In Part Three of this series on giving an overview of all the grand alliances in Age of Sigmar, we take a look at Destruction! With the new General’s Handbook recently released, Games Workshop has really kept up their promise of regular updates to the rules and point cost adjustments for the units. This is a great time to get into the game for sure!
Grand Alliance Destruction
Destruction armies provide you with some great opportunities for some wanton mayhem. And, in some cases, some fun that doesn’t necessarily take itself too seriously like those stuffy Order armies, or the skulls for the skull throne guys.
The Destruction armies are more of a blunt hammer approach to warfare. It’s less about individual warrior skill, and more about either brute force or overwhelming with hordes of expendable troops.
Unlike the Order and Chaos grand alliances, Destruction is currently a much smaller subset of armies. Although there are a dozen sub factions within this grand alliance, almost all belong to either the Orks and Goblins and Ogre Kingdoms (in old Warhammer Fantasy terms) model range. Some of these sub factions are so small, however, that you cannot even make a legal matched play army with them!
The new allies system in General’s Handbook 2017, however, means you can add other units to your existing army for example, without breaking your allegiance. This is important as most armies with this latest update have specific allegiance abilities, command traits and artefacts that you can only gain access to if you remain in your sub-faction. The size of the game determines how many points you can spend on allies without breaking allegiance. In the case of a 2000 point game you can use 400 points on allies.
Coming from the frozen mountains to crush opposition in competitive tournaments everywhere are the Beastclaw Raiders. These are part of the traditional ogre kingdom line, and really focus on two large beasts – the Thundertusk (which is the core of the tourney builds), and the Stonehorn. These are impressive kits to say the least.
The Thundertusk (when unwounded) deals 6 mortal wounds with an 18″ ranged attack that hits on 2+ (run four to be beaten up in the parking lot after the game). These large monsters can be ridden by characters for even more combat punch. There are also ogres riding giant horned beasts, abominable snowmen, and sabre tooth tigers (seriously), which count as your battleline units.
This army has a lot of big stompy monsters tearing up the field, and some quite competitive builds can be made. The downside is you will have a low model count for missions that involve scoring objectives by number of models. However, this can be easily rectified through allied grots.
Beastclaw are probably your most competitive choice for destruction armies if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Ironjaws are made up of Orruks (Orks to you 40k types) on foot for the most part. Yet, there is a bit of a surprise with this army. They appear to be quite slow with a very low movement stat. However, ironjaws have a number of abilities which allow them to move incredibly fast around the board. In some cases they can make a turn one charge!
Model selection is somewhat limited as this is a rather new army, and everything is about close combat. There’s a few character options for buffing and a single wizard. Also, a megaboss on foot or mounted on the oh-my-god-did-you-just-see-what-that-did mawcrusha. That link was for the special character Gordrakk, because he is particularly pants-on-head crazy. I’m serious. Go read his rules. I’ll wait.
Okay, now that we’re all sufficiently terrified, there are some good news with this army. They cannot at least kill you from afar as their shooting is practically non-existent. When fighting against ironjaws you desperately need to utilize blocking chaff, mobility, or lightning strike style abilities to ensure you’re only engaging on your terms. Their power is in their close combat prowess and surprising amount of speed shenanigans.
These guys are your incredibly cheap hordes of goblins. Their units often hide the sneaky trick of grot fanatics in their units that go spinning out with a ball and chain when you charge them, spinning into your unit, and causing mayhem and death!
Here is where you’ll also find all manner of squigs. You have your regular cave squigs herded by goblins, squigs with goblins riding them, and even the giant mangler squigs, which are absolutely terrifying once they hit combat. Plus the model is two giant squigs chained together with goblins, which is awesome and insane all at once.
Other than perhaps the mangler squigs, nothing here is really good at combat, shooting, or anything really. Their force is in the amount of models they can bring, especially in a mission where objectives are held by the number of models surrounding it.
Battleshock though, is a very nasty mechanic for the grots. They make a cheap ally for lower model count destruction armies as well.
These are crazy savage Orruks who follow Shamans around. They also believe that killing monsters is the best way to get the might of their god. Makes perfect sense then that they get a bunch of bonuses against monsters.
Model wise, other than a couple of characters, you’re looking at nearly-naked Orruks with spears, clubs or bows on foot. And nearly-naked Orruks riding boars. So, basically a sea of green to paint. You can get creative at least doing up tribal tattoos for some extra pops of colour to break up the monotony.
Tactics wise, think of this army as a melee centred 40k ork horde list and you’re pretty close. Hordes of boyz rushing forward with little protection other than sheer weight of numbers – but if they hit combat, look out!
In this subfaction you have your traditional Ogre Kingdom models from old Warhammer Fantasy. Your limited to either 5+ or rarely 4+ armor for the most part (aside from the Tyrant big name that can give you a 3+), but you make up for it with everything being multiple wounds.
Model count is quite low, but not quite as low as the beastclaw raiders.
Tyrants are your sole fighty character, and the butcher is your caster. Butchers have an interesting rule in that after they successfully cast, on a 2+ they heal a wound lost earlier. A roll of 1, however, and they choke on whatever unpleasant thing they’ve eaten (ogre magic involves gastromancy), and take a wound instead.
Your main force is going to be made up of the three variations of Ogors (yes that’s what GW is calling them instead of Ogres). You have the basic Ogor, the more heavily armed and armored Irongut, and the handcannon toting Leadbelcher. For support pieces you have a rhino either pulling a cannon or a catapult.
Thankfully for everyone involved in building this army, the old metal scraplauncher was replaced with a plastic kit. My metal kit remains unassembled in box – I value my sanity.
You can take hordes of grots to shore up the weakness of objectives being held by number of models.
In combat the ironguts are pretty brutal with three attacks at -1 rend doing 3 damage each! With the new general’s handbook making them battleline (as they used to be in old Warhammer Fantasy as well) this allows you to have some real heavy hitters in your troop tax, something that not a lot of armies can boast.
This subfaction is more the leftover old goblin models that do not fit under the moonclan grots. However, there are some really great warmachines represented (along with your standard footslogging goblins). The doom diver is a classic warmachine that involves literally catapulting a goblin with wings and a pointy helmet strapped to him into the oncoming enemy. Such a great sculpt and fun to play.
You get a lot of extremely cheap support artillery that you can add to your existing list. Also, some fast flankers (though pretty terrible) in the goblin wolf riders and chariot. As well as the snotling pump wagon.
I wouldn’t recommend an entire army of gitmob grots. However, as a contingent in a moonclan list, there are some solid additions here.
If you’ve played Warhammer Fantasy before Age of Sigmar you know that the orcs and goblins were a major player in the setting. Greenskinz is where you’ll find the old “classic” orcs. So, they aren’t as heavily armored as Ironjawz (who are essentially the old black orcs). They’re not the tribal style of Bonesplitterz.
Anyone else getting tired of GW just putting a “z” instead of an “s” if it’s an orc faction yet?
Here you have your standard Orc… ahem Orruk (some day I’ll get used to this, honest) either on foot, on a chariot, or riding boars. For leaders you have a warboss or shaman. Sadly when you compare the model range and the rules that have been given for the other Orruk factions, the Greenskinz just end up getting the short end of the stick. Poor armor without the number of attacks or buffs that the Bonesplitterz get. Less armor and less attacks than the Ironjawz.
If you like the models, (or just want to field that awesome warboss on wyvern) you can get a good deal out of the start collecting box. For sheer solid competitive rules though (and more up to date model ranges) the other factions may be a better choice.
Okay Games Workshop, now you’re just getting silly. Why on earth would there be a whole faction dedicated to one unit? It’s not even battleline and there are no characters, so you actually cannot even make a legal Maneaters list.
So this is allies only, or part of a general destruction list. This is kind of a good news bad news story. The good news is that the models are hands down the coolest Ogor models you can buy. There’s a ninja and a pirate. I don’t really need to say a whole lot more than that do I?
Now for the bad news. Beyond being unable to make a list of maneaters you actually wouldn’t want to. The models are pretty expensive to collect. Although they have great abilities, their point cost and poor save make them a bit of a liability; outside of perhaps a single unit. A unit of six can be pretty strong, but unfortunately it’s 440 points for six models.
If you compare to standard Ogors, the Maneaters are obviously better. Maneaters have an extra attack, +1 to hit and a rend of -1. They also have pistols which are a short ranged source of D3 damage. They’ve also get a choice of special rules to make them even better.
If they had a 4+ save we’d have a whole different story. But, unfortunately, a 5+ save means they are just too easily removed. Also, for such an expensive unit, that means investing in more than a single unit you can buff with arcane shield is simply not really worth it when you compare to what you get with ironguts for less points (battle line status, more damage, better save, banner options, solid special ability).
Continuing with the bizarre choice to have a single unit be an entire faction – you have Troggoths, or the classic Warhammer Fantasy Trolls. You do have your choice of three versions of trolls. Although two out of three are old metal sculpts.
They are essentially all the same barring a different special rule. Like Maneaters, you have no battleline and no characters (outside of Forge World). So, again you’re looking at allies or a general destruction list to take them.
The Fellwater have the new plastic kit, so are likely the ones you’ll take due to the models and availability. Standard Troggoths have the basic Ogor stats with a -1 rend on attacks. As well, they have a vomit attack which is a 6″ shooting attack that is pretty solid. Fellwaters also have a debuff to the opponents’ hit rolls in combat. Troggoths of all varieties also heal D3 wounds on a 2+ in the hero phase. Rockgut Troggoths trade the debuff for a 6+ save versus magic and a 4+ armor save, which is possibly worth it, at least while crossing the board. Sourbreath get a 4+ save to ignore a wound that kills a model, which is pretty strong so long as your dice are hot (as then you can possibly heal back up again). All in all this is a pretty solid ally unit.
If you’re willing to invest in forge world, the Troggoth Hag is an absolute beast of a character. Deadly in combat with the debuff as well. She’s also a 16 wound wizard who heals every turn. The model is awesome and revolting all in one too.
Continuing the small unit variety (and obligatory “z” for “s”) theme is the spiderfang grotz. This entire faction is all about goblins riding spiders. The size of the spider determines what the unit is!
The main units are spider riders, which are a pretty nice model, but have some scary rules. Every spider can cause a mortal wound when it rolls a 6 to hit (with two attacks). This threat is increased by the abilities of the characters riding the giant Arachnarok Spider, which is just a stellar kit, and pretty much an essential pick for running this faction (with a spider shrine on top of course!).
A grot shaman with a spider shrine has the gift of the spider god spell which doubles the mortal wounds caused by a single spiderfang unit. A grot boss on a giant spider has a command ability to make mortal wounds happen on a 5+. This combos to make one incredibly deadly unit.
Downsides to collecting this army is that your unit selection is fairly limited if you stay faction only. Also, your saves are fairly terrible outside of the Arachnarok. The sheer death and destruction you’ll cause when a properly supported charge occurs though is pretty impressive.
This would be another one unit faction. As it is a behemoth with zero battleline or character option, again allies only or part of a destruction list.
Back in Warhammer Fantasy, one of the first large impressive multi-build plastic kits was the giant. It remains a very detailed and strong kit to this day with a lot of great options (even a cow trussed up for a snack!).
Model wise you cannot go wrong with this kit and they are very fun to build. Rules wise, with General’s Handbook 2017 the giant… ahem Gargant… got a bit of a point break. However, a 5+ save on a model that cannot gain cover. Also, it doesn’t have a ranged option. This means they’ll often be running forward headlong into battle hoping to make it unscathed. If they make combat they can really do some damage. Although they’re drunk, so actually have a chance to fall over when they charge. However, most of the time mine has not accomplished much. I think this is the universe telling me to buy two more. Thankfully the new bundle by GW has two in it, so I’ll likely do this regardless of competitiveness. The kit is that good.
This is our last entry for destruction, and for some reason this is a single character only. So again, it really doesn’t qualify as a faction.
The firebelly model is fantastic, and originally part of the ogre kingdom line for Warhammer Fantasy. In my opinion it should have just remained there as an alternate wizard for the force, which it always had been before. At least they didn’t put a “z” at the end of it!
Rules wise you have a short range ranged attack that can possibly do D3 mortal wounds on basically a butcher statline. The signature spell for the wizard shrouds him in flames to do mortal wounds to units in combat as well.
He’s a good addition to a gutbuster’s force, and gives you another spellcaster option rather than just adding another butcher. He’s not going to be an all star or anything. However, you’ve got a great model to paint, and sometimes it’s all about the rule of cool.
Destruction has some really solid choices throughout, both in terms of quality models and quality rules. Whether you’re looking to build a really solid tournament list, or just want to have some crazy goblin contraptions doing random hijinks, there are a lot of options that are both fun and competitive.
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A Guide to the Grand Alliance Destruction for Age of Sigmar