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Hi there,
I thought I would write up this general guide on how to build your-self an army list when it comes to Warhammer Fantasy Battles. The most common questions from newer player is quite often, “How many, what should I take, should I take this unit or that one?” You will find it possibly a little bit daunting to make an army list with little idea about what you are actually going to be doing in a battle.

However it’s not as hard as you may think it is. Allow me to introduce you to couple of simple ways in which you can start to build yourself an army list:
  • Pick something you like the most, whether it be a model you particularly like aesthetically (visually pleasing), or a unit that you particularly love, this can help you get a start on an army and what to base your army on.

  • Pick something based on the rule set you like, for example: Phoenix Guard (assuming you are a High Elves player), because everyone knows how nice their rules are. (For me this models rules and the models themselves were aesthetically pleasing).

Okay, now before we get too in-depth make sure that you have had at least a little look through the rule book and understand the basics of army list rules. The following points you should be sure to remember:
  • Lord Choices should not exceed 25% of the total army choice in points. (Example: we have a 1000 point game then our Lord’s choice should not exceed 250 points.)

  • Heroes Choices should not exceed 25% of the total army choice in points. (The same as with Lord’s choices.)

  • Core Choices have to be minimum 25% of your army choice in points.

  • Special Choices should not exceed 50% of the total army choice in points.

  • Rare Choices should not exceed 25% of the total army choice in points.

  • You may only have 3duplicates of Special choices.

  • You may only have 2 duplicates of Rare choices. (Unless otherwise stated in your rule book, (Example: High Elf and Dark Elf bolt throwers.))

Keeping this in mind, the easiest way I find to work out these numbers is simple math. Not saying any of you are unable to do math, but more often than not I get people say to me “How much is 25% of 2500?” this can easily be answered by the following:
  • 25% is equal to dividing your army total points allowed into 4, (Example: I usually play a 2500 point game, so we take 2500/4 = 625 points

  • 50% is equal to dividing the total allowable points by 2.

Simple, now on to discussing the functions and names of units used in a typical army list. These are terms that will be referring to further on in this guide:
  • Anvil – This is one half of the “Hammer & Anvil” strategy which is common place in Warhammer Fantasy Battles, this is unit is tasked with holding a enemy unit in place while a “Hammer” unit charges the same enemy unit in the side or rear. (Note: the Anvil unit is usually comprised of models that can soak up wounds with high armour or ward saves, and or stubborn or steadfast. This may also be achieved through models with a high toughness value.)

  • Hammer – This is the other half of the “Hammer & Anvil” strategy, this unit is tasked for side charging or charging in to the rear of an enemy unit being held in place by an anvil. (Note: the Hammer unit is usually comprised of models with great weapons, high strength values, and or something with a fair amount of attacks, be it naturally or through frenzy etc)

  • Tar Pit – This unit is purposed with holding a unit in combat for as much of the game as possible in order to stop that unit from moving around on the battle field “tie it down” and not let it move for the duration of the game.

  • Bunker – This unit’s purpose is to make it so that your general or special characters cannot be targeted directly unless of course by a spell that targets them specifically, and protects him/her with a group of cheap wounds surrounding him. An example of this is placing your Level 4 wizard Lord in a squad of core men, their purpose being purely so that a bolt thrower or single spell won’t kill him turn one. The bunker can also be achieved by surrounding your general in models that have a high save, or stubborn also.

  • Monsters – or moving targets as I like to call them, Well this is self explanatory and can act as a hammer or support, or as is commonly used in my games to attract all the artillery.

  • Artillery – Self explanatory cannons and bolt throwers designed to kill monsters and infantry before they get into battle.

  • Flankers/War-machine/Monster Hunters – Do I really need to explain how this works? Preferably you would like something with scout/skirmishers, fast moving cavalry, or ambusher’s special rules. This helps you get up close and personal fast and get rid of those pesky war-machines as soon as possible.

Keep in mind you can use some units to serve several functions depending on your army choice.

Now, with that out of the way we can move on to structuring your army list, this is where things can seem a little tricky or daunting for some. So I will explain the main way in which I structure my own lists:
  • I’ve picked the model I like the most aesthetically and or rules wise. Now I need to think about the function of this model.
What other functions do I need for my army from the list above and who is going to fulfill them?
  • Knowing the habits of my opponent. (what he/she is likely to field against me unit wise)

  • Knowing generally about all the other armies out there.

With these in mind playing the game and using tactics can become a walk in the park for you.
As a general rule of thumb I like to take the following:
1 x Anvil/Tar Pit.​
1-2 x Hammers.​
2 x Monsters or Large Targets (can also act as hammers/support if they survive).​
1-2 x Flankers/War-machine Hunters.​
1-4 x Artillery (depending on the army).​
As you can see by the above list these are some of the main things I consider in any army list.

Below ill use an example of my current army I have been getting ready for a game soon, I will fill it with coloured annotations so you can get a rough idea of how I intend on using them.

Wood Elves Army List 2500pts
Spellweaver, Level 4 Wizard, Talisman of Preservation, Dispel Scroll, Elven Steed = 310pts
(Magic Lore: Heavens, Leading Sisters of the Thorn)
(obviously I’ve gone for the level 4 wizard in order to gain the most I can from the magic phase, and yes I like lore of heavens mainly for its utility and Comet which I like to use to force my opponent to move their war-machines thus disabling my opponent from shooting me that turn.)


Glade Captain, BSB, Armour of Destiny, Asrai Spear, Shield, Arcane Bodkins = 159pts
(Leading Eternal Guard)
(Typical standard bearer for the army allowing re-rolls to leadership, I’ve given him magic armour because I want him to stay alive.)


29 Eternal Guard, Shields, Full Command, Standard of Discipline = 393pts
(This is my anvil unit with leadership 9, + Standard of Discipline for Ld10, and re-rolls from BSB, these guys are also stubborn so they should hang around till the last man standing.)

10 Glade Riders, Arcane Bodkins, Full Command, Banner of Eternal Flame = 280pts
(This unit I intended to use as my war-machine hunters/Heavy armour hunters due to the -3 to Armour Saves from arcane bodkins.)


9 Sisters of the Thorn, Full Command, War Banner = 299pts
(This is my bunker unit, protecting my wizard. In this case they also have a bonus by having a 4+ ward (2+vs Magic thanks to my lords unicorn), and count as a wizard themselves for an extra 2 pre chosen spells from the codex according to their rules, along with the fact they can also throw poisoned javelins they do make for a useful bunker.)

12 Deepwood Scouts, Hagbane Tips, Full Command = 222pts
(This unit is my monster hunters, I have chosen to give them poisoned arrows in hopes to auto wound some monsters because of the sheer toughness that they have)

10 Wild Rider, Shields, Full Command, Banner of Swiftness = 325pts
(This unit is my hammer, with frenzy and devastating charge my aim was to hold the enemy with the Eternal guard and charge these into the side, using the sheer amount of attacks to kill my enemy)


Treeman = 240pts
Treeman = 240pts
(Targets/Support Hammers)

Total: 2468


I hope after reading this you have gained a little more insight and wisdom on how you want to build your own army list. Please note I am in no way considered a professional player in my local area. This guide is purely intended to help new players figure out how to make their own army lists.
Build yourself an army list using the above advice I have given, or you can completely dismiss it if you like. See how you go and at the end of the day the most important thing is having fun otherwise it was pointless starting this hobby.

Thanks for Reading

Ps: If everything goes pear shaped like my last battle have some fun like I did and just use Comet of Cassandora near as many units as possible including your own, and Irresistibly cast it and bomb the absolute crap out of everything (including your own units) and be lucky enough to roll 10 inch radius Rofl.

Super Moderator
8,570 Posts
One thing to bear in mind, especially if you are coming in to FB from 40K, is that ranking up reduces the variation in FB models and you usually need a large number of troops.

So, if you want to do better than a basic scheme, having core models you like might be more important than great looking rare models.

So be it.
1,901 Posts
Very interesting Wood Elf list! Very non-standard, which I absolutely love. I'm not sure if they're the best army to use as an example though :laugh:

Seriously though, make sure the armies playstyle is something you can get behind; if you don't like hordes upon hordes, don't play skaven. As Dave said, core are important. If you hate an armies core, take another army! It would probably be a good idea to watch a fully painted battle report to see how you like the look of the army, and then read through various articles (1d4chan comes to mind) about them to see if you like the playstyle. Be prepared for movement to matter a lot more than shooting (as opposed to 40k).

Thanks for the guide mate!
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