Age of Sigmar Faction Guide and Flow Chart
Updated: Jun 24
If you want to jump straight to the Ultimate Age of Sigmar Flow Chart, click here and follow the bar across the top of the page (there's a Warhammer 40k Flow Chart, too!)
There are so many awesome armies in Warhammer Age of Sigmar that it's hard to decided which to pick (which is why most gamers end up with two or three--or five or six--armies). Whether you collect models based on lore, models, or gameplay is up to you. This guide will mostly help you make a lore and gameplay decision. The aesthetic decision of the models is up to your own tastes.
In Age of Sigmar there are four Grand Alliances: Order, Chaos, Death, and Destruction. All armies are aligned with one of these groups (though that doesn't mean that there isn't infighting within the groups).
Four Grand Alliances
The guiding principles of the Grand Alliance of Order is not necessarily "good" (in Warhammer worlds there are few factions which can claim to be the "good guys" except for maybe the Stormcast Eternal) but rather Order is about progress and prosperity. They were united at the Grand Conclave of Hammerhal with the purpose of capturing the realm gates that would allow them to destroy their enemies and spread order everywhere.
Life in the Grand Alliance of Order is hospitable and the most earth-like of the four Alliances, with farming, building, entertainment, and religion.
The Factions in the Grand Alliance of Order are:
Cities of Sigmar
Daughters of Khaine
There is no guiding principle in the Grand Alliance of Chaos, as that is kind of the point. Chaos is led by the Chaos Gods, Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch, Slaanesh, and The Great Horned Rat, and the various factions under them each go after their own chaotic goals. There is no universal way of life, no uniform methods for working, eating and surviving.
The Factions in the Grand Alliance of Chaos are;
Beasts of Chaos
Blades of Khorne
Disciples of Tzeentch
Hedonites of Slaanesh
Maggotkin of Nurgle
Slaves to Darkness
The guiding principle of Death, under Nagash, is that all things should be undead like Nagash himself: automatons of bones that only do the will of Nagash. Life under the eye of the Supreme Lord of the Undead is, well, not life. It is endless hordes of shambling zombies, staggering skeletons, and haunting ghosts. For what it's worth, however, the Grand Alliance of Death is the most unified of all the Grand Alliances, for they all serve a single purpose.
The Factions in the Grand Alliance of Death are:
While the Grand Alliance of Death all serves a single purpose under a single supreme being, something similar can be said about Destruction: they all worship Gorkamorka. But while Death has a goal in sight of creating undeath in a unified eternity, Gorkamorka simply wants destruction of everything, everywhere. He delights in fighting, even if it's his own factions squabbling among themselves. He wants to tear things down, never building anything unless it's a machine that can destroy something else.
The Factions in the Grand Alliance of Destruction are:
Sons of Behemat
Pick Your Age of Sigmar Faction: What You Need To Know
Grand Alliance of Order
Sigmar, the man who became God of the Mortal Realms, created the Stormcast Eternals as literal angels--immortal warriors who fight against the intrusion of Chaos.
Each Stormcast Eternal was once a mortal warrior who fought heroically on the battlefield and was selected by Sigmar to undergo a number of trials which "reforged" that hero into its immortal, mighty state. When a Stormcast Eternal "dies", they are simply reincarnated (reforged) into a new Stormcast Eternal--however, a piece of their mind and personality is lost with every reforging.
All are clad in sigmarite armor and carry magical weapons (sigmarite will transform into energy and return to the Realm of Light, Azyr, where it will be repaired. No sigmarite weapons or armor can be captured by the enemy.) There is a bond between the weapon and its user, making the Stormcast Eternal using their own personal weapon more powerful than they would be otherwise.
In gameplay the Stormcast Eternals are the flagship army of the game, making them most accessible to beginners, and most forgiving of mistakes. You don't need to get into the weeds of a lot of intricate rules--there are special strategems, but they're accessible. That said, the Stormcast Eternals can be as advanced an army as any other. While they can simply be used as generic muscle, there are more nuanced ways to play with them.
Cities of Sigmar
The Cities of Sigmar are a mix of races and units from the Old World. They are made up of swordsmen and and spearmen, knights and archers. They may use the technologies of old, like Gyrocopters and Steam Tanks, as well as the monsters of old, like dragons and hydras.
These cities, also known as Free Cities of Sigmar, are isolated bastions of civilization that exist in nearly every mortal realm, all settled by Sigmar himself around a Stormkeep. Each city is much different from any other, influenced much by the Realm it's in.
The Cities of Sigmar are an enticing army because they can be so varied. If you want an army of knights, you can make an army of knights. If you want gunners and tanks, you can take gunners and tanks. They're also appealing to anyone who loves the aesthetic of the Old World (as well as those who still have their Old World armies and want to repurpose them for Age of Sigmar.)
Daughters of Khaine
Here's where we begin to see that Order does not necessarily mean "good guys." The Daughters of Khaine may be seeking to stave off the encroachment of Chaos, but they are anything but pleasant. A cult of aelves, they ultimately serve Morathi, but their intermediaries are anything but "nice": Bloodwrack Medusae, Hag Queens, and Slaughter Queens. They engage in blood rituals before, during, and after their battles.
The Daughters of Khaine act as a sort of coven within nearly every Free City--there is no land of the Daughters of Khaine, but they are a small group of cultists that exist within the lands of others. Every temple has a Cauldron of Blood. That said, Morathi demands that the Daughters of Khaine maintain a level of respect for Sigmar.
In gameplay, the Daughters of Khaine are known for being fast, both in getting onto the table and in drawing first blood. They can cut through defenses to get to the heroes of their opponents' armies and kill quickly. Their units are snakelike, some on wings, some with the tails of serpents. And the Cauldron of Blood is the centerpiece on any battlefield.
Fyreslayers are the duardin (dwarven) servants of the fallen god Grimnir, and they are driven to battle in the endless quest of finding gold: they believe that in that gold they will find the Ur-Gold which contains the essence of their god. They have consequently amassed huge quantities of riches--but they don't use the riches to live decadently.
They are primarily races of Aqshy, the Realm of Fire, and they survive amid the volcanoes and deserts. They wear little more than a loincloth and helmet, and they live in a settlement called a Magmahold. They also have a bond with creatures called Magmadroths, which are fire-breathing lizards more like huge salamanders than traditional dragons.
Gameplay with the Fyreslayers is fairly simple: engage the enemy in hand-to-hand combat and destroy them. The Fyreslayers have little missile weapons to speak of, but are ruthless one-on-one. And bringing the Magmagroths into battle is a mass of brute force that can devastate an opponent.
Following in the footsteps of the Daughters of Khaine, these aelves are not exactly friendly. Living under the waters in the Mortal Realms, they are known as ruthless and fearsome raiders, ambushing unsuspecting enemies from underneath. They travel from realm to realm through Whirlway, underwater Realmgates.
But how do Idoneth Deepkin survive out of water? they don't need to be underwater to go to battle or even to bring their sea creatures to a fight. They travel through Aether-Sea, a magical combination of water and air. In fact, they use this Aether-Sea even when they're underwater, because as aelves they breathe air. In war they bring Tidecasters with them who create bubbles of Aether-Sea.
On the tabletop, the Idoneth Deepkin make do with a few powerful units, rather than hordes of weaker ones. The Tidecaster not only creates Aether-Sea, however, but also controls the tide, which means that the Aether-Sea can be constantly changing from defensive to offensive positioning throughout the battle.
The Kharadron Overlords are essentially steampunk dwarves, and that description alone should tell you all you need to know. They are militaristic, mechanically-inclined duardin who build both guns and airships, flying from skyport to skyport, raining fire on their enemies from above.
They follow the Kharadron Code, which helps their society live thrive: it dictates how to govern, how to trade, how to manage money, and how a duardin can advance in standing.
Following the traditional image of dwarves, the Kharadron Overlords have deep respect for lineage, maintain grudges across generations, wear runes and tattoos--but they keep their beards trimmed neatly to accommodate their Arkanaut armor.
When playing the Kharadron Overlords, you should follow the practice of pounding away at your enemy with your guns while they're far away, dropping ground troops only when you're right on top of the enemy, and using your airships to evacuate--you don't want the slow duardin to get caught in a footrace with faster factions. But with excellent range weapons and bombs, and a unique play style, they are one of the most formidable factions in the game.
Finally, we have some aelves who might be considered the good guys. the Lumineth Realm-Lords are often mistaken to be angels. Pulled from the clutches of Slaanesh when he was captured in the Age of Myth, the Lumineth settled in the Realm of Hysh. The Lumineth were the most stable of all aelf races.
Known for their fantastical clothing, headdresses, and creatures, they use elemental magic combined with traditional medieval fighting techniques. They fight with polearms and spears, but also with magicians and, yes, cavalry that rides fantasy kangaroos.
The magic in the Realm-Lords is impressive and every unit from the grandest mage to the lowly archer has magic at their disposal.
Gameplay is important, of course, but Lumineth Realm-Lords live and die on your love for the aesthetic which, let's be honest, is polarizing. Some love it, some hate it. But get an experienced Lumineth player on the other side of the table and you'll be in for a beating.
Seraphon are one of the few races in Age of Sigmar that have their roots in the Old World. Their god, Slann, watched the destruction of the Old World and made his way to the Mortal Realms where he "remembered" the Seraphon (then known as lizardmen) into existence.
They are also one of the few factions who can also be considered to be, somewhat, "good guys." In fact, the Seraphon are actually worshipped as god-like creatures by many of the lesser factions of the Mortal Realms.
Drawing heavily from Aztec and Mayan iconography (and not having many model updates in many many years--with the exception of Kroak) they have an Old World styling that some find delightful and some find old-fashioned. Personally, the more large dinosaurs I can paint, the better.
A versatile army, they have a solid infantry with Skinks and Saurus Warriors. They have flying units who can rain down death from above, and they have massive Stegadons and Bastilodons and Carnosaurs to make any opponent pale.
The spiritual successors to the Wood Aelves, the Sylvaneth are less aelf and more wood. Alarielle was awakened by Sigmar, and she traveled the Realm of Life planting seeds and nourishing life. These seeds spawned the first Sylvaneth, which grew into creatures as varied and unusual as any other plants in the Realm of Life.
Their primary purpose now is to reclaim the lands that have been devastated by Chaos, Destruction, and Death, and to reconnect Realmroots that have been lost.
In gameplay, the Sylvaneth attack from a number of different directions at once, tying up one unit and then making another appear from an unexpected direction all at once. They can teleport across the battlefield, out-maneuvering the enemy and getting your important units where you need them and fast. Much of this is due to keeping a lot of your army in reserve and only bringing them forward when it is most advantageous.
Grand Alliance of Chaos
Beasts of Chaos
The Beasts of Chaos are different from other Chaos factions because they are not beholden to a specific Chaos God, doing that god's will. They also exist in the Mortal Realms and are not stuck in the Realm of Chaos--this is because they are the physical manifestation of Chaos. They have things in common with Destruction armies, because they are anarchic and, well, destructive, but they ultimately are working for the cause of Chaos, even if they aren't following the directions of any one god.
The beasts vary in size, form, and intelligence. Some are more beast and some are more man. Some are entirely monstrous creature, while others are cunning and strategic. The primary unit of the Beasts of Chaos are the gor-kin, which look something like a massively powerful satyr: animal legs (knees backward and hooves like a goat) and a human torso, and a beast's head and face--and horns.
Other creatures in the army are things like the Dragon Ogors (like an ogre-dragon centaur), Cygors (giants with the heads and hooves of beasts), and Ghorgons (minotaur-like beasts with four arms.)
They're an older army that hasn't seen an update in a while, but the sheer number of choices is enough to entice Beasts of Chaos players. They're fun to paint, they hit hard and fast--but they're weak on defense so you always have to be pressing the enemy.
Blades of Khorne
"Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!" The Blades of Khorne are the followers of the Blood God, who draws his power from all of the mortal creatures' anger, hate, and rage.
The creatures in a Blades of Khorne Bloodbound Warhorde are mostly disorganized because they are so violent and rash--they don't take commands well, even from a Lord of Khorne.
Because Khorne is associated with the number 8, the armies--from the massive level down to the smallest unit--are divided into groups of eight. A Warhorde will have eight groups, but a small force might have just eight units.
The core units are men like the Bloodreavers and Blood Warriors, but there are also plenty of demons in the army, including Bloodletters, Fleshhounds, and of course Greater Daemons like the Bloodthirster.
In gameplay, Khorne doesn't rely on magic or missile attacks--both are completely against the Khorne dogma--so it's a matter of running as fast as you can at the enemy and impaling them on your horns and stomping them under your hooves. They're not good on defense, so get in the enemy's face and stay there.
Disciples of Tzeentch
Tzeentch is the God of Change, or the Changer of the Ways. While at first blush this may not seem strictly evil, remember that the Chaos Gods are not evil for evil's sake--they are embodiments of human emotion. Tzeentch feeds on lies and betrayals, backstabbing and manipulation. As the God of Change, Tzeentch can see into the future, and he changes things--including the appearance of both his army and himself--on a whim.
Tzeentch takes a special delight in the corruption of mortals, and his own creations, including the Horrors of Tzeentch or the Screamers of Tzeentch will grow new limbs for no reason, or sprout extra eyes. Tzeentch's primary units are the Tzaangors, beings who were once beastmen before being touched by Tzeentch.
More than any other Chaos God, Tzeentch embraces sorcery and magic, and nearly all of his units have some kinds of powers derived from magic or bestowed on them by a nearby magic user. On the tabletop, they have more than enough spells to keep the enemy busy, and love the combinations of buffs and trickery, changing dice rolls and redoing failed attacks. They are also much more ranged than many other Chaos armies.
Hedonites of Slaanesh
The Hedonites of Slaanesh are unique in that the god they follow, the God of Excess, is imprisoned and not directly leading them. The army then is less crusading with Chaotic purpose as they are a cult who are seeking to free their trapped master--and have their own twisted version of a good time in the process.
As God of Excess, Slaanesh's followers love pleasure, pain, gluttony, greed, avarice. For many years, Games Workshop's models have primarily stuck to the twisted sexuality intrinsic to this (and they still do) but they have also begun to display some of the other traits, especially with the gluttonous Glutos Orscollion, Lord of Gluttony, or the sickening musical pleasure of the Infernal Enrapturess.
The models for the Hedonites of Slaannesh are relatively new, which means the sculpts are excellent (and still being added to regularly) but there isn't the range of models here that you'd find in older armies. It's also hard to say, given how the models are currently being released and are different from each other, how the army will be played. Right now, the meta varies a lot, as does the gameplay.
Maggotkin of Nurgle
The Maggotkin of Nurgle are followers of the Plague God, the god of corruption, rot and contagion. Nurgle is less stable than the other Chaos Gods, with his power waxing and waning as his corruptions bloats, explodes, and heals.
The Maggotkin's goal is to spread pestilence and decay to every part of the Mortal Realms--Nurgle wants it all for himself. Interestingly, they love the birth of life as much as they love the decay of life. They want to see the natural cycle (but they see it through the birth of maggots and parasites and their lifecycle, not the lifecycle of a normal mortal race).
Nurgle armies are led by Plaguebearers, walking, festering plague zombies. All of the units are followed by Nurglings, which are little tiny demons who are always smiling in devious delight as they spread contagion. Every model is grotesque in its own way, with boils and horns and extra mouths and oozing wounds.
On the tabletop, the Maggotkin are a tough army to fight. Because they're already full of open wounds, they can take a hit and keep on moving--disgustingly resilient. They are a very well fleshed-out army, with newer models, so there are lots of troop choices that are generally a delight to paint (it's so fun to get every bit of pus and every maggot). They use magic, though not as much as Tzeentch, but mostly they're just really hard to kill.
Slaves to Darkness
Mortals who follow the Chaos Gods, they hope to be able to ascend to immortality as a daemon prince (though most of them will either die, or become Chaos Spawn). The Slaves of Darkness are actually extremely prevalent in the Mortal Realms, the primary Chaotic force that inhabits nearly every place outside of a Free City. Generally nomads, they stick to hunting and pillaging for food, rarely laying down fortifications or settlement.
They are organized into Hordes (if it can be called organization) and each Horde has its own Godsworn Overlord. The Hordes can be Ravagers (the most common, who pillage and raze), the Cabalists (led by sorcerers), and Despoilers (who are the most feared and led by daemon princes and joined by other daemonic monsters).
Because there are four Chaos Gods, each very different, there are four different ways to play the Slaves to Darkness: The Bloodmarked fight for Khorne, the Fatesworn for Tzeenth, the Plaguetouched for Nurgle, and the Pleasurebound for Slaanesh. But ultimately, they will all unite under Archaon's banner if he demands it.
In gameplay, the Slaves to Darkness are tough and strong, with heavy armored infantry and heavy armored cavalry (and all their armor is imbued with magic). There are few ranged units, so this is an up-close-and-personal army.
The Skaven, humanoid rat-men, are one of the oldest races, having survived the destruction of the Old World through the power of The Great Horned Rat--their central city, Blight City, was connected to the Realm of Chaos. They are able to travel between the Realm of Chaos and the Mortal Realms through Gnawholes.
There are actually many different factions present within the Skaven and, because the Skaven have existed since the Old World, there are plenty of models to be found, both old and new, to model any kind of Skaven army you wish.
The primary factions of the Skaven are: the Masterclan (the rulers), Clan Verminus (hordes of rats), Clan Pestilens (a Nurgle-oriented rat army), Clan Moulders (an army of monstrous rats), Clan Skyre (who use experimental technology and weapons), and Clan Eshin (think rat ninjas).