Warhammer 8th Edition – Choosing an Army


With the official announcement of what the Internet has known for months I thought I’d take a look at one of the core issues with wargaming and focus this upon Warhammer. Eighth edition will no doubt bring its own bucketful of changes that will cause the community to whine, moan and manifest their nerd-rage. Yet, for me, I am looking forward to the opportunity this affords.

As has been previously mentioned I resolved this year to get a full 2000pts of painted Warhammer on the table this year. As those of us in the big wide world of work can tell you, nothing focuses the mind like an arbitrary deadline. So with 8th edition appearing in July, looks like I have around three months to do this.. golly.

Has this pre-amble been building up to anything, yes it has. Just as I was saying in December that I had already started painting things have fallen by the wayside and I have lost interest in that particular project. My Daemons of Chaos while very proficient on the tabletop do not present a challenge to play, therefore I am looking at something else, something that suits my play-style and fits with my other criteria. As many other people may be considering getting into Warhammer for the first time or starting up another project I thought I share my own thinking around the process of selecting an army! One of the hardest parts of getting into this hobby I feel.

While I am tailoring this to Warhammer, as I did with my 40k army building posts, you can apply this to any game really and I certainly find picking a force a hard thing to do at the best of times so if I can help anybody, so much the better.

The process you use to pick an army can vary, I know the criteria that I use to pick something is vastly different to the way some of the others in our group work, therefore this will be from my point of view, hopefully the other contributors can then add in their own thoughts in the comments section.

First off let’s list out our options, knowing what is on the table is as good a place to start as any, in no particular order Warhammer has the following armies;

  • Bretonnia
  • Beastmen
  • Daemons of Chaos
  • Dwarfs
  • Dark Elves
  • Empire
  • High Elves
  • Lizardmen
  • Orcs & Goblins
  • Ogre Kingdoms
  • Skaven
  • Tomb Kings
  • Vampire Counts
  • Warriors of Chaos
  • Wood Elves

That’s a long list but shows all the fifteen armies there is to choose from. The first and most obvious way of discounting a large number of these options is to look at what appeals to you, now this is a thing in and of itself, firstly, let’s look at the model range, what armies have models that I like. Let’s copy the list again and mark out ones that I am not a fan of looking at the overall models;

  • Bretonnia
  • Beastmen
  • Daemons of Chaos
  • Dwarfs
  • Dark Elves
  • Empire
  • High Elves
  • Lizardmen
  • Ogre Kingdoms
  • Orcs and Goblins
  • Skaven
  • Tomb Kings
  • Vampire Counts
  • Warriors of Chaos
  • Wood Elves

There’s six armies that are already down, a third of the available options removed in one fell swoop. Next option, do I want a horde style force or a smaller elite army? A couple of the armies up there fit into the middle ground of these two (Empire, Vampires and Lizardmen depending on list construction). Let’s do the exercise again;

  • Daemons of Chaos
  • Dark Elves
  • Empire
  • High Elves
  • Lizardmen
  • Skaven
  • Vampire Counts
  • Warriors of Chaos
  • Wood Elves

That’s another three gone. Considering how slow I am at painting, large hordes of stuff probably aren’t good for me, especially if I am looking at having something ready for 8th edition release. I have another couple of options for what I can do next, I can either look at how I play and what I like or go for the whole army aesthetic, sure I have already said that I like the “looks” of these armies, but I do a much harder look later at the individual units in the range, what do I want to field and how do they look, I will discount an entire army if there are a few units I don’t like the look of. This kind of hardcore approach helps narrow down what I am looking at. Obviously with this being a force I want to paint and get done I want things to look right, the art side of things is as important for me as how the army plays.

However, for the next stage I know that I like magic, it’s fun for me and I do a lot better with magic armies, so let’s apply this new criteria to our list;

  • Daemons of Chaos
  • Dark Elves
  • High Elves
  • Vampire Counts
  • Warriors of Chaos
  • Wood Elves

Ok, we’re in a little more trouble here, I know you could class the Wood Elves as magical but really, the Lore of Athel Loren is a bit rubbish and you’re not really going to be taking an army where magic is featured highly in that army. This is possibly an extra stage of selection for me because I know the game some. So, looking purely at the arty side of things like I have mentioned I want to apply that now as really you can interchange this with your own ideas but I am giving an example of how I do things.

  • Daemons of Chaos
  • Dark Elves
  • High Elves
  • Vampire Counts
  • Warriors of Chaos

Now we are talking, I do not like the basic warrior models that you use to make Crossbowmen and Spearmen for the Dark Elves. The Warriors range though I do like, however there is some stuff you’d need to make yourself (the War Shrine for example) as there is no model for it. Stuff like this counts against an army for me and we also have another player in our group with Warriors. I could have at the start jumped on and discounted armies that are already in use by others in our group, however, if you have a large play group then chances are you are going to be doubling up, also I would never purposefully discount an army that appeals to you because someone else has it. After all, you are going to be stuck with this army and hopefully get it painted and on the tabletop, motivation is a big thing and if you pick your “second choice” you may well find you lose the inspiration to paint it and get bored. Not a good place to be considering the investment required for Warhammer.

I’ve already mentioned at the top of this post that I have Daemons and will not be finishing them, they are easy to play and you can play really badly and still win in some cases, this isn’t how I roll so we can give those the chop too. This leaves us in the position I currently find myself in, with two armies to pick from. Our winners so far are;

Vampire Counts and High Elves

There we have it, from applying play-style and artistic considerations I have narrowed things down to two options. So, what will I pick for my army? In the current climate Vampires are considered one of the top three armies and High Elves are not, so I could swing that way based on tournament power… however, I don’t play tournaments. High Elves have less models than a normal Vampire Counts army and can’t increase their units from summoning or magic so therefore would be faster to paint. Even after narrowing things down I have still got two options and just to annoy everyone I am not going to post my final decision here, because, in all honesty, I haven’t made it yet.

I have the army books for both of these forces, I will be working out lists for both and depending on which one I like the look and feel of the most, well, that will be the one I pick. Anyone out there in Internet land doesn’t need to follow the steps I have here, but certainly picking your first army for a game, or even just a new one, presents a hazard and can be problematic for the best of us. Hopefully going through things where today will provide at least some food for thought but really the best advice that can be given is to grab something you like the look of. If it tickles your fancy then go for it, you’ll find greater motivation to paint and play with it in the long run.

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5 thoughts on “Warhammer 8th Edition – Choosing an Army”

    1. Thanks matey, haven’t decided which way to swing yet though. Reading through the High Elves book at the moment but right now which one I’ll plump for is anyone’s guess, although the VC being all plastic pretty much does swing in their favour slightly.

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