? Multiple races’ mercenaries, led by a Rogue Trader represented by an Inquisitor (sans too much Inquisitorial gear) or an Astra Militarum commander, a ragtag band working together for profit. This would probably work better in Kill Team, though.