Lost in Translation
Most of us have seen it at one time or another when trying to arrange a game and the opponent describes his list as being "fluffy". At one time this used to mean that it has a back story, a method behind the unit selections so that everything fits around a particular theme or a way to, dare I say it, Forge The Narrative.
The description of a fluffy list seems to have changed through 6th and certainly into 7th edition to be more of "its not competitive". Like wise the dreaded Dick List seems to have been changed to competitive. There also seems to be some sort of psychological warfare going on unseen where certain people will say they want a fluffy game and still rock up with 9 centurions, 3 wraith knights, 30 summoning units or [insert dick move here] but then go on to explain how its fluffy. This seems to usually be the fact that they included a 100 point unit which is not optimised. With the addition of unbound lists and come the apocalypse alliances I expected more people to be using these so called fluffy lists as you really can play exactly the type of army you want but surprisingly, this doesn't seem to be the case within our local meta.
I suppose this differs depending on who you are speaking to. To me this should be something that has a story behind it, a reason for this particular section of an army to be together and fighting this particular battle. This doesn't necessarily mean it will be an easy list to beat or that its not optimised to completely destroy their opponents. Simply put, it has a reason behind its creation for these particular units to be combined on the battle field. The bottom line is that fluff can be created by anyone to justify anything to give you a reason to use all your favourite toys. You want to take 18 wraiths backed up by warriors in fliers? Its and advanced scouting force built for rapid deployment to determine the enemy position. Want to build a 15 vehicle guard army? Its the main attack force that has been deployed as a last ditch attempt to stop the enemy advance. Want to play 9 chapter masters and nothing else? It was a strategic planning meeting that was interrupted by the invading......the list goes on and can justify pretty much anything you like so why do we automatically assume fluffy armies mean they are an easy game? My brain seems to have adapted to this phenomenon by changing the wording of these statements to the following:
I'm bringing a fluffy list = I want a fun game
I'm bringing a dick list = I want a competitive game
Unfortunately in our local meta there doesn't seem to be any other options. People tend to pigeon hole particular lists into fluffy or dick lists with no in-between, this even extends to the player themselves in some cases and they are seen as "that guy". I'm not quite sure when this started happening but its becoming more and more apparent for regularly arranged games and indeed, in certain tournaments.
Personally I've used 18 wraiths backed up by flyers, allied in helldrakes, used 60 flayed ones, fully army of just Necron warriors on foot and everything else I can think of. I've also played against be'lakor backed up by an invisible lord or skulls, 2+ re-rollable invulnerable save, 160 men on foot, 40 terminators, titans and despite all of that I've tried to avoid categorizing those type of lists and made it an enjoyable game for myself and my opponent. For me, they are simply variations on a standard list that my opponent decided to try out. I would have no problem playing a game against anyone who wanted to try out an unbound list using whatever they feel like because at the end of the day its a game of toy soldiers and I always have fun whatever I'm playing with or against.
Nothing in the game of Warhammer 40k is unbeatable.
If it was, you would see a tournament of 40 players all using identical lists and masturbating over dice rolls. Every list, bound, unbound or concoction of allies can be beaten. I'm not saying it wouldn't be extremely difficult for your particular build to pull out a win but everything has at least a chance. I've found that those people who optimize lists to bring all their best stuff usually get sucked into the trap of killing their opponent and forget about the mission completely only to lose it on the final turn.
There is no particular reason or point to this post other than to try and get the readers to think about how they use the terms to categorize certain lists, armies or even players.
What does fluffy mean to you?