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Warhammer 40k Factions Overview: All Armies and Races

If you’ve read our beginner’s guide to Warhammer 40,000, you’ll know that the Games Workshop tabletop miniatures game is a complex beast with a myriad of ways to build an army. It can be incredibly hard to understand which units goes with what factions, who has an updated codex and what to buy.

In this article, we try to make it easier for beginners to figure out which Warhammer 40,000 armies are up to date, easy to pick up and play, and what units and books are available for them.

It is a full on Warhammer 40k armies overview with all Warhammer 40k races and factions.

The article doesn’t go into detail about strategy and rules for the armies, but focuses on explaining what belongs where, and how to start playing each army in Warhammer 40k

If you are wondering if there are some upcoming changes or new releases for your army, you can check our updated overview of upcoming confirmed 40k releases here.

If you are more into Kill Team than full on 40k, we have a list of all Kill Team Factions here.

Note: Many armies have not yet had their codex updated fot the current 9th edition of the game. Where this is the case, this overview suggests that you play with the rules for your army from the Warhammer 40,000 app, rather than buy an outdated codex, since rules for armies without an updated codex are available in the app for a small subscription fee and should always include recent errata to the rules

List of all Warhammer 40k Factions and Armies

It can actually be hard to count the number of armies in 40k. Depending on how you decide to cut different things into pieces, there might be significantly more or less. This is especially the case for the various space Marines. At any rate, by our count, there are 34 different armies and these are the ones we include in our Warhammer 40k armies overview:

  1. Space Marines
  2. Ultramarines
  3. Imperial Fists
  4. Dark Angels
  5. Blood Angels
  6. Salamanders
  7. Iron Hands
  8. Space Wolves
  9. White Scars
  10. Raven Guard
  11. Deathwatch
  12. Grey Knights
  13. Astra Militarum
  14. Adepta Sororitas
  15. Adeptus Custodes
  16. Adeptus Mechanicus
  17. Imperial Knights
  18. Chaos Space Marines
  19. Death Guard
  20. Thousand Sons
  21. World Eaters
  22. Chaos Daemons Khorne
  23. Chaos Daemons Nurgle
  24. Chaos Daemons Tzeentch
  25. Chaos Daemons Slaanesh
  26. Chaos Knights
  27. Craftworlds
  28. Drukhari
  29. Harlequins
  30. Ynnari
  31. Tyranids
  32. Genestealer Cults
  33. Necrons
  34. Orks
  35. T’au Empire
  36. Leagues of Votann
The feature image for the Warhammer 40k factions overview

What armies are updated for 40k ninth or 9th edition and have a new codex?

These are the 40k armies that have gotten an updated codex for the 9th edition of Warhammer 40k:

  1. Codex: Space Marines (2020)
  2. Codex: Space Marines (2020)
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  3. Codex: Necrons (2020)
  4. Codex: Necrons (2020)
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  5. Codex Supplement: Deathwatch (2020)
  6. Codex Supplement: Deathwatch (2020)
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  7. Codex Supplement: Space Wolves (2020)
  8. Codex Supplement: Space Wolves (2020)
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  9. Codex Supplement: Blood Angels (2020)
  10. Codex Supplement: Blood Angels (2020)
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  11. Codex Supplement: Dark Angels (2021)
  12. Codex Supplement: Dark Angels (2021)
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  13. Codex: Drukhari (2021)
  14. Codex: Drukhari (2021)
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  15. Codex Death Guard (2021)
  16. Codex Death Guard (2021)
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  17. Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (2021)
  18. Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (2021)
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  19. Codex: Adepta Sororitas (2021)
  20. Codex: Adepta Sororitas (2021)
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  21. Codex: Grey Knights (2021)
  22. Codex: Grey Knights (2021)
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  23. Codex: Thousand Sons (2021)
  24. Codex: Thousand Sons (2021)
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  25. Codex: Orks (2021)
  26. Codex: Orks (2021)
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  27. Codex: Leagues of Votann (2021)
  28. Codex: Leagues of Votann (2021)
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  29. Codex Supplement: Black Templars (2021)
  30. Codex Supplement: Black Templars (2021)
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  31. Codex Adeptus Custodes (2022)
  32. Codex Adeptus Custodes (2022)
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  33. Codex: Genestealer Cults (2022)
  34. Codex: Genestealer Cults (2022)
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  35. Codex: Tau Empire (2022)
  36. Codex: Tau Empire (2022)
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  37. Codex: Aeldari (2022)
  38. Codex: Aeldari (2022)
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  39. Codex: Tyranids (2022)
  40. Codex: Tyranids (2022)
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  41. Codex: Imperial Knights (2022)
  42. Codex: Imperial Knights (2022)
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  43. Codex: Chaos Knights (2022)
  44. Codex: Chaos Knights (2022)
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  45. Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2022)
  46. Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2022)
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  47. Codex: Chaos Daemons (2022)
  48. Codex: Chaos Daemons (2022)
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Combat Patrol Boxes for Warhammer 40k

Before we dive into the details of each faction, it can be good to know that GW sells Combat Patrol boxes (earlier called Start Collecting Boxes). If you are starting a new army, getting the Combat Patrol box for that faction can be a very cheap place to start getting some miniatures.

These are the current Combat Patrol Boxes you can get for Warhammer 40k Armies:

How we are dividing the Warhammer 40k Armies up

In Warhammer 40k you have a ton of different armies. They can roughly be divided into 4 big chunks:

  1. Space Marines
  2. Armies of the Imperium
  3. Armies of Chaos
  4. Armies of Xenos

Space Marines Army Overview

Introduction to Space Marines

The Space Marines are monastic orders of genetically enhanced superhumans fighting to defend humanity. They have been the flagship army of Warhammer 40,000 since the beginning of the game, and there is rarely an expansion or update in the game without some sort of update for these guys.

When it comes to playing the game, Space Marines are actually fairly complex: They have a bonus that protects them from suffering too many casualties in the Morale Phase, a lot of cases where specific circumstances let them shoot better with their boltguns, and a rule called Combat Doctrines which gives them different bonuses in each round of a game.

That might sound simple enough, but if you add all the rules of the various Space Marine subfactions to that, as well as the fact that there are more different units and characters for Space Marines than for any other army, it can be very difficult to figure out the optimal army list for the army.

Luckily, that shouldn’t matter for your first few games (or even years!) in the game if you just want to have fun and play narrative games with your friends, so if that’s the case, the Space Marine range of miniatures is a treasure trove of awesome sculpts. If you like the look of the big bulky marines, go for them!

What rule book should I get to play Space Marines?

The Space Marines have a brand new codex available that fully incorporates the new 9th edition rules, and has rules for all models currently playable in the army. At this point where we’re still at the early stages of the new edition, that’s a rare occurrence.

Codex: Space Marines is the book you need. Be aware that most of the time, you will also want the Codex Supplement of the subfaction you want to play, if it’s available for the new edition (see below). This is because there are many different versions of Space Marines, so unless you want to play one of the ones covered in the general Space Marine Codex. Check out this article if you are interested in Space Marine Chapters in Warhammer 40k.

What miniatures are available for Space Marines, and are they up to date?

This is where it can get a bit confusing: The Space Marines have some of the newest and some of the oldest miniatures available, so if you just pick stuff randomly from a webstore, you might end up with some miniatures that are insanely detailed plastic sculpts that you don’t even need to use glue to assemble, and others that are made of finecast resin which has to be assembled with superglue and will break and bend if you look at it wrong.

This is of course due to the fact that the army has been around for so long, and has had so many updates. The most important thing to know about miniature quality and what is up to date in the Space Marines Range is all about the word Primaris: A couple of years ago, the Ultramarines Primarch returned from a 10.000 year stasis with a new vision for the Imperium and a host of new, stronger Space Marine warriors to carry out his vision. The Primaris Space Marines are taller and stronger than regular space marines, and are seen by some as the best the Imperium has to offer, and by others as something close to heresy because of all their technological innovations.

In the real world, what happened was that Games Workshop’s sculpting of plastic miniatures had gotten better and better over the decades, which has led to the miniatures growing in scale, since you could make them look better that way. This had the unfortunate consequence that older Space Marine miniatures were starting to look like strange diminutive figures compared to some other recent figures, while still holding immense sentimental value to people who had collected the army for most of their lives. So, Games Workshop decided to launch new, taller Space Marines not as a direct replacement of the old beloved “tiny marines”, but as a new kind of Space Marine all together.

In reality, the Primaris Space Marines have all but replaced the classic marines now, so as a new player with no nostalgic ties to the old stuff, you might as well only use Primaris Marines for your army, as they all look better together scale-wise, and are also mostly better in the game (with a few exceptions). I consider it very unlikely that GW will ever release any marines that are not Primaris again (and if they could without the biggest outcry from fans, they would phase the old models out completely).

A Primaris Intercessor – the “basic” Primaris Space Marine
A Tactical Space Marine – what Space Marines looked before the coming of the Primaris

That being said, even if you only go for Primaris Marines, there are still so many options: the army has close combat specialists such as the Bladeguard Veterans, snipers such as the Eliminators, massive mechs such as the Redemptor Dreadnoughts, a whole array of different Troops types, as well as a ton of different characters. The Space Marines have at least a couple of options for almost any role in the game, and more are added every year.

The most recent addition to the game has been the close combat Troops called Assault Intercessors, the Bladeguard Veterans, the meltagun-carrying Eradicators, the motorbike-riding Outriders and even an ATV with a gun mounted on top (as well as a few more). These generally encourage a fast assault style, but you can also play the army defensively, stealthily or a combination of those.

How do I get started playing Space Marines

Since Space Marines are the flagship faction for the game, there are a ton of ways to get started with them.

The recent starter sets for 9th Edition all include a contingent of Space Marines, such as the Command Edition.

The Command Edition starter set for 40k

However, if you know you’re only going to play Space Marines, you don’t really need to buy a box with another army also included, and all the miniatures in the box are now also available in other kits. You could of course split the set with one of your friends (or sell off the Necron stuff), which is a super common thing to do.

Space Marines Combat Patrol
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Luckily, you have other options: The Space Marines: Combat Patrol also gives you a nice Primaris force, or you could go for one of the subfaction-specific Combat Patrol boxes (see below), since the miniatures in those usually aren’t subfaction-specific in their own right.

Start Collecting!: Vanguard Space Marines

If you want to start the army with something that’s not in the starter set, a good tactic which works for most of the armies in the game is to download the Warhammer 40,000 app, create an army, see what you can fit in a Combat Patrol Detachment (you can read about detachments in our Beginner’s Guide to Warhammer 40k), and then basically buy the boxes necessary to field that army. This is one of the things that the app is really useful for if you’re a newcomer to the game or haven’t tried a specific army before.

Finally, Space Marines are generally defined by what Chapter (subfaction) they’re from. You can create your own custom Chapter, but it will usually be a successor to one of the standard Chapters, which have their own extra rules, special characters and units, as well as color schemes. Here’s a quick rundown of the most important Chapters and the special kits available to them.

Ultramarines Faction Overview

Roboute Guilliman (yes, that is his name…)

You may have noticed that most images of Space Marines you see in Games Workshop marketing and box art are painted blue with gold trim. This is because the flagship army of the Warhammer 40,000 game has a flagship subfaction: The Ultramarines are the “protagonists” of much of what’s going on in the Warhammer 40,000 universe from the Imperial perspective, and every new Space Marine release from Games Workshop that’s not specific to a different Chapter is always presented as an Ultramarine unit in blue and gold.

The Ultramarines are the pillars of civilization within the Space Marines: Their homeworld sector is almost an Imperium within the Imperium, carefully planned and protected, and home to some of the most manageable standards of living for humans in the galaxy.

At the moment, the Ultramarines are also the only Space Marine chapter able to field their Primarch ancestor leader in battle: Roboute Guilliman (see the image above) is a massive warrior and the de facto leader of the military efforts of all of humanity at the moment, and also an amazing painting project if you want to field him in your army.

Since almost everything Space Marine looks like it’s already part of the Ultramarines, the Chapter isn’t generally defined by its special units, but they do have some really cool characters with updated kits such as Marneus Calgar (the guy from the recent Marvel Warhammer 40,000 comic!) and his Victrix Honour Guard.

Marneus Calgar and his Victrix Honour Guard

You can also make your Space Marines look more like Ultramarines with the Ultramarine Primaris Upgrades Pack.

In short, Ultramarines are basically Space Ancient Romans or Space Ancient Greeks, and even though veterans of the game will call them boring or vanilla Marines, they are a good place to start if you want to feel like your army is part of the ongoing story of Warhammer 40,000.

Imperial Fists Faction Overview

This Chapter in yellow with red trim are experts of siege warfare doesn’t have any specific recent miniatures tied to their Chapter apart from a few characters, with Tor Garadon (pictured above) being the only dedicated Primaris character for the Imperial Fists. They do have a really nice Imperial Fists Primaris Upgrades and Transfers pack available with some cool power fists for your Imperial Fists sergeants (as you have probably figured out by now, they have a whole fist theme going on).

Imperial Fists Primaris Upgrades & Transfers
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An important thing to note about the Imperial Fists is that they are the forefathers of two of the most popular Successor Chapters in the range: The Crimson Fists and the Black Templars.

The Crimson Fists are blue with (you guessed it) red fists, and have a rich history of iconic artwork made for Warhammer 40,000 publications, so you may run into veteran players who are very fond of them.

The Black Templars are an eternally crusading force of Space Marines in black, white and red, and they have quite a few specific pre-Primaris miniatures available to them. They recently had their own codex supplement released alongside a big update of their miniatures range, making them one of the most visually unique Space Marine chapters you can field. A Combat Patrol box for the chapter has also been released.

Black Templars Combat Patrol
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Dark Angels Faction Overview

The Dark Angels are the First Legion of the Space Marines, and they’re clad in green, gold, and often also cream robes. They are currently a very up to date chapter, since they have both a Codex Supplement: Dark Angels available with all the rules they need in addition to the Codex: Space Marines, and a dedicated Combat Patrol: Dark Angels box available with all the units, upgrade bits and transfers needed to field a Combat Patrol-level army of Dark Angels Space Marines.

Dark Angels Combat Patrol
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In addition to all this, the Dark Angels also have some interesting special units such as the Deathwing Knights or their Ravenwing flyers.

Deathwing Knights

Blood Angels Faction Overview

The Blood Angels, clad almost entirely in red, are also a very up to date Chapter. They are especially known for their cursed bloodline, which means they are always at risk of succumbing to a raging madness, so that those inflicted by it are sent to seek swift death on the battlefield in a Death Company before they are completely consumed by the rage.

The additional rules for the Blood Angels can be found in Codex Supplement: Blood Angels which was released after the new edition of Warhammer 40,000 dropped, and the Blood Angels also have a Combat Patrol: Blood Angels available with all you need to build Blood Angels Combat Patrol Force.

While Blood Angels have some cool classic Marine special units, it’s also worth noting that the new Codex Supplement has made it possible to field the Death Company mentioned above as Primaris Space Marines, which means you can make a lore-appropriate Blood Angels force without having to use older miniatures.

Blood Angels Death Company Intercessors

Salamanders Faction Overview

The Salamanders are a Space Marine chapter clad in bright greens with coal-black skin, and they are especially known for using flame weaponry and being nice to civilians, so they’re one of the relatively “good” (as in, kind) Imperial factions.

They don’t have a Codex Supplement for the new edition, so you can just use the rules from Codex: Space Marines for the time being.

They do have a very nice Salamanders Primaris Upgrades and Transfers pack with thunder hammers and flamers to help you make your Primaris Marines look the part, as well as the fearsome Chapter Master Adrax Agatone miniature pictured at the top of this Chapter’s section of this article.

Iron Hands Faction Overview

The Iron Hands are clad in all black, and are easily recognisable by their mechanical arms, as they practice the art of perfection through replacing body parts with mechanical implants, as you can see on Iron Father Feirros on the image above this paragraph . They don’t currently have an updated Codex Supplement, so you’ll have to use the rules in Codex: Space Marines, but they do have an Iron Hands Primaris Upgrades and Transfers pack available with plenty of metal arms and cyborg heads to make your Iron Hands Space Marines look as half-human as they should.

Space Wolves Faction Overview

The Space Wolves are clad in bright grey/blue with gold trim, and they’re one of the most easily distinguishable Space Marine chapters. Hailing from the planet Fenris, they’re all about wolf iconography and viking aesthetics.

They are a very up to date army with a newly released Codex Supplement: Space Wolves and a Combat Patrol: Space Wolves box available to help you build a Combat Patrol force and play it with all the additional rules you need.

However, in the case of the Space Wolves, there’s no point in only taking Primaris Space Marines unless you really want to, even though their current leader Ragnar Blackmane (pictured above), was recently updated as a Primaris model: The Space Wolves have a ton of cool special units, ranging from the wolf-riding Thunderwolf Cavalry to the Space Wolves Wulfen half-wolf berserkers and the Stormwolf flyer, so if you can handle everything being called something with “wolf” in it, the Space Wolves let you build one of the most visually distinct forces among the Space Marines.

Thunderwolf Cavalry

White Scars Faction Overview

The White Scars, clad in almost all white with red trim, are masters of fast assaults, often on armed motorbikes such as the Outriders. They have a distinct medieval Mongolian vibe to their aesthetic, with curved swords and chainswords, shaved heads with locks of black hair, and some horse and eagle iconography as you can see on their leader Kor-Sarro Khan above (who sadly seems to be out of production at the moment of writing this article).

They don’t have an updated Codex Supplement, so you can use the rules in Codex: Space Marines for them. They do have a White Scars Primaris Upgrades and Transfers pack available with a couple of cool curved chainswords.

Since White Scars don’t have an updated Codex Supplement and almost no special units at the moment, you might wan to wait building an army of them until they get their 9th edition upgrade, which shouldn’t take too much time.

Raven Guard Faction Overview

The Raven Guard is the sneaky, stealthy Space Marine Chapter, all clad in black as you can see on the leader Kayvaan Shrike above.

They currently do not have an updated Codex Supplement, so you can just use the Codex: Space Marines rules found for them in that book. They have a Raven Guard Primaris Upgrades and Transfers Pack available to them with a lot of bird iconography and trinkets, but apart from that, there’s not much available for you to buy that will distinguish your Raven Guard force from other armies. You might want to wait until they get their 9th edition upgrade.

Deathwatch Faction Overview

The Deathwatch, easily distinguishable by their silver arms and pauldron on an otherwise black suit of armor, are different from all other Space Marine Chapters due to the fact that they’re made up of warriors from many of the other Space Marine Chapters. They specialise in hunting down aliens (called xenos in the Warhammer 40,000 universe).

They are currently a very up to date army, with a Codex Supplement: Deathwatch available with all the rules you need in addition to the Codex: Space Marines, and a Combat Patrol: Deathwatch box to help you easily build a Combat Patrol-sized Deathwatch force.

One of the coolest things about the Deathwatch is their ability to field Kill Teams: Mixed units of different types of Space Marines from different combat roles or chapters. You can buy some boxes of non-Primaris Kill Teams, such as the Kill Team Cassius, which are full of miniatures that still look great (if a bit small), or you can build your own Kill Teams from various Primaris units.

Grey Knights Faction Overview

The best way to understand the Grey Knights from a beginner’s perspective is to say that even though they are formally Space Marines, they really aren’t. They may be supersoldiers in power armor, but they don’t use the rules from Codex: Space Marines, and they can’t use any Primaris units. So in that regards they are very different from all other brands of Space Marines out there.

Instead, they have their own range of generally good quality silver-clad psychic warriors who hunt the worst horrors of Chaos. They’re a secretive order with some really cool characters, such as Grand Master Voldus pictured above, and the Grey Knights Paladins, and they can also use many Space Marine Vehicles and Flyers.

Grey Knights Paladins

The Grey Knights has had a 9th edition codex released , as well as a Combat Patrol box, so they’re easy to get started with.

Successor Chapters and more

On top of all these different Chapters, there are also many other Successor Chapters that have color schemes and lore available, but no special units or codex supplements. These are just played with the Codex: Space Marines rules.

Armies of the Imperium Army Overview

Below are all the armies that defend humanity, but are not Space Marines. They are as diverse as they come, from the pretty regular humans fighting in the trenches for the Astra Militarum to the almost-robotic Adeptus Mechanicus and the Adeptus Custodes which are almost more Space Marine-esque than the Space Marines themselves. This section goes through each army and explains how to get started with them, and how up to date they are for the current edition.

Astra Militarum Army Overview

Introduction to Astra Militarum armies

The Astra Militarum is the standing army of the Imperium, made up of billions of volunteers and conscripts. In many ways, it’s the one army in Warhammer 40,000 that fights most like a modern army from our world, with infantry, mobile divisions and artillery working in tandem to overwhelm the enemy with firepower. They have a very detailed history with many planet-specific regiments and special forces, and they generally offer a more down to earth point of view of the Warhammer 40,000 universe than what you get as a Space Marine player.

They are also a fun army to collect because of the vast variations in scale across the army, from lowly footsoldiers to fortress-like tanks.

What rule book should I get if I want to play Astra Militarum ?

The Astra Militarum has an updated codex for 9th edition, with all the rules you need to play the myriad of units available to the army.

What miniatures are available for Astra Militarum , and are they up to date?

The Astra Militarum has some very old miniatures available, such as the Catachan Jungle Fighters, but otherwise, the army has recently received a massive update for almost everything from its Cadian Shock Troops to their new Lord Solar faction leader.

In general, the Astra Militarum has a wildly diverse model range with tanks big and small, mech walkers, psykers, cavalry and, of course, lots and lots of regular human infantry.

How do I get started playing Astra Militarum ?

The best way to start the Astra Militarum army is with the Combat Patrol: Astra Militarum box, containing a 2 model Field Ordnance Battery, an Armored/Scout Sentinel, 20 Cadian Shock Troops and 1 Cadian Command Squad.

Adepta Sororitas Faction Overview

Battle Sisters Squad

Introduction to the army Adepta Sororitas

The Adepta Sororitas is the military branch of the Imperium’s church, the Ecclesiarchy, and they are easily distinguishable from other Imperium armies due to the fact that they’re almost all women. This comes from a loophole in a contract that forbid the Ecclessiarchy to have a standing army of “men at arms” (or something to that effect), but in practice it just means that they’re an awesome-looking army of warrior nuns. If you would like a break from all the hypermasculine armies of the Imperium, and you like all the history and iconography of the religious part of Imperial life in Warhammer 40,000, they might be just the army for you.

What rule book should I get if I want to play Adepta Sororitas?

The Adepta Sororitas has a brand new 9th edition codex, which contains everything you need to play the army.

What miniatures are available for Adepta Sororitas , and are they up to date?

The Adepta Sororitas miniatures range is very up to date, having received an almost complete overhaul just prior to the release of 9th edition. Everything from core Troops such as the Battle Sisters Squad to the flying pulpit for Junith Eruita and the beautiful diorama The Triumph of Saint Katherine are brand-new, very detailed plastic sculpts that are very coherent in style – and with their 9th edition codex, the army received another very large model range update, with a notable addition being Morvenn Vahl, the great Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas.

Morvenn Vahl

How do I get started playing Adepta Sororitas ?

The Adepta Sororitas has a pretty great Combat Patrol box available, so that could be a good first purchase – and then you’re free to go in any direction with the Battle Sisters’ by now very large selection of different units.

Combat Patrol: Adepta Sororitas

Adeptus Custodes Army Overview

Custodian Wardens with a Vexilus Praetor

Introduction to the Adeptus Custodes faction

The Adeptus Custodes are genetically enhanced supersoldiers charged with protecting the home of the Emperor on Terra (the Earth), but in recent editions, they have joined the war effort across the galaxy.

They are golden-clad, hyper-elite warriors, so AOS Stormcast Eternals players will feel right at home aesthetically. They are one of only a few ways of fielding an army with a very low model count for the Imperium, so if you don’t want to paint more than a couple of miniatures, that might be all you need to know to get started with the Adeptus Custodes.

What rule book should I get If I want to play Adeptus Custodes ?

The Adeptus Custodes have a new 9th Edition codex that contains all the rules you need to play the army.

Codex: Adeptus Custodes

What miniatures are available for Adeptus Custodes , and are they up to date?

The Adeptus Custodes miniatures range is very up to date since they’re one of the newest armies in the game, and it can be made almost entirely from three boxes, since each of these boxes can be build as multiple different units, and even as characters for the army:

the Custodian Wardens box can be built as either Wardens or as Wardens with a Shield-Captain or a Vexilus Praetor.

The Vertus Praetors can be built as either Praetors or Praetors with a Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Bike.

Like the Wardens, the Allarus Custodians can be built with either a Vexilus Praetor or a Shield-Captain in Allarus Terminator Armour.

The rest of the range is just a Dreadnought, a Land Raider (transport) and a few characters.

How do I get started playing Adeptus Custodes ?

Thanks to the limited miniatures range, it’s easy to get started with Adeptus Custodes, especially with the Combat Patrol box available for the army.

Combat Patrol: Adeptus Custodes

Adeptus Mechanicus Army Overview

Skitarii Rangers

Introduction to the Adeptus Mechanicus army

The Adeptus Mechanicus is the technological branch of the Imperium. They weren’t always a part of the Imperium, and their religion is still somewhat heretical (depending on who you ask), but these mechanically augmented posthumans supply the imperium with all the weaponry and technology it needs. Their soldiers march to war to defend their Forge Worlds or recover lost technology on metallic legs, chanting their binharic hymns and using archaic weaponry and radiation ammunition, since they’re barely human and have very little organic matter for the radiation to contaminate.

If you like the dieselpunk aesthetic of the army and you’re fascinated by the peculiar role of technology in the Imperium, the Adeptus Mechanicus is a very interesting army to paint, collect and play.

What rule book should I get for an Adeptus Mechanicus army?

The Adeptus Mechanicus have a codex for 9th edition, with all the rules and datasheets you need for playing the army.

What miniatures are available for Adeptus Mechanicus , and are they up to date?

The Adeptus Mechanicus miniatures range is very up to date, with some new miniatures having come out just last year, and the rest of the range is in a good shape as well. They have Troops in the shape of Skitarii Rangers/Vanguard, the mounted (!) Serberys Raiders/Sulphurhounds as well as transports, flyers, fast attack options and a few other units, most of them great plastic sculpts with a very coherent visual style.

Serberys Raiders

The army used to have a shortage of recently sculpted HQ choices, but the addition of the Tech-Priest Manipulus and Skitarii Marshal does improve on that, as well as the reinvention of the Blackstone Fortress character Daedalosus into a new generic HQ called a Technoarchaeologist.

Tech-Priest Manipulus

How do I get started playing Adeptus Mechanicus ?

The Adeptus Mechanicus have a new Combat Patrol box available, and while it doesn’t have the HQ choice you’d probably want (a Marshall or a Dominus), the rest of it is pretty useful.

Combat Patrol: Adeptus Mechanicus

Imperial Knights

Introduction to the Imperial Knights army

The Imperial Knights hail from feudal worlds where nobles control their mighty mechs like mechanised knights in shining armour.

Their are an extremely elite army, since all the units specific to the army are towering mechs (they’re all building-grade huge), but they can also be included in separate detachments in other Imperium armies.

They look amazing, but aren’t recommended as a starter army, as you’ll want a lot of experience building and painting miniatures before taking on one of these massive sculpts.

What rule book should I get for Imperial Knights ?

The Imperial Knights recently received their 9th edition codex, which contains all the rules and lore you need to field and paint them.

Codex: Imperial Knights

What miniatures are available for Imperial Knights , and are they up to date?

The Imperial Knights range is very up to date, and if you like the iron giant aesthetic, all the miniatures are really cool. Even though they’re all big, there is some scale variety to the Imperial Knights, with Armigers being the smallest and Knight Castellans being some of the largest if you don’t count Forge World models, which we steer clear of in this guide to keep things manageable.

Armiger Warglaives
Knight Castellan

How do I get started playing Imperial Knights ?

Unless you really like the miniatures, don’t – not just yet. Since most of the miniatures in the range have the Lord of War Battlefield Role, none of them will even fit in ordinary detachments, so if you and your friends are starting out with Combat Patrol size forces, you can’t play Imperial Knights. Otherwise, just pick a knight you like and start painting!

Various other Imperial Factions and Units

In addition to the armies that have a codex (or are going to get one soon), there are several other Imperium factions that can be included in various detachments. You don’t have to worry about any of these as a beginner, but they include the Inqusition, which Lord Inquisitor Kyria Draxos above here comes from, the Officio Assassinorum, which are the assassin branch of the Imperium (40k army names are often pretty easy to interpret), and the Sisters of Silence, which are silent warriors who are invulnerable to psychic attacks.

Vindicare Assassin
Sisters of Silence Vigilator Squad

Armies of Chaos

The armies of Chaos are the great antagonists of the Imperium. They consist of legions of fallen Space Marines who followed the Traitor Primarchs into the Eye of Terror after the great civil war called the Horus Heresy (it’s a long story…) as well as actual demons created by the Chaos Gods themselves. While not getting nearly as much attention as the Space Marines in terms of releases, the forces of Chaos are just as iconic a part of Warhammer 40,000 as the Space Marines.

In this section we cover the factions and legions that you can field for the Armies of Chaos, and which of them that are sufficiently up to date to start playing right now.

Chaos Space Marines Army Overview

Introduction the Chaos Space Marines army

The Chaos Space Marines are evil (if you ask the Imperium!) counterparts to the Space Marines, worshipping the Gods of Chaos. In many ways their strategies mirror the Space Marines with infantry in power armor, mobile divisions and specific rules for specific legions, but they add many special unit types to the mix and have very different weapon loadouts.

At the moment, they are an umbrella faction that might later turn into several armies with their own codexes, but you can field them as a number of subfactions such as the Night Lords, World Eaters or the Alpha Legion, each with their own rules and lore, but without the full attention of a codex.

They have received some substantial updates in recent years, but the miniatures range is still pretty uneven. If you want to play the “bad” bad guys of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, however, there’s almost no way around them.

What rule book should I get for Chaos Space Marines ?

The Chaos Space Marines have finally received their 9th edition codex! It contains a substantial upgrade to the rules of the army and gives you everything you need to play the traitor legions in 40k.

Codex: Chaos Space Marines

What miniatures are available for Chaos Space Marines , and are they up to date?

The Chaos Space Marines miniatures range was pretty outdated for a long time, but it has recently been updated to a very good standard – though some eyesores remain (see below).

On the one hand, recent years have seen the release of an awesome new Chaos Space Marines infantry box and a slew of other upgrades to important units in the army, as well as the terrifying Abaddon the Despoiler depicted above.

Chaos Space Marines

On the other hand, iconic units of the various subfactions such as a Night Lords Chaos Lord are very old and look like absolute farts, so what looks cool when you browse the rules in the Warhammer 40,000 app rules-wise might not look good on the tabletop at all.

Night Lords Chaos Lord (oh my)

How do I get started playing Chaos Space Marines ?

The Combat Patrol: Chaos Space Marines is a great way to get started with the army.

Be aware that there are other ways of playing Chaos Space Marines, though: Some Chaos Legions have their own codexes and their own miniatures range, which you can see just below this paragraph.

Combat Patrol: Chaos Space Marines

World Eaters Army Overview

Introduction to the World Eaters Faction

The World Eaters are the Chaos-corrupted Space Marines Legion of the Daemon Primarch Angron. They’re blood-crazed, Khorne-worshipping berserkers who live to pile up skulls and chop up their enemies with chain-axes, dreaming of bringing both themselves and their enemies as a blood sacrifice to Khorne, the Chaos god of Rage.

As such, the World Eaters are an army that’s all about close combat. There’s not a unit in the entire army that can’t carry some sort of melee weapon, and the army gains Blood Tithe points for every unit killed in battle.

What rulebook should I get for the World Eaters army?

The World Eaters got a brand new stand-alone codex for 9th edition, in which you can find all the rules for playing the army.

What miniatures are available to the World Eaters, and are they up to date?

Most of the World Eaters model range is very up to date. The army has some units in common with Chaos Space Marines, such as Terminators, Rhinos or Daemon Princes (often with slightly different rules), but the core of the army is faction-specific models.

The Khorne Berzerkers are the staple space marines of the army, armed with a variety of chain weapons and pistols. Their models used to be hilariously old, but they’ve received a brand new kit that matches other modern Chaos Space Marines kits.

A new addition to the army in 9th edition is a unit of Khorne-dedicated cultists, the Jakhals, which are “regular” humans armed with, you guessed it, all sorts of chain weapons and combat stimms.

If you want even more close combat chainblade action, the World Eaters have a dual kit that can be assembled as either Eightbound or Exalted Eightbound, daemon-possessed champions of Khorne.

The World Eaters also have some unique space marine characters such as the Lord Invocatus and Khârn the Betrayer, as well as Khorne versions of some standard Chaos Space Marines characters.

Finally, the World Eaters have their raging, nigh-unkillable Daemon Primarch, Angron, who reappeared in the 40K storyline in 9th edition. He is armed with two absolutely huge melee weapons and will always reincarnate into realspace again after being killed.

How do I get started collecting a World Eaters army?

If you want to start playing World Eaters, you can’t go wrong with the (upcoming) Combat Patrol: World Eaters box. It contains 20 Khorne Berzerkers, a Lord Invocatus/Chaos Lord on Daemonic Mount and 10 Jakhals.

Death Guard Army Overview

Introduction to the Death Guard Faction

The Death Guard is a Chaos Space Marine legion following Nurgle, the Chaos God of decay, and since 8th edition, they’ve had their own codex and miniatures range.

They are a very resilient army that will just keep going no mattter what you throw at them, with various disease-based abilities at their disposal. If you have a strong stomach, they’re fun to paint as well, but they’re pretty disgusting!

What rule book should I get for an Death Guard army?

Rules-wise, the Death Guard is the most up to date Chaos army. They have recently received a Codex: Death Guard for 9th edition with all the rules you need to play them.

What miniatures are available for Death Guard, and are they up to date?

The Death Guard miniatures range is very up to date, since they were the main antagonists of the beginning of the previous edition of Warhammer 40,000. They have their own dedicated Space Marines in the shape of Plague Marines, as well as the zombie-like Poxwalkers, the artillery Plagueburst Crawler, their Primarch Mortarion pictured at the top of this section, and many more nauseating and fearsome miniatures. There’s a lot to collect and many interesting options for building your army, and all of it has up to date rules.

Plague Marines
Plagueburst Crawler

How do I get started playing Death Guard?

The Combat Patrol: Death Guard box gives you a unit of Plague Marines, 30(!) Poxwalkers a Typhus character and a Biologus Putrifier, which makes for a very cool starting force.

Thousand Sons Army Overview

Introduction to the Thousand Sons Army

The Thousand Sons are the master Psykers of the Chaos Space Marines, following their Primarch Magnus The Red (pictured above) in the worship of Tzeentch the Chaos God of Change. It is an army of sorcerers, semi-undead living suits of armour and daemonic beings, so if you want to lean into the “magical” side of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, they might be just the army for you.

What rule book should I get if I want to play Thousand Sons?

The Thousand Sons received their 9th edition a while ago, and it contains everything you need to play the army.

Codex: Thousand Sons

What miniatures are available for Thousand Sons, and are they up to date?

The Thousand Sons miniatures range is fairly up to date, being a bit older than the Death Guard, but with no very obsolete sculpts in the range.

The Rubric Marines and Scarab Occult Terminators showcase the Ancient Egyptian feel of the army’s visual style, and are flanked by Exalted Sorcerers and even beastlike Tzaangors, which is essentially an Age of Sigmar unit that you can turn into a Thousand Sons unit with the Tzaangor Upgrade Pack.

Rubric Marines
Exalted Sorcerers

How do I get started collecting a Thousand Sons army?

The Combat Patrol box released for the Thousand Sons is a good place to start – but only for a specific kind of army for the faction, since it contains a whole bunch of mutant Tzaangors rather than a unit of Rubric Marines. However, it also contains a unit of Occult Scarab Terminators and the new Infernal Master HQ choice, so you might as well buy it and add a unit of Rubric Marines on the side if you want a more traditional force.

Chaos Daemons Army Overview

The Chaos Daemons are the daemonic manifestations of the powers of the four Chaos Gods Khorne (Rage), Nurgle (Decay), Tzeentch (Change) and Slaanesh (Excess), and they can be a pretty confusing army to collect for a beginner. They share one codex, but many of their rules are based around each Chaos God, so in this guide, I have assumed that you want to field a Daemon army specifically devoted to just one Chaos God.

One of the greatest aspects of the Chaos Daemons for a beginner is that whatever army you collect for them, you’re almost certain to be able to play that army in Warhammer Age of Sigmar as well, since the two games share roughly the same Chaos Daemon pantheon and miniatures.

Khorne Army Overview

Introduction to the Khorne Army

Khorne is the Chaos god of rage, and his Daemons are all about all-out attack and destruction.

What rule book should I getif I want to play a Khorne Army?

The Chaos Daemons do not currently have a 9th edition codex, so you’ll have to wait until one comes along or play them with rules from the Warhammer 40,000 app.

What miniatures are available for Khorne, and are they up to date?

The Khorne range of Daemon miniatures is fairly up to date, and has the advantage of getting an update whenever the God of rage gets an update in Age of Sigmar as well. Iconic units include the Daemons of Khorne Bloodthirster pictured above, Bloodletters and Flesh Hounds.

Flesh Hounds

How do I get started collecting Khorne?

The Start Collecting! Daemons of Khorne gives you a unit of Bloodletters, a unit of mounted Bloodcrushers and a Herald on Blood Throne to lead your force.

Nurgle Army Overview

Introduction to the Nurgle Faction

Nurgle is the God of Decay, and his disgusting disease-spreading daemons are a mixture of zombie aesthetic and a strange silliness that makes them all the more scary. Like the Death Guard, they are all about the slow unstoppable advance.

What rule book should I get if I want to play Nurgle?

The Chaos Daemons don’t have a codex for 9th edition yet, but we’ll update this space as soon as we know more.

What miniatures are availablefor Nurgle, and are they up to date?

The Nurgle Daemons miniatures range is pretty up to date since the Age of Sigmar Nurgle range got an upgrade a few years ago. Plaguebearers of Nurgle and Nurglings are some of your horde-like units, supported by characters with insane names such as Sloppity Bilepiper and Horticulous Slimux. The most iconic Nurgle unit, however, is the hulking Great Unclean One pictured at the top of this section, which can be assembled in af few different ways. The Nurgle range is sure to be supported for years to come (like that of the other Chaos Gods) since they play an important part in both the 40k and Age of Sigmar universes.

Plaguebearers of Nurgle
Sloppity Bilepiper
Horticulous Slimux

How do I get started collecting a Nurgle army?

The Start Collecting! Daemons of Nurgle box comes with a unit of Plaguebearers, a unit of Nurglings, a unit of fly-mounted Plague Drones and a Herald of Nurgle character, meaning you get some of your most iconic units in one box.

Tzeentch Army Overivew

Introduction to Tzeentch

The Daemons of Tzeenth, the Chaos God of Change, are all bout magic, change and mutation. This is perfectly embodied in the Horror Daemons, which split into smaller versions of themselves when they die, and the terrifying sorcerer bird the Lord of Change, pictured above.

What rule book should I get if I want play Tzeentch ?

The Chaos Daemons don’t have an updated 9th edition codex yet, but we’ll update this page when we know one is coming.

What miniatures are available for Tzeentch , and are they up to date?

Most of the Tzeentch miniatures range is up to date, but especially the Flamers of Tzeentch and Screamers of Tzeentch are in dire need of an update.

The Horrors of Tzeentch are a very strange unit that basically requires you to buy two different kits: They can start out as Pink Horrors, which split into twice the number of smaller Blue Horrors when they die. In turn, the Blue Horrors split into even smaller Brimstone Horrors when they die. The latter two are in a separate box from the pink ones, so you’ll need quite a few boxes of these.

Pink Horrors
Blue Horrors and Brimstone Horrors

How do I get started collecting Tzeentch?

The Start Collecting! Daemons of Tzeentch box gives you a Burning Chariot of Tzeentch, a unit of Flamers of Tzeentch, a unit of Screamers of Tzeentch, and a unit of Pink Horrors (but not the blue and crimson ones you need), as well as an optional Herald of Nurgle on Foot. Miniatures-wise, this is one of the older sets of sculpts available in a Start Collecting! box, so let’s hope they get an update soon.

Slaanesh Army Overview

Introduction to Slaanesh armies

Slaanesh is the Chaos God of Excess and obsession, and they’re all about ever-increasing intensities of sensations, so their daemon forces are more about inflicting pain and taking damage than about just destroying the enemy.

The miniatures is a disturbing range of graceful but horrifying creatures that have received a lot of updates via the Age of Sigmar storyline in recent years, and it will probably continue to do so.

What rule book should I get if I want to play Slaanesh ?

The Chaos Daemons don’t have an updated codex for 9th edition yet, but we’ll update this section as soon as we know anything about one.

What miniatures are available for Slaanesh , and are they up to date?

The Daemons of Slaanesh miniatures range is generally up to date, with the Daemonettes of Slaanesh infantry being fairly old but still serviceable, and larger models such as the Keeper of Secrets pictured above being brand new.

How do I get started collecting Slaanesh ?

The Start Collecting! Daemons of Slaanesh box contains a unit of Daemonettes of Slaanesh, a unit of Seekers of Slaanesh and an Exalted Seeker of Slaanesh to get your Daemons of Slaanesh force started.

Chaos Knights Army Overview

Introduction to Chaos Knights armies

The Chaos Knights are the dark mirror of the valiant Imperial Knights: They’re towering giants of metal marching into terrifying duels with other Knights, but this time around, they serve the forces of Chaos. If you like painting huge miniatures, but you want a break from the clean design of the Imperial Knights, the chains, pikes and spikes of the Chaos Knights might be your next favorite project.

What rule book should I get if I want to play Chaos Knights?

The Chaos Knights have their own 9th edition codex which contains all the rules you need to field your traitor knights.

Codex: Chaos Knights

What miniatures are available for Chaos Knights, and are they up to date?

The Chaos Knights miniatures range is very up to date, and even though it might look like it to the untrained eye, only some of them are Imperial Knights with different suggested color schemes. Imperial Knights and Chaos Knights share the Armiger, Castellan and Preceptor kits from the Imperial Knights range, but the dual kit for Knight Desecrator/Rampager is unique to the faction.

How do I get started playing Chaos Knights?

The short answer is: If you’re a beginner, don’t. The Chaos Knights units are Lords of War, which means they don’t fit into the Patrol Detachments we recommend you use for your first few games, so only pick one of these if you really like painting and building miniatures and would like one just for that sake.

Xenos Armies

Aeldari Army Overview

Introduction Aeldari Armies

Like the elves of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle-Earth, the Aeldari of the Craftworlds are a species in decline. They live long, disciplined lives, dedicating all their energy to specific disciplines and skills to avoid their tendency to excess, which would make them vulnerable to the influence of the Chaos God Slaanesh, who devours their souls when they die.

To save themselves from being devoured, all Aeldari of the Craftworlds carry a spirit stone that captures their soul when they die, and they travel the galaxy in great ships that store all these dead souls. When truly threatened by enemies, the Craftworlds field constructs powered by these spirit stones, so that long-dead Aeldari ancestors may march to war once again as huge suits of armour.

Skilled, disciplined and mysterious to most other factions of the Galaxy, the Aeldari Craftworlds offer a perspective on the Warhammer 40,000 universe where humans, orks, T’au and the like are mere fools who do not understand the true nature of the universe. So, if you want to play as the ancient, graceful “elven” culture in decline that you can also find in many other genre universes, the Craftworlds might be just the army for you.

What rule book should I get if I want to play Aeldari?

The Aeldari have a new 9th edition codex with rules for Craftworlds Aeldari/Asuryani, Ynnari and Harlequins.

Codex Aeldari

What miniatures are available for Aeldari, and are they up to date?

The Aeldari now have a pretty well-updated model range, after being very outdated for many years. The range has some good plastic characters such as the Spiritseer, Farseer, Jain Zar (pictured at the top of this section) and Eldrad Ulthran, and the infantry unit Howling Banshees got a brand new plastic kit recently.

Eldran Ulthran
Howling Banshees

The many vehicles and constructs of the Craftworlds, such as Fire Prism or Wraithguard also look pretty good.

Fire Prism

In addition to all this, the army had some very nice updates in the latest release around its new codex, with new Guardians and a new Avatar of Khaine, among many other releases.

How do I get started Collecting Aeldari?

The Combat Patrol: Aeldari is a great way to start an Aeldari force – much better than the old Start Collecting! box for the army, which didn’t even feature any Troop choices.

Drukhari Army Overview

Introduction Drukhari armies

The Drukhari are the evil twins of the Craftworlds Aeldari, so to speak. Instead of seeking control and discipline, they have gone all in on their Slaaneshian weaknesses, seeking decadence, violence and excess wherever they can.

They terrorize the galaxy as raiders and slavers, striking with no warning from their home city of Commorragh which is hidden deep within the Aeldari’s secret Webway. So if the idea of playing as the evil pirates/vikings of the galaxy, they might be just the right army for you.

What rule book should I get if I want to play Drukhari ?

The Drukhari have a codex for 9th edition, that updated a lot of rules for the army.

Codex: Drukhari

What miniatures are available Drukhari, and are they up to date?

While there are still quite a few resin sculpts in the Drukhari miniatures range, it is generally in better shape than the Craftworlds range, as most of its infantry units are modern plastic sculpts. Confusingly, though, the most recent update to their Incubi warriors, which was released in a special army set during the Psychic Awakening event, are currently unavailable. Hopefully they’ll be released along with the new codex when it comes out. The Kabalites, Wyches, and Scourges look great, however, and so does everything else you’ll probably want for your first army, such as their Raider ships or Reaver vehicles.


Note that while most of the essential units of the Drukhari are very coherent in style, the Drukhari range is also home to some really strange stuff such as the Cronos or the actual snake-man Sslyth.


How do I get started Collecting Drukhari?

Along with the new codex , a Combat Patrol: Drukhari box is also up for the Drukhari. It contains everything you need to build a Combat Patrol force, including the Incubi that have been unavailable for a while.

Harlequins Army Overview

Introduction to Harlequins armies

Tricksters and murderous performers, the Harlequins are follower of the Aeldari Laughing God, and they’re fast, elegant, elite fighters that can advance and charge, or fall back and shoot in the same turn, so if you like a fighting style where you’re constantly relocating and outmaneuvering your enemy, they might be just the right army for you.

What rule book should I get for Harlequins?

The Harlequins can be played with rules from the Codex: Aeldari.

What miniatures are available for Harlequins, and are they up to date?

The Harlequins miniatures range is very limited, with only one infantry unit, three characters and three vehicles where two are versions of the same kit, but they all look really good if you are able to paint their complex, chequered color scheme, as seen on this Harlequin Troupe:

How do I get started collecting Harlequins?

You don’t have that many different options, but be sure to buy a couple of boxes of Harlequin Troupe, as this also includes the Troupe Master as an HQ choice, and then supplement that with a Solitaire (3+ invulnerable save! Interesting special rules!) and then more Troupes or a vehicle. Try different combinations in the app, but if you’re already interested in this army, there are so few options that you’ll probably end up buying everything in the Harlequins range anyway.

Ynnari Army Overview

Introduction Ynnari armies

This is where Aeldari lore gets really complex, if it wasn’t already: The Ynnari believe that if every Aeldari dies, Ynnead the God of Death will slay the Chaos God Slaanesh. They have figured out a way to store the spirits of the dead within themselves so they’re not taken by Slaanesh, and they gain power from those spirits – or something to that effect! While it’s difficult to work out exactly how the Ynnari work in the lore, their appeal in the game is easy to spot: They are an Aeldari faction that can include Craftworlds, Drukhari and Harlequin detachments in their armies. This allows for some interesting mixed armies of unlikely allies that’s quite different from anything else in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

So, if you want to play the Aeldari faction that believes things might end well after all, the Ynnari might be just the right faction for you.

What rule book should I get for Ynnari?

You can play Ynnari via the Codex: Aeldari book.

What miniatures are available for Ynnari, and are they up to date?

Since the Ynnari are made up of Aeldari warriors from the Craftworlds, Drukhari and Harlequin ranges, consult the corresponding sections of our guides for those armies for most of your units. Apart from that, only one dedicated miniatures kit is available for the Ynnari, but what a kit it is: The Triumvirate of Ynnead contains the three most important characters of the Ynnari, which are the Yncarne, Yvraine and the Visarch, which are all HQ choices for your army and impressive modern plastic sculpts to boot.

The Triumvirate of Ynnead from left to right: The Visarch, Yncarne and Yvraine

How do I get started collecting Ynnari?

Since you’ll only be able to fit one Patrol Detachment in a Combat Patrol, and thus only one of the three Aeldari forces, we recommend you buy a Combat Patrol box from either the Aeldari or Drukhari, and then you can branch out into other factions for other detachments as your army grows. You might also want to buy the Triumvirate of Ynnead right away, even though it’s not exactly required.

Tyranids Army Overview

Introduction to Tyranids armies

The Tyranids are one of the greatest horror elements of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe. They are a swarm of galaxy-travelling monsters who consume everything in their path and incorporate the biomass of it into their ever-growing armies.

They are an army of mostly pretty old sculpts, but they look like nothing else in the game, so if you want to play the great Hive Mind/Bioswarm sci-fi trope in Warhammer 40,000, the Tyranids are what you’re looking for.

What rule book should I get for Tyranids?

The Tyranids have a 9th edition codex with all the rules you need to play the army.

Codex: Tyranids

What miniatures are available for Tyranids, and are they up to date?

The Tyranids miniature ranges is generally not up to date, and it’s been a while since it had any new dedicated releases, but it doesn’t really matter since the range is still full of terrifying monsters straight out of your Starship Troopers/Starcraft/Alien nightmares: from the infantry-sized Termagant Brood to such as the Haruspex or Mawloc, it can be pretty confusing to a beginner to figure out what’s what in the army: there are just scary mouths and carapaces everywhere.


Bear in mind that you can also combine your monsters with detachments that are either Brood Brothers (which are Astra Militarum units that are infiltrated by Tyranid Genestealers) and the Genestealer Cults described below, which have a ton of recent sculpts available, so there are quite a few ways to build a Tyranid army.

How do I get started collecting Tyranids ?

The Tyranids have a Combat Patrol box available with everything you need to start your own swarm.

Combat Patrol: Tyranids

Genestealer Cults Army Overview

Introduction Genestealer Cults armies

The Genestealer Cults are cults on human worlds that worship the coming of the Tyranids, and they consist of hybrids of genestealer and human DNA, so some look almost like humans while others have extra arms and terrifying mouths full of sharp teeth.

They are a great army to collect if you like the idea of playing as an alien insurrection undermining the Imperial order, and they can be a part of Tyranid armies as well, so they can be played in several ways.

They are also one of the most updated armies outside of the Space Marines ranks, so if you want state of the art miniatures, they might be just the army for you.

What rule book should I get for Genestealer Cults?

The Genestealer Cults have a 9th edition codex with all the rules you need to start your uprising.

Codex: Genestealer Cults

What miniatures are available for Genestealer Cults, and are they up to date?

The Genestealer Cults miniatures range is generally very up to date. The Troops choice Neophyte Hybrids are some of the best-looking infantry models in the game in my opinion (and you can play them in Necromunda as well!), and recent releases such as the Atalan Jackals or the Abominant completely embody the “alien working class insurrection” style of the army. If you want to include Brood Brothers in your army (Astra Militarum units that are part of the insurrection), there is even a Genestealer Cults Upgrade Frame available that can help you turn any human infantry model into a hybrid.

Neophyte Hybrids
Atalan Jackals
Genestealer Cults Upgrade Frame

How do I get started collecting Genestealer Cults?

The Combat Patrol: Genestealer Cults box is stuffed with Neophyte Cultists, which is great, but it also has Aberrants and a Goliath vehicle and a Magus HQ choice, so there’s plenty to build an army from in there.

Combat Patrol: Genestealer Cults

Necrons Army Overview

Introduction to Necrons armies

The Necrons are an ancient alien species who found immortality by leaving behind their organic bodies and inhabiting metallic skeletal bodies, and after thousands of years, they have awoken to conquer the galaxy.

They are the main antagonist to the Imperium in the launch publications of Warhammer 40,000 9th edition, so they’ve suddenly gone from being a slightly outdated army to having a ton of new rules and miniatures. If you want a completely unique perspective on the conflicts of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and you like painting with metallic paints, they might be just the army for you.

What rule book should I getfor Necrons?

The Necrons have a brand new Codex: Necrons with all their latest rules and datasheets for every Necron kit currently in production.

What miniatures are available for Necrons, and are they up to date?

The Necron miniatures range is very up to date, with recent updates to classic sculpts as well as brand new unit types.

The kit that most embodies the style of the Necrons is the Necron Warriors kit, metallic skeletons marching tirelessly towards the enemy with their Gauss weapons, but the range also includes close combat fighters such as the Skorpekh Destroyers, a ton of characters both old and new (beware that some of them are pretty dated sculpts) and massive kits such as Szarekh, The Silent King or C’Tan Shard of the Void Dragon. It is generally a very diverse range with tons of options.

Necron Warriors
Zsarekh, The Silent King
Trazyn the Infinite, one of the older Necron sculpts

How do I get started playing Necrons?

The easiest way to get started with Necrons at the moment is to find a Space Marine player to split a couple of starter boxes such as the Elite Edition with, but you’ll definitely want to go to the Warhammer 40,000 app and find out which other units you can fit into a Patrol detachment if you don’t want to field just Warriors, Scarab Swarms and Destroyers.

If you don’t want to go down that route, the Necrons also have a Combat Patrol box full of older sculpts.

Combat Patrol: Necrons

Orks Army Overview

Introduction Ork armies

For another completely unique perspective on the Warhammer 40,000 universe, look no further than the Orks! These green-skinned hooligans are a constant threat to the Imperium as great hordes of them can appear seemingly out of nowhere, simply because the sheer joy of fighting makes them grow and increase in number. There is some disagreement as to how magical the Orks are: do their vehicles really go faster just because the Orks believe they will if they paint them the right color? Are the Orks really a kind of fungus? Would their spaceships be able to fly if the Orks didn’t think they were? – And so on.

What’s definitely true is that they are hilarious and a lot of humour has gone into the creation of them, but in the Warhammer 40,000 they are also absolutely terrifying as they swarm Imperial trenches with their crude weapons and fanged troll-like faces. To an Imperial Guardsman, the Orks are no joke.

What rule book should I get if I want to play Orks?

The Orks have a 9th edition codex, with rules for all the Ork klans.

Codex: Orks

What miniatures are available for Orks, and are they up to date?

The Ork model range is, just as you would expect from the Orks, a wild mixture of brand new and wonky old stuff: The Beast Snagga range of orks is great, and the Ork Boyz recently got a nice update, but calling a character such as Mad Dok Grotsnik a “finely detailed resin kit” (which the Games Workshop webstore does) is a bit of a stretch by today’s standards:

Mad Dok Grotsnik
Ork Boyz

That being said, there’s a lot of good stuff in the middle of the range, quality-wise: Meganobz and Flash Gitz have a lot of character, and flyers such as the Blitza-Bommer look great.

The Blitza-Bommer

Where the range really shines is with some of the new vehicles that ooze Orkishness, while having names so ridiculous even Daemons of Nurgle can’t keep up, such as the Boomdakka Snazzwagon made famous by the Games Workshop videos or the Megatrakk Scrapjet pictured below:

Megatrakk Scrapjet

Regardless of what kind of army you want to build, there’s plenty to choose from in the Ork range, and even the oldest sculpts have the same comedy horror style as the more recent releases, so with the right paint job, it’s all going to look coherent.

How do I get started collecting Orks?

The Combat Patrol: Orks box is almost a must-buy for any kind of Ork army, with its two units of Ork Boyz and a Megaboss being particularly useful.

Combat Patrol: Orks

T’au Empire Army Overview

Introduction T’au Empire armies

When it comes to technological innovation and expansion strategies, the T’au Empire are the polar opposites of the Imperium: The T’au employ new technology wherever they can, from advanced weapons to artificial intelligence (which is completely forbidden in the Imperium), and when they conquer new worlds, they always seek to assimilate other populations into their empire rather than destroy them.

The T’au are a caste-based society where everyone serves the Greater Good that they hope to bring to the entire galaxy. In many ways, they’re either the closest you get to the actual good guys of the Warhammer 40,000 universe or a bunch of colonizers who falsely believe that their way is the only true way.

Either way, they’re a great army to play if you like shooting, mechs and standing out from all the grimdark stuff in the game.

What rule book should I get for T’au Empire?

The T’au Empire have their own codex for 9th edition with new rules that strongly improved their playability in the new edition.

Codex: T’au Empire

What miniatures are available for T’au Empire, and are they up to date?

The T’au Empire miniatures range is somewhat outdated, with only a few updates released in the previous edition of the game, and from a beginner’s perspective it suffers from many of its characters being made of resin or even metal, which makes them more difficult to work with.

Apart from this, the range still looks modern because of the clean design of the armour and mechs of the T’au, with lots of recesses and big surfaces on many models, which should make them easy to paint so they look good.

The scale of the army is pretty stunning, with tiny Tactical Drones and small Troops such as the Fire Warriors Strike Team at one end and towering mechs such as the KV128 Stormsurge at the other, with many different vehicles and mechs in between.

Fire Warriors
KV128 Stormsurge

Because of their assimilation strategies, the T’au Empire also has access to alien auxillaries such as the Kroot Carnivore Squad which brings an entirely different style to the army.

Kroot Carnivore Squad

How do I get started collecting T’au Empire?

The Combat Patrol: T’au Empire box is a good place to get started with the army, containing a Troop choice, two HQ choices, Stealth Suits and a Battlesuit.

Leagues of Votann Army Overview

Introduction to Leagues of Votann Armies

The Leagues of Votann are short-statured demihumans, descended from Terra but a species of their own after millenia of evolution. They live near the galactic core, where they work together to harvest resources, craft technological wonders and defend their Kindred. All Kin (as they call themselves) are clones, bred in different types to accomodate different tasks within their society, and they all live under the guidance of the Votann, great artificially intelligent machines that grant them knowledge and identity.

Unlike the humans of the Imperium, the stout Kin have no fear of advancements in technology, and the Votann have helped them keep and develop ancient technologies from before the Age of Strife so that the Kindred, while not as numerous as other great empires in the galaxy, have weapons and machines that often surpass what the Imperium can field in both sophistication and deadliness.

This confidence in technology as a boon is the most evident in the presence of Ironkin, artificially intelligent robots that the Kin treat as, well, kin.

In combat, the armies of the Leagues of Votann are slow on foot, but carry excellent guns, and have really good defenses on even their most basic infantry. They make up for their lack of speed with heavily armed transports such as the Sagitaur and Hekaton Land Fortress, and with the swift hoverbikes of the Hernkyn Pioneers. When it becomes time to join the fray in melee, the power-armoured Hearthguard and the cyborgized Cthonian Beserks take over with gauntlets, hammers and plasma axes. The leaders of the Leagues of Votann can pass Judgment on enemy units, allowing you to strike with vengeance on the enemies you bear particular grudges against (so if you hadn’t already guessed they’re a kind of space dwarves, now you know), and among there ranks you can even find the wise Grimnyr, psykers with a special connection to the Votann.

What rulebook should I get for Leagues of Votann?

The Leagues of Votann were released for the first time during 9th edition, so their first codex is still up to date, and has everything you need to play the army.

What miniatures are available for Leagues of Votann, and are they up to date?

The Leagues of Votann are a very new army, built from the ground up for 9th edition, so all their miniatures are very up to date.

Their only Troops choice are Hearthkyn Warriors, which can be equipped with a variety of really good special weapons, so expect to paint a fair few of these little guys.

Their other infantry types are Einhyr Hearthguard (power-armoured Elites), Brôkhyr Thunderkyn (a ranged heavy weapons squad), and Cthonian Beserks (melee berserkers).

The Leagues of Votann have access to three different Vehicle units: The fast Hernkyn Pioneers (objective-grabbing hoverbikes that are popular in most Votann lists), Sagitaurs (transports that can be run in squads and let you split up Warrior units into to units of 5) and the mighty Hekaton Land Fortress (a huge weapons platform and transport).

The Leagues also have 4 regular HQ choices: The Kâhl (a buffing frontline leader who grants the Judgment tokens the army runs on), the Einhyr Champion (an HQ version of the Hearthguard), the Grimnyr (a psyker with two CORV drones) and the Brôkhyr Iron-Master (a vehicle-repairing engineer with an Ironkin assistant and a bunch of robotic helpers).

The one named character of the Leagues of Votann is Ûthar the Destined, a super-version of the Kâhl made from the same kit. He is tied to one of the army’s subfactions, though, so beware of that when building your army.

How do I get started collecting Leagues of Votann?

The best way to start a Leagues of Votann army is with the Combat Patrol: Leagues of Votann box, which contains a Kâhl/Ûthar the Destined, 10 Hearthkyn Warriors, 3 Hernkyn Pioneers and 5 Cthonian Beserks.

Other great resources: