Two weeks ago, I started a poll on Warpstone Flux to ask "Which legion is the most powerful?". This was supposed to be a 30k question, as emphasized in my original post, but I suspect that there are inherent biases and favouritism's in the poll results that I will try to explore below, before drawing some conclusions from it.
Firstly, here is a graphic of the poll result. There were 183 votes across the two weeks, and users were permitted to vote for more than one legion.
From the graphic alone, it seems that the clear the Alpha Legion is the winner of this poll with a whopping 22% of the total voting. So perhaps we'll start with my own first caveat in all of this. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm building an Alpha Legion army of my own. This was a fluff driven choice and a painting challenge driven choice for me, with the rules coming in a distant third. I've even won a game or two with them against my friends in the local league (as also blogged here!). Hence, my concern here that the Alpha Legion "won" is that I've given this particular legion a lot of attention here on Warpstone Flux in comparison to the other legions. For example, I have painting guides on the Alpha Legion, as well as iconographic techniques I've used. I cannot say similar for the Salamanders (etc.).
At the other end of the scale are the Thousand Sons. Now, the thing to note here is that their rules and special characters are yet to be released. Perhaps we'll see some hints at the upcoming GW weekender on this. Hence, we should at least regard the Thousand Sons votes as some kind of lower limit on the "noise" of the voting. Fractionally above them, we have the Space Wolves. Also without rules or characters at present, they have polled almost as well as the Dark Angels and the Emperor's Children. I find this really odd: a legion without rules does almost as well as the Emperor's Children who have had rules since the publication of the first book in the series, Betrayal. I would think there are at least some players voting for the Space Wolves just because its their legion (and that would apply to other legions too … hence I have an increased concern about the Alpha's winning this poll. I think they might have manipulated it (!) (joking).
Let's have a look at the legions in turn from herein.
The Dark Angels have polled rather poorly overall. Their rules so far mark them out as a somewhat plain legion with a bonus in close combat which is nice, but not overwhelming. I personally think the iron wing and raven wing protocols for their rites of war are rather powerful (especially raven wing). But I can see that their lack of special rules coupled with being rather vanilla (even if they get all the cool new toys) would make them lower ranked than others. I guess we just have to wait to see what special units are brought their way and how the Lion is written up.
In a surprise to me, Emperor's Children polled very low as well. I really, very genuinely think that they should be higher. Their ability to go at higher initiative in combat (and the crusader rule) is a really amazing strength. Are people unaware that even a regular sergeant fighting in a challenge on the charge gets +2I. That is seriously amazing. And with 3rd Company rite of war, they can also outshoot many things as well. I truly think that this is an under-rated legion. Woe betide those of you who have underestimated them(!)
The Iron Warriors did very well. And I'm inclined to agree. I personally think these guys are the baseline legion to which everything should be measured against. In a playing environment lacking "And They Shall Know No Fear", their re-rolls of morale tests is amazing. Add to that tasty special units and reasonable rites of war, and I agree with the wisdom of the masses that conclude this is a strong legion.
Another legion we know only a little about are the White Scars. They've done almost as poorly as the Emperor's Children, but I think we will live to regret that polling once we learn of their special units. Their ability to move so fast and gain bonuses from moving very fast is strong with the correct army build. Think: lots of jet bikes!
I'll skip Space Wolves due to the earlier comments. Let's wait and see.
The Imperial Fists rightly have polled very well and once again show that almost "vanilla" marines can really be very characterful and very strong in game terms. Good at shooting, good in melee, they outshine a lot of others in the game.
The Night Lords did okay -- but perhaps not as well as I might have thought. I accept that they're not top tier, but used in a well thought through build (e.g., constructed around fear), they can really shine very well indeed. There are draw backs though. Just that Nostraman Blood alone is a big negative!
With Encarmine Fury, the Blood Angels are really rather good in melee. And as a consequence they have polled almost as well as the Night Lords. Can't wait to see what special units are in store for this legion as I feel that they could readily shoot up the rankings with certain builds. They're very recognisable to 40k players, but in 30k, they're probably even better.
Now to the Iron Hands. Rightly, this legion has polled very high. Their inviolate armour is probably what gives them such a big edge over their opponents, coupled with their penchant for heavy machines. They are really a top tier army. Good thing Horus has the foresight to smash them at Isstvaan really. And a good thing for the loyalists that they remained loyal too I'd say. They're certainly near the top of my list for having been "too close to Horus".
The World Eaters didn't do so well. But Equally this is probably due to having to "trigger" their special rules inside of melee. Equally, after Isstvaan, this arguably gets a little bit better. Add in the exhortations of butchery to blood madness, and they're actually really rather good! So I guess the poll depends on what period of World Eaters we're talking about. Prior to the betrayal, they're not that good. But after, they just get better and better. Did we mention free chain axes?
Ultramarines are an odd one to me. They polled very reasonably. But I find their rules a bit clunky. I really like their rules, but I can see opponents just gunning for their HQs all of the time to get the pinning penalty applied to at least some units. They have strengths, but they also have weaknesses. Much like the Night Lords in many respects. The do take fear tests at Ld=10 at least. So they're rather good, and have a good selection of special units that I'm sure the Alpha's would just love to have.
The Death Guard have always been solid and their polling result supports this. They may be slow, but they certainly hit hard, and using the correct rite of war can lay down a withering amount of shots that will often take other legions by surprise. And they are immune to fear and pinning. This is amazing really! Plus they don't care about using deadly rad weapons. I think if anything, they should have polled a little higher.
I'll skip the Thousand Sons due to the earlier comments (similar to Space Wolves!). Let's wait and see once more.
Then we have the Sons of Horus. These guys polled really well -- second only to the Alpha Legion. They are really good in close combat and are good at close range as well. This means the Sons are usually a swift force that orients itself around close combat and getting in to combat quickly. I actually see them as quite balanced, but played in the right way can be deadly. But are they really any more deadly than the World Eaters or the Emperor's Children in their own way? I'm not so sure. They're good, and certainly top tier, but perhaps over polled in my humble opinion. (Now watch me regularly lose games to them! lol!).
As for the Word Bearers, their ability to summon (or even take as allies) daemons is remarkable. On top of this, they're actually not too bad in combat either thanks to "cut them down". Plus their belief in themselves gives them a good bonus to morale check. Nothing like the Salamanders, of course, but really good in their own right. I think this is a legion that is made special because of the unique things that they can do, rather than their rules. And they're the best in the psychic department until we see the Thousand Sons published. So their polling as mid to upper tier is probably about right to me.
The Salamanders are noted for having the thunder hammer and storm shield terminators -- unlike other legions. Their polling is on the lower range though. They do have good bonuses around heat based weapons which is very fluffy and have the closest possible to "And They Shall Know No Fear" in the game. They're balanced, but I think their polling result is probably about right.
The Raven Guard didn't poll as well as I might have expected. I really thought that their combination of special rules would give them an edge in this poll to be honest. Go first, kill the independent characters, and alpha strike the opponent off the board is a very viable tactic for this legion and one that can certainly be brought to bear with their rules. I'm personally disappointed to see such a low polling for them.
Finally the Alpha Legion. I think they have over polled for some of the reasons suggested above. Equally, they are adaptable, so you never quite know how they'll react once the opponent has seen your army list. Plus they have some nice toys (bane strike ammo, plus that power dagger that can cheaply give them an extra attack in close combat for characters). What sets them apart is the coils of the hydra rite of war. The ability to steal other's units is amazing. But the army needs to be built correctly around it to fully exploit. The main drawback is that otherwise, they're just standard marines, and don't have any of the concentrated bonuses of other legions.
Overall therefore, I think people are suggesting that top tier armies are:
Sons of Horus, Alpha Legion, Iron Hands and Imperial Fists.
Mid-Tier are probably:
Ultramarines, Word Bearers, Iron Warriros, Night Lords, Blood Angels, Death Guard
Lower-Tier are probably:
Dark Angels, Emperor's Children, White Scars, World Eaters, Salamanders and Raven Guard.
I'm not placing Space Wolves or Thousand Sons for obvious reasons.
Also, I feel that the Emperor's Children are decidedly not low tier. But that's just my opinion. I wonder how this will change in the future? I might do another poll in a few months down the line to see how things have changed.
In the meantime, what do you think? Have the masses got the right result? Are some legions too high or too lowly placed in you opinions? You know mine, so I'd love to hear what your opinions are. (Be polite, and remember that minors read this blog please).