Category Archives: Danny & Patrick

Tome Talks: Seraphon

Welcome to the latest in our ‘Tome Talks’ series, in which we review a battletome via a balanced discussion – and with the benefit of a little hindsight and some hands-on testing.

Danny Wadeson: So – we’ve had the book for a while, but now seems a good time to judge it properly now that the new Season is underway and recent changes to things like coherence have allowed a lot of Seraphon units to really shine.

As we’ll be keeping this relatively high level, let’s start with the overall standouts. What, to you, are the things that make Seraphon, Seraphon – and where does this book really sing? Sell it to me!

Patrick German: I think to really look at Seraphon you can either dig into a few units, or look at the book as a whole. Seraphon have always been a flexible force, jumping between elite infantry and cavalry, huge monsters, and powerful wizards. I can say for sure that all of these still exist, but I’ve seen a lot more “magic castles” than anything else.

Lord Kroak still exists, and is a lynchpin unit for the book. Backing him up with another frogman, some skink wizards, and an Astrolith bearer can turn him from being a sniper and artillery piece into a factory that produces more skinks as it kills units.

I’ve always been a more flavor-over-competitive player, and I love the idea of putting a load of big monsters on the table. Stegadon is still a thing, and while it isn’t the most competitive choice, it’s good fun to throw seven or eight stegadons on the field and have them waddle around killing your opponent’s models is great.

Peter Holland: I think the appeal of Seraphon cannot be ignored. The model range is gorgeous, and really appeals to that 6 year old inside. After all, what 6 year old wouldn’t want an army of Dinosaurs?!

Coupled with that, in this particular GHB, they’re proving they have some tricks up their sleeves to compete at the top tables.

Patrick: I will say: the model range is gorgeous now. I was really happy for Seraphon players when they got so many new sculpts, because the old ones were looking very dated.

Danny: Yeah. They look GOOD. But how do they play? Obviously there are two very different flavours – the ‘magic (bouncy?) castle that Poots mentioned and the more bitey-fighty Coalesced. The former is high on movement and summoning shenanigans and can bring overwhelming amounts of magic to bear while the other has good old fashioned durability and toe to toe offence.

Peter – I think i know the answer but for the benefit of our readers – what do the stats say about which is getting more play and what’s tickling the podium?

Peter: It’s an interesting one. Fangs of Sotek are by far the most popular subfaction with 56% (45 players) of tournament players choosing them. They’re also overly successful with a win rate of 60%. However Dracothion’s Tail currently has the most success with 68% win rate.

While Starborne is seeing success, players who have taken coalesced are struggling.

Koatl’s Claw has had good representation (2nd most popular subfaction), but their win rate is in the doldrums at 38% currently.

I will add that Dracothion’s Tail and Thunder Lizard are very small sample sizes.

Patrick: I’m not surprised that Fangs of Sotek is doing so well. Out-of-phase movement is a very strong tool to have (just ask your friendly local Khorne player). The ability to redeploy three times in response to your opponents movement can set you up for excellent counter-punches or provide cheap screens as a roadblock, preventing a charge onto an objective. The fact that the first two instances of redeploy are free makes it even better.

Danny: They’re fun. Movement shenanigans are fun. It just gives you lots to do in the opponent’s turn too.

I can see why competitively Starborne are the go-tos – hero phase teleport, loads of summoning so that you can react to the board state and the above very strong sub-faction ability, combined with an excellent spell lore are hard to resist.

Let’s not forget the excellent Star Power abilities too, which give you just a wild suite of options. However – even for an experienced player like myself it can be quite draining to keep track of everything – spells, a parallel economy, and LOTS of separate aura ranges etc. And it can all fall apart quickly if a couple of key spells go wrong or the opponent has enough threat projection to get into you before the summoning ramps up.

Having just started trying out Coalesced recently, I’m glad to say that it offers a more chill, but still strong, playstyle. 20 Warriors are a helluva drug, and the added durability makes for a more ‘traditional’ and forgiving game.

On that note, let’s talk about Thunder Lizard – it’s been a wild ride for anyone with big dinos since the end of the last book and the new one – namely it’s much harder to buff them now and their sub-faction rule is totally different, with double monstrous actions which are of dubious utility.

Also, the Engine of the Gods had been…I don’t know how else to say it other than ‘fucked up’. Stegadons still feel ok – the ‘counts as ten’ is great for objective stealing but they feel expensive on the board. The less said about the Stegadon Chief, the better – which is a shame as vanilla Stegs feel like they need a force multiplier. Why? What did they do to my horny boys?

Patrick: Conspiracy says that GW likes to downplay the units that were doing well last edition. Skink Chiefs and EotGs were great, and now they are less great. Personally, I think that in an effort to find better internal balance in battletomes GW tends to try to move the good/bad/ugly more towards the middle. Sometimes they overshoot, though, like I feel they did with Kroak, who I feel is an absolutely steal at 410pts.

Danny: Kroak is probably still a bit too good – but the main thing is, he’s fun now. Varied abilities and less book-keeping, and FINALLY two excellent lores to know all of.

The spells were one of the huge weak points of the 2e book, but now they’re full of fun effects, leaving aside for a moment the whole ‘is it fun casting the same MW Spell 4 times in a row’ – the lores are banging – what are your highlights?

Patrick: Tepok’s Beneficence is a fun dark horse for me. Boosting a cheap screen to make the screen last a little longer can be great. Mystical unforging can have a similar effect as a debuff instead of a buff.

On the skink side, Cosmic Crush can be surprisingly good against durable units, hitting SCE unit, especially. Speed if Huanchi allows for more out-of-phase movement, and we’ve already touched on how good that can be.

Peter: Having done the breakdowns on lists that achieve 4+ wins the most common spells in those lists are:

– Merciless Blizzard (10)
– Hoarfrost (9)
– Speed of Huanchi (8)
– Comet’s Call (8)
– Cosmic Crush (6)
– Drain Magic (4)
– Rupture (4)
– Stellar Tempest (2)
– Tepok’s Beneficence (1)

Because hoarfrost on skinks is the bomb. Hoarfrost on units of skinks that can redeploy is the double bomb.

Tie that in with Lord of Celestial Resonance (which nearly every list takes) and the ability to generate Cosmic Power increases so that the Seraphon play can summon in yet more Skink units nearly every other turn.

Danny: So yeah, the Lores are great and plenty of good candidates for Hoarfrost. The question is, does the book support you getting these spells off? And the answer is, sure, in Starborne – where the combo is, cast Equilibrium with the Slann to give your other casters (probably a Skink Starpriest and Starseer, and possibly Kroak) +1, have everyone in the +1 to cast bubble from the Astrolith bearer, and then enjoy your native +1 on the Slann and +2 on Kroak, for something like 6 casts at +2, and 4 (from Kroak) at +4.

So what about the actual units? Seraphon have access to a pretty deep model selection although more than ever they’re very much split between Starborne/Coalesced. To some extent this is cool as it provides a distinct feel but it can also mean that, if you want to experience everything the book has to offer AND lean into the syneries, it feels like collecting two armies.

For example, my Starborne list is lizard wizards, Astrolith, 2x Chargers, skinks of various varieties, an Ark of Sotek, and a few flex points that I usually fill with a Salam…sorry, Chotec. My Coalesced lists are kroxigor and saurus warrior heavy, with only 1-2 wizards, and a Carnosaur – sometimes a Laser-don. Some of that stuff makes sense as a Summons in Starborne which does somewhat ease the pain of buying and painting them…

But either way, there are definitely some interesting warscrolls in the book. Before I do a screed – are there any stand outs you guys want to highlight, either from a competitive, design or other perspective?

Patrick: I mentioned earlier that the army had a well-deserved makeover when the new book came out. The new kits are absolutely gorgeous, and I think they capture the aggression and intimidation that an army of dinosaurs would have.

Specifically, I’ll call out the Kroxigors and Aggradon riders. Two units that had good rules, but the models themselves looked like they had just been pulled out of bed and weren’t fully awake. The new models are incredible, and I would give GW’s design team a huge amount of credit for finally making these monsters feel like monsters.

Danny: Agreed but I have issues with the warscrolls of each of those examples! Not from a strength standpoint – I’ve tried both and they have the right numbers in the right places – but I find their abilities frustratingly designed – and this is the start of a specific thread of bad design that you can trace through the book. It’s like they tried something new, and doubled down on it before testing and then couldn’t be bothered to change them.

For example – the Warspawned have an ability that gives them an extra attack if a skink model nearby dies. It’s a nice nod to the lore and older editions, and it’s not particularly hard to achieve – use skinks as a screen, have Krox just within 3″ behind them – job done.

But the issue in reality is that, on the actual board, this usually results in only a couple of extra attacks. And in Coalesced, there’s just no real other reason to take skinks, so soon as they’re dead, the ability can no longer be procced. The other rule that nods back to their WHFB formation is that Kroxigor can’t issue themselves commands (big dumb dinos!) but Skink unit champions can. Meaning there’s actually CONFLICT between the two rules – do you use skinks as a screen, given Krox aren’t particularly tanky, or keep them behind as a mobile command-giver? And In Starborne, it’s really hard to include Kroxigor and there’s no other synergy with them. So even though I love Kroxigor as a unit in their own right (in Coalesced), it’s just a frustratingly designed scroll.

Aggradons have a similar problem. They gain bonus attacks if they remain engaged at the end of a turn, but lose them whenever they end a turn out of engagement. In reality, I’ve found this has precisely one use – when you charge them in, they don’t kill something, they survive the hit back, and you win and take the double.

So, sure, it’s a neat little bonus to make up for lost models in a protracted engagement in a very specific circumstance but it’s very annoying that you could easily go multiple games without their signature ability ever coming into play.

And the book tries to carry this conceptual blood frenzy into the battle tactics – which are fine, overall – but the one that baffles me is ‘Pack Hunters’, which wants you to pick an enemy unit within 3″ of an Aggradon unit and for it to be within 3″ of 2 Aggradon units at the end of the turn.

When you think this through, that’s such a niche scenario as to be practically nonsensical. ‘Stampede of Scales’ – ‘have 3 monsters run and each to end within 6″ of one of those monsters, AND be wholly within enemy territory’.

Now, given there’s no way to make Seraphon monsters run and charge, this is basically asking you to run your three precious monsters into enemy territory and… do nothing else. I can see this working well when you’ve tabled the enemy already but otherwise… how does this interestingly play into your strategy?

The book enhancements have a slightly different design issue, and it’s one that has unfortunately reared its ugly head in a fair few other books. Simply put, they’re divided into ‘fluffy but a huge gamble’ (and these are usually once-per-game effects) and ‘overwhelmingly obvious competitive choice’. I’m all for supporting fluffier options but I stand by my claim that it’s more fun for everyone involved if there’s an actual meaningful choice between varied effects – that would also lead to more varied (and therefore fun) list building.

Rant over..!

Patrick: Which is where conversations about internal balance come into play as a whole. I’ve said for a long time that the Idoneth Deepkin tome is one of the better examples of internal balance. Everything has a place and a use, and we see that in GT articles where no two Idoneth lists look the same.

Peter can provide specific detail(and let me know if I’m wrong) but Seraphon were mono-build for a long time. Take Lord Kroak, take Thunder Lizard, take three Bastiladons, take Cogs, push the “win” button. I’m afraid that the book hinges so thoroughly on Kroak and spellcasting that it’s still competitively mono-build.

Proper internal balance is hard to achieve, and GW frequently misses the mark.

Peter: Yeah, I agree. Looking at the competitive lists that go 4+ wins, Lord Kroak, the Astrolith Bearer and a Slann Starmaster appear in every list. Along with usually, two units of Skinks and a unit of Warriors. On top of that, they all take Malevolent Maelstrom as well. This brings the points of your core competitive units to 1215. Leaving possibly only 785points worth of true choice.

Lord Kroak (410)
Saurus Astrolith Bearer (140)
Slann Starmaster (275)

Skinks (90)
Skinks (90)
Saurus Warriors (180)

1 x Malevolent Maelstrom (30)


Patrick: Every. List.

That goes beyond a balance problem. We’re fully in over-tooled and under-costed territory.

Peter: Every Competitive List that goes 4 wins or more.

Patrick: Fair point.

Danny: And it doesn’t necessarily mean Kroak is OP – it’s rather that the other options, especially Coalesced – don’t have a good viable alternative.

But either way, in summary – a real mixed bag in terms of enhancements, with most of them being consigned to the ‘maybe one day for fluff bin’, and the usual spread of pointless Grand Strats with one competitively decent if not terribly inspired one (have a Seraphon unit in each quarter). Mostly good warscrolls with some glaring lowlights, design if not efficiency wise.

And one last time I’d like to say – what were they thinking with the Engine of the Gods? You get #feelsbad just looking at the ability table on the scroll.

But overall, I do think Starborne feel like cosmic wizard lizards and by and large, Coalesced now look and feel like big stompy chompers, so in terms of overall player fantasy, it’s probably largely a success. Both internal and external balance issues can be address to some extent with future points changes, but can never account for the design failings.

Any last words from you gents before we make like a skink and re-roll our redeploy out of here?

Patrick: I’m not a fan of competitive mono-build, but overall I’m pleased with the book. The model range and magic are great, and hopefully we see some changes in the future to boost the less-used units.

Peter: I think the book is OK and the models are great. This particular handbook may be favouring them slightly more than past ones, but that’s the way of things sometimes.

Danny: My final final_finalV2 thought is that, yes we know double frog is good with Krondspine but I don’t want to even get into it. Overall I think there are 3/4 strong sub-factions. I still think further points tweaks are needed, and even though I’m disappointed in some of the design space – fangtastic new models, a variety of play-styles and a good core internal balance (with just a few outliers on either end) make for a fun book with depth and character. Now someone go forth and find a Thunder Lizards build!

Lumineth Realm-Lords Battletome Review

OK, I have returned from the dentist and all of my teeth are back in my head. Hopefully that remains the case for a while. Let’s talk Lumineth Realm-lords. Overall I’m pretty happy with what I’ve seen. The core rules of the army are flavorful, and encourage a very unique play-style. The Realm-lords are built to be the essential “Take All Comers” faction, and I think they will fit into that role well. The artifacts and command traits encourage players to build their heroes in such a way that emphasizes their strengths, and Teclis looks just as powerful as a god should be. I’m not completely happy with the internal balance of the book, which we can get into later, but there are plenty of viable builds presented. What are your thoughts on the core rules of the army?

I more or less echo that sentiment! High level – combined with what I’m hearing from my shiny, pointy-eared Clubmates, is that the feel of the army has changed significantly. On the overall plus side, the Great Nations are much better balanced now, offering a variety of contrasting play-styles. The main army rules are unchanged – and remain as useful and thematic as before. In true LRL fashion they have a lot of bling – i mean, enhancements – to choose from. But I think in many ways, discussing them will make more sense after considering the units. What were your gripes with the internal balance on the unit side?

Specifically with the durability of the Alarith units and rules. Taking the Ymetrica great nation allows your Alarith units to ignore Rend -1 and Rend -2, giving the Stoneguard units easy access to a 3+ that is potentially unrendable against many armies. They gain a 4+ ward when contesting an objective that is controlled by the LRL player, which means when those attacks do penetrate the armor, there is a 50% chance of the wound being shrugged. Overall I feel the combination makes those units so powerful that they overshadow many other elements of the book, and may encourage a mono-build faction.

The balancing point would be their relatively limited damage output, but if you can consistently hold primary objectives, you don’t necessarily need to destroy your opponent’s units. Ignoring that, however, the rest of the book is great. Most units seemed to come out of the new book without any major nerfs, and the Stoneguard and Windchargers are the only units that received major buffs (notably the Windchargers’ ability to ignore ward saves). Teclis took a minor blow, limiting his spellcasting slightly as he suffers wounds, but he received a points drop to counter that, which I think leaves him in a great position. Are there any warscroll winners in your opinion?

Yeah it does seem like Alarith and Stoneguard rules are very pushed in this book. Bear in mind the objective ward is only against MWs – but it’s still very strong and with Speed of Hysh it’s easy enough for them to zoom onto an objective to proc the ward. Pair that with generic or named Big Cow – who can target an enemy unit within 18″ for a -1 to hit (ranged AND melee) and Alarith can actually be insanely tanky on paper. You’re right they don’t slap the hardest but with a decent number of attacks – and the Stonemage giving them MWs on 5s to hit – they can still bring the pain! Agreed that Windchargers got a big glow up – ignoring wards and their extra shot being extended to 6″ is huge, both for zooming up to something and making it a pin-cushion or UH behind a screen.

The other biggest glow ups for me are Avalenor, Eltharion and the Ballistas. Eltharion now absolutely slaps, dealing extra damage to monsters and being on an unrendable 3+ by default kinda makes him a mini-Gotrek in some ways – certainly has rules befitting his beautiful model now. The Ballistas also got pretty reliable for their points, and adding one more source of targeted -1 to hit (once per battle in their case) is icing on the cake. Have GW finally figured out how to balance artillery!? How do you feel the Enhancements and streamlined spell lores fit in with the newly improved heroes?

The artefacts are all pretty viable, with some really standout choices for each type of hero. The Waystone would allow you to build a versatile Vannari hero, since it provides a free 13″ teleport with the ability to deploy at least 3″ from an enemy. This could either get your beatstick in range of an unprotected hero, or allow them to jump through terrain to grab an unoccupied objectve. The Silver Wand is a straightforward, but great artefact providing an extra spell cast for a Scinari hero, and while the Arcane Tome would do a similar job, I expect the balance scroll may make the Arcane Tome less appealing. The other artefacts are all decent, but I think that those two are the standouts for me.

The Command Traits set the book up to make list building interesting. All of them are good, and all of them buff the heroes to do the job they are designed for. This will make picking the general for your Realm-lords list a slightly difficult prospect, since you will wish for ways to take more than one. Almighty Blow and Swift are both simple, but deceptively good. The first allows for some pretty reliable mortal wound output, and the second makes it much easier to place your Wizard more efficiently.

There may be too many to dig into in this article, but what are your thoughts on the spells?

Agreed, the Artifacts/Command traits seem nicely balanced and should give a fair bit of flex and depth to your hero makeup. Spell lore wise, things have been streamlined a little – which was necessary, both from a book keeping standpoint and general external balance. Lambent Light has gone (re-rolling failed hits) which makes sense as that was the primary vector for abusing Sentinels. Solar Eclipse, another spell on the ‘watch list’ remains but had it’s CV increased to 9.

The new lores are mainly balance tweaks like this – but the higher CVs are mitigated by most casters now having a built in once per battle auto-cast on their warscroll. Either way, LRL still have an incredible magical toolkit – with Howling Gale for turning off CAs at 12″, the new Unbreakable Stoicism spell for allowing Stoneguard to do MWs on 5s instead of 6s, and the good old teleport spell ‘Transporting Vortex’, which when combined with Stoneguard and their mw ward of 4+ on objectives they control, will allow you to plonk them down T1 and ask your opponent some rock-hard questions.

How do you feel the tweaks to the Great Nations have ended up?

I think the Great Nations are all pretty great (see what I did there?). Ymetrica has already been mentioned, and is the go-to for building extremely tanky Alarith units, but I won’t say that it’s a standout winner. All of the Great Nations strike me as useful, it’s just a matter of how you want to build your army. If you want to focus on spellcasting, Zaitrec provides your wizards with a +1 bonus to casting, dispelling, and unbinding rolls, which will help offset the high casting value of the Realm-lord spell lore. Meanwhile, if you want to have extremely powerful Vanari Sentinels, Helon increases the Attacks characteristic of your ranged weapons if your target is within 6″. Syar and Illiatha boost Aetherquartz reserves, and Alumnia rewards you for playing tight formations. Most tomes that have been released so far leave me thinking there are either one or two subfactions that are better than the rest, and here I can honestly say that I can see relatively equal value in all of what’s presented. I think that leaves us with the Matched Play rules. How do you feel about the Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics?

Interesting, I didn’t think of Sentinels as benefiting much from Helon – I think it’s Windchargers that become a real menace there though. A reinforced unit of 10 is able to fly forward 12″, ignoring terrain – say it can get within 6″ of an enemy unit, and then put out 31 attacks – with AoD on 2/3/-1/1, ignoring ward saves – before charging for 10 more attacks 3/3/-1/1 and 20 3/4/-/1 from the mounts OR proccing ‘Move Like The Wind’ to pile in 6″ in ANY direction – i.e. sling-shotting themselves out of engagement range. That’s a powerful drive..well, ride-by.

The Matched Play rules are seeming really quite pushed in the most recent books. We discussed how DoT’s bump them up a tier instantly – LRL fare pretty darn well too. In terms of Grand Strats, it’s a mixed bag, but ‘Alarith Aftershock: 2+ friendly Alarith units contesting 2+ objectives’ is very doable unless you’ve been tabled in which case, who cares. Battle Tacs are much easier. Now ballistas are good, ‘kill a monster with one’ is going to be an obvious pick, especially if you’ve taken 2, once you leave a monster on around 3-4 wounds. ‘Kill an enemy unit with a unit with an aetherquartz reserve, without spending that reserve’ is also going to be fairly trivial when the time is right. ‘Cast 4 spells’ is extra points for exactly what you want to do, and will be easily able to do against all but the most magic dominant armies, especially factoring in the auto-casts. ‘Have 2+ endless spells at the end of the turn’ will be super easy first turn most of the time. By and large, I think they’re just about within acceptable parameters. The main issue I have with them is, when the LRL picks then, 9/10 times they will just be utterly non-interactive and impossible to deny.

Mind you, given how techy the rest of the army is, maybe anything more complicated would have been the mental straw that broke the camel’s mind.

So to cap off – let’s pin our hats to the wall again – competitive rating guess?

I think this will be a top tier army, competitively, but I’m not sure if we’ll see spam lists the same way we do with other high performing armies. I suspect that players will lean heavily on windchargers and stoneguard, and a fair few of their battle tactics can be instantly scored by Teclis. Given what we’ve shown above, though, I’m not sure that the army composition is what will win games, so much as the battle tactics. I think the ability to easily score points will drive the win rate above 50%, but I honestly think there are other factions that will be good counters for them. DoT and ThunderKroak will counter their magic, and hard-hitting armies like DoK may be able to remove the problem units before they become an issue. Overall, I think their win rate will be above 50%, but I don’t know that they will break 55%.

Closing Comments
As we’ve been a little slow in posting this review, there’s been a chance for some new lists to meet the (searing) light of day – with some success, it seems!

Disciples of Tzeentch: Battletome Review

The Changers of Ways return! And fittingly, we’ve decided to try and change our review format a little. Mainly because, to support the new release, we’ve decided to break things up and create a conversational, high-level review, a more detailed guide to playing the faction, and the next in our ‘Getting Started’ style series.

So read on to discover what two of the finest (and by finest, we mean, ‘most attracted to bright colours’) minds of Woehammer had to say about the new Tzeentch Tome.

What’s CHANGED in this Tome? Eh? *cough*

Danny:  So, Patrick – let’s start with what we were hoping for from this book. Put simply, I was hoping for balance. I feel like 3e books (apart from the opening brace of SCE and Orruks, who suffered from time honoured first-book syndrome) have been wonderfully balanced, internally and externally. Such a control and magic heavy army as Tzeentch risked being problematic to balance, so I thought if they could make a few of the lesser seen units more viable without breaking the game, we could all be happy.   How about you?

Patrick: I like variety and flavor, and with a few exceptions (looking at you, Gore-gruntas) AoS 3e has been good about making enough units viable in each tome to prevent mono-build and spam lists. Like you said, heavy magic armies make that balance and viability a little more difficult, but I was mostly hoping to see some varied lists start to show up in the top 10 spots at tournaments.

As someone who plays against Tzeentch rather than as Tzeencth, a selfish part of me was also hoping that the army would be bad. I don’t think I got my wish.

Danny : Good segue to your ‘favourite’ 3 things about this book, and a one line summary of where you think it will land competitively?

Patrick: My favorite part of the book is the spell lores. There are two spell lores with 11 spells between them. All of those spells are great, with maybe one or two exceptions. Tzeentch players are going to be able to customize their Wizards to perform whatever specific task they want. Past there, I think the summoning mechanic is interesting, and generating summoning points with every spell successfully cast means that even high level units like Lords of Change will see summons. I also like that the mechanic gives some counterplay, since your opponent can technically block your summons by killing your heroes, or swarming them with units.

The Change Covens are also great, and you will easily see two different Tzeentch armies have very different playstyles based on the chosen Coven. While some are going to be chosen more often than others for competitive games, I think there is play for each. Guild of Summoners will probably see the most play, but there’s something to be said for Pyrofane Cult and Cult of the Transient Form, both of which improve the utility of your battleline units. Competitively I think we’re going to see this army float to the top for a while.

The options that are presented are strong. I will say that I think the army is going to suffer against some current top contenders, though. Thunder Kroak lists are going to create problems for spellcasting and may be effective enough to delay summoning, and some top-tier Stormcast and Ironjawz lists will present problems for Tzeentch’s relative squishiness. That all being said, Tzeentch was in a good position before this book came out. We’ll see if the win rate breaks the 55% barrier that they were already flirting with.

Big Bird Make More Stuff Cast Good Now

What about you? I expect that you have more experience to see some exciting changes.

Danny: Yep, the new Guild of Summoners capping the 2nd LoC summon at 18 is potentially huge, especially given there are now plenty of ways to generate fate points, including one off guarantee chunks of them. The spells, predictably, do kick ass too – the strongest for me is easily Arcane Suggestion due to the tactical flexibility of it. Choosing whether to turn off commands, -1 to hit and wound, or put an extra -1 rend on a unit is absolutely game-changing in many circumstances

Danny: I’m not sure I agree on the Change Covens though. I like that they offer plenty of conditional battleline now, but they’re definitely not all created equal. Eternal Conflagration giving extra rend to flamers is potentially very strong – combo with the above spell for -2 rend flamers for example, screened by horrors etc.   But I think Hosts Arcanum (one free unbind and nothing else), Transient Form  (very unhelpful fight on death on Acolytes with a 6 generating a Tzangor) (and Pyrofane Cult super niche extra damage from Acolytes shooting) are all hot garbage, basically, and I see no reason to take any of them outside of fluff or really loving your Acolytes and wanting to juice them to the max.

Patrick: Interjection: I do love fluff and Acolytes.

Danny:   Interjection noted!

As a counterpoint, I’m going to list my 3 least favourite things about the book.

1. A whole bunch of the artifacts are geared towards melee (e.g. Daemonheart being a once per battle, number of MWs equal to battleround within 1″ of the bearer) with no good melee heroes to utilise them.

2. The aforementioned Change Coven internal balance – I think there are basically 2.5 competitive ones and 3 assuredly garbage ones. It’s a shame, given they could really have been a way to elevate Tzangors or similar that doesn’t really exist anywhere else in the book.

3. Warscroll wise, there are quite a few heroes who just don’t really seem to have a well defined niche and are variations on a theme. There’s some missing identity and fun factor there for me.

Patrick: I 100% agree on the relics. There are some strong choices, but there’s never a good reason to put a melee-focused option on a Tzeentch Hero. You’re always better off with something that’s going to improve your spellcasting like the Nine-Eyed Tome, or your Destiny Dice mechanic like The Eternal Shroud. I don’t see a lot of good uses for the Arcanite Artefacts at all, though. Especially the “deal mortals equal to the battle round” appearing twice. That is either going to do nothing, or only deal a solid chunk of mortals too late in the game to do anything. I also don’t like the number of “feels bad” mechanics in the book.

The ability for a Lord of Change to simply turn your endless spells back on you is going to feel rotten every time it happens. The presence of a non-interactive Grand Strategy that only requires you to have Destiny Dice equal to or greater than 9 at the end of the battle is bad. It guarantees that you succeed without giving your opponent the opportunity to play around it.

Danny: Moving on – we’re not going to talk about every damn allegiance ability and army enhancement. Some stuff got taken away, some stuff has been streamlined – but let’s quickly talk about Arcane Armies, which is an excellent new rule allowing for a Tzeentch endless spell to be auto-cast before the start of the first turn, which can’t be unbound in the first battle round – how do you see that playing out?

This is huge!

Patrick: I really like Arcane Armies. I think we’ll mostly see the Tome of Eyes to get rerolls on casting. That will guarantee an effective first hero phase, especially for a unit like a Lord of Change, and push some summoning points early on. If the ability was not restricted to faction endless spells I think it would be broken. A guaranteed turn 1 purple sun, or deploying in a way for all of your wizards to get the benefit of the Chronomatic Cogs would be devastating. As it is, it’s a nice ability that won’t be game changing.

Danny: Tome of Eyes is great but it’s hard to overlook Sigil – the ability to do multiple instances of d3 mortals and turn stuff into spawn in both turns of the first battle round – maybe pinning units in place and killing more in melee is potentially huge. I think it is a game changer!

Now, we both agree the artifacts are, overall, a missed opportunity. Do we feel the same way about the command abilities? Any stand outs for you?

Patrick: The Command Abilities either stink or they’re amazing, and there isn’t a lot of in-between. Cult Demagogue providing a 1/6 chance of automatic casting without the ability to be unbound is incredible, and Arcane Sacrifice can seriously improve the function of your wizards early-game, since your opponent will generally want to deploy outside of the 18” danger zone. I personally don’t love the Daemon traits, they don’t seem to synergize well with what the units want to do outside of Arch-Sorcerer providing two extra known spells. (edited)

Outside of those, we are once again seeing a few abilities to improve the melee capabilities of your Arcanite units, which you will never take, and they wasted ink by putting them in the book. (edited)

Patrick: I’m interested in your thoughts on the matched play rules, particularly the grand strategies. I have some strong opinions, but maybe you can provide some counterpoints to my rage. (edited)

Danny : They’re undoubtedly strong. Maybe close or equal to the strongest of any book in 3e so far. Master of Destiny – ‘add the total value of your unused Destiny Dice – score the GS if they’re above 9’ is effectively guaranteed. The others are good, but why would you ever not take this one?

The battle tactics… Call for Change wants you to summon a LoC. In Summoners, with an obvious combo of Enhancements/units, you’ll be able to guarantee this on the appropriate turn at near zero risk. Mass Conjuration needs a wizard casts 3 spells that go off and aren’t unbound in a turn. You’re Tzeentch so this isn’t hard. Ninefold Dismantlemant asks you to kill a unit with 9 or more models, or a monster with 9+ wounds. This will be almost any unit, in reality, on the board. Reckless Abandon wants a moral more than 18″ from an enemy to complete a charge – bit naff but ways to get it done. And Tides of Anarchy wants you to take control of an objective from your opponent and have 9+ models within 6″ of it.

Now, as a DoK player I’ve heard plenty of salt about trivially easy to score battle tactics. They’re obviously one of the main vectors a book can become unbalanced along. And it’s pretty clear to see DoT are going to have an incredibly easy time of scoring 3-4 of their book tactics every game. Given I think the army plays the mission very well anyway, yeah I’m going to agree with your implication Patrick, these are over-tuned and almost impossible for your opponent to deny in most match ups.

Should we move onto the warscrolls? Who do you think are the biggest winners?

These guys hit hard now.

Patrick: The changes to Arcane Tome for the Fateskimmer and Fluxmaster are great. The security provided by a reroll alone is excellent, but adding 3 to the value of the second attempt makes most spells a guaranteed cast. The Blue ascribe is also an insanely flexible caster, and I expect we will see him used in most lists. The gaunt summoners created some rumblings over their new Lords of the Silver Towers ability, potentially one-shotting an enemy hero. The summoner has to survive the initial attacks to use the ability, however, and if an opponent can’t kill a Gaunt Summoner in one round then they deserve what’s coming.

I think Tzaangors Skyfires are going to show up a good bit, too. Their speed and flying makes them an excellent harassing unit, and the ability to ignore hit/wound penalties with their bows means they might pose a threat to more targets. Special shout out to Kairos Acolytes. I wouldn’t describe them as good, but Arcane Cataclysm made them pretty bad. The Battletome corrects all the changes, and leaves them pretty much identical to their 2e profile.

Danny: Agreed, Skyfires doing d3 mws on 6s combos nicely with Fate Dice, and I think a unit of 6 will be common given how reliably they can snipe off support heroes at range – their movement and relative durability make them excellent objective grabbers too. I think it’s fair to say everything that was already good, stayed good – including Screamers, even if they lost their extra damage to wizards, at 100 points and with their newly reliable combat profile, they’re fantastic value. In general, things got more consistent – especially flamers.

For me, the losers are Tzangors, on foot and Enlightened. I just don’t really get what they do now, aside from look pretty. I also nominate a fair few heroes – Curseling, the Ogroids, Tzaangor Shaman especially – as being highly uninteresting now. But overall, there are some serious buff bots here with plenty of fun and powerful rules. Be prepared to have many of your models turn into spawn…

Ok let’s wrap this up. I wanted to hold back my reaction to your competitive rating until now – and I think I agree. Some folks are bemoaning what the book has lost, but overall I think it contains board control (horrors, Sigil, fast cheap grabbers), extremely powerful magic, and A+/S tier matched play rules.

Weaknesses will be fast, aggressive armies and powerful shooting that can shut down their casting momentum. I predict it’ll take some time to bed in, but then we’ll absolutely see it taking down podiums but not reaching the heights of Nurgle, Seraphon or SCE – certainly not this season anyway.

Patrick: I completely agree. I expect that they will break the 55% win rate barrier. There are a handful of rules that they lost, but I think what they gained more than makes up for it. The only real complaint I have comes from me being an opponent rather than a player, but I don’t want to restate what I’ve already said. Overall, this is a great tome, and I think Tzeentch players have a lot to love.

And there you have it! Bird fans – agree, disagree, just want to talk about how good big birds are? Let us know in the comments, twitter or discord! We’d also love to know what you think of this review format. Don’t be shy now.