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Orruk Warclans Battletome Review: Big Waaagh

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Allegiance Abilities

Woehammer Winner:
The Power of the Waaagh! is the undisputed champion in this slot and is one of the reasons that Big Waaagh! army that is Ironjawz + Wurrgog is arguably stronger that pure Ironjawz. At eight different points in a battle round, your army can earn Waaagh! points:

  • D6pts at the start of your hero phase
  • 2pts at the start of your hero phase if a friendly Warchanter is on the battlefield
  • 1pt at the start of your hero phase if a friendly Bonesplitterz Wizard (i.e. probably a Wurrgog Prophet) is on the battlefield
  • 1-5pts as a heroic action in your hero phase
  • 1pt in your charge phase for each friendly Orruk unit that finishes a charge move
  • 1pt at the end of your combat phase for each friendly Orruk unit that is within 3” of an enemy unit
  • 1-5pts as a heroic action in your opponent’s hero phase
  • 1pt at the end of your combat phase for each friendly Orruk unit that is within 3” of an enemy unit

Arguably I’ve duplicated those last two, but I think it’s worth it to point out that if you lean into it, the points can mount up quickly. As for what you get for these points, they start at 8pts for +1 to run rolls; 10pts for +1 to charge rolls; 12pts for +1 to cast, dispel and unbind; 16pts for +1 to hit in melee; 20pts for +1 to wound. And here’s the magic: they are cumulative, so you get ALL the buffs at 20pts. At 24pts, you can release the Power of the Waaagh! which you should NEVER IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DO! The reason for this is that your Waaagh! points revert to zero for the pathetic buff of +1 to attacks characteristics for ONE combat phase. Hitting and wounding on 2s is better than having one extra attack that hits and wounds on 3s. In addition, there is a battle tactic that requires you to have at least 24 Waaagh! points at the start of the turn and then have at least 30 by the end of the turn. If you release the Power of the Waaagh!, you give away one of the easiest, if not the easiest battle tactic in Age of Sigmar.

Honourable Mention:
Although you don’t get the full benefits from each sub-faction when you include them as part of Big Waaagh!, you do get some of the juicy rules with Kunnin’, Brutal and Savage. Namely, you get Venom Encrusted Weapons for any Kruleboyz units (see Part 1 for more details); Mighty Destroyers for any Ironjawz units (see Part 2 for more details); Warpaint for any Bonesplitterz units (6+ Ward). This helps to give a little extra flavour and efficiency to each of these units, which is important as…

Warclans

…you don’t get any! The point of Big Waaagh! is that all the Orruks come together from many Warclans so there aren’t any rules for separate Warclans.

Command Traits

Woehammer Winner:
There are lots of command traits available for your Big Waaagh! general, but it does depend on which sub-faction (Kruleboyz, Ironjawz or Bonesplitterz) your general comes from. Who your general is probably depends on what else your army is trying to do, so there are a few ways you could go here. Assuming that we’re going with either an Ironjawz Warchanter or even a Megaboss on Mawkrusha, Touched by the Waaagh! not only has Waaagh! in the name (so it must be good), but also allows an Ironjawz Wizard (thanks Arcane Tome!) to do D3 wounds to a unit within 6” of itself and add that to the cast roll. Once you’ve got to 12 Waaagh! points then that’s D3+1, allowing a relatively straightforward cast of your key spell: Da Great Big Green Hand of Gork.

Honourable Mention:
Maybe you have Chronomantic Cogs to help with spells going off or maybe you want to go full aggro, but an honourable mention is Supa Sneaky from the Kruleboyz part of the tome, probably put on a Mirebrute Troggoth with Fast ‘Un. Just as with Kruleboyz, this means you can put this very angry trog 9” away from the enemy and then move them 5” forward for an almost guaranteed charge. You can potentially combo this with Da Great Big Green Hand of Gork and Mighty Destroyers to start movement phase one with the Mirebrute and six Gore Gruntas 4” or less from your opponent’s front lines, possibly with a Mawkrusha about to move an extra 12” to be able to absolutely decimate your enemy. The caveat with this combo is Big Waaagh! lists often want to have multiple artefacts and/or mount traits so you may not have the option of who goes first, which puts your general at a disadvantage if you do Supa Sneaky him. However, if you stick with just one artefact (Glowin’ Tattooz), take a Weirdnob Shaman for Da Great Big Green Hand of Gork in place of Arcane Tome and the other options listed above, you can get to a double battle regiment, two-drop list.

Artefacts

Woehammer Winner:
If you’re taking the Wurrgog then you need to take Glowin’ Tattooz to improve the Ward save of a hero to 4+ instead of 6+. For your opponent, this takes the Wurrgog Prophet from a threat to an absolute nightmare to get within 12” of, knowing that it can kill absolutely anything in the game.

Honourable Mention:
Almost every Big Waaagh! list will feature Da Great Big Green Hand of Gork and almost none of them will feature a Weirdnob Shaman to cast it. Instead, the Arcane Tome fills in, allowing a Warchanter or Megaboss to ping any Orruk unit (i.e. not just Ironjawz) 9” away from the enemy.

Mount Traits

Woehammer Winner:
By this point, you can probably guess what’s coming…that’s right, it’s Fast ‘Un! One of the reasons for going Big Waaagh! vs. Ironjawz is to be able to take the Wurrgog Prophet, but almost as compelling is the ability to take the Breakaboss on Mirebrute Troggoth. And as Glowin’ Tattooz is practically compulsory on a Prophet, Fast ‘Un is practically compulsory on a Mirebrute. It’s obviously also amazing on a Mawkrusha and even a Sludgeraker as a budget version of the Mawkrusha.

Honourable Mention:
As command traits are at an absolute premium and you won’t be taking Hulking Brute over the options above, the next best option is Smelly ‘Un for that extra survivability on (likely) your Mawkrusha. With a 3+ save base, add in -1 to hit when not charging, +1 to saves from Their Finest Hour, All out Defence for an extra +1 and even Mystic Shield, that Mawkrusha is not going down short of getting in trouble with Kragnos and it will hit back tremendously hard, possibly clearing the unit that had the temerity of attacking it, ready to move on to some fresh victims!

Spell Lore

Woehammer Winner:
It has been mentioned several times already, but Da Great Big Green Hand of Gork is the first spell that should be on your army list. Mawkrushas and Gore Gruntas are relatively quick without it, but practically everything else you’ll be taking in Big Waaagh is slow. Add in the combination explained in Part 2 of these reviews where you Hand of Gork Gore Gruntas 12.1” away from an enemy and then Mighty Destroyers it 9” in the hero phase, circumventing Redeploy, then you’ve got a winning combo. It also works on anything with the Orruk keyword, not just Ironjawz, so throw those Boltboyz in danger-close or even some Big Stabbas.

Honourable Mention:
There is a very strong case for Nasty Hex taking this slot, particularly in the current meta with lots of ghosts and gross flies wafting around the place. But you do need to either take a Swampcalla Shaman to access it or put the Arcane Tome on a Kruleboyz character. It is much more likely that you’re going to have access to a Bonesplitterz wizard as the Wurrgog is also a wizard when there’s nothing to stare to death within 12” at the start of the hero phase. The spell you’d go for in this case, would probably be Gorkamorka’s War Cry in order to make an enemy unit fight at the end of the phase. Losing out on the Kruleboyz Waaagh! and Smashing and Bashing means that the fight phase is not in your control as you would ideally like. War Cry goes some way to redressing this balance in the favour of the Orruk player.

Grand Strategies

Woehammer Winner:
Applying the same logic as I did with the Command Traits, then Waaagh! has to be the option here and it’s definitely worth considering if your general is a Mawkrusha and/or you have taken a big unit of Brutes that can be dropped in by Gork. In almost all games, your Mawkrusha (if you take one) will be wanting to do work in your opponent’s territory and even on foot, Brutes (or even 15 Ardboyz) should be able to make it across the battlefield in five turns!

Honourable Mention:
With the manoeuvrability of Big Waaagh! then an honourable mention is No Place for the Weak, particularly if you have included either a Warlord or Command Entourage battalion because then you’re not winning the drop game and you may as well also make the Gore Gruntas you take (and you will want at least six) to be bounty hunters. With a Warchanter buff on them, that’s 3 damage vs. Galletian Veterans, making those battleline units disappear very quickly. Alternatively, if you’re playing a bit more cagey in the first couple of turns with a Mawkrusha, then by turn three, anything that is a genuine threat to your big angry cabbage might already be dead, allowing him to roam the board, chewing up and spitting out any battleline he can find.

Battle Tactics

Woehammer Winner:
As alluded to earlier, Big Waaagh! have a book battle tactic that is ridiculously easy to pull off with Wait For It, Ladz. You need to fulfil the following to conditions: have at least 24 Waaagh! points at the start of the turn; have at least 30 Waaagh! points at the end of the turn. It is very likely that you will be at 24 Waaagh! points by the start of battle round 4 and it’s practically guaranteed to be there by battle round 5. If you ever start a battle round with 30 Waaagh! points, then it’s already scored…even if you are tabled!

Honourable Mention:
With Wait For It Ladz being our likely turn 5 battle tactic, Barge Through Enemy Lines is a great choice for turn 4 as Big Waaagh! is a melee-centric faction with the buffs from the Power of the Waaagh. Therefore you probably have one Galletian Veterans unit relatively close to enemy territory by this turn and a sneaky Hand of Gork could pop another one in, scoring not only the battle tactic, but the bonus point too.

Warscrolls

Woehammer Winner:
The core of your Big Waaagh! list will most likely be Ironjawz as they have the best battleline and Gore Gruntas are great. The warscrolls we’re going to focus on are the two warscrolls that are the most common non-Ironjawz units chosen: Wurrgog Prophet and Breakaboss on Mirebrute Troggoth. Please check out Part 3 of the Orruk Warclans book for more information about what the Wurrgog does and why he’s so fun, but I’m going to give you an example of what he can do with Big Waaagh! If you also have a Mawkrusha in your list, then it is a high-value target that your opponent will want to take out, but sufficiently tanky that something quite substantial needs to be committed to remove it from the board. If you have a Wurrgog Prophet within 12” of your Mawkrusha, your opponent can still charge, but then you’re perfectly placed to ‘Hard Stare’ that unit out of existence if they succeed with the Mawkrusha. You could even point this out to your opponent to check to see if they really want to take that risk. If they choose not to charge, you win. If they choose to charge and the Mawkrusha destroys them, you win. If the Mawkrusha dies, then you win as you then get to play ‘Whose head will blow up first?’, which is fun whichever head pops first! Just don’t try this with Morathi as she ruins all our fun.

Honourable Mention:
The other unit is the Breakaboss on Mirebrute Troggoth. You’re not going to find a much more efficient way of delivering up to five damage 2 attacks and ten (!) damage 3 attacks than the Mirebrute. With the Supa Sneaky or Hand of Gork + Fast ‘Un combo, you’re almost guaranteed to get into combat and then he can do some severe damage. In your opponent’s turn, popping Their Finest Hour and All out Defence can make him hang around longer than he really should and if (when) he dies, who cares! He was only 180pts and he probably wiped a fairly premium unit and held your opponent up a turn while potentially a Mawkrusha and Gore Gruntas hammered the other flank.

Final Thoughts

Big Waaagh! is what you choose if you like Ironjawz, but want a few more techy options; or if you like Kruleboyz but want to be a bit tougher and faster; or if you like Bonesplitterz but fancy having a big monster run around the place. It’s also a really fun army from a hobby perspective as you can take all these disparate sculpts and bring them together as a cohesive whole with which to stomp the enemy with. It’s also quite a rare army to see out in the wild, so if you have a few Ironjawz, half a Dominion box and some Savage Orcs from Warhammer Fantasy Battle, then maybe give them a try.

This is the last part of the Orruk Warclans Battletome Review. Is there anything that we missed? Any combos not mentioned? Are any of our choices just plain wrong?! Please leave a comment below, in the Woehammer Discord or even contact me at @yeliabnoreik on Twitter. There’s just one thing left to say and that’s: WAAAGH!

Lumineth Realm-Lords Battletome Review

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Poots
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?

Danny
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?

Poots
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?

Danny
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?

Poots
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?

Danny
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?

Poots
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?

Danny
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?

Poots
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!

Orruk Warclans Battletome Review Part 2: Ironjawz

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Peter: Kieron has had parts 1 through 4 written for a good while now and it’s only my own schedule that’s prevented me from posting these for him. For those who enjoyed Part 1: Kruleboyz and have been waiting for the others, I can only apologise. Part 3: Bonesplitterz will be posted this time next week. With the final part: Big Waaagh! Coming a week later. If you want to read them earlier they’ll be available on our Patreon site

Allegiance Abilities

Woehammer Winner:
How can Ironjawz reliably get three turn 1 charges off, even when their opponent is hiding back in their territory? The defining battle trait Mighty Destroyers is the answer. This amazing ability allows a unit that receives this command to make a normal move if they are outside of 12” of an enemy; attempt a charge if they are within 12” of an enemy unit; or pile in 3” if already in engagement range. Combine that with a Megaboss on Mawkrusha, who can issue the command to three different units and you could have two units of Gore Gruntas moving 18” and then charging. That is to say nothing of the Mawkrusha itself who can also receive the command, moving 12” due to Mighty Destroyers, 12” if they have the Fast ‘Un mount trait followed by a move of 12” and then a charge of up to 12”! Just a casual 48” threat range then on this monster! If your opponent doesn’t screen well, the heart of their army can be ripped out before they can respond, especially when considering…

Honourable Mention:
Smashing and Bashing. This ability means that if the first unit activated in the combat phase kills and enemy unit, instead of your opponent being able to hit back, you choose a second unit to activate. If that unit wipes out an enemy, the Ironjawz fight again and so on until either there are no units in combat or an enemy is not destroyed. Combined with Mighty Destroyers, it is not unusual for an army facing the Ironjawz to be at least three units down while doing no damage in return AND to be pinned in their own territory.

Warclans

Woehammer Winner:
This is incredibly close and depends what sort of army composition you are planning. If you want to lean into speed and mobility while avoiding fielding any Galletian Veterans then you are probably wanting to take Gore Gruntas as battleline and Bloodtoofs lets you do that. In addition, if a Gore Gruntas unit is still in engagement range at the end of the combat phase then they can pile in an additional 3”. Even better is that Gore Gruntas that fought but are not within engagement range can either make a normal move or attempt a charge, further increasing the range of these now turbo-charged pigs who may have moved 9” in the hero phase, 9” in the movement phase, 12” in the charge phase, piled in 3” and then charged an additional 12” for a mindboggling 45” or five times the movement characteristic on their Warscroll.

Honourable Mention:
If you are looking to include mostly Ardboyz and Brutes in your army, then Ironsunz is probably the one you want to go for. Their clan trait is that you can charge at the end of your opponent’s charge phase as long as you are not already engaged in combat. Nurgle players know and love this ability (called Blightkrieg on The Glottkin’s Warscroll) but Ironjawz had it first and it’s free for all units to use, including your Mawkrusha. With Ardboyz and Brutes moving a frankly sedentary 4” each, anything that can give them extra movement is helpful, so having twice the number of charge phases helps get your Orruks across the board and where they want to be: in combat.

Command Traits

Woehammer Winner:
Whereas Kruleboyz players probably want to take at least two if not all three of their versions, the Ironjawz ones are somewhat lacklustre in comparison. The winner is definitely Mighty Waaagh! Leader, which allows you to re-reroll charges for Ironjawz that are wholly within 12”, which is quite big area once you factor in the Mawkrusha’s huge base. With the Waaagh adding 1 to charges and adding a much needed pip of rend to weapons, the last thing you want it for charges to fall short and for this once per battle ability to have gone to waste.

Honourable Mention:
There is a possible combo with the Arcane Tome as an artefact and either Touched by the Weird and Master of Magic to help a spell (Hand of Gork – see below) be cast, but I’m going to stick within the book for this one and go with Hulking Brute. Hulking Brute adds D3 mortal wounds once the general has completed a charge on a 2+ to one enemy unit. While not incredibly inspiring on its own, if the general on Mawkrusha also takes Mean ‘Un as a mount trait, then Stomp goes to D6 instead of D3 and there are no more pesky Hunters of the Heartlands left to stop you! Add in the Warscroll ability Destructive Bulk and not only are another 3 mortal wounds (at top bracket) added to the damage, but if a unit is then destroyed, the Mawkrusha can immediately pile in D6” and Stomp again for another D6+3 mortal wounds. Add in the impact hits from Gore Gruntas who are probably fighting alongside the Mawkrusha, ten wound screens are at serious risk of just making charges shorter and not actually achieving any screening at all.

Artefacts

Woehammer Winner:
As mentioned above, there is a combo with Arcane Tome available, but I’m going to stick to the Ironjawz Artefacts of Power here with Armour of Gork being the winner of the three. Armour of Gork gives a 6+ ward and adds 1 to hit rolls, but with a penalty of 2” from the model’s movement characteristic. On a Megaboss on foot this results in a hilariously bad 2” move, but on the Mawkrusha, that’s still a 10” move that can get up to 20” once per battle with Fast ‘Un. A 6+ ward also makes the Megaboss effectively 21 wounds rather than 18 and offers some measure of protection against mortal wound spells and shooting.

Honourable Mention:
A close second and probably the one you’d give to a Megaboss on foot (though see why this might be different for Big Waaagh in Part 4) is Destroyer for a once per battle +3 damage to the bearer’s melee weapons. Combine with the Warchanter’s +1 damage buff for between seven and eight 6 damage attacks depending on which flavour of Megaboss is carrying this artefact.

Mount Traits

Woehammer Winner:
To give the option of a first turn angry Orruk cabbage charge, there can only be one: Fast ‘Un. The base that the Mawkrusha sits on is huge and while this can be a good thing, it can also make manoeuvring difficult, meaning that an extra move can be really helpful to get in exactly the right place for that charge, be it on the first turn or not. It’s also a great combo with Armour of Gork to offset the movement penalty that comes with this artefact.

Honourable Mention:
As referenced above, taking Mean ‘Un can maximise the damage done on the charge and through stomps by your Mawkrusha, making it your second choice. Double Mawkrusha lists have taken down many events in the past (and have done so even in 2022-23 Season 1) so Mean ‘Un could be a choice for a second mount trait if you go down the Warlord/Command Entourage Battalion route. Then you need to ask whether the D6 damage vs. D3 damage on the Stomp every turn is worth more than Destroyer as a second artefact? Probably not, but it’s quite a fun option.

Spell Lore

Woehammer Winner:
If you are not using herds of Gore Gruntas and Mawkrushas to get across the board, then the mobility of your foot troops is one of the biggest challenges as an Ironjawz general. Step up Da Great Big Hand of Gork to solve all those problems. For a mere casting value of 7, a unit that is not in combat and is wholly within 12” can be redeployed any where on the battlefield 9” from the enemy, but cannot move in the following movement phase. At this point, if Gork is throwing Brutes across the board, you can then Mighty Destroyers the Brutes to get them to attempt a 9” charge, with another two attempts possible in the charge phase if you don’t make it first time. However, if you want to channel that other Orruk god, Mork and be cunningly brutal, you can use Da Great Big Hand of Gork on a unit of Gore Gruntas and then place them outside of 12” (that is, 12.1” away). When Mighty Destroyers in then used, they can make their normal move of 9”, ending up with a 3” charge away from the enemy, getting around the restriction on moving after using Hand of Gork as it’s out of phase and preventing enemy redeploys for the same reason. (You could use the same trick with Brutes too, especially if you plan on calling the Waaagh that turn to get +1 to charge rolls in the charge phase, making it effectively a 7” charge.)

Honourable Mention:
While Foot of Gork is hilarious, potentially causing enough wounds to one-shot a fully tricked out Gargant, second place goes to Bash ‘Em Ladz! It is quite tricky to get off, with a casting value of 8, but Touched by the Waaagh! can help with that and it gives a buff of +1 to wound for ALL Ironjawz units wholly within 16” of the caster. Bonuses to hit are fairly commonplace, but there’s a reason that Inspired is the best Triumph you can pick – often there’s no other way to get this buff. Now imagine this on a Mawkrusha and two units of 6 Gore Gruntas…Destruction Grand Alliance indeed!

Grand Strategies

Woehammer Winner:
More so than with Kruleboyz, Waaagh is a fantastic Grand Strategy for Ironjawz by virtue of the fact that your general is probably flying around the place and looking to stomp enemies in their own territory anyway and, if you chose the Bloodtoofs Warclan, then a single Gore Grunta can score this for you.

Honourable Mention:
For the second choice, if you are going GHB only, the Ironjawz best pick is the opposite to Kruleboyz with Take What’s Theirs as your whole battleplan involves getting right in your opponent’s face and killing their army in their own territory and this Grand Strategy plays right into these strengths.

Battle Tactics

Woehammer Winner:
Continuing the theme of Battle Tactics with interesting spellings (or should that be spellinz?), Ironjawz have access to Squish Da Puny Gitz. There needs to be at least one Battleline unit left on the battlefield and there needs to be none left at the end of the turn. With the amount of output possible from Ironjawz, particularly Bounty Hunter Gore Gruntas doing up to 3 damage per attack against Galletian Veterans, this should a fairly straightforward one to get.

Honourable Mention:
With such an absolute beat-stick as a Megaboss on Mawkrusha as your general, This One’s Mine is a total no-brainer. Find it. Kill it. Score points. ‘Nuff said.

Warscrolls

Woehammer Winner:
This unit has been mentioned repeatedly throughout this review, so it has to be the Megaboss on Mawkrusha. Not only does he allow three uses of Mighty Destroyer a turn and have a huge base for sharing this command and other buffs (e.g. re-reroll charges), but he can be absolutely devastating in combat too. With the Warchanter buff and if the Destroyer relic is taken, he should do between 5-10 mortal wounds before even fighting and then, with All out Attack and Finest Hour (aka Best Day Ever) and the Ironjawz Waaagh, seven attacks that hit and wounds on 2+ at Rend -2 for 6 damage each followed by eight attacks from his mount that hit and wound on 2+ at Rend -3 with the Waaagh for 3 damage each. Add all those up and it’s a potential of 70+ wounds in a single combat from a unit that may have started over 50” away from you. You can close your jaw now.

Honourable Mention:
A very important unit to Ironjawz is the Warchanter, but based on a lot of the combos discussed so far, I’m going to go for Gore Gruntas. They’re significantly faster than other troop options available and movement is absolutely key to this edition of AoS. They also hit pretty hard – not quite Fulminator hard – but plenty hard enough to clean up Battleline in short order and push more elite units too, particularly with the chip mortal wound damage they can do to help make any attack back pretty inconsequential.

Final Thoughts

Ironjawz are a really fun army and a pretty good first army to pick up as they’re relatively forgiving with their tough armour and relatively straightforward gameplay, resulting in quite a high skill floor for new players. There is still plenty of nuance in this army though, with Mork-like sneaky plays with Mighty Destroyers and the Hand of Gork and just because you can charge everything turn 1, it doesn’t mean that you should. Jiwan Noah Singh is a great American Ironjawz player who can be found on streams playing a more considered approach. The thinking being that if you can hold the Mawkrusha back a couple of turns then by the time it is committed, there’s nothing left that can meaningfully threaten it, allowing it to rampage around the board, destroying all it touches.
Next up will be Part 3 of 4 of the Orruks book, the weird cousins of both Kruleboyz and Ironjawz that live on a commune to be in touch with nature, usually touching them with a massive stone spear: Bonesplitters.

Disciples of Tzeentch: Battletome Review

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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.



Orruk Warclans Battletome Review Part 1: Kruleboyz

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Allegiance Abilities

Woehammer Winner:
No question here, it has to be the faction-defining ability that is Venom Encrusted Weapons. If the unmodified hit roll of an attack is 6, that attack does a number of mortal wounds equal to the damage characteristic of the weapon. A Shaman can change the unmodified hit roll to a 5 and if a unit is wholly within 12” of a Sludgeraker, then 6s (not 5s) are an extra mortal wound on top. If you lean as hard as possible into this with 9 Big Yellers Boltboyz then with your 19 shots, you can expect 15 mortal wounds straight off before you even get to the damage stage.

Honourable Mention:
Synergising well with Venom Encrusted Weapons is the Kruleboyz Waaagh. For all the output that this army has, it cannot take a punch at all with Gutrippas only having a 5+ save and Boltboyz only having a 6+. This is where the Kruleboyz Waaagh can help as you can call it once per game when you general is chosen to fight and two other friendly units can fight with your general in the order of your choice. Potentially this means that you can move towards your enemy, fire off a volley with two units of Boltboyz that are getting buffs on the Venom Encrusted Weapons from the Shaman and the Sludgeraker and then charge these two units along with the Sludgeraker. Even in combat, 6 Boltboyz have 12 attacks that should do 6 more mortal wounds on top of whatever they did in shooting. Add in the pretty great combat of the Sludgeraker on top and topping 30 mortal wounds from those three units in two phases is very realistic.

Warclans

Woehammer Winner:
A few months ago, the winner would have been Big Yellers by a mile, but the simple deletion of the five words, “During the first battle round…” in the Grinnin’ Blades Warclan ability to take it from okay to great. It’s a total game-changer as it means that the Boltboyz can’t be sniped out by the enemy before getting to shoot. Now, with good screening, Boltboyz will be able to shoot back at (and probably cripple) anything moving close enough to attack the screen.

Honourable Mention:
In second place is Skulbugz…not really, they’re hopeless. Before Grinnin’ Blades, Big Yellers was the Big Dog due to two main features: Boltboyz can be battleline, removing the Troops tax of 540 points that Kruleboyz generals had to pay and, therefore, allowing Boltboyz to be taken in units of 9 so as to maximise the effectiveness of, for example, Unleash Hell. If there’s no shooting in your meta, then maybe Big Yellers is still the way to go, but with Daughters of Khaine Bowsnakes, Idoneth Turtles and Sharks and with Lumineth and Tzeentch coming shortly as of writing, my vote still goes with Grinnin’ Blades.

Command Traits

Woehammer Winner:


It’s a shame you can only take one command trait as all three of the Kruleboyz ones are pretty decent, with the winner being Supa Sneaky. Supa Sneaky allows you to infiltrate one Kruleboyz unit 9” away from an enemy unit immediately before determining who has first turn. A great combo with this command trait is a Breakaboss on Mirebrute Troggoth with the Fast ‘Un mount trait as you can place the Breakaboss 9” away and then move 5” in the hero phase (so no redeploy is possible) and smash face T1. This works best if you can outdrop your opponent, obviously, but even placing a screening unit of Hobgrots in your enemy’s face can really mess with their plans, especially to scupper plans of using Ironjawz Mighty Destroyer command ability (see below). Final point to make is that you can infiltrate but you don’t have to. Sometimes it’s best just to stay in your castle.

Honourable Mention:
A close second for command traits is Egomaniak, which allows the general to pass off wounds to a friendly unit on a 4+. While having quite a bit of output, the Sludgeraker isn’t the most robust hero ever, so being able to pass off wounds can help him last a bit longer, especially with the Smelly ‘Un mount trait to make him harder to hit. The recipient of these wounds can be any friendly unit, be it Hobgrots, Shootas allied in from Gitz or, for extra jank, into an Incarnate who will just soak those wounds up.

Artefacts

Woehammer Winner:
Sadly, it’s the Arcane Tome. Not only does this give an extra deny in a meta with lots of (Endless) spells, but the utility of a mystic shield on the Sludgeraker or the cast of Choking Mist to slow down your opponent can be key. You can even give it to the Breakaboss to put on Flaming Weapons on their clubs (this has been FAQd to be allowed).

Honourable Mention:
If you are going to take a faction-specific artefact, you’re probably taking Mork’s Eye Pebble for the once per game (really, GW?!) 5+ ward against shooting only for units wholly with 12” for the phase. With Grinnin’ Blades on the rise, this is less useful that what it was but if you’re taking a Mirebrute in a Command Entourage or a Warlord detachment (as you’re definitely taking a Sludgeraker in the commander slot of a Battle Regiment) then you may as well.

Mount Traits

Woehammer Winner:
With how slow the rest of the army is, Fast ‘Un is a great choice of mount trait, particularly in conjunction with your Sludgeraker moving into position for This One’s Mine as it is a hero phase move that prevents redeploys from your opponent. If you combine Fast ‘Un with Sneaky Miasma then that’s a 16” move in the hero phase that gives a threat range of 36” when considering the movement phase and charges. The only issue may be that your screens might be blocking your hero phase moves if you’ve gone with a Sludgeraker, so a Vulcha can get around this by flying over it.

Honourable Mention:
Smelly ‘Un is not only very appropriate from a lore perspective, but also combos very well with the command trait Egomaniak. If you manage to get off the Skareshields debuff from Gutrippas as well, add in Mystic Shield, Their Finest Hour and All out Defense, a pretty flimsy character is now -1 to hit from Smelly ‘Un and -1 to hit from Skareshields, meaning that All out Attack does nothing. They are on a 3+ save, ignoring up to Rend -2 due to the +3 to saves and anything that does go through can be passed off to a nearby unit on a 4+. If you really want to, you could also throw in an Amulet of Destiny for a 6+ ward as well before wounds are passed off.

Spell Lore

Woehammer Winner:


There are five good options for Kruleboyz, which is frustrating as most of the time it’s more efficient for Shamans to be giving out poison rather than casting and there are no casting bonuses available without making too big of a concession elsewhere. The winner is Sneaky Miasma, which allows a Kruleboyz monster (probably a Sludgeraker and/or a Rogue Idol) to move in the hero phase. Combined with Fast ‘Un and a normal move, even the relatively sedate Sludgeraker can move 24” and then charge another 12” or run another 6”. With the Grand Strategy picks below, this speed can be useful. If you go for a KillaBoss on Vulcha, this could be a whopping 42” before charging or running!

Honourable Mention:
With Nighthaunt on the rise and Daughters of Khaine being able to get to a 5+ ward then Nasty Hex is very handy. It can be particularly useful by the time a Shaman or a unit that would receive a buff is in combat as poisons or elixirs can’t be given out or received by units in combat. While the output if lower than with poison, taking away that ward save mostly balances that out.

Grand Strategies

Woehammer Winner:
If book Strategies and Battle Tactics are being used, then Waaagh! can be a potential winner as you just need to have your general or a friendly Battleline unit in your enemy’s territory at the end of the game. If you have Fast ‘Un on your general and Sneaky Miasma on a caster, one command point for auto-run can result in a 30” move by a Sludgeraker, which should be more than enough to cover the distance needed.

Honourable Mention:
If it’s GHB only for Strategies and Battle Tactics then Defend What’s Ours is a good choice as Kruleboyz are a castle army, even if you do need to be, to some extent, a (slow) mobile castle. Some battleplans are harder to do this with than others but at least half are do-able and your enemy can’t be in your territory if they’re dead!

Battle Tactics

Woehammer Winner:
Again, there is one good option in the book, which is Take Dat, Ya Suckers! This is achieved if you force your opponent to allocate 10 wounds or mortal wounds (i.e. after ward saves) and you allocate fewer than 10. If you’re not in combat and you have Boltboyz, this should be relatively straight forward and is a good choice for one of the first three rounds along with Against The Odds and Desecrate Lands.

Honourable Mention:
If you have chosen Big Yellers, then Boltboyz will be Battleline and Galletian Veterans, making Head-to-Head fairly straightforward, but assuming you’ve taken my advice and chosen Grinnin’ Blades, then Gaining Momentum is a good choice. Not only is killing a unit relatively straightforward with all of your output, the need to control more objectives will help encourage you forward as it’s very easy to hold back, stay in the castle, table your opponent…and lose as you only took objectives turn 4 or 5.

Warscrolls

Woehammer Winner:

There is only one winner here and it’s not Boltboyz but the Swamp Donkey Derek himself, the Sludgeraker. From a combat perspective, the Sludgeraker is the gift that keeps on giving, with my opponents often looking aghast as the pile of mortal wounds builds up. If you double-down on the combat potential and give the Sludgeraker the Shaman poison buff then he’ll really go off. You can probably expect 10 mortal wounds across the attacks, with typical Kruleboyz spikes doing up to 15 mortal wounds from the first three attacks (if Flaming Weapons is also used). Some lists have been successful with 3 Sludgerakers and an Incarnate for literally monstrous output. However, on top of that, the Sludgeraker adds one to the number of mortal wounds caused on 6s whenever a unit attacks wholly within 12”, making it an auto-take for every Kruleboyz army.

Honourable Mention:
This is going to be Boltboyz isn’t it? Actually not! Maybe I’m being a little obtuse here as Boltboyz are really key units, but the next most important unit for winning games (not necessarily for killing your enemy) are Hobgrots. At 80 points each for ten grenades that hit on 4s, wound on 3s have rend -1 for 1 damage, they’re a bargain. They even roll a huge amount of dice in combat, even if they don’t end up doing much more than a wound on most occasions. The reason they are so good is that they die cheaply. Yes, Gutrippas have 2 wounds each and a 5+ save compared to 1 wound and a 6+ save, but on the table, two units of Hobgrots for 160 points are much more of a speed bump to an enemy that a single unit of Gutrippas for 180 points. They can also be in more places at once for scoring objectives.

Final Thoughts

At the time of writing, Kruleboyz are among the lowest performing three factions in the game with the other two (Gitz and Ogor Mawtribes) both due a 3rd edition book relatively soon. It does feel like there’s more to the model and unit range to come, e.g. where’s the light cavalry harassment unit that would fit well with the lore and what the hell is with Gutrippas being 180 points when Phoenix Guard are 170?! However, they do have a lot of tricks and are fun to play, particularly when the stars (or should that be swamps?) align and you spike the 6s with your Boltboyz, removing threats like Nagash or Alarielle or even Archaon in one phase or even one activation.

Next up will be Part 2 of 4 of the Orruks book, Kruleboyz bigger, meaner and more successful older brothers: Ironjawz.

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.