Rawdogger’s Rankings – Top 10 Warhammer 40k Factions

Hello all!

Rawdogger here to talk about the current top 10 codices based on power levels between the various factions of Warhammer 40k.  Now, we could be all fancy and shit and go by the official tournament rankings in the ITC but I like to play it a little more fast and loose and rely solely on anecdotal evidence.  Anecdotal evidence, like hyperbole, is one of the best things ever for backing up a statement.

This list will focus only on fully fleshed out Codices in the Warhammer 40k game system.  What does that mean?  It means sub-codices such as Tempestus Scions and Harlequins will not be ranked.  It will also only include factions that have actual codices, so no Adepta Sororitas or Legion of the Damned.  Also, let’s face it.  None of those codices would even be listed on the top 10 Fantasy army lists, if you know what I’m sayin!  DO YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYIN?

This list is comprised solely based on the individual power ratings, not how powerful they are with allies, hence the lack of Grey Knights (oops, spoiled the surprise).

So without further adieu, the top ten factions in Warhammer 40k according to a guy that barely plays Warhammer 40k.

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 10. Space Wolves – Really this should just be called ‘Thunderwolf Cavalry’ since they are the only viable build in the codex.  That’s not such a bad thing, since it gets this codex on the list in the first place.  Sure they have Stormwolves and a Santa-like character riding a sled but we all know who the money makers of the codex really are.


 9. Dark Eldar – For the life of me I’m not sure why we don’t see these guys doing better on the top tournament tables.  They are lightning fast, can bring 20+ mobile lance weapons to the board, and have access to some of the best wargear available a la the webway portal.  They also can put together some of the toughest builds on the table top via the Haemonculus Covens.  Alas, they have been relegated to pretty much being an auto ally for their much more popular and handsome cousins the Eldar.


 8. Tyranids – 5 Flyrants.  Should I continue?  Barbed Hierodule.  Had enough?  2+ cover save shenanigans.  Though heavily dependent on Forgeworld to shore up some of their weaknesses, the Tyranids continue to be one of them most popular tournament armies, and with the recent LVO win by a Tyranid player with a beard and a toned midriff we should continue to see a lot of players emulating his list and play style into the near future.


 7. Astra Militarum – If people were to play Astra Militarum as they should be, with multiple fearless blob squads running around clogging the board while their big guns pound from behind a protective screen, we would see this codex place a lot higher.  Though not nearly on the same power level as the guys in the top 5 Astra Militarum can still be a fearsome force in the hands of a skilled general.


 6. Cult Mechanicus/Skitarii – These guys are new to the neighborhood and are already bumping people off of top 10 lists left and right.  With both powerful wargear and brutal new weapons enough to make an Astra Militarum general jealous, these codices are making people take notice.


 5. Chaos Daemons – I know that personally when I line up against a skilled Daemon player, I’m in for a tough matchup.  Chaos Daemons are the undisputed champions of the psychic phase, routinely boasting upwards of 30 warp charges.  Oh, you got invisibility off on 2 dice?  I DON’T THINK SO BRUH.  The codex also boasts some obscene rules bending mechanics such as 3+ invulnerable saves that re-roll 1’s for some reason.  Have you tried to kill a 8 strong unit of Plague Drones boosted up by Cursed Earth?  I have, and quickly learned why even wasting shots at them was a terrible idea.


 4. Tau – Though not as high on this list as they would have been a year or so ago, top Tau players are routinely taking home the top spots at tournaments around the country.  The Tau codex is blessed with ridiculously low costed, powerful wargear items that take them from a 10 to and 11 in the power ratings.  They also have a lot of inter-unit buffing abilities that truly seem as if the design team forgot that Independent Characters could join other units.  Throw in some ridonkulous formations and some cover ignoring flesh lights and baby, you’ve got yourself a stew!


 3. Space Marines – Now, this codex was just released so it may move up the ranks in a month or so of play testing but for now it sits firmly in the 3rd spot.  It’s really just a couple of units and formations that make the Space Marine codex as powerful as it is.  Centurions are still rockin cocks worldwide and drop pods with twin linked melta and flamer weapons a la Salamanders will still get the job done every time.   They recently received some nice free transport boosts from the GW marketing team, which is not only a good way to sell slow moving transports but give the Space Marine codex the boost in power levels it most desperately did not need.

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 2. Necrons – Since this codex dropped a couple months back, it has been winning the hearts and minds of 40k players all over the world.  That would be a true statement if you replace the word ‘winning’ with ‘churning’ and the words ‘hearts’ and ‘minds’ with ‘stomachs’ and ‘buttholes’.  With their latest release, the Necrons were brought closer to resembling their fluff as implacable killing machines that are nigh impossible to put down.  When you combine tough as nails troop units with an overwhelming amount short range Gauss and Tesla firepower you get an army that is just too legit to quit.


 1. Eldar – Is anyone really surprised with this top spot codex?  Long before their recent codex release the Eldar were seeing a lot of time at top tournament tables, though usually more in the support role.  Why are these guys the top dog in the 40k universe?  How about Jetbikes that can shoot 4 strength 6 lasers all while zooming out of sight in the assault phase?  That doesn’t do it for you?  Did you know they have army-wide rending, even on their basic troops?  You want some more?  How about their plethora of D weapons?  We can go on and on about a Seer Council that drops an apocalyptic blast or Gargantuan Creatures with a toe in cover getting a cover save for some reason.  The fact of the matter is even as a standalone codex the Eldar are certainly the most powerful faction in the current 7th edition Warhammer 40k universe.


So what do you guys think?  Are these ranking accurate?  Did any of the missing codices deserve the shafting?


About Jason

Raw Dogger, aka, Phat J Sleaze (formerly of the Booty Boyzzz) is a highly opinionated, questionably skilled 40k enthusiast. When not working at Frontline Gaming, he can be found down on Jabroni Avenue.

49 Responses to “Rawdogger’s Rankings – Top 10 Warhammer 40k Factions”

  1. fluger June 18, 2015 7:54 am

    NO ORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????????? I’ma cut you, boy!

    • Raw Dogger June 18, 2015 8:58 am

      They just got edged out by Space Wolves. I should have had an honorable mention list. Oh well. This is just my personal opinion also.

      • MidnightSun June 18, 2015 10:51 am

        If you’d put in an honourable mentions list you’d have ended with a ranked list of *all* the factions, not the top factions…

        I think Battle Company, or some other build, Space Marines might well edge out over Necrons simply through playing the objectives, but time will tell.

        I wouldn’t have Astra Militarum or Dark Eldar on there though. I haven’t seen a great competitive list for either, personally (although an argument can be made for Dark Eldar with formations).

      • fluger June 18, 2015 11:05 am

        Well, that’s just like, your opinion, man.

  2. Delevarius June 18, 2015 8:13 am

    No Orkz on this list ? Son, I am disappoint

    • greggles June 18, 2015 8:24 am

      My deff dread cries in sadness!

  3. Jp June 18, 2015 8:15 am

    His ranking is all wrong….

    1: imperium
    2: team eldar
    3: necrons
    4 leftovers

    The days of one dex armies is over stop thinking like that…

    • Ghost Valley June 18, 2015 8:32 am

      3rd Paragraph of the article : “This list is comprised solely based on the individual power ratings, not how powerful they are with allies, hence the lack of Grey Knights (oops, spoiled the surprise).”

      I think the point of the article was to Rank the top 10 individual books.

      • JP June 18, 2015 9:14 am

        That’s my point, it’s a mindset of a 5th Ed player… Embrace the future!

      • OtherSide May 5, 2016 12:18 pm

        Just putting grey knights in front of what you say doesn’t make OP bro.
        My opinion

  4. Ghost Valley June 18, 2015 8:29 am

    Another great Rawdogger article!

    I think Space Marines over necrons. MSU Obsec is a good match up vs decurion Necrons and with the new Gladius, no one will be better than that than Space Marines.

  5. Anony-Mouse June 18, 2015 8:35 am

    When so many of the factions rely on allies for their best stuff (skitarii/pods, Eldar/Deldar for the webway portal, Space Marines from different chapters allying to stack special characters’ rules, etc) it’s tough and not terribly meaningful to rank them individually like this.

    • MidnightSun June 18, 2015 11:26 am

      “Space Marines from different chapters allying to stack special characters’ rules”

      Actually, if a character from one Chapter in Codex: Space Marines joins a unit with a different Chapter Tactic, the unit benefits from neither Chapter Tactic. You can do it with BA/SW/DA/SM, but not with separate chapters from the one Codex.

      • bigpig June 19, 2015 10:10 am

        Yeah, I plan to make sure and point this out to the folks who want to take a White Scars Librarius Conclave and try to make multiple units hit and run by sprinkling them around.

  6. iNcontroL June 18, 2015 8:42 am

    I particularly agree with the top 5.. well done sir!

  7. marandamir June 18, 2015 8:52 am

    That list looked right, though I am sad that orks aren’t in the top 10. I would think they are overall better than space wolves and dark eldar. Maybe its because they don’t have a trump card netlist like thunderwolves to win them the day. Their flexability tho I think puts them on it. Thunderwolves can shuffle off and lick their crotches. Orks get #10 slot 🙂

  8. Requizen
    Requizen June 18, 2015 9:11 am

    Do you really feel like Astra Militarum is on this list when things like Grey Knights aren’t, and above Space Wolves? I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen IG do well, though that might be because they’re not super popular as far as armies go (big $$ investment might have a lot to do with it).

    What kind of builds do you think could hang with the big hitters out there?

    • Raw Dogger June 18, 2015 9:53 am

      The blob squads are the best way to go. You can have multiple fearless cover ignoring Lascannon blobs blasting fools from the backfield while more fearless conscripts take and hold forward objectives. They still have the best anti-air and air support units in the game. Now, to be fair they do need some backup such as Grey Knights or a Knight but they are definitely up there in power levels.

      • jmanj123 June 18, 2015 11:05 am

        Out of curiosity have you actually run the points on multiple blobs? If you want multiple large blobs with any kind of equipment, there is not much left over after support characters are factored in.

        • Raw Dogger June 18, 2015 11:20 am

          For a 40 man blob with 4 Lascannons it comes to 280 points. Another 25 to make them fearless. Definitely throw in meltabombs for the sergeants so now you are are 330 which is not that bad. I would take 2 platoons consisting of one of those blobs each, so that’s 660 points there. I would do a large unit of conscipts in each platoon and make them fearless as well. That’s pretty cheap but I’m not sure the point values off the top of my head. But certainly not more than 100 points a pop, including priests for fearless. So thats less than 900 points there. Platoon command keep cheap at 30 or 40 points per.

          • Requizen
            Requizen June 18, 2015 1:54 pm

            Cripes, that’s the big thing that keeps me from starting IG. That’s a hell of a lot of models.

      • W June 19, 2015 4:11 am

        You say they need ally backup (which I agree with), but wasn’t the entire point of this post to rank armies individually, without allies?
        I would rank Khorne Daemonkin higher than the Astra Militarum (you gotta get that mobility, which Daemonkin has easy access to…unlike the guard)

        • Raw Dogger June 19, 2015 7:34 am

          No, I truly believe they are a formidable force on their own. The use of allies just puts them in the top tier.

          • W June 19, 2015 8:45 am

            I so want that to be true. When the book first dropped, at the end of 6th, I was very impressed; easy psychic access, great orders, etc. Then with 7th, and psychic powers being harder to cast and fortifications being stuck in your deployment zone, as well as the arrival of maelstrom, the guard just seems to have fallen behind – both from my personal experience as well as observing results from larger tournaments around the world.

            It would be cool if you would feature some bat.reps with a pure guard list! (But you might want to hire somebody to roll those dice for you:))

  9. Thomas June 18, 2015 10:45 am

    Nope, no Chaos Marines. But just wait, when the new dex hits we’ll be there. On 9 going for 8.

  10. austonwithano June 18, 2015 12:32 pm

    I would put Imperial Knights around the #4 spot, but I realize they were probably categorized as a sub-codex and were thus not included. Otherwise this is really similar to the my own personal tier list, a few changes here or there but I mostly agree with these rankings.

    • Adam
      Adam (Thediceabide.com) June 19, 2015 5:46 pm

      As an experienced Knight player, I have to disagree with you on that, haha. Knights are amazing when your opponent has never played against them, but the more experienced your opponents become in dealing with them, they nose dive in effectiveness.

      • Jural June 22, 2015 9:54 am

        Well, the more prepared they are for them anyway… and in today’s game, everyone is prepared for them, there is no drawback to preparing for them.

  11. Castle June 18, 2015 1:32 pm

    Eldar are so overpowered it’s laughable. The only 2 codexes that can compete properly(at least for the general player) are the necrons and space marines. Necrons can shrug off a lot of damage to avoid getting tabled so they can try to hit back. Space marines on the other hand don’t have the durability of the necron codex so they need free stuff do delay the eldar from tabling them. Thus this is how GW wants the games to be played now, you have to if your facing eldar, swamp them with free transports to delay them killing your army or just have your army be naturally durable to withstand the s6 onslaught.

    I can’t even think of a way to fix this in a new edition, it’s going to take a new eldar codex to unseat them from the 1 spot.

  12. Lord Krungharr June 18, 2015 1:52 pm

    Someday when GW buys the rights to Malal we can have our Cult of Malice codex. Of course that would only rank 11.

  13. droozy June 18, 2015 2:16 pm

    D o you think the early success of KDK was a fluke? Have people learned to counter the Daemonkin tricks already? I thought they were doing well

    • punchymango June 18, 2015 2:55 pm

      In a word, yes.

      I imagine you can blindside people with them, especially if they think “CSM variant? how tough can they be?” and play sloppy. But they’re a melee faction in a game dominated by shooting, and since they’re not Imperial their access to ally shenanigans is limited. Their “assault units” also compare poorly to the game’s real melee powerhouses; Imp. Knights, Wraithknights, that sort of thing.

      • Lord Krungharr June 18, 2015 3:02 pm

        I have yet to make my Khornekins, but it seems to me people are using it wrong, just taking tons of small easy to kill units to spawn new easy to kill units… at least that’s the type of army I keep reading about. Summoning is best left to Tzeentch Daemons IMHO.

        As a single Codex CAD, 2 D-Thirsters, 2×8 Bloodletters, and max Flesh Hounds, backed by a Void Shield Generator.

        Then with an allied Belakor and Grimoire Daemon (maybe a Lord of Change or Herald w Horrors) and the Void Shields, I think the D Thirsters could be reasonably safe just Gliding across, with the Hounds tying up what needs tarpitting, or wrecking AV11 rears and such. Bloodletters can take what objectives they can, or chop up MEQs. Sure not top tier, but I think they could tackle many many armies with reasonable success.

        • WestRider June 19, 2015 12:09 am

          The fast stuff is really the key. MaulerFiends, Spawn, Bikers, and Flesh Hounds Flesh Hounds Flesh Hounds.

          • Lord Krungharr June 19, 2015 8:19 am

            Hmmm, that Gorepack can really pack in the fast units. And leave regular FA slots for Spawn, which I guess are super easy Tithe Points to get, or they can be ignored and tarpit. Spawn are fun! Every time I’ve used Maulerfiends they just get Immobilized on the way in. They sure look cool though.

          • WestRider June 22, 2015 12:29 am

            MaulerFiends are a go big or go home Unit. I only run mine if I’ve got room to fit in all three. A single just gets immobilized or destroyed right off the bat. Two can sometimes get one of them across the field. With three, I don’t think I’ve ever failed to get at least one of them stuck in, and much more often two.

          • Punchymango June 22, 2015 8:27 am

            Maulerfiends might be more of a thing now that everyone’s not packing as much AV12 hate into their lists as humanly possible.

            Not having to face wave serpents is good, but not having to face armies built to kill 5+ wave serpents is better.

            Granted, you’ve still got Scatterbikers to deal with (although in large numbers they’ll kill basically anything you can bring except soul grinders and land raiders), But I still think it’s a net gain for the maulers.

    • Raw Dogger June 19, 2015 7:40 am

      I definitely thought of them for the list but like Orks being an assault based army is difficult in 40k and they can do it as well as the Space Wolf Thunderwolf cav. If I was to do Daemonkin I would run a couple large Fleshhound units lead by a tank lord on juggernaut. Flesh out the list with tons of cheap cultists to throw into the enemy for those sweet blood tithe points. I would even bring a Bloodthirster and have it start on the board.

      • WestRider June 22, 2015 12:37 am

        I’ve found DK Juggerlords to be kind of underwhelming compared to the usual CSM version. They’re more expensive, and they just don’t have a weapon option that compares to the Axe of Blind Fury.

  14. abusepuppy June 18, 2015 2:36 pm

    >cover ignoring flesh lights

    I know what you meant here, but this still amuses me.

    • amnesiadidit June 18, 2015 7:07 pm

      The Tau get lonely on the battlefield

    • WestRider June 19, 2015 12:09 am

      That was the main thing that stuck in my mind as well D:

  15. Curtis Bargender
    Cieged June 19, 2015 5:23 am

    > some cover ignoring flesh lights and baby

    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  16. Scott August 3, 2015 10:23 am

    I table Necrons 9/10 times in 1 or 2 turns with Grey Knights. Just Grey Knights.

  17. Ej September 9, 2015 12:43 am

    @Scott what kind of Necron players / lists are you actually faceing if you claim to table Necrons 9/10 times? Becouse Necrons are pretty much the hardest army to table at the moment and a strategy surrounding tabling them is usually a sure way to loose against them.

    To me it sounds like you are either A. Facing Necron players that have no idea what they are doing and using suboptimal lists or B. you are TFG facing off against fluffy Necron lists with a top tier GK list or C. Your claim is BS

  18. andyv2k14 November 25, 2015 9:47 am

    Coming to this debate late, but here goes. As an IG player, I’d say that the ranking (without allies) is about right. Blob squads are pretty cheap (tho I’d take autocannons personally). With blobs, I like weight of fire and autocannons give just that. Flames too…nothing discourages Ork charges like five flamethrowers.

    I’d say two 30 man blobs camping an aegis defense line is a pretty affordable core. That’s six autocannons shots per blob and a metric ton of overwatch. A fearless conscript blob or two can tar pit or move up to secure objectives.

    Now take a wyvern or two (screw you, cover campers) and a few Russes. You can be pretty stationary and force the enemy to come at you. With your blobs, you should be able to clog your deployment zone, bubble wrap tanks and give a metric shit ton of close range and overwatch.

    That’s without allies. With allies it can become a lot better. I know using that list I’m fairly confident against most enemies outside of competitive tournaments (and why would I use a mono-dex list there anyways?). The other option is to run carapace melta/plasma vets around in chimera or valks/vendettas. Never tried it, but I’d imagine that it can be effective with strong ally support. I’d imagine that a 6 melta vet, six chimera, three hellhoubd/bane wolf with Russes in for flavor could give a lot of people headaches. Except flier spam…you’d need some hydra or aegis for that. Cc squad babysitting an aegis would work.

  19. jesper December 1, 2015 10:04 pm

    Also late in the debate. Who can field the strongest armylist can hardly be eldar. Why doesnt any eldr list win any big tournment if they are so OP? If you take in consideration who wins most tournies often whould be the guys with minimum 3+ save, never flies and always regroup. they have tons of formation and cheap if not free transport for everyone.

  20. Tony May 8, 2016 8:25 am

    Well the top 2 spots at LLEO were Eldar and it had 295 players.

    I think the top 10 looks pretty good though I think the Gray Knights should be there.

  21. Badwill September 4, 2016 10:19 pm

    I started collecting Eldar in 3rd ed. and have just come back to the game. My friend, a long time tournament veteran has previously mainly played Space Marines. Hideous amounts of choice, both in models and also in gaming terms. seriously undercosted in my opinion. Eldar and guard have some strong anti MEQ, but they are very vulnerable when exposed. SM can match the firepower (grav) easily, but can also both deep strike on the first turn (dpassault) and charge from assault (raven guard formation) which is retardiculus. A captain is easily equippable to have t4/5 save 2+/3++ and also a thunder hammer. The codex seems to have been written after reading the other codices and then taking all of the good rules, adding a few more units, then having specific blocks to the strong instant removes from other common armies. Meanwhile SM players still complain about the wave serpent spam list and a +1 bs formation. Oh, and strength D. But grav centurions are fine. Libby conc is fine. Hammernators are not op.

    I would agree that the Wraithknight is a tough cookie. maybe undercosted slightly. the SM entire list is perhaps about 5-10% undercosted. Compare with orks that are overcosted by about the same amount. Necrons are pretty strong, but ok. Tau are formidable at shooting, fall apart as soon as things get close and personal. CSM are overcosted and should be able to take cults as troops or as formations.

    SM should be a top tier army, but not to the point that it is forcing spam lists. I thing my new tournament rules will have to stipulate that no units can be duplicates (including transports)(except troops, but even then, no more than 2 of a troop type), No fliers, and Max 1 superheavy / LoW. I don’t mind the idea of fliers, however I would prob aim for smaller points lists so i think it might be better to drop them. Any thoughts on this? would this make for a more or a less fun match?