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.
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.
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?
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?
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.