When people ask for help on deciding an army, a lot of people will say something to the extent of “just pick an army you like the look of”. This is okay advice, but it in large part the answer assumes that people know what they like or even know how the playstyle of different armies is. Not really that helpful when trying to pick an army!
In this article, I will list 11 steps that should make you ready to decide on your Age of Sigmar army.
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1. Learn what options you have available
First, you gotta figure out what different options you actually have. Do you know what factions and armies are available for Age of Sigmar? If not, a good place to start is the GW website itself. Here you can find all miniatures currently available for purchase and the categories/factions GW is currently clumping them together in.
This will go a long way of informing you what different armies there are, but it honestly also a bit clunky.
What armies have battletomes? What armies are due for an imminent update to their battletome and rereleased with endles spells and terrain? What factions might get scrapped in the future (goodbye Gitmob Grots)? What factions might get merged in a bigger battletomes?
All good questions and all questions that might affect your decision on what army to get. Only a few of those you can get answered on the GW website.
To help I have created my own overview of the Age of Sigmar armies (you can find it here). In the overview, you can see what armies have battletomes and whether or not they might be due for an update soon. I also try to update it with current rumours and leaks (GW verified and not).
A rule of thumb: only start armies that have a battletome released after Age of Sigmar 2.0 (you can typically see it because they will have Endless Spells and a faction terrain piece). That way you know it is up to date, and the chances of dramatic changes to your army are low.
After looking at the different options, narrow them down to only a few armies that you are actually interested inin. In the next few steps, it can be helpful to write pros and cons for each army as you go through the steps.
2. Figure out what kind of project you are looking to do
So you know you are looking for an army, but what kind of project do you actually want to do?
- If you want this to turn into a big sprawling collection of miniatures, make sure you pick a faction that has loads of miniatures to choose from instead of something with only 2-3 unit kits.
- Are you only looking to build exactly a 1000 or 2000 points army?
- Will this be a project where you end up collecting other armies for the grand alliance? Make sure you factor that into your decision making.
- Is this a slow grow army or something you need to paint up fast?
Think about the armies/factions that you have written down on your paper. How does each one fit your desired project? Does any of them hold an edge over the others?
3. Know whether or not you have a budget
If you are tight on cash or want to keep your expenses at a minimum, this will greatly impact what sort of army you can and should get.
- Cheap horde armies tend to be more expensive than others. A 2k points Gloomspite Gitz army can easily be 2x as expensive as a 2k Beastclaw Raiders army. This is simply because the cost pr. model and cost pr. point is way higher in the Gitz army than in the Raiders army.
- If you can form the base of your army around a Start Collecting Box or a Starter set it will be much cheaper for you.
- Finecast units and heroes on foot generally cost more money than other types of units.
- Buying units you end up not playing with (or even painting or assembling) is the quickest way to blowing your budget. Think about that before you buy!
- Having a budget sounds cool and like the adult thing to do. I never make a budget for my hobby projects. That is not just the kind of gamer I am! (so do not worry too much).
Have a quick look at the difference in cost of buying some of the armies you are thinking about. Does that affect how you view the different options?
4. Think about what kind of miniatures you like the look of
This might be the most important step: if you are going to paint an army, you have to look at each separate model in it and think “damn, that is cool!” This will help you get through those days where you really do not want to paint (and those games where you army really sucks).
- Look at the pictures of the different units on the GW website. What strikes you as cool or triggers your creative brain?
- Look at pictures of units and miniatures on Instagram and on the TGA gallery. Seeing the models with a different paint scheme or a cool conversion can alter your opinion greatly on a faction (or even getting you hooked on an army you never thought you wanted to do!).
- If you see a paint scheme or cool idea you want to copy, just do it. The best idea has already been done, so why not steal them? Nobody gives a flip whether or not you are a unique snowflake. They just want to see cool miniatures and armies!
- Do you like armour? Loads of flesh? Loads of movement? Hordes? Elites? Monsters? Bad guys? Good guys? Having a hard think about it will help you make the right selection.
Now write down the 3 coolest elements of the miniatures for each army. Now write down the things regarding the models (if any) for each army that you do not really like. Which army won out in this step?
5. How will the army be to paint?
Liking the look of the models is one thing. Painting them up is something completely different. In this step you need to visualise how it will be to paint the army.
- What are the factors that excite you about painting the army?
- What are the things that you are dreading?
- Think about a scenario where you buy the army but never finish painting it. What are the elements that could make this scenario real?
- Do you hate painting human skin or eyes? Avoid marauders and other semi-naked dudes. Maybe go with something with a more fantastic look or loads of armour.
- How many models will you have to paint before you are done with the project? How long will this, realistically, take you? How likely is that you finish the project if you need to paint x models compared to y amount of models? Would you be better of selecting an army with a smaller amount of models?
- Does the army fit your style of painting?
- Can this style of army win you a painting prize (if that is your jam)?
- Can the army be painted quickly enough for your taste?
- Is the army easy to paint? (I have a small guide here on figuring out the elements that make an army easy to paint).
While my 140 Stabbas army is fun (and surprisingly good), I know it will be a very slow project. I know I can only do it because I am top motivated. Every time I look at a Grot model I get excited! d. If I wanted to do a quick project with a few miniatures that were really fast to paint? I would never have selected the Gitz.
Going through the questions, write down the pros and cons for each army from a painting perspective. Did that alter your opinion on what army to start?
6. Does the lore and background of the army suit you?
For me, a big part of selecting a faction as that I dig the lore, background and feel for the army. If I find the lore to be lacking, I will naturally lose the motivation to paint the army over time.
Places you can about learn about the army/faction lore and background:
- The Battletome for the faction is one of the best places to get a feel for the army background. You will get the overall backstory, storyline and a blurb on the different units.
- The Big Core Rulebook also has a section for most factions. This is a good place if you want a nice overview of every faction ( and it also includes the Age of Sigmar storyline so far).
- If you are more of the audio/visual type, youtube is your friend. The channel 2+ though makes the best Age of Sigmar lore videos (if you are looking for general AoS youtube recommendation look here).
- The Black Library novels can also be surprisingly good. Sadly, it can be hard to get something that covers exactly the faction you need (unless you dig the Storm Bros – if so you can get a ton of different novels).
Think about whether or not the lore and background for the army really mean anything to you. If it does, take the time and digest some of that information. It might be that you just want cool models with cool rules – in that case, disregard the lore stuff.
Write down the lore/background/feel/artwork that gets you excited for each army. Which faction wins out on this front?
7. Try to learn what the playstyle of the army is like and how it feels on the tabletop
A good start is an army where you like the look of the miniatures, how they are to paint and the story behind them. But if this does not align with how they are to play on the tabletop, you will quickly lose interest in the army.
Sadly, besides borrowing the army and having a game with it, it can be hard to figure this out
Some ways to learn how the army feels and plays like on the tabletop:
- Reading the battletome for the faction is a good start. What does the allegiance abilities signal in terms of playstyle? Does the warscrolls scream big damage, though units or high movement?
- Having a read through the thread on TGA designated for your faction can be a big help. It will help highlight different builds, what people having the army feels are the strength and weaknesses and so on.
- Try and watch some battle reports on youtube with the army.
Try and describe the playstyles of each of the factions you are considering. Does this fit the vision you originally had with the army? Can the army compete in all of the phases you want?
8. Think about how competitive the army needs to be in order to satisfy your gaming style
For some, being able to compete on the table is really important. They will lose interest if they feel like they are fighting an uphill battle just to win a few games. For those kinds of people, it is very important that the army has a few builds that can realistically win a competitive tournament.
For others, it is just important they do not lose every game they play. If you pick something with an updated battle, you will be sure that the faction can at least compete on a casual level.
- If you want to learn anything about what armies are good or not, The Honest Wargamer is absolutely the place to do it.
- If top tier armies is your jam, you can check out the power rankings over at AoS Shorts.
Of the different armies you are considering, which one seems to be the most competitive. Does this change your perspective on what to select? Will the army be “competitive” enough for you?
9. Think about how many different builds and kits are available for the army
Some armies have so many options that you can build the army to fit different playstyles. This means that even when you get bored with one version, you can just buy a few more units and have a totally different playstyle.
Some armies are so locked into a few different options and miniatures that it can only be built in the same way. For some pople, this can get boring over time.
Think about the options you have available in terms of builds and miniatures for each army (the longevity of the army). How does this impact what you think of the different factions?
10. Consider which of those different aspects are the most important for you
Which of the steps contained the elements that were the most important to you? Which army scored the best in those?
Now consider everything from a holistic perspective. Which army is your gut, right now after going through all the steps, telling you to get?
11. Make a decision!
People spend AGES trying to decide on what army to get. While it is important to get this right, you can also spend too long considering the different options.
Even though I have gone through this process multiple times, it feels like I still end up with the army I thought I should get from the beginning. The first intuition often turns out to be the best decision.
Now, go buy that army you have always wanted!
(Looking for a place to buy everything on the cheap? Order it online from Goblin Gaming today!)
Other things to consider
How often are you really gonna play? If you dont play a lot, all of the gaming stuff is less important.
If you are new or hate painting, something with big minis you can finish qucikly is good.