Smallhammer – Making the Smallest Legal Armies for Warhammer Fantasy Battles

February 18, 2023 by Solar Cross

This is the article on Warhammer Fantasy Battles that no one ever asked for, but you are getting anyway. You may have already heard of such Warhammer variants like “oldhammer” and “poorhammer”. Allow me now to introduce to you “smallhammer”, as it applies to Warhammer Fantasy Battles, and eventually The Old World.


Warhammer Fantasy Battles had gained a reputation by its 8th edition for being a game that required a large number of models to play.

Veteran players would generally consider an army that weighed in at 1000 points to be a small entry level army for beginners. For some this perception might have been an barrier to entry, given the amount of time and money it would take to paint and assemble even such a “small” army.

Perhaps one reason for Age of Sigmar was to change this perception about minimum model counts.

We need to emphasize “perception” because when one reads the rules, the actual minimum army value is significantly lower than 1000 pts. What we will do later in this article is throw down some rules-legal army lists for some of the main factions to show the actual minimum points to play.

This is just an exercise in reframing of perceptions. These lists would not necessarily be competitive (if you are into such things) or the cheapest possible in a monetary sense.

The eager new player will be more interested in the minimum model count rather than the minimum points value. The fewer models, the fewer to buy, assemble and paint before play. So we will also include a second list for each faction that will illustrate this too. That list will be about maximizing the points value for the minimum number of models.

Model count has some vagaries because models come in all sorts of sizes. A single night goblin archer is not equivalent to a massive monster ridden by ogres.

The Minimum Army By the Book

First let us see what the Warhammer Fantasy Battles 8th edition rules have to say about the minimum requirements for an army.

In 8th edition the rules state that the minimum army must have one hero or lord to use as a general and at least three other units. There are no minimum points for an army, but at least 25% of points must be spent on “core” troops.

There are a few other requirements to do with what proportion of points may be spent on lords, heroes, special and rare options but we need not go into that for the purpose of this exercise.

Smallhammer Lists

Now we know our minimum requirements by the rules, we can sketch out some army lists both for minimum points and minimum model counts.

You could also check out my smallhammer lists for The Tale of Two Witches hobby project.


The Empire was probably the most popular army. They are somewhat tilted towards being a horde army due to their many low cost infantry options.

Empire Minimum Points

1 captain for your general & 3 units of 10 spearmen, 210 points.

Empire Minimum Models

Core: 5 inner circle knights with full command and magic standard, 205 points. Minimum army points based on core: 820 points.

Special & Rare: 3 demigryph knights & 1 great cannon.

General: grandmaster.

Model Count: 6 cavalry, 3 monstrous cavalry, 1 artillery.

Ogre Kingdoms

Almost everything in the Ogre Kingdoms is plus sized but that need not mean super sized points cost.

Ogre Minimum Points

The constraint here is that ogre characters are points expensive.

1 butcher, 3 ogres, 2 units of 1 sabretusk packs, 242 points.

Ogre Minimum Model Count

Same as above: 4 ogres and 2 warbeasts.

Painted Maneater Ogre with Araby Turban - Painted

Wood Elves

Wood Elf Minimum Points

1 glade captain, 5 glade riders, 5 deepwood scouts & 1 eagle, 280 points.

Wood Elf Minimum Models

Core: 10 gladeguard, full command and upgrades, 225pts. Minimum army points based on core: 900 points.

Special & Rare: 3 tree kin, 1 treeman.

General: spellweaver

Model count: 11 infantry, 3 monstrous infantry and 1 monster

Vampire Counts

Vampire Counts are characterized by powerful characters and vast hordes of cheap infantry. In addition to the usual minimum requirements, the general must a be a wizard.

Vampire Counts Minimum Points

1 necromancer & 3 units of 10 skeletons, 185 points.

Vampire Counts Minimum Models

Core: 7 direwolf with champion upgrade, 66 points. Minimum army points based on core: 264 points.

Special & Rare: 2 units of 1 spirit host

General: necromancer

Model Count: 1 infantry, 7 small warbeasts, 2 swarms


There we go, we found that it was easily possible to field legal lists with just around 200 points and a dozen or so models. Of course there is no need to go that small just because you can. It does serve to illustrate that the beginner can aim for a first army list that is very short of 1000 points.

What is the smallest army you ever fielded in Warhammer Fantasy Battles? Comment below or..

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If you interested in more articles about Warhammer Fantasy Battles or The Old World then check out this link for more.

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