Best Warhammer Fantasy Army - Eighth Edition
Choosing the Best Warhammer Army
When deciding which Warhammer army to collect and go into battle with, you may want to consider how competitive that army is going to be. While the game is relatively balanced, some armies are more powerful than others. Of course, it is most important to choose an army with models you like with a style and background story that appeal to you. You might also want to see what armies are played by your friends, at your club, or in your area, so you can choose something different.
Nevertheless, it's good to know how well your chosen force measures up overall. This is not a definitive or official ranking, and is highly subjective, but should give some idea of which armies are considered stronger and which ones are weaker.
Warhammer Army Rankings - Bottom Tier
These armies are by no means completely useless. They can win tournaments but have a limited range of viable tactics, lack super powerful and underpriced units.
- Beastmen - Their most recent update, released just before the arrival of the eighth edition Warhammer rules, was generally regarded as a complete flop. Poor magic lore, overpriced monsters, unimpressive core units, and not all that exciting to play. Many people didn't like their new models either. As with all armies, they can still do well in the hands of a skilled player, but don't expect it to be easy.
- Bretonnians - Unfortunately for Bretonnian players, there was no updated army book during the eighth edition, leaving them with outdated rules and a slightly aging model range. They can be effective in the right hands but are too reliant on massed cavalry charges and their armor saves.
Warhammer Army List: Lower-Middle Tier
These armies are not considered particularly powerful but have certain strengths to balance out some of their weaknesses. They can still be very dangerous in the right hands.
- Empire - Excellent variety of different units and army styles. New demigryph knights are very popular. The laser-guided cannons of the eighth edition are always dangerous.
- Orcs and Goblins - One of the most fun armies to play, with lots of funny and interesting units. A really balanced army book that has no real bad choices, lots of variety, and fun themes. They are just very unpredictable and not especially powerful overall compared to the top tier armies.
- Vampire Counts - This army suffers from a lack of shooting and can crumble if the vampire lord dies. Core units are a bit weak. They can still be a tough army to beat with skeletons units that come back to life and nasty flying monsters.
- Tomb Kings - This army's benefits include powerful magic, some nice unit combos, cheap skeletons. Some powerful choices for experienced players. No auto-win button but no serious flaws. They have some effective tools for dealing with various challenges and are solid, if not spectacular, all round.
- Wood Elves - Their updated army book later in the eighth edition cycle made some interesting changes. Treekin and Dryads were weakened, magic items were reduced, old tactics were invalidated. Currently not such a bad army, however, due to access to all lores of magic and some very high-damage-output units such as Wild Riders and Waywatchers.
Warhammer Army Ranks: Upper-Middle Tier
These armies are above average in strength, with some deadly combos and units, and are just short of being considered 'top tier'.
- Dwarfs - Dwarves have the potential to shut down opponents' magic phase, tear them up with artillery, then grind them down in combat. Very slow-moving but tough to kill. Great war machines (apart from the flame cannon). Considered limited in play-styles and not always the most exciting.
- High Elves - They have versatile and powerful magic, an army-wide Always Strike First rule, strong elite infantry, and an awesome special character in Teclis. They can be a little fragile at times and core units are a bit overpriced, but generally, a strong choice and fun to play. You could get a good starter army from the 'Island of Blood' boxed set.
- Ogre Kingdoms - This army has strong characters, good war machines, are good at close combat and are fairly fast. Mournfangs and Ironblasters are considered underpriced. Their main weakness is having a fairly small number of expensive units in your army; if one gets wiped out by a big spell or some bad luck, you will be in trouble. They are not very heavily armored and don't have particularly good leadership. Ogre Kingdoms have a very nice range of models and are quite popular in tournaments.
- Warriors of Chaos - This army is possibly the strongest army in close combat and quite easy to play. The main risk is getting outmaneuvered by your opponent. With two hell cannons, two war shrines, big blocks of Marauders with great weapons and mark of Khorne, Warriors or Chosen with Halberds and Shields, magic items that screw around with the magic phase—there are some seriously nasty combos out there for Chaos generals to take advantage of. You can also theme your army based on different chaos gods, and have fun converting models to match.
These armies have few weaknesses, lots of powerful or underpriced units, and may even put off opponents for being overpowered or 'cheesy'.
- Skaven - Powerful war machines? Check. Nasty magic? Check. Cheap massed infantry? Check. Huge scary monsters? Check. Awesome magic items? Check. Skaven have pretty much got it all in terms of their rulebook. They also have a cool range of models, various fun themes (ninja style, steampunk, plague-ridden, monstrous experiments) and a 'Uniforms and Heraldry' book to give you more ideas. Two 'A-Bombs' supported by masses of slaves and a few warp lightning cannons can be very tough to beat. They can be difficult to learn for a beginner, as they have a lot of special rules. They can sometimes go spectacularly wrong when they accidentally blow themselves up.
- Dark Elves - They were downright vicious in the seventh edition and still deadly in the hands of a skilled player. Great magic items, and great synergies when using the Cauldron of Blood and lore of shadow. Hydras are seriously under-priced. However, dark elves are quite fragile and can be taken apart by a more experienced opponent if you don't use them effectively.
- Lizardmen - Slann are the best casters in the game and also count as your BSB. Skinks and Chamelions are great skirmishers, while Stegadons and Salamanders are really nasty. Lizardmen can reliably compete in every phase of the game and will always be a difficult army to defeat. Perhaps not the easiest army to use, but can be effective in a variety of builds.
- Daemons of Chaos - They were utterly unstoppable in the seventh edition, and still very strong in eighth. Their only weakness is the absence of cheap lord choices. Rules for units such as flamers and screamers were officially updated in August 2012, making them slightly less powerful.