Age of Sigmar Tier List - June 2019 (Pre GHB!)

Ian O'Brien

Hi Everybody!

Today has been an interesting day on Twitter, after someone put together a Tiermaker template for AoS 2. This is a pretty cool site that I'd never seen before - check it out! The template of called "AoS 2nd Ed Power Rankings" and you can put your own list together using it - well done to whoever discovered this and put the time in to creating it! (Edit: it was apparently HeyWhoa, who is awesome and also reasonably handsome to boot)

As a consequence of this, there are a bunch of Tier lists floating around and some of them are pretty crazy, so I decided to write one too. The problem with Tier lists is that they're highly subjective, and if you've listened to the JustSaying Podcast you know that we very rarely bother going past Tier "2" when we rank things because everything from that point tends to be close enough (ie, not in a great place competitively) that it isn't worth organising into tiers. Nevertheless, I followed the template format and this is what my Tier list comes out looking like.

I would call "S" the "ultra competitive" Tier, which last year only had DoK in it - what a year 2019 has been for power creep!  "AA" is my "Tier 1", "A" would be my "Tier 2", and B would be my "Tier 3". Everything beyond that is in "Tier not the most competitive" (although you could certainly argue that Chaos Dwarves, Seraphon, KO in the right meta, and probably more should be moved up a Tier. Subjective!)


DoK, Skaven and FEC are undeniably Tier S - they're just a cut above almost everything else, and unless playing against eachother, it requires large player skill or luck differentials to beat them. What's really surprising me right now is the general lack of awareness in the community of just how good the new Slaanesh book is - they're absolutely nuts, and made even nuttier that they have highly favourable matchups against both FEC and DoK, a feat that few armies can claim! You could even make an argument for shifting Tier S down so that Slaanesh could sit above FEC and DoK since they have a good matchup against them.

Tier AA contains Fyreslayers. It's yet to be 100% proven what Tier Fyreslayers belong in, but after Ritchie's 5-0 at 6 Nations this past weekend plus the playtesting I've seen, there's a very good argument that they should also be in Tier S. They're slow, which is a problem, but Hearthguard Berserkers might be the best unit in the game and you just can't go into a fight against Hermdar Lords of the Lodge with their buffs up. Either way, one thing is for sure - they're another new book for which most old books just have no answer. Deepkin are also in here because they still dodge first turn issues, they still hit like a truck, they still have the original gangsta "I go first in combat" option, and they're s till the fastest army in the game. This will never fail to produce consistent, amazing results in the hands of a good player.

Legions of Nagash is largely overrated now and drops a Tier to A compared to the last year. No amount of Grimghasts being returned to the board can keep up with 2019 book armies that can remove them even faster. Less armies are relying on Magic so Nagash loses power, more armies use no magic at all, use prayers, or outrange you. Shooting is around and can be an auto-loss for Death. There are so many weak to awful matchups in the top tiers now, Death are relegated to preying on armies that still haven't had their new book show up, and having bad times against those that have. BoC and Tzeentch are in here largely off the back of Enlightened alone, but they're also a cut above everything that follows. Gloomspite Gitz haven't seen widespread play and are largely underrated. They may even need to go up a Tier, they're difficult to assess, but they are very good.

Tier B is now "everything else that is playable but not as good as the stuff above it", which is a lot of armies. It contains, in my opinion, armies that contain balanced and reasonable books like Khorne and Stormcast, and other armies that have dropped off in the meta due to the power level of the higher tiers.

Tier C and below is a crapshoot. You could mess around with these a lot and no one would really care. They're competitively poor armies that you play because you love them, or for fun. Sometimes they can win things with some luck and skill - we've seen plenty of decent finished for Seraphon, Kharadron Overlords, Phoenix Temple, and Beastclaw Raiders, for example. But if we're being brutal, we wouldn't choose these as contenders for a likely 5-0 or 6-0 at a major competitive event.

So there it is! A super quick article, a super quick tier list, and some qualification on why things are where they are. Keep throwing your own tier lists out but remember - just because a new book hasn't had major tournament finishes yet, doesn't mean there aren't a whole bunch of experienced players testing those armies and playing with them from the second they come out. Always base your assessment of an army on what it can achieve, not where it's finished in events; events are a very small sample size!


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Terradons vs Ripperdactyls: 5 Minute Maths

Ian O'Brien

I'm currently playing Seraphon in our local slow grow league, and I need to assemble some flying beasties for my Engine of the Gods to summon. But which is best? These units have a few different things going on so they're a little hard to evaluate, so I figured I'd just write it down...

(Note: I'm working under the assumption that Ripperdactyls won't be able to generate more than one extra attack from their beaks once the GHB FAQ hits, if you're reading this in July 2018!)




In Age of Sigmar v1, there was an argument as to which of the two ranged weapons was better as the 10" javelins gave you a bit more reach to know a few wounds off a hero, and be able to do so whilst engaged. With "Look Out, Sir!" and new shooting rules in AoS v2 I dont think that throwing a few puny javelins at a hero is as worthwhile a tactic as using your ranged attacks to simply supplement your melee attacks here. But anyway, the numbers:

  • Javelins average 0.66 damage per Terradon
  • Bolas average 0.875 damage per Terradon

I'm 100% sold on Bolas as the superior option here, so I'll focus on that.

I think a Master of the Skies is the superior option for unit leader as most of the unit's damage output still comes from melee, and in any case +1 to hit shooting is nowhere near as good as a whole extra set of melee attacks with full rerolls.

So, swooping down (like you ever wouldn't...)

  • Each Terradon averages 2.25 damage
  • Master of the Skies adds an additional 2 damage (big increase!)

Therefore, we're doing the following assuming Bolas and Master of the Skies:

  • 3 Terradons averages 11.38 damage
  • 9 Terradons averages 30.13 damage

As an intangible (in this calculation) benefit, the Bolas damage happens before melee, so is a little bit better than melee attacks. And obviously you can use them at range if you'd like, but it's a pretty poor way to use a 120 point unit - the damage output just isn't there.

The Terradons also have Deadly Cargo, which averages out to 1 mortal wound per Terradon dropping the bomb. This is definitely best used in a Shadowstrike Starhost where you can set up, move, and do 9 mortals to something with your maxed out unit. Otherwise it's a decent ability but not hugely impactful due to being oneshot and once per Terradon.




Rippers have less options than Terradons but slightly more complex maths. Their damage profile looks like this:

  • Each model averages 4.09 damage with no Blot Toad
  • Each model average 6.41 damage with a Blot Toad
  • The Alpha adds 0.56 damage

So that gives us totals of:

  • 3 Ripperdactyls average 12.83 or 19.79 damage
  • 9 Ripperdactyls average 37.37 or 58.25 damage

Ripperdactyls also get Star-Bucklers, which is very relavant on a combat unit given how many models have Rend -1 nowadays.

It's worth noting is that in AoS v2, if you summon a unit of Rippers with your Engine of the Gods on turn 1 you can place a Blot Toad for that unit since you dont place the toads until "during" your first hero phase.


The internet has a severe overabundance of Pterodactyl pics...


Which is Better?

Without a toad, Rippers deal 10% more damage than Terradons in melee and come with shields. Terradons deal a few points of their damage earlier (as shooting), have the capability to not melee if they need to (although their shooting is weak), and have a mortal wound attack. 

Rippers deal 74% (!) more damage than Terradons if they have a toad.

If you have access to Toads by whatever method you choose to get them, I'd say that Rippers win out here every time. Their damage potential is just so much higher than their shield is a nice addition. Since you can build toads into your army list, I think Rippers are the clear choice during list building, even though they're 15%~ more expensive.

If you're summoning units of 3 of either of these during the game though, the choice is at least a choice. Terradons are more specialist, and you might summon them if you want to finish off a big tough character using mortal wound bombs, if the Ripperdactyls' shields won't be of use versus whatever you're fighting, or if you don't have access to Toads (there's minimal melee difference in this case and the Terradons other advantages start to take over a little more). Even so, I expect you'll be summoning Rippers far more often for their superior combat numbers.

Personally I'll be building and carrying multiple summonable Rippers with me to events as I think they're the default choice, and a single unit of Terradons. I expect turn one Ripper summoning to get a toad on the board is going to be a common tactic, and taking a single unit Rippers in my list build to make sure I get great value out of my summoned Rippers will probably be a thing.


Happy Pterodactyling!


Don't forget to subscribe to the JustSaying Podcast for more Age of Sigmar discussions and advice - new episodes every Thursday!


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Ian Plays Death: Fundamentals

Ian O'Brien

Hey Guys! Ian here, and today I'm going to be talking about my experiences with the new Legions of Nagash battletome. I've been spamming games with this book since it was released, mostly in a competitive testing environment, and I figured it was about time to commit some of my thoughts to virtual paper. I'm going to start this article series with an overview of what I think of Death as a faction, both pros and cons, so let's take a look at them!


  • Great Battleline
  • Great matchups against armies that want to scrap it out
  • Many ways to vary your army with barely any changes to its unit composition
  • Excellent at playing the objective game
  • Tactical flexibility via gravesites


  • Extremely vulnerable to shooting...
  • ...meaning that our worst matchups are some of the best armies in the game right now (Kharadron, Tzeentch, certain Stormcast)
  • Not a lot of viable units
  • Bad against high saves
  • Poor tiebreaker scoring
  • Turn rolls lead to even more extreme variance than they do for other armies

Lets go into these in a little more detail, shall we?


The Pros

These are the things that I think define Death as an army. They're the mechanical reasons why you would play them over another faction, the things that define their playstyle. Leveraging these things are generally the key to victory with Death. If these pros are things that you like in an army, there's a good chance that playing Death will suit you.


Great Battleline

I'll happily go on record as saying that Skeletons are one of the best battleline choices in the game when you factor in everything that they do. They are:

  • Cheap
  • 2" reach
  • Have enough weight of attacks to not be too worried by high saves or wound counts
  • Tough for their cost when you factor in Deathless Minions, very tough for their cost if they're fighting rendless "chaff killers" such as Putrid Blightkings or Witch Aelves
  • Mobile via Gravesites
  • Get to regenerate!

That isn't to say that they don't have downsides, of course. They can and do evaporate quicker than you can resurrect them without Inspiring Presence. They're slow if you don't buff them in specific ways or use Gravesites. But all things considered, cheap, fast, and tough enough for their cost makes them a great choice and the core of any good Death list.

Great Matchups against "Scrapping" Armies

Although "scrapping" armies - armies that primarily want to win by beating you in melee - are not necessarily the tier 1 of competitive AoS, they *do* make up the bulk of AoS armies that you will face on the tabletop outside of those lists. We're almost purpose built for that matchup - we have lots of bodies to outnumber on objectives, we have lots of debuffs to melee units and movement, we regenerate, and we love not having our characters shot at. I've had some absolutely horrendous games against melee armies, where I've made mistakes, rolled badly, been repeatedly double turned, etc, and still won because I held onto objectives with my many bony bodies.

Nurgle are currently very popular and we have a great matchup against them (we both attrition really well, but we have more bodies on the board and better debuffs), and Orruks and melee-based Stormcast lists are always popular which we have a great game against also. Never underestimate the importance of having good matchups versus the majority of "the pack" when it comes to winning events; your matchups on the top tables don't matter if you can't get there in the first place.

As an aside, GW do seem to be releasing more "anti shooting" tech into the game - see Plaguebearer -2 to shooting, and the Idoneth anti-shooting special rules - so we're potentially going to see more of a move away from shooting armies as they get pushed out of the meta. This is great for us in two ways; we dont care about people investing points into anti-shooting tech, and more people could be playing armies that we want to fight against. Good times!

Army Variation

This is a minor point, but the ability to vary your army without changing your units much is a very real benefit when buying and painting new models isn't always an option due to time or money.

For example, take this list:

  • Lords of Sacrament
  • Arkhan
  • 2 Necromancers
  • Mortis Engine
  • Deathmarch
  • Wight King
  • 40/10/10 Skeletons
  • 30 Grave Guard
  • 5 Black Knights

Playing this list, you can:

  1. Play Grand Host of Nagash. Make the Wight King your general, give him the +1 attack command trait, and give a Necromancer the Ossific Diadem. This provides you with the ability to give a skeleton unit +2 attacks, a second 6++ save, and grants you extra regen on your units.
  2. Play Legion of Sacrament. This gets you Arkhan's command ability, gives your important Wight King Bracers of Black Gold to protect versus shooting, gives one of your Necromancers the Shroud of Darkness to protect him against shooting also, and makes everyone better at spellcasting.

See what you've just done? You've just list tailored to a specific meta (Nagash versus a combat heavy meta, Sacrament versus a shooting heavy meta) without even changing a model!

Excellent at Objectives

AoS is, ultimately, and objective based game, and we play it very well. We have access to high model count, cheap, tough-for-their-points unit with a way to bring them back, we have Gravesites to enable us to threaten objectives anywhere on the board with units deployed from the grave, and we have debuffs to further enhance the survivability of our units against many armies. Not every army can do this well.


Gravesites are great. They should have been called Greatsites. Many people had concerns initially that they were too easy for your opponent to block, but in reality with good placement, your own units to interdict enemy movement, and the need for enemy units to often be places that are more important than sitting on a gravesite, they work really well.

You can use them to keep things safe from turn 1 shooting (Kharadron Overlords hate when you hide 30 Grave Guard from them), you can use them to deploy small objective holders in a reactionary way (great in Starstrike), you can use them to threaten opponent's backfield objectives (great in Knife to the Heart and many more), you can use them aggressively simply to get units further up the field. They do a lot!



The Cons

As with anything, though, there are also downsides to playing Death. Mitigating these weaknesses is an important part of being a good Death player, and if any of these weaknesses are things that you heavily dislike, then Death might not be a good fit for you.

Shooting Vulnerability

For a long time, shooting has been the best "thing" in Age of Sigmar. That's maybe starting to change as mentioned above, but for now, shooting is still very powerful, and this is not good for us. We're *highly* reliant on small, easy to snipe characters for our defining special rules - Deathless Minions, Summoning, and Gravesite activation, as well as our spells. We're also not a particularly fast army; though we do have tricks to mitigate this, we're not pushing massive threats into our opponent's faces early on (for the most part), meaning shooting armies can potentially pick us apart before we do enough. Add to this the fact that our debuffs all effect melee only (seriously GW, why?), our spells are all short range, and we have no real shooting of our own and it's a recipe for disaster.

Also, because we want our units to still be alive come our hero phase so that we can regenerate them, we dislike opponents having the ability to focus our units down one by one, and shooting armies are much better at this than melee armies.

This is a really bad thing overall when you consider that some of the best armies in the game right now are shooting armies. They are certainly winnable games, but we're not favoured in them, relying on a combination of luck and playing to your outs to take games in these situations. This will be the subject of a future article!

Not a lot of Viable Units

Most armies, when you really break them down, don't have a ton of viable units - there's almost always a few standouts that are better taken in multiples rather than taking a more varied force, if you're playing competitively (except if you're a Stormcast player.. that book is probably one of the most balanced, and awesome, ever to come out of GW!).

One of the disappointing things about the new Death book was how some units were nerfed, and how some bad units weren't fixed, leaving us with only a few truly good unit choices and a whole bunch of borderline stuff. In my opinion, the really great units in the book are:

  • Necromancer
  • Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon (and Vhordrai)
  • Skeletons

And then the "good enough" units:

  • Arkhan
  • Black Knights
  • Grave Guard
  • Dire Wolves
  • Morghasts
  • Zombie Dragon (but more on this hidden gem in a future article...)

While that might look like a long list, most good armies have a lot more than just 3 really great, defining units.

Everything else we have is either overcosted or doesn't do enough, but in some cases we still have to use to take fill some roles (Wight Kings come to mind). Which is a shame. At least we get plenty of variation from our Legions!

Bad against High Saves

To some extent, this is an artifact of our units that do have good rend not being that good, and our good units mostly being rend-less, but we also do lack rend in general. We're much better at weight of attacks, and though that is a reasonable substitute, excessively save-y armies like Stormcast can give us potential trouble in the killing department. Which leads me on to...

Poor Tiebreaker Scoring

We're an army that primarily wins via objectives. We're not necessarily good at killing things, and lacking shooting we're actively bad at catching that last one guy in a unit that runs away and denies us his kill points. I frequently win games bu huge VP margins, but only score 700-1000 kill points. This is bad in tournaments, and I don't yet have a good answer to this (but I'm working on it!)

Turn Roll Susceptibility

Turn rolls are something that is both loved and hated by Sigmar players, and I'm no different - I'm in the hate camp, personally. Death doubles down on this, though, due to Deathly Invocations. If enemies get a double turn, we can lose a whole unit before we ever get a chance to regenerate a model. If we get a double turn, a unit of 10 skeletons can be back to 40 before the opponent gets to do anything (I've done this to people more than once...).

Personally I'm not a fan of added variance, but your mileage may vary.



My overall take on Death at the moment, using Legions of Nagash, is that we're a solidly Tier 2 army. We are eminently capable of winning games, and we have plenty of strengths and weaknesses to exploit or be exploited. Our bad matchups versus the best armies in the game is the major thing that is holding us back right now.

With that said, please check back and join us for the next articles in the series where I'll be talking about various Death builds and how to get the most out of your army (including against those pesky shooty players). Death are a really exciting faction with a lot of unique play options, and I'm really looking forward to writing about them!




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