2021: What would you say are the hardest/easiest armies in terms of player agency/skill?

2021: What would you say are the hardest/easiest armies in terms of player agency/skill?


Fragile, CP-intensive armies don't rely on any particular wombo combo tend to be the hardest IMO. Stuff like GSC. One wrong move and you lose, and that wrong move could just be "I spent a CP on the wrong option out of the 10 options I had, leaving me unable to do what I really needed to do instead." When you have one wombo-combo that's set up in the list-building stage, the game tends to play itself; it's the toolkit style armies that you really have to use your brain with.


GSC are practically impossible to play rn, lol. There's almost nothing redeeming about the faction.


I'll have you know I once played a 1k game with imperial guard and was beaten by GSC. I was outcast by my friends and disowned by my family, so great was the shame.


I recently lost to Grey Knights (playing sisters) and it wasn’t close. My shame was immeasurable


A really good gray knights player isn’t anything to mess around with, that game can still be pretty tough


They seem to be thebkind of player who has been playing GK since they dropped. Like the Deldar players.


A buddy of mine plays GK a lot and I’ve gotten several test games in with him. He took them to a GT and beat Mark Perry pretty handily. He couldn’t handle DA and White scars though and ended up placing in the 20s.


I’ve only ever played against GSC once back in 8th in a TTS tournament. Dude brought like 9 of those buggies with lasers (ridge runners?) and blasted me straight off the board. It was short edge deployment and I was playing a pure melee army, so I just had to walk across the board to him and eat laser. I had a Death Star in deepstrike that wiped one of his units of buggies but then immediately got chipped to bits by the rest of his army


> There's almost nothing redeeming about the faction. They look cool :V I wouldn't mind if they absorbed the Heretics/Renegades line tho


Honestly the units overall are pretty good design and they look amazing. Their HQ's can be interesting and their army shtick of basically whole army deepstrike has some serious aggressive play in the edition of objectives and map control. I think I great start would be to really flesh out the Brood Brothers options. That gives GSC access to some pretty sweet options since they can dip into an IG model lineup just as the Russ, sentinel and guardsmen. It's possible that those models could form a more defense oriented lineup which doesnt melt to everything. The Heretics/Renegades would also be awesome for that same reason. Either way, I'm excited to see what comes of their codex and army.


If Brood Brothers got cult rules that would rule 'cuz Bladed Cog Scions could move and shoot volleyguns without penalty :D


Can confirm, luckily most of the nerfs happened right before quarantine...So rather than suffering through it, I’ve just been letting my Aberrants incubate a while Still not ready to take out tho


A guy I know who is a diehard GSC player took them to a teams tournament with me recently and did pretty well with them. I like them right now since they are a pretty complicated army but no one knows what they do so you get a lot of wins just because it's hard to grok how devastating a flamer bomb or kellermorph can be if you set all your characters up in a castle


As someone who tried for MONTHS to play GSC competitively, this is the correct answer. I love *SO* much about the army but goddamn is it the hardest army in 40K. I eventually shelved them for a time being after taking them to a tournament and going 0-3. Every game I *knew* I was playing well and I could tell that I was better and more experienced than my opponents but just the mechanics of the army, even running a “hyper-competitive” build, can’t hold up to even an average meta list. They’ll have their time in the sun again though.


lol last time they had their time in the sun they got nerfed hard.


mine did great w/nids, i dont see the problem. even just gsc ive been doin ok


Genestealer Cults are one of the most difficult factions to pilot rn imo. You have a dozen characters, half of which affect different units. No duplicate characters unless you run multiple detachments, each with separate cults. Multiple warlord traits to juggle, a lot of complicated sub-faction abilities, and typically to make the most of your hitting potential and stratagems, you have to run several different blobs of high-damage units. But juggling unique interactions between groups such as abberants, bikes, acolytes, and/or characters makes the army a massively intensive ordeal. Not to mention the fact that the army itself is very glass cannon, and skews quite heavily depending upon dice, and the charges you can make. It’s a laboriously skill intensive faction. Oh yeah and you have to reactively plan around just not being on the board with 90% of your army turn one lol


I’d generally say durability is the key to how easy an army is to play, I have dark angels, guard & Aeldari. But I’ve also had tau before and can comfortably say dark angels with their 9th Ed rules are the easiest to play well. T4 3+ is huge and means that a squad of intercessors requires actual targeting to remove off the board. This durability allows me to make mistakes but still hit hard and compete. The fact that most of the army is WS3 S4 is also huge, I can put my intercessors into melee and they’ll be ok, especially against something like dire avengers. My Craftworlds are still decent to play, but they have a lot more tricks that you need to time right, the psychic phase becomes pretty much the tipping point a lot of the time as it has such a key impact on both my movement, charges and shooting. Aeldari are still relatively durable with access to units like wraiths but obsec which is super important in 9th for CWE is fragile unless it’s a 4++ guardian bomb. You could shoot the spare stubbers of a vehicle or 2 and wipe a 5 man avenger squad which could have a big impact on my scoring. But if I needed to hold that objective there’s nothing I could do. I recently added harlequins and they’re another level of complex, the depth of combinations, stratagems, pre game upgrades is insane, and the fact the army is both so elite, but insanely fragile makes them super difficult to use well


My experience from playing both WHFB and WH40K over the years has been that many players grossly underestimate the difference the T3 to T4 jump makes. It's not quite a different game but you have to plan and move very differently, and it makes playing around things like the 12" range on shuriken catapults very tricky.


It’s huge 100%, I have a reasonable scion force and my eldar troops choice is 3x5 avengers and they’ll disappear if I don’t hide them, they’re just so easy to delete, plus weapons like assault cannons and H onslaught gatlings wound them on 2’s with plenty of rate of fire. You want to wound marines on 2’s? Try melta, and if they do, I’ll just laugh as I pop transhuman for 1CP


Seconded on Harlequins as a good example of a hard to play army, because unlike Genestealer cult mentioned above, which is hard to play in large part because it’s terrible in the current meta, Harlequins are tricky to play but rewarding when used correctly.


Harlequins troupes do everything but at 15-26ppm depending on loadout for a 1W model they’re difficult to use well. I’ve started running a boat, troupe and master in my CWE for a bit of fun but for 75% of my games so far it’s been a 550 point distraction that dies before achieving something useful, but at the same time, they’re very cool


I used to run a single Starweaver alongside Dark Eldar back in 7th. It doesn’t work, but that’s not representative of Harlequins being bad, it’s a threat saturation problem- if you have something that’s as fragile relative to it’s value as a single Starweaver, it’s an obvious target for your opponent to direct fire into, so it will usually go down. On the other hand, in a full Harlequins list, everything has that same fragility, which, while it comes with it’s own costs, means some or most of the fragile units will get in and do their job rather than being focused and destroyed.


Yeah people know how scary a boat of 6 fusion pistols is, and that it’s threat range can be close to 40” so even if I’m running tonnes of vehicles and T5 vypers, it’s target priority 1. But that’s fine with me, it’s an excuse to get more murder clowns and work on a full army eventually hahah


As a craftworlds player, what would you recommend for good resources? And do you have any writeups or battle reports of yourself?


I’m not a tournament player (yet) but I get at least 1 game in every single week almost without fail, so I can give you some advice. I also try to play all my games at the highest skill level but just using the models I own and whilst still being quite chill about it Goonhammers start competing Craftworlds is the second thing I’d read after looking at the codex. Current competitive Craftworlds is 3x3 Dark reapers and the night spinner vehicle in a drukhari or harlequin detachment. For pure Craftworlds then, you need to get a bit creative because that’s not a full list haha. For battle reports not many places are using aeldari, TableTopTactics did one of their league games using them the other week, 100% check them out Lawrence is using the CWE and he’s generally quite a good player. If you want my opinions on stuff I’m happy to have a chat if you Pm me, that being said, I bring the yncarne in every list I make because I know CWE just aren’t that good atm so I’m all about the fun when I use them


DA are quite durable but they still are quite complex, if you take an army that has azrael, ezekiel, a primaris chaplain on bike, some talon masters and a ravenwing apothecary that's 4+6+3+2+2=19 character specific rules that you have to remember and plan around. Not to mention thay they each have their own data sheet that you have to remember. I think it's quite telling when one of the easiest army to play is still "not that simple".


I always forget the talonmasters ‘no escape’ ability lol, although I don’t think it comes up that often anyway. Yeah I’d say DA are by no means uncomplicated, their super doctrine is triple that of any other marine force aha. But, I’d say space marines are the perfect level of durability, eliteness and damage for a beginner, not so many units as a guard army that you’re spending an hour deciding T2 movement phase, not too few units as a custodes as you are struggling to prioritise enemies. And enough damage output per point you don’t sacrifice efficiency too much by being T4 2W 3+


Orks and Death Guard are both very easy to play at a low skill level and very hard to play at a high skill level. I think Aeldari and GSC are hard to play no matter what. I think Space Marines are all around easy to play, especially with reroll castles, though White Scars are an exception. I also think DA Deathwing is easy to play. Necrons seem very middle of the road. Thousand Sons takes a lot of skill.


Orks easy to play at low skill level is so true. Noob opponent deploys shooting units too far forward and you've got the game in your hands, pop unstoppable green tide etc


Maybe Harlequins and Craftworlds are challenging to okay with but not Drukhari IMO. I dont think Ive ever lost a game with them and Im not exactly a top level player.


I'm surprised noone has mentioned thousand sons. I find they're one of the more difficult armies to pilot mainly due to the sheer number of spells and buffing combos you need for remember and pull off in certain order. When spells don't quite go off you often have to rethink your strategy. They are also an army that is active in all three phases if played right.


I haven't really played other factions, so I didn't want to be the first to chime in on Thousand Sons. But I agree. Playing them well means having a really good grasp on all the buffs available (mostly psychic powers and stratagems) and using them exactly when and where they can make the most difference. Even figuring out when to use a relatively simple stratagem like Indomitable Foes can become pretty complex in-game: how does All is Dust modify my armor save? Is there sufficient AP on the attack to put this unit on its Invulnerable save? Did I cast Weaver of Fates earlier which changes the whole calculus? You can't even try to keep it simple by sticking with the "best" utility powers. With Chaos Familiar, you always have the option of swapping into a better power (or just something niche that wouldn't typically come up), so you've got to know all the different powers you have access to. It's tough to get the hang of, but I really am glad it's the first army I picked up because, as you said, the army plays in all phases of the game.


I play primarily thousand sons but also have daemons, csm, chaos knights, and whitescars. Out of all of those factions Thousand sons I feel is the easiest. A list of who has what spells makes it pretty easy. Thousand aons have some really good tools to fix mistakes you've made, or let you adapt your playstyle to what your opponent is doing. When I play whitescars I'm having to thibk turns ahead to figure out what unit needs to go trade for another unit, as soon as something doesnt work how I think it should work I lose. As thousand sons if something doesnt go how I expect I have multiple ways to jump units in and out of danger, warptime someone across the table to knock a unit off an objective etc. Thousand sons just suffer from *needing* their buffs to function, when 50% of the time they wont have those buffs turn 1 when going second, or tzeentch screws out psycic phase over when you really needed that sorcerous facade/ weaver of fate/ glamour to go off and now your rubrics are just 1 wound intersessors that cost more and cant move as fast.


I just used a spreadsheet/checklist and markers to remember my buffs and debuffs when I played 1kSons.


Surprised no one seems to be saying necrons as one of the easier? My necrons are incredibly good and quite easy to manage, very forgiving too I think.


I agree I consistently forget to reroll my ones on Reanimation for warriors and forget command protocols more often than I like to admit and still come out on top


Orks are probably one of the easier armies. * Very consistent statlines * several working builds and competent in many skewed lists * Mix of large/fast low cost units * luck with dice is a large factor (for better or worse) * most reliable charges in the game, for free. * few army wide strategems worth remembering, most of them might as well be printed on specific unit datacard, (actuually a worthwhile effort if you print army lists w datacards) * Cheap objective sitting unit that you are in no way tempted to do anything else with. Hardest part (for me at least) is remembering the statline of their exotic weaponry and the new buggies dozens of various guns/grenades.


If I have any other hard part to mention, it's that their slow base speed can lead to being out-of-position being a bigger problem than for other armies.


Given the volumes of dice orks work with not sure I agree on the needing luck with dice thing? Interested about what you mean.


They have a lot of profiles that can luck out and do extreme damage or more normal damage or none. Like the shock gun HQ in 8ed is the most extreme example I can think of in the game. My Ork playing friend was telling how it was possible to do well over 100 wounds with him in one round of shooting if he got extremely lucky but a lot of the time he would just miss. All their shooting has exploding 6’s so you can pretty well get double damage on most shooting but they tend to just miss a lot too. Edit: he usually has god like dice rolling skills so his orks just stomp.


Da Souped-up Shokka does somewhere between 2 strength 2 shots inflicting 1 damage each and 24 strength 12 shots doing 12 damage and 3 mortal wounds each. EDIT: forgot that as well as exploding 6s there's a Dread Waargh! stratagem to shoot twice, so it actually maxes out at 576 wounds and 72 mortal wounds. EDIT 2: 2 for number of shots, 2 for strength, 48 for attacks, 96 for damage rolls... the odds of rolling that many sixes is ~ 1 in 10^115, so if every single atom in the universe tried this 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times each it would probably happen.


Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Dread Waagh or anything from Vigilus is legal to play in matched anymore.


they're not legal in the tournament packet, but not all matched play is tournaments.


Ah, good reply. Thank you.


Shokk Attack Guns are a good example but I don't think that there are a great deal of units that have a low shot count and bad BS. Definitely not many that I have seen lists rely on or frequently use.


Ya that’s fairly true nowadays was gonna say the vehicles with their kustom mega blasters and rockets but they have some extremely efficient stratagems that boosts accuracy. like 1 CP for +1 to hit on three different vehicles for the whole game then throw on some squig targeting and rerolls and now the majority of their stuff is hitting.


What stratagem offers +1 to hit? Sparkly bits is walkers only, squig targeters is flash gitz and the Shokkjump rifle.


It’s their kustom jobs there is one for the shock jump dragsters as well. You can put one on a unit of vehicles that split into individual units once the game starts. I just said +1 to hit because it’s quicker than explaining all the little details.


The pregame (Gyroscopic Whirlygig) just lets you use it's the teleport without rolling and without chance for MW. The In-game is a (tempreamental shokk drive) lets you jump after shooting.


All I know is my buddy is hitting on 3’s with the d6 damage gun and 4’s on the rockets. Is he doing something wrong?


The rifle has a special rule to count as BS3, the rokkit is stuck on Ork BS5.


Generally their "weight of number" attacks (melee and shooting) have no AP (and no AP boosting traits/strategems) so you rely on the enemy's bad luck to do damage, you can use specific combination of klan trait+pre-game strategen to increase accuracy/strength but still risk bouncing off flak armour. In shooting their quality guns have to deal with BS5 and the best of them have very swingy shot count and damage, doubling your shots on a hot streak is neat, but coughing out a single shot with a 66% miss chance, or managing a hit against the odds and doing... 1 damage, less so. Orks have no reroll #shots, no reroll auras, their strategems are limited to a 2CP exploding dice on 5's.


With weight of number attacks , e.g "90 attacks" be statistically much less swingy. Yeah they hit on 5's but by rolling on sheer volume you are way more likely to get an average shot count than if you were rolling fewer dice. E.G If I roll 60 dice I am more likely to get a number of dice 5+ on or around 20 than the likelihood of rolling 6 dice and getting 2. So basically I think if you are running lists which make you roll high shot counts will give you a more consistent less luck based output


Deathskullz have an army wide rrl 1 hit 1 wound and 1 damage. Its great on 1 big weapon per squad, badmoons get native rrl1s and you can take the klever spanner upgrade on a big unit of lootas to help with the d3 shots part. Its not as good as having a basic aura on a standard character giving rrls but id like to see something like a dakkaboss someday to buff ork shooting


True on the no rerolls, but the 6s to hit causing an additional hit roll is nearly the same as reroll 1s in terms of consistency. Though it obviously has way more upside.




agreed that orks really are big on volume 87 models in the 2300+ points i have painted up and heavily, heavily elite/vehicle oriented Deffkilla, Ghaz, warboss on bike 30 boys, 20 grots nob with banner, 10 nobs, painboy 2x boosta blasta, 2x megatrakk, 5x nobs on bikes bone breaka, 10x lootas trukk 2k of death guard is 22 models + 15-50 models for the troops(marines or 50 poxwalkers which take longer the cut and clean up than paint for hordes)


I would say Orks are one of the harder armies to play well. They have a lot of special rules which they rely on to do well and a lot of those are situational/positioning based. If you look at their stat line and points cost compared to similar units in other factions they are pretty underwhelming. For example they can advance and charge but only with the right boss nearby, same with keeping order. KFFs require the whole unit to be in the aura which is easy to mess up. Pre game strats are key to making the units decent (biggest boss, warphead, kustom jobs) and these all add new and unique special rules not on the datasheet. Leadership is a problem unless you can make mob rules work for you. They are fast and that can allow you to do some cool stuff but positioning is a skill that comes with time. They aren't durable at all with poor saves and very little Invuls outside of a KFF. Their shooting is also really unreliable so you need to have redundancies in your strategy much more than most. Compare them to say custodes where you have few models who work pretty independently, are very accurate, and have good saves.


That is true, playing orks well is reliant on a very solid core rule knowlede, the codex itself have very few advanced interactions or super combos.


Orks I think are one of the easiest factions, but you make a solid comparison to custodes I bet. Those gotta be dead simple, or maybe grey knights? But I gotta say, positioning Orks in an aura or character range is nothing compared to, say, a sisters of battle army. At least Orks have 30 boyz to stretch the squad. With sisters, say, charging repentia--you have at most 9 girls make huge range charges trying to stay close to 2 characters, each contributing 2 bonuses, after disembarking, plus stratagem support over multiple assault phases depending on the outcome. Now THAT'S complex compared to Orks. Maybe not the simplest faction, and getting more complex with each codex. But Orks I'd say are one of the best starting factions because of their pretty straightforward workings. Remember your basics with boyz and you're 75% there. Problem is, the assault phases where they work most is the most finicky phrase of the game. Again, custodes and grey knights gotta be up there if not better, you're no doubt right about that!


For newer players, it is extremely easy to build bad ork lists. Sure they have quite a few different and viable ways to play them, but most players, even pretty competitive ones will not field good lists.


its straightforward, but i think its hard to win with them, but I think that is not largely due to rule complexity, but rather just being a little dated, this next book should make them a lot easier to win with


Probably death guard for easiest. There are a bunch of ways you can run them, all are straight forward. As well as that the models are easy to learn to paint, but also really fun for skilled painters. For me personally I found necrons the hardest army to learn. They're quite different to the various flavors of marines I like, and their builds can vary wildly. Painting them is easy as hell though


With the exception of planning and making sure your army has command protocols and understanding exactly how reanimation works, necrons are a good and easy faction I think, your mid model count, most of your actual weapons and war gear can’t even be changed and you are tougher than average army that just walks up the board and shoots things tell they die. Sometimes you charge them.


How would you handle list building difficulty? Should it be separate from piloting difficulty? SM have a huge pool of units, WLT, Relics, Stratagems to choose from, which sounds complex at first. However, since many choices are flatly worse than others, it reduces the pool of meaningful choices, making the decisions simpler. Moreover, so many of the Codex stratagems are limited to specific keywords, meaning that they can be safely ignored if you don't have the particular unit (e.g.: no bikes/speeders means you don't need to remember Skilled Riders).


This is why I don't think SM are newbie friendly with huge amount of moving parts in the list. For example, since scions have less moving parts it is more difficult to make a bad list.


This is an interesting question and I’ve had to think quite hard about it, i play tyranids and necrons. Tyranids obviously can be swarm heavy and from a model perspective that can be difficult, however if you were to build a nidzilla style list would be incredibly simple. Some creatures have tonnes of biomorphs to choose from, particularly the hive tyrant and carnifex, while there are currently a few accepted “good builds” from those lists it’s still a lot of options. In my head they feel easy to remember, buffs are often passive (though usually unit specific). There are not many strats that you simply must remember, those become obvious quickly and become essential strategy. You’re not gonna catch a tyranid player forgetting to shoot twice with hive guard. I feel much of the above is owing to them being an 8th edition and out of date codex. For necrons they feel far more complicated, though I haven’t played them as long. Lots of buffs that you have to choose targets for (lords will, my will be done) lots of sequencing to remember, eg if I’m anticipating bringing warriors back with an orb, make sure the orb holder is within range at the end of the previous movement phase, because that happens in command. They have far more strats which I find useful but are situational and easy to miss, inbuilt rules which are easy to forget. You can also easily misremember who does and doesn’t have rules like quantum shielding. Though one good thing is every multi model unit has reanimation, every multi wound unit has living metal.


The thing with playing tyranids is you have to do a lot of mental checks that other armies simply don’t have to worry about: 1. Synapse is a big one, very easy to underestimate and also *overestimate* its importance. 2. Deployment is even more important than usual because of the requirement for the artillery bugs to stand still without spending CP, yet with their weak platform and short range it’s very easy to get wrong. 3. You have a lot of hard hitting glass cannons in melee that can simply bounce and do nothing due to lower than average attack counts, losing you the game right there unless you time it right with stratagems and unit synergies. 4. There are numerous obscure stratagems and unit abilities that are almost always useless until the one time they are amazing (Implant attack, feeder tendrils, spirit leech, war on all fronts etc). Many armies have edge cases like this but tyranids take the cake 5. Their codex is so old that it operates differently from most armies. Swarmlord’s power is just bizarrely strong, yet very easy to misinterpret e.g for units using deepstrike, falling back etc. 6. Tyranids are active in every phase of the game, but their most important phase is actually the movement phase for board control with so many good stratagems, and their least important phase is the fight phase outside of a few big hitters like Dimacheron and genestealers. People also don’t realise tyranids are much better in the psychic phase and shooting phase most of the time, so it’s very easy to misinterpret when just looking at the scary models. People that claim tyranids are bad almost always misunderstand their phase strengths/weaknesses. tl;dr - tyranids are whack yo


Out of the armies I have played, and the examples you have put forth, I have to say Ad Mech have become the most complicated. Their rules are important to their success, and even the most dumbed down version depends on synergy and army knowledge to be successful. Imperial Knights and Custodes seem the most straightforward to me, mostly due to their low model count. Iron Hands seem to me the most straightforward loyalist space marine chapter. Although they are still space marines with a buttload of strats. Hope this is the kind of reply you are looking for. Best of luck!


Yeah, I’ve played a few games of new Admech and in terms of positioning and planning your abilities they are far, far beyond anything else. I had to make a cheat sheet of the 17 things I can/must do in the Command phase and I’m making little notecards to put on units. At one point I think I had 6 distinct targeted buffs and two auras on one unit of Vanguards.


Custodes aren't easy to play vs strong armies/players, your low model count and comparative low volume of attacks means you need all your pieces in the right place at the correct time. 1" in the wrong direction in T1&2 can mean you can't reach an objective in T4/5 and might be losing the game from there.


Exactly this. Movement with low-model count lists is very difficult, and the movement phase is the most important phase in the game. As a Deathwing player its the same situation. You can not adapt your list as a situation develops... you need to have pre-planned 2-3 turns in advance to work out where you want units to be because you don't have the models or the movement to be overly "reactive" to additional threats. Armies like Drukhari can be almost anywhere at any time during a game and get to pick their combats and target specific objectives. Armies of slow plodding Terminators are moving 5" or Advancing but then sacrificing doing any shooting / charging / Actions etc. Yes these armies are insanely durable, but all that counts for nothing on the mission if you messed up your movement 2 turns ago and now need to spend another turn getting back into a position for Primary or heals / buffs. Its also really taxing on Character placement as you simply don't have the units to screen and go charging off etc.


I think it might be worth arguing lower model count armies could be harder to play than average. Lower models means less decisions yes, but it also means the decisions are much more important, and making mistakes a lot more costly. I dont have much experience with them, but just a thought to consider!


Yes, the idea is a tad more abstract - my goal is to rate the armies as Easy through Difficult when recommending things to buy to new customers. I don't want to encourage a super hard army to a kid who might not be into it.


I agree with this except maybe Dark Templars over Iron Hands due to lack of psychic phase. You might add Necrons to an easier army to learn with. Orks are middle of the road. Bashie. Aggressive. AdMech likely the hardest, but psychic heavy hard too like Tzeentch. Lots of forethought needed in Psychic phase.


I feel like Black Templars are more complex in some ways though if only because of the sheer depth of options the Devout Push stratagem enables, you could practically write a book on it


Oh well that may be. I was going only on the No psychic phase issue. I know very little about the BT.


It’s not so much about the actual model count, but it’s the type of units you choose. 80 Intercessors and a captain is a very easy list to pilot; 2 datasheets, 1 relic, 1 WLT and 1 aura that works on everything is a whole lot easier than an SM army where some buffs only work on Core, all the units have different weapon profiles etc. So with most armies, you can make them incredibly complex if you want to, or you can keep them very simple.


High model counts will still be trickier though than average, because weapon range, charging etc depend heavily on whether your units get in the way of each other or not


Death Guard are easy to learn and do well with, but at high level play you need to be extremely calculated with positioning your Blightspawn as he can win or lose you the center of the board single-handedly.


ITT: A bunch of people forgetting GSC exist, since nobody plays them cuz they legitimately suck lmao At least Tau can be piloted to a good win rate in tournaments by excellent players. For GSC, there is no chance at victory versus an equal skill player with a more efficient army. There's a reason why Siegler continues to play Tau, while John Lennon and Nick Nanavati completely stopped playing GSC. Even if you fail to screen, misposition multiple units, waste CP on strats, there is always a chance at a comeback versus a GSC army. If at any point they end up trading down, it is game-swinging. Definitely the most unforgiving army in the game right now. People think GSC have "tricks." They don't, lol. Those "tricks" cost insane amounts of CP and are absolutely required to even do anything at all, let alone trade up versus a good opponent with a strong list.


> People think GSC have "tricks." They don't, lol. Those "tricks" cost insane amounts of CP and are absolutely required to even do anything at all, let alone trade up versus a good opponent with a strong list. Personally, their main trick is negated by the rule of 3 as well as formation limits... since they could be the most diverse army if they had the freedom to use Tyranid and Imperial Guard without strong penalties... if I were to change it I'd permit Tyranid into GSC Brood Brother detachments alongside Imperial Guard at the cost of no Hive Bonus


Titan legions are the easiest to play. In a 2000 point game you get one model with no faction rules/warlord traits/relics to think about. The only stratagems you need to know are command reroll and counter offensive.


Warhound Titans would be fine at ~1k points. If the Hierophant/Harridan can drop from 2k with minimal changes, the Warhound can probably follow suit. Would be super cool to see more of em stomping around.


At 1000 points they'd at least be viable in casual games; I think they'd still be bad for competitive use because they just aren't worth taking compared to 1000 of whatever is good in your chosen army and they still lack any sort of stratagem/rule support because Forgewrold resents writing rules unless they can can put them in an expensive book of Horus Heresy lore.


We play Warhounds at 750pts + weapons (vulcan for free and others for 100).


Guard are incredibly easy to play. It requires a lot of models, but they have lots of similar datasheets, and they have very few special rules and abilities, and their stratagems are all pretty straightforward.


Agreed, I find each unit might only have one strat to keep in mind. Orders are the only complication.


Since the start of 9th I've played 10 factions in both casual and competitive formats resulting in over 60 games: Necrons, Blood Angels, Grey Knights, Harlequins, Custodes, Drukhari, Craftworlds, Dark Angels, Ad Mech (8th) and now Sisters. And I have to say that all the 9th edition books are way more complicated purely in that their books are much more layered, but end up being easier to play with when you get comfortable with them, easiest to win being Drukhari, I never even came close to losing games with them. The hardest armies were Grey Knights and on occasion, Custodes. Trying to win with relatively low model counts is rough, as you don't get the luxury of being careless with movement (not putting a unit in cover, or maybe not deciding to contestant objective). Being punished is what makes an army hard to use, and that cna often come down to your opponents ability, butpersonally I found I made way more mistakes with those two armies.


This. Turn 1 with GK is mental paralysis, but not so bad if going second as half your army has disappeared :)


You're right, and I believe that target priority is a skill too, which is a much easier process when you have less units to target. Elite armies are easier in that you have less decisions to make over the course of your turn, but in terms of actually winning games they can be utterly soul crushing if you're not well enough equipped to play the game.


I find an order of casting really helps. For instance, gating terminators for psybolts is the only really effective shooting move we can make because of the 24" ranges. I would start with AA so I know if I can land out of their LoS, then sanctuary so I can be a little riskier, then gate to shift them (usually with 3D6 strat as its so critical). Failing AA or sanctuary really determines where I place them, but the gate is paramount not to waste the best shooting we have!


We're seeing how important low cost units that trade up are in this edition. Grey Knights do not have anything that is good enough in that role. Hopefully (as a Craftworlds main!) we see Psychic focused armies get an overhaul and some serious buffs in how they can rely on psychic prowess to alleviate an advantage, rather than just rely on powers to deal damage. Doom, Jinx and Executioner are great, but they're so limited. How great would it be to get powers that manipulate opponents movement or interaction with terrain? I don't want Craftworlds to be easy, and I'm sure you'd feel the same with GK, but you definitely want to be rewarded for crafting plans and shifting strategies midgame. That's what I want from my elite armies.


Playing Grey Knights on my, relatively, high competitive level is work. Building 2 gameplans every turn, depending if your powers go off or not, and combining them again in the flow of the turns. But i find it to be the most rewarding faction. This horse is hard to tame, but man its fast. (Until you roll 3 perils in a row and the game is done :-D )


Easiest to perform ok: Deathguard Hardest: Orks/CSM in my experience


Yep those plague burst crawlers are very good and will tenderize alot of spacemarines lists


Deathguard are pretty easy imho. The movement and deployment are important due to slow infantry, but our insanely durable hulls, all with invuln saves helps a lot


I'll say Tau are easy to enter but incredibly difficult to master right now. No psychic and basically no melee makes it easier for a new player to pick up, but those become real challenges to play around the higher you go. Top tier Tau requires a list honed to a knife's edge with an expert player at the helm. They need to eek out the most from every trick in the book as well as have amazing fundamental skills, and a single missplay will cost you the game.


Easiest Army to play? Khorne Daemons, it lets you ignore 2 whole phases, consistent stat lines, a few key stratagems, and a focus on one big guy and all your gribblies. Hard to Pilot well at I high skill level but for the most part the game consists of ‘charge up the board and punch the enemy in the face’.


Yeah anytime one of my friends who has never played before wants to try a game I give them my Khorne daemons, pretty much the only time they come out of the box besides using for D&D baddies haha.


Hardest has got to be Drukari. Consensus here seems to be that they're overcosted and have highly fragile units. Easiest is Tau, you literally just sit there and shoot the table clean and win every game.


I’m so sorry that no one who saw you’re comment knows what sarcasm is.


Needed the /s...


To be expected, haha. Honestly I hate this question, in my opinion none of the factions are inherently harder or easier to play. There may be different play styles or some advantages / disadvantages based on the current meta, but there's no point getting into a pissing match over whose faction is harder to play.


Very true. It’s way more matchup dependent than simply what faction you play.


I mean, you can’t argue Khorne daemons is particularly hard to play, positioning and target priorities are a thing but so it is in every army. With khorne it amounts to ‘run up and hit them’


I'm sorry everyone seems to have missed your obvious joke.


just 1 edition ago this would be a very legitimate take haha. How things change...


Did you just wake up from a coma from 2014?


This sounds like an 8th edition opinion lol


You can't possibly be serious about DE. They are one of the hardest factions to trade with since they got their new book. Tau have been terrible all 9ED and are only starting to see modest success in competitive circles.


Yeah, your info is way out of date.


Whilst not in a great competetive space right now I'd say necrons are a decent starter army. Every units role is spelled put fairly clearly, their basic infantry is decently resilient and you just don't have to think about the psychic phase. Additionally you can regrow your units meaning that there is room for making mistakes.


Guard are fairly easy. No real special abilities. Just select a unit, and shoot something.


Easy to play yes, but hard to win unless you use the most meta units. Everything aside from Bullgryns is insanely fragile. Baneblades, Russes, whole infantry platoons vanish with the tiniest gust of wind. If anything stays within line of sight of the enemy it will be 100% gone the next turn. The only way to win with the guard is to play perfectly so that the enemy never gets the chance to shoot back at you or use only the most meta units. I haven't won a single game in 9th edition playing by tournament rules (only won using custom).


Oh yeah in 9th we’re screwed and we’re too fragile to do anything. In 8th we could just sit back and shoot.


Yeah, the game was a lot more guard friendly in the 8th. I did win about 50% of my games back then.


This gets amped to 11 with Militarum Tempestus.




Yeah Guard is super easy. Only thing you have to remember is orders at the beginning of the shooting phase, and maybe pop Take Cover or Fight til the End occasionally. Basically everything else is just out of the core rulebook. It's even easier if you bring movement trays to move your dudes faster and a small broom to take them off the table faster.


I saw some good comments but I think a few aspects in judging the difficulty has not been discussed. 1. Does the army have ways to forgive mistakes? For instance, the Transhuman Physiology stratagem from the SM is great. You mispositioned a squad that is now under heavy fire? Transhuman! Your opponent pulled a trick on you? Transhuman! 2. Is the army playstyle easy to understand? This also slightly depends on the meta, but there are armies whose playstyle is straightforward: table your opponent. This usually requires large amounts of good-quality firepower (or really devastating fighting). Space Marines, Sisters of Battle, and more. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s armies which often play counterintuitively: you don’t have enough power to kill your opponent, so you try to zone it, keep it busy, wrap it in smaller units. I’m thinking of Tyranids, but you get the picture. 3. Does the army require very complex synergies to work? Having to remember a stratagem which makes you shoot twice is easy, or a captain that makes you reroll 1s. Another thing is remembering complex combos which involve several units/stratagem/psychic powers. Given these considerations, this is my personal tier list. There isn’t everything, because there are armies I don’t know enough to judge, and I don’t know all armies equally well. I’m open to suggestions. Easy: Space Marines, Sisters of Battle, Necrons, T’au* Medium: Drukhari, Adeptus Custodes, Astra Militarum, Adeptus Mechanicus, Death Guard Hard: Grey Knights, Orks, Tyranids *not in the current meta, but based on their playstyle, assuming a new codex will make their shooty stuff as dangerous as it used to be


Leaving out chaos daemons smh


I don’t know the army enough


Easiest is marines - they're fairly resilient, direct, and newbie friendly. They don't have the difficult choices that a low model count army like knights or custodes has, nor the complexities of dealing with hordes


I’d say custodes if most their range wasnt FW locked- I totally agree


As of right now the hardest armies to play at a high level are AdMech, Drukhari, Black Templars, Harlequins. Easiest to play at a high level would be Deathguard and Dark Angels.


I wouldn't agree... if DG and DA were the easiest to play at a high-level you'd see them all over the top-rankings in tournament results. As it is you see Drukhari, AdMech etc I'd agree that Deathwing / Death Guard have a ~~high~~ *low* skill-floor and an average player can pick them up and do well with them quite quickly. But to say they're the easiest to play at a high-level is a misconception imo. They simply don't have the range of options a good Drukhari / AdMech list has open to a high-level player to play around different types of list your opponent can bring.


Just FYI you're describing a low skill floor, not a high skill floor. There's multiple ways one could view what a skill floor is, but the convention is that a skill floor is the amount of skill one must reach before they start being at reasonably effective. If the skill floor is low, it requires little skill to reach; if the skill floor is high it requires significant skill to reach. What's nice about this convention is that it keeps the usage aligned with that of skill ceiling. So for example, a low skill floor, low skill ceiling faction would be one that is easy to learn and easy to master.


Correct! Thats what you get for posting at work! Thanks for highlighting. Edited post above.


Drukhari are not hard to play anymore. They have the best costed resilient transport in the game. Just hide everything in them and then kill everything. They used to be hard to play.


How are you going to kill things in a Raider though? Now Dark Tech is gone, the gun boats aren't that cost efficient. Their killy units need to leave the boats and effectively trade with you in order to win. Yes, Drukhari are still quite undercosted across the board, but they are still a glass cannon and require quite a lot of skill to play well. This isn't the Brohammer Iron Hands Leviathon meta, the Drukhari require high skill to work well (as did Harlequins when they dominated)


At a high level they are. You can’t make mistakes or you get shot off the board


I mean at high level I’d argue that’s every army really. Bad players don’t win tournaments. Movement mistakes or poor positioning will lose you a game even with DG (especially because slow moving armies are unforgiving for movement mistakes). It just helps that Drukhari are the strongest army we’d seen since iron hands (and probably better). Pre-nerf Drukhari were fairly straightforward raider and liquid delete a unit a turn. Punch up with your units across the board. You don’t get 70+ win rates across the board by being a hard army to play


ITT: "My army is ssooooo hard to play because it has so many buffs it's hard to remember them all!" Regards, salty GSC player


I find grey knights both easy to learn theoretically (most units have the same stats, there is a limited choice of weapons and strats) and really hard to master in practice. The dependance on getting successful key psychic powers, the range restriction on these psychic powers, the small number and frailty of all our units except buffed paladins / GMNDK, the need for burning a lot of CPs just for defensive purposes... All of this means that any failure (a bad move, or a little streak of bad luck when taking risks) makes a comeback into the game very hard.


Custodes are a pretty simple army - insane toughness, base hitting on 2s, very low model count that simplifies list and army management. There’s a handful of situational stratagems, but you can do pretty well just remembering the 3-5 defensive strats and Stooping Dive. You don’t have any air in your lists, so a misstep hurts, but your defensive abilities cushion that pretty well. I find them significantly easier to manage than hordes.


I think if we’re ignoring competitive rankings, Tau can be quite easy to play. You’re essentially out of the psychic phase, which saves some thinking. Combat outside of a few niches (Farsight, fusion blades, and strat Bodyguard suits) boils down to “wait till it’s really ropey and Mont’ka” If you want a comparatively easy to run list (with some very cool models) then two commanders, an amplified iontide and some veteran crisis suits is a lot of big and fun guns. Add in a fish or two for lots of movement forgiving mistakes and you’re doing okay in a non-competitive setting.


I'm not gonna go into factions that just suck because they are overpriced/are badly designed/have been basically removed from the game with nerf bats because they are toxic to play against. Most complex/hardest to play is imho Aeldari Soup with the Yncarne; every single turn, the positioning of every single model in your army can instantly win or lose you the game. Generally, armies with fragile expensive assets that need to be protected with correct board placement, utilization of LOS angles, ranges and screening would be the most "difficult" in my book because they do not forgive your mistakes - one screw up equals a game loss. I'd put Space Marines and similar armies in a scale in the middle; the slower they are, the harder to play because your mistakes matter more and your previous decisions have disproportionate impact on your next turns. Easiest armies are hyper reliable first turn punch piles like pre Nerf Raider+DT Wrack Spam, Admech or SoB that all basically ignore the board, are extremely fast, have high redundancy and have extremely reliable T1 protection without any opportunity to screw up.


> I'm not gonna go into factions that just suck because they are overpriced/are badly designed/have been basically removed from the game with nerf bats because they are toxic to play against. This is a good point since it would be silly to recommend to new players something that may not be continued and older players would be able to read the tea leaves on that


I don't want to speak for any armies that I don't own/have played extensively so I will present my list and reasoning. ####EASIEST - HARDEST 1. Death Guard - OVERALL: 8.5/10 - Collecting - 8/10 - Low model count army with a muddy technical paint named after their main character - Yes Please! Even the worst painter can bring this army to life with enough slop applied. The range isn't all that large either so for the most part you know what you are going to get. Mortarion will take you quite a bit of effort though, if you go that route... - Playing - 9/10 - There aren't many different configurations so list building is a breeze and the army basically plays itself. You do have to keep track of a bunch of auras but many of them are so large that you can accidentally get them into position. The big downfall of this army, movement. They are SLOOOOWWW and you can easily get caught out of position. They also have a large range of stratagems that are almost good, and you will be tempted to use them constantly, you ARE playing chaos afterall. 2. Orks - OVERALL: 7.5/10 - Collecting - 7/10 - My reasoning for this is that you can have a ton of fun kitbashing your own models and painting isn't so stressful on individual models since you can muddy them up to cover your mistakes, but once you start painting the infantry you will wish you had some grotz to help out with the grueling task of painting more troops models in a single squad than some armies run models in their army. - Playing - 8/10 - This army is usually built with a singular purpose. GO FAST N' KRUMP ARD! All of their buffs are built in and asides from the standard Kustom Force Field and Waagh auras they are basically non-existent. You will also usually only have a few stratagems that are actually worth playing depending on your build. Bonus: Their psyker is super easy to get spells of with despite blowing itself up. 3. Adepta Sororitas - OVERALL: 7/10 - Collecting - 7/10 - This army is absolutely gorgeous to look at and just feels good to paint, but all of this detail comes at a price. Not only is the range more on the expensive side but all of these bits &bobs will be sure to drive the slow painting hobby enthusiast mad. - Playing - 7/10 - At first glance it can be daunting to figure out what models work well on the table/create synergy together, but in the end you will discover it's EVERYTHING!(Except you Castigator tank...) The inclusion of miracle dice can ne a two sided blade and help to alleviate some of the hard decisions and flatten the rng curve but it can also create some real feel bad moments when you realize that you've used your 6 to almost kill a prime target before they turn around and wipe a crucial character that was pleading for that auto invuln you cast in to the fiery pits of melta doom. 4. Dark Angels(w/ Space Marines) - OVERALL: 7/10 - Collecting - 5/10 - All of the coolest models for this army are either older than your favorite scotch or are out of stock eternally? Hunting down a box of Deathwing command squad is like hunting the Fallen(You will leave your best friends to die at the slightest suggestion that their may be one in a store 100 miles away). Plus side, what they do have is a ton of options that ARE vary cool, fun to build and not too hard to paint. - Playing - 7/10 - There are a few ways to build this army, but that's about the hardest decision you have to make. Once you hit the table most of your units will either go wherever they want or survive a nuclear holocaust unscathed, however a lot of their utility comes in the form of overlapping auras and a spreadsheet of stratagems pulled from 2 books. 5. Adeptus Mechanicus - OVERALL: 5/10 - Collecting - 5/10 - Our robot overlords are a very fun range to look at, but my omnissiah do they take a lot of effort to build/paint. They are also a very expensive range, but luckily for you James has sold enough of the Serbrys Raiders that they decided to give you bricks of Skitarri as the optimal choice...yay. Also how do you build Duneriders without gaps in the hull? Instructions do not compute. - Playing - 5/10 - Thankfully the new bricks of rangers/vanguard are bit more forgiving than some of the other units, however what makes them great is the support you bring along. This is where things get tough. This book is a tangled web of wires comparable to a ship repair scene from your favorite sci fi series. I find myself constantly flipping back and forth to triple check that I'm not unintentionally cheating. In the end I got my head around the army, but not everybody will want to take the time to learn Discrete Mathematics for fun. 6. Chaos(excluding Thousand Sons/Death Guard - OVERALL: ???/10 - DISCLAIMER: I play mostly Slaanesh and Iron Warriors/Emperor's Children - Collecting - ?/10 (CSM: 6/10, Demons: 7/10) - This range is soup, but doesn't have to be. If you are less interested in being competitive and more interested in flavor then you can sometimes get away with a bit of both without much effort. the problem here is the range is incredibly huge(I know I know, it's unfair to keep demons and CSM together, but we all know that's how they end up). With a range this large every time a new edition, FAQ, or codex comes out half of your army gets turned into dust. - Playing - ?/10 (CSM: 5/10, Demons: 8/10) - You can play mono faction CSM and have a blast, you will still run into some issues with units being awkwardly positioned stat wise, but you will kill as well as you are killed, but something will feel lacking. Mono demons will feel a bit easier due to their singular mindfulness, but once again something will feel missing(Shooting. It's shooting) So what do you do? Mix them together and welcome to the game of many codices. I hope you have a Magnus sized brain to handle all of the information.


From what I've played/seen... Easiest: DA, Imperial knights Hardest: all 3 Eldar factions atm, bonus point for the Yncarne.


I'm going to say tau as the most difficult for this one. While they do have a lot of passive rules, and their model count isn't that high, their unit count is through the roof because of drones, and they're one of the most positioning-dependent armies in the game. Their CP management is also very interesting, because some of their stratgems are very good at certain parts of the game and not at others, and because their utility strats are overpriced and niche on paper but in practice really necessary to get the most blood out of the stone that is our codex. Certainly doesn't help that we're not in a great spot, but that's another matter.


I'd say that Custodes are mechanically simple, along with space marines. They both have lots of passive benefits and are good at shooting and fighting, so there's fairly forgiving gameplay.


Custodes. Take like 4-5 dreads. Spend your CP on re-rolls.