Set within the Mortal Realms, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar is a fantasy-inspired tabletop game born from the legacy that Warhammer Fantasy Battles left behind.
Age of Sigmar is a flexible game that complements any skill level and approach to the hobby. The basic rules of play are quick and easy to understand, but more advanced mechanics are available if you want to go further.
Best Age of Sigmar armies
- Anvils of Heldenhammer: Forged from the souls of the Mortal Realms' greatest heroes and blessed by Sigmar himself.
- Ossiarch Bonereapers: What is dead may never die.
- Disciples of Tzeentch: Just as planned.
- Kharadron Overlords: Bombs away!
- The Seraphon: Karma Chameleon.
- The Big Waaagh!: Not so tuff now, is ya?
Age of Sigmar breaks down into three game modes: Matched, Open and Narrative. Within the competitive landscape, Matched is the best way to play since you can agree on the points value before playing. Like Warhammer 40,000, your goal is to amass points by completing objectives. Alternatively, you can achieve a minor victory by wiping out your opponent's units instead. Second Edition improved on the formula further by overhauling the summoning system, removing reinforcement points and introducing Endless Spells. With this, you'll want an army that is capable of taking objectives while removing threats from afar. Or at least equip your army to get up close and personal before your opponent can prepare the oncoming assault.
Broken down into four Grand Alliances of Order, Chaos, Destruction and Death, there are a total of 24 factions to choose from. This can present some intimidation to know where to begin given the amount of choice on offer. Luckily, there are a few Age of Sigmar armies that provide a solid entry that also encourages competitive success. Given the options on offer, there is something for everyone regardless of how you approach the hobby.
1. Anvils of Heldenhammer
Forged from the souls of the Mortal Realms' greatest heroes and blessed by Sigmar himself
If you are coming from Warhammer 40,000 and enjoy playing Space Marines yet want a similar experience within a fantasy setting, then Stormcast Eternals are for you. There's a very good reason they're often nicknamed ‘Sigmarines’.
Stormcast Eternals are a flexible option as they can impact every phase of the game. They are one of the easier Age of Sigmar factions to play because of their ability to function even if you make mistakes, which only improves the learning curve further.
Like Space Marines, there's a wealth of sub-factions to choose from (called Stormhosts) that all use different artefacts and abilities. Competitively, Anvils of Heldenhammer are the best Stormhost option as their ability to shoot in the hero phase for 1 Command Point is a strong play, especially if you pair this up with Vanguard Raptors for maximum value. Coupled with the ability to reroll run and charge rolls, this helps smooth out any variance - making Stormcast Eternals a streamlined army to play.
Going further, you have access to robust units, aggressive melee options and versatile cavalry, giving you varied options to attack the format. As they are the headline faction within the franchise, Stormcast Eternals will always receive strong support due to their popularity, which makes them a fantastic Age of Sigmar army for beginners.
2. Ossiarch Bonereapers
What is dead may never die
Make no bones about it, the Ossiarch Bonereapers are one of the most competitive factions you can play in Age of Sigmar. What makes the Ossiarch Bonereapers such a tempting option is their ability to ignore Battleshock. Battleshock is a check that can cause units to flee in fear if models fall during combat. Instead, it allows you to take advantage of opposing units who fail that check, progressing your board state further. Bonereaper armies are often smaller in numbers, but make up for it by running elite units such as Nagash, Supreme Lord of the Undead, and Arch-Kavalos Zandtos.
The Ossiarch Bonereapers have a unique take on Command Points. Unlike standard Warhammer armies, you do not generate Command Points but use Relentless Discipline points instead. You cash these points to power up your units at the start of each turn before you roll priority, allowing you to use your abilities before your opponents can begin their attack. With these nuances, the Ossiarch Bonereapers can be complex to pilot since Relentless Discipline is a unique effect. Over time, you will become experienced with the mechanic as it is an incredibly potent tool to have in your undead arsenal.
Not to mention, you can run some fantastic-looking models such as Katakros, Mortarch of the Necropolis. I mean, just look at it.
3. Disciples of Tzeentch
Just as planned
The Disciples of Tzeentch are one of the 'core' spellcasting factions within Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. Even your basic units can cast spells that generate additional bonuses, allowing you to cast extra spells during your turns.
They're widely known to be one of the best factions to play if you want competitive success. At one point, it took Games Workshop just two weeks to release a revised FAQ update after the initial release since the faction swept events with Changehost Battalions and Pink Horrors. Even with the nerfs, the Tzeentch remain a great choice as they prey on some of the top armies such as the Ossarich Bonereapers. It’s a great meta call against the undead hordes as Tzeentch emphasises on ranged attacks which the Bonereapers often struggle with. Coupled with rend and mortal wounds, you can almost take anything down from a distance.
You are fragile compared to other factions, so ensuring you stay out of close combat will yield favourable results. If you enjoy casting a bunch of spells and want to alter variance with Destiny Dice, the Tzeentch are a great option for you.
4. Kharadron Overlords
Kharadon Overlords were one of the first new factions to come into Age of Sigmar, bringing a unique-steampunk aesthetic to the Duardin race. As they are relatively new, there are a limited amount of models available but this doesn't stop you from running a thematic army. The baseline for any Kharadon Overlord army is focusing on long-range firepower while running a bunch of ships. And I mean, a lot of ships.
What makes the Kharadon Overlords a viable option within a competitive setting is their 'Fly High' ability. This ability allows you to essentially deep strike opposing models, where you remove your skyvessels from play and set them nine inches away from any enemy model. It is a strong ability as it allows you to move ships across the board as you see fit, or to disengage from combat altogether. In addition, your transportation can carry units that can shoot enemy units from afar, taking inspiration from the Imperial Guard in Warhammer 40,000.
While you are limited on close-combat options, you do have access to the excellent Grundstok Thunderers. These units have an ability called 'Drive Them Back!' which gives them all a bonus shot with their missile weapons while they’re within three inches of an enemy model.
While the Kharadon Overlords are not quite the strongest faction in Age of Sigmar, they are in a position where they are tremendous amounts of fun, challenging to play and bring something unique to the table. If you are one for painting and collecting, they offer some of the most intricate-looking models within the Warhammer franchise.
5. The Seraphon
Since the nerf to the Disciples of Tzeentch, the Seraphon remain one of the strongest Age of Sigmar armies you can field within the miniatures game. Since the shift from Warhammer Fantasy Battles, the Seraphon have successfully managed to keep most of their old units intact. As a result, you can diversify your army if you fancy something different, or want to attack the format in a particular way.
There are various ways to build your Seraphon army: you can overwhelm the board with a horde of Skins, or fall into a spellcasting approach with the brilliant Slann Starmaster. You also have access to some of the best monsters with Bastiladons, especially under the Thunder Lizard constellation.
Compared to other armies, the Seraphon are very synergy-dependent, relying on special characters to carry out their goal. You'll feel every loss of a character or hero as your base models are fairly weak and require support. However, you also have defensive abilities such as ‘Scaly Skin’, which subtracts one point of damage from a received attack, that help protect your key units. The Seraphon are the oldest race within the Warhammer universe, and an excellent starting point given the variety of units on offer.
6. The Big Waaagh!
Not so tuff now, is ya?
Not sure which Orruk warclan to play? Then play both! The Big Waaagh! is an allegiance ability of both Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz factions. As a result, you get to amass Waaagh! points every turn or by meeting specific goals within a game. From playing Warchanters to Wurrgog Prophets, your units will gain points that produce army-wide boosts. As the battle goes on, the more Waaagh! points you'll receive, meaning the stronger the boons to your army. With these points, you can use game-ending command abilities such as 'Da Big Waagh!' that provides every friendly Orruk on the battlefield with extra attacks.
If you want to diversify your options further from The Big Waaagh! you can run either Bonesplitterz or Ironjawz warclans separately instead. The Bonesplitters are excellent at tackling hordes and monsters, whereas the Ironjawz are proficient in dealing with special characters and elites. The Orruk Warclans are an easy Age of Sigmar army to learn since you care about being aggressive. There is rarely a situation where charging in with a bunch of angry Orruks doesn't solve the problem. Plus, who doesn't want to play with a warclan called 'The Big Waaagh'!?
With a third edition of Age of Sigmar rumoured to be on the horizon, it will be interesting to see what nerfs and buffs come with the new release. Often there is a swath of changes but this shouldn’t hinder you from collecting an army that complements you. Like with any tabletop game, it's effortless to fall into a competitive frame of mind where results are the only narrative. However, it's sensible to adopt the flavourful approach, throw a bunch of dice and see where it takes you. Although it may be intimidating to know where to start, there is something for everyone within this enriched fantasy setting.