After playing some Mordheim games we decided with my friends to buy a Warhammer 40k battleforce and start playing Wh40k. I started reading all the codexes/forums but I feel a little overwhelmed with information. What I would like to sort out is which battleforce should I choose as a newbie? My friends will buy Dark Eldar and Tau battleforces and we agreed that for start we all should buy one.

I ruled out a lot of factions since I don't like them and these are the remaining ones:

  • Imperial Guard (Catachan)
  • Necron
  • Space Wolves
  • Dark Angels (Ravenwing or Dark Vengeance pack?)
  • Grey Knights (maybe?)
  • I also like Tau but I don't want to play a Tau vs Tau game

I'm not trying to choose against Tau and Dark Eldar but something which fits my playstyle:

I usually like to play long ranged hard hitting units with little focus on melee (I know it is necessary but I like kiting tactics more). I also like units with troll (fun) factor. For example the Necron Reanimation Protocol is one of them. I also do not like horde-like factions like the Tyranids (and IG possibly).

If nothing changes I will buy Necron but I'm just not sure at the moment.

  • I feel like this could be edited to be a community wiki and actually remain useful. As is OP has likely made his decision years ago and probably will never mark an answer as correct. OTOH if the question was more broadly pros & cons of starting different armies it could be quit useful for more than just OP.
    – aslum
    Aug 27 '19 at 13:25
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    @aslum I'd suggest just asking a new question in the form you think would be good. Even if you edit and we convert to community wiki, that doesn't mean that the answers are going to get updated, and it's probably easier to start without the baggage. The new question can always link to this, and people can always incorporate pieces of previous answers if desired.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 28 '19 at 23:19
  • I picked the good answer.
    – Adam Arold
    Aug 29 '19 at 8:17

I would say Necrons. They might not be as good as the Imperial Guard at long-ranged shooting, but they are quite a lot more interesting when it comes to what you call "troll tactics". A fe pointers:

  • How to use your Battleforce. It contains 20 Warriors, 5 bases of Scarabs, 5 Immortals/Deathmarks and a Ghost Ark/Doomsday Ark. The first two are rather simple, but in the latter you get to make choices: while the Immortals are fine infantry on their own Deathmarks are both a great "troll unit" and give your opponent something to think about when deciding who to shoot: those Necron Warriors running up to them, the Scarabs about to eat their tank or those Deathmarks who arrived on the table in their own turn and will shoot up that expensive elite unit if not dealt with immediately. And build the Ghost Ark over the Doomsday Ark: while it has good shooting the Doomsday Ark is both fragile and expensive.
  • What else will you need? To make your Battleforce into an usable army you will need yourself an HQ choice. For starters a Necron Overlord is a great choice: it's tough and capable to stand up to a good number of HQ units from other books. You can either buy yourself a regular Necron Lord or get an Annihilation Barge: not only is it a great shooting unit it also comes with a spiffy Necron Lord. The other configuration of the Annihilation Barge is the Command barge: though I do not know if you can easily switch between the two by not gluing the main gun in place (someone else will have to answer that).
  • Troll tactics. Necrons have some great flying units, but Tau are one of the best armies to deal with flyers. Using the combination of Nemesor Zahndrekh in a Command Barge and Vargard Obyron with 20 Necron Warriors with him you can teleport the latter all over the place to deliver 40 S4 AP5 shots wherever you might need them, and teleport away the next turn. Another is a combination of Orikan the Diviner alongside a C'tan with Writhing Worldscape: exploit this on highly mobile armies like Dark Eldar to force them to either be sitting ducks or have a 1 in 6 chance on all their units to lose them in the first turn.
  • Where do you go next? Strangely enough, a good way to expand a Necron Battleforce is with ANOTHER Necron Battleforce. 40 Warriors, 2 Ghost Arks, 10 Immortals and 10 Scarab bases. Slap 20 Warriors into the Arks and use them on objectives, give the Immortals a Night Scythe and fly around, and use the Scarabs to eat tanks. You can pair the other Warriors with either Vargard Obyron or a Cryptek with the Veil of Darkness to teleport them around at will. When taking Obyron consider getting Nemesor Zahndrek as well, slap him into a Command Barge if you do. The Monolith is effective and scary but might not be as points-effective as a pair of Annihilation Barges. But it is VERY big, consider it a piece of moving cover. Other great units include the Triarch Stalker, Canoptek Wraiths (and they are great when working together), Heavy Destroyers, Doom Scythes and Canoptek Spiders.
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    I ended up playing Necrons, thanks!
    – Adam Arold
    Aug 27 '19 at 13:57

A lot of this comes down to how you build the armies. Many armies can do "long ranged hard hitting units with little focus on melee", but not all armies are good at it.

Most Space Marines (Space Wolves and Dark Angels) and Necron armies will be doing a lot at 24", since most of their army has that range. They can both be quite potent at this range. They are both not bad at melee, and can still get stuck in if need be (with Space Wolves being pretty good at melee).

I'm not totally up on the new Grey Knights codex, but I presume they will still be about the same as marines, and be more mid-range.

The Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard) are probably the longest range option, at least if you go mechanised. Between Leman Russ, Chimeras and Heavy Weapon teams (all three of which are in the Catachan battleforce I believe) you will be able to just sit back and fire away, with the footsloggers there to engage at mid range as the enemy close. Guard really do not want to get into melee unless you are designing the unit for it.

Of course, as mentioned, Tau and Eldar are better at long range then any of your options, so you may be in for some pain against that Tau player.


Aside from Tau, not much can beat Eldar for shooting. That said, you can do the ranged game with both Chaos Space Marines (be prepared to lose a lot, especially against Tau) and Tyranids pretty well, especially if you build models with that in mind.

Doing Taudar (aka Tau & Eldar allies) is another option. It's not as busted as it was in 6th edition, but it can still be quite effective, especially in a lighter atmosphere (like it sounds like you and your friends will be playing in.)

  • The problem is that I've already ruled out the Eldar since I don't like them.
    – Adam Arold
    Oct 16 '14 at 8:05
  • So what about the Dark Vengeance (Dark Angels), Necron and Space Wolves? IG maybe?
    – Adam Arold
    Oct 16 '14 at 8:31
  • Maybe go Necron then? Or IG, they're probably the shootiest of the remaining choices.
    – aslum
    Oct 16 '14 at 18:23

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