As we all know by now, Age of Sigmar is definitely not Warhammer. Curiously, though, every attempt I see at making any sort of composition system for army selection (and there’s been rather a few!), people seem to base any sort of balance around the perceived meta stemming from the final few months of 8th edition.
First and foremost, I think this is kind of sad. People have, for the first time in ages, the opportunity to try out their armies in a brand new and completely fresh setting, and their first reaction is to default to the prior. Secondly, however, and more on a good note, this opens a lot of opportunity to try out new units and combinations, that not only will allow you to bring out models that have likely been “retired” to the back of the shelf for a while, but also are rock solid units in Age of Sigmar.
Such as these guys!
Seriously, look at this guy, it’s not even funny how strong he is. From being almost un-takeable as a 245 points Hero choice that couldn’t even be your general in 8th edition, he now pretty much wins any Assassination Sudden Deaths on his own, no questions asked. Six attacks at D3 damage each that re-rolls to hit and can set up 1” from the target and strike first? This guy is so strong against Hero units, it’s not even funny. Use at your own discretion (and remember the game is supposed to be fun for your opponent, too).
COLD ONE CHARIOTS.
In a book where Pegasus-mounted Masters and Dark Riders were so strong that taking literally ANY other unit for board control were sub-par, Cold One Chariots got very little attention (even with the release of an awesome new plastic kit). That should change very soon, once people pick up on how solid these things are now. First and foremost, not only can they be taken as a unit now (making them our own Skullcrusher variant), the oft-overlooked Repeater Crossbow has been bumped to a solid 4 shots (compated to the 3 shots of Dark Riders or 2 shots of Darkshards). With six melee attacks at 3+ to hit, two of them even with 2” range, and the ability to cause Mortal Wounds on a charge, Cold One Chariots should definitely be considered as an option to the Dark Riders. It even comes with a handy 4+ save.
SISTERS OF SLAUGHTER.
Witch Elves were immensely strong in the precious edition. Not only were they as strong an assault unit as anything, they were Core. As such, their sisters in the Rare selection were often overlooked. That should end now. Compared to the Witches, they give up 1” movement for a 6+ saving throw and an additional inch of weapon range, making them easier to transport across the battlefield and get into combat. The real gem, however, is when they get there – their saving throw is increased to a 4+, and any save roll of 6 causes a Mortal Wound to the attacking unit. This unit is easily on par with Executioners now, and should see a lot more play over the coming months.
One of my favourite things of Age of Sigmar so far are the monster tables – that monsters get progressively worse with damage taken is just too cool. The War Hydra, however, has an advantage over most other monsters – it regenerates no less than THREE wounds in each and every one of your Hero phases. No roll, no random chance – three wounds. This effectively means that you will always have your Hydra at one step (often two) better than your opponent left it, meaning it will always have two (often four) attacks more than the table at the end of your opponent’s turn. With a baseline of 16 attacks unwounded, 14 of them with rend, the Hydra is a unit that cannot be overlooked by your opponent and needs to be dealt with swiftly to not waste wounds and attacks on something that will regenerate.
OK, I’ll admit including this is a bit of a stretch – Shadestars were all the rave in 2014 ETC. However, Shadestars required you to bring Great Weapons, and that option is now gone from the Shades. What’s left in their place is four attacks at 4+/4+ (two shots and two melee), a brilliant save modifier against shooting attacks, and a special rule that will ensure you complete board control even before the first Hero phase if you play them right. Compared to for example the Corsairs, Shades are superior in almost every aspect except survivability, and paired with power units like the Dark Rider or Repeater Bolt Thrower, they can help you ensure total board dominance as early as during deployment.
Honourable mentions: Black Guard (solid combat unit, but requires Malekith to really shine), Beastmaster on Manticore (can buff any monster, such as a Chaos Chimera, but can sadly no longer fly), and the regular Assassins (nowhere near as good as Shadowblade, but still worthwhile in any Sudden Death-focussed list).