When it comes to picking an army, there’s a lot that goes into it. There are rules, game effects, codexes, and so on. Some of the models can be cool. You may even be gripped by the lore.
It can trip up a new player in the hobby. There are many fractions to choose from that can be a large time and cost investment, especially if you take into consideration the Age oF Sigmar and 40k. It can also be a pain if a player wants to do competitive play versus casual play.
It’s simpler to pick and choose what you want to paint when you have no intentions of playing. However, it can still be difficult to choose.
You can pick by combat style. Some like close combat, and some like aggressive combat. It’s easy to look at an army and get a good feel for it. Orks look brutish and they are brutish. However, Space Marines, for example, can be a blend of it.
Also, finding one that visually appeals to you also helps with painting. If you aren’t interested in visuals then you probably would have a difficult time wanting to assemble and paint them.
I bought a couple of different figures before settling down. I’ve painted Orks and Slaanesh Daemons and finally hit Tyranids before I realized they were the ones.
It can be difficult to number armies exactly, especially with different Space Marine factions. Right now we’re looking at twenty-four for 40k and the same for Age of Sigmar (give or take)
Let’s look at the armies for 40k:
Prepare for the Waaagh!
Orks are brutes that tend to deal with close combat. These fungal balls of mess have terrible ballistic skills. They work well as a large group. This army is a fun, comic relief to play!
Fun fact: Orks possess the features of both animals and fungi.When they die they release new spores that settle on the soil. After gestating, an ork emerges when mature.
T’au are a high-powered, technically advanced, long-ranged army. They do well with quantity and shooting. This is more of a funkier mech-style army if that’s your style.
Fun fact: T’au preaches a concept of “the greater good (tau’va) and often think of themselves as peaceful. This notion is quickly diminished when other species refuse to join their cause. This includes planetary conquest.
These folks are similar to the terminator in terms of dangerous zombie robots. They are another great close combat army.
Necrons are some of the oldest in the galaxy. They gave their mortality up for immortality in the form of metal bodies, with a lot of weaponry on hand.
Fun fact: Necrons can suffer from mental and physical such as panic attacks or stuttering. Even dementia.
This is a swarm to be reckoned with. Similar to the xenomorph in Aliens, they have a good deal of close combat and shooting. Tyranids have a hivemind that they rely on to keep their shit together. You can play in a swarm or go with the larger creatures.
They are a big nasty danger in the universe. Like roaches, Tyranids are difficult to get rid of.
This is my personal favorite, army-wise, and one that I want to start building.
Fun Fact: The Hive Fleet Leviathan is only the beginning of the Hive Mind. It’s believed the main fleet has yet to arrive.
Another newish fraction with few unit choices but this is an exciting choice. I’ve heard good things about Genestealers and alpha strikes.
Fun fact: Genestealers worship Tyranids!
Imperial knights are a somewhat small group, model-wise. They’re good in close combat, firepower, and big stompy robots.
A relatively new army of 40k but they make up for it in speed. These are a subgroup of Aeldari. Harlequins are the keepers of the Black Library and serve the Aeldari deity, the laughing gods
Fun fact: The Masque of the Reapers once committed an atrocity so horrible that the whole planet it was on was subjected to the Exterminatus.
These are a diverse army and typically close combat. Daemons tend to use psykers and are still capable of making a lot of enemies. These models can be larger and bulkier than others. You can make units from Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch, or Slaanesh (Personally, I went with Slaanesh).
Fun fact: A daemon was once cursed to always tell the truth as a punishment for past failings.
These dudes will let you have a mass of Chaos knights on the field. These are big stompy, angry, chaotic knights. The codex is pretty similar to the imperial knights.
Dark Eldar ( Drukhari)
These guys are focused on shooting, armored vehicles, and volume. They typically need some work to get them to be brutal. Some units are close combat but most are long-ranged units.
They live through the pains of others (carefully, so they don’t attract Slaanesh).
Fun fact: Dark Eldar are grown in giant egg sacks that line the Haemonculi Laboratories.
Death Guards (Heretic Astartes)
Papa Nurgle has entered the chat! Death Guards are followers of Nurgle. They are tough and resilient. This is another oddly unique fraction that combines strength and psykers. There aren’t a ton of options for the Nurgle groupies.
Fun fact: There are several plaque companies that have their own unique personalities. The 7th company, for example, are known as Mortarion’s chosen sons.
Thousand Sons (Heretic Astartes)
This is a primary psyker army that is rough and tough. There are not a lot of unit options, like Death Guards, but they are powerful.
Fun Fact: Prospero has its own regicide game, called Kuturanga.
Chaos Space Marines
When good boys go bad, they’re the chaotic Space Marines. They’re great with short-range but also have some good long-range units. Much like normal Space Marines, they got a lot for people to use. These Marines are often mutated to mirror the chaos god they worship.
Fun fact: Almost all daemon engines are made by Warpsmiths and the Dark Mechanicum.
Feel the need, the need for speed!
Aeldari can shoot a lot! They are speedy and capable. These speedy boys also have some great psykers. There are a lot of units too!
This race is ancient and got lost in the sauce that attracted chaos.
Fun fact: They partied so hard that they summoned a chaos god (Slaanesh)!
Imperial Guard (Astra Militarum)
These are the military units of the Imperium! They’re weak at close combat but are great with firepower. The 8th edition did these guys right with options.
They deal a lot of damage!
Fun fact: New recruits are rarely added to existing regiments.
Hides the toasters!
They’re the Imperial crafters for the Imperium! The Adeptus Mechanicus can shoot and do close combat. It’s also a smaller army as well. This is also a newer army with a fair amount of units.
They’re cyborgs that worship the Machine God (Omnissiah).
Fun fact: Sydonian dragoons are perpetual motion engines that were created by a previous tech-priest that no one understands. If they stop moving then they will never turn on again.
Very effective, but also costly. They offer great low-model count armies. The Adeptus Custodes are protectors of the emperor and were made from his geneseed.
Not as strong as a Primarch, but stronger than the average Space Marine.
Fun fact: They are unable to be corrupted by chaos!
Sisters of Battle (Adepta Sororitas)
This is the only female army in 40k, similar to Space Marines’ minus physical modifications. They have a faith system and some pretty rad tanks. They shoot instead of close combat.
They’re a militant (cult) arm of the Ecclesiarchy. Weaponized nuns basically. The sisters of battle are technically one of the oldest armies in the game.
Fun fact: They do not take a vow of charity!
This is a fast assault unit. Great for alpha strikes. They’re great with close combat and unique specialties.
Fun fact: They were known as “easters of the dead” because they would in fact eat the dead corpses of their enemies.
The dark. broody, emo Space Marines that have unique abilities. Similar to other Space Marine units, minus their love of plasma.
Fun fact: Their chant is “We have come. We are death”.
Deathwatch (Adeptus Astartes)
Yet another elite Space Marine unit that has a low model count with unique abilities.
Fun fact: Deathwatch teams are led by an Inquisitor due to their code of conduct being strict.
The best of the best of the best, Sir! Grey knights are a smaller psyker unit. it’s a limiting army and is good with close combat.
Fun fact: Grey Knights hate the concept of being interred in a dreadnought.
Space Marines (Adeptus Astartes)
The good boys.
This is a pretty rounded army. There’s an extensive codex and units. Space Marines have a whole array of traits, units, and traits. This is the most commonly used army in 40K
There is about twenty different fractions to them. Space Marines are genetically modified to serve the God Emperor of Mankind.
Fun fact: Space Marines have a third lung!
Do not boop the snoot.
Space Wolves are generally more close to combat than other Space Marines. They have a couple of unique units such as Fenrisian, Blood claws, and Thunderwolves.
They’re sort of Scandinavian in appearance.
Fun fact: The space wolves suffer from a flaw in their geneseed, more specifically the Canis Helix. This flaw leads them to take on canine traits as they age.
Here are the Age of Sigmar armies:
Age of Sigmar is the fantasy version of Warhammer in simple terms. Much like 40k, AoS deals with the conflict of the mortal realms versus the forces of death, chaos, and destruction.
AoS has four Grand alliances and each faction is part of one of them. There’s Death, Chaos, Order, and Destruction. Each fraction has a battle tome, similar to codexes. Some fractions have rules with certain campaigns. Fractions also have allegiances and subfractions.
Collection boxes are a cheap way of starting an army since some are bargains.
Other than that, my knowledge is slightly more limited in AoS than in 40K. To someone who hasn’t played both, there seems to be a number of differences between the two but as one learns after a while the two are pretty similar.
Beast of Chaos- Chaos
This is a horde army that’s fast and brutal. They haven’t received any updates since AoS started.
These folks aren’t followers of the Dark Gods by force or bribery. They just like it. The Beasts want to blend the Mortal Realm with the Chaos Realm to create a whole chaotic party.
Blade of Khorne- Chaos
Blades of Khorne worship the chaos god Khorne. Blood is Khorne’s favorite thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s yours or the enemy’s. Red is the typical army color.
Blades of Khorne often collect skulls. They have pilled them up so high that the skulls are often mistaken for mountains. Yikes. Khorne has several legions and allied critters.
Disciplines of Tzeentch- Chaos
These are the worshipers of Tzeentch, the chaos god of change. These guys are great with magic. They got humans and demons.
The disciples often hunt for knowledge on the arcane arts while beefing with followers of Nurgle. When they’re not tearing across the universe, of course.
Tzeentch is primarily blue.
Hedonites of Slaanesh- Chaos
The NSFW of the chaos armies. They hit first and hard (pun intended). They received both daemons and humans (2019, 2021).
These Hedonites come in manner forms. Daemon, corrupted mortals, and more. They seek all things indulgently and of course, Slaanesh (who seems to be missing? or is it really missing? I say plotting!)
Speed controls the board with these dudes. Slaanesh’s color is purple.
Maggotkin of Nurgle- Chaos
Here comes Papa Nurgle and his maggots again! These stinky boys are one of the slowest armies with one of the best defenses in the game.
Nurgle seems to be the #1 Chaos parent? Far more encouraging and generous than the others.
Think of rotten greens and browns with Nurgle’s gang.
The rats from Brooklyn follow the Great Horned Rat, a new chaos god. There’s a lot that you can do with these. You can do horde units or elite units as well.
These are the newest races to join the chaos party after the other gods witnessed the Great Horned one. (I guess the Great Horned one got tired of teaching Turtles self-defense?)
Slaves to Darkness- Chaos
These guys just like chaos. Doesn’t matter who they worship. These models can be used in many units and armies. Big, beefy, and angry.
Flesh-Eater Courts- Death
Cannibals! Vampires! Ghouls! You can do hordes or use powerful units.
These are the mortal followers of the chaos gods. They often meet their own end as beings of chaos, one way or another.
Ghosts! These units are decent and have the ability to fly.
Nighthaunts are the form of the undead (Ghosts or wraiths). They often become this way by tragedy or suffering. The curse isn’t easy to break. Few weapons do enough damage to truly destroy a Nighthaunt.
Ossiarch Bonereaper’s- Death
Spooky scary skeletons!
These bones are a force to be reckoned with! The units are ranging from infantry to cavalry.
Ossiarch Bonereapers are the greatest creations of the Great Necromancer. They grow with every new battle. The cycle of death fuels them.
Soulblight Gravelords- Death
More Vampires, zombies, and skeletons! These armies are tough to deal with if you like hordes of zombies and the undead.
They have perfected the spooky Halloween vibes. Souldblight Gravelords are servants of Nagash. Zombies and Skeletons are often used for underlings to do their Vampiric bidding.
Gloomspite Gitz- Destruction
Another comic relief army these dudes are fun to play. It’s unpredictable and you’ll never know how it’ll go.
This faction is a blend of Moonclan Grots, Troggoths, and Spiderfang Grots. They want to bring about the Everdank in the name of Gorkamorka.
Ogor Mawtribes- Destruction
Ogors are like onions. They have layers! Ogors are strong and brutal for gameplay.
They are embodiments of Gorkamorka (referred to as the Gulping God). There are two different cultures that make up the Ogor Mawtribes, the Gutbusters, and the Beastclaw Raiders.
Orruk Warclans- Destruction
These Orruks are brutes and dangerous! They make for good close combat.
They find joy in destruction for the sake of destruction. They do this for the worship of Gorkamorka (God of destruction and violence).
Son of Behemat- Destruction
Giants! The tallest models in the game! Also the most expensive. These units will be small.
These dudes have been a little lost, and chaotic, after the death of Behemat. Sons of Behemat are colossal in both size and strength. The sons pass down history orally by the tribal matriarch. Behemat and Gorkamorka have beef with each other.
Cities of Sigmar- Order
Humans and elves. These are a standard army and units, like Space Marines. This is also a blend of other races that built around Realmgate, with stormkeeps. They may be mortal, but they do put up a hell of a fight.
Daughters of Khaine- Order
These lasses are the followers of Morathi, a dark powerful goddess. This is one of the most expensive armies to go with but at the cost of being one of the top armies.
They gain power through bloodshed to honor their goddess. Fighting is their religion. Morathi is a hell of a sorceress that she rivals the gods
I’d like to have an army of them at one point or another.
Can’t forget the dwarves! These armies often do well at tournaments.
These dudes are often berserkers carrying large war axes into battle. They are descended from the warrior god Grimnir. Fyreslayers seek gold, as they believe it contains the essence of Grimnir.
Idoneth Deepskin- Order
Aquaman? These units can be powerful and interesting, lore-wise!
Idoneth Deepskin are a race of aelves that only step on land for war. They are raiders with swift and efficient attacks. Deepkin are not out for money or land but rather souls.
Kharadron Overlords- Order
Steampunk dwarves. These do well with shooting. They’re limited with options.
Kharadron overlords are militaristic and dominate the skies with sky-ports. They live and abide by the Kharadron Code, a constitution that defines their society.
Lizardfolk! Dinosaurs with dinosaurs! With Lasers! Their price is below average but also can be one of the strongest armies in the game.
They absolutely hate chaos. Don’t want it or need it. Seraphons have a vendetta against the Chaos gods for the destruction of their world. They use the energy of the stars to help maintain order and fight against the chaos gods.
Stormcast Eternals- Order
Paladins! These guys have plenty of models to choose from but are also limited in editions at times.
Stormcast Eternals are superhuman (like Space Marines) warriors who have been reformed by the God-King Sigmar. They are the main weapons of the Grand Alliance against chaos. There are three stages to creating a Stormcast Eternal. They stand about seven to nine feet tall.
Fair tree folk but also one of the weakest armies at the moment. They’re also one of the cheapest.
They are humanoid plants. Their barks can vary in color and pattern. Sylvaneths are intelligent embodiments of Ghyran. They’re also the favorite child of Everqueen Alarielle (goddess of nature and life). They are connected by the Spirit Song, a melody that allows them to travel.
Elves. Really powerful elves. These are expensive models. Units can be small but large in cost.
They are the sanest and mentally stable Aelfs. They’re book nerds and often mistaken for angels. Lumineth Realm-Lords often fight against Slaanesh’s forces to keep the order of the mortal realms.
What do you think? Drop a comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear it.
Have a happy Warhammer Wednesday, everyone!