Tales from the Jungle: “Unit Fillers: Practical or the Cheap Way Out?”

Used without permission.

One of the things that I tend to notice about WHFB is the many growing trends that have taken place over the last several years. You may know that I’ve been playing for 11 years now and have seen some cool things along the way. Some of the latest trends that I’ve seen are the use of a display board for showing off your army at tournaments, Homemade Wound and Tick Markers, Spell Cards, and Homemade Turn Markers. Many of these things go above and beyond the normal requirement of just having a fully painted army. Some of the best converted models I’ve ever seen have nothing to do with the army at all but are instead just a placeholder to serve as a centerpiece… If you’ve read my blog lately, you’ll know that I recently created a Unit Filler for my Saurus Warriors. This is now the 3rd Unit Filler that I have in my army and it is by far the biggest one. It is on a chariot sized base and therefore “counts as” 8 models. Unit Fillers have become a huge trend in Warhammer and one that I don’t believe is going to go away. The most current edition of Warhammer focuses more on large blocks of infantry and many of us felt that when we switched from 7th edition to the 8th. It caused us to upgrade our units to include more troops than we were normally accustomed to. With that, came the inclusion of Unit Fillers. I myself had to upgrade units of 20 Saurus Warriors to 30 and 36, which is not cheap in this hobby. So I’ve heard people talk about unit fillers and their role in the Warhammer world… Some say they are nice addition to the unit, if done correctly, and really make the entire unit stand out. Others say that it’s a cheap way to get out of buying new models and a way to save yourself some money so that you don’t have to go buy that $35 box of 10 (plastic) models… To me, it’s a little bit of both.

There are many opportunities to make a cool Unit Filler in your army. Some of the best things I’ve seen are the Orc Boys squabbling, showing their animosity to each other and are fighting within the ranks instead of readying themselves for battle. I’ve seen Beastmen emerging from the forests, ready to defend their lands and attack any that come to trespass. And I’ve also seen Dwarf Miners appear as though they are breaking through the ground to come up from beneath the enemy, showing their skills as Miners and catching them unannounced. All you have to do is figure out what your unit does best, or where they come from, or what they are trying to achieve, and you can bring it to life on a Unit Filler base. To me, seeing Unit Fillers (of any kind) is an awesome way to draw my attention to that unit. I instantly see a bigger base that stands out and makes me look at it. When converted / painted well, it stands out even more and makes the whole unit act as a centerpiece. So imagine if you have 4 units and all of them have a unit filler of some sort! It helps to tie in the entire army as a whole and shows some “uniqueness” as well as uniformity to the army.

The other side of the coin to this debate is to try to save yourself some time and money by creating a Unit Filler on a much bigger base, setting it in the middle of a unit, and calling it good. I have absolutely no problems with this. I think that some people see the downside in it because there are only a 1-2 models on the base when it is going to “count as” four models. Some people will look at it and think you are just getting out of painting and don’t want to put forth the time and effort to make your army look well. I believe that these people are in the minority (though I could be wrong) and either don’t like the Unit Filler creation altogether or some other crazy reason that I don’t know about…

As I said earlier, I’ve noticed a HUGE growing trend with Unit Fillers and it’s almost becoming commonplace on the table top. I was at a tournament back in January where your army was in the minority if you DIDN’T have a Unit Filler somewhere in your army! So I think they are here to stay and the more and more people come to realize that you can actually make a small diorama out of your unit fillers will eventually make them even more appealing. You can scroll down a bit to see my latest Unit Filler and see how actually big it is. In essence, I gained 8 models by adding this to my unit so now it’s 28 strong instead of 20… and I only painted 1 Saurus Warrior… So where do you stand on this debate? Do you see anything wrong with Unit Fillers? And is this the wave of future in Warhammer or is it a fad that will come and go eventually? As always, thanks for reading.


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8 thoughts on “Tales from the Jungle: “Unit Fillers: Practical or the Cheap Way Out?”

  1. It’s a must. It’s just too much of a pain to do as many models as you need to run, now, and it’s not like GW’s going to update the rules to require _fewer_ models. Plus, when well-done, they look sharp and characterful. They contribute to the uniqueness of an army.

    • Rush, I agree with you. It adds a nice “uniqueness” to the army if done well. Hell, if you can save a few bucks while doing, why not? That’s what I say…

      Also, I viewed your blog, really nice work man. So you’ll be at the NOVA GT too? I’m trying to find a place to game around here but you may be a little bit too far north. Let me know and thanks for checking out my blog.

  2. I think that unit fillers are great, so long as somebody has put some effort into them and they fit the theme of the army. Most of the army fillers that I have seen look like they took more time and effort to do than just painting the models that would fill normally up that space. The only time I would have a problem with it is if they had clearly not put any effort into it, and just glued a rock to a huge base.

    I hope that they stick around, since they add uniqueness to an army (and also make it easier to remove large amounts of models at once, but maybe that is just something that I have to do…)

    • Yep, same as above. If they are done really nice it makes for a stunning army. I don’t like to see people take things and just throw it on a base and call it good. To me, that takes away from the army instead of adds to it.

      Lol, no, you’re not the only one that has to remove large amounts of models at one time… I have to do it pretty frequently as well!

  3. I’ve been working on some Saurus fillers to expand my units from 20 to 24 models. Hopefully the 1st one will be built soon and I can share some pictures on my blog. I have 9 unpainted Saurus to use, so I plan on putting 2-3 models on four 50mmx50mm bases, with some random jungle critters and enemy casualties thrown in for good measure.

    Since big units are so common in 8th edition, I like the idea of fillers as it saves cash and adds character to an other wise bland looking unit. I do take issue with fillers that are just a piece of pre-made terrain stuck a large base, that just seems lazy.

  4. So it sounds like most people are ok with the unit fillers as long as they are done right… placing a big rock on a base and calling it a unit filler is just not acceptable.

    @Alex: I’ll be checking your blog to see your progress on the unit fillers. Adding some pieces from the jungle swarms really brings it out. Good luck!

  5. Looks like someone had their ‘Sunday Best” on when they wrote this post. Hope you do not mind me giving you a shout out in my weekly top post of the week. Cheers and thanks for providing us with an insight into Malifaux.

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