In this article we will go through allegiance abilities and allies and what changed from the previous version. By the end, you should know everything about these core concepts of Age of Sigmar Third Edition.
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What are the Grand Alliances?
Each model in the entire range of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar will belong to a faction. Each faction can be recognized because they have a Pitched Battle Profiles described either in their own battletome or in the General’s Handbook (whichever has been published later).
At a high level each faction belongs to a Grand Alliance. Note that in Age of Sigmar 3.0, those are used only as guidelines as there’s no more allegiance for them. There are four Grand Alliances: Order, Chaos, Death and Destruction. At the bottom on the warscroll you will see different keywords, including to which grand alliance they belong to.
Order consists mostly of Duardin (Dwarves), Aelfs (Elves), Humans, Seraphon (Lizardmen) and Stormcasts Eternals (the chosen warrior of Sigmar).
Chaos consists of the armies of the four Chaos Gods (Nurgle, Khorne, Tzeentch and Slaanesh) plus the Skaven whose god, The Hornet Rat, reached the Chaos pantheon, and the Beasts of Chaos (the old Beastmen).
Death represents undead beings and not, with armies led by vampires, ghosts, bone constructs or ghouls.
Destruction is everything else that wants to smash, for example Orruks (Orcs), Grots (Goblins) and Ogors (Ogres).
If you want more details on the factions available please consult our article.
A note on keywords and warscrolls
Earlier we mentioned keywords and warscrolls. Warscrolls are the rules for each model or unit in Age of Sigmar. You can find them in the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar app or battletome for that faction. The warscroll includes how the model attacks, its defence, movement and so on. Basically, the warscroll is all the rules for the specific model or unit. On the bottom of each warscroll is a collection of keywords.
Keywords are important to understand the synergies in the army as many abilities may require the target unit to have one or more keywords to be used. Sometimes allegiance abilities will affect only certain keywords.
The Grand Alliance keyword, that is usually the first one in the list, is used in the same way but most of the time has no other relevance, at least in Matched Play. There are other type of games where mixed armies can be used.
What are Allegiance abilities?
Every faction has one or more set of allegiance abilities as described in their battletome. An allegiance is a set of rules you can use only when all models you are fielding belong to the same faction.
There are two types of allegiance abilities: battle traits and enhancements.
Battle traits are abilities that can be used by the models in your faction. Example of those would be battle traits or subfactions.
Enhancements are specific rules that can be given to a specific unit of your army following certain restrictions. For example wizards can be given spells, priests can be given prayers and heroes can be given artefacts of power.
In matched play there are several limitations on how many and which ones you can take, in narrative campaigns instead is all about the thrill of finding new ones and ever expanding and customising your army.
If you decide to use subfactions (and why would you not? some are very thematic and some can even influence which colour schemes to adopt for your army), they all have their own set of allegiance abilities that complement or supersede the faction abilities, so read carefully the relevant section in the battletome.
Should you use Allegiance abilities?
In Age of Sigmar 3.0 matched play games you cannot field an army that does not belong to a faction and all factions have at least one set of allegiance abilities you need to use.
In open and narrative games you may have different options, but in general is much funnier to have a cohesive army and be rewarded with extra rules. Note that if you are using points to determine which units to field, the point cost of each unit already takes in consideration the allegiance abilities in the cost, so not using them would mean missing out on things you have already “paid for”.
At the end of the Pitched Battle Profiles of your army there is a list of other factions you can ally with. You can add 1 allied unit every 4 units you field but those do not inherit or can use the allegiance abilities of your faction. Think of them like “mercenaries” that will play for you but keep their own identity.
In matched play there are further restrictions, for example allied units do not count as battlelines but they do count in the limit of leaders, behemoths and artillery that you can field. Further more there are limits on how many points you can use for allied units depending on the point limit on your match: a 1000 point match has 200 points limit, while a 2000 points has 400.
Certain units, like Gotrek, Nagash or Kragnos, will have in their own warscroll or in the Pitched Battle Profiles in the General’s Handbook how to integrate them in other armies despite not being in the list of Allied and even if they exceed the point limit available.
A new concept introduced recently is that of coalition units. If a faction has access to them, it will be determined in its allegiance abilities (rather than in Pitched Battle Profiles). That will also determine how many they can take (1 every 4 units, and so on), but they don’t have points limit.
Coalition units depend from the battleplack if they count as battlelines or not (the current General’s Handbook battlepack doesn’t allow it), but they still count for the limit of leaders, behemoths and artillery that you can field in an army.
The advantage of coalition units is that they can receive enhancements and can benefit from certain allegiance abilities (depending on the keyword).
Difference from Age of Sigmar 2.0
Here is a list of main changes on Age of Sigmar 3.0 from previous versions:
- Grand alliances armies are now not valid in Matched Play (but can still be used for other type of games).
- All artefacts, spells, etc are now classified enhancements but follow roughly the same rules even if in a confusing way.
- Realm artefacts and spells are gone, replaced by universal enhancements and battlepack realm rules.
- Allied or coalition endless spells and incantations cannot be taken anymore.
- Coalition units roughly replace certain warscroll battalions and the rules for Cities of Sigmar “1 in 4”, but they are more flexible.
- In the battlepack from General’s Handbook 2021 coalition units don’t count as battlelines anymore.