All posts by dswadeson

Kreelith ‘Agony Aunt’ Tongue-Tearer Answers Your Woes.

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Here at Woehammer, we like to look after our readers. And we know that sometimes our readers feel sad, mad, salty, and other unpleasant emotions. So we recently engaged the services of Kreelith ‘Agony Aunt’ Tongue-Tearer to make sure we had someone… sensitive… on hand, to make you feel heard and shed some blood caring wisdom on your woes.

Kreelith will be back in a fortnight to answer/ridicule your woes – if you have something to get out of your chest, or just want a safe space to utter an absolutely terrible (but humorously worded) take, we want you to pop us a message in the #AgonyAunt channel on our discord, or tweet @Woe_Hammer (remember to address your tweet to Kreelith, or she’ll be sad.)

ROLL your dice, don’t yeet them!

Kreelith, my regular opponent is one of THOSE people… You know, someone who can’t roll dice properly. He flings them at the board with unnecessary force, sending dice scattering into my miniatures and getting stuck under terrain. I feel like I spend half the game picking up his dice from the floor! Worse, he refuses to use a dice try. What can I do?

Yours, Diced and Confused

There are many things in this pitiful, brutish and short life I despise – the perverted thralls of Slaanesh, spilling blood on the carpets instead of over my bare, battle-scarred skin, and people that can’t control their dice.

The clue is in the phrase ‘roll a dice’ – does one throw a dice? Does one yeet a dice? No, a dice exists to be rolled much like my sciansa exist to plunge into soft flesh. Warhammer, much like the filling the blood cauldron, is a sacred ritual – and depends on finesse and a sense of rhythm. It pains me to hear they refuse the help of a dice tray – we use cauldrons because otherwise the blood cannot stay where it is useful – why should a tray be any different? Dice do not belong on the floor.

Perhaps forcing your opponent to eat any dropped dice may help them to better observe the rites. If not, it may be that 10 ritual cuts to bathe the dice in their own blood may be more persuasive. Failing that, finish exsanguinating them since you already made a start, and find a new opponent with better wrist discipline.

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Kreelith, I just want to play Warhammer but my children never go to bed on time! Any advice? 

Yours,  A Diceperate Father

Unruly adherents of Khaine that ignore their orders are usually the ones who have not spent enough time that day in the throes of a frenzied murder-trance. One always sleeps better after a good vigorous evisceration session. Perhaps your little witches are simply restless? Discipline is all very well and good, but it is better if your vexatious progeny think that what you want them to do was their own idea – some may call this indoctrination, or slavish adherence to a death-cult – I prefer to think of it as … subtlety. Of course, it’s understandable they want to watch you play Warhammer – their tiny, feeble minds need all the training in the ways of strategic tabletop bloodletting they can get. Unless – they want to remain vertical and awake for some other reason? The mindless consummation of digital media, perhaps? In this tragic event, I suggest you tell them the stories of what Khaine does to those who do not worship him appropriately. Leave no detail out. Granted, they may have difficulty sleeping for a few nights until the terror fades slightly, but they will thank both their glorious murder daddy – and their glorious non-murder daddy, in the long run.

Not so scaly anymore!

Dear agony aunt, Why can’t everyone realize that scaly skin wasn’t broken and let my skinks and slaans have it back so they aren’t so squishy?

Yours, A Great Planner

In the Temple of Hagg-Nar, we have a saying: ‘Once the blood is spilled you can’t put it back.’ Change is inevitable. The Mortal Realms make play things of us all – survival is not mandatory. Also, anyone who has been up close and personal with a Slaan – and I mean, two daggers hilt-deep personal – will know they only have a few small scales on their froggy feet. They’re definitely squishy everywhere else. It’s the price they pay for their brains. Which can obliterate you from miles off. So it’s only fair they don’t also get those bloody scales. Not sure why they don’t just wear armour though? My guess is arrogance, they just think getting shanked isn’t part of their highfalutin Great Plan! I’d say it’s the logic behind why I wear a skimpy ceremonial bikini instead of double layered, tempered chain mail. I couldn’t do my bloodletting-boogie weighed down with armour now, could I?

As for those pesky little skinks, it’s always disappointing how little blood they actually contain. Hopefully we’ll see a few more of their bigger, juicier Kroxigor friends now they need something to hide behind. Now those big crocs can fill a cauldron, let me tell you. Their blood is blue, though, which is annoying as it clashes with the Blood Wagon’s colour scheme. Ah well, you can’t have everything, right?

Interview: Declan Waters

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Declan ‘The Best Big Waagh Player In The World’ Waters is often credited (by me) as the player who put Big Waagh on the map in 3rd Edition, but he’s not exactly bad with his other armies either. So we decided to squeeze some insights on 20 years of competitive play, the future of the game, and his own personal philosophy on having a good time!

Declan winning something – again.

Danny: The big recent news is you’ve made it into the Tsports Champs event [since time of asking, Declan finished 14th, going 2-3 – with all three losses to Seraphon, the poor bastard] – have you decided what to run, and what are you hoping to get out of the event personally?

Declan Waters: I’ve been playing tournaments for 20 years and always brought slightly suboptimal armies trying to get those 3-2s. Most people in the hobby knew I could play but that I wouldn’t bring the latest filth! At one tournament a top player turned to me on day 1 after I went 3-0 with Goblins and said ‘what are you doing up here’ 🤣

With the Covid break we had some players leaving and some new join the scene and my preferred army (Gitz) had gone so far behind I was losing to new players with Seraphon and Daughters, despite [me] knowing the game better. In fact, I helped teach some of them the core rules knowing my poor Goblins couldn’t compete!

So I made the decision that I should probably show the new players that I could play… I took Ironjawz with some success but then tried Big Waaagh and went 4-1 then 5-0.

But to qualify is amazing – I’d love to bring the Gitz but it seems unfair to the Big Waaagh who got me this far so I’ll probably allow them out to play.

The Gitz! And some friends.

I can imagine you saying “i’ve forgotten more AoS rules than you’ll ever know…” 20 years is a lot of experience – in high level terms, how have you seen the game and the community evolve in that time?

The game has gone from rare releases (you could easily wait 10 years for a new army book) to rapid fire (3 LRL books in no time is crazy!!) This means that keeping up with what’s new is difficult, so I think barriers to entry are increasing.

For AoS I remember v1 ‘the wild west’ where Mo saved us all with a point scheme because games workshop only did wounds! So a 14 wound Gigantic Spider cost the same as 14 Goblins! And armour value was ‘free’. It really was strange and a lot of good friends went to 9th age. I dabbled a bit in it as well, but there were as many rules changes there as AoS and my beloved Goblins got hammered again and again! So I switched to just AoS.

For the community it’s been a quantum leap forward, with the ease of communication from the Internet, YouTube channels and podcasts. In 2002 when I played at the Bristol Big Uns there were 4 tournaments – 2 in Bristol and 2 in Nottingham ran by WPS (Warhamer Player’s Society) – now there can be 4 a weekend!

Young whippersnappers don’t know how good they’ve got it! So can we double down on this thought process? As a great player who deliberately avoids ‘the latest filth’ – what’s your advice for people who may want to run fluffier stuff but that might still end up playing 6 dragons and long strikes etc? Or in other words, how do you avoid being frustrated with people who do lean hard as possible into non interactive games?

It’s very difficult and I think it’s definitely something that tournament organisers could help with by giving an indication of what they might expect. We had dragons at a local 1 dayer recently which was completely inappropriate but having said all that, at a big enough tourney you won’t actually fight much filth… that’s the joy of Swiss [pairings]. I’m a fan of comp though like ‘Timmy comp’ when organisers would just say no to lists that were un-interactive! But that doesn’t happen in AoS. 

The world’s best Big Waagh in action.

What I do is make myself little objectives either narratively or (in a 20-0 system or tiebreak) to try to get as many points as I can. For example, I had great fun at BoBo last year despite playing with Gitz because it was 20-0, so even if I was losing I could play for tournament points and get higher up the table. I got quite a few 7-13!

But the key is… know what to expect. Have a look at The Honest Wargamer stats for your army. If a 1-4 is good aim for 1-1-3 not 5-0. And don’t blame your opponents for your poor army (it’s difficult!) I find talking about ‘GW design’ means I can laugh with my opponents about some of the poor things jn the army (Gitz).

That said, Big Waagh are good, and I’ve only played Gitz in 2, 5-game tournaments in AoS 3 because of the book.

For new players I would say have a look at which armies are doing well and pick something in the top third. It is much more fun to have an army that can compete rather than playing with one hand behind your back!

Awesome advice. That was a slightly selfish question too.

People (including our own website) often talk about specific rules/units – which is essential, of course, but what do you think are some of the most fundamentally important aspects to playing Warhammer? For instance – is it in probabilistic thinking? Having a plan and sticking to it? Staying calm?

Scenario! Always play the scenario. Read it, check both players understand it and remember it! There’s no point killing Archaeon if the Varanguard are holding the key objectives. Along the same vein, build your list to get battle tactics. I’ve won loads of games because people have tried to kill the Maw Krusha because its big rather than the warchanter on an objective!

Age of Sigmar isn’t about killing things (unless you take Dragons and Raptors) it’s about movement and placement.

With Thondia, we’re seeing the introduction of narrative Seasons for AoS – but models like the Incarnate bleed into mainstream matched play and unless i’m misremembering, we’re looking at 2 GHBs a year now.

I have a couple of questions about that – the first one is simply how do you feel about it?

It’s not good in my opinion.

GW have always said they are a miniature company who make rules but it’s getting expensive for the rules with a main system reboot every 3 years, army books and 2 GHBs. It seems a change aimed at the small number of people who play lots. In a normal year I play at 4 tournaments and 2 GHBs makes those tournaments a lot more expensive.

There also seems to be a refusal to have narrative only models which would give more design space. I like Gotrek as a model for example but making matched play rules that match the novels is very difficult.

It would be better if he were narrative only and then you could send an army of Gitz at him (for example) and they could still make him even better than now.

I get you. So some models are hampered by having to ‘make sense’ in matched play, stopping them from actually ‘making sense’ narratively?It feels in general like 3e is doing a much better job at making good rules that also feel fluffy though

Obviously the nightmare scenario is anything resembling the state 40k is in right now. So my next question – do you think more ‘matched play or death!’ players should try narrative?

I don’t think there are many matched play or death players… but narrative is something you have to want to play! There are some great events which are narrative or semi narrative where scoring encourages non standard or ‘weak’ armies but if that’s not your idea of fun I would definitely not want to force anyone! That said if you’re bringing the top tournament army to a small one dayer at your local club… then maybe a quick rethink… or try out some other toys!

Last question – James Workshop tells you he’ll grant you one AoS wish. What do you wish for?

Gitz to be playable as Gitz, Troggs, Squigs, Spider or soup! Remove the keyword bingo!! 🤣🤞

Introducing: Your New Agony Aunt

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Here at Woehammer, we know that Warhammer fans never complain about anything. But – sometimes it can be healthy to get something off your chest. This is a game of two halves, and one of those halves is always wrong, or too strong – right? But, great sports as we all are, we bottle those feelings up. But feelings ferment (it’s the salt!) and left too long, can turn sour, and blow the bottle of your unconscious into shards of misery that dig deep into your most squishy, inner parts – and no-one wants that.

Least of all your new, resident Agony Aunt, The Slaughter Queen known as ‘Kreelith Tongue-Tearer’. She drove a hard bargain – most of the Woehammer team are still recuperating from the blood-letting – but eventually the Cauldron was full, and she pledged her services to us in perpetuity, or until we all became exsanguinate husks in service of her God-Mother – whichever comes first.

Kreelith is all ears. And sacrificial daggers.



Now, after such an ordeal, we’re sincerely hoping some of you have some gripes you can send in for Kreelith to help you with, in her infinite, bloodthirsty wisdom. Want to complain about a certain faction? Let it all out (so long as it’s not Daughters of Khaine…). Have a secret shame or confession you need to get off your chest? Let Kreelith rip your heart out – figuratively speaking. Just want to moan about something preventing you from Warhammering as much as you’d like to? Bare all to your new master! Master of comforting understanding, that is.

To submit your woe (Nice, I like what you did there – Peter) to Kreelith and be in with a chance of receiving her blessing/scorn/infinite wisdom in one of her weekly columns, just visit our new channel in our discord and share your agony!

Age of Sigmar – Sylvaneth Battletome Review

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Limited Edition Sylvaneth Battletome

Sylvaneth have been a troubled faction for a while in Age of Sigmar – a beautiful but relatively small model range, endlessly tweaked faction terrain rules (and let’s not get started on transporting those wyldwoods) and almost all competitive lists lists built around the dominant ‘Warsong Bomb’ combo.

In no uncertain terms, the new book changes everything. That’s almost literally true. So without this review becoming a novel-length guide to the entire faction, I’m going to try and focus on the biggest changes and offer a broad perspective on what it looks like Sylvaneth are now, in terms of play-style, predicted strength overall, and the biggest winners/losers from the Tome.

A quick note on ordering, based on some learnings from our last Tome review. And we feel it actually makes sense to start with army abilities and sub-faction rules, before diving into units, then tackling Enhancements (so you can understand who they make sense on) before finishing up with the Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics.

QUICK LINKS

Sylvaneth Battletome Review

ARMY RULES

Sylvaneth strike from the trees

There’s a crazy amount of synergy in this Battletome, and it all starts with and revolves around Places of Power.

Image taken from Warhammer Community

Start of a battle you pick 3 terrain features wholly outside enemy territory and they become ‘overgrown terrain features’. By default, each Sylvaneth unit within 9″ can regen 1 wound. Where it gets interesting is how this combines with all sorts of rules – but the next army rule is From The Woodland Depths, which has two main effects.

Image taken from Warhammer Community

The first is essentially the same as the old Walk the Hidden Paths allowing one unit wholly within 9″ to teleport to within 9″ either an overgrown terrain or wyldwood – with two provisos. Standard teleport rules apply (not within 9 of an enemy unit) and crucially, the terrain piece can’t be in engagement range of an enemy unit.

For the rest of the review we’ll refer to these combined teleporting restrictions as ‘Walking the Paths restrictions’. And we’ll use the shorthand ‘within terrain range’ to mean ‘wholly within 9″ of an overgrown terrain or awakened wyldwood’.

Overall this is more flexible than before but does mean a clever opponent can limit your teleporting options by careful positioning.

Image taken from Warhammer Community

The second effect is Strike and Fade, which is potentially huge, even if it requires some careful set up – once per turn, a Sylvaneth unit that has fought can immediately teleport, with Walking the Paths restrictions. This is potentially very tasty, allowing glass-hammer units to fight with impunity, or as a way to radically reposition a tanky slow unit, etc etc – I expect we’ll all be having lots of fun with this one.

Finally, Verdant Blessing remains, unchanged – a cast 6, 18″ spell to summon a wyldwood outside of 3″ of the usual objects.

A really tactical and interesting new addition are Seasons of War, which you can essentially think of as modifiers to the terrain rules, and therefore apply to units wholly within 9″ unless stated otherwise. These are added to your list, and you obviously just pick the one.

The Burgeoning gives units that didn’t charge a Ward of 6. Can’t complain. The Reaping adds 3″ to the terrain effect range – probably really useful given the average big base size of sylvaneth units, and allows you a bit more latitude. In many ways I can see this being my go to, as being slightly outside of ‘wholly within’ could ruin a whole turn’s worth of shenanigans.

The Dwindling allows for a hero phase re-roll of 1 cast, 1 unbindand 1 dispel – as in, 1 of each. Obviously strong given how good Sylvaneth magic is. Lastly, Everdusk reduces terrain effect range by 3″ but in exchange you get exploding 6s to hit in melee. I feel like the 6″ range is going to be too restrictive for this to be reliable, but you’ll see that there are a few ways to make certain units count as overgrown, which does make this more flexible than it appears at first glance.

Overall, I love these rules, they’re easy to remember, are all upside, and give you a meaningful tactical layer.

GLADES

Glades return (obviously) but follow the 3rd edition paradigm of being streamlined and fluffy. And good!

Oakenbrow makes Treelords battleline and for bracketing purposes you halve the damage taken by all of the biggest trees – so also Treelord Ancient and Durthus. Durthi? In the new GHB meta, this is an interesting option to avoid giving up extra damage against your battleline units and allows you to lean into a tanky Ent list, which is awesome for obvious reasons.

Gnarlroot remains the magic pick of choice, allowing a once per turn cast on 3d6 removing one dice while in terrain range. Given some of our spells get better with higher values, this combined with the potential re-roll from Dwindling could be very nice.

Heartwood sees a big change – now it makes Kurnoth battleline, and allows you to pick 3 enemy units that your whole army gets +1 to hit against. This is a great CP saver and even though, as you’ll see, I’m not totally sold on Kurnoth Bows, it means they could make sense as MSU in this Glade.

Ironbark now gives you a command ability usable on a unit in engagement range of an enemy that has charged – on a 2+ that unit suffers d3 mws. A nice punishment for daring to charge your lovely stickmen – and here’s the kicker – it can be used multiple times, but not on the same enemy unit. Obviously fairly useless against horde units but the chance to kill a mid-wound model and deny its attacks could add up over the course of the game – overall, I think this is too niche to be taken competitively.

Winterleaf leans intro a control playstyle, and prevents enemy units from falling back. And if combined with Everdusk (which is a cool combo, and kind of a shame the others don’t offer a combined effect) that unit also can’t be removed – as in, they can’t be teleported somehow away either. Teleporting shenanigans are becoming more prevalent in the game so this is (situationally) more useful than it first appears.

Dreadwood plays clearly into Spite-revenants – making them battleline and allowing you to use Walk the Paths and/or Strike and Fade twice but with the proviso that one of those times it must be Spite-revs. I can’t really think of a reason this isn’t the weakest Glade going, but, y’know, if you really love Spite-revs and want to play more of a horde Sylvaneth, this is how you do it.

Harvestboon allows EACH unit of the new flying cavalry to make a pre-game move of 12″ – and they’re battleline in it. You will see that Spite-riders have a strike first effect, meaning if you can fit into a one drop, this Glade allows you to set up an alpha strike of as many bug cavalry as you want, all fighting before any enemy unit can retaliate. Risky but potentially hilarious!

SPELLS

Sylvaneth are a faction who’ve always had a pretty great time with magic, and it’s better than ever now.

Throne of Vines (casting value 9) heals 1 wound to the caster at the end of each phase until next hero phase – so a minimum of 6 and a max of 12! It’s a ‘heal over time’ so you trade immediacy for reliability. At CV 9 it’s a great candidate for using the Vesperal Gem on (more on that below).

Regrowth (18″ – cv 5) heals d6.

Dwellers Below (12″ cv 7) rolls a dice per model in a unit and does mws on a 5+. Could be fun now we’re more likely to see more, bigger units in general. As you will see, there are similar spells you can combo this with to potentially decimate big units – although part of me would like to see a little variation in effects, and something more targeted towards smaller units.

Deadly Harvest (3″, cv 6) does d3 mws to each unit in range. Not amazing but fine for combat-casters, of which we have a couple.

Image taken from Warhammer Community

Verduous Harmony (18″, cv 7) brings back a model to a unit, or d3 models to tree/spite revs or dryads. See a healing theme emerging yet?

Treesong (16″, cv 7) is a great new spell that gives any unit in terrain range but specifically of wyldwoods an extra rend. Shame it’s not any terrain, but still potentially very strong, as in the right situations you could improve the rend of multiple units at once with this.

Overall, it’s a useful, fluffy and powerful lore with some fun effects. At first glance it seems like it wants you to lean into big, tanky, multi-wound units to make the most from it.

ENDLESS SPELLS

I’m over the moon with what GHB22 is doing for endless spells in general and Sylvaneth’s fall in line, offering some excellent, highly synergistic effects at a new bargain price that means *gasp* you will actually use them.

Spiteswarm Hive (40 pts) got brought in line with 3e rules but still rocks – you choose between two effects, each applying to one unit wholly within 9″ in the hero phase – +3″ to move and charge or reduce rend by 1. Buut both go off on a 2+, annoyingly again – you’ve already paid the points, summoned the spell…and it can still fail on you? Bogus!

Gladwyrm (50 pts) is the same but well costed now – d3 mws on a 3+ to owt within 1″ AND heals d6 on a 3+. Get that in the mix and it will add tonnes of value to a melee.

Skullroot (60 pts), one of the damn coolest looking endless spells in the game, adds d3 units to a failed battleshock test AND, when it flies (8″) over an enemy unit, and any unit within 1″ of the tree, it does d3 on a 2+, or d6 if that unit is within 6″ of a wyldwood. There are plenty of opportunities for enemies to be near wyldwoods, but even if they’re not, this has clear and obvious value.

I mean, you’d be tempted to take all 3 right?

Sylvaneth Lady of Vines

UNITS

Heck, there’s an awful lot to cover here. Lots of varied stat lines, abilities, and huge changes to the old book. Again, we’ll keep this high-level – don’t want to miss the wood for the trees – (SORRY I HAD TO) in the interests of not just transcribing the entire book.

Let’s start the A-mama herself, the Beetle-Queen, Ol’ Thunder Thighs, Alarielle. She’s good now – potentially really good – but with provisos. Talon of the Dwindling, Swirling Glowspites and her spell, Metamorphosis remain the same, but Lifebloom has seen a crucial glow up – now, after she’s been killed, she comes back on a 6+battle round number, but you only get one attempt so choose when to try it wisely. She’s got a great 1 shot 2/2/-2/6 bracketing shooting attack, and the beetle horns are decent in melee.

Alarielle the Everqueen

The other great new addition to her scroll is a once per game ‘turn everything into Overgrown’, which obviously has big synergy implications.

Basically, Alarielle does a little bit of everything now, and seems very viable to me as a lynchpin piece that operates in all phases. If she gets shot off turn 1 by pesky Stormfiends or what have you, at least she can now come back to play in the later rounds.

A big investment at 840 – but if you subtract the cost of the best unit she can summon, that’s more like 590. You’ll need to build your list around her, but a very pleasing glow up from her previous incarnation. Difficult to gauge whether she’ll be competitively viable – 16 wounds on a 3+ with no built-in after-save can still be liquified by plenty of things without too much effort – but I think with careful use she can contribute meaningfully to a list.

The Lady of Vines

Her (strong independent literally used to be her)right hand – The Lady of Vines – is an exciting alternative. A good, tanky wizard who can chip damage at range and hold her own against smaller stuff in melee, her main incentives are a once per game Dryad summon – although it’s super frustrating to me that it goes off on a 2+ and is therefore guaranteed to fail when you really need it – and a 12″, CV 7 spell to give an aura of a 5+++, which is potentially huge. She also counts as Overgrown terrain but with a 9″ range, allowing her to be a mobile, much-cheaper alternative to her ‘mum’.

Drycha remains largely unchanged, functioning as a harassment piece who buffs spite-revenants with a +1 to their wound rolls. But I still don’t see why you’d ever really want to run them even with that. She still offers plenty on her own merits, as a mixed range, 1 cast wizard with a super swingy warscroll spell that does MWs based on the difference between your roll and their leadership. Her notable strength is the ability to double either her melee or ranged output to 20 attacks, and fish for mws on 6s, which means flexibility, good horde clearing potential, and a potentially great Unleash Hell candidate. Hard to see how the tree-mech competes with the more specialised Big Trees, but her versatility and speed (9″) does mean she’s nice and flexible.

Warsong Revenant also remains pretty much the same, losing his knowledge of the whole lore but remaining a very potent wizard (the only straight source of +1 to cast) with 2 casts and his great warscroll spell, rolling dice equal to the casting roll and doing mws on 5+. The 4 up ward will keep him hanging around, and as you will see, there are plenty of Enhancements that will find a great home in him. He also has a 12″ +1 bravery to friendlies and -1 to enemies aura which, weirdly, kinda combos well with Drycha’s warscroll spell – and also the Skullroot. Bravery buffs are always welcome too as a way to just avoid having to use Inspiring Presence.

The Arch Revenant gained a huge ability, and nothing else on his scroll is worth a damn, including his melee output – but it doesn’t matter. He now gives +1 wound to Kurnoth (ANY attack) within 12″, and has a CA to give one unit of them +1 attack. If you take any Kurnoth – who, spiler alert, are now amazing – you’d be mad not to bring him too. A fantastic buff piece now with another 4+ ward to help him survive sniping attempts.

Durthu remains a beat-stick – in the truest sense of the term! Well, more of a beat-wood but that has its own problems…. anyway, he’s the big melee hero. The main change to him is that his ‘fight last’ ability now counts as a unique monstrous action BUT goes off on a 3 now. So less swingy, but unfortunately means you can no longer try to do it twice with two Durthus. Still great overall as he dishes out the damage, walks the spirit paths himself (so freeing up the generic version) and gets an extra attack for being in terrain range.

The Treelord Ancient is basically unchanged, which isn’t exciting, but his once per game auto-wyldwood has bigger implications before due to our improve army rules, and he’s the tankiest wizard yet – bar Alarielle – who is no slouch in melee with a few -1 d2 and 2 -2 rend 3d attacks.

The generic Treelord is also largely the same, buuuut has one really cool new ability called ‘Lash and Tangle’ – if he hits something in melee, it can’t pile in. So, charge him into the ‘end’ of an enemy unit so only one of them is in weapon range of him, fight, dish out a fair bit of hurt – and boom, only 1 or 2 can slap back. Against a bigger unit, this is potentially HUGE if you position him right.

The Branchwych remains unremarkable save for having the Warsong’s spell and basically being our cheapest wizard. Which isn’t a bad thing to be in such an elite army – unexciting but fills a role, so can’t complain.

Gossamids! Much has been made of their d3 mortals on 6s to hit ability but, with 2 shots each, that’s 2 mws on average and not much else on top given they have no rend. They exist, frankly, to be an annoying screen, with their ability to fly away on a 2+ after Unleashing Hell – again, guaranteeing them to hover in place when you most need them to buzz away. They’re also flimsy, and will die to almost anything with so much as a rock to throw. I’m not saying they’re bad – against predominantly melee armies, the ability to fly up, do a few lucky MWs, move-block and fly ‘safely’ away once charged could be very annoying. But at 220…it seems like a big risk to me.

OK, let’s talk ‘true’ battleline: Tree Revenants, and their woodier counterparts, the Drayds. The Revs have 2 wounds each now but still die to a mean look. Their Tree cousins teleport still (which is always useful and a great scoring vector) and get a free All Out A/D which is fine. Dryads picked up a -1 to hit and -1 wound while within terrain range, which is kinda funny and could make for a frustrating screen, but they do literally nothing else other than hope for cold rolls from your opponent. And require careful positioning – a big blob could be nice but fitting it wholly within terrain range makes it much less appealing.

Spite Revenants, if you were paying attention in the Glades section, are no longer ‘true’ battleline. And they still don’t excite me, with 6s to hit doing a mortal and 3 attacks each, that’s 2 MWs (and again, not much else) per activation. Now, there are ways to situationally buff them a fair bit by adding rend while near a terrain, but in all honesty, the amount of set up required to make them put out meaningful stats is going to be too difficult or unfavourable in the vast majority of circumstances. They’re kinda cheap though and worth running if you want lots of little bodies accompanying Drycha. Maybe.

Kurnoth of all variety fare much better, and frankly are going to be hard not to take. Scythes points went up to match swords at 250, and do -3(!) rend for 2D. Swords get -1 but do their 2d on 6s to hit. Bows, bafflingly, still hit on 4s but have flat 2 damage and are slightly cheaper. So you have some tactical decisions to make – for my points, bows are out in the cold at the moment as you’re paying a large premium for how tanky they are – which is great for swords/scythes who are also standing there on objectives dishing out pain. But statistically the bows do very little without some buffing and support – and while useful for MAYBE sniping out a support hero, there are just much better ways in the book to do that.

Also, all flavours of ‘Noth have an updated ‘Envoys’ ability – when the ‘Noth is contesting an objective, they make friendly units in objective range also count as being within 6″ of terrain. More mobile synergy!

The new Bug Cavalry are also wonderful. Tanky, fast, and they hit hard with a good number of attacks, -2 for both with the Seekers having d2. The main difference is the Spite-Riders have fight first, while the Seekers can revive something with up to 5 wounds on a 2+. So yep, chances are they can bring back a Kurnoth model per turn, per unit. Both flavours heal their own models back to full health if they kill a model, have a 6″ pile in and rally on a 5+. So they’re survivable, flexible, hit decently hard and fill a niche Sylvaneth were otherwise sorely lacking. Very impressive unit.

Overall, a huge glow up, which was expected. There’s speed, tankiness, some good reliable output and a number of fun plays. There are some outright swings and misses – Spite Revs, Dryads – and some situationally good but too costly (and therefore risky), like Gossamids and maaaaaaybe Alarielle – or that require maybe too much set up (Dryads…again) and potentially Treelords. But I think overall there’s multiple viable lists in here.

COMMAND TRAITS

Gnarled Warrior makes your save unable to be modified, up or down. Obviously application on a 3+ Durthu or such! Lord of Spites reduces a unit’s attacks by 1 if it finishes a pile in within engagement of the hero – another great way to boost survivability. They’re both good, but Warsinger might be even better – adding 3″ to units within 12″ of the hero at the start of movement phase. Combine with Spiteswarm for 11″ move Kurnoth with a 10″ average charge, don’t mind if I do.

Wizard traits also run hot – Nurtured by Magic heals a unit d3 wounds within 18″ on a successful cast. Certainly not a bad incidental source of healing. Potentially HUGE is Warsinger, allowing a wyldwood to be where you measure the effect of a spell from – yeah, any wyldwood. This allows you to potentially be in spell range from turn 1, punish people trying to block your teleports, and all sorts – really interesting plays available here. Radiant Spirit ignores spell effects on a 4+, which seems more niche to me but is still a good counter to magic heavy armies if you pop this on a Treelord Ancient or you really want to ensure your Warsong remains alive and kicking, etc.

Hero wizards get Acorn of the Ages for an auto-wood within 12″. Luneth Lamp gives a wizard the option to banish an invocation with +2 to the roll – this is massively niche! Why you would ever take this unless you’re playing a casual grudge match against your invocation loving friend, I don’t know. Unless it’s a sign we’re somehow entering an invocation meta…. Preventing this page from being a complete waste of a dryad is the returning Vesperal Gem, allowing a once per turn auto-cast that can’t be unbound, but a 1 on a d6 roll does d3 mws to the user.

ARTEFACTS

Other heroes can choose from Greenwood Gladius, which adds d3 attacks to a melee weapon. I can the whispers of ‘Durthu’ on the wind…. Crown of Fell Bowers picks a unit within 6″ and gives all units +1 wound against it. This would be decent if it was just the hero, but all units? Nice! Seed of Rebirth rolls a d6 when the hero dies – on a 2+ they survive with d3 wounds and all other damage negated. With all the healing Sylvaneth has access to, this could be huge on a chonky hero.

MATCHED PLAY RULES

Topline, most of these are unfortunately a bust, which is frustrating given the design space and the fact the forthcoming GHB Tactics all seem harder to pull off on average. Factor in the book’s lack of good Galletian Vet candidates and it feels like Sylvaneth have been a bit short changed in terms of scoring potential, at least in the short term.

Grand Strategy wise, it’s tempting to just write ‘bin’ and move on, but in the interests of being thorough… Chorus of the Woodlands asks you to complete 4 battle tactics from the Sylvaneth list. You’ll see why I don’t think that’s very doable shortly. Vengeance and Spite wants you to kill the enemy general with an Outcasts keyword unit – so, Spite-revenants or Drycha. Urm. That’s not going to be terribly easy. Drycha could do it, but if the general is any kind of monster, she’s not doing it alone, which means a big game as you will have to soften it just the right amount with other units for her to finish it off.

Baffling that they’d hinge a whole Strategy on a keyword only two units have. Baffling and aggravating. Roots of victory tasks you with having a wyldwood in each corner of the board, and there being no enemy units with 6″ of them. This feels more doable but also like a huge win-more strategy, as it basically implies you will have almost complete board control. Thematic but hugely risky for so many obvious reasoons.

Massive let down.

Battle tactics fare slightly better. Eradicate Trespassers wants an enemy unit within 6″ of a wyldwood to die. With good positioning, there should be plenty of times in a game the enemy can’t help but be in range for this, so overall it’s nearly as bankable as ‘bring it down’ or ‘broken ranks’ used to be, perhaps better in some ways as it’s any kind of unit.

Harness the Spirit Paths requires a unit to use From The Woodland Depths (i.e. teleport to a terrain piece) and successfully make a charge. Now, charges of 9″ are far too risky, so I don’t like it – unless you have a Spiteswarm Hive set up, in which case your charge is now a re-rollable 6″ – much more doable.

Balance the Cycle wants you to kill a unit within 12″ of a terrain piece by a unit added to your army that turn – which basically means you’ll need Alarielle to summon Kurnoth or a Treelord, and for them to make a 9 incher – in this instance Spiteswarm doesn’t help because it picks a unit end of hero phase and Alarielle summons end of movement. I guess you could summon in 3 bow hunters and plink the last couple of wounds off a weak unit – otherwise this is a massive gamble.

March of the Forest Lords is, thank god, another sensible one. Kill an enemy monster with one of your Big Trees. All of which are good – but Durthu is obviously a beast, so this one goes some way to making amends for the others.

Unleash Ghyran’s Wrath needs a wizard you pick to kill a unit with a spell or endless spell. Given, as I mentioned before, that none of the Sylvaneth spells are really reliable single-target damage, this isn’t super bankable. However, plenty of our wizards have casting bonuses and multi-casts – so Warsong using Unleash Spites, having a Gladewyrm or Skullroot kicking around from the last turn and another spell/Arcane Bolt means you may have a few chances to finish off the last few wounds needed to score this.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There’s a lot to take in here. Having noodled on it all for a few days, I think the book’s strengths lie in tanky, reliable damage units that have surprising mobility – but the best combos in the book require a lot of careful positioning and over-lapping failable effects – i.e. there’s a risk one part of your plan falls through and ruins the synergy.

It’s also a really expensive book – and even though on average the costs are fair, it makes list-building a challenge because of not many smaller costs that can slot into the gaps between 300+ models/units.

A corollary of that is it’s another highly elite army. Heartwood offers the chance to take battleline that doesn’t give up additional damage against them from the new GHB Bounty Hunters battalion, but it also means it doesn’t place super nicely with some of the keyword scoring opportunities. And in general, if you wanted to run a more horde or infantry based list, in light of GHB 22, your options are severely limited – in competitive reality, I’d go so far as to say, limited to zero.

However, I’m bullish on the book in the long term. It’s flexible and non-linear – Enhancements seem varied and have plenty of candidates for them, the book can lean into magic dominance, pure anvil lists, hyper-mobility and alpha strikes, or leafy, synergistic death stars.

If nothing else, for existing Sylvaneth players, it feels like the first time in many years the faction feels like it should. And I woodn’t trade that for the world.

What do you think of the Tome? Got any thoughts on combinations that we may have missed? How will the Sylvaneth slot into the current meta?

Age of Sigmar – Daughters of Khaine Battletome Review

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Many players have asked, ‘why Daughters of Khaine, and why now?’ – and who knows! Especially given not much has changed.

Daughters of Khaine (DoK) are an army of slithering and/or bikini clad glass hammers – ruled over by everyone’s favourite double-act, Morathi and The Shadow Queen. DoK enjoyed a period of dominance, largely thanks to their patented ‘Morathi and the Bow Snakes’ list, predicated on double-shooting 15 bows, with mortals on 6s – earning approving nods from Longstrikes.

For at least the latter half of 3e however, they’ve been hanging on in there but rarely wrapping their tails around that trophy. The question is, how can they be made more reliably competitive, while radically improving their internal balance, with a relatively small unit roster and while following the 3e tradition of clamping down on re-rolls, something they relied heavily upon?

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A quick proviso, I’m not going to bother comparing what has and hasn’t changed the entire way through –  but most of the Traits, and Artifacts have, even if they kept the same name. So if you’re a returning player familiar with the old book, I encourage you to read on – I’ll call out when a unit is largely the same!

Read on to get the WOOT! (Woehammer opinion of Tome!)

Let’s start with a high level hypothesis, so that the rest of this review is contextualised. Overall, I think the new book is a slight diagonal-grade. I think DoK have the tools to podium again, without being broken, with better (but still not perfect) internal balance. There are however, some missed opportunities and some ever so slightly concerning trends.

Old DoK players who were happy with where things stood will have a good time with this. It should be pretty accessible for new players too. But I also think it’s launching into a fairly hostile meta. All that said, let’s dive in.

BATTLE TRAITS

Overall, the new and improved battle traits fit the bill – they allow you to slither or dance quickly into a good krump, even if they don’t set the world on fire creatively.

Blood Rites is the same idea, but without re-rolls as per the 3rd edition crack down. The following battle traits are all clearly aimed at combining with it, and there are plenty of options throughout the book to accelerate it. And I mean, it works. It’s functional. I feel like +1s to stuff is a nice way to not rely so much on CP, but it’s also just basic – and there are plenty of armies whose main battle traits are highly effective from battle round 1 or 2, so I don’t love the philosophy of playing around the timing of it, or leaning into various combos just so that it IS effective from turn 1 – but on the other hand, it does give you some flexibility with how the trigger-timings of your list.

Battle Fury is a heroic action that a non-monster can carry out, adding 2 attacks to all melee weapons used by that hero until the end of the turn. More attacks the better, and there are some heroes that benefit a lot from this – you’ll just have to time it right with Finest Hour, but it’s a good option to have in a pinch.

All-Out Slaughter triggers when you pick a unit to fight in the combat phase, and gives them exploding 6s. Does what it says on the tin, and obviously once you’re onto Rite 3 (+1 to hit) you don’t need All Out Attack anyway. Pop this on Morathi, a reinforced blob of Blood Sisters of Aelves and watch the sparks fly.

Fanatical Faith is a ward of 6. Better than nothing (just).

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ENHANCEMENTS

COMMAND TRAITS

The command traits in this book are collectively one of the highlights, with a few things that allow you to really juice a favourite hero and affect the battle in meaningful ways. Most of them, however, we’ve seen before – and I do wish armies would get some more unique traits overall.

I’ve ordered these in order of my favourites first.

Zealous Orator rallies on a 4+. That’s big. Ardboyz have it conditionally, Fyreslayers got it, and now DoK have it – a 15 blob of bow sneks? A 30 blob of Aelves? Prime, prime targets.

Fuelled by Revenge allows Melusai Ironscale a once per battle, +1 attack to Melusai melee weapons within 12″ – not hard to guess the application of.

Sacrificial Overseer lets a general fight again, after killing a model, and after the unit it’s engaged with has fought back. Useful on smaller heroes you’ve chucked into chaff for finishing off a unit, or on a (well, the only) bigger one to go much harder into tougher targets.

Arcane Mastery teaches the general all the Lore. It’s a great lore – even though DoK lack great casters. It gives you flexibility though, which is powerful.

Bathed in Blood gives a general a wound back after killing a model – too niche for my tastes but it makes that ‘one big hero’ (have you guessed it yet?) potentially a lot tankier.

Master of Poisons procs on a wound allocated to a model – and does d6 additional mortals to it. Fits the name, but swingy, and therefore sub-par.

True Believer is +1 to Rites. Fairly useless on most heroes really. I guess if you really want to get a hero repeatedly stuck in, it could be useful, just seems to me all the above alternatives either have more utility or raw strength. Prove me wrong though!

ARTEFACTS

Artefacts can potentially change a hero’s role, help spike their output, or otherwise combo interestingly with a Trait, or otherwise. In theory. Unfortunately for DoK, theirs are boring, if relatively useful.

This time in no particular order, because I wasn’t enthused enough to pick a favourite.

DoK generic heroes

When Bloodbane Venom causes a wound that doesn’t kill a model, a roll of =/+ the model’s Wounds Characteristic kills it. Vaguely useful against heavily armoured but low-ish wound stuff like Annihilators, or getting luck against a Blightking I guess.

The Crone Blade gives one weapon the ability to heal 1 wound on a hit roll of 6. At this point, I’m just going to say it – most DoK heroes aren’t going to stick around long if they don’t immediately kill whatever they’re fighting, so gaining a few wounds here and there back feels niche. Apart from… the the one big hero – the Cauldron!

Slightly more interesting is the Crown of Woe, which prevents Rally or Inspiring Presence within 9″, or 15″ for rest of the battle once the hero kills a model. Potentially devastating AND, finally, something that can work without chucking the bearer into combat.

Rune of Khaine is a ‘fight on death’ effect. Great…so long as you die in melee.

DoK wizards

The Crystal Heart doubles the range an endless spell can be cast at. If the DoK endless spells were better, this would be great. But they aren’t, so it’s not. Because James Workchap largely refuses to make one of the coolest things about AoS reliably usable. But hey if you really want to pop that Viper up in someone’s face, here’s how you do it.

Aside from sounding like a long-fringed metalcore band, Sevenfold Shadows allows a once per battle teleport. Useful if you’re not playing Khailebron, while Shadow Stone is +1 to cast Lore of Shadows spells. Useful, but uninspired.

Priests

Priests are hugely important to DoK. So it stands to reason they only get a choice of two unique artefacts. The Blood Sigil learns ya an extra prayer. The prayers are good! Whereas the Khainite Pendant is a once per game auto-answer. DoK have a lot of pendants, sigils, stones and assorted gew-gaws knocking around, huh?

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PRAYERS

So about those prayers I mentioned. These are mostly unchanged, which makes sense because by and large, they’re bangers – less ‘prayers’ and more ‘blood-curdling celebrations of gore’, but hey. I think with the new internal balance, there’s a little less a reliance on certain prayer combos, but they’re still at the heart of the army.

Catechism of Murder is the exploding 6s prayer you know and love.

EDIT/CORRECTION: Blessing of Khaine is currently in need of a bit of an FAQ – well, hopefully, otherwise it’s not great. The problem is, it currently reads ‘re-roll Fanatical Faith rolls’, i.e. your Ward of 6. But does Rite 5 IMPROVE your Fanatical Faith ward? Not currently as written. So does Blessing aim to re-roll your Ward save, just your Fanatical Faith roll, and/or does Rite 5 IMPROVE the ward or simply GIVE you a ward of 5. Grrrr.

Martyr’s Sacrifice gives each model in a unit the ability to do a MW on a 5+ upon dying in melee. Useful in a big blob of double-reinforced Aelves, if you really plan on them dying rather than killing… Crimson Rejuvenation heals d3 – big woop. Covenant of the Iron Heart auto-passes battleshock for when you really don’t want to save a CP for it – very handy in actuality if you’re leaning into the bikini-horde which this book definitely makes viable. And finally Sacrament of Blood gives +1 to the Rites table to a unit with an Answer of 3 – strong, for obvious reasons.

LORE

The spells are unchanged, rightfully so – this is a highlight of the faction – everything has a distinct use, and affects the game in a meaningful way. See, they know how to do it!

Steed of Shadows goes off on a 6 and makes the caster fly and move 16″. Pit of Shades pops on a 6, range 18″, picks an enemy unit and rolls 2d6 – difference between the roll and their move characteristic does mortals. Mirror Dance dings on a 6, 18″, picks 2 DoK heroes outside of engagement range and swaps them. The Withering procs on a 7, 18″, puts +1 to wound rolls on an enemy unit. Any attacks! This is stronk as it can improve Bow sneks, or allow multiple units to pile in and take down something juicy while you wait for the Blood Rites to catch up. Mindrazor – everyone’s favourite – dings on an 8 (so, risky with not many casting bonuses), 18″, gives a friendly unit +1 rend and additionally, +1 damage to melee weapons if you charged. Finally, Shroud of Despair gets jiggy on a 4 at 18″ and subtracts 1 from a unit’s bravery or d3 on a cast of 8+.  This could combo very nicely with Crown of Woe for battleshock shenanigans!

A lovely set of spells and I wish that kind of balance was present in some of the other sections.

SUB FACTIONS

Some fairly chunky changes here. Overall, a decent balance of competitive options with a few of your typical ‘what were they thinking’ moments thrown in just to temper your enthusiasm. As a general trend, sub-factions are pretty interesting in 3rd edition – and while none of these are bad per se, there are a few here that feel very uninspired.

Khailebron gives you access to a command at the end of movement phase and allows a unit to teleport. Teleportation is frankly super useful in a game of objectives – both defensively, offensively and for objective play. Want to deploy your bow sneks way back and teleport them up into range? Get something within charge range (preferably once the +1 charge Rite has kicked in)? Quickly screen something or help score Savage Spearhead, etc, all potential scoring applications. It also makes Shadowstalkers battleline, although why you’d want to take more than 1 unit of them is beyond me (you’ll see why)

The Kraith allows a Sisters of Slaughter (who are good now) unit to fight again on a 4+, with the strike-last effect applied, so they can’t fight twice in a row. Swingy, sure, but if you’re leaning into bikinki-aelves and running multiple squads of them AND charging multiple times, you could get a lot of value from this. But make no mistake – this hugely relies on bigger blobs of them, otherwise you’re not going to have a unit left after the enemy unit slaps back.

Zainthar Kai lets a Melusai unit fight on death. What, you want me to analyse that? Obviously it makes Melusai battleline too.

Hagg Nar adds 1 to the Rites chart. Simples! It also lets you include 1 Cauldron of Blood in addition to your behemoth limit, for some reason.

Draichi Ganeth improves the rend of both flavours of bikini aelf by 1 if they charged. Stack that with a Gladiatrix and Mind Razor and they can hit rend 3 – which is frankly brutal. This sub-fac also ups the reinforcement cap of Aelves by 2 (so you can include an additional reinforced or double reinforced unit) and your (power?) fantasies about flooding the table with murderous, lethal Morathi’s Secret models can finally come true. 

Khelt Nar (don’t exactly roll off the tongue some of these do they?) allows any unit to retreat and charge. Not my favourite but frankly, this is occasionally going to be clutch, especially against tar-pit armies or unfavourable engagements. It definitely has play even if it doesn’t jump off the page at you.

THE UNITS

There’s obviously the potential here to get really into the weeds. So instead of describing every part of every warscroll, i’m going to pull out the most interesting bits.

THE SHADOW QUEEN is more or less unchanged. She slaps, and her damage table got upgraded to 6 being the first threshold. If you didn’t know, her gimmick is you can only do 3 wounds to her MAX per turn – but she can’t heal. Interestingly, you could probably compete without her now, but I’m not sure i would trust anyone who left her at home.

Most of the on-foot heroes remain very similar. But they all have a little more utility because of the other changes. I think Melusai Ironscale risks getting  edged out since you don’t need her to make Sisters battleline. Her melee damage cap is 12 – not great with only Rend 1. The reason you take her is her command ability – to let a Melusai unit run and charge/shoot – and at 115 points, she’s takeable.

Morgwaeth finally got the true Underworlds treatment and got made redundant.

Shall we talk about the One Big Hero? The Shrine – and its various combinations. It got a LOT better. Try and bear in mind those past hints I made – you’ll see the synergies on offer here.

Firstly, the configurations are as before – the Cauldron ridden by the Bloodwrack Medusa on her own, or with one of either the Hag Queen or Slaughter Queen and the Avatar riding shotgun with either Queen. It’s a fun modular approach you don’t really see elsewhere – each hero retains the same abilities on foot, but on the Cauldron become way more durable and and therefore much better platforms for many of the above enhancements – overall I’d say the book pushes hard for you to take some version of what I’m now calling the Bloodwagon. The wagon’s base abilities are +1 to chanting (huge), an impact hit (standard 2+ for d3) and Bloodshield, a +1 save aura tied to the damage table, and starting at 18″.

Personally, I think the Slaughter Queen variant is the spiciest. This combo gains the Pact of Blood ability not found elsewhere, which is an unbind attempt. The Slaughter Queen herself brings two abilities to the table…well, cauldron – Orgy of Slaughter, a her phase CA with a 3″ range that allows a unit to fight.

Yep, this thing can fight in the hero phase. Is it any good at fighting? The mounted Avatar (who retains these same stats on foot as above) swings 4 times for 3/3/-2/3 – a good start. The Slaughter Queen brings 4 attacks at 3/3/-1/d3, and it’s topped off by the attendant aelves with 8 (bracketing) 3/4/-/1. Individually, none of that sets the world on fire, but it adds up – and at 13 wounds, albeit on a 5+ save, you actually have the ability to tank a round of attacks from plenty of stuff, meaning the fight-in-hero-phase ability will actually see play, and if it helps you finish something off, being able to then reposition defensively or set up for another charge is potentially huge.

So pop Bathed In Blood on it and so long as you’re fighting units rather than single/very small elite units, you could easily get a bunch of wounds back, in up to two phases per (your) turn. Sacrificial Overseer suddenly seems great – imagine finishing off a unit in your hero phase, charging two units at the same time, then getting to fight twice in the following combat. Crone Blade and Rune of Khaine could be brutal on this platform. Exactly how you pimp your ride is up to you but there are definitely some fun options here.

But I saved the best for last. The Slaughter Queen’s second ability, Dance of Doom, answers on a 3 (2 while on the blood wagon) and applies strike-first. Now we rollin’!!

The Hag Queen instead has Witchbrew, another source of +1 to Rites, and Touch of Death, a 3 answer prayer for d3 wounds to a unit within engagement range. Unless you’re really playing to Blood Rites acceleration combos, you can see why I prefer the Slaughter Queen – even though she’s 315 compared to Hag Wagon’s 270.

The Bloodwrack Medusa is your budget wagon pick at 200, or 130 on her own – a 1 cast, 2 unbind hero whose real value is a source of +1 Rites for Melusai and a nice spell (5 – 18″) for minus 1 to melee wounds for an enemy unit. She buff, she debuff, she whiffs in melee. However, her Bloodwrack stare – mortals on a 5+ for each model in a unit within 12″ has much more play on a durable platform as incidental chip damage given you want the Wagon up close and personal.

When he’s not riding the Blood Wagon screaming ‘I’m King of the wooorld!’, the Avatar of Khaine got way better. 10″ range, 6 attacks 3/3/-1/1 ain’t nothing (obvs applies to Wagon variants) and his aforementioned sword are perfectly fine, and with 9 wounds on a 4+ he’s one of your tankier options. What he gains for going solo is a built in Ward of 5 and Wrath of Khaine, allowing him to use the Stomp or Smash to Rubble Monstrous actions, while being immune to monstrous actions himself. At 155, that makes him a cheap Totem, with good utility who can still put a dent in things.

The rest of the book is more straight forward. Gladiatrix is a straight up Aelf buff piece – she adds rend, and changes their wound characteristic to 3+. Very strong. Witch Aelves rip and tear when buffed by her, and various aforementioned other buffs – and get +1 to wound while within 12″ of a totem. Sisters of Slaughter are less killy but are eligible to fight within 6″ and can pile in 6″ – this is not to be underestimated, as with careful positioning this can avoid unleash hell or just cause headaches for your opponent wanting to stay out of melee.

Khainite Shadowstalkers lost their -1 to hit, so become a lot less interesting. 9 bodies on a 4+ that can teleport – so 1 unit is probably fine for screening/scoring, and I guess it’s cute that in Khailebron you can run a shadow themed list.

Doomfires do a bit of everything, but nothing very well. Interestingly, while at 5+ models, they’re one of the army’s only source of +1 to casting/unbinding, making them potentially interesting for getting off early Mindrazor etc before zooming off to die. CORRECTION: A kind reader pointed out – correctly – that only heroes can take spells from the Lore! So this lowers Doomfires stock a little given their warscroll spell (scaling mortals based on size of enemy unit) is short range and will be tricky to get off while keeping them safe – but it does mean they still get a bonus to getting an endless spell off turn 1.

Blood Stalkers are unchanged, which means they’re still amazing given Shadow Queen kept her double shoot. Even though this is good for those of us who have 15 of ’em, It’s a worrying precedent – double shooting is not a popular mechanic, and for good reason. I’d have preferred to see that dropped in favour of a more interesting and tactical rule – standing still and raining hell from 24″ twice is uninteractive and bad for the game.

Blood Sisters however just became one of the best infantry units in the game, because Turned to Crystal now happens after their attacks have resolved. So, reinforce them, throw out 3 attacks each at 3/3/-1/1, add in Rites and buffs to taste, and whatever is left standing immediately takes 10 mws on a 2+. So that’s 8-9 MWs on average before everything else, before the unit gets to slap back. Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

Both flavours of Khinerai got better. Heartrenders can drop from the sky, shoot (1 attack 3/3/-1/1) then move 6″. This gives them all sorts of positional utility and scoring potential. LIfetakers are less tactical but get a bonus attack and are 3/3/-1/1 in melee – plus, after they fight, on a 4+ they can retreat 6″. Swingy, but if it goes off this could be a massively frustrating hit’n’run tactic – worth trying for the look on your opponents face.

Now, I’m always gonna bang the ‘Endless spells should be great – or as good as they are now, but dirt-cheap’ drum. Given they’re usually easy to dispel – sure, your opponent has to use up a cast slot to do it – and cost valuable points when you might even fail to cast them – people gravitate only towards the absolute best ones, which are generic – like life-swarm and spell-portal. Faction specific ones usually look great and COULD offer a tonne of personality.

Bloodwrack Viper comes up on a 7 within 9″, then picks a unit within 1″ after it flies 9″ and rolls 3 dice – each =/+ wounds characteristic kills a model and it can also ‘do an Avatar’, i.e. make a Stomp or Smash to Rubble monstrous action.

Hang on – is the Viper actually good?! Casting on a 7 isn’t too bad, a 19″ threat range – but 80 points is dear. If it was 60, I’d say hell yeah!

The others actually aren’t that bad but you probably still won’t take them at a high level. Bladewind passes across units and does 1 MW on a 2+ and removes their cover modifiers within 12″. So niche, and hard to see when you’d cast this for 50 points over anything else in the great Lore. Heart of Fury (an invocation not a spell) makes you roll – on a 1-5, -1 damage within 12″ – potentially useful for the odd occasion you really want to charge something and think you might not kill it. On a 6, you also get +1 attack in the same range. If you have a spare 45 points, that’s not a bad shout potentially!

GRAND STRATEGIES & BATTLE TACTICS

I’ve left these for the end because it actually makes more sense to think about them once you know what the stuff can actually do. Overall, these are probably more viable than average, which is great.

For Grand Strats, you got Bloodthirsty Zealots which scores if all your units have fought at least once. This shouldn’t be hard – as long as you time it right with your weaker stuff. Say you have 15 Bow sneks – make sure you push them up throughout the game so you can charge them into something if necessary near the end-game before you table them – or the game ends. What’s nice about this is it’s VERY hard for your opponent to deny, and you can score it even more reliably when the game isn’t going your way!

Blood Bath however is a weak variation on that theme, requiring every enemy unit to have at least a scratch on it – i.e. not be at full health.

EDIT: On re-reading this, the wording is actually ‘all enemy HEROES and MONSTERS either have at least 1 wound allocated to them or have been slain and if all other enemy units on the battlefield have had at least 1 model slain.’

Overall, I don’t think it changes my analysis below, but it’s a tiiiny bit harder.

It’s not too bad, and means you don’t have to plan for your archers to be in melee somehow – but say a unit or hero is able to reliably hide in a corner or heal up in the last turn – could suddenly deny you. Overall, Grand Strats that are in your hands, so to speak, are quite good – and given DoK battleline units aren’t tanky and most everything else wants to be aggressive, I think these actually do compete with the Core options.

Naught but Destruction is your token ‘what the fuck were they smoking’ GS – you pick a defensible terrain piece in enemy territory, and if there isn’t one, the opponent picks one anywhere on the battlefield. Now you gotta demolish it. I mean – sure, the Viper or Avatar can smash to rubble, but what happens if there IS no defensible terrain? Every game should have it but…that’s just a ‘should’. Unless this is a hint the new GHB will mandate every game has to include some, this is a very strange one.

The Battle Tacs are actually fun, and continue the trend of really only 1-2 being doable by any one list – which isn’t a bad thing. Clash of Arms wants you to charge with 3 units and if two of ’em are bikini Aelves you get an additional victory point. Fine in a pinch, potentially great in Aelf spam lists given they will probably churn through Broken Ranks fairly quickly.

Tide of Blades is Savage Spearhead, but bonus point for doing it with two Witch Aelves units. Again, with Shadowstalkers, Khinerai and aggressive play in general, this become highly achievable.

Cruel Delight relies on 2 or more Khinerai units using their Fire and Flight or Fight and Flight ability – very doable and you’d certainly be within your rights to have 2 Khinerai units now. While Unexpected Attack wants Khainite Shadowstalkers to charge after deep-striking. Even with +1, the odds of a re-rollable 8 incher are far too low to ever pick this unless it’s an absolute last resort or you’ve gone full Khailebron and are popping 3 ‘Stalkers down in the same turn. Incredibly niche and risky.

On the more situation end of the spectrum we have Executioner’s Cult – which can be picked if you have a Gladiatrix – which well you might! She has to kill a hero with her Killing Stroke ability – this would be a flex to pull off – and certainly doable – but it would be so easy to either accidentally kill the hero beforehand or just…not. Why risk it? Baffling and risky specificity on this one.

Hatred of Chaos is available if you’re running Hagg Nar or Khelt Nar and asks for 2 or more CHAOS units to be destroyed this turn. Highly situational, but not necessarily difficult, so it’s a perfectly nice option to have in your pocket, especially given they’re both perfectly viable sub-factions. And Chaos suck. And everyone plays Nurgle now – so this might come up more often than you think…

BATTALIONS

3e books have been circumspect with Battalions as they have the potential to tip the balance massively. Take Nurgle’s rotbringers cyst for an example that is almost certainly too good. On the whole, I’m happy with Battalions being fluffy or just matching the core battalion effects when you have a more unusual army make up – and that’s more or less what’s on offer here.

Vyperic Guard comprises Morathi+Shadow Queen, 1-3 Khainite Leaders – 1 mandatory (Bloodwrack or Ironscale), and ~6 Melusai warriors – 2 mandatory, and offers an extra enhancement – so it’s basically a bonus/tweaked Command Entourage. Not bad!

Shadow Patrol however is the fluffy, competitively rubbish one that isn’t worth the ink used to print it. 2 Mandatory Doomfires and FOUR mandatory Khinerai gives you either a one-drop or Swift. I mean…why?

CONCLUSION

Hopefully that gives you a good idea of the fun, competitive and creativity level of the new book. My takeaways are that the internal balance got much better with only a few sore losers (especially Shadowstalkers), the creativity level ticked up a little with some annoying missed opportunities (straight forward albeit useful Command Traits/Artefacts), and the competitive factor ticked up a fair notch. Will the increased options and killing power be enough to deal with the oppressive tankiness of Nurgle, or the strike-first brutality of new IDK (who seem a particularly brutal counter to DoK at first glance) or the forthcoming mobility, the ‘I laugh in the face of your rend’ and oppressive charging/tar-pitting potential of new Nighthaunt? We’ll soon see – my knee jerk reaction is ‘sometimes’ – which is, honestly, as it should be! Now, go forth and bathe (but don’t drink – leave that to SBGL) in the blood of your foes.

Introduction: Danny ‘Dananigan’ Wadeson

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Hello reader, I’m Danny – a passionate, competitive AoS and occasional Kill Team player – my ‘other job’ is being an AAA videogame narrative designer.

I’m hopping onto the Woe-Wagon (Woegan?) to help pump out some words on things like Black Library releases, Top 3 list analysis, and Tome reviews/army updates.

I got into Warhammer as a kid – in those pre-teen years that blur into one long summer and one long memory of being desperate to get home from school. The gateway drug was that legendary 5th edition Fantasy Battles boxed set with Lizardmen and Bretonnians, and I have fond (hazy) memories of only ever playing my mate Joe’s Skaven on the carpet.

This image contains 100% proof nostalgia.

As I got a little older, that all went into storage. Until, that is, I started working with a guy who had also pulled out his childhood bitzbox to start painting again – and we convinced each other to whip up a small 40k army each to dive deep into nostalgia. I’d loved but never owned Chaos Marines as a kid, so with the benefits of age (more grey hair and disposable income) I took the plunge and splurged on some Nurgle.

Fast forward through moving house from Cambridge to near Bristol where there’s a massive warhammer scene, and I found myself with Necrons, Blood Angels, Death Guard and a cheeky Drukhari army (before they were cool…just!) The lure of AoS had started to call to me too – so I dug out those old Lizardmen, had a good chortle at their square bases and froggy-ass sculpts, stripped them down, bought a pack of greenstuff, and went to work renovating them into Seraphon!

Shortly after that, I found the 40k meta was wearing me out, and after my first tournament with Drukhari (I beat Emperor’s Children, Thousand Sons and then lost to Dread Knight spam, just after the new GK book) which was full of feelsbad moments, awful terrain and drama, I decided to trade in my Codexes, FAQs and Secondaries for a one way ticket to the Mortal Realms.

Since then, I’ve gotten involved with a fast growing Bristol club called Sigmar’s Pilgrims, and expanded the roster to Big Waagh, Soulblight Gravelords, Sylvaneth and DoK – and of course, like everyone, I somehow seem to keep accidentally accruing Stormcast bits such that I’ve now got half an army of the blighters.

Looking forward to delivering some luke-warm tactical takes and Sylvaneth propaganda to you all in the near future!

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