F-Tier: Are WE Really the Problem?


For anyone who has been following my channel over at YouTube, you will see that the majority of my Warcry content has been squarely aimed at the more competitive audience. Despite my own efforts to produce guides for newer players on how to play warbands and how to get into the game, the bulk of my viewership is actually coming from any video where I talk about what are the best warbands and units in the game, tournament reports covering the best lists, and anything else to do with the competitive Warcry scene. You will also notice that unlike some other voices on the topic, I tend to stay away from outright stating that warbands/choices are bad ones, and rather try to look at factions internally and how to get the best out of them. It's true also that I don't have a local narrative playgroup so perhaps it is all just a reflection of the types of games that I play in the content that I produce.

Just taking a look at my top performing videos gives a real picture into what kind of audience that I have.

That being said however, there has been an increasing amount of chatter through the Warcry Net about different warbands and options being 'unplayable'. After playing a bunch of the Discord Casual league, being very encouraged by recent tournament results over at Warhammer World, and collaborating in some pretty cool content with other creators on the topic (shout out: Wargames On Toast and Rob from 3H1C), My actual stance is very different from what some people might think given the competitive lean of the channel.

Bad Choices?

I think that when we are looking at a topic like this we have to be clear on what we actually mean by the terms 'bad' and 'unplayable'. When talking to new players, I prefer not to use terms like this simply for the fact that they might be getting into the game for very different reasons then why I actually play. If they like the look of Nighthaunt for example, and think those models are the best in the world, then who am I to tell them that they are 'bad' and that they shouldn't be playing them? Not everyone in the world is playing in competitive events, and some people are content with just playing what they like.

This is something that I outright encourage new players to consider when picking their first warband; Warcry is a miniatures game first and foremost so the design and of the miniatures themselves should play at least some part in deciding what you want to play (I've never heard of a player who decided they wanted to play the game specifically because they want to dominate in events for example).

Nighthaunt are seen as one of the worst factions in-game, but recently I've been playing them quite a bit in the Discord Leagues to decent success and have even begun looking at some of their really underused fighters in a new light.

The problem; And I think that it is an issue nowadays with all games that work on some sort of a competitive level, is that as soon as you get past that first 'I'm playing these because I like the miniatures' hurdle, players are invariably drawn to the best things. Ultimately players want to win games and what this sometimes ends up as is an arms race to the top. This is where the notion of 'good' and 'bad' factions, or fighters comes from and in the echo-chamber of the internet, those views can quickly spread to all parts of the game. There is the other issue of course that most, if not all, Warcry content creators look at Warcry from at least a semi-competitive standpoint so if one were to actually search for content, it will always lean towards that frame of mind.

What happens is that entire factions are left unplayed due to how bad they are perceived to be and I wonder how many potential players are being put off by being told that their favorite thing is simply bad.


The reality on whats good and bad is actually far more nuanced. Whilst those terms are banded around like they are absolutes, what is really meant is that good fighters are the most (or thereabouts) efficient fighters at what they do, and bad fighters are the least efficient. Efficiency can mean different things to different people (and I've done several videos on the topic), but for the game of warcry, what people mostly mean is damage efficiency: How much damage is a fighter doing in relation to the points you are paying for that fighter. However, that number really only takes a couple of statistics into account (attacks, strength and damage) and does nothing to represent other fighter stats like movement, toughness and wounds. There have been some strides in this area in terms of looking at fighters in a more holistic way but I find that throwing spreadsheets and charts at players largely puts them off concepts like these entirely. Damage efficiency is simple to understand, but it doesn't paint a full picture.

More out of general interest rather then looking for actual fighters nowadays, but I'm guilty of at least looking for the best fighters numerically to see if there is any advantage to be gained that other players haven't spotted.

The real situation is that there is a big 'fat middle' in terms of warbands and fighters that whilst they might not be the absolute best at what they do, are perfectly serviceable if ultimately you don't care about extracting every single drop of efficiency out of your list. This extends to fighters themselves; Very recently I've seen statements to the tune of  'Chaos only has 3 good allies'. Obviously this is not actually the case, and people do play different things even at the top end of competitive play, so I think that we as established players should start phrasing the answer differently.

Real In-Game Problems

Despite everything I'm saying about efficiency, and how different fighters might essentially have a perception problem, there are some issues with the game that do stop warbands from being played. I'll talk about these in depth elsewhere but ultimately it boils down to the following:

The usual suspects of too-efficient chaff. Most being Movement 3 and 10 wounds or more.

  • Movement 3 Chaff: Movement 3 Chaff who don't easily get one-shot are VERY good and appear from the numbers to get a real discount in points by virtue of that movement 3. This makes them far more efficient in terms of points then they should be when compared to similar, higher movement fighters.
  • The Aelf Statline: Movement 5, Toughness 3, 8 Wounds. Because movement 3 fighters appear to be discounted, those other fighters which we are comparing them to seem far more expensive as a result. Add to this that there are a good chunk of fighters in the 100 point range with 10-12 wounds, and those fighters are being outnumbered upwards of three to one by those very efficient Chaff fighters, we can see how they fall by the wayside.
  • The Midrange Trap: Midrange fighters (fighters in the 100-150 point range) struggle for much the same reasons with the added problem that bigger fighters (The Gutlords and Fomoroid Crushers of this world) are easily able to defeat them in one attack. Given that those big fighters are generally only twice to two and a half times the cost of your midrange fighters, there is a big impetus to take them in a competitive setting.

Despite them being issues with the game as a whole, it's a catch 22 situation where players gravitate to hyper-efficient chaff and more efficient fighty characters which in turn makes the rest of the fighter pool look worse, which then continues to push players to those extremes. What happens though when the local meta trumps the general consensus about what is the best thing in-game?

The UK VS Rest of the World

Local meta is a strange thing. It depends more on the specific types of players rather then the echo chamber of the internet, and gives the opportunity for good players to rise to the top almost regardless of which faction they actually end up bringing.

Results from a recent event up at Warhammer World. Notice the distinct lack of ANY of the warbands that are widely considered the best in the game right now.

We are very lucky in the UK to have a very diverse set of players, and even those who could be argued as competitively minded like myself are not ones to just take whatever is the best thing to events, rather opting instead to take whichever factions they like and try to make them the best that they can be. This leads to some pretty interesting and diverse fields; A good example is a recent event that had representation from no less then 26 factions out of the 44 participants - more than half of the actual factions in-game. Previously unheard of factions in the top 16 such as Corvus Cabal and Slaves to Darkness all with a shot to win if a single dice roll went one way or another.

This is really exciting for a player such as myself who wants to go to an event and play 5 different games, against different forces, and the feedback we have received from other players seems to echo my sentiment. Warhammer World itself is keen to encourage this with a heavier then normal terrain layout to discourage power pieces such as monsters and emphasis on good-looking, thematic boards.

That isn't to say that it's the case everywhere in the world. America for example has the perception of being very Destruction heavy, with their plethora of efficient damage dealers, and we have discussed already how this can affect building and playing if your experiences of Warcry revolve around those big convention events.

So What Do We Do?

It's difficult. Without an actual FAQ or Errata from Games Workshop there is little impetus to stop players bringing those very efficient fighters, and so the cycle of not bringing other fighters (and more importantly; advising players not to bring them) will continue. There are some things that content creators such as myself can do, and it's something that I would encourage others also; To make content that showcases other sides of the game aside from the top tier of competitive play. Whether it's battle reports for underrepresented warbands or gaming challenges revolving around taking different things to events, taking a look at that 'big fat middle' might encourage other players to do the same.

I've been producing battle report videos like this one recently to try and show that otherwise unused warbands can at least put up a fight.

From a community standpoint, I think that we can be slightly less critical of fighters and warbands that might not be right at the top (or even in the middle) of comp play and try to encourage newer players who want to get into the game because they think certain factions are cool to build the best that they can; There is always tomorrow to turn them into hardcore tournament players.

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