Goatboy here again – it’s that special time of year to go over the best armies in Warhammer 40,000.
Of course there isn’t a real “top” army anymore as most of the best lists have specific foils to their designs. Its why you don’t see nearly as many – massed Army X top 8’s. Sure you will from time to time – but I end up seeing more variety in most of the events these days. The army faction variety is strong but the army styles are somewhat stagnant with a mix of Death Star/MSU fighting their way through the missions. Still we can look at the top factions right now to get a better idea of the scene you might face when you decide to venture out in the competitive swamp that is 40k.
There is no order to the top section of the list. Each “good” army can defeat the others with specific style builds having a distinct advantage in the match up. This is more of a general feel towards the whole where a lot of match ups could also be heavily decided by a single warlord trait roll or a certain set of pre roll conditions. With that in mind – let’s begin.
Will start with the Eldar as they still have the best set of tools. From reserve manipulation, movement tricks, decent psychic powers, and still the best troop choice in the game – the Eldar Faction will always bring a hard game to the table top. As lists get more specifically set up they do find some foils to their plan. They do not ignore cover so shrouding and stealth is extremely powerful versus them. The new way to fix assault troops by allowing them to deep strike out of reserves is one way to quickly catch those jet bikes. They still have access to some FW nonsense with Warp Hunters and the Flamer Wraith Knight – but that still leaves them to the mercy of cover ignoring troops, grav weapons, and even the new wave of massed rending attacks. They still do have the best CAD army in the game with one of the best formations (Aspect Host) so while they are no longer the best they will always win a good deal of their games.
Good Lists: Bikes, Warp Hunters, Wraith Knight, Spiders – the normal good set of tools
The Space Marines are in an interesting place as they have probably the best army set up to win most missions. Battle Company is still very strong – and even with the crazy death stars out there a ton of free vehicles mixed with always scoring is a potent combination. They have access to a good set of guns as well – with everything decent except the Dirty D allowed. The two big lists that I suspect to see is again the Battle Company list and the newest pain in the butt the dreaded Iron Hands Star. Enough events have Kill Point heavy missions so the Battle Company can have issues breaking past that one depending on their build set up. The Iron Hand one can quickly fall apart as well when dealing with some of the Anti Psychics out there as well as a lot of armies carrying the ultimate problem solver with the stomp ability. Still Marines are in a great place with access to Drop Pods, free stuff, good psychic powers, and friends all over the faction map. Dark Angels Battle Company falls into this list as it basically works the same as the others – just with a few different rules.
Good Lists: Battle Company Gladius White Scars or Ultramarines, Iron Hands Medusa Death Star, Dark Angels Battle Company
Daemons are the next top contender in that there can be some games where there isn’t anything your opponent can do to them. The Warp Storm can just shift the game on a 2d6. They have lots of movement options with fast MSU (Screamers/Puppies), creating free stuff (Summoning), and great access to psychic powers. They do not need a CAD to function as corruption is a very powerful ability too. Their Incursion Detachment seems a bit unwieldy with lots of duplicate options in the core choice – but as a whole the army is cheap enough that they can fit in a small CAD most of the time. They have access to the next best set of allies with Chaos Space Marines (Cyclopia), KDK, Renegade Knights, and Renegades. They can create multiple different Stars, have access to MSU, and will just have those games where nothing goes wrong for them. Of course they will then have a game where the Warp Storm takes a steaming pile of poop on them and everything goes bad. That is the way with Chaos.
Good Lists: Tetrad and Friends, Dogs/Scearmers aka Bangers and Mash, Double Star with KDK allies/Cyclopia/Screamer Star
The War Convocation seems to be doing well. It is basically a formation that gets a ton of free stuff, has good sets of rules, and can do a ton of damage. Mix in a bit of summoning post FAQ or have drop pods bring your friends along. Its one of those lists that put out a surprising amount of damage and can easily knock you back when all the combo pieces fall into place. It seems to be a list that is stronger on the West Coast and that might be due to how ITC works its missions when compared to the East Coast. I do not know how well it will do when all the Pods leave it but it is still a great army. I suspect the Sisters of Silence formation will fit really well with the list – giving it 2 options to turn off powers and help deal with a star that has powered up. KDK and Chaos Space Marines fall into this as they are really there as ally extras to help create a few rough set of lists. It is the same with the Renegade Knights and Renegades from FW getting utilize either as Cheap fodder or monsters to crush your opponent with.
Good Lists: Matt Root seems to be kicking butt with his Drop Pod Heavy list and the good ole Geoff Robinson has his summoning version that kicked the crap out of me.
Tau are in a weird place as the army is good – it just has some issues with the other top lists. It doesn’t have the staying power of other lists and it seems to be regulated to an ally again with a lot of players taking 3 Riptides within the Riptide Wing Formation. I think the Monster Mash version seems the most fun to play – as anything with that much stomping action is a great Death Star problem solver. The one issue right now is a specific army has an excellent answer to the Storm Surges so this faction becomes less desired. Still – the army of bullets will win a ton of games with its massed weaponry bringing the pain.
Good Lists: Tau Monster Mash, Riptide Wing + Friends, Piranha Farm
Genestealer Cult look to be another extremely strong list on the table top. I get the feeling they will be like the Daemon army in that there will be some games where the seize will cripple their dreams. I think any lists that can throw out a horde that shows up anywhere, can kill anything, and has access to strong psychic potential is a winner in the competitive circle. I think the good lists will be so big that it becomes very unwieldy to play in a lot of events so I don’t think will see a ton of army-hopping over to it. Once a FAQ comes out will see how powerful the big Detachment is and how things are supposed to work. I do see it shaking things up if they start to win a lot of events.
Good Lists: Massed Hordes of Hybrids mixed with a CAD to get some objective secured friends to pop up.
The Space Wolves Death Star is still around and still kicking butt. Wolves plus Dark Angels friends creates one of the few lists that I think do not really care about the upcoming Genestealer cult revolution. Bark Bark Star is rough for a ton of lists to play and while I think it doesn’t lead to finishing games it is a good list. There is still always a threat of someone making a ton of 4+ saves mixed with 5+ FNP to cause any opponent to shudder. You can still do the oldy but goody death star as well so while the list has kinda of dialed down in its popularity there will always be a few showing up in any given event.
Good Lists: Bark Bark Star, Massed Hero Star
The Imperial Knights are still a decent list. There is a few combos out there that help out the Knight list. I think the biggest thing that is interesting is the rule that fortifications hold objectives – leaving the Knight player free reign to move forward, get involved, and not worry about holding their home objective. Mix in some anti psychic options and you got an army that can just not give a rats butt about what your opponent is playing. Sure some things could be rough – but when you have a unit that can just erase a good deal of points from an enemy unit and you end up having a winner. It does help that the army is small, has cool models, and overall isn’t too hard to transport with you.
Good Lists: Baronial Court and Friends, Trip Lance plus Psychic combo
Finally we end with Necrons as while the army isn’t taking the win all the time – they still kick butt. Pylon star is a thing and something specifically set up to wreck certain lists. The normal Decurion is still a pain in the butt with Reanimation all over the table and units that take forever to erase. They have access to some movement tricks and really the only thing keeping them at bay a lot of the time is not having access to massed Objective Secured and Psychics getting a bit too much play. It also doesn’t help that the Eldar book is out there and has access to massed D weapons. They also have some of the best Special Characters in the game too. Still if I see Ben Mohile across the table top with Necrons you know the game will be tough and most likely he is going to kick your butt with some random Flayed Ones.
Good Lists: Decurion, Ben Mohile’s Bad Touch List
Those are really the “best” factions out there. Other lists will show up and can kick butt too – but they are not nearly as prevalent on the table top. A lot of these lists also depend on the type of missions/format they are playing too. Each format will cater to specific army lists and you will see those at the top performing well. Overall the environment is pretty robust as there are a lot of top factions on the table. It will be interesting to see how 8th shifts things as I suspect some of the craziness of list building might go away if they are really serious about building a “competitive” scene.
~What armies do you think are the best of the best?