Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Warhammer Fantasy Power Rankings

 Rhellion here with my thoughts on the current field of Warhammer Fantasy armies.

A few new books have come out, and I have been a part of Adepticon, Ard Boyz, other local tournaments, and reading forums like a mad man. With all of the "data" I have been looking at, I have generated my own opinion on the current power rankings in the Warhammer World. I did not include Chaos Dwarfs or Dogs of War, as they do not have Games Workshop army books. Hopefully this list will be helpful for DFG readers interested in starting Fantasy, or maybe starting a new army. Here we go, starting from the top. Just pretend this is ESPN for Warhammer!

1. Daemons
2. Dark Elves
3. Lizardmen
4. Vampire Counts
5. Skaven
6. Warriors of Chaos
7. High Elves
8. Empire
9. Dwarfs
10. Orcs and Goblins
11. Tomb Kings
12. Brettonians
13. Ogre Kingdoms
14. Beastmen
15. Wood Elves

First and foremost, 8th edition has done a lot to bring most of the armies closer together in competitiveness. But that being said, armies ARE better than others when it comes to competitive play. Lets break it down.

Daemons - big nasty monsters, amazing infantry core, small elite support units that HAVE to be dealt with, easy access to Loremaster and multiple dispel scrolls, unbreakable army, and an army wide ward save. They are still the top dog.

Dark Elves - still great synergies with very good magic items and limitless magic, mindrazor spam on multi attack models seriously hurts, hydras are very powerful and undercosted, some of the most damaging shooting in the game.

Lizardmen - some of the best infantry in Saurus, the very best non special character magic user in the Slaan, versatile poison skirmishers, and the option for good monsters. The Slaan really takes advantage of 8th edition and just wins.

Vampire Counts - the people who said Vampires took the biggest hit in 8th were wrong. They have huge hordes of multi attack poison core Ghouls, Large units of Grave Guard, and Van Hels to demolish opponents. There is really only the one build that works, but it still wins lots of tournaments.

Skaven - I honestly think Skaven can be the strongest army out there... when everything goes right. The Abomination, Warp Lightning Cannon, and Plague Furnace are the strongest elements of the Skaven army... and can be completely random. Same with the Doomrocket. Steadfast did more for Skaven than any other army when you add in Strength in Numbers , making them easily top 5.

Warriors of Chaos - more excellent infantry, some of the best magic, and excellent artillery in the form of Hell Cannons that aren't even war machines. There are some match ups where their elite nature steamrolls, but others where it hinders them (vs horde armies, especially Skaven). I am beginning to see loads and loads of Marauders in the successful builds.

High Elves - another elite army that does very well in close combat, and is bunched up with the top tier armies very closely. ASF as an army wide rule is very powerful now that it allows rerolls to hit, but it is less effective than before in that enemies get to strike back. Another elite magic army, but the magic phase can be fickle. They are still one army I would never be surprised to see on the podium.

Empire - Empire are definitely jack-of-all trades but I don't consider them a top army. They can definitely build a good defensive army with loads of war machines and serious magic defense with war priests. Army wide I just don't think they have the raw power for destruction of the top armies.

Dwarfs - similar to empire but with the powerful troops in great weapon warriors and hammerers, but without any magic threat. Yes they can attempt to shut down the magic phase as defense, but without even thee option of using magic that is so powerful in 8th it is definitely a downside. Load up on great weapons more than war machines for better success. 8th edition is won in combat.

Orcs and Goblins - Their power curve is better with their 8th edition rules, and they probably deserve to be higher on the list but to me they are right in the middle blob of armies. I don't think the Arachnarok is powerful enough compared to other armies big gribblies, but it may be the point where future monsters are balanced around. Lots of little support units and excellent Savage Orc option for Core makes them solid middle tier.

Tomb Kings - loads better than their previous incarnation, I still think they suffer from being slow, relying too heavily on random magic, and crumbling too much. What they do have going for them is a great new lore, excellent special choices that can really be game changers or a solid plan to strategize around, and the ability to try and make your magic phase a more sure thing with the casket and hierotitan.

Brettonians - while I think they are stronger in 8th than people give them credit for, they are still near the end of the line. I am interested to see what options they have in the new book and how much cheaper their Knights will become, right now we are seeing lists of double Treb minimum. Relying on that to be competitive can be costly with all the anti war machine out there.

Ogres - while they can be very good in some situations, I still think they are too vulnerable with such a small model count. I think monstrous infantry is overrated in most cases in 8th, and it hurts an army full of them. There are more war machines doing multi wounds, more spells that remove models (rather than wounds), and more grinding through steadfast that just beat Ogres.

Beastmen - I think the beasts got the shaft with a poor lore and lackluster core for the most part. There are successful builds out there but overall I don't think their power level is competitive. They need better rare choices than their manly ineffective and overcosted monsters. Skilled players will rise above this and be successful, but that is more player than army.

Wood Elves - bottom of the barrel until they get their revision, steadfast is hard for a mostly skirmishing army. Add in the fact that the meta loads many armies with flaming attacks that are just that much worse for some of the best elite units in your army (Treekin). Shooting is harder because armies are in combat even faster with longer charge ranges.

Agree? Disagree? Give me your thoughts and let me know what your list is.


  1. The only thing I can say is that on the table you can't feel the difference in power when it comes to your top 11. If I face daemons or tomb kings with my Dark Elves it is still an even challenge I feel. I totally think it is undeniable about your bottom 4 armies being the weakest in terms of adjusting to the new rules. While far from being able to compete it is def an upward battle.

  2. I just started Fantasy with Dark Elves. I must be doing something wrong because I'm getting my butt kicked. I did just pick up a 2nd Hydra though, so that might help.

  3. It takes time to learn movement strategies, magic strategies, list building, etc. I would expect anyone starting to have a definitive learning curve. If you're ever in the Pandemonium or GW Rochester area look me up and I would be glad to play a game and give you some tips.

    I would definitely say the top 7 are one bracket that is close, but pulls away from the rest. Then the top 3 out of those 7 are even further ahead. The tools are there in those armies to win, and they still prove successful more often in the new edition.

  4. Not sure if i agree entirely with the Vampire Counts rank. Super Overcosted units. The Grave Guard death star is a one trick pony that can be danced around. Their magic is unreliable and has the potential to loose you the game on turn one with a bad miscast on your vamp general or god forbid cupped hands looking at you lizardmen. I think they can still compete not sure if I would rank them above Skaven though.

    I have seen so many of these lists these days and the funny thing about them is they are all so different with whose top 5 or even top 10 with almost all of the top 10 fighting for position. Even the bottom barrel rankings you have bring some things to the table however wood elves are hurting the most. I think everyone agrees on the Wood Elf rank right now.

    Overall its a good indicator that 8th edition is going great and Fantasy is a way more balanced diverse game then it has ever been. Now if only 40k would get a hint and we would see more than the same 3 or 4 armies spammed in most tourneys right now.

  5. If anyone is interrested in the picture of the hypopotamus, it s from a converted hypo fight we hoosted a few years ago using the "Roi du Ring" rules... More picture of this thing here :

  6. After more second guessing Vampires, this weekend they scored 2nd place at our Ard Boyz semi final, where 3 of the top 4 players at the Chicago Ard Boyz finals from last year playerd (and only one placed - 3rd).

    In fact, the top 5 places matched my top 5 with minimal change.

    1. Daemons
    2. Vampires
    3. Dark Elves
    4. Lizardmen
    5. Skaven

  7. i still think its pretty close though and could easily come down to one lucky or bad turn meaning the difference of second or 5th place for those armies. Also who did the vampire play against and what lists were they running and what scenario did they draw. I have seen so many fantasy games go from winning to loosing in a blink of an eye with how the new rules work. The one list that vampires have is very strong but i still think that lizardmen Dark elves and skaven have more tools at their disposal and can compete in every phase making them stronger overall. But hey if everyone wants to stupidly fight grave guard im not going to stop them especially if they want to fight mine :)
    Grats on your recent tourny win Rhellion.

  8. This should have a yearly update! It's almost around that 1 year time...