Oh look, it’s that Jack Shrapnel guy… he’s still alive! Yes I know you were all very concerned when you hadn’t heard from me in so long (the search party finally found me). Real life Chaos kind of has a way of interfering with the more important things like gaming, writing about gaming, and you know, having a life outside of work. I’d like to apologize for my absence. Sorry Thor, I really have no excuse!
With the release of the General’s Handbook II coming this weekend, there’s no better time than the present to get right into the second part of our series on getting started with Age of Sigmar. Part one covers the Grand Alliance Order.
This series is intended to give you an overview of the Grand Alliances so that you can get the flavor of the options available to you. This time it’s not about the heroes we want, it’s about the heroes we deserve – CHAOS!
Are you sick of the goody-goodies too? Sometimes it’s a lot more fun to be evil isn’t it? Well if you go the route of chaos with your army building, you are incredibly spoiled for choices.
Within the sub-factions you’re permitted within the rules to mix and match units however you’d like so long as you keep with the main grand alliance of Chaos. If you choose to stick with one sub-faction only, certain units become battleline, and at each point level you have a minimum number of battleline units that you must bring (3 units at 2,000 points for example).
The General’s Handbook II is adding an allies system to the game as well, and this is something that we’ll be taking a look at in a future article once it’s had a chance to impact the game more.
This is one of the few AOS chaos factions to receive a battletome, and subsequently is a good starting place if you’re looking at getting current solid rules and all those fantastic formations. Also red. You should probably like painting red.
This is also possibly one of the cheapest AOS armies to build, given this is the “bad guy” side of the original AOS starter set which gives you a large number of miniatures for a cheap price (and can be split with someone who wants the stormcast for even cheaper buy in).
If that weren’t enough, the box game gorechosen gives you a discount on characters, the start collecting box is as always a decent discount and there are a number smaller sets such as “storm of sigmar” that can help fill out your force quite cheaply.
On the tabletop, this army plays a lot with overlapping buffs, particularly from the characters in the army. A bloodsecrator is highly recommended (and comes with the starter set so easy to acquire!) for the additional attacks bubble. Shooting is rather limited (with the exception of the multiple skullcannon formation which can be quite good) and you’re primary goal is to buff your units up with extra attacks and to hit bonuses and charge into combat.
Large units of bloodletters with an extra attack from the secrator, bonuses from slaughterpriests and the command bonus of a nearby general go from fairly lackluster to downright terrifying en-masse. A unit to pay attention to is wrathmongers. Their buff of an extra attack stacks with the secrator (albeit they have only a 3″ range) and when they are slain in combat they make the enemy attack themselves!
Blessed with not only another new chaos battletome, but some of the newest chaos sculpts, this army is a painter’s dream. The new Lord of Change / Kairos Fateweaver kit is spectacular, as are pretty much the entire range of miniatures. Bright colours suit this army very well and the models are chock full of impressive details.
The downside? This is not a cheap army to collect unfortunately. The start collecting box is a good value as always, but once you start adding characters and the mid-sized units such as the Tzaangors, things start adding up quickly.
Miniatures aside, this army understandably plays more with spellcraft abilities and Kairos Fateweaver is the undisputed master. There are also sneaky tricks involved too. The Disciples of Tzeentch are able to roll a separate set of dice at the beginning of the game, and set them aside. They can then swap these out for undesirable rolls throughout the battle, basically allowing them to choose their results. A character to keep an eye on is the changeling – who can be set up in the enemy deployment and they cannot attack him until he is revealed by attacking or casting. He impacts enemy movement and can launch an alpha strike into an unsuspecting character – using their own weapons against them!
In old Warhammer terms, these guys are your Warriors of Chaos models. In 40k terms think of them as your basic Chaos Space Marines without all the tanks.
You are primarily based around heavily armored infantry or basic “cultist” style units known as marauders as your cheap fodder – either on foot or horseback. Ranged attacks are severely lacking outside of the hellcannon (which is one of the legacy units that you cannot even purchase anymore so don’t expect it to last). You have a range of faster hard hitting options as well with the chaos knights and extremely deadly (and extremely expensive) Varanguard.
Close combat is your forte with this army, and the armored ranks of evil knights and elite infantry look pretty cool on the table. Also it must be mentioned the big guy himself – Archaon Everchosen. He’s an absolute beast and requires a hefty investment by your opponent to kill. Sure the model is one of the most expensive models that Games Workshop produces but just look at the thing! It’s massive, full of details and a very impressive centerpiece. Plus your opponent will likely have to shoot everything they have at it, keeping the rest of the army safe.
Hosts of Slaanesh & Daemons of Slaanesh
The Chaos God Slaanesh may be “missing” however that doesn’t stop the ranks of his/her followers from engaging in some mayhem. The Generals Handbook II has previewed that the followers of Slaanesh will take three distinct roles in how they operate, whether they seek to replace Slaanesh with their own champion, seek to find their missing deity, or still believe Slaanesh is alive and well and they rampage in his/her name. You are able to mix up your mortal followers with the daemons of Slaanesh units such as daemonettes, fiends and seekers.
The theme here is fast, lightning quick assaults where you attempt to outpace your enemy and deal death from a thousand cuts. There is some fragility however that comes with this, so choose your assaults wisely.
Also shooting is non-existent. You’ll be getting up close and mixing it up in combat. Part of the problem is however, they don’t tend to hit terribly hard outside of a few specific units, and the counter attack can be particularly brutal. Try to use your mobility to strike flanks and avoid engaging slower deathstars, picking and choosing where you’d like to engage.
Nurgle Rotbringers & Daemons of Nurgle
About to get a brand new character from the Blightwars box set (and what a cool character he is!), Nurgle have some amazing models to choose from, being a mix of mortals and daemons.
Once again, unless you’re bringing in a soul grinder, you’re forgoing shooting with this style of army. You may not have speed of the Slaanesh, or the raw fury of khorne, but Nurgle’s strength is their stubborn ability to simply not die. You are fairly slow as well, with the exception of Plague Drones.
Debuff auras to hit as well as rules such as “disgustingly resilient” to give an extra save make for very hard to remove units. Many characters also heal themselves or models around them through inherent abilities or through spells. The start collecting box and upcoming Blightwars set are great ways to get started with this army.
Monsters of Chaos & Chaos Gargants
These random behemoths don’t really have the ability to be a legal army of their own, and in the case of the gargants are literally one model – a chaos giant! These are more additional add ons to an existing force such as slaves to darkness, to bring behemoths where they’re lacking a traditional choice.
Frankly none of these monsters are what you would term a real competitive choice, and seem to be a slightly haphazard sub-faction that I’m hoping over time will evolve into something more, or just be absorbed into the other sub-factions.
This category basically comes down to if you really like one of the various monster models or want to add some cheap warhounds as chaff units, you could pick from here to supplement your chaos force. One traditional beastmen unit – centigors – are here as well for some inexplicable reason, but truly belong back with their beast-kin as a strong flanking unit.
Brayherds, Warherds & Thunderscorn
I’m combining these three subfactions together as they just make a lot more sense as they are the traditional “beastmen” of old Warhammer.
The Brayherds involve your smaller infantry units – whether chaff ungors, bigger gors or even bigger bestigors as well as character support and some fast flankers through the chariots. The infantry would make up the bulk of your brayherd force most of the time and are serviceable in their roles but nothing too amazing.
The Warherd models include the medium-sized infantry with the bullgors who are essentially ogres in a minotaur suit and a couple of big, cool looking monster kits with the Cygor and Ghorgon. Good news is that we have a new box set which combines a unit of bullgors and a Cygor/Ghorgon kit for about 25% price savings.
There are few shooting options available, and really the focus is on close combat with this subfaction.
Thunderscorn are a subfaction of two actual models – the shaggoth and dragon ogres. Both models are somewhat dated in appearance, expensive and not readily available. Also, the rules are quite lackluster and in the case of the shaggoth, extremely situational. If the roll for turn is a tie, on a 4+ dragon ogres heal D3 wounds. I think you have a better chance of winning the lottery than this specific set of circumstances impacting a game!
Once a single faction within the Warhammer universe, the iconic rat-men are now divided amongst several sub-factions: Skyre, Eshin, Moulder, Masterclan, Pestilens and Verminous. If you plan on making a Skaven army however, it is very likely that you would be combining these subfactions together to make a cohesive force. Pestilens is the only sub-faction within Skaven to receive a battletome as of yet, however most of the others would need extensive new choices to be a true standalone army.
Skyre is the source of your devastating warmachines such as the doomwheel and warplightning cannon as well as the incredibly devastating stormfiends. These are shooting heavy models with a real risk vs. reward mechanic built-in.
Moulder are your horrific Frankenstein experiments gone awry and include an ogre equivalent mid-sized infantry as well as smaller chaff. The real star of the show however is the hellpit abomination. Not only a cool (and slightly disturbing) large monster kit, but also one of the few close combat behemoths you have access to.
Clan Verminous are your standard clanrat infantry (lackluster cheap troops) and your elite infantry the stormvermin. Stormvermin can be particularly deadly in numbers with appropriate character buffs.
Masterclan is a limited sub-faction, but certainly brings a lot to the table through the screaming bell and grey seers. The seers are your main spell presence on the table so can be invaluable.
Pestilens have little shooting and concentrate more on close combat and various cloud effects through the plague furnace and plague censers to add some mortal wounds to the combats they are in.
Although the Vermin Lords are included on the GW site as part of Pestilens, they have variants to suit the other subfactions as well, you just have to go searching through the old Skaven PDF in order to get the rules currently.
Vermin Lords add another close combat behemoth unit to the army which can be a truly impressive looking centerpiece to your Skaven force.
The Grand Alliance of Chaos has, in my opinion, some of the coolest looking models in the range, and the diversity of the grand alliance means that you are able to combine whatever you’d like into a more or less cohesive force.