40K Question: If you do believe in Tiers, what armies fall where?

What do you feel are the tiers in 40K, if there are any?

So, we discussed the existence of tiers earlier in the week, now let’s discuss where people think every army falls and why. Or even how many tiers there are? The reason I ask, is because I so often hear armies like Orks and Daemons are weak, but in my experience, they are fantastic.

Perhaps a lot of our perceptions are shaped by the players we play against regularly. Will on our team is one of the best players I have ever played against and we play each other all the time. His Fatecrusher Daemons are incredibly hard for my Wolves to beat. Tastey Tastes Daemons are another really tough match-up and he plays a completely different list to Will’s Fatecrusher. Likewise, Chaos Space Marines are considered weak, but Frankie regularly schools people with his.

Do people form their opinion based off of their local area or from tournament results or both? I keep a pretty close eye on the tournament scene and regularly see “bad” armies doing well.

The one that always gets me is Orks. The internet hates Orks, says they are a weak (some say the weakest) army in the game. Out here, some of the best players and regular top tournament finishers are Ork players. At the Bay Area Open last year, 3 of the top 10 were Orks! More than any other army.

So here is my view on the tier system, if it in fact exists. In other words, these are the armies I think it is easiest to win with:

1: Imperial Guard. Wolves. Grey Knights.

2: Orks. Dark Eldar. Eldar. Black Templars. Dark Angels (Deathwing). Daemons. Necrons. Blood Angels. Chaos Space Marines. Space Marines.

3: Tyranids. Sisters of Battle. Tau.

What do you all think?

About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

17 Responses to “40K Question: If you do believe in Tiers, what armies fall where?”

  1. Rathstar January 6, 2012 2:26 am #

    Assuming we are tiering each codexes top army list build(s) rather than the codex as a whole I agree with the vast majority of your tiers. I also think tier 2 should be split.

    Eldar struggle at the moment, so would be in tier 2b, and I think it’s too early to say whether Necrons would be tier 2a or 2b. Orks are another canditate for tier 2b. I just don’t believe Blood Angels and Dark Eldar should be in the same tier as Orks and Eldar. Also I think the gap between this new tier 2b and teir 3 is quite small (and maybe tier 3 should just be enlarged with Eldar & Orks). Tyranids could also be bumped up to this new tier 2b.

    It’s also interesting to note that tier 3 and eldar are all xenos armies, and are also armies that are very easy to build bad lists with, compared to the other armies. Is this a trend with xenos armies due to their greater fragility as they lack the very forgiving MEQ statline, sometimes exaggerated by people not using enough terrain.

    The perceived gap between tiers may be further exaggerated because the codexes where it’s easy to build bad lists, are more commonly seen being slaughtered on club nights. However when a efficient list is commanded by a good general they don’t do too bad at all. On the other hand some of the top tier lists can be played badly and still do ok, and rarely get slaughtered, normally due to them being more forgiving, MEQ statline, or undercoated units accross the codex **cough** looking at you IG 🙂 **cough**


    PS. After all that rambling my final tiers would be:

    1: Imperial Guard. Wolves. Grey Knights.

    2a: Dark Eldar. Black Templars. Dark Angels (Deathwing). Daemons. Necrons. Blood Angels. Chaos Space Marines. Space Marines.

    2b: Orks, Eldar, Tyranids

    3: Sisters of Battle. Tau.

    • Reecius January 6, 2012 7:03 pm #

      I think you make excellent points, but I would ask, why do you class Orks in tier 2b? I know that is a commonly held belief, but around here they are a force to fear.

      Also, Footdar went undefeated at the ETC, which is arguably the highest level of competition in the world. But, that is also a venue where you can largely pick your match-ups.

      It is a funny thing, these tiers. I think that largely they are true, but that ultimately player skill trumps any tier system.

  2. Kasil January 6, 2012 8:34 am #

    I like your tier list and mostly agree with Rathstar’s comments. My tier list would be:

    Tier 1.0: Grey Knights (They are simply too good and generally do not require a skilled and well experienced pilot. Its sort of like Shaq and basketball, how could he not be good?)

    Tier 1.5: Space Wolves and Imperial Guard (both are very competitive and can compete at tier 1, but I feel the pilot has to focus a little more.)

    Tier 2.0: Dark Eldar, Blood Angels, Orks, Necrons (still very new) (I am going to relate tier 2 to tier 1, these armies are very solid and its not that they play themselves, but they have move give and variety in each codex)

    Tier 2.5 Black Templars, Dark Angels, Daemons, CSM, Space Marines, Eldar, Nids (IMO these armies have fallen back a bit, but can be made competitive in the right players hands.)

    Tier 3.0: Sisters and Tau

    I would like to focus on my addition of “x.5” tiers a moment. I am trying to show that IMO every army can compete. I think I am a good player, but I would never trust myself to run footdar or even codex marines. Part if it is play-style (I play BA and the army itself fits my natural instincts on the table top), and the other part is that it takes something extra to make a “x.5” army run like a “x.0” army. So, the “x.5” army can compete, but not for the majority of players.

    I think that last sentence is VERY important, I think this is the difference between an average local meta and a large tournament meta. In local meta, its rare to have that player with “something extra” to make you fear Codex Space Marines (for example). On the larger tournament scene, that player exists (His name is Ben) and he makes that codex sing!

    • Reecius January 6, 2012 7:00 pm #

      Again, all good points. It is funny how this argument can be seen logically from both points of view. How much of it is player created, how much of it is actual tiers? I would like to have a tournament with only 1 of each army type, each army piloted by an expert with that army. Or even list, as you said earlier, different lists in an army can be so different from one another as to be separate entities (Footdar and Mechdar).

  3. Hulksmash January 6, 2012 10:11 am #

    Tier 1:

    All Army Books

    That is all…..(Get it? I’m silly!)

    • Reecius January 6, 2012 6:55 pm #

      Amen, brotha! I agree, but, I also feel that some armies are easier to win with than others.

  4. white925 January 6, 2012 12:05 pm #

    Personally i don’t agree with a hardcore tier system just because it is so based around your person experiences. Also i believe that any army can be up in the top just because the game is very random like any army can be great if you roll a lot of 6’s or the complete opposite is any army could be bad if you roll a bunch of 1’s lol. Also if you have great tactics and have been playing for a long time you can play with most armies and do very well.

    • Reecius January 6, 2012 6:57 pm #

      I agree, Frankie. The game is influenced by luck so much when you have two very good players facing off. It is the biggest variable.

  5. madival January 6, 2012 12:06 pm #

    I very much dislike the idea of a tier system. It reinforces itself often times. Players serious about winning tournaments get top tier armies to increase their chance. This causes top tier armies to get advanced meta game while lesser tier armies get less advanced meta. On top of that fact, they have more players play them which allows them better chance of winning a tournament. Super smash brothers is a great example of this. People played falco and metaknight so much that they got advanced techs and everything was found out about them while some characters like link and captain falcon got nothing, but if you found someone who played them, they were phenomenal to watch. Pretty much, nerd, nerd, nerd tiers suck because they reinforce themselves.

    • Reecius January 6, 2012 6:56 pm #

      I agree. We just talked about this very subject in a previous topic. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. People drink the kool aide and it becomes reality.

      I wonder where the meta would be without the internet telling people what to think?

  6. Cyric January 6, 2012 8:42 pm #

    Tiers are certainly in place.

    However I think people lump the concept into one format, while it is better suited being broken into two separate categories. I see a codex based tier, and a player skill tier.

    For codex’s, people have pretty much hit it, I would put grey knights, IG and wolves in tier one, with most everything else in tier two, and then Tau and sisters wearing the cone of shame in tier three.

    In players… it would take a whole separate article to break down what makes good/bad players and separates them into tiers

    • Reecius January 7, 2012 1:42 pm #

      I think that we are all pretty much saying the same thing then. That certain armies are better than others, but that player skill trumps codex power in most cases.

  7. Spliff January 8, 2012 12:51 pm #

    Yeah sure their are tiers. When I started playing crons in 2009 (my first army) I got creamed by players with newer codexs, as I got better however I started beating the tougher builds even with an army everyone said sucked. With the new crons winning got alot easier but what happens in a game is mainly determined by my skill, my opponents skill and the dice obvs. Sure a new player with a dragowing will beat a new player with tau 4/5 times but the person who won the last two torments where I play in NYC won with Tau and Tyranids respectively. A new book will give you a boost but winning is mostly about your skill.

  8. Artanis3199 February 2, 2012 11:38 pm #

    I agree with Reecius on the self fulfilling prophecy. I have always done well with Tau but that is because they fit my playing style perfectly. Some of the other armies are a little more broad or popular and these makes them superior via number of players. However, I do believe that the tier system is a great way to group armies in terms of new players just learning how to play. If given a more forgiving army, they are sure to maintain a bit of an interest and possibly branch out to find armies that compliment their style after a little experience. This is not to say that those armies are for beginners necessarily, just that they may help to give a new player an easier perspective in the mechanics of this game.

    • Reecius February 3, 2012 12:23 pm #

      Yeah, I agree. It is about the player, not the army. Some armies are more powerful, but a good player can make it work.

  9. Noxious April 6, 2012 10:15 pm #

    The 5th edition is all about the power of the Mech. Thus the meta game has evolved into bringing the cheapest/multitudinous mech and how much anti-mech you can pack to counter an opponent’s mech army (did someone say multi-melta?). Codexes (particularly recent ones) that work best with Mech builds or have inherently strong build options will be higher. Codexes (particularly old ones) that do not support this style will be lower on the list.

    Tier 1 – Broken, competetively strong
    Mechanized Grey Knights

    Tier 1.5 – Balanced, competetively strong
    Mechanized Imperial Guard, Space Wolves (multiple builds), Blood Angels (multiple builds), Mechanized Necrons

    Tier 2 – Balanced, competetively viable
    Space Marines (multiple builds), Dark Angels (Wing), Tau Empire (Battle Suits/Mech)

    Tier 3 – Uncompetetive
    Ork, Eldar, Tyranids, Black Templar, Chaos Space Marines, Dark Eldar

    Tier 4 – Sisters of Battle Tier
    Sisters of Battle, Chaos Demons

    Tiers 1 and 1.5 flourish extremely well in a Mech environment, this is due to internal codex synergies with army comp, under-costed units and excellent anti-mech.

    Tier 2 armies do well with/against Mech but due to older codex limitations make things slightly overcosted or are suffering from the power creep that new codexes bring. They are still viable in all areas of play.

    Tier 3 armies are either extremely overcosted, have no mech or more importantly no anti-mech. As such are unsuitable for competetive play

    Tier 4 – lol.

    • OTStephen April 27, 2012 7:26 am #

      I thought this was a pretty interesting discussion and for the most part I believe players will, in most cases, trump books being played. With that said the tiers have their place…GK are clearly king (doesnt mean they are auto-win) and require less skill to play well in the tournament scene. If you want to be competitive with and army like eldar you cant afford to make a mistake and requires a higher level of skill. Reecius’ recent adepticon run is a good example of this…played great with footdar which is not generally considered to be very competitive.

      As for the tiers I think orks are def. no lower than 2. In most tournaments you see them enter with at least one army into the final rounds and they have a very quick learning curve for newer players.

      anywho just my 2 cents on this old topic.

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