What is Allegiance abilities and Allies?
In this article I will go through the question step by step. By the end, you should know everything about these core concepts of Age of Sigmar Second 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 Grand Alliance. The four alliances are Order, Chaos, Death and Destruction. At the bottom on the warscroll you will see different keywords. If a unit has one of the 4 keywords, it will belong to that alliance. A warscroll will only ever have one of the 4 keywords. If you come from the ‘Old Warhammer’ it should be pretty easy to identify what units from the Old World are in what alliances (with a few weird exceptions).
The alliances are also called “Grand Alliances”, a term coined by the four Grand Alliance Books (Order, Chaos, Destruction and Death). Order consists of Dwarfs (Duardin), Elves (Aelfs), Humans (Free People), Seraphon (Lizardmen) and Stormcasts.
Chaos consists of the armies of the four Chaos Gods Nurgle, Khorne, Tzeentch and Slaanesh. Beastmen is part of Chaos as they always have been. This time around Skaven have gone full dark side and are included in the Chaos alliance instead of being their semi-independent own faction.
Death is, surprisingly, all the undead dudes. Vampires, Ghouls (that think they are noble knights), skeletons, necromancers, ghosts and so on.
Destruction is what you would refer to as Orcs (Orruks), Goblins (Grots) and Ogres (Ogors). Remember this: a model is always part of one of the four alliances. The first keyword on the models warscroll is always the overall alliance it is included in. In general, an army can include any model as long as they are from the same Grand Alliance. Within each Grand Alliance there are other small alliances (see more about allies below).
A note on keywords and warscrolls
So I went ahead and mentioned something you might not know what is: 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 on the Games Workshop website under each unit or model you can buy. The warscroll includes how the model attacks, its defences, 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. These keywords indicate what alliance it is part of and what type of model it is. The keywords are the key to understanding what Allegiance abilities, Alliances and Allies are. Bellow, you can see the Warscroll for the Freeguild Greatsword unit. The leftmost keyword will indicate what grand alliance it is part of (Order in this case). The rest will become important later when we talk allegiance and allies (and are also important with regards to abilities that effect units with certain keywords).
What are Allegiance abilities?
When all models in your army have a shared keyword, you can choose that the army has the allegiance corresponding to that keyword. An allegiance is a bonus set of rules you receive for limiting your army to a specific set of models. The allegiance will add flavourful (and sometimes powerful) extra rules that can help your army on the battlefield. Notice that in matched play you have to have at least one shared keywords between all units in the army.
Let us look at 2 examples.
1: I have an army consisting of a lot of Stormcast Eternals and one unit of Greatswords. This means my army has a lot of models with Stormcast Eternal keyword and one with the “Freeguild” keyword. The only keyword that all the models in my army have is ‘Order’, so Order is the only allegiance my army can have. If I do this I can use the Order Allegiance abilities and artefacts found in the big core book (was located in Generals Handbook before AoS 2).
2: I take out the Greatswords from my army, so now it is made up of models that share the keyword ‘Stormcast Eternals’ and ‘Order’. Now I have two options: I can pick the Order Allegiance or the Stormcast Allegiance (or no allegiance ability if I so prefer). The Stormcast allegiance abilities (including other bonuses for being a Stormcast army) can be found in the newest battletome for Stormcast (this is a link to the newest version. If you see other versions, they are outdated so not worth the purchase if you are a new player looking for the updated rules). You can divide all the Grand Alliances into smaller subgroups, depending on the keywords.
These subgroups are what some people call factions or sub-faction. A faction within the Order Alliance could be Stormcast Eternals, Freeguild, Idoneth Deepkin and many others. If you look in the AoS app you can get a better overview of the different factions within each alliance. Sometimes an army is referred as being “a Stormcast Army”, “a Moonclan army” or “a Mixed Destruction army”. This is just another way of saying what allegiance the army has.
To sum it up:
There are four Grand Alliances and within each alliance, there are different factions. Each Grand Alliance has corresponding Allegiance abilities (found in the big core book). Some of the smaller factions will have their own allegiance abilities. These are either found in the factions Battletome or found Generals Handbook 2018. The Allegiance will give you a bonus (Allegiance abilities) for ‘theming’ or restriction your army around a specific set of units.
What do you gain from Allegiance abilities?
- Battle trait (positive rule(s) for your whole army)
- A Command trait (a positive rule for the General of your army)
- Acces the Artefacts of the allegiance as well as one artefact (a positive rule for a single character in your army.
If your allegiance is from a battletome you will most likely also gain:
- Access to a specific faction spell lore. Each of your wizards will get to pick one spell that they have available for casting (besides the ones on their warscroll).
- A Bigger pool of artefacts to pick from.
- More battle traits and more powerful traits compared to the four grand alliances (note that you get all of the battle traits, you do not have to choose).
- The ability to plop down terrain features that will aid you army or hinder your opponent (Idoneth shipwreck, Sylvaneth wildwoods, Nurgle plaguethree and so on).
- The possibility of picking a “clan” within the sub-faction for additional bonuses (Stormcast, Idoneth Deepkin or Kharadron Overlords).
- In the future: faction specific endless spells (Stormcast and Nighthaunt for now).
Now let us take a look at my favorite Grand Alliance: namely Destruction! (Waaaaagh!).
Example of Grand Alliance Allegiance abilities (Destruction)
Now let us take a look at my favorite Grand Alliance: namely Destruction! (Waaaaagh!).
1. Battle Trait
The Battle trait for the Destruction allegiance (found in big core book) is called ‘Rampaging Destroyers’. There is only one Battle Trait for this allegiance, whereas most of the allegiance abilities for smaller factions will give you more than one Battle Trait. If more than one trait is listed, you will get all of them. Rampaging destroyers does the following: in my hero phase I roll a d6 for each of my heroes. My general gets a plus 2 on the roll. For each character that rolls a six or more, I can pick a unit within 6″ of that character. That unit can either move 6″, pile in if within 3” of the enemy or declare a charge. The battle trait is quite fitting for most destruction armies, no matter what sub-factions they are part of. Getting up close and smashing your enemy is kind of the destruction style! The ability (while severely nerfed from the first version) adds some much needed mobility to armies that lack it and it lets you move wizards before casting spells (great for those big endless spells).
2. A Command trait
When it comes to command traits you will get 6 different options to choose from. Most players select the one they like (or the most broken one) but some prefer to roll at random. The command trait you pick will apply to the General of the army. Command traits will often give a buff to the general statistics or give him some sort of buff he can extend to units in the army. The Destruction allegiance lets us pick between:
- The ability to render a terrain piece unable to give cover
- +1 on wound rolls for the general
- +1 attack on one of the generals weapons. If the general has taken 3 or more wounds he instead gets +2 attacks on the weapon.
- A +1 on charge and run rolls for a unit close to the General, as well as letting the unit use the general’s bravery.
- +1 on the general’s wound characteristic.
- +1 on the Rampaging Destroyers dice roll for a total of +3.
When your general dies, and you select a new model to be the general, you can pick a command trait for the new leader. This does not have to be the same ability as before, giving some flexibility. Note that in matched play you do not pick a new general.
3. One Artefact
Last, but not least, the destruction allegiance gives you access to a list of six different artefacts (magic items). You can pick one you like or roll at random. The item can be given to any character (hero keyword) in the army and he gets the bonus or extra rule. If you include a batallion, you will get to pick one more artefact for your army (a model can only have one). The artefacts will usually have slightly more complicated rules or bonuses than the command trait. Some are really powerful and others are very flavourful but not really that useful. The options for Destruction are:
- Instead of attacking normally roll a dice for each model within 3″. On a 5 or 6, that unit suffers a mortal wound.
- When suffering a mortal wound roll a dice. On +5 that wound is negated.
- In the hero phase pick a unit within 12″ and gain +1 to hit that unit this turn.
- For each hero within 12″ you can reroll one failed to wound roll in the combat phase
- You can pick a monster in the hero phase within 3″ and roll 2d6. If you roll equal or more than the monster has bravery, the monster must make a retreat in its next movement phase
- Can add +1 to hit and wound rolls for one turn or can add +2 to hit and wound for one turn and suffer d6 mortal wounds. One time use only.
If you and your opponent agrees to play with the rule from Malign Sorcery, you can pick one of the 7 Mortal Realms that your army hails from. If you do, you can pick artefacts from that realm as well as from you allegiance list (all realm artefacts are found in the Malign Sorcery expansion). You will quickly find that that the some of the realm artefacts outshines most of the Grand Order artefacts. I hope the realm artefacts can help the factions without a battletome, but it is to early to tell if it is going to make armies with battletomes even stronger.
With the ally system, you can add a few Grot units and still maintain the Ironjawz Allegiance and use those abilities. When it comes to picking your allegiance, you simply disregard the keywords on the units you have allied into your army. In the Generals
Important notes about allies:
- Allies will not help you fulfil minimum requirements for core units or heroes.
- Allied units count against the maximum number of heroes, behemoths and artillery you can have in your army.
- An allied unit cannot be your general
- No allied unit can benefit from allegiance abilities. This means no battle traits, artefacts, command traits or other bonuses will be given to allied units (but note that some buffs from allegiance abilities that targets specific keywords might
stillbeusable on allies).
- You might come across battalions that include units with different keywords than the battletome you are reading (Sylvaneth and a few Stormcast Eternals as an example). All the units in the battalion are considered to have the battalions keyword when you set up your army, so these units
doesnot count as allies in terms of points (but follow the rules for allies with regards to allegiance abilities).
How many Allies can I take?
Page 17 of the core rules explains how to take allies and how many you can take.
- For every three units in your army you can have one allied unit. This means that a fourth of you army can be allies.
But in matched play, the rules are a little different. You still have to comply with the core rulles for allies (with regards to the amount of units) but there is also a cap on the amount of points you can spend on allies.
- In a 1000 points Matched Play games (called ‘Vanguard’) you can have up to 200 points from your allies list that does not count with regards to your allegiance.
- For 2000 points Matched Play games (called ‘Battlehost’) you can have up to 400 points from your allies list that does not count with regards to your allegiance.
- Finally, in 2500 points Matched Play games (called ‘Warhostt’) you can have up to 500 points from your allies list that does not count with regards to your allegiance.
It is unclear what happens if you play say a 500 points game or a 5000 point game. But as you can see from the point limits above, it looks like 20% of your army can be allies so that will be a good rule of thumb.
What allies can my army take?
At one point I had a big list, but things does not really change that much anymore. To know who your army can ally with, you are best of just getting the current battletome for your army.