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Matched Play at 1000 Points

Why Bother?

Why piss around with smaller games, when you could be playing a proper 2000 point battle? The latter will be more relevant for tournament practice, it opens up more combos and it’s generally where the game is at.

I hear ya. But even though 2000 points games are at the heart of the hobby, I’ll always have time for smaller battles. There’s a few reasons why it will forever remain relevant:

  • New players building up their collection don’t just jump straight into 2000 points. Some of my best memories of AOS are those early days when we were building up our armies and putting everything we owned on the tables. Then going out and buying more units to solve last week’s problems; that localized arms race was a good time. Hopefully this article can help garage gamers and new players with some ideas for strengthening their armies and where to go next with their collection.
  • List building challenge. There is no established meta at 1000 points, and no netlists, so it’s really starting with a blank sheet of paper and figuring out what works. The meta is moving so, so quickly in AOS currently that there’s no danger of the grass growing under your feet, but if things do slow down, playing some games at 1000 points can really freshen it up.
  • Using the “other half” of your book. We’re not playing for sheep stations here, so it’s a perfect opportunity to dust off the stuff that doesn’t quite cut muster in your competitive 2000 point build. As one example, 1000 point games were the only time I got my Megaboss off the shelf for a long time, until he got a new lease of life as a Brutish Cunning Battery in my competitive Big Waaagh list.
  • Esoteric situations. Because you’re using different builds and the game plays a little differently, you’ll find yourself with unique challenges to overcome. This keeps you sharp, keeps your problem-solving on point and can only help you to react instinctively when something comes up in a competitive match that is outside your normal playbook.
  • Doubles, baby. I still play 1000 point games on the regular with my local group, so we can have 4 of us playing socially on one table. We could play two separate games of 2000 points in parallel – and we sometimes do – but as a group we all really enjoy these smashups, and I’d encourage anyone to build them into their own rotation.
  • You can (and should) play 1000 Points Doubles tournaments. Events where players can make their own pairings have to be managed carefully, because it’s not that hard to break the game by doubling up on Allegiances and pooling abilities, but with appropriate restrictions it can be great creative fun. For example I remember hearing on Heelanhammer a while back about them taking Stormcast and Sylvaneth together, so one player puts terrain right where you want it, and the other one blows it up with his Heraldor. Spicy!
  • Random Doubles tournaments are even more fun. I will never forget the Measured Gaming random doubles event a couple of years ago where we had to rock up on the day and find out who our partner was. I got paired up with Corey Ford and it was without a doubt the loudest day of Warhammer I have ever enjoyed. There was a huge crowd of people, loads of whom I’ve never seen before or since, and we played through a curated selection of Realmgate Wars Battleplans. Good times.

We actually used to have our own 1000 point meta in Victoria, with regular events in Bendigo that pulled in people from around the state. It was great fun, and you could crack through 5 games in one day; my Maw Krusha took a lot of scalps in Mixed Destruction, charging in the Hero Phase then retreating back out to charge with the old Fungoid Cave Shaman Command Ability. Uncontainable, un-bog-downable, unstoppable!

When the Rankings rules changed to allow only 2000 point events to be submitted, that was the death of 1000 point singles as a competitive format in Australia, but it lives on in doubles events and garage games the world over. In celebration of the shorter format, I’ve invited some accomplished competitive gamers to offer lists from each Grand Alliance.

I’ve asked our contributors to cover a few different angles here, with some cool garage gaming lists, and some stronger stuff to help new players smash their mates off the table, so let’s get the party started!


Ogor Mawtribes: Peter Atkinson

Yep, it’s my blog, and I want to write a Destruction army, so you’re just going to have to fucking deal with it.

The List

Leaders
Frostlord on Stonehorn (400)
 General
 Command Trait: Frostfell Aura
 Artefact: Ethereal Amulet
 Mount Trait: Metalcruncher

Battleline
Stonehorn Beastriders (300)
Stonehorn Beastriders (300)

Total: 1000 / 1000
Extra Command Points: 0
Allies: 0 / 200
Wounds: 37

The Plan

This list asks a lot of questions of your opponent. Questions like: since we’ve finished an hour early, do you want a beer? With 3 bodies and only 37 wounds of pure brutality, you’ll force an outcome one way or another pretty rapidly.

The main idea behind going no Tribe is to unlock Ethereal, which is close to essential for a Frostlord if you want him to last more than a turn. Lethality in the game these days is off the charts, even at 1000 points, so he really needs that survivability.

We’re teaming that up with Metal Cruncher and Frostfell Aura to create a perfect shitstorm for your opponents. A popular list archetype at this points level is “Ethereal Big Thing with some chaff”. This loadout is an absolute nightmare for those armies. You get into their key piece and splash some Mortal Wounds on the charge, grind out some more Mortals at the start of every Combat Phase with Metalcruncher, and then they are locked in combat and can’t retreat (thanks to your Command Trait) until one of you dies – most likely them.

A single Stonehorn can be almost impossible for some armies to contain at this level, so three of the fuckers will run riot. And if your opponent has geared up to eliminate or contain one big threat, good luck to them. This list is simultaneously meta, anti-meta and anti-anti- meta. It’s also fragile as fuck to shooting, but we’re not going worry about that right now – Tonight, we ride!

Dollar wise, you can easily pick up three Stonehorns, but I’d suggest buying three Start Collecting boxes which are a stone-cold bargain. That puts you well on the way to a 2000 point army, with the Mournfang being a useful part of Eurlbad and Jorlbad Battalions.


Cities of Sigmar: Joel McGrath

Joel is one of Australia’s leading competitive players, a regular at Masters and host on the Bush Radio podcast. Joel’s specialism is writing unique competitive lists, and he has most recently shaken up the Australian top tables with his anti-meta Beasts of Chaos.

The List

Allegiance: Cities of Sigmar
– City: Hammerhal

Leaders
Freeguild General on Griffon (320)
 General
 Lance
 Command Trait: Acadamae Prodigy
 Artefact: Saint’s Blade
Battlemage (90)
 Lore of Cinder: Wings of Fire
 Mortal Realm: Ghur

Battleline
10 x Freeguild Guard (80)
 Halberds and Shields
10 x Freeguild Guard (80)
 Halberds and Shields
10 x Freeguild Handgunners (100)
10 x Freeguild Handgunners (100)
3 x Demigryph Knights (180)
 Lance and Sword

Endless Spells / Terrain / CPs
Extra Command Point (50)

Total: 1000 / 1000
Extra Command Points: 1
Allies: 0 / 200
Wounds: 70


The Plan

When Peter asked me to write up a 1,000pt list, I’d be lying if I said that it was going to be an easy task. I haven’t thought about or written an army list for anything smaller than a 2k game or tournament since the first GHB came out. So after scratching the insides of my brain for a solid time, I cooked this list up. The idea is ‘For Fun’, ‘For Beginners’ and “Viable” – Fuck I hate it when people say that word in regards to lists and armies. If you want to trigger me, use that word excessively in a conversation and see how far my foot can go up your arse. Any who, I digress.

With all that in mind on a fun, expandable and an overall good starting point I chose Cities of Sigmar as the allegiance. CoS is an amazing faction to sink your teeth into, limitless warscrolls, combos and sub allegiances (cities) to work with. Nearly every sane person can look at CoS and find something they like. Don’t even deny it, you pessimistic fuck stain disagreeing with me while reading this article.

Now, onto the list. I chose Hammerhal for this particular army as it is the poster child city and is an easy one for newer player to wrap their head around, giving you a nice Command Ability to get the most out of your combat units that allows you to pile in twice and wreck face even harder. Who doesn’t like that! I also chose to go all human in the army, as they are relatable to *most* of Peter’s readers. The beautiful thing with Cities as well is that you could quite literally sub all of these units for equivalent Duardin or various flavour of Aelves; you can even change up the City if you want to get a tad wild with your choices. Whatever tickles your fancy!

Freeguild General on griffon – What a boss! A centrepiece for your army, who is fast, tanky and reliably killy. Shield and Greathammer is the only choice IMO. The Command Trait gives you an extra attack on his hammer and also nets you 1 extra CP at the start of the battle. Both solid benefits. His artefact turns his hammer into a blade apparently, and gives it an extra point of rend.

Plus, if he’s fighting near an objective (which he should be), you add +1 to the damage on his hammer. His Command Ability is +1 to charge AND hit rolls for friendly Freeguild units wholly within 12”in the combat phase. Now let’s compress this down: 15”move, 3+ save, fly, 13 wounds. 4 attacks on his hammer, 2s and 3s to hit and wound, -3 rend and d3+1dmg. Not to mention the mount attacks. Max damage (which is unlikely as fuck), he can do 36dmg total in ONE activation. Now pile in and attack twice: a Freeguild General on Flying Donkey does more max damage than a Mawkrusha!

Battlemage is a simple wizard, added in for ‘fun’. He gives you some playing space in the Hero Phase and I have chosen Ghur as his realm of origin. Wildform is a great warscroll spell, giving +2 to run and charge on a friendly unit. Nice! Wings of Fire is a spell from the Hammerhal spell lore that gives +1 to run and charge, while also making the friendly unit you pick able to fly. If this utility doesn’t tickle your pickle, you can change him up to whatever you want him to have to suit your playstyle, whether that be in a more damaging role or as a debuff piece.

Now we move into the Battleline. I went with two units of Freeguild Guard and two units of Freeguild Handgunners. Neither of these units are amazing, and you’re probably asking why I have 4 units of dudes, when I only need two in a 1k army. And that answer is two parts.

Firstly, Hammerhal has another ability where you get to generate extra CP, and running MSU really helps with that. For every unit with a banner you roll a dice, and on a 6 you get a CP in your Hero Phase. Nice and simple, every 6 you roll is going to be an extra pile in at the end of the Combat Phase, rerolling hits or saves of 1, or using the General’s Command Ability. The second reason is bodies win games, and while 40 bodies isn’t game winning, they are holding objectives while the rest of your army is doing other shit. The Handgunners are also pushing wounds through at range, so it’s not all wasted points.

The last unit in the army is Demigryph Knights. These lads are pretty cooked IMO and synergize really well with the General. They are fast, punchy and are decently resilient. I’d always make sure they’re rocking into battle with lances, and go to town on the charge with a double pile in and +1 to hit. All while flying from the Battlemage’s Wings of Fire spell.

Lastly, I went with an extra CP as this army simply can’t have enough. In your turn 1 you will have 3 of them to play with. One for the turn, the one you brought and the one from the Freeguild General. Not to mention 5 dice to roll a 6 on, and get even more CP. You might think this is an excessive amount, but you have to remember that this is a 1,000pt game. The board’s small, the action’s going to happen fast and you want to be utilizing your combat units as much as possible, piling in twice during both yours and your opponent’s combat phases.

This army isn’t godly powerful by any stretch of the imagination, but you get to play in all phases of the game. It has the output to deal with anything (especially in smaller games) and is a great starting force to expand into a 2,000pt Hammerhal list: more Demigryphs and the accompanying Battalion as an example.


Nighthaunt: Michael Thomson

Michael is the founder of The Savage Northmen, a gaming group based in and around Cairns, Queensland. A specialist in Death armies, Michael went 6-0 at Cancon 2019 with his Nagash list, securing a podium at the world’s largest Age of Sigmar event, and followed it up with a 5-1 at Cancon 2020. I asked Michael to contribute an interesting list that people would give people engaging games, and boy did he deliver .

The List

Allegiance: Nighthaunt

Leaders
Guardian of Souls with Nightmare Lantern (140)
 General
 Command Trait: Ruler of the Spirit Hosts
 Lore of the Underworlds: Spectral Tether
 Infernal Lantern (Artefact): Beacon of Nagashizzar
Knight of Shrouds (100)
Kurdoss Valentian, the Craven King (180)

Battleline
20 x Grimghast Reapers (320)
3 x Spirit Hosts (120)
10 x Chainrasp Horde (80)

Endless Spells / Terrain / CPs
Extra Command Point (50)

Total: 990 / 1000
Extra Command Points: 1
Allies: 0 / 200
Wounds: 56

The Plan

Mr. Atkinson asked me to write 1000pt  list that was a change of pace from the constant 2K scene: this list is aimed at being semi-competitive, while being a good starting point for beginners who wish to build up to 2000pts.

So the list contains 3 Heroes and 3 Battleline units, aiming to have a Hero for each unit. Our General is the Guardian of Souls, intended to stay with the Reapers. By bringing the Command Trait “Ruler of Spirit Hosts” and the Beacon of Nagashizzar, you have potential to bring back 9 Reapers; we’ll also be rerolling all hits and enjoying +1 to wound for units over 5 models.

Kurdoss will accompany the Spirit Hosts, and hopefully get you a sneaky CP or two from you opponent. This can stop their combos in their tracks and completely change the momentum of a game, and it also gives you an exciting little mini-game every round as you try to crack off that 5. Kurdoss can be also be a low-key ass-kicker in combat, so hopefully your opponent underestimates him!

Our Knight of Shrouds provides +1 to hit which the Chainrasps in particular (along with our dedicated combat units) can really benefit from. While this is quite CP-hungry, we do have 2 CP in our first turn and hopefully Kurdoss steals you one along the way.

I believe this list has a lot of tools that both beginners and competitive players could sharpen their skills on. One thing that gives you a bit of game is the Battle Trait “From the Underworld They Come”; this lets us set units in deepstrike, protecting our key pieces from early shooting or alpha strikes such as KO and FEC. Don’t forget to start Kurdoss on the board wherever possible though, to start nicking those CPs early and often.

Our other Battle Trait “Deathless Spirits” is one that takes practice. Having to be wholly within 12″ of a Hero to get an aftersave can be tricky, especially when chasing the “Wave of Terror” ability, since charging into combat can take you out of this range.

So this list has resurrecting models, a splash of magic, combat, resilience and “wholly within” mechanics; all in all, a good little start at 1000pts.


Slaves to Darkness: Joel Graham

Joel has made a huge impact on the Australian competitive scene. In under 12 months, Joel has achieved a 5-1 result at Cancon, won Summer Smash in Geelong, and achieved 5-0 and a podium at SAGT in Adelaide. When he talks, you listen!

The List

Allegiance: Slaves to Darkness
– Damned Legion: Despoilers
Mortal Realm: Ulgu

Leaders
Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince (210)
 General
 Sword
 Command Trait: Paragon of Ruin
 Artefact: Sword of Judgement
 Mark of Chaos: Khorne
Be’Lakor (240)
 Spell: Whispers of Chaos

Battleline
20 x Chaos Marauders (150)
 Axes & Shields
 Mark of Chaos: Khorne
20 x Chaos Marauders (150)
 Axes & Shields
 Mark of Chaos: Khorne

Units
9 x Untamed Beasts (70)

Behemoths
Chaos Warshrine (170)
 Mark of Chaos: Khorne

Total: 990 / 1000
Extra Command Points: 0
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 77

The Plan

How many ways can you fuck with your opponent’s plans during the game? Who cares! You need to think bigger, and start fucking with them before the game even begins. Your Daemon Prince has the Command Trait that allows you to move D3 units 5″ each before the game starts, and likewise the Untamed Beasts get their own pregame move.

Once you see what the Pitch-black Battle Trait does, you might want to use that CT to move Be’lakor and / or your DP within 6″ of a terrain piece, because that will trigger turning the terrain into Overgrown…except that it also works on flying units. That completely takes most magic and shooting out of the equation straight away. The really funny part is that although they can’t be seen or targeted within it, they can see and target out of it, because the rule doesn’t affect them. Lol.

Plan on hitting them in melee instead? Yeah good luck with that, the Khorne Deamon Prince comes with a CA that makes all enemy units within 18″ halve their run and charge rolls. That 4″ charge is suddenly odds against happening at all.

Be’lakor is taking a spell that lets you roll a dice for every model in an enemy unit, then each 6 you pop delivers a Mortal Wound. Better still, if any models are slain by those Mortal Wounds, that unit cannot move at all until your next Hero phase. So any opponents who have loaded up a Deathstar horde unit will be stopped right in their tracks and howling with frustration.

All of that is without mentioning the standard Be’lakor fuckery with his Dark Master warscroll ability. If you don’t know what that does, look it up in Azyr, and pray you never have to play against it. At the 1000 point level, where most opponents will have one key unit that they build around, this will be utterly, utterly crippling.

The army has insane board control, and provides some punch through the Marauders and Khorne DP with his Sword upgraded to the Sword of Justice, so you are really banging out those mortal wounds. This list will be an absolute nightmare to play against from start to finish, and highly, highly competitive.


Bonesplitterz Bonus Spectacular

Bonesplitterz are a really interesting army to build lists with in general, but especially so at 1000 points, where the competing dynamics of squeezing in the required support Heroes and the surreal quantity of cheap wounds you can field meet head on.

We’re going to explore each of the three Bonesplitterz Warclans, because that’s the kind of fun you can have with 1000 point armies. If something doesn’t work, you bin it and you move on. You can crack through 2 or 3 games on a weeknight, so let’s fling some shit at the board and see what sticks!


Icebone: Peter Atkinson

Bonesplitterz are my Boyz, and I’ve playing them competitively since the first book dropped. I’ll kick us off by looking at Icebone Warclan, which is a great all-rounder focusing on pigs and movement jank.

The List

Allegiance: Bonesplitterz
– Warclan: Icebone

Leaders
Savage Big Boss (100)
 General
 Command Trait: Great Hunter
 Artefact: Kattanak Pelt
Wardokk (80)
 Lore of the Savage Beast: Kunnin’ Beast Spirits
Wardokk (80)
 Lore of the Savage Beast: Breath of Gorkamorka

Battleline
30 x Savage Orruks (300)
 Stikkas
5 x Savage Boarboys (130)
 Chompas
5 x Savage Boarboys (130)
 Chompas
5 x Savage Boarboys (130)
 Chompas

Endless Spells / Terrain / CPs
Extra Command Point (50)

Total: 1000 / 1000
Extra Command Points: 1
Allies: 0 / 200
Wounds: 121

What’s the deal?

The great thing about Icebone is that the Command Trait is only locked in if you make a Maniak Weirdnob as your General.  So…don’t.  Give that honour to a Wurggog Prophet or Savage Big Boss instead, and reap Mork’s bounty.

You’re still locked into the shitty artefact, but the whole Command Trait playbook is opened up to you.  Take Great Hunter, so your 5” pregame move becomes an 8” pregame move, and if you don’t think that extra 3” matters, ask your wife and see what she says.

The heartbeat of your army is the 30 Stikka Boyz.  They can move, they can fight, and boy can they hold Objectives.  You’ve got three opportunities to double-pump their armour save (2x Wardokk dances and the Kunnin Beast Spirits spell), with the dances bypassing any unbinds your opponent may have.

The playbook will be stepping up onto the centre objectives, digging in your heels and challenging your opponent to chew through 60 wounds of Green Delight.  Meanwhile your pigs are zoning out deepstrikes, going after lone Heroes and stealing objectives.  They can also stack up the save buffs if needed, and step up early onto Objectives to set up your Boyz for the counter attack.

The Icebone unique Command Ability allows you to retreat a unit of Pigs at the end of the Combat Phase, and given that they can have a 24″ or even 36″ flying move with the spell on them, that’s a real power play in an Objectives game. On the small board and with that pregame move, a strong case could be made for Brutal Beast Spirits over Breath of Gorkamorka, but I love the idea of clinging onto those Objectives by your fingernails while you zip all around the edges and put pigs in places they won’t believe.

Sheer weight of dice (especially when you call your Waaagh!) should give you plenty of mileage from the Icebone rend ability, and you’ll have a great time and plenty of memorable matches by leaning into the Objectives and movement game.

As a purchase, two kits of Boyz gets you 40 models, which makes a perfect unit of 30 with 10 left over.  I’d suggest modelling up all the Big Stabbas, which uses 8 torsos and gives you a headstart on your 2000 point build, leaving 2 bodies spare. 

Now what will we do with those…How about we convert ourselves up a couple of Wardokks, hey?


Bonegrinz: Dalton Copeland

Dalton is one of Australia’s top Destruction players, regularly repping the Boys in Green at major events. We also have an ongoing personal rivalry, since we are both usually contenders for Best In GA Destruction at any tournament we both attend. Dalton’s recent achievements include 4th Overall and Best Destruction at Cancon 2020, and 2nd Overall at Summer Smash 2020.

The List

Allegiance: Bonesplitterz
– Warclan: Bonegrinz

Leaders
Savage Big Boss (100)
 General
Wardokk (80)
 Artefact: Mork’s Boney Bitz
 Lore of the Savage Beast: Breath of Gorkamorka
Wardokk (80)
 Artefact: Mystic Waaagh! Paint
 Lore of the Savage Beast: Kunnin’ Beast Spirits

Battleline
30 x Savage Orruks (300)
 Stikkas
10 x Savage Orruk Morboys (120)
10 x Savage Orruk Morboys (120)

Battalions
Kop Rukk (140)

Endless Spells / Terrain / CPs
Extra Command Point (50)

Total: 990 / 1000
Extra Command Points: 2
Allies: 0 / 200
Wounds: 116

How it works

So Pete has me on the blog again, Gorkamorka knows why he keeps coming back to pick my brain for lists, but I decided to put aside my cave wall painting of what life was like before the Great Pestilence and share what I feel is a filthy 1000pt Bonegrinz list.

Now firstly we are at 4 drops, this is about as low as I reckon you’d find in 1k. There simply isn’t room to shoehorn in battalions for the most part, but the Kop Rukk houses enough of the army to be worthwhile, especially the Wardokks that you were going to bring anyways.

Second, you’ll likely notice a lack of rend in the list, unfortunately this is a compromise I’ve found when trying to hit the sweet spot between number of drops, bodies and output. This list has a TON of attacks and coupled with the Bonegrinz Command Ability, the Savage Big Boss Command Ability and the Bonesplittaz Battle Traits, you should be able to pull down monsters fairly easily and still be able to brawl against other infatry mobs. It is however all at zero rend, so don’t expect to crush every enemy unit without throwing the kitchen sink at it.

Third and finally this is a list to grind with: you exploit your low drops to take board control, pin the enemy where you want them and laugh while they cant run away / around you because of Bongrinez forcing charges and preventing retreats.

Now I’m gonna go back to my painting, I’m halfway through painting my memories of what a pub looks like.


Drakkfoot: Frank DeLoach

Frank is co-founder of the We Slay Dragons wargaming club in California, USA: WSD are regulars on the top tables of the ITC competitive scene. Frank’s videos are legendary in the Gloomspite Gits WhatsApp group, and also kinda NSFW.

The List

Oi! Ya Gitz! Warboss Frank here… showing youz why dis 1000 points Savage list is workin’

Allegiance: Bonesplitterz
– Warclan: Drakkfoot

Leaders
Savage Big Boss (100)
 General
 Artefact: Burnin’ Tattooz
Maniak Weirdnob (120)
 Artefact: Mork’s Boney Bitz
 Lore of the Savage Beast: Breath of Gorkamorka
Wardokk (80)
 Lore of the Savage Beast: Brutal Beast Spirits

Battleline
20 x Savage Orruk Arrowboys (240)
10 x Savage Orruks (120)
 Chompas
10 x Savage Orruks (120)
 Chompas

Battalions
Kunnin’ Rukk (140)

Endless Spells / Terrain / CPs
Quicksilver Swords (30)
Extra Command Point (50)

Total: 1000 / 2000
Extra Command Points: 2
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 97

Why do I like this list?

So, it’s Drakkfoot… the simple act of turning off Ethereal & Feel No Pain helps with tackling some larger troublesome units in lower point games.

Having 97 wounds in 1000 points is very helpful, especially with the ability to keep stuff at arms reach with the Arrowboyz. Giving your wizards the extra Fireball spell can help with a pop of damage here or there, and Quicksilver Swords coming off the Maniak will mean that you’re well-positioned to chip away support characters nice and early – that’s clutch when there’s no room for redundancy.

Also, getting your drops down to 3 is useful if you’re worried about having to dictate the first turn.

Kunnin Rukk, I’ll be honest… I don’t love this Battalion normally. But, at 1000 points it helps your drops, and allows for a little more speed or dakka on the table. Both Wizards can buff any of your units, including the Arrow Boys, so you’re getting every drop of juice out of every round of attacks.

I’d happily put this list on the table for an event or simply for some 1000 point games. It’s affordable to purchase as it’s 2 boxes of Boyz and a few characters. So it’s a great place to start Bonesplittaz!

Waagghh Ladz!


Thanks for everyone’s contributions, and hopefully that’s given people some food for thought. AOS is a game that scales down really well and 1000 points deserves to be part of your roster.

I know that TTD in Geelong have been looking at hosting 1000 point doubles events, so I’d love to see some of these armies on the table later this year.

Until then: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.

Featured

Product Review: THWG Objective Markers

A nation can resist an army of men,

But not an idea whose time has come

~ Victor Hugo

Most people love them and want to know more, a few start raging at the sight of them. These things might be the second most controversial discs in Warhammer, after the bases replacing the squares that died with rank ‘n’ flank.

I’ve invested in a set of 6″ Objective Markers from The Honest Wargamer, and I’m here to report to you on how they work in practice. As always, this site is entirely free from endorsement, and I paid for these things out of my own pocket – so if I do fangirl out, you know that’s my sincere opinion as a paying customer.

What’s the point?

Mark out the scoring zone for being in range of the Objective, and then count how many models are on top of it. Perfectly simple, perfectly clear, and with zero ambiguity of what needs to be where.

These things have the potential to be game-changers, in the most literal sense. All that pissing around measuring 6″ and doing the nudge-nudge count-count before you’re happy that the models are precisely where they need to be: gone for good, and good riddance. It’s pure drudgery and so, so easily avoided.

Get a visual on what needs to be where, move it there, and BANG you’re done. And if I never have to go through the end-of-turn rigmarole of measuring and remeasuring and countring and recounting and arguing over whether Plague Monk number 17 is just in or just out of 6″, I’ll be a happy Warboss.

Sounds great!

Well yeah, I think so. Not everybody is of the same opinion, however. Some don’t like the aesthetics, and find them ugly (more of which later); others feel that it is dumbing down the objective-scoring experience by sign posting it to the hard-of-thinking.

I must confess that I’ve had those thoughts myself, and initially was resistant to the idea of marking out the scoring zones; I quite liked the idea of my opponent forgetting to capture them, thank you very much. In practice though, I would never be happy winning a competitive game that way.

Ironically I would be much more likely to enforce it in friendly games, precisely because there is less at stake. If it really doesn’t matter who wins, then I don’t feel grubby for nicking it: I would quite happily give someone a harsh lesson about capping points in a friendly match, and if they’re a mate I’ll get up in their face to drive it home too. Whereas I could cite numerous occasions when I’ve let people off with forgetting to cap at tournaments, even when it’s had a direct outcome on the match.

And when push comes to shove – is it worth making every single game you play a slightly less smooth, slightly more fussy experience, just so you’ve got the chance of nicking a game through the back door once in every 100?

Nah, not for me.

I wouldn’t want to win games that way, I don’t need to win games that way, and I’d rather have a much better experience over the course of time by using the right tools to just make the game flow.

I’m all for it.

Practicalities

A Perfect Eight

These things are designed by AOS players, for AOS players, and let me tell you: it really, really shows. There might happen to be other game systems where these things can be used, and if so that’s great; but these are not a generic wargaming tool, they are an AOS tool.

It starts with the quantity you get in an order: a perfect eight, matching the peak number of Objectives in any Matched Play Battleplan (Scorched Earth, since you ask). I’ve seen packs of 6 doing the rounds from the competition, which either means you’re fucked when you play that mission, or you have to buy two packs and waste money on 4 “spares”. Fuck that.

Size Matters – And We’re Talking Girth

Next up, these are of course 6″ radius discs. They do have 3″ inner circles too, which doesn’t apply to many Battleplans currently, but is handy for things like Duality of Death (for zoning out the scoring zone as much as for capping it), and crucially, is a great piece of future-proofing for any maps yet to come.

Because I’m a fussy old bastard, I also went and measured the discs to confirm that they are the correct size, which they indeed are:

Terrain

One surprising gripe I had with these is the way in which they interact with terrain. Now when I say “surprising”, bear in mind that’s only because I was too dumb to think about it, but it’s definitely a thing.

Let’s take a look at a couple of the games I played at SAGT in Adelaide, just before shit went down:


Now what do you notice there? Big chunks of the discs are obscured by the terrain, that’s what. Now granted, the footprint of the terrain is particularly boxy, but even so it will come up to a greater or lesser extent on most tables.

That wouldn’t be a reason not to use these things though: it’s not actually a downside, just a mitigation of the upside. You’re still better off having most of the scoring zone visible on most of the objectives, than you would be seeing none of it on none of them.

Thus far, I have found that my opponents are more than happy to go with using these markers: on a table with preset scenery, it’s just a matter of lifting up the terrain piece, placing down the marker, and replacing the terrain. Takes two minutes and you never have to measure again for the whole game. Job’s a good ‘un.

Grip

A major concern I had over these things was that the shiny plastic looked like it could be slippery. You don’t want to be playing on a sheet of ice, with your models slipping all over the place every time you exhale in their general direction; you want to keep some kind of friction and inertia there, so a model placed is a model placed.

The good news is, these things are surprisingly grippy.

I don’t know if they went through a heap of different iterations and picked the best one, or just lucked out first time, but the material is spot-on for the job in hand. The discs are smooth in your hand, have a really premium feel and yet somehow just offer that little bit of traction against plastic bases. Perfection.

Aesthetics

In sports, you know the referee has had a good game when you don’t notice them.

On Bush Radio, you know it’s been a good episode when Pat doesn’t speak much.

And so it is with objective markers: the less you notice them, the better they are doing their job.

These markers are almost transparent and with only a very subtle THWG logo on them; just as importantly, they are wafer-thin, so they ghost underneath models and terrain pieces without raising them up.

Can you imagine how crap-tacular it would look to have a piece half up, half down on a thick rubber disc? No thanks.

If anything, the 3″ ring inside the larger circle does detract from the aesthetics slightly, but I’d rather live with that than have to buy a whole separate set of discs, or not be able to use them on some Battleplans.

All in all, they have a quality look and feel, and I would argue that the design choices are on point all the way through.

They actually look a little bit like records, hey

The Alternatives

Neoprene mats

In my opinion these are aggressively ugly, and too thick:

http://3d6wargaming.com/overstock-6-3d6/

No thanks.

Playing without objective markers

Doesn’t bear thinking about. These are a “before and after” moment: I obviously could play without them, I’d just rather not. It’s a bit like owning a dishwasher.

How to order them

Sounds great, right? So how do we buy them?

Yeah…about that. The ones I bought were a pilot run, and they did take a while to arrive. The Markers are currently unavailable at time of writing, but I’ve been in touch with James Powell, the brains behind the operation, who has confirmed that they will be back up within the next couple of weeks.

Pricing will stay the same at GBP 26.00, which is a sound investment. These things aren’t a consumable, and they will never wear out: buy them once, and have a better gaming experience forever. The key thing to remember is that you get 8 in a pack, so one set is a perfect match for your needs.

I’ll be updating this article when they are back up for order, but until then, you’re welcome to keep an eye out at https://thehonestwargamer.bigcartel.com/


The TL:DR

I’m a fan; a big, big fan. Some people will resist and hold out against them, but the march of progress only goes in one direction.

The future’s right here, so now you’ve got a choice. You can watch the Mandalorian on a great big fuck-off flatscreen, or you can watch repeats of Murder She Wrote on a shitty old cathode ray TV.

What’s it gonna be?

Featured

Red Giant Issue 452 and 3/4

Great things may come to those who wait,

But only the things left by those who hustle

~ Abraham Lincoln

White Dwarf has been absolutely smashing it these past 6+ months. When I went to tidy out my hobby area a week or two back, I found that every single issue had multiple reasons why I just couldn’t ditch it. I’m probably going to have to revert to 14-year-old nerd status at some point, and keep a ring binder of my favourite articles, because there really are some fantastic features.

So what are we gonna do with the news that White Dwarf Issues 453 is (understandably) delayed?

We’re going to assemble our own magazine of (mainly) community content, that’s what we’re going to do!

Like most people, I am always delighted to get a shout out from other blogs or podcasts (I’m only human!), so I’ve taken the liberty of rustling together some excellent articles from around the interwebz for everyone’s enjoyment.

If you are the author of one these pieces, and would rather not be included here, please reach out to me and I will remove the link; otherwise, please enjoy the curated content, and please do let me know if there are any great pieces of writing that are worth a wider look.


Rules of Engagement

The thoughts of Jervis are often the first thing I flick to when I get a new issue of White Dwarf in my hands. One that stood out in my mind was his piece on how garage gaming was something to aspire to, and in many ways the pinnacle of the hobby, accompanied by a really interesting Battleplan.

In many ways this sections forms the heartbeat of Red Giant, so we’ve doubled down on a couple of articles here that are too good to miss out on.

Darren Watson: Understanding Your AOS Playstyle

Darren will be familiar to many of you from his outstanding List Diaries on The Honest Wargamer. What puts Darren’s output over the top for me is his fluent communication, searing honesty and a mind that crackles and fizzes with original thought. Enjoy.

https://thehonestwargamer.com/self-analysis-understanding-your-aos-playstyle-and-build-preferences/

Chuck Moore: Battletome Banter

This article from the excellent Strength Hammer blog is one year young, but still very relevant. Complete mastery of your favourite faction is something everyone can relate to and aim for, and reading this article for the first time just a couple of weeks ago has inspired me to try and do well with every Warclan in the Orruk Warclans book.

https://www.strengthhammer.net/2019/05/battletome-banter-daughters-of-khaine.html#more

Nico Narwhal: Activation Wars Part 2

AOS Shorts may well be the best and most popular AOS fan site out there. Dan is tireless in his work for the community and this article is a great resource for everyone playing the game today. Nico is an accomplished competitive player with a string of excellent results in the cauldron of the UK scene, and being an actual lawyer, it’s refreshing to have someone chiming in who actually knows their arse from their elbow.

https://aosshorts.com/nicolab-the-activation-wars-part-2/


Paint Splatter

Ian Hannam: Marked for Destruction

Ian has an excellent hobby-focussed blog, which offers some highly practical advice. In this article, Ian helps those interested in taking their painting of Orruks one step further.

https://warhannam.wordpress.com/2019/10/21/marked-for-destruction/


Batrep

Rune Axe Wargaming: Warclans vs Mawtribes

Gabe is a stalwart of the Australian competitive scene and TO of Australia’s main team event; his Rune Axe blog is one of the major reasons I started up this site. No issue of White Dwarf is complete without a Batrep, so let’s all enjoy hearing about Pat Nevan getting riggidy riggidy rekt.

http://theruneaxewargaming.blogspot.com/2020/04/195-cancon-game-4-ironsunz-vs-undergut.html


Short Story

To Truly Excel

The Malign Portents series offered up some little gems, and this tale of some Liberators doing some “Liberating” might be the best of the lot.

https://malignportents.com/story/to-truly-excel/


Echoes From The Warp

Grimdark Filthy Casuals: Orks Review (Saga of the Beast)

It’s fair to say that I’m less plugged in to the 40K community than I am with AOS, but I did get a lot out of this review of Saga of the Beast. Nicely structured, and offering some good value-added analysis, this one may well have you clicking through to a lot more of their articles.

https://www.grimdarkfilthycasuals.com/orks-review-saghaz-of-the-beast/


Glory Points

Can You Roll A Crit: Warhammer Underworlds Online

Big news in the Underworlds! The game has gone live on Steam, and who better to talk us through that than the great John Rees, winner of multiple Grand Clashes, and the first person in the world to win Glass with every Warband?

https://canyourollacrit.com/2020/04/28/warhammer-underworlds-online/


Temporal Distort

Plastic Craic: 2019 Review

Eh, while we’re doing shout outs, how about I plug one of my own articles? Here’s my wrap of the year that was.

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/12/06/2019-a-year-in-plastic/


The Final Word

I hope you’ve enjoyed those articles as much as I did. Let’s leave the final word to Beard Bunker, who published perhaps the two most timeless blog posts I have ever read. I’ve been back to both of these a few times now, and they choke me up every time.

Vale, Mark.

http://beardbunker.blogspot.com/2019/10/the-great-squig-in-sky.html

http://beardbunker.blogspot.com/2019/11/totally-worth-it.html

Featured

Sons of Behemat: A Review of the Preview

“Freedom is being in charge of your own destruction”

~ Lindsay Lohan’s Last Fan

Well Preview III was the one we were all waiting for!  At 11pm Saturday night, Melbourne time, we got a good look at the new Gargants and learned a little more about them.  The Sons of Behemat Whatsapp was going haywire as you would imagine, and we got plenty of visual on the models.  Let’s take a look both at the army, and where they fit into the wider game.

The Models

gatebreaker
Gatebreaker
warstomper
Kraken Eater
kraken-eater
Warstomper

Holy Guacamole!  These boys are THICC.  As predicted, GW have done a great job tying in with the existing Aleguzzler aesthetic, while thoroughly modernising them.  One quirk of the old Aleguzzler models was they had wide hips, which is echoed in the new guys; I also like that the sculptors have ran with the three fingers and toes, which I just love because it makes them something subtly different than just “big humans”.

My own favourite aesthetically is probably the Executioner, not least because he reminds me of the old Bragg the Gutsman model, which I’ve had a lot of fun running as my Tyrant over the years. 

 

What I really love is that people all have their own favourites, rather than there being a single, obvious standout.

One note of caution is how distinct they might end up looking on the tabletop, since their status as a single kit is pretty evident from the waist down in particular.  Will multiples of these guys will look too similar in practice?  We’ll have wait and see, but I’m pretty optimistic, because the top-half poses (and associated bling) vary significantly between each model.

In terms of size and stature, there are a few comparisons floating around, but the best one I’ve seen is this piece of art from Ibere Machado (@minimute on Insta):

IMG-20200423-WA0002

Ibere has gone to paintstaking lengths in Photoshop to measure and scale everything based on the one official size comparison we did get (Mega Gargant vs Aleguzzler).  In the background we can see a grey-scale image of how big the Mega Gargant would be if the broken skull from the OBR base was to scale, so somewhere in that range looks like a solid bet.  Great work Ibere!

I think they look fantastic, and Twitter duly lost its shit: these things are going to sell like crazy.

How the Army Works

Honestly – I dunno, and the preview left us none the wiser.  This really was an unabashed preview of the models rather than the rules, and that’s fair enough – if you were expecting them to read the Battletome cover to cover, that was probably an unreasonable expectation. 

I have no problem with that – but although it does leave a lot of unanswered questions, there was one area of their rules that they did discuss and focus on.

Unanswered Questions

The big one is – is there a big one? 

There was no mention of any other models to come, nor even an implication along the lines of “let’s take a look at the first lot of models”.  Taking this at face value, the Battletome would be a pamphlet based on 2 kits, which is a little thin to put it mildly.  Smarter people than I have pointed out that this Rumour Engine item didn’t crop up in the reveal:

Gutplate

Here’s hoping that this is a looted gutplate from King Brodd’s kit, rather than just a bit on one of the sprues for the Gargants that were already revealed. 

Looking at the size of the model, they are a fair bit smaller than the Bonegrinder, so there’s room in the range (both visually and rules-wise) for a big daddy giant.  Let’s hope that it just hasn’t been revealed yet, although to be honest I’m not counting on it.

Aleguzzlers were referred to indirectly as being part of the army, but we don’t have any indication whether the Bonegrinder’s Warscroll will be updated on the FW website.  Worst-case scenario, you could slap him on a 130mm base and use him in the army as a stand-in for one of the new guys – he certainly wouldn’t have any trouble filling up the larger base – but I really would have liked their status to at least get a mention.

The Mercs Question

The one rules area that was focussed on and discussed was that you can take a new Gargant in any army – not just Destruction GA.  In fact, pretty much the only way that using them was discussed on stream was in the context of the presenters using them in their Order armies. 

Now I’m not blaming the hosts for that – if you told me Gunhaulers could be used in any GA and shoved a mic in my face, I’d start talking about converting them up and using them in Destruction.  But as a message about the focus of this release, I’m not sure how keen I am on that. 

If I was a betting man, I’d say that this will be along the lines of Gotrek – they can be Allies in any army even if they are over 400 points, and take up your whole Allies slot on their own.  The key difference being that we now know that unlike the Wee Man, they are open to the entire game, and not just their own GA.  Hmmm.

“Why don’t you want other GAs to have access? That’s just petty”

Yep, I can’t really disagree with that.  But pettiness is not the only (or even the main) reason why I’m a bit cautious about that development. 

There has been a fair bit of debate on this point in the community, so let me explain how I personally feel about that and why.  If we take a bit of time to cover that, bear in mind that they also took a bit of time to cover it in the Preview, which is what makes it relevant.

The Fluff

It doesn’t really fit the fluff. The Celestant Prime murdered Behemat. Sigmar murdered his father. Sure, you can make up a story about “your” Gargant being a slave, which would certainly fit the crypto-Fascist theme of Order as “empire builders, colonists and settlers”:

What’s more, I can imagine that the book will give context to the death of Ymnir; for example maybe he was duped or enslaved by Chaos, so the tragic story of Godbeasts was a case of history repeating itself. 

Regardless, if the main way in which Sons of Behemat see the tabletop is acting as stooges within Order armies, I think that will be a little bit sad.

The Long Game

As the proud owner of a Gotrek model, every time a new Order book is released, I keep half an eye on it, since I already automatically own 25%+ of the army in that one model.  I’ve never made the jump to play outside of Destruction, but that doesn’t mean I never would – I do like other armies (loads of them), it’s just that when push comes to shove, I don’t like them quite as much as orcs.

Similarly with Stormcast Eternals, they are the most-supported faction in the game by a long shot.  It’s not just because of the number of Battletomes and releases they’ve had; they also get constant exposure and an automatic installed base through their inclusion in starter set after starter set. 

Crucially, people are nudged to cross-pollinate through their Allies status.  Stormcast can be taken as Allies for the whole of their (huge) GA, and get special status in Cities of Sigmar armies to boot.  A lot of people end up owning Stormcast models almost by accident, and once you have some, they are the gateway into building up a full SC army, or (importantly) a gateway into starting any new Order army, since you already have a head start.

Sons of Behemat is a huge launch for Destruction, and could have brought a lot of new players into the Destruction ecosystem.  People would buy the New Shiny either because they wanted the model, or to do a full army; and they then have a big headstart on every Destro release coming out in the future. Without being locked into Destruction GA, there’s less reason to expand into a whole army and join the Destruction family.  This in turn perpetuates the whole feedback loop of “why give them releases when they don’t sell”, because they haven’t been put in a position to succeed.

Or looking at it another way: We’re being punished for a lack of historical support by receiving a lack of present support, which impacts the likelihood of receiving future support. 

So it’s not (just) me being petty here, there are specific and real reasons why this is not an unambiguously good thing for the future of the armies I love.

“It’s just smart business, they want to sell a lot of these”

Of course.  And who would blame them for that?  Not me. 

I want GW to be successful financially; I want them to thrive, to keep generating funds that they can reinvest in hiring extra staff including rules writers (like they have been), so that they can keep creating and expanding the great worlds that we all enjoy so much. 

I want Sons of Behemat to be a huge commercial success, as I’m sure they will be.  But at the same time, there are competing imperatives for what will make this a successful launch long-term that need to be considered.

On the one hand, having a broad portfolio of armies each with their own distinct character is healthy for the whole game and makes the setting that much more rich.  

What’s more, by structuring Sons as open to any army, you also make it easy for people to buy one model (as an Ally) instead of three models (as an army).  

But at the same time, they also don’t want another Gorkamorka on their hands, which (rumour has it), almost bankrupted the company back in the day.

So there is a balancing act here, and it’s a fucking difficult one.  

Now, I believe these things would have sold in huge volumes regardless, but I am of course wildly biased.  And I do think that GW deserves some credit here, given that AOS is a hugely successful system.  So although it’s not the decision I would have made, I have to accept that opening Sons up to other armies was the right decision made for the right reasons. 

Think of it like an artist who works flipping burgers to pay the bills, which in turn allows them to create true beauty on their own terms. 

And yes, in this example, playing Order armies is like flipping burgers.  Accept it.

Where will the power sit?

What I’m really interested to see is whether the true power sits on the Warscrolls, or in the Allegiance.  It can go either way.

To use one example, when Triple-Kipper Slaanesh was a dominant force, you still didn’t see Keepers getting allied into every Chaos army under the sun.  Why not?  Because their true power lay in the Allegiance – they needed Locus and Depravity Points to truly shine.

On the flipside, look at Gunhaulers.  Their Fly High rule is baked into their Warscroll (as opposed to being a KO Battle Trait), so they can be Allied into Fyreslayers (for example) and still do what you need them to do.

This is where the comparison to Knights in 40K falls over.  In 40K, you can throw in a detachment of Knights, and they bring the bells and whistles with them – Allegiance Abilities are determined on a detachment by detachment level, not an army level. 

So there’s no downside to putting Knights in with a heap of Imperial Guard, or Blood Angels – compared to pure Knights, it’s just better.  That’s not the case in AOS – not having access to any Allegiance Abilities can be a significant brake on the effectiveness of some units.

I know what I’d prefer – I want this to feel like a proper army, moreso than Mercs with a pamphlet tacked on.  My gut feel is that this will prove to be the case: Sons will need bonuses to durability, movement and scoring objectives to compete as an elite army, and my bet is that those perks will be mostly locked into the Allegiance kit.  I look forward to finding out more.

The TL:DR

Some people who are excited about this army weren’t delighted about them being open to all GAs.  Others found that perspective hard to identify with, so hopefully this post has helped to articulate why some of us had those misgivings.

But let’s take a step back here.  GW could have just chosen to make the new Gargants nothing but Mercs, rather than giving us a Destruction Battletome at the heart of the release. 

They could have just not done this army at all, skipped it and done Malerion’s Shadow Aelves. 

The fact is, GW have chosen to give us an army of Giants, and that’s something really special.

If they made the judgment that the way to make that work commercially was with the Mercs / Allies thing, then you know what?  I can live with that. 

It might not have been my own first choice, but sometimes we just have to be grown-ups about these things – even when it’s toy soldiers we’re talking about.

Now…how about that King Brodd model please?

Until we see The Big Fella – May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.

Featured

Battletome Sons of Behemat: Tall Tales and Charge Fails

I still can’t quite believe it’s happening. This has to be the most BDE move that GW have ever pulled: you have to be super-confident in yourself, your company, your game system and your direction of travel to whip this one out.

The buzz is real, the excitement is real, and I’m convinced that this Battletome is going to be a roaring commercial success. The world and his wife is going to jump on board this release, believe it!

Will it be OP? Eh, for the first time ever, I genuinely don’t care. I’m just so delighted that this is an actual thing that I’m all in, regardless.

In Part One of the preview, I’ll be recapping some adventures I’ve had with Gargants so far, and taking a broad (and excited) look at what my hopes are for the release; Part Two, which I am hoping to get out within the next week, will be a self-indulgent wankfest as I delve into one of my Gargant-themed hobby projects. 

So join me as I do a terrible job of taking a break from the blog, lured back in by this awesome army!

What we know so far

Sprues and Brews have done some excellent sitreps on the reveals to date, which I would encourage you to take a look at. Beyond the (fantastic) storybook preview video released by GW, solid information is currently scant; so rather than repeat the same stuff that’s been covered well elsewhere, I will be taking a more personal look at this release: running through a couple of my own experiences with Giants, and wrapping up with some reckless speculation.

Tall Tales

I first got into the hobby back in the mid-90s with 4th ed Fantasy. I was too young at the time to play properly, so I really just collected the models, but two things stood out from that box set: Grom the Paunch, and the fallen Giant template. Grom was just a shitty cardboard cutout, but I loved his story so much, I was fucking rapt when it came out as a limited edition model a couple of years back. 

Owning an actual Giant had seemed like an unimaginable luxury to my younger self.  But that black and white template was enough to make me want one so badly; between Grom the Paunch, and the fact that they were the lucky bastards who got to have actual frikkin Giants in their army, that’s a big part of why I’m still an Orcs and Goblins guy to this day.

Let’s skip ahead 20 years to AOS dropping in 2015.  When I got back into the hobby, an Aleguzzler Gargant was one of the very first things I bought, and I ended up with two in quick succession through the Ironjawz Battleforce box.  What does someone who lives near Melbourne call a pair of Giants?  Gog and Magog, obviously.

Despite coming in the bundle, you couldn’t actually run Gargants in Ironjawz at all back then (no such thing as Allies), so Mixed Destro was your only option for running them in Matched Play; but that was cool, Mixed GA lists were King back then anyway. 

I ran mine early and often.  One game that I will always remember was a Friday night session in Shane’s shed, where he was running the classic Liberators, Retributors and Judicators Stormcast.  I was bringing the heat with two Gargants, an Arachnarok spider and some Fimir: a proper grab-bag of cool stuff, perfect for some Friday night Beerhammer.

Having been whittled down by Shane’s dakka on the way in, I was set up for one big turn to try and break through the shield wall.  Shane Lays Low the Tyrant, and topples Magog. 

Which way will he fall?  I lose the roll off and BANG he falls into Gog, who is on 3 wounds.  D3 Mortal Wounds, oops, he’s dead too. 

Which way will he fall?  I lose the roll off again and BANG he falls into the A-Rok, who is on 3 wounds.  D3 Mortal Wounds, oops, he’s dead too.

Bang, Bang, Bang!  Fucking domino rally right through the heart of my army, and the siege has been repelled just like that.  Fucking Order wankers.

Excuse the grey plastic…this was “back in the day”.


Fast forward a few years and I’m playing against Australian Destruction legend Deano Matthews.  Now to put it in context, Deano has a podium under his belt with Greenskinz – not a Big Waaagh! army with a couple of Greenskinz units, but an actual, 100% Greenskinz army using the current Destruction GA allegiance kit.  I’ve struggled to win games with Ironjawz over the years, while he’s been dominating with the bottle-fed version. 

We’re playing up on the top tables at SAGT 2019; I’m packing Bonesplitterz, as an anti-meta Kunnin Rukk gunline (designed to take on the new FEC and Skaven books), while he is rocking an army that has no business being in the mix, but it is, because he’s Deano.  Greenskinz and Ogor battleline, an Orruk Bully, you get the picture.  But the heart of the army is so fucking cool: a Troggoth Hag, a Bonegrinder Gargant, and two Aleguzzlers.  And not just any Aleguzzlers; these were the classic metal Giants, about the size and shape of a hand grenade, and likely to do a similar amount of damage if you chucked them blindly into a crowded room.

We had a good chat about our armies beforehand, during which I explained at length why I didn’t like the Aleguzzler warscroll: it charts too hard, the armour save is crap, Drunken Stagger is crippling and the attacks are too swingy.  My opinion was (and is) that they could easily just get the maximum number of attacks every time (e.g. 18 at full health) without being OP.  Having got that off my chest, he of course proceeded to kick my teeth in with them.  Plucking out Banners and Bosses, rolling hot on their number of attacks, they went absolutely mental and devastated a 60-wound unit of Arrow Boys without breaking sweat. 

I got stupidly lucky at this point: we were playing in the Realms, and the Realm Rule in play was that a Battleshock roll of 1 always meant that nothing flees.  I roll the dice, and that skull stares back up at me.  This was crucial because it meant that even if Deano won priority (which he did), he would have to fight through my few remaining Arrow Boys rather than getting into my backfield and start merrily slaughtering my Heroes.  After that, my weight of shots and anti-Monster bonuses carried the day, but I’m gonna be honest – I got away with one there.


I posted up a question in the Gloomspite Whatsapp recently, asking who was in the Ethereal Amulet Owners’ Club.  Stealing an Ethereal Amulet with Skragrott is a rite of passage for any Destruction player, and plenty of us have managed it.  Here’s another on for you: who’s in the Drunken Stagger Club? 

I’m in the VIP Lounge of this one.  I took a drinker’s army to Ardfist 2018, since it was in a fully licensed venue and I was in the mood for a relaxed weekend: Gutbusters allegiance, with the classic Tyrant of Doom (doing Damage 6 per swing), a couple of Ironblasters and Gog and Magog along for the ride as Allies.

Magog managed to pull off the perfect Drunken Stagger shaft in one game at the event, failing a 3” charge by rolling box cars.  Fucking cheers for that lad!

Classic Aleguzzlers, from the Godbeasts campain book


Hopes for the Battletome

The Models

We’re obviously getting new models for the new Gargants.  My best guess would be that these are a 3-in-1 kit, but it could be three separate kits. 

I’m thinking they are all Heroes, and larger than the current Aleguzzlers by some distance, possibly in line with the current Mantic kit:

Points wise, I’d expect something like 320 to 380 points each, depending on which variant you go with.

I’m also expecting an even larger kit to be released into the range, essentially a new, plastic Bonegrinder.  This one could be a dual-purpose kit allowing you to make either King Brodd, or a generic Gargant King. 

Again this is a Hero, and probably coming around the 460-520 point range.

Existing Aleguzzlers will also be a part of the range.  Some people don’t like them, but they are a plastic kit, and I don’t see this being a large enough release to squander a relatively modern plastic kit like that.

There’s a couple of things I hope and expect to see.  Johann is the most iconic bit in Warhammer; we really need to see a tribute to him on the new sprues.  I want a heap of these so I can use them as Objective Markers (especially for Relocation Orb), and have my whole collection of models doing terrible, terrible things to them.  I want so many Johanns that I have Slaughtermasters dipping them in cauldrons, Megabosses holding them by the throat and Troggoth Hags motorboating them.

Wild punt: the new Gargants can have a unique role as both Leader and Battleline, underlining the theme of “everything is a centrepiece” and allowing a hyper-elite army amongst elite armies, consisting of 3 to 4 models.

The Theme

I gotta say: I love the storybook theme so far.  Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of Order scum!

The aesthetic is amazing, but the artists’ main challenge will be tying together the existing Aleguzzlers with the newer, more modern sculpts.  We know that this is an area in which GW consistently excels: a great example is Ironskull’s Boyz.  Ardboys are a similarly divisive, older plastic kit, but the Warband managed to update, refresh and modernise the look, while still fitting in.  People can and do use them as unit leaders within a unit of Ardboyz, and they fit in fine, while at the same time looking entirely new.

I can’t wait to see what they do with the new Gargant models in that context.

Wild punt: I’d love to see humans who idolise and worship the Gargants in a Cult of Behemat.  I get that this won’t be part of the release; and as much as I’d love it personally, objectively it shouldn’t be a thing, because the whole point of this release is to allow an army of nothing but nothing but Giants. 

So this one might be something that we pick up locally for a multi-player campaign, where I team up with our local Cities of Sigmar player for example.  That being said, Shane hates Destruction, so maybe I can rope in our Fyreslayers player instead, to ransack the Free Cities.  Dwarves worshipping Giants has a nice ring to it – and Adam has plenty of Vulkites lying around, maybe we could convert them up as Duardin stilt-walkers?

The Rules

There are already rumours of Gargants kicking objectives around the table. The Sons of Behemat Whatsapp has also thrown up the possibility of picking up and flinging other models around the table, how cool would that be!

Capping Objectives as 10 models would be sweet, although really I wouldn’t mind seeing that remain as Ogors’ “thing” since it really is their main Battle Trait.  Maybe a nice alternative army-wide rule could be Longshanks: everyone gets the 6” pile in from the Bonegrinder Warscroll.  We already know that’s a game-changer, and it’s super thematic:

Taking a step back, the comparison has been made with Imperial Knights, which means they should be “Good against everything”.  You’re not going to have many models on the table, nor (in all likelihood) many Warscrolls in the book; so everything you put on the table has to be able to do work in most games, with the payoff being that every model you lose is a crushing blow.

The classic “Good against everything” weapon profile would be for the main attacks to be Rend -1 Damage 2.  That’s the sweet spot in terms of having some game against both larger and more elite units.  Maybe in that context, you can choose how to use your secondary attack (similar to a Gorkanaut): choosing between “Swipe” (high volume of poor-quality attacks, used for crowd control) and “Stomp” (low volume of high quality attacks, probably at Rend -2 Damage 3).

There will still be random elements in there, but hopefully without crippling Sons competitively.  Nobody wants a 400-point centrepiece model to roll up 4 attacks from its 3D6 and do nothing – that’s not fun.  “Baseline good – upside better” is what we are hopefully aiming at here. 

On a similar theme, I expect that Gargants will keep their classic rules, or at least a nod to them: you will still have a way pluck models out of units and stuff ‘em down your pants, and a “falling over” mechanic, taking us full circle to that fallen Giant template back in that 4th ed starter box…but please, for the love of Gork, not in the Charge Phase!

Wild punt: the power build shakes out to be two of whichever of the new storybook Gargants is the most efficicent, and about 10 Aleguzzlers in a Battalion or two.


So there we have it!  I know there is a real buzz about this army, and so many of us can’t wait to know more.

Let me know what you think the book could bring, what this release means to you, and until we have that new Battletome in our hands: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.

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What the FAQ? Understanding the Bastilodon’s save

OK, I admit it – I was entirely bewildered by that Seraphon FAQ. 

Luckily, I was able to call in some help from the kind people in the Gloomspite Whatsapp group (shoutout to Craig, Will, Hammy and Nathan), but I’ve seen the discussion and questions continue online.  This is my attempt to provide a definitive explanation of why this was the correct ruling, and how it all works.

At the end of the article I’ll also deliver a few words on whether I think this amounts to an OP unit and how to deal with the Basti; so smarter people than I, who are already across these rules interactions, are welcome to skip over the science part!

What’s the deal?

Ummm….

Fundamentally, the issue was that this ruling drew on two separate elements of the Core Rules, without specifically citing them.  Oops.

First up is how rend actually works. I know a lot of people (myself included) would default to the mental shorthand of seeing a save value, adding your rend to it, and cracking on from there. So a 3+ save being hit by rend -1 weapons now saves on 4+; a 4+ save being hit by rend -2 now saves on a 6+; and so on.

This mental shorthand does work in general, which is why we lapse into it in the first place – but not here.

Here’s the reason why:

When you apply rend to an armour save, you are not making the save characteristic worse. You are making the save roll worse.

This is the actual rule (Core Rules, page 7):

The key clause being that you modify the roll. So when you are hit with rend -2, your 4+ save doesn’t become a 6+ save. You still technically have a 4+ save; it just becomes harder to roll a 4+ after modifiers.

On the tabletop, that of course means that you need to hit a natural 6 to make a 4 after the -2 modifier, which is where the mental shorthand comes in: we all know from thousands of repetitions that a 4+ save being hit by rend -2 requires nailing a 6 on the physical dice to pass.

So in our heads, we’re taking the armour save, adding the rend and that’s how many pips we need to see on the dice. Which is why it’s so fucking easy to lose sight of what we’re actually doing here (and the clue is right there in front of us, in the minus symbol of a rend -2 characteristic): we’re modifying those 6 pips down to 4, which is exactly what we need to pass the save in this example.

Ok then, let’s apply the rend -2 to a natural 2 and make it a modified 0, which still fails?

Well, now here’s the rub: you can’t modify a dice roll below 1. This is set out on the Core Rules, page 12:

If you’re looking at a natural 2 on the dice, and apply a modifier of rend -4, it still bottoms out at a modified 1. That’s a hard floor that cannot be bypassed: and a modified 1 is all they need to pass the 1+ armour save.

But what about the Rule of One? I thought 1s always failed?

Yes…unmodified 1s always fail. If you roll a dice, and that single pip or skull is looking back up at you, that’s an unmodified 1 and it auto-fails. That’s addressed and confirmed in the first line of this FAQ.

But that doesn’t mean that modified 1s always fail. As noted above, a natural 2 on a dice hit by even rend -4 bottoms out at a modified 1, and that modified 1 passes the 1+ save.

So it’s a bit weird and a bit counter-intuitive, but not actually that complicated. It’s only natural 1s that auto-fail; if you rend any other natural roll down to a modified 1, that can still pass.

So hang on, if we can’t modify a roll below a 1, does that mean we can’t modify above a 6?

Also known as: “What about the Castellant?”

Yeah, it’s not symmetrical. Now, you could say that makes no fucking sense whatsoever – and I wouldn’t disagree with you – but to be fair, it is right there in black and white:

This whole thing revolves around a quirk in the Core Rules. A dice can roll a natural 1 to 6. You then apply modifiers to it to determine the modified result. You cannot modify a roll below a 1, but you can modify it above a 6.

I personally see no good reason or logic behind that asymmetry, but it’s been right there since the 16 Pages dropped; and although it’s a bit weird, it really couldn’t be clearer.

Precedents

A similar case to consider is our old chum VLoZD. The reason he can benefit from both a 3+ Save and Ethereal Amulet is that his Ancient Shield ability gives him a 3+ Save characteristic:

Whereas Ethereal Amulet switches off modifiers to the roll:

Because Ancient Shield is modifying the Save characteristic (what you need to roll), and Etheral Amulet only switches off modifiers to the save roll (what you actually roll), he sits in a nice spot where he can benefit from the Shield while still ignoring rend.

Have they done a bad job with this FAQ?

Nope. Although I said at the start of this article that the ruling was baffling to read and comprehend – which it is – that’s because it’s such a convoluted interaction, not because the FAQ was badly written per se. Given the hand they were dealt, I actually think the phrasing itself is concise, accurate and complete; that being said, I would certainly have liked to have seen the FAQ cite the Core Rules it leans on, to give a better explanation for why this was the correct ruling.

There is a problem within this FAQ, but the Bastilodon ain’t it. The bigger issue for my money is the Ripperdactyl CA: spamming CAs is a zero-skill move that leaves nothing but a sour taste, and the decision taken back at the start of Second Ed to allow CAs to stack by default was a breathtakingly bad idea.

C’mon dude…

Lo and behold, CAs that have no business being spammed have slipped through the net. What’s disappointing is how often it happens: again and again and again and again we have books coming out with spammable CAs. Going forward, can you please check every CA you write for spammability before you hit Print? C’mon man, how many more times!

Is the Bastilodon with this 1+ save problematic?

Eh, not really. Not in my opinion at least.

It’s true that it will take a surreal volume of attacks to break through – you can basically give up on fighting it with conventional means. Even elite attacks from anti-monster specialists with heavy rend (looking at you, Big Stabbas) will fail to make a dent, so we’ll need to look elsewhere.

“Just take Mortal Wounds” is in danger of becoming the new “Just shoot the Heroes” here. It’s true that not everyone has ready access to build Mortal Wounds into their list with any reasonable level of efficiency – but let’s be fair, we’re not talking vast numbers of Mortals here before it’s back into volume-of-attacks territory, and the number of armies who can’t build in enough MW to at least crack the shell really is approaching an edge case.

So if you can, do. And you probably can.

Worth mentioning is that by tagging it in combat, you can force it to shoot your chaff. The whole point of bringing a shooting unit like this is that it can choose prime targets – but not if it’s locked in combat. For that reason, it can be worth charging even if you know you can’t kill it.

Otherwise, you’re looking at the classic “Ignore it, and play the Objectives”. But you know what? That’s valid here. This isn’t a unit that puts out an unreasonable amount of hurt. This isn’t a wrecking ball that presents a threat disproportionate to its points cost. This isn’t some relentless, fist-swinging nightmare that will just walk through your whole army if you don’t tackle it. And it’s only 1 model for scoring Objectives so yeah, do that. Play around it.

In all honesty, I quite like this rule. It’s super-thematic, being in that big hard shell and all; and if GW are going to explore this design space, I think it’s a good move to do it on something where the underlying Warscroll is not an overwhelming powerhouse.

I remember the Treelord Ancient back in the day, with its 2+ save, rerolling 1s, ignoring rend -1 (and bear in mind that rend -2 and Mortal Wounds were rare and precious back then). It was functionally unkillable for many armies; there’s nothing especially new about this phenomenon.

I’ve seen players – good players – dash themselves against the wall of that thing in morbid fascination, flinging their entire army at it just to see if they could kill it. That almost became the game in their head – kill this thing and win, fail to kill it and lose. Meanwhile they lost the actual game on the scenario and got their asses kicked by Scythe Hunters, regardless of what was happening with the dumb old Treelord Ancient.

Don’t do that. Don’t waste your time, resources and mental energy on it. It’s only a fucking Bastilodon.


The TL:DR

  • Unmodified 1s – and only unmodified 1s – auto fail
  • Any other natural roll can only be rended as low as a modified 1, which then passes the 1+ save
  • This is due to Core Rules, Page 12, “Modifiers”
  • It’s honestly not that hard to deal with in practice: splash a few Mortals and / or ignore it
  • Please GW, for the love of Gork, cross-check every CA for spammability before hitting “Print” in future

Well I hope that discussion helps you as much as talking it out with the legends in the Gloomspite Whatsapp helped me.

I mentioned on Twitter that I would be taking a break from updating Plastic Craic (I’m an essential worker and things are pretty hectic currently), hence the release rate of articles slowing to a trickle recently. I’ve honestly got LOADS I want to talk about when things normalise a little, so please keep following the blog, keep your chin up, keep safe, keep healthy and keep painting those models.

And in the meantime: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.

Featured

SAGT List Analysis: Power Picks and Coolest Lists

It’s the most wonderful time

Yes the most wonderful time

Oh the most wonderful time

Of the year

~ Andy Williams

TO’d by the legends that are Doom and Matthew “Wildform” Weiss, South Australia Grand Tournament GT, aka SAGT, aka Saggy T, is already established as one of the highlights of the Australian calendar.

Last year we had a strong contingent travelling from Victoria, and the weekend starts as it means to go on with everyone meeting at the venue on the Friday night for the piss-up…sorry, I mean set-up. Nah, I actually mean piss-up. Catching up with friends from around the country and sharing war stories and beers before the big show is one of the great things about playing competitive Age of Sigmar.

It genuinely reminds me of that Christmas Eve atmosphere when you were in your late teens or early 20s. Everyone had moved away for Uni or jobs, but still came home to their parents for Christmas, and when you went into your local pub the night before, you knew everyone was gonna be in there. It’s that sort of feeling, and that sort of event.

Like last year, we’ve got a lot of the top players from around Australia bringing the filth and playing for keeps; we’ve got some top generals using unique, anti-meta or experimental builds, and we’ve got some straight up insanity that is asking for Five Great Games, no more, no less.

You can check out the full set of lists here:

SAGT 2020 Lists & Preview!

It’s the perfect field for a capped-out 50 player event, and with the tight timeline until the tournament, I’ll be making the selections for each GA myself this time around; so let’s get into it.

Grand Alliance: Order

Power Pick: Michael Creighton, Idoneth Deepkin

Everyone knows what it does, nobody knows what to do about it. Michael Creighton is a lover and a fighter, an officer and a gentleman, a top table wargamer and a top table drinker. Last year he drank me under the table on the Friday night, then smashed me off the table on the Saturday afternoon, on his way to a 5-0 performance in what was my personal Game of the Year 2019.

Dhom-Hain is suddenly everywhere, and with no restrictions, Michael has filled his boots with Cloud of Midnight as his artefact. Artefacts of the Realms quite often displace book artefacts, because they are straight up better; but here’s an example where the opposite is true. I’m a huge fan of The Ragged Cloak for keeping a key Hero (helloooo, Warchanter) alive, but this thing pisses all over the Ragged Cloak.

High drops? Who cares. As a great man once said:

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.

Michael can start a fuckload of his key pieces off the board, including both Allied units; good look zapping them with Flamers.

And when he hits that big red button, boy are you in trouble. On comes the cavalry, charging where it wants to charge, with extra attacks all round and rerolling hits because Dhom-Hain. If you’ve never worn an Idoneth charge to the face, you have no idea what you’re in for: with the Mortal Wound zaps and rend -2, they will blast their way through anything.

This army is fast, hard-hitting and slippery when wet. I’d love to get the opportunity for revenge against Michael, but I’ll settle for the opportunity to get pissed up together again. Good luck mate.

Coolest List: Luke Stone , Cities of Sigmar

Luke has never been afraid to back himself with some lesser-seen choices, and last year at this event he took the scalp of Hagg Narr with his Scourge Privateers; this year he’s shown he has the balls to leave the Soulscream Bridge at home, so good on him for that.

Demigryph Knights are an excellent unit that jumped off the page when the book came out, but have been squeezed out of a lot of power builds that load up on magic and dakka. Coupled with Drakespawn Knights, he has some highly mobile bludgeons that can project power where needed, and deliver a world of pain on the charge.

We have the classic solid, useful Cities Battleline with good buff pieces around them; and best of all a Dreadlord on Black Dragon, which I can’t wait to see on the table. It’s no secret that Luke will want to charge you early and often with his combat units, so anyone who can tag them in combat will deprive them of a lot of their bonuses, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Luke can do with some really solid units that deserve more table time.

Grand Alliance: Chaos

Power Pick: Tyson Gleeson, Disciples of Tzeentch

Tyson has hit the ground running with the new Tzeentch book, following up a 5-1 showing at Cancon 2020 by playing up on Table 2 in the final round of Summer Smash 2020. The scary thing is that his list seems to have only gotten better in the meantime – it looks like Tyson has been busy painting up more Flamers, the ruthless bastard. Expect to see him blasting people off the board on a top table near you soon.

I’m sure that Tyson with Tzeentch is a 5-0 waiting to happen, and this could be just the right moment for him to deliver.

Coolest List: Wayne Buck, Skaventide

Remember when this book came out, and everyone had a chuckle and said how much fun it was going to be playing against Doomwheels? But then it was all Screaming Bells, Warp Lightening Vortices and Plaguemonks for fucking days? Well not in Wayne’s world.

Old mate Wayne has embraced the insanity and spammed the fuckers, and playing against this list will be nothing if not memorable. Look past the madness and it’s secretly quite good, with the jacked-up Acolytes guaranteed to wreak havoc, and I don’t think there’ll be many of Wayne’s games that go the distance one way or another.

Grand Alliance: Death

Power Pick: Corey Beilharz, Ossiarch Bonereapers

This list asks questions of your army. Questions like:

  • Can you chew through 20 Mortek Guard with a 3+ rerollable save?
  • Can you chew through 20 Mortek Guard with a 3+ rerollable save again?
  • Can you chew through 20 Mortek Guard with a 3+ rerollable save again?
  • How about if my catapult shoots off your key buffing Hero, can you chew through 20 Mortek Guard with a 3+ rerollable save now?

With three big blocks scoring objectives on those 25mm bases, backed up by Arkhan fun times, Corey has got a lot of reps in with OBR and this could be his time to shine.

Coolest List: Jason Tipping, Nighthaunt

You had me at Allegiance: Nighthaunt. Anyone who brings the spooky ghosts currently is making a statement, and that statement is: I have a fucking massive pair of balls, and I will win games on Hard Mode, thank you very much.

You have to be either in love with this army, up for the challenge, or both; and my feeling is that in Jason’s case, it’s both. That Dreadblade Harrow will be zipping all over the board and putting D3 Spirit Hosts back into that unit; he and Lady O will troll the fuck out of you with their spells; and if your army really, really needs that CP every turn, Kurdoss will break your heart and break your army.

Jason has worked all the fun, cool stuff from the whole faction into a single build, and the more the internet has tried to tell him they’re overcosted and uncompetitive, the harder he’s looked to find a way to make it all work.

There are a lot of subtle touches in here that give this list a low skill floor and high skill ceiling. It’s a challenge all right, but I’m backing Jason to pull a rabbit out the hat and win games out of nowhere with this army. I do hope so, because it’s fucking baller.

Grand Alliance: Destruction

Power Pick: Joel Graham, Big Waaagh!

Yep, Joel is running Dalton’s list. And who’d blame him? This army has it all. The Prophet has one of the best anti-horde spells in the business, and if that’s not enough Hero Phase output, Pebbles can always take a Warchanter buff and a Mighty D activation and knock something on the head.

The Prophet will be casting at anywhere from +2 (artefact and Pebbles) to +5 (Waaagh bonus and Wardokk dance), so that 10+ horde spell suddenly looks easy to cast, and so very, very hard to unbind.

With +2 to save stacking on the Savage Orruks or Pebbles, and the Breath of Gorkamorka + Mighty Destroyers ultramobility combo on the Rogue Idol, Joel’s opponents will have so much to deal with. And that’s before we even consider the highly efficient Gore Gruntas, and shooting from the Arrow Boys.

I actually wrote a very similar list myself back in November, but I think this version is the ultimate expression of the Rogue Idol build and strictly better than my own. Every Battleline unit contributes something significant to the army, and every Hero has multiple roles as the situation requires. One vulnerability is the lack of a Turn Zero CP (leaving those low-bravery horde units exposed early on), but this list gives you tools to compete with most opponents on most Battleplans.

There’s a lot of decisions to be made here, and a lot of overlapping ranges to manage, so this list won’t turn a bad General good. But Joel is just the lad to pull it off, believe me. Would you bet against him going back-to-back after winning Summer Smash? I know I wouldn’t.

Coolest List: Andrew Frankhuisen, Ironjawz

Bam! Andrew’s starting off with an Ethereal Maw Krusha. Nothing unusual there, but it’s a fun and effective start to any army.

Bam! Bam! Now he’s coming at you hard with a Kill Krusha. Rend -3 to rip the heart out of your best unit, and Mean Un for extra damage. Now you’re talking.

Bam! Bam! Bam! And there it is…when a Double Krusha list isn’t crazy enough, you slam Pebbles in there to seal the deal.

He’s also somehow managed to fit in a Battalion: with both Brutish Cunning and an Ironfist, Andrew is going to be going where he wants, when he wants. And in the unlikely event you survive a round of combat with any of his units, don’t get too excited, because everything is going to be fighting in the Hero Phase too.

Now when I say “somehow”, what I actually mean is “oops, where did the Warchanters go?” But support heroes are for wimps, right? There is a green avalanche rolling into town, and Andrew is going to be pushing it forward at maximum speed, and having the best fucking time doing it.


So there you have it! The stage is set for a rippa event. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Doom’s full list review right here, where he rudely and accurately describes how to beat my own army. Let me tell you though, I did win Best Destruction at this one last year, and I won’t be giving it up without a fight:

I can’t wait to see all the guys and girls again, I can’t wait to roll dice, I can’t wait to see some of these amazing lists on the table and I can’t wait to report back on how it all went.

Until then: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.

Featured

Interview with Joel Graham, Winner of Summer Smash

Having made his competitive debut at Border War less than 12 months ago, Joel has arrived on the Australian AOS scene with a bang, following up a 5-1 performance at Cancon 2020 by taking out Summer Smash in Geelong.

Let’s take a look at what Joel has to say about Age of Sigmar, Orruk Warclans, centrepiece models, Maw Krusha loadouts, tackling toolbox lists, wargaming in Wodonga and tournament life.

Spoiler alert: Joel won the event!

Joel Graham, Wodonga

Thanks Pete for the opportunity to share my thoughts, long time caller first time listener. Orruk warclans is a faction that recently has captured my heart. Having mained orc characters on World of Warcraft for 10 years, I tried to avoid doing the same thing for the tabletop equivalent. But one can only resist the call of the Waaagh for so long.


Since you started playing competitive AOS, you’ve certainly made a big impact in a short time. What was your journey into the game? 

Modelling has always been in my family with my Grandfather being obsessed with miniature railways and scenery, his entire 2 car garage being full of one of the most amazing miniature railway journeys ever created.  My Uncle is into WWII tanks and has a gorgeous collection.

My grandfather took me into the hobby shop at around 12 years of age, and while the tanks and planes were cool, there was something much cooler… Warhammer. While I couldn’t afford it at that age, recently I found myself yearning for something more interactive, tangible and real than computer games. That’s how I found myself watching videos on 2+tough’s YouTube channel, and I was hooked.

Albury / Wodonga is a real powerhouse of Australian wargaming. A relatively small place has kicked out a Cancon winner and an Australian Master – and now you’re adding to the tally of tournament wins. What’s it like playing locally – do you guys practice against each other regularly?

Our scene has a small population compared to other areas, so it can be difficult to get games and I’m lucky to get 2-3 a month. We have had one club day this year, and hopefully we can make it a regular thing, I’d love to be playing multiple times a week. So most of my time is spent theory crafting and list writing.

I noticed that you’ve gone from running Archaon at Cancon, to running a Maw Krusha at Summer Smash. Do you generally like building your armies around an ass-kicking centerpiece, or is that coincidence?

100%, it’s one of the pieces I enjoy using the most in AOS. Using big boys is a subpar way to play AOS; there is a learning curve in how to use a high point cost monster, but having done it for so long now they can win me games on their own (big time at Summer Smash).

Talk us through the list. What were your considerations when writing it? 

I needed a big dude to delete the key piece in ny opponent’s army. With Mighty Destroyers and access to a teleport, the Maw Krusha is perfect for getting to and murdering what I needed it to. The Amulet + Weird Un meant that he was going to stick around for several turns; it also gives me better matchups against Hallowheart and Tzeentch. One of the unique things about a Krusha is that people look to chaff up your big piece, but for a Maw Krusha that’s not always a bad thing, considering I’m getting +1 attack and wound a turn just for killing them.

Going with the Krusha over a Rogue Idol means I went heavily Jawz over Splitterz, and I leaned into that with the IJ teleport (Hand of Gork) + Ironfist. The teleport hands down won me games, not just teleporting 15 Ardboyz in, but even just the threat: a key example being in my final game against Beasts of Chaos, where my opponent was forced to leave half his army along the back of the board just from the threat.

As I only had a single Warchanter, the decision to run 2x 5 Ardboyz really paid off, holding objectives and screening my Shaman and Chanter. 

The most mental thing in Warclans though, and I may regret sharing this, has to be the Wardokk. For 80 points, you get an incredible prayer on a 3+, a cast and an unbind. It’s absolutely nuts.

The armies I’d struggle against would be Fyreslayers and the right OBR build, but all 5-0s have some luck and I avoided those armies.

Did you have a gameplan for taking on the top armies in the meta?

I’ll keep this brief as the shell of my army is similar to Pete’s and Dalton’s – but this is a very powerful army that is difficult to play, yet it has real game against everything right now – no matchup is unwinnable.

How did Day One play out? What were your highlights and exciting moments? Any learning points?

Game 1 vs Archaon Tzeentch: he had one 6 in the Destiny dice, and Archaon was rerolling everything. He gets through 3 wound rolls against my Krusha: first roll no 6s, second roll.. no 6s!!! Relief!! The Krusha then turned around and took off Archaon in one swing, fucking beautiful.

Game 2 was an almost-mirror against Dalton’s Big Waaagh in Knife to the Heart. Minor win. This was a non-game which was a bit sad really, as any other scenario could’ve produced a really interesting game.

Game 3 was an absolute slog against our good mate Ro with his Skaven, and let me tell you – Plague Monks are still completely insane. This was an absolute grind, and the Savage Orruks were worth their weight in gold by taking on multiple waves of Plague Monks to grind out a win.

Let’s dive into that last game a bit more. Skaven is the classic toolbox army with teleporting, shooting and chaff. How did you go about tackling that one?

So the mission was Focal Points. I gave Ro first turn, and all he had around his Gnawholes was Plague Monks. I put the 2x 5 Ardboyz on the deployment line to try and bait out the Plague Monks, but he didn’t take it. I had everything except my Savage Orruks outside of Warp Lightening Cannon range first turn, to bait them into shuffling forward.

On my own first turn I moved the 2x 5 Ardboyz onto the Gnawholes and had them shut down for the rest of the game: this is where MSU was very handy. Now this is where my list set itself apart by having both a Brutish Cunning Maw Krusha, and the pigs in an Ironfist. With a double Mighty Destroyers move, I was able to flank around the left hand side and get straight into his rear objective, clearing the Clanrats screen and dropping his Bell to half health. 

At the end of my first turn, the scores stood at 6 to 3 in my favour. I got the double, cleared off a WLC, Bell and one wave of Plague Monks (he had 2x 40) and had most of his army stuck in combat with my Krusha and pigs at the back. I was 12-4 ahead at the end of turn 2, again won priority and the game was effectively over. Getting the double guaranteed the game, but I think this is a good example of why my list worked so well at the tournament.

And how about Day Two? 

Game 4 was against Michael Clarke and his Hallowheart; Michael will represent Australia at the ETC later this year. Unfortunately for Michael, he made a critical error and didn’t screen my teleport. I placed my Shaman in the corner of the board to avoid any potential unbind, sent 6 pigs 12.1″ away, and a Mighty Destroyers left me with a charge I couldn’t fail. This meant that I removed his Hurricanum and Battlemage at the bottom of turn 1 and it was pretty one-sided after that.

Game 5, playing for the win against BOC saw my little hero – one of the 5 Ardboyz unit champions – survive 4 rounds of shooting and combat against a unit of Ungors, and eventually delete it on his own – mental.

Were you feeling nervous at all playing for the win?

Before the game yes, but once we started I settled into the game I was in the zone. Forward thinking in Warhammer can be very rewarding and that’s what most of my time on the table is spent doing – working out all the possibilities, what is going to happen where, average damages of units vs units, playing around priority rolls etc.

What unit was your MVP, and are there any changes you’d consider to the list? Were you happy with your Maw Krusha loadout?

MVP was the 6 pigs with the Ironfist battalion. Surprisingly survivable, there’s a lot of wounds in that blob and with a Warchanter buff on the charge they average just under 50 damage, just insane. The Krusha would be a close second.

Having Weird Un on the Maw Krusha was absolutely huge, I would never take anything else. It was a game changer against Hallowheart: my opponent cast a few debuff spells at him which I shrugged, and then tore him apart. Against Ro’s Skaven he shrugged a Warpgale which would have prevented him getting in as well. The Krusha does such insane damage, you don’t need to double down on it, just keep him alive and moving forward.

Noice!

What’s next? 

Next up for me is a trip to Adelaide for SAGT hosted by Doom and Darkness, I’ll be taking my totally original (not Dalton’s) Rogue Idol list.

To close, Thanks to the Throw the Dice team for a thoroughly enjoyable event and for supporting a good cause (all money raised was donated to helping wildlife). Shoutout to Michael Clarke for hosting the pissup Saturday night. To Pete and Dalton, couldn’t have done it without you boys, much love.

If you’re still reading this far, I love list doctoring so if you need help find me on twitter, @jc_graham.


Thanks for that Joel, and congratulations on the big win! Many more to come I’m sure – just not in Adelaide next week, that one’s mine buddy.

Next on the blog we’ll be catching up with Dalton who finished second at the event, also with Big Waaagh, to explore his Rogue Idol build.

Until then: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.

Featured

Summer Smash Tournament Review: Big Wins for the Big Waaagh!

It always seems impossible until it’s done

~ Nelson Mandela

The Event

ROAD TRIP! Summer Smash 2020 was hosted by the Throw The Dice team in Geelong, less than a 2 hour drive and in the great State of Victoria.  Rich and the guys have done a great job building up their scene over the last couple of years, so it was fantastic to see a really solid turnout of 38 on the day – no mean feat for a regional city.

There were a lot of sharks swimming around the top tables: by my count, you had at least five separate players who went 5-1 at Cancon 2020 last month; two members of the ETC team; and a host of other Masters-level players such as Joel McGrath and Pat Nevan from the Bush Radio podcast, and Smorgan from The Dwellers Below. 

The pack included two instant win missions (Knife to the Heart and Blood and Glory) to separate the field, the tie breakers were bespoke Secondaries and Kill Points, and one quirk in the pack was that you could choose your spells each round, giving a welcome boost to those plucky underdogs Tzeentch.

The List

My list was one of four Big Waaaghs at the event: I was originally looking at Rogue Idol builds along the lines of the “New Toys: Refined and Reloaded” list I featured in my Big Waaagh review, or the one that Dalton Copeland took to 4th overall at Cancon 2020.

The list I settled on contained some core elements of that style of army, but with a hard left turn to the redonkulous: you haven’t lived until you’ve ran 8 Big Stabbas backed up with a Waaagh Banner.

A lot of the familiar elements are there: the Megaboss on Foot with Brutish Cunning for access to Mighty Destroyers, 30 Arrow Boys for more output outside of the combat phase, and a block of 6 pigs as a mobile hammer. I’ve learned from the experience of Frank and Dalton by putting in a block of 30 Savage Orruks as a shield wall with a large volume of attacks – and even moreso with the Warboss.

Ahhh, the Warboss. You know what he buffs? Orruks. All of em. So that would be the entire army, then.

Gore Gruntas with an extra attack on both profiles and the Warchanter buff, doing 10x Damage 2 attacks per model. 30x Savage Orruks hitting on 2s with 4 attacks each at 2″ range. Big Stabbas with 4 attacks each…or more, if you hit that big red button and call the Big Waaagh too.

All with amazing core stats: hitting on 2s, wounding on 2s, rerolling 1s (thank you, Waaagh Banner!). Part of me just wanted to see what it would be like to run Big Stabbas under these circumstances, but after a couple of practice games, I fell hard.

The list does have some major flaws. Relative to the Rogue Idol build, you are losing a lot of durability in your key hammer unit: whereas Pebbles can tank out most shooting, facing a gunline with expensive models on a 6+ save and low bravery is absolutely chronic. After the smoke has cleared, Pebbles is still standing and has two chances to heal right back up from the Warchanter and Wardokk, but your Big Stabbas will run for the fucking hills as you shed a little green tear.

The list has less output in the Hero phase without a jacked up Wurggog Prophet, and you will miss that third lore spell and +1 to cast army wide from Pebbles. You are also chronically lacking in CPs without the Prophet crapping one out every other turn (hence the Brooch). My standard play with this army is to pump up the Waaagh points in Turn 1, then switch to calling Waaaghs from Turn 2 onwards since you should have already hit that crucial 20 Waaagh. That does leave you praying for a 5+ from the Brooch or Commanding terrain if you hit Battleshock troubles early on, however, which can necessitate holding back on the Waaagh at times.

But the list does have its upsides; it’s not strictly worse. Big Stabbas already put out a surreal volume of damage, and every Waaagh called gives them an extra 8 attacks at full strength. Their 3″ range is clutch for setting traps and hitting over screens: I know from experience that they can blast a unit of 20 Hearthguard off the board with one swing.

By setting the Ladz 2.5″ back from your frontline, you can sit in that pocket where you can hit your enemy, but they can’t hit back (aka “The Glory Hole”). This can allow you to actually get your attacks in against ASF units like Hermdar, giving you a tool that can turn a bad matchup good.

Similarly against Tzeentch, your Stabbas can be set back out of danger early on, but can quickly get back into the fray to start dishing out the pain. The sheer volume of damage output gives you a fighting chance to punch through 300 wounds of blocking Horrors. And if people are used to thinking that their Ethereal Big Thing is unkillable, they are in for a rude awakening when these guys swing. Even without their Rend -2, they are rolling tons of dice with superb hit and wound rolls, and D6 damage a pop.

All in all, I do think that Rogue Idol builds are probably still more powerful; but this army does have some good matchups that are very strong in the meta (potentially including the mirror). If you don’t face too many gunlines, you’ll be fine, but you have to acknowledge that that’s a big “if” the way the meta is currently moving.


The Games: Day One

Game 1: Michael Clarke, Hallowheart

Battleplan: Total Conquest

Michael is a fellow member of the Australian AOS ETC team, fresh from a 5-1 performance at Cancon and a 4-1 at BBBB before that.  Michael has a highly mobile and aggressive Cities list, with a punishing magic phase, underpinned by two solid anvils in 30 Phoenix Guard and 30 Eternal Guard.

We were both 9 drops, and super keen to win that first roll off; neither of us wanted to get double turned by the other, so whoever won it was always going to put their opponent in first.  I rolled a 5, Michael rolled a 6 and from that point on I needed to win every priority roll to have a good chance. 

Spoiler alert: I did not win every priority roll.

Michael doubled me Turn 2 into Turn 3 and at that point, I was well and truly on the back foot.  My mentality and strategy had to switch from trying to win the game and contest his Objectives, to standing firm on my own, and keeping it to a Minor. 

Michael wins priority again Turn 3 into 4.  By this stage we had one side that was heavily defended and under siege, while the opposite flank was more lightly defended but under less direct threat.  My opponent needs to grab just one of them for one turn to seize the Major, but I’m not going down without a fight.  Michael gets the Bridge up, ready to step across it and claim one of my two Objectives.  Uh oh. 

He follows it up with a chain lightening spell that kicks out Mortal Wounds to my main defensive block, and those Mortal Wounds then jump onto any other unit within 6” on a 4+, hopefully (from his point of view) to splash a few mortals onto my support Heroes.  It does so, but also tags a unit of Ladz who are strung out, and you know what means don’t you?  D6” move at the end of the phase, baby! 

I push them laterally, directly towards my side of the Bridge, and manage to shut down any 9” bubbles that get within 6” of the Objective.  Denied!  I’m slowly getting my ass kicked on the other side of the table, but we’re still in it.  Just.

My turn now, at the bottom of 4.  Those boyz are too valuable to just leave nursing that Bridge, so I move them back towards the fray…but I also can’t leave the Bridge wide open.  Time for a switcheroo.  The Maniak Weirdnob casts Breath of Gorkamorka on himself, so he has a 24” flying move, and zips right across the other side to take their place blocking the teleport across the Bridge. 

With an eye on the secondaries, I run my Megaboss out towards his lines, knowing that if I win a priority I can plough forward and smoke his Hurricanum to secure a good chunk of Kill Points and my secondary Objective. 

Do I win a priority?

I do not win a priority.  

But now is not the time to panic, for Mork has not forsaken us.  Michael dispels his Bridge to get a better vector on my Objective…and flubs the cast!  Praise be to Mork!  So it’s all coming down to that last, final push on my home Objective.  Brave, bold Megaboss Bamm Bamm, who was making a break for the Hurricanum, is swamped by Phoenix Guard and breathes his last. 

After another round of magic and shooting chip away, we’re down to the last few Greenskinz.  The Phoenix Guard can’t get there, but all Michael needs is a half-decent charge from his cavalry to nick my Objective…and he gets it.  Done and dusted in the 5th Battleround.

Although it was clear from quite early on that Michael would win the game, everything else was up for grabs all the way through:  it went right down to the wire in terms of a Major or Minor, and likewise for Kill Points and Secondaries, so it was a very engaging and exciting match.  Michael is an absolute gentleman to play against, and it ended up as a well-deserved win for him.

Key learning point: I deployed very cautiously to zone out the Shadow Warriors, but that was disproportionate to their output.  A single unit of Shadow Warriors isn’t actually that scary, especially if you can get your small Heroes in cover, so it’s probably not worth wasting your own output to counter them.  Don’t let them get inside your head!

Big Stabbas scalps: White Battlemage on Luminark of Hysh

Game 2: Kyle Ward, Mawtribes

Battleplan: Knife to the Heart

What a sight this was to see on the tabletop!  Kyle has an amazing army of Beastclaw Orcs, using heads from 40K Nobz.  I know that Kyle beat my clubmate Joel McGrath at Cancon last month, so he’s nobody’s fool; both of our armies are mobile and hard-hitting, so this didn’t shape up to be a KTTH bore-draw.

Kyle’s list included 3 Stonehorns and an Eurlbad, but with an unusual twist: he also had two Scraplaunchers in their Battalion.  Although they are usually not considered to be a strong competitive pick, their niche window of usefulness is against big units with bad armour saves.  Guess what I was running?  Big units with bad armour saves.

Kyle had built his army to generate a bucket load of CPs, so he was rerolling 1s for everything, all the time: his Ethereal Frostlord is saving on 3s rerolling 1s, and hitting on 3s rerolling 1s.  I can confirm that the poor bugger is the King of Rolling Twos.

I deployed with my Savage Orruks tanking my home Objective, and the bulk of my army off to the side ready to move forward.  Kyle had split his force to push forward with two Stonehorns and the Mournfang on the side where my fighting units were, and a lone Stonehorn heading for my Objective on the other flank.  His home Objective was protected by a ring of 20 Gnoblars encircling the two artillery pieces.

Kyle’s artillery are pumping out 8 shots a turn hitting on 2s, but they only wound on 4s, which is proving difficult for the King of Rolling Twos.  In fact, everything was going swimmingly for me: I had quite a nice moment where my Big Stabbas put 55 damage (55 fucking damage, mind you!) on an Ethereal Frostlord.  The Arrow Boys were pinging away at his Mournfang who went down under the weight of dice, leaving my pigs clear to push on towards his base.  They’ll get there next turn and blow up his Gnoblars, so all I need to do is win the priority for Round 3 and that’s game.

I do not win the priority for Round 3.  Kyle’s lone Huskard on Stonehorn is making a push towards my lines, but that’s ok, right?  I’ve got 60 wounds of Savage Orruks there. 

Yeah…about that.  His artillery finally decided to go mental, and did 14 wounds of damage in the shooting phase. 

Suddenly, if his Stonehorn gets into my lines, he can blow up a big chunk of the unit and leave me with fewer than 10 models on the Objective, sealing the instant win.  Now, it’s “only” a Huskard and not a Frostlord, so it’s probably going to come down to how Kyle rolls on those 6 big attacks hitting on 4s; but I’m in major fucking trouble here, don’t doubt it.

He needs to make a 6” charge, and he’s got about 7 CP in the bank…but as we all know, he can only reroll it once.  He rolls a 4. 

That’s ok, here comes the reroll. 

Would you like to have a wild guess what the King of Rolling Twos rolled? 

Two Twos, 2 and 2, 22. 

Yep.

Honestly, as exhilarating as it was for me, I was fucking crushed for the guy.  He took it so, so well but it must have been absolutely debilitating.  I looked it up afterwards and the chances of failing a 6” rerollable charge are about 8%, and for it to come up specifically with two 2s after the way he’d been rolling all day was such a fucking a slap in the face for him.  Kudos to Kyle because he took it like a man.

So bottom of turn 3, my pigs stroll up the board, backhand his grots off the Objective and sealed the win. 

I’m not gonna lie, I got away with one there.

Key learning point: I’m one of those people who generally needs to lose to an army to understand it.  Even though I’m building a Stonehorn army myself, I hadn’t really trained myself yet to look at the table and see them as 10 models.  I saw one big monster on one side, 60 wounds of green delight on the other, and thought I was fine.  Yeah nah.

So repeat after me: Stonehorns count as 10 models.  Stonehorns count as 10 models.  STONEHORNS COUNT AS 10 MODELS!

Big Stabbas scalps: Frostlord on Stonehorn, Stonehorn Beastriders

Now you see them…
…Now you don’t!

Game 3: Pat Nevan, Mawtribes

Battleplan: Focal Points

This was more like it.  Pat is a top player but he has been struggling to win games with his Ogors, labouring to a 2-4 record at Cancon.  His mission to prove that Ironblasters are good has been aborted, so I didn’t get the pleasure of playing against his novelty gunline, but I was confident that my army could handle his.  I took the +1 to Save spell in this one, and set up a classic phalanx: a big line of Savage Orruks for him to crash into, with shooting perched behind ready to bang away while my hammer units wait for their moment to pounce. 

With the Savage Orruks potentially on a 3+ 6++ save, it was hard to see how Pat could come out on top in a “push your armies into the middle” encounter, and so it proved.

Pat did pull one nice move where he seemed to have his Ironguts blocked in by his Gnoblars; he’d left a full 1” (25.4mm) gap between the Ogors, and his 25mm bases slipped back between them to let that hammer unit progress forward untramelled. 

The Savage Orruks soaked up whatever the fat lads could throw at them, then the Big Stabbas got around and in to them on my turn.  Once the Ironguts had been ripped to shreds the game was beyond Pat’s reach.  I rolled pretty hot throughout this game, and when I rolled these two armour saves against Pat’s rend -2 Tyrant attacks, that’s when he chucked in the towel:


Key learning point: Gluttons depend way too much on their buffs, which are themselves highly dicey.  My own Mawtribes army will be more Stonehorn-focussed so it’s not an issue for me personally, but if you’re planning on playing Gutbusters you need to be ok with that swinginess, otherwise you’re in for a very frustrating time.

Big Stabbas scalps: 4 Ironguts, 4 Ironguts and 2 Leadbelchers all killed with one swing in combat (split attacks).


The Piss Up: Saturday night

I’d cracked open a few with Pat before, during and after our game, so I was relaxed and getting into the groove nice and early.

Michael Clarke generously hosted a barbecue / piss up at his (amazing) joint, open to all-comers: I’d say that at least 30 people rocked up, and mistakes were made.


The Games: Day Two

Game 4: Daniel Trotter, Hallowheart

Battleplan: Relocation Orb

Up against another Hallowheart army, but this time guest starring Gotrek!  It was my first time lining up against the Wee Man, which was pretty exciting.

Dan outdropped me. To give Dan something extra to worry about, I deployed my pigs aggressively forward and outside of the phalanx so they could make a beeline for Dan’s lines. He put me in first. 

I guessed that Dan’s intention was to use the Objective as bait, luring me forward only to brutalise me with magic and shooting.  His army was stacked with damage spells, including a Hurricanum and both of the chain lightening style options, plus the usual dakka with bonuses to hit and wound. So I’m sure he’d be delighted if I could wander up into the centre and stand there obligingly in his shooting range, just a short stroll away from Gotrek who’s ready to step forward and smack me upsides the head. 

Ok, let’s go.  Warchanter buff on the pigs, Brutish Cunning move, normal move, BAM!

6 buffed pigs smash into his shield wall of 40 Freeguild Guard at the top of 1.  22 damage from the Orruks, 18 from the Gruntas and that is exactly 40 wounds delivered to his main scoring unit.  See ya later!  And now he has a dilemma: does he send Gotrek across to deal with them, which means his subsequent turn will be devoted to running him back into a relevant position?  Or does he send Gotrek forward to fight for the objective and start blowing up my army, at the cost of leaving 30 wounds of angry bacon up in his face?

Daniel also has a secondary dilemma in that his 20 Crossbowmen are locked in combat with the pigs: he really wasn’t expecting me to one-shot his shield wall, so they were deployed right behind, meaning that I brought them into 3” when I charged.  Does he stay in combat and shoot me up, or retreat and waste a round of shooting?

Dan sends Gotrek up the middle, and shoots up the pigs.

His magic is pretty effective and does what it does, but my army is one that can soak up a lot of D3 MWs.  Dan focussed significant effort and resources into killing my two wizards, so the core Bonesplitterz troops will be almost completely unbuffed.  Smart move. 

When the smoke has cleared, there are three pigs left standing, who proceed to merrily slaughter the 20 crossbowmen in his combat phase; that’s 60 wounds of slaughter in the first Battleround alone, go pig wigs!

Dan wins the priority and takes it.  His strategy is obviously to murderfuck me with Gotrek and worry about scoring 3 points per turn later.  Another round of magic kills a pig or two, and is starting to chip into the Savage Orruks.  Gotrek goes barrelling up the middle and proceeds to Fuck. Shit. Up.  He smashes a heap of Savage Orruks off the table and that’s my shield wall gone.  And although he can’t reach them to fight, his second pile in brings the Arrow Boys within 3”.  Hmmm.

So now I’m the one with the dilemma.  Do I stand and shoot with my unbuffed Arrow Boys, betting that I’ll kill him?  If I leave the little bastard on one wound he will wipe a big chunk of the unit on my turn.  Or do I retreat, and gamble on killing him with the Big Stabbas?

A quick mental calculation tells me to throw the kitchen sink at him.  Arrow Boys will chip a few off purely with weight of dice, and the Big Stabbas are good against him even with their damage counting as 1.  You’re still getting a lot of juice out them with a large volume of good hit roll, good wound roll attacks that puncture his first 4+ armour save quite effectively.  You end up with a solid weight of dice going into that 3+ ignore.

And so it plays out.  Gotrek already had 2 wounds on him from the Savage Orruks who fought in between his two swings; after the Arrow Boys attack, he’s up to 5 wounds taken; and the Big Stabbas put another 5 on him.  That’s 10 wounds, which is more than enough to send him back to Grimnir.

I win the next priority, and now it’s my turn to take it despite the 3 points on offer for deferring.  It’s well worth it though, because I am already ahead on Objectives, and in a position to step forward and delete the remnants of Dan’s army.  It looked like a pretty emphatic win at that point, with most of my army still on the table, but if Gotrek had survived my onslaught I could have been in strife.

Key learning point: I really should have set up my Arrow Boys further back from the front line.  The volume of Savage Orruks that went down to a double magic and shooting phase, and most of all to Gotrek, caught me out and let him tag the Arrow Boys with his second pile in.  But there really was no reason for them to be close enough for that to happen; I should have perched them further back, and dared Gotrek to step forward and fight my Savage Orruks in the shade – and then forced him to charge away from the Objective if he wants to deal with my Dakka, instead of having the luxury of fighting on it.

Big Stabbas scalps: Gotrek, baby!

Game 5: Lachlan Clark, Archaon

Battleplan: Blood and Glory

Lachlan is a friend of mine and we’ve chatted Grots a fair bit over the last 12 months, but we’ve never actually rolled dice before.  Our group from Kyneton took 4 people to the event, as did Lachie’s group from Ballarat (which is about 1 hour away from where we live), so we’ve been talking about having a clash of teams at some point in the near future.  But for today, there was a podium at stake.

Lachlan is a gentleman and talked me through his list before the game with great clarity.  Archaon in that build is pure filth, putting out a surreal amount of damage and near-impossible to kill.  Can’t deal with him, can’t ignore him.  Hmmm.

My strategy here was to play cautiously, feed Archie my Savage Orruks as slowly as possible, and run away from him whenever I can.  Meanwhile shooting off whichever unit has the retributive damage buff, and wheeling my Gore Gruntas around as a mobile hammer, constantly skirmishing with Not Archaon and picking up Objectives. 

That way I can engineer a good chance of holding 3 Objectives to secure the Minor, and if Lachlan fails to get his maximum buffs onto Archaon, it’s fucking showtime.  Then and only then will I pounce and go for the jugular with my Stabbas.

Lachlan has Be’lakor because of course he does, so I know he’s writing down “Big Stabbas” on that little piece of paper, most likely in capital letters and underlined twice.  I deploy with them tucked in the Glory Hole behind my front lines, so that if Archaon comes in turn 1, they get to swing back into him; they can’t be Be’lakored until my first Hero Phase.  But by the same token, because they are positioned so prominently, it will draw out the Be’lakor shaft nice and early.

Lachlan goes for it, it’s on baby!  Archie gets buffed out the wahzoo and teleports 9” away from me.  Rolls his charge.  Fails it.  Rolls again.  Fails again.  Now a 9” rerollable charge is close to a coin flip, so it’s not unlucky as such that he failed it, but it’s also not a dumb move because Archaon is under no real threat when he’s exposed like that – not with Be’lakor around.  The whole army ran forward, so there’s a good chance that Lachy already knows he has the priority for Turn 2.

In my Turn 1, Lachy is forced to apply Be’lakor to the Big Stabbas, otherwise they are ready to fly over the top of my screen and mulch Archie, buffs or no buffs.  I ping my arrows into Archaon and do a few wounds, put a defensive buff on the Savage Orruks, develop the Ironjawz contingent out sideways, and clench.  From his hyper aggressive move up the table, we both know Lachlan has the next priority.

And that’s when Mork intervenes.  In Turn 2, he fails his buffs – all of them.  Archaon is running on his naked warsrcoll.

“Erm…this has never happened before”.

Well it has now, lad.

Lachlan hits reverse gear and runs everything backwards.  Presumably he knows I’m getting the double next turn….either that, or he’s trying to lure me forward with the biggest trap ever.  If I bring the Stabbas out now, they will be on a long charge, and vulnerable to getting wrecked by the Varanguard if Lachlan has the next turn.  So instead I move my wizards backwards out of unbind range, and move my army forward behind the screen ready to strike.

Lachlan lifts up the cup, and it’s a 1.  Time for action.  Let’s go Boyz!

I spend some Waaagh points to ram +2 to cast on both Wizards, and get the casts off with room to spare.  The Pigs take the Warchanter buff, and double move down the table towards the heart of his army.  The Stabbas make a beeline for the big fella, with a flying 10” move over my screen accompanied by run + charge.  There’s nowhere to hide when the Green Tide is in full flow!

Watching 8 Big Stabbas put well over 40 wounds on Archaon (when we stopped counting) was sheer fucking poetry.  The pigs smashed up Be’lakor, which was also wild overkill, but crucial in clinching the match because he was the one with the teleport spell.  That shut down any avenue Lachlan might have had to stealing an instant win, so from that point onwards it was a matter of cleaning up his army and securing the Major.

Key Learning Point: As a major fan of the Priority Roll, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Archaon knowing who goes next and removing the excitement of the big roll off. In practice it was actually really interesting, knowing that he knows, and having that 1% doubt about whether he’s bluffing you with his actions. I wouldn’t want it to replace the Priority Roll entirely, but for a bit of variety, I certainly found it engaging to play against.

Big Stabbas scalps: Archaon, baby!


The Wrap

At this point we had Joel Graham’s Big Waaagh vs BOC on Table 1; Dalton Copeland’s Big Waaagh vs Changehost on Table 2; and my own Big Waaagh vs Archaon in this matchup on Table 3.  Destruction vs Chaos right across the top tables and when all three of us won, it felt so fucking good!

Joel grabbed first overall and scooped Best Sports too, which is an amazing achievement.  Dalton came second, and I joined him on the podium in 3rd place. 

Big Waaagh!

Big Waaagh!

Big Waaagh!

I was rapt for Joel and Dalton, and rapt to be a part of a real breakthrough tournament for Orruk Warclans.  Come On You Boyz in Green!

I like Blood Angels, I like Space Wolves, and I really like Imperial Fists.

But you know what’s my favourite kind of Marine? A submarine.


What’s Next?

I built this army to have a fighting chance against some of the big bads in the current meta: on paper, I believe it has tools to give a good account of itself against each of Tzeentch, OBR and Fyreslayers. I never ended up playing any of those armies (and got Hallowheart twice instead!), so I’m tempted to take the exact same build to my next event (SAGT in Adelaide) in a couple of weeks, and demonstrate whether it has the potential I believe it to have.


Thanks to Tricky Dicky and the TTD crew for a fantastic event.  They are hosting a doubles event later in the year which should be good fun, so anyone who fancies the trip to Geelong for a friendly event in a licensed venue, I’d love to see you there. 

I’m pencilling in a cheeky Stonehorns list for that one: Frostlord, Beastriders, Beastriders, done.

1 Hero, 2 Battleline and 1000 points on the nose!


Coming up next on the blog will be interviews with both Joel and Dalton, who finished first and second at this event, to round off the Summer Smash coverage.

I’d also love to do a “Power Picks and Coolest Lists” analysis for SAGT, but that will depend on the timing of lists being released for that one – so watch this space.

Until then – May Gork bring you strength, May Mork bring you wisdom.

Featured

Ironjawz White Dwarf Battalions: Leaks and Analysis

’Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes

~ Christopher Bullock (1716)

Well lookie here!  Some kind soul has leaked photos of the latest White Dwarf Battalions, and this time around it’s Ironjawz that are getting the love.  Come On You Boyz In Green!

We’ve seen a couple of these White Dwarf articles before; the Syll’eske Host certainly has had its impact on the meta, winning a raft of events; the Fyreslayers and Nighthaunt examples, not so much.  Where will this one land?  Let’s take a look at what this rules update might mean.

The Lore

White Dwarf rules releases usually come bundled up in a tight, thematic package: this time, we’re focussing in on Dakkbad Grotkicker and the Ironsunz.  You can expect some exposition on the background to this Clan, which is one that has already been explored to some extent.  Ironsunz are sneaky and love setting up kunnin’ traps for their enemies, which already comes through in their rules; what I’d really love to see here is an interesting short story too.

While we’re talking about being dead kunnin’, this Battleplan from the original Ironjawz Battletome is great for anyone who has the joie de vivre to give something different a crack. This one is highly relevant to Ironsunz; having played it myself, it’s definitely one I’d recommend it for a change of pace.

The Battalions

Dakkbad’s Brawl

Big Battalions are back, right?  Tzeentch has the Changehost, and KO got theirs.  Woo hoo, here’s a one-drop for Ironjawz!

Yeah nah.  This doesn’t fit into 2000 points, carries loads of taxes, and the bonus is garbage.  It’s an outright waste of paper and an insult to the memory of the brave trees who died and were pulped to print it.

Moving on.

Da Bossfist

Well this one is certainly a little more interesting! Let’s break it down:

Ironsunz

You are locked into Ironsunz, but that’s ok; they are arguably the best Warclan anyway, with very little in the way of taxes and a badass counter-charge Command Ability. 

First thing to note it that the compulsory Megaboss on Maw Krusha needs to take the Right Fist of Dakkbad Command Trait.  Honestly, I don’t really get this.  Is this saying that you have to make him your General, or only that if you do so, you must take that CT?  The latter is entirely redundant, since you are locked into Ironsunz, which means that he would be obliged to take that CT anyway; presumably, then, it is meant for thematic reasons, so that Dakkbad has to be your General and he isn’t taking orders from some footslogging goober.  Which is fine, except that the Command Trait in question is telling us that he is Dakkbad’s lieutenant rather than the man himself.  So a forced, supposedly thematic choice is simultaneously telling us that this Megaboss is explicity Dakkbad and explicitly Not Dakkbad, which makes no fucking sense whatsoever.

On the plus side, the Ironsunz artefact is not forced onto your Maw Krusha.  Why does this matter?  Well, it’s essentially a worse version of Ethereal Amulet, so this opens up a strictly better option for investing in your big fella.

What also works in nicely is that because you are taking a couple of Megabosses on foot in this Battalion, one of them can take the Sunzblessed armour instead.  And for these guys, it’s not strictly worse than Ethereal; because they are not Monsters, they can get a cover save too, which means that against Rend 0 they are on a 2+ save in cover.  So all in all it’s a pretty efficient way to distribute your Artefacts.

Now, you might not want to take Ethereal Amulet on your Maw Krusha at all; you might want to build for power and take Metalrippa’s Klaw, for example.  Either way though, taking this Battalion does not remove that option, which can only be a good thing.

Command Points

You will be fucking rolling in Command Points.  One for the Battalion?  Check.  One for the Right Fist of Dakkbad?  Check.  One for Turn 1?  Check.  One for free when you roll a 4+?  Check.

You are guaranteed to start the game with 2x CPs, and have either 3 or 4 at the top of your first turn.  That is massive for an army that is so CP hungry.  Mighty Destroyers is  one of the very best Command Abilities in the game; because you cannot take an Ironfist or Brutish Cunning, you will need every one of those CPs, and that’s even before we get onto counter-charging.  This abundance of such a precious resource is what makes the army viable despite the heavy taxes it imposes.

Extra Attacks

Extra attacks for your whole army?  Don’t mind if I do!  Honestly, you do kind of need these since it’s a squeeze to fit in your Warchanters.  But it’s a very, very solid Battalion ability.

However…I don’t run Brutes.  I’m hardly the only person to have rung that bell, but I believe that they are just squeezed out between your other Battleline choices.  Their attack profile is identical to Ardboyz and Gore Gruntas (3+ 3+ -1 1) except for the special weapons, which are arguably worse (more damage, but a worse To Hit roll).  Even with a Warchanter buff, they don’t give you a tool to deal with anything that you can’t already deal with by taking Ardboyz, who also have the (huge) benefit of +2” to charge. If your opponent laughs at rend -1, they will continue to laugh at your Brutes.

Losing their rend -2 hurt too much; they just don’t have anything to really hang their hat on.  Whether it’s something straightforward like a Skullreapers-style Mortal Wound on 6s to hit, or rend -2 on the big weapons, they just don’t have any real oomph as a dedicated combat unit, and certainly not enough to make up for being so pathetically slow and prone to Battleshock.

So does an extra attack solve that?  Eh.  It certainly doesn’t hurt, and the dedicated Brute fans will be pleased to see it.

Death and Taxes

All of this doesn’t come cheap.  The Battalion itself is a whopping 220 points, but it doesn’t stop there; you also have to take two Megabosses.  TWO Megabosses, WTF?  So that’s 520 points down the shitter before we even get started.

The worst thing is, they aren’t keyword bolded; so if you want to take a double Krusha list, you can, but you still need to carry the burden of those two goons.  I don’t know anyone who owns multiple Footbosses, so I guess it will sell some models; and it is pretty thematic as a “proper Ironjawz” list for people who are into that sort of thing.  But competitively speaking, you really could do without pumping 300 points down the drain, especially since it most likely squeezes out your second Warchanter (or first and only Shaman). 

And given that Warchanters are close to essential, this is certainly a low-drop package, but realistically not one drop; you’ll always need to invest in Sikk Beatz who adds a drop on his own.

Moggorz’s Rekrootin’ Krew

Yeah I’m not blown away by this one. You’ve got the rules up above, so if you see something that looks interesting please do let me know; however I can’t see myself taking this over an Ironfist or Ardfist. At 150 points I’m not sure it’s even as good as they are, especially when you consider the compulsory Megaboss on foot and Brutes. In that context, taking away the Ironsunz ability feels a bit unnecessary. This one’s not for me.

List Building

Ok, let’s have some fun with this. 

Double Dragon

I’ve always been a fan of Ironsunz for a twin-Maw Krushas list, for the reason that Sunzblessed Armour and Ethereal Amulet dovetail so nicely.  What does it look like with this Battalion?

You know what this would be really good against?  Flamers.  Those guys will do fuck all against these fat bastards.  No bonuses to hit, because it’s a small unit; probably not even an Exalted wholly within 9”, because they can only teleport one unit now; and you just laugh at that rend -1 as you roll all your 3+ saves.

When you remember that we are Ironsunz, so natively at -1 to be Hit in the first Battleround, Flamers will be hitting most targets on 5s and Heroes with Lookout Sir on 6s. That’ll make a nice dent in their output! A unit of 6 Flamers with an Exalted nearby can be expected to put between 2 to 3 wounds on an Ethereal (or Sunzblessed) Krusha, dropping to 1 wound (1 fucking wound) if they don’t have the Exalted buff.

This is how I would deploy in that matchup:

What are those Ardboyz doing in there? You’ll see!

Why screen if you’re confident your Krusha won’t take much damage? It’s all about the Mighty D. You want to be 12.1″ away from the deepstriking unit, so your Mighty Destroyers move doesn’t compell you to charge, and waste a turn fighting them. Instead, you fly straight past them, on your way to murderfucking the core of their army, and leave your other units to chuck a bucket of ice cold water on those Flamers.

It also means that your Warchanter is >18″ from your frontline, and so can’t be targetted, while remaining wholly within 15″ of your Krusha. Your opponent ends up swapping some Flamers for your chaff, and you’re off to the races with extra attacks all round.

Weird ‘Un will help protect you from Tzeentch’s magic output, and Mean ‘Un gives you the weight of damage to punch through the surreal number of wounds that Horrors put on the table. You’ll still have an uphill battle, because the points costs for Horrors and the Gaunt Summoner are so comically out of step with what they put on the table, but against Flamer-heavy builds specifically you can at least make a game of it. And all this with an army that is great fun to play, and has plenty of play in it against a lot of other factions you’ll encounter too.

#BRUTES

Nothing but nothing but big Orruks:

Personally I was a little bit disappointed with how many Brutes you can get on the table here; this really is just the minimum Battalion requirements, a single Warchanter and as many Brutes as you can physically fit. Which really isn’t that many, by the time you’ve spunked away 520 points on a Battalion and two Megabosses.

While this isn’t a bad army by any means, I’d feel pretty confident taking it on with a more standard Ironsunz build featuring an Ironfist and two Warchanters.

Counterpoint: Why Bother?

Although I like the double Krusha build in Ironsunz, does it actually need Da Bossfist to operate? I would argue that it doesn’t – and is probably more efficient without it. You’ll lose the extra attacks, but that’s not a deal breaker with only two attack profiles on each Maw Krusha:

By running one of these lists, you can have more mobility, more wounds, more bodies on the table, more access to those sweet, sweet Command Abilities and even more damage output. A “free” Mighty Destroyers move every turn from Ironfist is usually more valuable than a 50:50 shot at a CP, and the second Warchanter boosting the output on 16 attacks per Krusha is more valuable than a lone extra swing on two weapons profiles.

The TLDR

There is a strand of opinion within the Ironjawz fanbase that Megabosses and Brutes are the proper Ironjawz.  This is partially because it fits the lore (Ardboyz are generally hangers-on around the fringes of Ironjawz society), but more commonly (in my experience) because a lot of people prefer the more modern sculpts.  I only half agree with this myself – while I do love the Ironjawz models and agree that they are superior, I do still like Ardboyz too, especially if you perform a minor kitbash with unhelmeted heads.  It’s those helmets that can make them look a little goofy.

But for those players who do feel that way, Da Bossfist offers a perfectly viable new way to play the models they are attached to. 

From the viewpoint of a competitive gamer who quite likes Ardboyz, the total package is ultimately of limited appeal; the taxes are high, and because of that, it takes away as much as it gives.  It’s fair to say that I won’t personally be buying another Megaboss on foot just to run this, but it will be of interest to that section of the community it seems to be pitched at.


Looking at the bigger picture, there is a trend starting to emerge here for White Dwarf Battalions being “interesting” rather than overtly powerful: Nighthaunt, Fyreslayers and Ironjawz all fit into that category, and that’s fine.  In that context, Syll’eske Host seems to be a true outlier and perhaps a bit of a fuck up. 

Across this programme as a whole, the WD team have done quite a good job of focussing in on under-represented units (such as Mortal Slaanesh, Hexwraiths and now Brutes and Megabosses), and honestly, that’s a pretty good angle for these articles to take.  Not everything needs to be cutting-edge competitive, and having super-thematic rules that give you a reason to dust off the other half of your collection for a friendly game feels very appropriate.

Now having said that – can Gloomspite please get some filth?

Featured

Are Orruk Warclans Top Tier?

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

Joining me today is Pat Nevan. No doubt familiar to many of you from the Bush Radio podcast, Pat is one of Australia’s top competitive players. Pat specialises in Mortal Khorne and took them to an excellent 4-1 result at Australian Masters 2019.

Pat and I have been arguing back and forth for a while now, over where exactly Orruks sit in the evolving meta. Pat managed to review the new Battletome on Bush Radio in just two words: “They’re filth”. In today’s article, I give Bendigo’s silver-tongued cavalier the opportunity to expand on that insight.

After Pat has made his case, I’ll make my own, and then throw it out to let the public decide in a Twitter poll. So sit back and enjoy the spectacle of two overweight, middle-aged nerds arguing themselves to a standstill about something of zero importance, and then vote in the poll to determine which of us embarrassed themselves the least.


Pat Nevan: Orruks are Tier One Easy Mode

Are Orruks are Tier One Easy Mode army?  Is water wet?  Should Ultramarines Dice be banned from competitive play?  Is Tzeentch a fun army to play against?  These are the debates that rage on the chat pages of the Measured Gaming Community. 

You, gentle reader may be wondering if we are all afflicted with some sort of brain-rotting tertiary stage syphilis and the answer is of course, Fish.  Nevertheless the Orruk question is a bitter dispute that has been raging since the release of the new Battletome.  I say they are a Tier One Easy Mode army, Pete says they are not. 

We both have our supporters in this struggle, or had at any rate.   Like a man calling for Chastity in a brothel Pete now stands alone.  (Give yourself some bonus points if you know where I stole that joke from).  

Anyhow the terms of my argument are simple:

  • Tier One  applies to the power level of the army and they are certainly top tier.  Not as strong as the most grotesque examples of tier one foolishness perhaps, but top tier nonetheless. 
  • Easy mode is a measure of how simple the army is to play.  Easy to write a list, easy to run an army and easy to solve the problems that plague all tournament armies. 

If you, as an Orruk player are about to employ whatever series of grunts and gestures you use to approximate speech and say, “they are no good if you shoot off the support heroes” take a moment to shut the fuck up.  All armies are struggle when you kill all the heroes. 

So like a Maw Krusha hauling its fat overpowered ass 24 inches across the table to make a charge move, we waddle into my reasons why Orruks are a Tier One easy Mode Army.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the most pointless argument since, “Should I take penicillin for my syphilis, Yes or No?”

(Seriously, 24 inches of movement before charging, really?)

Simple solutions to complicated problems

All Tournament armies face the same set of problems: Movement, Dealing with Petrogash and Buffchaon, ward saves, spell casting, command point shortages etc etc.  The Orruks just happen to have very easy answers to most problems. 

Ironjawz are definitely the strongest here, with some of the best allegiance abilities in the game:

  • Need extra movement? No problem. 
  • Someone got you chaffed up in your turn, just kill them. 
  • Feel like Alpha striking with your Krusha’s?  Why you can move them 24 glorious inches before you make a charge roll. 
  • Out of buff range, just move in the hero phase. 
  • Feel like being clever?  Charge someone with Mighty Destroyers, retreat out in your movement phase to 3 inches away from something you want to hit, and pile back in. 
  • Some ass has made you fight last in the combat phase, use smashing and bashing to fight right away. 
  • And none of this start of the combat phase crap for you.  Buff that unit of gore gruntas, Mighty Destroyer it then move it 18 inches downfield. 

Now before anyone says anything about Mighty Destroyers costing command points, remember you only have half a dozen or so ways to get all the command points you need.  Let chumps with low tier armies worry about resource management. 

As for the rest, take Big Waaagh for the extra movement when someone is foolish enough to shoot you, or the dispelling buff, or the ever-popular 40 inch flying Rogue Idol. 

If you’re feeling a bit jaded with that take your savage cousins.  Move or shoot in the hero phase, explode those sixes, take the tribe that obliges your opponent to charge off objectives, or the one you can’t retreat from, or the one that ignores ward saves. 

Seriously, all ward saves, every last one of em.  Remember when Orruk players were bitching and moaning that ignores ETHEREAL didn’t apply to the ethereal amulet?  Now that takes some Chutzpah.

The TLDR

Awesome buffs, awesome troops and an endless variety of super awesome tricks to fuck your opponent into the ground.  All easily applied and extremely user friendly. 

A 10 year old child should go 4 and 1 with this army, and not one of those genius 10 year olds, one of the crayon eaters will do just fine.

No doubt my esteemed opponent will have some gibberish about historic win percentages and probably a mention of Tzeentch just to be topical and deflect attention.   I will concede that the Orruks wont be Tier One forever but that’s down to Battletome creep. 

By any halfway reasonable standard they were Tier One Easy Mode on release, and as dumb as spamming command points to turn the five Ardboyz you just killed off into ten fresh ones.


Peter Atkinson: Orruks are great…but not Da Best

So what’s a Tier One Easy Mode army? If you don’t already know, reading Pat’s article certainly won’t have helped, because from Day One he has refused to set any parameters for what it actually means, enabling his definition to lurch around as the facts stubbornly refuse to align with his assessment.

I can tell you what it’s not: it’s not a really good army. Orruk Warclans is definitely a really good army, and if that’s all that Pat had proclaimed them to be, I never would have disagreed in the first place. So let’s not allow this to be framed as “Pat says Orruks are good, Pete says Orruks are shit”. I’ve certainly never said Orruks were anything but a very competitive army. I’m not the one making wild overstatements here, so let’s bear that in mind; all I’m questioning is the ludicrously high bar that Pat set for them.

Subjectively, I think that their strengths (which Pat has generally articulated well) mean that they can whale on a lot of armies, but they generally lack heavy rend and mortal wound output which can limit their performance against OBR; they struggle badly to shift a well-played Fyreslayers army; and Tzeentch are just doing the same things as Bonesplitterz but with better rules and lower drops. So their bad matchups are all very strong in the meta, which puts a natural ceiling on their performance, even if they can utterly annihilate armies that are in any way soft.

But what about objectively – are they achieving what we’d expect a top tier army that is easy to win with to achieve? What does that even look like?

Winning loads of games

The first thing I’d be looking for is that they rattle in a heap of 5-0s. Given that they have a good install base, they could even achieve this from day one (Pat did later try to claim that “That will never happen again”…Awkward).

Someone has to go 5-0 at every event, so that should be very achievable for a top tier army that is easy to pilot, right? And yet those 5-0s have been…shall we say…scarce. Very scarce.

The book came out in early October, and the stats on THWG show that in the stretch from release to the Winter FAQ, they achieved, in the grand scheme of things, fuck all. Individual people certainly achieved great things with them, and Gork will forever smile upon them, but that’s in no way the same thing as a faction being dominant.

Quite the opposite in fact.

In all that time, Orruk Warclans were taken to events 1070 times, and secured 14 podiums. That’s a 1% chance of turning up with a Warclans army and securing a prized position. Pat did try to dismiss this on the basis that the people using the army must be mostly shit players, but that rather defeats the point of Easy Mode, no? Unless this is the world’s first Easy Mode army that is hard to win games with, which is kind of a contradiction in terms.

Worth noting here is that I’m not citing the (mediocre) win percentage in that period, because it would be right to point out that this figure was mashed in with games played under old rules in that timeframe. But there was nothing about the old General’s Handbook rules that was stopping people from going out and racking up 5-0s with the new book when it came out – it just didn’t happen.

So what about the latest stats?

So Pat kept waiting and waiting for this deluge of 5-0s. Guess what folks – we’re still waiting now.

The latest stats on THWG are post-December only, and still those big tournament performances are thin on the ground. In the time since the Winter FAQ, we’ve already seen Tzeentch, Fyreslayers and OBR rack up 17 podiums between them. So Orruk Warclans must have a heap too, right?

Yeah…not so much.

Just a single, solitary podium to show from 169 attempts, and an overall 48.5% win rate for the book.

Just recently, we had Super Saturday, with four huge tournaments spread around the globe: Cancon in Australia, Heat 1 in the UK and the LVO and Waaaghpaca in the USA. You’d expect a Tier One Easy Mode army to be muscling its way to the podium at some of those, wouldn’t you?

Pat wisely declined to take my bet on that, and whaddya know…zero podiums at all of those events combined, including 0 of the 8 finalists at LVO where they weren’t even using the new Tzeentch book.

Yeah.

Pat warned me about this…

Yes, Pat predicted that I would use facts to back up my argument. What a strange concept! Well I guess even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

I’ve referred to the stats to support my viewpoint because they illustrate the reality of what is happening out there. I do sincerely understand why Pat didn’t want to bring reality into this, because it’s deeply inconvenient to his argument, but the reality is that Orruks are not racking up the results that you’d expect from a Tier One Easy Mode army.

That would mean winning events, and plenty of them. It would mean 5-0s left and right, and podiums galore. We’ve seen it before with FEC and Skaven, we’re seeing it now with Tzeentch, and I hope we see it again with Sons of Behemat.

But you know where we’re not seeing it? With Orruk Warclans.


So there we have it! Two nerds arguing over something inconsequential is what you were promised, and two ners arguing over something inconsequential is what you got.

Vote in the Twitter poll, have your say and then I promise we’ll shut up about this forever.


A note on Tier calibration

For anyone wondering about S-Tier or even Q-Tier, I’d like to point out that “Tier One Easy Mode” is Pat’s terminology, not mine. It’s a phrase that Pat coined to describe Slaanesh in their prime, and if they weren’t top tier, I don’t know what was. Hence the heading of today’s article, asking whether they are “top tier”, rather than referencing any specific tier scale.

Featured

What Should We Do About Tzeentch?

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Leo Tolstoy

Following on from Mike Wendel’s contribution to the discussion, I’ll be presenting at my own ideas for what, if anything, should be done in the upcoming Tzeentch FAQ. Disciples of Tzeentch have made quite the impact on the top tables, and the online debate, in a very short time. For that reason I think it’s important that we as a community have a constructive say in this window; after that passes, we’re essentially locked in to the status quo until the next GH drops.

You’ll see over the course of this article that I don’t always agree with what Mike wrote, but I think that’s healthy; as an avid listener of AOS podcasts, for example, I’ve always found the shows where the various hosts will challenge each other to be far more enlightening and engaging.

Why don’t you stop moaning?

The first response to most new books coming out is for the internet to cry OP. The second response, like night follows day, is for the internet to call people out for moaning. The fact is that some people do moan for the sake of moaning; it’s also equally true that sometimes rules need looking at, and it’s not actually positive or constructive to brush that under the carpet.

On this blog I have always been happy to pitch in my own two cents in cases where the internet has cried OP, and it hasn’t always been in one direction: in my Slaanesh article, my conclusion was that the book was fundamentally sound but two specific mechanics needed to be dialled back in two specific ways. Some Slaanesh players didn’t like that one, but most of the feedback I got was that it was a fair approach, and ultimately the suggestions I made were exactly in line with the actions GW took.

In my Gotrek article, while the internet was losing its shit, my own reaction was far more practical and pragmatic. I actually copped a lot of heat for being a GW apologist for that one, although I do think the article has been vindicated, and the conclusion that he allows great room for player skill to determine the outcome seems pretty reasonable.

My point here is certainly not that I’m always right; like everyone else, I get things wrong on a daily basis. But I do think it’s relevant to point out that I’m not always on the side of doom and gloom, and I’m not out to present some kind of Project Fear agenda. I aim to be constructive at all times, and for that reason this article will present specific, practical suggestions, backed up by the logic behind them*. You’re welcome to tell me I’ve got it all wrong, but I hope that they will be considered in the same spirit.

So what would Plastic do?

I think there are already two builds that are shown to be immensely powerful:

  • Eternal Conflagration: One-drop deploy, teleport Flamers, Dakka Dakka Dakka, GG
  • Duplicitous Host: One-drop deploy, teleport Horrors, destiny dice charge, GG

Both of these hinge around an effectively one-drop Battalion with two risk-free teleports.  It’s an idiot-proof and dice-proof strategy that isn’t really playing Warhammer in any meaningful sense.

So let’s attack this at the source: Changehost specifically needs looking at, and the two core units to its execution are too efficient for their points.

Changehost

Fun fact: this Battalion currently costs the same as Troggherd.

Fundamentally, it’s priced as a normal Battalion when it’s effectively a Big Battalion.  It lets you take everything you would want to take anyway, with no taxes, and the ability is close to the definition of overpowered.

As an absolute minimum, it should be well over 200 points, because you’re getting such low drops.  I’d honestly be up for making it ludicrously expensive and just effectively removing it from Matched Play (which FWIW I would have been happy to see with Kunnin Rukk back in its pomp, rather than making the constituent parts overcosted in every other potential build).

Assuming that’s not going to happen, the teleports should have more restrictions on them, to bring in an element of skill and counterplay, as well as turning it back into a dice game.  In gameplay terms I don’t actually see why it needs to give you two teleports rather than one; the main reason I can see for it being two units is a fan-service nod to the old Changehost switching units about; one teleport is already an excellent Battalion ability.  A very straighforward fix would be for one unit to teleport on a 3+, but if they want to keep it as two units, I’d like to see each of them on a 4+.   

An alternative would be to see them tethered to the LOC in some way, for example needing to start wholly within 12″ and reappear wholly within 24″ of him.  That gives your opponent something to work with in deployment, and forces at least some kind of difficult choice in terms of positioning the LOC prominently.

Worth mentioning is that the Changehost currently allows you to redeploy back out of combat, which runs counter to the design philosophy of the game.  Other similar teleports (Khailebron, Hand of Gork etc) do not work if you have an enemy unit within 3″, which opens up counter play in terms of locking units down.  It’s not really an issue currently, because Changehost is mostly just deploy and win, but once it starts playing Warhammer again it’ll become an issue.  Best to clean that up now.

Pink Horrors

4 points per wound is very, very cheap.  This is a unit that contributes to your army by ratcheting up the spell count, as well as counting as a Wizard for Darkfire Daemonrift (more of which later); they contribute a little bit of chip damage in multiple phases, have some MW output, and they have their unique hook as a horde unit that is resistant to anti-horde tech (50 bodies, mostly on small bases, but most of them are not on the board simultaneously).  Based on that, they are already undercosted in my opinion; 4 points per wound is worthless trash tier, but they are better than that. 

So I’d like to see them go up.  Let’s assume that’s not happening until the next GH though, and they are hardly the only undercosted unit in the game.  What puts them over the top is the interactions with Changehost (see above), their interactions with Destiny Dice, and what happens when you put models back in.

With Destiny Dice, ignoring modifiers to Battleshock is offensive and should change, no question.  Likewise ignoring modifiers to rend. The funny thing here is that there is plenty of Battleshock and rend immunity in the game, but this is one that really gets people’s backs up and spoils the experience; everything about it feels like a loophole. I find it hard to believe this was intentional, and they just don’t need it.

As for replacing models, I’d like to see a rule that you can only put Pinks back in if there are already Pinks in the unit.  The Warscroll seems to envisage a one-way street from Pinks to Blues to Brims, but currently you can put Pinks back into a unit comprising solely of Blues and Brims after the Pinks have all been killed.  For context, putting in 6 Pinks puts an extra 30 wounds into the unit, and that’s just ridiculous.  

If you can’t kill 10 Pinks in a turn, that’s on you; but once you have killed them, you shouldn’t have to deal with them again and again in a never-ending tarpit cycle.  This is the kind of thing that makes people throw their arms in the air in frustration and honestly, they don’t need it.  They’re an excellent and undercosted unit without the nonsense.

Flamers

18″ seems too generous for their shooting attack; I’d prefer to see 12″, similar to a breath weapon.

This would mean that they can pop up 9″ away and blast off your screens, but with only a sensible amount of board control in terms of pushing everything behind the screens back.  Currently it’s literally impossible to screen a Maw Krush on a classic 12″ deployment, for example, and that’s not good enough.  I wouldn’t even consider taking a lot of big Monsters to an event as things stand, and this is a good example of why people agitate for rules to be looked at: it’s not moaning for the sake of moaning, these things actively suck the joy out of other people’s armies.

This short-range hose would give Flamers an interesting spot in the army: their output is still eyebrow-raising relative to their points, but you have to play smart to make them work.  They crouch behind screens, ready to pounce with their 9″ flying move and delete way more expensive units; but if you expose them, they will die even to chaff.  A really interesting unit that good players can get the most out of, rather than a dumb Win Button.

Whether GW is willing to “go there” in terms of a Warscroll change at this early stage is doubtful, but I think they need looking at in some way, and that’s how I would do it.

Special Mention: Darkfire Daemonrift

This is pretty clearly an unintended consequence from the Slaves book, and needs to be hammered into the dirt.  200+ mortal wounds from a 50-point Endless Spell that isn’t even part of the army is offensive, game-breaking and needs to go.  I don’t really care what happens to this, as long as it isn’t light-touch.  Tzeentch doesn’t need this to be viable.

Where will that leave Tzeentch?

There is potentially a secondary issue here in that the current power lists are so obvious, and so easy to win the majority of your games with, that we as a community have barely stress-tested the rest of the book.  My gut feel is that there are plenty of good tools to work with in this book, which Ash McEwan for example demonstrated at Cancon when coming in 5th with an army completely different to the lists that were dominating over in the UK. 

For that reason I personally would not be overly concerned about extensive corrections to the parts of the book that are already proving themselves to be problematic.  Destinty Dice were always an incredibly powerful tool, and the Agendas, which have hardly been mentioned, are game-winning in their own right. Tzeentch is a far deeper book than something like KO, and correspondingly more capable of weathering a significant knock in some areas; Arcanites are really good now, so let’s see some of them on the tabletop! 


So there you have it! There are lots of opinions floating around on this one, but that’s my own contribution to the debate. I don’t think the Changehost playstyle that we’ve seen so far is conducive to a good and healthy tournament scene for the next 6 months, but just as importantly, I don’t think the Tzeentch book needs that crutch.

Whether it’s my own personal suggestions, or something else the designers have in mind, I hope the book gets looked at seriously in the coming days, resulting in a deep FAQ that puts Tzeentch back on the right track.

Let me know what your own suggestions are for tweaking Tzeentch, or even if you think #It’sFine I’m happy to hear your reasoning. Excelsior!


*OK, apart from Darkfire Daemonrift, but that’s not even part of the book so I’m giving myself a pass there!

 

Featured

Cancon List Review: Power Picks and Coolest Lists

Well here we go! This weekend will see the biggest AOS Tournament in the world…ever. Hats off to Clint and the team, because it’s a great achievement, and the annual buzz around this event has played a huge part in kickstarting the fantastic AOS scene we are all enjoying here in Australia.

Coverage on the Warhammer Community site has been absent, which is a shame given the magnitude of the event, but the good news is that THWG will again be travelling out to provide a Livestream, so don’t miss out!

You can see the event pack and Battleplans here, but a couple of things to point out are:

  • Realm of Life will be used, so expect to see a lot of Nagash and the Emerald Lifeswarm
  • The new Tzeentch book is in despite the FAQ not being released, so expect to see a lot of their bullshit on the top tables

We will be following the format we used for our BBBB List Analysis last September; speaking of which, I still owe Joel Hennessy a beer for being top tipster at that event. All 3 of Joel’s picks were in the top 8 at the event, including the overall winner – well done Joel!

Where is my own list?

So I don’t do Cancon. I have done it in the past, but not for a couple of years now. There are a few factors in play: Cancon is in an awkward location for me, the event takes place on the same weekend as my wife’s birthday, and we normally go on a family beach holiday around then.

Ultimately, though, moving to a 6-game format killed it for me, because it turned a 2-day tournament into a 4-day tournament. I realistically need to travel up the day before, and back the day after, and that’s just that bit too much for me on that specific weekend.

The event does seem to be managing to struggle on without me, and I fully understand why they needed to make the jump to 6 rounds, but that’s the reason why I personally will be missing out on the fun.

Now let’s get into it.


Michael Thomson – Queensland

Michael is the founder of The Savage Northmen, a gaming group based in and around Cairns, Queensland. A specialist in Death armies, Michael went 6-0 at Cancon 2019 with his Nagash list, securing a podium at the world’s largest Age of Sigmar event to date.

Some food for thought when reading the selections I’ve made: there are 220+ lists, playing 6 games, with a possible 10 secondaries to choose from. Picking the winner is quite hard when there are so many moving parts, but assuming a good run and decent dice rolls, here we are.

Power Pick: Joshua Nightingall, Big WAAAGH

To me, Big Waaagh is the most powerful thing in the game at the moment.  In Josh’s list he is all but certain to be +1 to hit and wound by turn 2. Throw in Get ’em Beat (so that on a 4+ he gets 3d6 to charge), and a possible +1 to Hit with Kill ’em Beat (to smooth out the bumps until his Allegiance buffs kick in), and you have a list that can mince most things without breaking sweat.

Josh has taken an Ardfist Battalion, which now only furnishes you with the one chance to roll that crucial 4+, but like I said if the dice are with you then you’re all good. Nobody ever won a 200-player event without making a clutch roll along the way!

Josh’s opponents will need to kill the Warchanters, but even then you have to beware the 20 Ardboys and 30 Arrowboys. This list is not without its counters, but for me it’s a really solid army. Good luck Josh

Coolest List: Paul Grixti, Swifthawk Agents

This one goes to a gentleman that almost made THWG break the internet… Paul Grixti, who is bringing the Swifthawk Agents.

For those who don’t know Paul, he is one of nicest and most genuine guys in the hobby. I had the pleasure of playing Paul in Round 4 last year, but I will be glad if I don’t see his army across the table this year. 60 shots homing in on my Mortek Guard has me scared, and the Everblaze Comet with its mortal wound output is a nice tool to throw in amongst the enemy.

With the Skywardens flying around and Shadow Warriors popping up, this list has versatility and Paul will know all of its functionality inside and out.


Frank DeLoach – USA

Frank is co-founder of the We Slay Dragons wargaming club in California, USA: WSD are regulars on the top tables of the ITC competitive scene. Frank’s videos are legendary in the Gloomspite Gits WhatsApp group, and also kinda NSFW.

Oi!!! What’s up me Ladz! Big Boss Frank ‘ere…Let’s do da talk’n ’bout dese CanCon army lists!

Power Pick No. 1: Ethan MacDonald, Fyreslayers

Pros: Fyreslayers are super sturdy, have great combat output and solid control of board space. Lords of the Lodge allows one unit of Hearthguard Brezerkers to fight twice, turning that unit into a tarpit thst just blends through enemies.

Cons: Heroes, although sturdy they’re small, and kinda move slow. So hero missions is where I see this army struggling.

Why do I like it?: Well, in general I’m a control type player, so Fyreslayers are a natural joy for me. To see the introduction of two Gun Haulers (which got a nice solid book in the KO release) gives the list more flex. These boats can sit around, shoot away at support pieces, charge a unit and fly high to shoot again. I think it’s is a super smart decision.

Power Pick No. 2: Wayne Buck, Skaventide

Pros: Bodies, lots and lots of battleshock immune bodies. Do they die easily? Sure, but with all of those warpfire throwers and 30 (YES 30!) Acolytes behind them, that’s a lot of heavy lifting mortal wound dakka.

Cons: I’d worry about this playing the mirror match a bit, if the opponent is rocking lots of Verminlords or Stormfiends. Although the list is fairly balanced, I almost wish some points were shaved for Monks or Fiends. But this isn’t really a con, I like the control approach.

Why do I like it?: Because it’s nice to see a player play a Skaven list with underused units. Acolytes are bonkers good and I think it being a cost prohibitive issue you just don’t see them. I’ve personally had success with adding a Warpfire thrower into Clanrat units, and I’m surprised you don’t see more of it.

Coolest List: Cameron Taylor, Cities of Sigmar

Pros: This is going to come at you fast, hit like a truck, fight twice and has nice little ranged support from the Hurricanum. The Incantor being on disc means it can be in the mix or scoring a key Hero objective easily, while the opponent’s army is being smashed around by the Griffon who is not required to baby sit an objective.

Cons: This is a low model count list, and I think that if it goes up against a horde army like say Bonesplitterz or some Skaven lists, it could struggle. But it should have the punch to help with this.

Why do I like it?: Cause it’s an awesome themed Cities list that isn’t Hallowheart, and actually has real competitive wings (bird joke, geddit?). I like seeing lists like this, and it shows that with a good pilot, more than just the usual suspects are viable.

HONORABLE MENTION LIST: Hayden Walker, Ogor Mawtribes

Ok, let’s all be honest here. While I feel like an all-Stonehorn list is a great team event list, I do worry about it a bit in singles. But, with the right matchups when navigating the jungle in rounds 1-3, Hayden can maybe play himself into a 5-1 and possible podium.

That’s how hard this list hits, not to mention the 60 effective models on objectives. I think Stonehorn-focused lists are the best Mawtribes can offer (which in some ways is a shame), but I worry about the lack of Gnoblars here.

Otherwise this gets a BIG TURKEY LEG HOLDING THUMBS UP!


Joel McGrath – Victoria

Joel followed up an 8th place finish at Cancon 2018 with a 4th place at Cancon 2019, and will be aiming to go even further with his ass-kicking Double Maw Krusha list this year. Joel’s other achievements include hosting the Bush Radio podcast, full of drunk people who swear a lot, where he is the drunkest person who swears the most.

Power pick: Mat Watkinson, Tzeentch

What the fucking fuck? Ya know, I’ve said it publicly before that allowing Tzeentch into an event without an FAQ is fucking dumb, and this list proves it.

Watto (I’m not sure if that’s your nickname but if it isn’t, congratulations. You now have one), is packing all the bells and whistles a competitive army should never have access to in one list. All jokes aside, old mate Watto is going to carve shit up and let me tell you why.

Tzeentch allegiance for starters. They do the same shit that everyone is already familiar with. Access to destiny dice, spells galore, dumb looking birds, the list goes on!
Tzeentch now have access to some pretty awesome ‘Hosts’ and the one he’s picked is my personal favourite, The Eternal Conflagration.

To sum it up briefly, all of his Horror and Flamer units get plus one to their rend characteristic. 12-18” missile weapons which now have even more chance of killing stuff. If you didn’t think that was enough of a buff, big bird and friendlies wholly within 12” of him are minus 1 to hit. Not to mention a situational command ability that reduces bravery if you get shot at… To quote the drunken frat boys who clearly wrote this book, “Dude, that’s totally AWESOME!”

What makes this list start to shine is the dreaded Changehost battalion, whose rules have been cleaned up somewhat to make it a less shitty play experience for the opponent. Or so you’d think!

The Changehost also received a couple of buffs, as it totally needed it (AWESOME!). Instead of swapping units around the table, you simply get to redeploy 2 units 9”away if that big fucking chicken is on the table. AWESOME!

As you start to work through the list, you start to see the combo’s. Mainly Watto (you sick bastard) will be redeploying 2 units of Flamers turn 1 in your face because he can, paired up with KFC bucket’s artefact of a +1 to wound bubble and blow you off the table turn 1 with 2/3s and 2s -1 d3 flamers (AWESOME!).

I would critique his choice for MSU Flamers if he was really aiming to go balls deep into the alpha, although I don’t think he is specifically leaning into that. He has however given himself the choice to do so if he wishes. What MSU Flamers does allow him to do is play smarter on the top tables instead of just running a noob stomping Changehost list.

I wish you all the best at Cancon mate, your list is solid as a rock and I’d hate to vs it with my Ironjawz!

Coolest List – Jye Callanan, Slaanesh

Who doesn’t love a good all mounted list?

Jye gets a big thumbs up from me, not only is he running Slaanesh, but an all lawnmower Slaanesh list.

The reason why this is so cool is because the Seeker Chariots and all their cousins are fucking awesome. Their fluff is gruesome, the rules are solid and the models are an absolute nightmare to put together. You have to respect someone who has laboured for 5 years and 6 days assembling 12 of the fuckers.

I think Jye is going to shock some people on the table by not being able to deploy his army entirely, and when he does, he will shock them with a crazy amount of mortal wounds. He will also frustrate his opponents to tears because of the overhang of every single model in his army.

If you don’t know what an Exalted Chariot does, do yourself a favour and go look it up. While the mortal wounds inflicted won’t generate any depravity, they do have 10 wounds each and 23 attacks base. My new buddy Jye will be pumping out summons really quickly.

Asides from that, there’s not a whole lot going on. Seeker host gives the Seeker Chariots battleline status, and you have an army wide +1 to charge. On the spell front he is looking to reduce the shit out of your bravery and make you pay for it with mortal wounds.

I really don’t understand why he’s only at 1860 pts with no extra CP, maybe a cut and paste error? Maybe there should be another chariot in the list? Anyway, it doesn’t fucking matter because this list is dope and I can’t wait to see it on the tables literally carving shit up!


Peter Atkinson – Victoria

Go on then, I’ll have a crack myself. I’m rapt to see Destro well-represent again at this year’s event, so let’s take a look at a couple of Gork’s finest.

Power Pick: Dalton Copeland, Ironjawz

The first time I played Dalton was at Badgacon 2017, when we lined up opposite each other in a mirror match…an exact mirror match. Two identical Mixed Destruction armies down to the same Command Traits and Artefacts. Literally the same army in every aspect.

We still have a habit of thinking in the same way about list design, as proven by this list which is strikingly similar to the final list I drew up in my Big Waaagh! Review, but which I know Dalton arrived at independently.

I got the win on that day way back in 2017, but having lost to this list last weekend I believe it is just a better version of my current build, and probably the best and most refined iteration of the combined arms approach to Big Waaagh that I’ve seen so far.

With movement shenanigans, punishing combat damage (ranging from high volume output to supreme quality attacks), substantial out of phase damage in the Hero, Shooting and Charge phases, chaff screens with strong saves, an army-wide aftersave and the thick end of 200-wounds of Green Delight to chew through, this is possibly the best toolkit army at the event, and gives Dalton everything he needs to compete up there on the top tables.

Don’t fuck it up!

Coolest List: Hayden Walker, Ogor Mawtribes

Hayden is living the absolute fucking dream. All killer, no filler.

With armies of this nature, if you just send a single unit left instead of right, that can put you in a cripplingly bad position that it’s impossible to recover from. But if there’s anyone who can make this work, Hayden is just the lad to do it.

Beastclaw Monsters capping as 10 is the kind of thing you need to be screwed over by to appreciate. As players, many of us are so ingrained into looking at the table in a certain way that it takes a jolt to realise that actually, those objectives are not safe, and will be in no way safe as long as there are 4 angry murdercows rampaging around the backfield.

With 5 Blood Vultures plus the damage on the charge, the Mortal Wounds start to rack up really quick in this build before we even get onto the Thundertusk shooting…and then you’ve still got the combat phase to come.

Speaking of Mortals on the charge, Hayden will be squeezing every drop of juice from that Frostlord Command Ability: pop a single CP, and go fishing for big charges on all 4 Stonehorns. It’s not like he needs them for Battleshock, right?

And if you’re going to try and Alpha him, for the love of Gork, don’t fuck it up; Hayden has healing out the wahzoo. Between the Mawpot, two Thundertusks and the Splattercleaver, he can go from 1 wound to maxing out his profile again, and again, and again. Chip a few wounds off these guys, and you better believe they’re coming back at you harder than ever.

Hayden is also a sneaky bastard, going for what on paper looks like a Gutbusters Tribe instead of Boulderhead. As well as doubling down on the healing, I’ll be watching out for a slick manouevre where he combo-charges a screen off the board, then piles in 6″ to the juicy meat behind. With 2″ reach on all their main weapons, that Frostlord will have 8″ reach in the combat phase alone.

I can’t be the only person hoping to see this one tearing it up on the stream – good luck Hayden.


Thanks again to all involved, and here’s looking forward to a rippa of an event!

Featured

2020 AOS Wishlist and Predictions Part One: Battletomes

BAM! 2019 smashed into you with a relentless tide of huge releases, and the early signs are that there will be no rest for the wicked. 2020 will be coming at you like a freight train, and with two new books already announced, the metagame is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Let’s take a look at what is likely to happen – and what we think would just be cool. This first part of a 2-part article will explore the Battletome releases we know to be round corner, then follow that up with a bit of speculation about what else we might see down the track.

I’m always more than happy to stick my neck out and have a punt, so we will be following up next week with Part Two, which will take a look at everything else 2020 could bring, including GH20 and a Merchandise Wishlist; be sure to check back in for that one!

Known Quantities: KO and Tzeentch

So we already know that Tzeentch and KO are getting their new books. I’m just going to come out and say it: the previous attempts at both books were monumental fuck ups. And that’s coming from someone who likes and seriously considered doing both armies.

The playstyles of both armies were utterly bleak to face. Enduring the drudgery of a full-blown Tzeentch Hero Phase would test the patience of a saint, and dropping down with a Clown Car to blast all your opponent’s key pieces off the board wasn’t a way to win games of Warhammer, it was a way to avoid the inconvenience of actually playing them.

Objectively, the evidence is right there: the sheer volume of magenta print (and entirely new Warsrcolls) that these books both generated in FAQs was surreal, to the extent that both printed books are essentially unusuable in their hard copy format.

It’s potentially intrinsic to the nature of both books that they are just bad armies to play against. Magic and shooting are to a large extent uninteractive, and can leave your opponent feeling helpless as you just point at, and remove, their key pieces.

However, I’m sure GW have got the memo on that, and given these great armies the focus they deserve. The early signs are there in the Karadron Overlords preview: boats counting as Garrisons is an indication that players will actually be encouraged to use them as transports (y’know, moving stuff around the board), rather than purely deep striking mechanisms.

On this theme, hopefully the Barak Zilfin “Battleline If” rules replace their deep striking, rather than supplementing it:

I’d love to see KO become a drag and drop army, where they boats offer shelter and mobility to fragile and slow (but lethal) troops. Each boat getting a pip of extra durability would certainly help here.

“OK, we need to get over there, and challenge for that Objective: all aboard!” How often do you currently see a gang of dwarves jump back onto a ship after disembarking, and zip across the table? Almost never: it’s just the ships dump the dwarves, the dwarves dump the payload, and then we see what’s left standing.

A ground-up reimagining of how to make the ships actually serve the purpose for which they were presumably intended could revolutionise this army. I do hope so.

Tzeentch is a little harder to reimagine, in the sense that they do not have a unique hook like the boats that could offer a whole new direction. It’s probably a safe bet to say that Changehost will be “looked at”, but what will make them strong without belting out a million mortal wounds in a drawn-out Hero phase, or clogging up the board with Horrors and then clogging it up again when they split?

The latest Community Article does offer some pointers for which way this army could go, and honestly, I’m concerned.

One of the great redeeming features of playing against Old Tzeentch was that when you got into combat with them, it could be so, so satisfying. The spell casters generally had weak armour saves, and if you did crashinto them and chop them into pieces, it was glorious payback for the misery you had endured on the way in.

Well, now they are -1 to Hit in combat, so rather than having an inbuilt, thematic weakness, it looks like we’re going full Mary Sue. Already off to a bad start.

Since Endless Spells are easy for Tzeentch to cast with all their bonuses, look out for Geminids to be a staple, putting you at -2 to hit. Oh joy.

Next, we’ve got Horrors. Anyone who played against the old splitting rules will be having flashbacks to the board-clogging shitshow of placing model after model after model after model straight into combat, strung out across the board and tagging new units as they go. It could be even worse now, because you can’t elect not to fight them in melee, so you can’t prevent them splitting.

Maybe there are restrictions on the placement of split models that we’re not hearing about (I do hope so), but at face value, the info we have in the Community article is pointing towards these things being awful for the game (again):

Summoning Horrors straight into melee always reminded me of stringing 30 Dryads out from a Wyldwood to steal an Objective. The player doing it invariably smirked as if they were being very, very clever, but it was actually a zero-skill move masquerading as ingenuity.

The only glimmer of hope I have with Horrors is that we have a clear implication that Horrors are not Battleline:

So it could be quite hard to build an army, right? Well, not when you get the sexy stuff for free.

Another feelbad aspect here is that Tzeentch benefits from their opponent casting spells. Using your own stats against you can be thematic, but it’s also a negative play experience, in the same way that Slaanesh sucked all the joy out of running multi-wound models.

So all in all, we have multiple warning alarms going off about this release:

  • Horrors summoning straight into combat was busted, and it looks like it’s coming back
  • Tzeentch now comes with Negs to hit in combat, removing a thematic weakness of the army
  • Unpointed rules (Chambers) are boosting mechanics that are already difficult to balance (summoning)

Honestly, I can already guarantee that I’ll cop some heat for having an opinion on this that isn’t overwhelmingly exuberant. All I would say there is that I’m not a serial moaner, and the reason I’m concerned is that I think the game is currently in fantastic shape, so I don’t want to see that undermined.

I’ve stuck my neck out and predicted that KO will nail it, which is already pretty bold; and anyone who follows the blog will know that when Gotrek came out (for example), and the internet in general went into blind panic about how OP he was, my own take was much more pragmatic.

I’ve articulated specific reasons why I am nervous about this release, and what it could mean for a meta that is currently in fantastic shape. I genuinely hope I’m wrong and GW nails it, but based on what we’ve seen, I think the indications are that it’s more likely to be a problematic release.

Please prove me wrong!

The Call:

Let’s be clear, these are both high risk releases. After the Winter 19 FAQ, the game is in the best shape I can remember, and there’s a real chance that one or both of these books could blow the whole thing up.

Both books could easily have some wild oversight that makes a mess in the short term; those issues are generally fixed in short order, however. The bigger challenge with both of these armies is the broad design rather than fine detail in the unit stats or specific rules interactions, and that’s an area where I’d back GW to get it spot on. For that reason, I’m very optimistic that KO will nail it, and an extensively reworked book will provide a more satisfying experience for all concerned.

Tzeentch I’m a little more cautious about. Whereas I think KO will be thematic and engaging, I fear that Tzeentch will be thematic and busted, but I do hope I’m wrong about that.

I’d honestly love it if GW can deliver the books that these great armies deserve.

Solid Bets: Seraphon and Stormcast

Poor Seraphon! Leapfrogged yet again, by more armies who already have books.

Surely their time is bound to come in 2020? I hope so, because these guys are iconic, and from a business perspective they are an unique IP.

My best guess is that they were put on ice because they’re getting the full works, with a substantial new models to update the range. Kroak knows the range needs it – boy, are some of these models tired!

In one way, they were lucky: when AOS first dropped, for some reason they escaped the shattering into tiny subfactions that blighted most armies. So they do have a huge range of kits to choose from, even before the expected new releases (which in some cases are likely to be replacements rather than strictly new units). They can compete in every phase bar devastating combat output, which honestly is fine. I’d expect them to lean into the teleporting and summoning side of this army, and I do hope Bastilodons and Skinks remain just as big of a pain in the arse to deal with.

From a design standpoint, I believe that the theme and structure of this army is sound – it just needs an update and refresh. New spell and prayer lores, some good artefacts, 2 wounds for Saurus Guard, and we’re off to the races.

Remember when everyone was sick of Stormcast hogging all the new releases? Thank fuck they eased back on that for a while, and gave the rest of the range some attention. If there’s one thing that the Stormcast release schedule has proven (as well as Primaris Space Marines), it’s that playing the poster boys doesn’t make you immune to having your toys rendered obsolete.

Whatever shape it takes, the golden boys are due an update. The last chamber that opened up seemed a little rash: they played two aces simultaneously (artillery and magic), which always looked like one more than was necessary.

Will they get new models? Almost certainly. Will they get a new chamber? Very likely. It doesn’t really feel necessary (their range is already bloated, with multiple units competing for the same roles), but it is historically how GW have done new Stormcast books. So even though I don’t think it’s required (or even optimal), that doesn’t mean that GW won’t go back to the well.

One thing of note here is that GW dangled a storyline with Gordrakk laying siege to Azyr…then left it hanging. If we do get a full-fat Stormcast release, I’d love to see that plotline developing further, with an accompanying Stormcast vs Destruction box along for the journey.

If we went down that path, these boxes often include a new, exclusive hero. What could we possibly include as a new model on the Ironjawz side of the box? How about, erm…A Megaboss on Gore Grunta? HINT FUCKING HINT!

And let’s take the opportunity to get a new Warscroll for Big G while we’re at it, one that is finally worthy of his stature. We’ve had two attempts now, both of which were chronically undercooked. We’ve had years on end of that shit now, so for once, don’t be scared of making him “too good”, and let’s just enjoy The Beast Unleashed!

On the Stormcast side, a “Siege Chamber” would tie in nicely with this storyline. They would prevent you getting cover saves against them, since they are dominant in siege warfare and experts in digging out entrenched enemies; meanwhile on the defensive side, units could get extra bonuses for garrisoning buildings.

Indestructible shit isn’t fun to play against (although it does seems to be the rules writers’ flavour of the month), so I’d like to see some aggressive bonuses for being in cover, such as +1 damage to melee attacks to represent the troops fighting like cornered tigers. This could all be backed up by a new Battalion that creates a proper Phalanx when units work in concert, acting as a modernised and improved exploration of design space already covered in the Thunderhead Brotherhood. None shall pass!

These guys would be Sigmar’s answer to the Imperial Fists, who stoutly defend Holy Azyr against insurmountable odds, before finally getting their fucking heads ripped off and smashed into the dirt by the all-conquering greenskinz. Wishful thinking I know! But honestly, I’d just take Ironjawz being relevant to the main storyline for a while.

Now having blasted out all that wild speculation, I should say I’d personally like to see a relatively minor new book release with the existing Chambers fleshed out a little, rather than a new Chamber opening up. Keep that one up your sleeve for the 3rd ed box in another 18 months’ time, maybe?

Something very cool to accompany this kind of release would be more named characters from Not Hammers of Sigmar. There are some really cool characters already well-established in the Lore who deserve representation on the tabletop; Hamilcar Bear-Eater springs to mind, for one. Maybe splashing out one new Hero per Stormhost in the book would scratch the Stormcast itch until they see a full-scale release next time around.

The Call:

Seraphon will finally get their book, and it will be huge release from a modelling viewpoint. Rules will be a refresh and update, improving their quality of life rather than radically altering their playstyle.

Stormcast will get another book towards the end of the year. It will most likely follow the template of opening a new Chamber and bloating the list of units ever further, but I’d love to see a smaller release that focussed on putting unique Heroes from a range of Stormhosts beyond the goldenbois onto the table.

Having a Punt: Something Totally New

2016: Ironjawz

2017: Kharadron Overlords

2018: Idoneth Deepkin

2019: Ossiarch Bonereapers

The pattern of releasing one all-new faction per year, every year, is consistent and well established.

Will this be the case in 2020, and if so, who will it be?

Honestly, there are loads of realistic options.

Rumours of Light and Dark Aelves have been knocking around for a good while now. Personally I couldn’t give two fucks about Tyrion, Teclis or Malerion; I’d rather leave their detritus floating through space, and focus on new characters and stories.

But I’m not the target audience for this (potential) release, and Warhammer Community dropped a very strong hint that Light Aelves could be incoming. I wouldn’t bet against it.

Far more exciting was the “giant” hint buried in there. Could we be about to see a full-on Gargant army? Ohhhh, baby! Talk dirty to me!

Let me tell you: I would go crazy for this release. Giants rampaging through the lands and wrecking shit is what Warhammer is all about. I personally own a Bonegrinder and two Aleguzzlers, and I’m dumb enough to actually use them at competitive events occasionally. Please let this be a thing!

None of these would be truly new armies, since they could all make use of at least some existing kits that are out there, topped up by new models. Which makes me (greedily) hopeful that we will see some or all of these, and an entirely new army on top.

I have gone on record that I was sad to see Gitmob go, particularly because I was investing in the army right up until the moment GW pulled the pin with no warning. So you can imagine my delight when Rippa’s Snarlfangs dropped for Underworlds, with Gitmob all over the flavour text.

They currently have the Gloomspite keyword, but I’m not gonna lie: I’d have a fucking massive green boner if a whole new Gitmob army came out.

Imagine what they could do with the warmachines! Look at the step change from the old Black Coach to the current model, and let the possibilities run wild for what a new Doom Diver could be.

It would also be huge from a Destruction viewpoint because it would break up the underdog cycle. We had literally nothing for year after year after year, then BANG! BANG! BANG! three Battletomes in 2019. Unless we get a new Faction at some point, there’s a real risk that these books could all get outdated together, setting us up for some dark days while we wait for them all to be due an update again in quick succession a couple more years down the track. I’d love to see something like Gitmob, Gargants and maybe even Grotbag Scuttlers to intersperse the current Battletome cycle.

Kurnothi are essentially in the same boat as Gitmob: another Underworlds warband, currently sitting in Sylvaneth, and potentially poised to breathe new life into a defunct faction (in this case Wanderers). I find these a very interesting prospect, and I would guess that if we see one of these Warbands parlayed into a full army, we’ll see both.

The Call

Holy Moley, where do you start with all that? Realistically, it can’t all happen, but I’m hopeful that we’ll see a fair old chunk.

If I was sticking out my neck, I’d say Light and Dark Aelves are both a very strong chance, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t see them.

I am optimistic that we’ll also see Gitmob and Kurnothi, and I’d put those at 50:50, meaning that 2020 is shaping up to be another massive year with between 6 to 8 Battletomes in total.

Gargants? Nah. As much as I’d love it – and I’d REALLY REALLY love it – it ain’t happening.

Prove me wrong, GW! Prove me wrong.


So what do you reckon? I’ve chucked a fair few darts at the board there, so there’s bound to be a couple of bullseyes, but am I broadly on the right track, or flailing around wildly?

Will KO and Tzeentch be good for the game, or is it a shit storm waiting to happen?

Are Stormcast due? Will the lizards be smiling? Or should we all just save our money for Battletome Gargants which will be wrecking face before you know it?

Let me know what you think we’ll see, or just what you’d love to see, in the comments below or on Twitter!

Excelsior!

Featured

What’s the Deal with Ardfist?

“That’s the greatest comback since Lazarus”

Sid Waddell

It’s fair to say that one particular Battalion in Battletome Orruk Warclans has been causing a stir – and it’s not the Kunnin Rukk.

Ardfist is a summoning Battalion that can potentially bring units of 10 Ardboyz on from a board edge, so let’s take a proper look today at how that works on the tabletop.

The Rules

We’ll kick off by taking a look at the actual rules for the Battalion:

The Battalion gives you access to a Command Ability, which means that you are spending 2 CPs on average per unit summoned. Worth noting is that the summoned unit size is locked at 10, regardless of the size of the slain unit.


So What’s The Issue?

Although there is something of a consensus on how the Battalion works, it is not unanimous.  In particular, there are a couple of questions that have been recurring.

Can you just keep throwing CPs at it as long as you have them to spend?

The answer to this has to be an unequivocal “Yes”.  Let’s take a look at the relevant FAQ:

Ardfist gives you access to a Command Ability, and the rules of the game set the bar very, very high for not being able to spam a Command Ability. 

This is specifically noted otherwise:

This is specifically noted otherwise:

If you’re telling me it’s specifically noted, I want to see it right there in the rule in black and white, otherwise it’s just wishful thinking.

Whether you like that or not, the fact is you can keep hammering it as long as you have CPs to burn.

What about the Battalion cap?

This is an interesting one.  The Battalion requires 3-5 Units of Ardboys:

And as noted above, the Command Ability adds a unit to the Battalion:

So is there a ceiling on how many Ardfist units you can have on the table, being capped at 5 in total at any point in time?

Probably.

We already know that summoning breaks army composition rules, so for example you can break the rule for only having 6 Heroes once you start summoning on your Heralds and Keepers:

Does that apply to Battalion composition too?  Not directly, although it does set a precedent. 

Another factor to consider here is what does “added to” mean in this context?

Are you adding it into the Battalion, counting towards the existing cap of 5?

Or are you adding it onto the Battalion, so it is in addition to the 3-5 units that the Battalion composition allows?

I’ve seen it argued both ways. The latter is more thematic in terms of what the Battalion does (it’s bringing on an entirely new unit that is drawn to the battle), but this is ultimately a judgmental one.

This is the one area that in my opinion is not currently clear, but if TOs wanted to rule that you are capped at 5 units at any point in time, I wouldn’t argue against that.

Is it thematic for orcs to have summoning?

Yes, it is.  Reading the flavour text should make that clear: these are not the same orcs being resurrected, they are an entirely new unit, which is why they are coming on from the board edge.

Orcs being drawn to battle by the pull of the Waaagh is entirely thematic.

That’s also why the unit has a flat unit size of 10: it’s not the same unit coming back, so it’s not tied to the old unit’s size.  It’s a new, independent mob of Ladz.

Isn’t this a bit much?

Honestly, I don’t think so.  You can build to try and maximise the summoning aspect: Load up on CPs and Mortal Wounds to kill a unit of 5 Ardboyz, then bang away at trying to get new units on a board edge.

But how effective is that in practice?  You’re tying yourself into an army of nothing but Ardboyz, and stuff to kill your own Ardboyz.  “One-dimensional” doesn’t even begin to cover it; good luck when you play against something Ardboyz can’t kill, something that can snipe your Warchanter, or something on 25mm bases that can outscore you.

You’re also giving up on access to some of the best Command Abilities in the game (Mighty Destroyers and the Ironsunz counter charge) to spend all your resources on generating yet more Ardboyz, and the whole thing hinges on a small Hero that can readily be sniped. 

There are risks and trade-offs in taking this build, and natural ceiling to how far you can push it.  That to me looks like an intentional design choice, and I know for a fact that the FAQ was submitted multiple times; so if GW have chosen to let you throw CPs at it, it’s part of the game.


In Conclusion

Given the Battalion’s wording and the relevant FAQ, I don’t see how anyone can argue in good faith that the current rules do not allow you to spend multiple CPs on bringing back units:

Whether you can go above 5 units (due to the Battalion size) is debatable and needs an FAQ, but I’d personally be happy enough to see this ruled as being a hard limit of 5 units pending the incoming Big FAQ.

Now, I do have an interest here as a Warclans player, so I do have some skin in the game; but it’s also important to note that I don’t play Ardfist myself, so I’m not directly advocating for my own army here.

I’ve made a sincere effort to be as objective as possible when citing specific rules in this article. The rules have to be telling us to do something, but if you disagree with my view on what they’re telling us, that’s fine; tell I’ve got it all wrong on the Comments below or on Twitter!


So now that I’ve had my 2 cents on Ardfist, that about wraps up our coverage of the Battletome: Orruk Warclans release.

All up we’ve published 10 articles starting with the preview back in August, and I’ve loved every minute! Be sure to check out any you’ve missed along the way, and keep following the blog as I step back outside of the Warclans bubble, to go back to covering the wider world of AOS:

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/08/21/battletome-orruk-warclans-wishlist-and-predictions/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/11/battletome-orruk-warclans-a-celebration/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/14/cabbage-soup-part-1-exploring-new-maw-krushas/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/15/cabbage-soup-part-2-building-your-own-maw-krusha/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/17/ongoing-coverage-of-battletome-orruk-warclans/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/19/big-wins-for-da-big-waaagh/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/22/big-wins-for-da-big-waaagh-part-two/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/26/battletome-orruk-warclans-bonesplitterz-review/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/11/03/battletome-orruk-warclans-ironjawz-review/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/11/11/battletome-orruk-warclans-big-waaagh-review/

Featured

Battletome Orruk Warclans: Big Waaagh! Review

“Together, we form a necessary paradox; not a senseless contradiction.”

― Criss Jami, Healology

Hopefully you’ve been enjoying the journey as we explored both Bonesplitterz and Ironjawz; now it’s time to crank up the insanity a notch or three, as we take a look at my own favourite section of the book: the Big Waaagh!

How It All Works

Splitterz and Jawz, together at last! Gork and Mork’s favourite children, united under one green banner.

Big Waaagh brings together elements of both Allegiances, with a sprinkle of its own flavour. It’s a great piece of fan-service, allowing for a lot of fun list building; it’s also got some serious chops.

A Big Waaagh army includes any keyword Orruk model. Yes, even Greenskinz! If you want to get some mileage out of those classic minis before they go to the great display cabinet in the sky, this is your opportunity: you’ve got 6 months+ until the next GH comes out and presumably Gitmobs them, so take this opportunity and give those Boyz the send off they deserve.

You essentially start without Allegiance Abilities, and accumulate them as you build up Waaagh points. This is super thematic, representing the build up in energy from swelling crowds of green hooligans, feeding off each others’ energy and revving each other up.

I won’t regurgitate the whole table, but in summary you get Waaagh points from things like having suitable support Heroes (such as Warchanters) who get the Ladz fired up, from having a General who exudes his menacing presence, from completing charges (called it), and so on.

As your Waaagh points accumulate, you unlock bonuses and abilities from the table, snowballing into an unstoppable green tide that crashes straight through the enemy. These replicate parts of the Bonesplitterz and Ironjawz allegiance abilities (6++ after save and Mad as Hell movement), but not the complete package from both (which is obviously fair enough); it does also add in its own signature bonuses that are not found anywhere else, specifically casting bonuses and +1 to both Hit and Wound in Combat. Noice!

The most important thing to note is that these bonuses are cumulative! I’ve seen a bit of confusion about this online but once you earn enough points to trigger an ability, you keep it as long as your Waaagh points remain at that level or higher.

The only way you can move back down the Waaagh points table is either by spending them on casting bonuses, or by gambling them on Da Big Waaagh! Command Ability for extra attacks. Other than that, it’s just constantly onwards and upwards, ratcheting up the bonuses as you go.

Why Big Waaagh?

I mean, first of all, it’s fun. It opens up a whole new toolkit in list building, and plays true to its nature on the tabletop.

Crucially, as well as the Battle Trait (which cherry picks parts of both Allegiances as well as adding its own stamp), you get access to all the sundries from both subfactions. So each part of the army can access its own spell lores, artefacts, Warchanter beats and so on.

This is what really makes the army come together as more than the sum of its parts:

  • You can have Arrow Boys providing Dakka support to your Ironjawz with access to all of their buffs
  • You can have a swarm of Savage Orruks lead by a Maw Krusha with a Warchanter to back it up
  • Units like Ardboys that already have good armour saves and an after save get another 6++ on top

This makes list building such a joy, and feels great from a quality of life viewpoint. It’s like having Allies, but they aren’t capped at 400 points and get their full in-faction synergies.

Also, in case you hadn’t realised: +1 to Hit and Wound is awesome. Given that your combat units are mostly hitting and wounding on 3s to begin with, and in the case of Ironjawz have access to Warchanter buffs, you can easily and regularly launch a large volume of attacks on a frankly majestic profile of 2+ 2+ Rend -1 Damage 2. Even 10 Ardboyz will just mulch stuff: in the right matchups it frankly feels like cheating.

The access to buffed casting (+2 if you really need it) can be clutch. Because you have access to both Spell Lores, you can bludgeon through a Hand of Gork or Breath of Gorkamorka; or better still, give your Wurggog Prophet a great chance of cracking that crucial 10+ on his Warscroll spell.

A Rogue Idol will boost that casting further; but that cheeky sausage gets his own special section below, oh yes!

Why Not Big Waaagh?

You do give up a fair bit for access to all this:

  • You can’t take Clans from either subfaction. This is your Clan now!
  • From the Ironjawz side, you lose Smashing and Bashing, which is of course huge.
  • You also lose access to Mighty Destroyers…at face value. We have workarounds, people!
  • From the Bonesplitterz side, the biggest loss is the pregame move.
  • If you are taking a split force, you need two sets of buffing Heroes, which gets expensive quickly.

The flipside of no Clans is that it opens up the whole playbook to you: all those artefacts and Command Traits that are normally cock-blocked by the forced choices become yours for the taking. So that Ethereal Maw Krusha is back on the menu!

All in all there are some significant trade-offs (as well there should be). The great thing about this book is that there are loads of viable armies; Ironjawz, Bonesplitterz and Big Waaagh can all shine. It’s nice to have a dilemma, hey?

What Works Well

Let’s kick it off with a bit of tech: Mighty Destroyers works well! It’s one of the best things about Ironjawz Allegiance, and there are two ways of getting back-door access in Big Waaagh: make a Megaboss your General and give him the Brutally Cunning Command Trait, or take an Ironfist Battalion.

In either case, you not only get access to the CA, you get it for free each turn. This is a significant double benefit: both of these options are already powerful selections in Ironjawz when you already have access to the Command Ability, so in Big Waaagh they are amazing.

Ironfist is always worth its points, but there are plenty of other Battalions that work well in Big Waaagh too (Kunnin Rukk and Ardfist spring to mind); if you’re running one of those Battalions (or none), I’d look very closely at taking a Megaboss with Brutally Cunning instead. Free access to Mighty D really is that good.

A key consideration in list building is, of course, Waaagh generation. Certain units give you Waaagh points just for existing, and I’m here to tell you the good news: they are units you would want anyway. The Warchanter, Wurggog Prophet and Wardokk are three of the best units in the book, and in no way a tax: take ’em for their awesome rules, keep ’em for the Waaagh points!

What should your target be? A good rule of thumb is to reliably hit 20 Waaagh points by Round 2: the +1 to Hit and Wound are money, and this is where they kick in. If you can get there with a little room to spare, so much the better, because it would be nice to spend a few on clutch early casts too.

One way to turbo charge your Waaagh generation is to stock up on bodies: you can parlay a CP into a nice stack of Waaagh points with the ‘Ere We Go Command Ability, which is another argument for taking a 30-block or two of Arrow Boys or Savage Orruks. Even with a decent chunk of Ardboyz it can do some real work – so again, you are rewarded for taking solid units that you would want anyway.

Pebbles

You know what works well in a Big Waaagh? A Rogue Frikkin Idol, that’s what! I believe him to be somewhat of a luxury in Ironjawz, but competitive in Bonesplitterz; yet Big Waaagh is where he really shines.

The beauty of taking him in this build is that you have full access to both sets of buffs (Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz). Whereas in a Bonesplitterz list you can fit in an allied Warchanter for example, giving the Rogue Idol +1 Damage is all he is there for; in Big Waaagh, the Chanter also gets to know a Beat, and you can use him to buff up that 6-block of Gore Gruntas too…all while he’s generating Waaagh points for you, into the bargain. Sweat the asset!

The Bonesplitterz wizards buff your Idol up with their spells and dances, and get +1 to cast in return. With careful list building, you can achieve the critical mass of support units and beneficiary units on both sides of the Allegiance, with the whole wonderful circle-jerk held together by this huge hunk of rock and magic.

As you’ll see below, I’ve written an outline list around Pebbles to explore just how far you can take this.

Greenskinz

Worth a mention too is that Greenskinz are officially along for the party! The Warboss on Boar and Wyvern both had their CAs nerfed so they are not “too good” in Big Waaagh (fair enough), but with the rest of the tech in this army they are certainly still viable.

The +1 attack stacks with Da Big Waaagh, and it just happens…no risk of losing Waaagh points. The Waaagh Banner will give you rerolls to wound (always nice to have, especially with the good baseline stats), and the Wyvern has quite a few attack profiles to benefit from extra attacks. Either variant is worthy of consideration if they are already in your collection, although I certainly wouldn’t be rushing out to splash money on them with the Sword of Damocles hanging menacingly.

I would skip past the Boarboys (Savages are better), and the Boar Chariot is probably a fun pick only, but the Greenskinz themselves are interesting as 1-wound chaff and cheap Battleline. Other units may be more efficient on a points-per-wound basis, but sometimes you just want a few bargain-basement dickheads to stand in a Gnaw Hole or wear a Keeper of Secrets to the face. They have their role.

I’m not advocating it as a competitive choice, but you totally could run an all-Greenskinz list under the Big Waaagh if you wanted to. Most of us are expecting the faction to be Gitmobbed in the next GH (although it’s still speculation, because GW have given us no official communication on the matter), so for anyone who wants to take the Ladz for one final fling, this could be just the ticket.

In Defence of Da Big Waaagh Command Ability

I’ve seen a lot of negativity to the Command Ability that gives you an extra attack (or two), and I think at least part of the criticism is ill-founded. Let me explain why.

The first thing to understand is that you don’t lose your accumulated Waaagh points (if at all) until the end of the phase. So you will totally get your +1 to Hit and +1 to Wound as well as the extra attacks in that one big phase, regardless of how many Waaagh points you end up losing. So if you’re looking to set up that one devastating turn, or even just need to hit the “Oh Shit” button, it absolutely does give you that surge in output.

The second thing is that looking a little closer at the table, where it knocks you down to is not that bad. If you roll a 1, you’re obviously fucked, so I’m not going to lie to you and claim this play doesn’t have its risks.

But let’s say you’ve capped out at 30 points before you risk it for the biscuit: if you hit that 2-5 range, and half your Waaagh points, that puts you on 15 after your turn. That’s just 1 point before the +1 to Hit kicks in at 16 Waaagh, and only 5 points before you also click the +1 to Wound. That kind of Waaagh generation just happens by default unless you’re getting tabled, or close to it – in which case, what do you have to lose?

All I’m saying is, don’t rule it out. Understand what it can give you and in what circumstances it’s a good bet; keep it as a tool in your arsenal. It’s a risk-reward play, and it’s quite nicely judged as such.

Just don’t roll a 1, dumbass!

The Gordrakk Conundrum

Big G gives you a straight 6 Waaagh Points at the start of each Hero Phase, so at face value the Big Waaagh is his natual home. Honestly thought – I just don’t see it.

I’m on record as saying that Gordrakk’s Warscroll is significantly undercooked and overcosted. He’s just not the force of nature and dominant, game-defining powerhouse that his points cost and stature in the lore merit.

Big Waaagh doesn’t do enough to change that – his signature Command Ability for example is actually less valuable, given the access to an army-wide buff that achieves the same thing. No doubt someone will find a way to make it work, but equally I’m sure that a player who is capable of doing so would have achieved similarly great things with a lot less heartache if they’d just used a proper Maw Krusha instead.

Gordrakk is still a bit crap, and if you were hoping Big Waaagh would rescue him from irrelevance, I’m afraid you’ll have to keep waiting.

List Building Archetypes

Let’s get ’em on the table! Usually my method is to give you the heart of a list and playstyle, but today I’ve also added a couple of fully fleshed-out 2000 point lists since I am actively playing this army currently. Honestly, I’m having so much fun with Big Waaagh, it’s been hard to knuckle down and get serious with the other two subfactions.

The Rock Star

Let’s explore how far we can push Pebbles:

We’ll kick off with a Megaboss and Brutish Cunning, so Pebbles is piling in every Hero Phase, or getting a free move.

A Warchanter is essential to jack up the output on those mighty fists: even better if you’re swinging twice a turn. He can also heal you up if you cop a few wounds.

Speaking of healing, there is no Rule of One on that particular Wardokk dance. So that’s potentially 3D3 wounds healed per turn, between the Warchanter and double Wardokks.

Not that your opponent will be putting much damage on him, after you’ve put Kunnin Beast Spirits on him (and your casting is auto-buffed, remember!). Why not shake a little shake, dance a little dance and put another +1 to save on him from a Wardokk too? Worth noting that unlike a spell, he can only be affected by each wardance once, but you can attempt it multiple times.

You’re now at +2 to save, and you’re also a keyword Orruk, so you have a cheeky 2+ 5++ 6+++ triple save! Solid.

I guess a 10″ move is ok…but how about we double it, and make him fly, with Breath of Gorkamorka? He’s now flying 20″ a turn. I guess that’s ok…but how about we make that a 40″ flying move by nudging him along with your free Mighty D move too? 40″ flying move! WTF.

With +1 to Hit and Wound, he’ll be hitting on 2s rerolling 1s on the charge (which is also buffed at +1″ in Big Waaagh), and wounding on 2s rerolling 1s with the Warboss nearby. Speaking of the Warboss, fancy an extra attack on each profile? Here, go nuts!

Meanwhile you’re helping the Prophet crack off his horde-clearing spell with bonuses to cast. Now this leaves only 880 points for your troops, so it might be past the point of being truly efficient: but remember you can also use those Heroes to buff all your other units, so they are not a sunk cost.

In the real world you would probably trim at least one support Hero out; as cool as he is, if you punt the Warboss for example that gives you 1020 points to build your Battleline, which feels a bit more competitive. But as an illustration of how far you can take this guy: Holy Shit!

The “All The New Toys” list

Strong as an ox, fresh out the box, I put this list together the day the book dropped and I’ve not been able to put it down since. It really is intended as a Beerhammer list, but it does have some chops, and it’s been hella fun to play:

Committed readers will be all too aware that I’ve fallen hard for Destroyer. It really is wild overkill in an already-choppy list, but once you get used to having it, and once you’ve seen how much fun it is, it is so, so hard to let it go.

Beyond that, the list is really geared up to make use of the new tech in the book: Megaboss Bamm Bamm is rocking Brutish Cunning to bring Mighty D into your life, and a we’re bringing a couple of Warchanters along for the ride because they are the best support unit in this or any book.

On the Bonesplitterz side we have a Wardokk with Kunnin Beast Spirits to get the crazy-gravy saves and double healing on Pebbles, as well as a Prophet for the CP generation and spell which just eviscerates hordes. We also have plenty of access to casting bonuses (Pebbles, Wardokk dances and spending Waaagh points) to get that sweet, sweet 10+ casting roll. Meanwhile Breath of Gork combos with Mighty D to get Pebbles flying 40″ and fucking up whatever needs to be fucked up.

Anyone who doesn’t know what Warchanter-buffed Gruntas and Ardboyz can do is in for a nasty surprise. The humble unit of 10 Ardboyz will be rocking 22 attacks on a 2+ 2+ Rend -1 Damage 2, and that will just rip the heart out of similar units across the table from you.

Wound count is relatively low for a Big Waaagh army – that’s what happens when you take Bamm Bamm and Pebbles. But we’re here for a good time not a long time, and this army is a good time all the way.

“All The New Toys”: Refined and Reloaded

This will be the next iteration of the list above, aiming to become a little more competitive whilst keeping the fun core:

Bamm Bamm has been downgraded to a Foot Boss, keeping the access to Mighty D for a much lower investment. The points liberated from that move have largely gone into a maximum unit of Arrow Boys.

These guys are serious business, don’t doubt it. You can stack the +1 to hit from Brutal Beast Spirits and the Maniak Weirdnob Warscroll Spell to get them hitting on 4s and double-popping on 6s; if your Prophet earns you a cheeky CP, you might even invest in rerolling 1s in the shooting phase.

From their 90 shots they should be forcing something like 35 saves; against Monsters these are all at rend -1 (Mortarchs hate Arrow Boys, believe it!). Blasting a Hero off the board is their specialty, but they also love bludgeoning their way through 1-wound chaff such as Plague Monks.

With Kunnin Beast Spirits and the Wardokk dance, you can get the Arrow Boys on a 4+ save. Maybe even invest one of the Prophet’s spells into Mystic Shield, and you can have a 60-wound unit on a 4+ save rerolling 1s. So kinda like 30 Liberators…with a 6++ aftersave.

Crucially, they give you some output outside of the Combat Phase; as well as clearing off screens for your Gore Gruntas to charge to where they want to be, it means that things like Mortek Guard don’t get to reroll their saves. Shooting is still so, so important in the current meta.

They also ooze Waaagh generation, giving you a nice high body count for Ere We Go. You should comfortably hit 20 Waaagh points by turn 2, and can probably get there even after splashing a little on buffed casting.

Because the Foot Boss doesn’t demand further investment in the same way that a Maw Krusha does, we have jacked up the Prophet instead. He’s got a +1 to cast Artefact, to double down with the Rogue Idol casting bonus and the Wardokk dance. Throw in some Waaagh points, and he can be casting 3 spells a turn up there on his Balewind at anywhere from +2 to +5 per spell. That gives you a great shot at cracking a 10+ cast on his horde-clearing spell from 30″ away.

We’ve also got all the Rogue Idol fun times that we’ve discussed already, but we won’t be flinging him forward turn 1 in most games. The standard play will be buff up the Arrow Boys and put them in an advanced position, and keep Pebbles back to buff a second turn of casting. The pigs can be wave one of combat, bombing down a flank with a Warchanter buff and clearing up an Objective. After you’ve eviscerated their army with your shooting, the Wurggog spell and the bacon, you’re ready to buff up Pebbles and clean up what’s left.

The Ardboyz and Greenskinz are Wave 3. Ardboyz are more than capable of skirmishing with anything that’s likely to be left alive; Greenskinz less so. They are included partly for nostalgia, but mainly as true cheap chaff. They can screen against an aggressive army if needed, but more often they will shield the back of your Heroes from deep striking units or stand in a Gnaw Hole, before running onto Objectives unchallenged late on.

See? Easy! Let’s go!

The Netlist

Coming in with a list completely different from anything I’ve been working on, Eric Hoerger has been smashing it with his own Big Waaagh list, built around a jacked-up Weirdnob Shaman.

The Shammy is now a 2-spell caster with a second lore spell and buffed casting, even before the Balewind. Between his two cracks at Green Puke and Wrath of Gork (which combos nicely with all those units of Ardboyz around), he is bordering on heavy-duty Mortal Wound artillery.

He also has the home run threat of Hand of Gork to keep Eric’s opponents honest with their positioning, and the Prophet will gladly step up onto the Balewind himself if he needs to crack out one of his spells at extended range.

A single unit of 15 Ardboyz is a force to be reckoned with, so watcha gonna do when 75 of them line up against you? With the Wurrgog Prophet along for the ride, there should be plenty of CPs here to get units of 10 back too. Eric’s list demonstrates that Ardfist works well within a “proper army” and doesn’t need to game the system to succeed.

Eric has had an excellent run of early success with this army, including a 4-1 result and Podium at Justice Series GT:

https://tabletop.to/justice-series-autumn-gt

You can watch his army in action on THWG:

In Conclusion

I always try to give my honest opinions on this blog; I love Warhammer, so I’m naturally going to like most things GW puts out, and that will come through in my posts. But I do sometimes get frustrated when I see something I don’t like, and when that happens, I think I make it pretty clear.

So believe me when I say that I think this book is fantastic. All three Allegiances are awash with viable options and list building dilemmas; the great achievement of this book is that the competitive builds are fun, and the fun builds are competitive.

Nothing encapsulates that better than Big Waaagh, which succesfully bridges the gap between Beerhammer and competitive gaming. It’s going to be a hell of a journey.

Bravo, GW, bravo.

Featured

Battletome Orruk Warclans: Ironjawz Review

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

~ Bruce Lee

Do you like orcs?

Do you like big orcs?

Do you like big orcs that wear armour?

Do you like big orcs that wear armour, hit like a freight train, come back when you kill them, ignore damage, move multiple times per turn and then smash your fucking teeth right down your throat?

I guess it depends what side of the table you’re standing on, because let me tell you: Ironjawz are legit.

For those who don’t know, I’ve played Destruction right through the period when most competitive players dropped them like a sack of shit. Back in the day it often felt like all that Ironjawz could really do was walk forward into a fight, and then lose that fight.

You were desperately scrambling the whole game, retreating onto Objectives and trying to steal enough Victory Points to carry you through before you got tabled (you always got tabled); and if you sent even a minimum-sized unit left instead of right, it was curtains.

So believe me when I say that I would be the first to call bullshit if I didn’t think this book was up to scratch. Ironjawz in this book feel like a force of nature: it’s been a long time coming, and it’s so, so good.


The Lore

We finally have a Destruction Battletome with Clans, baby!

Free rules? Don’t mind if I do!

The background for all three of these is pretty cool. The Ironsunz get a decent spread, with Dakkbad being firmly entrenched as a sneaky, sneaky git. Bloodtoofs have a new leader, and although it would have been nice to hear what happened to Zogbakk, the constant anarchic crashing through Realmgates is a really nice hook for the subfaction.

Finally we have the new gunslingers in town, Da Choppaz. I love the blue and white checks colour scheme, and they really lean into the hooligan meme. In fact this section is probably my favourite of the three: it really speaks to orcs as free-spirited and true to themselves, with pure aggression and violence being an expression of their nature rather than evil as such.

I’d love to ransack a Free City with these Boyz. Poison the water, salt the earth, smear green shit all over their Gods and leave nothing else standing.


Battle Traits

Let’s start off with a bang: Smashing and Bashing is back. Wipe out a unit in either player’s combat phase, and you get to activate a different unit immediately.

Smash another unit off the board, and you get to go again. And again. And again.

This has always been super strong, but it’s currently at peak importance for two reasons:

  • Firstly, it circumvents Slaanesh’s Locus of Distraction. Their ability triggers at the end of the charge phase and forces you to fight last; your ability then triggers immediately upon wiping out an enemy unit in the combat, and being the more recent ability it therefore takes precedence (as per the Beasts of Chaos FAQ).
  • In practice, this means you can get a flanking unit of Gore Gruntas into some Hellstriders (for example), duff them up, then immediately trigger Smashing and Bashing to swing with your Locussed Maw Krusha into their Heroes. Cop that!
  • Secondly, since the army has had an overall damage boost (and certainly a boost in burst damage for buffed-up mobs), you are now in the position of being able to reliably annihilate enemy units and trigger the chain activations.
  • Smashing and Bashing was only ever as good as your feather-fisted Damage 1 Ladz; it scales up so, so well with the Warchanter bonuses and it multiplies the impact of your boosted damage output.

This alone is a really compelling reason to take Ironjawz over Big Waaagh; perhaps the most compelling reason.

You also get access to the Mighty Destroyers Command Ability. Since it reared its glorious green head in GH19, this is already firmly established as one of the best and most impactful CAs in the whole game.

You get to move if you are more than 12″ from the enemy, charge if you are within 3″ to 12″, or pile in and attack if you are within 3″. Any given unit can only benefit once, meaning you cannot charge in then activate again to attack, with the result that charging is rarely useful; you might be able to wipe something on low wounds with an impact charge from a Maw Krusha for example, but much more often you’ll be using this for moving or attacking.

Both of these are amazing. Moving is exponentially beneficial to faster units like the Gore Gruntas, the Maw Krusha and even the Rogue Idol: you can really have them zooming across the board. Fighting in every Hero phase can really help you power your way through grinds, and stops your key units getting bogged down with dickheads wasting entire turns.

There is a nice new addition to the package with Mad as Hell, which means you get to move D6″ at the end of any phase in which you took damage, as long as you are at least 9″ from any enemy units. Thematically, the idea is that your opponent chipping away with shooting damage gets you fired up and starting to close the gap to get them in combat. In practice that will certainly be useful, but there are also more kunnin’ applications such as moving backwards onto an objective, or deliberately chipping off a wound or two with an Endless Spell to get a Hero Phase nudge.

The Ironjawz Waaagh! has replaced the similar ability on the various Megaboss’s warscrolls. It is now a once per game Command Ability that guarantees you +1 attack within a radius of your Megaboss, and in rare circumstances +2 attacks. Waaagh! bombing has officially bitten the dust, and that’s fine because we can now win by playing proper games of Warhammer instead; but it’s still nice to have this surge of energy up your sleeve for that one turn where you just need to break through.

We also get +1 to charge which means you can’t fail a 3″ charge. That really is crucial for a combat army, and stacks nicely with the Ardboyz musician in particular.

Broadly speaking, the GH19 package has been carried across (with the addition of Mad as Hell), and that’s fine; it was already a huge upgrade above what came before, and this suite of abilities is certainly fit for purpose in modern AOS.

Command Traits and Artefacts

Command Traits

We’ve got some modern classics in here alright, so let’s take a look at the best amongst them. Ironclad is a great starting point for putting your Krusha on a 2+ save. Worth pointing out that it won’t combo with Etheral Amulet, because it is a save modifier, which Ethereal switches off (positive or negative). Still, it’s a solid starting point for any tanky Maw Krusha build.

Brutish Cunning lets you use the Mighty Destroyers Command Ability once per turn for free. I went on record earlier in this article saying that I believe this is one of the most impactful CAs in the whole of AOS right now, so getting recurring access to that for free is massive. The Big Fella is fighting in every hero phase, so get used to it! A real power pick.

Hulking Musclebound Brute has some appeal for Kannonball Krusha builds in a Beerhammer list (combo’d up with the Big Un Mount Trait and Luminary Rod for max mortals on the charge), but you’re going to have a fight on your hands to take one of those first two off me in any competitive build.

Weirdnob Shamans also get their own table, all of which are viable. You can slap on +1 to cast, unbind and dispell if you’re building a power caster; grab some extra CPs if you’re aiming to spam the shit out of an Ardfist (more of which later); or turn them into a 2-spell caster who knows an extra Lore spell.

A Maw Krusha demands further investment from CTs and Artefacts, but if you aren’t commited to taking one, there is definitely an interesting Weirdnob Shaman list or two out there.

Artefacts

For a Megaboss, there isn’t much here that trumps the Artefacts of the Realms. Your power picks are probably still Ignax’s Scales or Ethereal Amulet.

The one exception is Destroyer. Once a game, you slam an extra +3 Damage onto a melee weapon.

What the actual fuck! That’s amazing!

With a Warchanter buff on there, you can have a Megaboss doing 6 damage per swing on a surreal number of attacks. 6 damage per fucking swing! Holy Guacamole.

I personally made the terrible mistake of actually using this artefact in my first game with the book, to get it out of my system before moving onto more sensible, defensive artefacts. It’s just so much fun, you’re going to have to prise it out of my cold, green hand.

Don’t take it. Take something defensive. It’s too late for me, save yourself and don’t look back!

Weirdnob Shamans again have an interesting suite of options. My favourite is the Shamanic Skullcape for the +1 to cast. There is also a twist: kill an enemy wizard in melee, and you can cast a spell they knew for the rest of the game.

If anyone can spot a teleport spell that does not specify “friendly” units, let me know, because I’d frikkin love to redeploy an enemy unit exactly where they don’t want to be, with their own spell. Maximum Troggoth.

The Spell Lore

If you’re taking a wizard, you’re probably taking him for Hand of Gork. That’s the teleport we all know and love and it’s still really clutch. It’s much more of a crapshoot now – you’ve lost the intrinsic casting bonuses from the Weirdnob, as you will see – but if you’re willing to take the risk and cast from scratch (or invest in pumping up your casting), this is gonna be the first spell you take in virtually every list.

There is also an interesting build based around Wrath of Gork, which can put out a high quantity of mortal wounds if your Shammy is surrounded by MSU Ironjawz units. This could combo nicely with something like an Ardfist and a Balewind Vortex, especially if you took the Command Trait to have him attempting both this and Hand of Gork each turn.

The rest of the lore is largely a flop in all honesty. Take one or both of those two spells, and skip the rest.

Mount Traits

Bonus Round! First ever Destro book to have Mount Traits, and they’ve absolutely nailed it.

Seriously, all six of them are viable in some way. It’s so cool to have a full table of 6 items where you can’t immediately narrow it down to the best, the alternative and four varying shades of shit.

I’ve written a whole article on loadouts for Maw Krushas, so I won’t double up here. But the TLDR is that Weird Un will probably be the most popular choice because Defence, but if you’ve already invested in mortal wound protection (e.g. via Ignax Scales) I would maybe allow yourself a little fun with Mean Un for the Damage 3 attacks.


Endless Spells and Terrain

Yeah, sorry, not for you. It turns out that all the plastic in China went into making those ridiculous Ossiarch phalluses.

I’ve covered my thoughts on this topic in the Bonesplitterz article, so I’d encourage anyone interested to take a look at that rather than labouring the point here. The TLDR is that it’s disappointing, but not enough to ruin the book for me.


The Clans

Ironsunz

Yeah…this clan is legit. Ironsunz have always been -1 to hit in the first Battleround, which is incredibly impactful whether you are bunkering up, or YOLOing out there with your dick flapping in the wind, safe in the knowledge that you’ve already got a debuff baked in to help with the counterpunch.

When it first cropped up as a Batallion it only transpired on a 3+, and then in GH19 it improved to a 2+. Now it just happens…what a time to be alive!

The Command Ability that you gain access to is utterly, utterly game changing. You get to counter charge at the end of your opponent’s charge phase. WOW. This will win you matches, right there.

A couple of applications, right off the bat:

  • Your opponent runs minimum chaff onto an objective to cap it without having to fight. BLAMMO you’re into him, killing his dickheads and capping yourself instead.
  • Your opponent charges your Ardboyz to get your bodies off the objective, but he doesn’t want a bit of your tooled-up up Maw Krusha. BLAMMO here’s a Maw Krusha in your grill, and a couple of Mortal Wounds on the charge to go with it. You can have those ones for free, next time I’ll have to charge.
  • Slaanesh (filthy, filthy Slaanesh) use their Locus at the end of the charge phase. Then what happens next? BLAMMO that’s what! You’re into them, and Locus free.

Even just the free movement is huge. Honestly, this is amazing. It will win you games, straight up.

The Command Trait is locked in, which gives you +1 Command Point. It might not be your first choice (you’d always rather have Brutish Cunning, which is similar but significantly better) but it’s not actively bad. It’s still useful, even if not super efficient.

And finally your Artefact reduces rend by 1. It’s basically a worse version of Ethereal, but again that doesn’t actually make it bad – it’s still pretty decent, and it also means you’re not locked into Shyish if you wanted to take Aetherquartz Brooche for example. Similar to the Command Trait, it’s certainly usable.

What a package. People will find ways to win with all clans and none, but I’m gonna come out and say it, this one is da best.

So much so that I’ll be using my red-painted Ironjawz as 40K-style Evil (Iron)Sunz rather than Bloodtoofs.

If you don’t like it, fight me. And you’ll lose, because I’m neg 1 to hit, chump.

Bloodtoofs

So the ability you get is +1 to run and charge, which stacks with the +1 to charge you get just for being Ironjawz. Nice.

It’s not super flashy, but movement bonuses are always impactful. Worth noting too that your Ardboyz will now be charging at +4 cumulatively (including their musician), so a 9″ teleport leaves them needing a 5+ to complete the charge. If only there was a way to get them redeployed reliably, hey? Read on, because Bloodtoofs has you covered!

The Command Ability is more movement jank: this one basically gives you a normal move at the end of the combat phase. You have to have fought (and have a Hero somewhere in the same postcode) but can’t use it to retreat or run; so essentially you need to have blasted away everything that was nearby.

Where I see this one coming into its own is objective screening – both flavours. Your opponent sets up with his models tapping the 6″ line with the back of his base, so they are capping the objective but you are not; after you kick their teeth in, you step forward and capture. Screen that, motherfucker.

And on the flipside: you could find an opportunity to smash something up in midfield, then step onto and beyond the Objective. Again with the back of your bases inside 6″, but the front outside, so your opponent has to fight through a wall of green flesh to get it back. Any extra movement is lethal in an objectives game – and don’t forget, if you took damage in combat, you can potentially double down with a Mad as Hell move too.

The artefact is awesome, but somewhat wasted on a Megaboss since it doesn’t directly boost him personally in any way. The Quickduff Amulet (sweet name too) gives you a free teleport once per game. It’s worded as a Hand of Gork that can’t be unbound, so you can’t double up with a cast of that spell – but a guaranteed redeploy is massive.

I would have loved this even more if you weren’t restricted by the same thing as the spell: namely, needing to be more than 3″ away from enemy models to use it. It would be so powerful if you could save this for a late-game “Now you see me – Now you don’t” switcheroo onto an objective, but being locked by combat means this is primarily an aggro artefact. It’s still really solid for all that – and don’t forget, a 9″ redeploy links in well with the intrinsic charge bonuses that this Clan receives.

So what other goodies do we have? Sadly – nothing. The Command Trait is utter garbage and a major failure. It’s weak enough to begin with, but then being able to use it hinges on a terrain piece (Realmgate) that may or may not be on the table at a competitive event.

Hopefully TOs will let you use it, but you shouldn’t have to rely on goodwill to make up for bad rules. It’s not good enough that they removed the wording allowing you to place a Realmgate, and it’s not good enough that they failed to respond to the FAQs that were submitted on that matter. They’ve completely shafted Bloodtoofs here, and you essentially don’t get a Command Trait which is a huge deal.

All in all, Bloodtoofs is something of a curate’s egg. It’s not a lost cause, but it does seem like they phoned it in compared to the other Clans. Probably one for when you are looking to change things up a bit for a friendly game moreso than going all-out to place highly at a tournament.

Da Choppas

Blue and White Dynamite! I love these guys, themed around Ardboyz hooligans. The ability you get is rerolling charges within 12″ of a terrain feature that is partly or wholly within enemy territory. You don’t need to be wholly within 12″, so overall it’s generous enough to be useful, but tight enough to be thematic for a rampaging horde of vandals. I like it.

Your Command Ability allows a Warchanter to buff up to 3 units of Brutes or Ardboyz. Wowzer! This is arguably the best buff in the game, so getting to triple bang it is awesome. Why not take 2, and buff up 6 units per turn? Go on, it’ll be fun!

Your Command Trait gives a +2 Bravery bubble around your General, which is useful if you lean into the Brutes theme. I also love the name for this one (“Checked Out”), so I like it more than I probably should.

The Artefact is shit on a stick unfortunately. It lets your Weirdnob use the Ironjawz Waaagh! Command Ability, in the same way a Megaboss would. But it’s not like a Megaboss is some kind of tax that you’ll be eager to avoid.

I can see what they were thinking, in terms of allowing you to build a super thematic force (Weirdnobs run the show in Da Choppas) while making sure you don’t miss out on a key combat buff that only a Megaboss can normally provide. But the Ironjawz Waaagh! is only quite good…you can play whole games without it, leaning on Mighty Destroyers instead.

Just as importantly, the Weirdnob can’t function at a high level when he’s locked into a Commant Trait and Artefact that don’t boost his casting and unbinding; his Warscroll just isn’t strong enough for that, unfortunately.

In a balanced Choppas army, I’d suggest going with either two Weirdnobs (so one of them can at least take a decent Artefact to boost his casting), or neither (and avoid the Artefact tax completely – it’s only compulsory if you take a Weirdnob).

Don’t let the artefact put you off: just work around it, because Da Choppas is an interesting combat army waiting to happen. The superpowered Warchanters alone make it a viable choice.

The Warscrolls

Leaders

Let me rephrase that: Heroes. Mighty Fucking Heroes, every one of them.

Megaboss on Maw Krusha: We’ve already done a deep dive on these guys, so I won’t go over old ground too much:

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/14/cabbage-soup-part-1-exploring-new-maw-krushas/

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/15/cabbage-soup-part-2-building-your-own-maw-krusha/

Safe to say these guys have had a decent lift, way moreso that I thought at first glance. The biggest step change is the Strength From Victory rule: racking up those extra attacks can get out of hand really quickly.

Your Krusha also benefits hugely from Mighty Destroyers: it has the speed for a Mighty D move to matter, and the punch for a pile in to be punishing.

Maw Krusha 101 currently is to load him up with defensive buffs; send him skirmishing for a few rounds, beating up dickheads and gaining extra attacks; and in this manner you should be able to keep him alive through the first few Battlerounds, by which stage he has likely snowballed past the point where your opponent can stop him. Beautiful.

Megaboss: Hmmm. I’m still not sold on this guy unfortunately. 150 points seems pretty stiff for what is still a second-rate combat Hero. He’s lost his rend -2 and still moves at snail’s pace.

He does have a role as a sponge for compulsory Artefacts and Command Traits when you are taking a Clan: while they would make your Maw Krusha uneconomic since he demands further investment, the foot boss doesn’t owe you quite as much, so the equation makes a little more sense.

Warchanter: The best buffing Hero in the game? He’s got to be up there. This guy got a major, major lift and is worth every one of his 110 points.

In case you hadn’t heard, you pick a nearby unit, and you give it +1 damage.

Yep.

And you don’t even have to roll for it.

That’s insane.

But it doesn’t stop there: you can also choose for him to know a Beat from a table of three, all of which are useful. Fixin’ Beat heals a unit D3 (get that Maw Krusha back up the charts), Get Em Beat lets you charge with 3D6 from up to 18″ away (awesome with your other charge bonuses), and Killa Beat gives you +1 to Hit (cop that, Geminids). All of these have a Rule of One.

Now these only happen on a 4+, which is a bit stiff compared to other Prayers and Prayer-equivalents; however, that is easily compensated for because the +1 damage buff just happens. They could easily have both been triggered on a 3+, but I think we’ve done pretty well out of it being this way around!

Take one. No, don’t take one, take two or three! These guys are the heartbeat of the army.

Weirdnob Shaman: your Wizard took a bit of a kicking, in all honesty. Still only a one-spell caster, he has now lost his bonuses to cast; he also lost the home run threat of his inconic Foot of Gork Warscroll spell. The loss of reliability on Hand of Gork in particular filters right down through the army.

He does get a free crack at Green Puke each turn (making him a pseudo-two spell caster, albeit severely restricted in his options), and that’s serious business when spammed from a Balewind. Losing the buffed cast and unbind is a bit of a shame from a quality of life viewpoint, but I can still see an argument for taking one as a Hand of Gork threat, if only to keep your opponent honest in guarding his objectives “just in case” you do cast it.

Gordrakk: Meh. Some people like him because his twin axes scale quickly with Strength from Victory; I still see him as a worse Cabbage because he can’t take defensive buffs other than the “Weird Un” Mount Trait. I will be honest, I haven’t played a game with him yet; but I’m also not excited or motivated to do so. Still comically overcosted in my opinion, and I’d rather just pay less for a regular Megaboss that will last longer. Move along!

Units

Ardboyz: Boy did these guys get a buff! The Warscroll has been simultaneously streamlined and improved, with the unit now hitting on 3s with rend -1 across the board. Shields are a free survivability upgrade for 2 in every 5 models, and they still get +2 to bravery and, crucially, to charge.

Coming in at 9 points per wound, these guys are super efficient for what they do. They have a chaff-level points cost, with an elite attack profile and a 4+ save. The bonuses to charge makes them faster than they look; they are just a really solid backbone for any Ironjawz army, and good at everything.

Give them a Warchanter buff, and they have that attack profile we love to see: 3+ 3+ Rend -1 Damage 2. I can tell you from experience that a unit of 10 is an absolute blender; anywhere from 5 to 15 seems to be the sweet spot. Cracking all-rounder unit, right here.

Ironskull’s Boyz: These are low-key a decent little unit. Bang on 10 points per wound is pretty reasonable for what they bring: a proper 6++ after save (applies to Mortal Wounds too), improving to a 5++ on the Boss; and a little sprinkle of extra output from multi-damage attacks and the classic ‘Eadbutt. I did also like the reference in the flavour text to hacking and bashing, which was a neat little touch for Underworlds players like me.

Don’t sleep on these guys. I’m obviously not suggesting you build a list around them, but if you are desperate to squeeze 10 points out of somewhere, you could do worse than trim a minimum unit of Ardboyz down to Ironskulls Boyz. They’re pretty capable of standing on a point and defending it against Khinerai, for example. Sweet models, too.

Gore Gruntas: finally, a warscroll to match the model! These guys have always looked like a crashing wave of muscle and bone, which is exactly how they play on the table now. Your weapons choice dictates either an extra attack, or bonuses on the charge and 2″ reach; both are good, and there’s not much in it, but I’ve gone for Choppas.

Mortal wounds on the charge? Don’t mind if I do! These are another unit (along with the Maw Krusha) that can pop a few mortals in the Hero Phase with a Mighty Destroyers charge, then move off and do it all again, so don’t forget you’ve got that one up your sleeve.

Need a hyper mobile unit with Hero phase moves and bonuses to charge? Gore Gruntas.

Need a hammer to smash something up with a Warchanter buff? Gore Gruntas.

Board control? Efficient points per wound? Mobile screen?

Gore Gruntas, Gore Gruntas, Gore Gruntas.

Brutes: Hmmm. I just don’t see it, unfortunately. They still suffer from being way too similar to Ardboyz: they have identical attack stats (with more attacks per models of course), and their only Warscroll ability is humdrum to say the least. It’s just not exciting enough for what is meant to be an elite melee unit and doesn’t give them anything to hang their hat on.

Their bravery is still a joke, and crucially, they are missing the banner and musician for the +2″ charge. With Ardboyz being on smaller bases, they are almost as good at fighting, faster, more durable and better at scoring objectives. Brutes just don’t have enough daylight in their combat output to make up for their shortfalls in other areas.

The gap is narrow enough that if you like Brutes, they are certainly usable. But you’ll be using them because you want to use them.

Battalions

Interestingly, the Fists still give +2 wounds to the Batallion leader. I wasn’t expecting to see that carry across, but it’s a nice bit of fan-service for long term Megabosses.

There’s not a huge volume, so let’s tackle them in order:

Ardfist

Currently the subject of much online debate, this summoning Batallion needs clarification because there’s no unanimous view on how it functions. I’ll cover this in a little more detail in my Choppas list below, but the ins and outs of the arguments could form an article on their own (and likely will). For the time being, it’s one to discuss with your opponent in casual games, or clear with the TO competitively.

Brutefist

Every Brute does a mortal wound on the charge (on a 4+). Viable if you likes your Brutes, and because it’s not phase-locked you can potentially do some out-of-phase damage: crack off a Mighty Destroyers charge to blast through a weakened enemy in the hero phase, follow it up with a move in the movement phase, then pop off a charge phase charge to smash out some more mortal wounds. Brutes on da rampage! Not a one I’ll be using a lot because I don’t run a lot of Brutes, but if they’re your boys, it’s certainly usable.

Ironfist

Still the go-to in my opinion. The classic “Ironfist move” is replaced by free access to Mighty Destroyers, which doesn’t even have to be used on a unit from the Batallion. As a Mighty D fanboy, I’m all about this. The second thing I like about this one in particular is that it can contain any of your Battleline units in any combination, and wraps them all into a neat low-drop package. Destined to be popular, and rightly so.

Gorefist

Free 9″ move in the first turn. Not bad, but nowhere near as good as a free Mighty Destroyers activation every turn, so I’d always just find the extra points for an Ironfist personally. Not one I’d ever run, even if I was going all-in on bacon.

Weirdfist

Bundles up a Shammy with 3-5 Battleline units, getting your drops down further; and lets him cast two free Pukes instead of one (meaning he can puke up to three times per turn). Everyone seems to have skimmed straight past this one, but it’s not actually bad. Probably suffers again in comparison to Ironfist, but it’s one I could see myself taking out for a spin in a Beerhammer game.

Brawl

A big battalion, and most likely one-drop. You can just about squeeze it into 2000 points, but honestly, you wouldn’t bother. It’s shit and GW blatantly doesn’t want you using it competitively, so they’ve made you jump through hoops and pay through the nose to get your drops right down. Don’t bother, just build a proper army instead.

List Building Archetypes

OK, time to have some fun! As always, I’ll be looking to give you the core of a list to build around, covering a chunk of your Battleline and setting out a playstyle; but leaving room for your individual touch and favourite units.

Balanced Ironsunz

Let’s kick it off with an all-rounder that will see you compete against most armies on most scenarios. This build should stand the test of time and give you a really solid core to work with:

You’re playing it nice and sensible with your Krusha, giving him the Holy Trinity of defensive buffs: negs to hit (Ironsunz), rend protection (Sunzblessed Armour) and Mortal Wound protection (Weird Un). These all have limitations in some way and don’t offer blanket immunity, but combined they will contribute to keeping the big lad alive into the mid-game, where he can really shine.

Dealer’s Choice for the second artefact, but I’ve gone for the Brooch to keep the Mighty D engine firing while also allowing for some sweet, sweet Ironsunz counter charges. This army has two of the best Command Abilities in the game, and you’re going to want to use them early and often!

A neat little trick you can try with this army is to include a Weirdnob Shaman with Hand of Gork (maybe even with the +1 to cast artefact). Fire up the pigs with the Warchanter so they are damage 2 on all their attacks, and teleport them into the backfield.

You have to set up at least 9″ away, but you’re not glued to the 9″ line: why not set up a little further away at 12.1″? Then you can use the Mighty Destroyers move from the Battalion to perform a normal move. With the Gruntas this is a mighty 9″, putting you 3.1″ away from the enemy, and on an infallible charge thanks to the Ironjawz +1.

I hope your opponent has screened front and back, because you’re coming in hard. And when they get to hit back, they’re doing so at -1 to hit…because we’re Ironsunz!

Alpha Bloodtoofs

Under GH19, a lot of Ironjawz builds were focussed on getting up in your opponent’s grill and Waaagh-spamming them into oblivion. Some people liked that one huge turn, some people didn’t, but Bloodtoofs currently leans closest to that playstyle.

We’re taking a big unit of Ardboyz to pump up and throw in there via the Quickduff Amulet. They love the deepstrike with their charge bonuses, but you could easily find a way to pop a couple of wounds on them first if you wanted to get a Mad as Hell to nudge a little closer and make sure.

The plan will be to wrap your opponent in an iron blanket and pin them in their own territory behind a heap of wounds, or deepstrike into the backfield and wipe out the juicy stuff if it’s not protected.

The Maw Krusha and MSU pigs coming in from the front will give you a decent chance at getting +2 attacks from your Waaagh (especially if you’re able to use Get Da Realmgate), and triggering Smashing and Bashing shouldn’t be a problem. After fighting you’ll be able to consolidate and dominate yet more space via the Bloodtoofs Command Ability, and you’ve engineered a huge first or second turn to blast your opponent past the point of recovery.

Summoning Choppas

This list should be able to make use of the Ardfit summoning, while dovetailing nicely with what Da Choppas brings to the party:

The idea here is to kill off your own unit of 5 Ardboyz. Vomit on them with Green Puke to knock a couple of wounds off for starters. Scuttletide should chip off a couple more when it’s set up, and by this stage you are Mad as Hell; perform a d6″ move and take the Scuttletide wounds again. You’re in the end of your Hero phase by now, and a second Green Puke should go a long way to finishing them off. Damned Terrain could help too if necessary, and don’t forget to remove the banner first (if you take one at all) so you can Battleshock off the last one standing if it comes to that.

I’ve also included the Pendulum there, which you might even cast first, so you can put Scuttletide somewhere annoying for your opponent instead if you roll well on that. Best thing about Pendulum is that you can point it towards your opponent and get more juice out of it later, two benefits for the price of one.

You’ll need another wizard to cast both Endless Spells in one turn, but a second Fungoid is always worth his points – especially since you will be desperate for those extra Command Points, which he can generate for you.

Once you’ve knocked off the Ardboyz, you get to throw Command Points at resurrecting them. There is no limit on how many times you can attempt this: keep spending the CPs, and keep rolling those 4+s:

To play it safe, I’ve deliberately left headroom in the Battalion: you start with 3 units and one is now dead, so at that point there are 2 units in the Battalion. There is a school of thought that you cannot add summoned units past the Battalion cap of 5, so let’s assume that’s the case and leave room for 3 extra units to come in.

You do need to roll a 4+ for it to work, otherwise you’ve wasted your CP. Hence why we have built in a lot of CPs to throw at it: one purchased, one from the Battalion, one per turn and hopefully one or more from your Fungoids.

You could double down on this with Aetherquartz Brooch, but I’ve taken the view that it’s more important to keep your Warchanter alive than shooting for a ridiculous number of units (especially assuming the Battalion cap is in place), hence the Ragged Cloak. That also puts you in the right Realm to slap Ethereal on your Maw Krusha if you take one, which you easily could.

Hey Presto! You’ve parlayed a unit of 5 Ardboyz into up to 3 units of 10, exactly where your opponent doesn’t want them.

Deploying 9″ away is no problem for Ardboyz, since they charge at +3; and best of all, because they’re Choppas, they are going be rerolling those charges.

For added fun times, Hand of Gork a single Warchanter over there, and give all 3 units the damage buff via the Choppas Command Ability. 10 Ardboys at Rend -1 Damage 2 will make a mess of most things, and on a 6″ rerollable charge they are hitting what they want to hit.

The Netlist

Now, the good news is: we already have a tournament-winning list to piggy back on!

Any competitive Ironjawz player will know all about Leo Rautonen, who consistently posted 4-1 results with the GH19 rules and competed right at the highest level on the cut-throat UK tournament scene.

Leo has smashed it out of the park by winning the first event he attended with the new book, Bloodshed in the Shires:

https://tabletop.to/bloodshed-in-the-shires-2019

If you’ve read the whole article you’ll know I’m all about Ironsunz.

One thing that jumps off the page is the absence of a Maw Krusha: nonetheless, by including a Megaboss in there, Leo has given himself multiple sources of Mighty Destroyers (da boss himself, and the battalion boss), allowing him to project power in separate areas of the board as well as keeping some redundancy for the late-game push.

Between the Battalion, the Command Trait and the “free” battalion access to Mighty D, Leo will have a decent well of Command Points to draw upon, liberating himself to crack off a clutch Ironsunz counter-charge or two at key moments.

If you want to see how it played out in practice, check out Leo’s tournament-winning match (against Slaanesh, no less) on The Honest Wargamer:

In Conclusion

After years of struggle with this army, was it worth the wait?

Oh yes! GW have absolutely nailed it with this book. Ironjawz finally play like their press, crashing forward in waves like a force of nature. This is no FEC release – if you just push everything wildly forward, you will lose a lot of games – but who wants that, anyway? We’ve got all the tools we need to succeed, and if you invest in this army, the rewards are there.

There is plenty to explore, and a huge range of competitive and fun builds that will keep you krumpin’ for years to come. It’s a 10/10 from me.

Coming up next will be the Big Waaagh review (where I’ll also cover the Rogue Idol), and if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Bonesplitterz review too.

Excelsior!

Featured

Battletome Orruk Warclans: Bonesplitterz Review

“I am the punishment of God.

If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

― Genghis Khan

I hope you’re ready for the Green Tide, because they’re coming at you hard. Bonesplitterz are very dear to my heart, and along with Mixed Destruction they have probably been the faction I’ve played most across the lifespan of AOS.

Now that we have the FAQ under our belts, we are ready to assess the army in the full light of day. I’ve got a lot of personal attachment here, and I’m very invested in making the best of this book, so join me as I dive into the greenest and therefore bestest part of the Orruk Warclans release.

This is a pretty deep write-up, because I want to do the book justice. Anyone who’s already familiar with the contents is free to jump ahead to the “List Building Archetypes” section, which will hopefully add value for everyone planning on playing the army – but I hope you’ll join me on the full journey through the book in all its glory, because my aim throughout is to analyze rather than regurgitate.

Come On You Boyz In Green!


The Lore

Ever wondered how mummy orcs and daddy orcs make little baby orcs? They don’t – orcs dissolve into a puddle when they die, and their asexual offspring spawn from the fungal goo. This makes them almost impossible to eradicate; once they have infested an area, their spores are pretty much there for good.

They are effectively animals that reproduce like fungus. This is a ramped-up parallel of some things we do see in the natural world: for example the classic taxonomy of animals was turned on its head when Europeans arrived in Australia, and found “mammals” (such as the platypus) that laid eggs.

I quite like this piece of lore, which makes them feel truly “other”, and not just green humans who’ve been hitting the gym.

Another highlight is the boxed section on World Spirits. Bonesplitterz believe there is a God-Beast of each Realm which they worship alongside Gorkamorka, yet simultaneously they are constantly seeking to hunt them. Skwidmuncha the two-headed shark was my own favourite!

If they ever do get their hands on even one of these great beasts, Bonesplitterz will instantly harness so much Waaagh! power that the whole of the Mortal Realms had better watch out. This could make an interesting hook for future storyline developments or some Black Library support – or it could be a nice premise for your own campaign, if you have a narrative focus to your hobby. See, there’s loads you can do with Destruction beyond “We’re calling a really big Waaagh”!

The basic premise of Bonesplitterz is still the same – they start out life as normal Greenskinz, then go a bit weird and wander off to join the nearest Boneys tribe. They are Gorkamorka’s Faith Militant and the Prophets are running the show.

It’s probably worth pointing out at this point that the book really is surprisingly thin. I was astonished that it covers fewer pages than even the old Bonesplitterz book, let alone that and Ironjawz combined. The quality of the content is high enough that this isn’t a major issue for me – I certainly don’t feel short changed. But it does make me wonder if the release was a little rushed, and I don’t think I’m quite ready to recycle the old book just yet. There are some pretty cool sections like a dictionary of warpaint glyphs that didn’t make it into the new book for example.

Worth a mention too is the artwork. There is some seriously good stuff in here, particularly the new pieces showing Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz fighting side by side. I’ll personally be keeping a keen eye out for this one on Warhammer Art:


Battle Traits

Tireless Trackers means that you get to move half your units (rounding up) up to 5″ before the start of the first Battleround.

Let me repeat that:

You get to move half your units (rounding up) up to 5″ before the start of the first Battleround.

How about a little louder?

You get to move half your units (rounding up) up to 5″ before the start of the first Battleround.

This. Is. Huge.

This ability will win you games, straight up. You can spread out to block deep striking. You can push up to stop idiots coming over the Bridge from being right in your face. You can let your opponent patiently measure out his ranges, then feint back out of range. You can step up into unbind range when they thought their wizard was safe. You can get your Arrow Boys up into range for a double tap. You can push your Big Stabbas up for the alpha strike. You can get your aggro units far enough forward to be in position to fly right over screens and into the backfield.

You want me to keep going? I really can’t overstate how powerful this is. And wait until you see the Great Hunter Command Trait!

It doesn’t stop there, either:

  • Warpaint is now a proper aftersave, so you can potentially get an armour save first. Like a Death save with no Hero ranges!
  • The Monster Hunters table now lets you choose rather than having to roll for it. Units with volume of attacks will probably choose to pop a Mortal Wound for every Wound Roll of 6, whereas Big Stabbas might go for +1 to hit to squeeze through every one of those valuable attacks
  • Units who kill a Monster don’t take Battleshock that turn: make sure you don’t forget that one! It doesn’t have to be in melee either, so Arrow Boys can benefit too
  • You also have access to a Waaagh! CA which works in the same way as Ironjawz. Guaranteed 1 extra attack, might get 2. Handy for Big Stabbas whose attacks are all super valuable, or Boarboys who have two melee profiles for a double benefit

All in all this is a powerful suite of abilities, and a major step up from the prior book. I would have been happy with just the upgrades to Warpaint and Monster Hunters; Tireless Trackers is a wonderful, wonderful bonus.


Command Traits and Artefacts

I won’t rattle through the whole lot, but there is some solid gold in there.

Command Traits

You remember when I was banging on and on about how great the pre-game move was? Well take Great Hunter, and that’s an 8″ move instead. The best just got better.

You may well have a Wurrgog Prophet as your General, in which case he also has a couple of good Wizard ones to choose from too. Master of the Weird can go a long way to building a power caster with +1 to cast, unbind and dispell (nice touch there). You can also give him an extra Lore spell and a 3rd cast with Fuelled by the Spirits.

There are some decent Command Point and Aggro options in there too, but really, I think you’ll have a battle on your hands to take Great Hunter off me.

Artefacts

The best artefact in the whole of Age of Sigmar for me was the Big Wurggog Mask. For anyone who doesn’t know, it was the coolest mini-game ever: you did D3 Mortal Wounds to an enemy unit within 12″, then you could keep staring. On a 3+ you do another D3 Mortal Wounds. Wanna keep staring? Roll another 3+, and you do another D3 Mortal Wounds. Keep starting as long as you like, and you can keep doing Mortal Wounds until that unit is dead. Just make sure you never fail to roll a 3+, because on a 1 or a 2, you die.

You don’t take Mortal Wounds, you just instantly die.

This thing was hilarious, and everyone who has used it has so many stories to tell of when it went right, and when it went so, so wrong.

Sadly the artefact has now lost a lot of its character; it is no longer once per game, but the upside and downside have both been heavily curtailed. It’s actually a viable damage artefact, and can do a decent amount of Mortal Wounds (up to 3D3 per Hero Phase); but I can’t help feeling that it’s had a lot of the fun sucked out of it.

Another one for your Wizards is Mork’s Boney Bitz, giving more access to casting bonuses, and it will see some play.

Glowin’ Tattooz is serious business nowadays, giving you a 4+ ignore from your Warpaint instead of a 6+, and is another one for the shortlist.

Mystic Waaagh! Paint lets you have a free crack at a random spell from your Lore (including a second cast if you already know the one you roll up). As you will see below, I would argue that 5 of the 6 spells are good, so this is worth a look for anyone with the joie de vivre to embrace it.

It’s also fitting that the one shit spell is number 1 in the Lore, so you get “punished” when you pop that natural 1. Not the most competitive choice, but not garbage either, and I could see this one making its way into my Friday night Beerhammer lists, especially doubled up with a Balewind Vortex.


Spell Lore

Squiggly Curse: Fucking rubbish.

Within 3″, are you pulling my plonker? I almost wanted to submit an FAQ, but I couldn’t think of anything more constructive to ask than “WTF?”, so I just moved on to the spells that are actually good. I suggest you do the same.

Breath of Gorkamorka: Ooooooh yeah!

This is so much better that it used to be! It doubles your movement and lets you fly…until the next Hero Phase. This is huge. For context, the spell used to be near-identical, except that it only applied in your Movement Phase.

Why is that so big? Well here’s four major applications right off the top of my head:

  • You can now fly with Hero Phase moves for double the benefit. Get those Arrow Boys zooming up the field, there’s nowhere to hide now!
  • For added fun times, slap this on a Rogue Idol and give him a Might Destroyers move in Big Waaagh (via Brutally Kunnin CT or the Ironfist Batallion). That fat fucker is now flying a cheeky 40″ per turn!
  • Arrow Boys can now shoot through Wyldwoods! Dakka Dakka Dakka
  • Perhaps most importantly of all: you can now charge right over the top of screens with combat units such as Big Stabbas

It is worse in one way: the old spell had no range limitations, so you could cast it from way back out of unbind range. Let’s be honest though, that kind of jank was never going to make the cut in an updated book.

The best spell in the old lore is still the best spell in the new lore, and it’s so, so good.

Brutal Beast Spirits: +1 to Run, Hit, and Charge. Crucially, this is not locked to a particular Phase. Huge on Arrow Boys (get the benefit to your attacks in the Hero Phase, your attacks in the Shooting Phase and then your attacks in the Combat phase). But honestly, just really good on any and every unit you are buffing up.

Bone Krusha: Decent aggro spell that gets better the closer you are to your enemy. You have to be within 6″ to get the D6 Mortal Wounds that armies like Tzeentch and Khorne (or Drakkfoot for that matter) get right off the bat. Not garbage, but you’ll probably run out of Wizards long before you get to the point where you would seriously consider this.

Kunnin Beast Spirits: Sit down and pour yourself a cocoa while I take you on a trip down memory lane.

Back in the early days of AOS, one of the very first ways that people found to break the game was stacking the old Mystic Shield +1 to Save on a unit. You get them on a 3+, then a 2+, then a 1+, then a 0+. Try and kill me LOL you can’t. This was the main reason Rules of One were brought in with GH16.

There are still a couple of niche armies that can achieve something similar (Staunchcast springs to mind), but Bonesplitterz have always had high wound count to make up for their terrible armour saves. That’s super thematic, because they are hulking lumps of muscle and blood, while their armour save is basically tattoos and optimism.

Until now.

Stack this with the Glyphdokk Dance from the Wardokk, and you can bang +2 to save onto any unit in the book. That puts Savage Orruks and Boarboys on a 3+, with rerolling 1s if you want to put Mystic Shield on them too. They are basically better Liberators, with a 6++ ignore, and way cheaper.

This is a game-changer.

Gorkamorka’s Warcry: Vastly improved over the old version. Basically the same, but without the weird little Bravery roll-off attached, that you would never win because you have low bravery. Along with Arrow Boys bringing the Dakka, this is your toe hold in Activation Wars. Take it.

Overall, this is a really good suite of spells and a fantastic toolkit to work with; a modernised and improved version of the old spell lore.


Endless Spells and Terrain

What Endless Spells and Terrain?

We’ve been frozen out and overlooked, and honestly, it’s really not good enough.

Everybody gets Endless Spells these days, even anti-magic armies. OK, Cities of Sigmar also missed out, but they at least get to be kings of the generic Endless Spells, brining some really impactful bonuses. We get a single half-arsed “destroy terrain” ability on Gordrakk’s Warscroll, which will have precisely zero impact on the meta.

For an army who already had multiple spells that are literally physical manifestations of magic on the Battlefield (Hand of Gork, Foot of Gork, Green Puke), the absence of Endless Spells really is baffling. Bonesplitterz are a magic army, and they should have had Endless Spells. End of. Skipping them is lazy and frankly piss-weak.

On the (non-existent) Terrain side, one thing that does stand out is the skewered rocks-on-a-pole that keep recurring in the new photos:

It may or not mean anything, but the name embedded in the code for that image on the Community site is “ModelsTerrain”. Was that Terrain originally meant to be part of the release, but something got in the way? I wonder if they were meant to be “Dis Is Ours” markers of desecration, where Orruks vandalise other pieces of scenery? They are certainly very prominent in the photos, perched up there on top of the general terrain so you get a nice clear view of them.

All Terrain is made in China, which heavily impacted the Sylvaneth release, so did something happen there? Although given the leadtimes to print the books, I’m not sure GW could be nimble enough to remove all references to faction Terrain.

In fact the whole timeline around this release is very odd, coming so soon after the significant update to Ironjawz (and barely anyone else) in GH19, and as mentioned above the book is particularly slim. So in some ways this does smack of a rushed release.

Don’t get me wrong, what is in the book is outstanding; particularly the rules, which is my own main focus, but also the art and the lore. But I wouldn’t be doing a proper review of the release if I didn’t cover what’s not in there. Regardless, somebody knows what happened, but it ain’t me!

Hopefully we get Endless Spells and Terrain in the next cycle of updates. But in the meantime, I’m not going to let it ruin the book for me. I had to get that off my chest, and I think it’s fair comment; but the rest of the book is honestly so good that I can move past it pretty smoothly.


Clans

Bonegrinz

Let’s take a look at their ability first up:

Is this any good? Kinda. The first part is utter trash, because it seems to be the intention that you can pull enemy units off Objectives; however it fails to achieve that in all but some rare edge cases.

Specifically, the problem is that they only charge “if is is possible for them to do so”, and it is not possible to Charge if you ran earlier in the turn. So if I’m holding an Objective and I don’t want you to pull me off it, I can declare a Run. Roll the dice, move 0″, and now I don’t have to Charge.

The edge case where you might benefit is that a shooting unit holding an objective will be forced to choose between running and therefore giving up their shooting output, or risking completing a charge they don’t want to; how often will that come up in practice though?

It’s either a poorly thought out rule, or for some reason GW wanted to give this Warclan something shit that will never be of benefit. Either way it’s a flop.

Don’t be downhearted though, because the second part of this rule is way more interesting: preventing your enemies from retreating is a real power move, especially with the absolute tarpit you can create from stacking saves on high-wound units.

Slam a big unit off 30 buffed-up Orruks in their grill, and that’s 60 wounds of Green Delight on a 3+ 6++ save. Tag the ends of 4 different enemy units and pin the lot of them in place. Want to retreat? Sorry, not today! We’re Bonegrinz, remember?

The Command Ability is super strong. Another way to stack exploding 6s on a unit; every 6 to hit can explode into 3 extra hits between this, the Savage Big Boss and the Maniak Weirdnob. I really wanna combo this up with a Teef Rukk!

The Command Trait is both crap and compulsory. The Artefact is also shit, but as long as you don’t give one to a Savage Big Boss, you can avoid the tax. All in all the package is pretty appealing, even without the forced charges.

Icebone

The pigs ‘n’ snow Warclan’s Ability gives you a pip of rend on a Wound roll of 6. Now that’s not amazing at first glance (you have to Hit first), but given the huge volume of dice you will be chucking about, it will certainly add up over the course of a game.

Boarboys and Maniaks will get through a couple of extra wounds, Arrow Boys shooting Monsters will have a splash of rend -2 and Big Stabbas will smash the occasional rend -3 straight past a 4+ save. Like I said – with your weight of dice, it’ll add up.

The Command Ability is absolutely baller. At the end of the Combat Phase (take note, “the” not “your” so it applies on both players’ turns) you can take a unit that is within 3″ of the enemy and wholly within 18″ of a Hero, and retreat. The unit you disengaged from is now -2″ to charge.

The applications for this are insane. We’ll take a look in more detail when we get onto List Building Archetypes below – but trust me, you’ll be putting pigs in places your opponents will not believe!

The Command Trait is where it gets really interesting! First thing to seize on here is that it’s only locked in if you are taking a Maniak Weirdnob as your General.

Don’t.

Take a Prophet instead, and you have the whole book opened up to you. Remember when I was banging the drum for Great Hunter earlier? I love that you can take it within a Clan!

Icebonez are a pretty cool sub-faction and I’ve seen some really nice themed armies out there, with blue orcs and ice weapons, snow on the bases etc. The rules really back it up now too, and anyone who wants to lean into the pigs has a lot to work with here.

Drakkfoot

Well this has caused quite a stir! Your Ability lets to ignore the Ethereal rule and ignore all after saves.

Well, almost all.

There was a direct conflict with Morathi: either we take a dump on her special rules, or she takes a dump on ours. Which do you think will win out, an Order army that is popular with playtesters, or Destruction? Place your bets!

There was also an unfavourable FAQ for this Clan in terms of negating the Ethereal ability. Ethereal Amulet, for example, does not technically grant the Ethereal ability – just something utterly identical to it.

So there were two possibilities here: either the rules writers intended for this Clan to dump on Nighthaunt and only Nighthaunt, which would be a weird and completely unnecessary kicking for a mid-table army; or they intended for it to affect all such abilities, and when they realised it didn’t, they couldn’t be bothered to figure out an Erratum that would actually work as intended.

The ruling was only Nighthaunt. Hey ho.

The good news is, despite those unfavourable FAQs, the Ability is still outstanding. Forget about Ethereal, you don’t have much rend anyway; it’s the after saves that are everywhere in the current meta.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Hearthguard. Verminlords. Hag Narr. The whole of Death. Gotrek. Phoenix Guard.

Dead. All dead.

This alone is enough to make Drakkfoot a power pick, which is just as well because the rest of the package is only average.

The Command Ability lets you attempt an unbind with a unit of 10+ models (+1 to unbind if the unit has 20+ models), which might occasionally come in handy but wouldn’t be a reason to take the Clan on its own.

The Command Trait gives you access to a reasonable damage spell on all Wizards, although it’s better against hordes which you won’t usually struggle against anyway; and the Artefact is a straight-up tax.

Ignoring after saves alone is enough to highly recommend this Warclan, Morathi or no Morathi. Safe to say Drakkfoot is a very competitive choice.


Warscrolls

Again I won’t run through the whole lot in detail, but there are some highlights worth picking out.

First thing to mention is that rerolls have pretty much gone, across the board. So Boarboy Maniaks get an extra attack as their reward for dual-wielding, rather than rerolling hits of 1. That seems to be a switch in design philosophy, to give you similar output with less messing about and therefore a more streamlined gameplay experience. It’s a thumbs-up from me.

Similarly, the Maniak Weirdnob’s Warscroll spell grants an extra Hit on an unmodified 6, instead of rerolling 1s. Still a nice bonus, with much less messing about; picking out the rerolls (and generating extra attacks, rather than extra hits) was what made the old Rukk such drudgery. This is way smoother.

Because I had played it so much, I had a technique to blast through a Kunnin Rukk of dice in double-quick time: 90 Dice in 90 Seconds was what I was known for. At least I think that’s why the girls called me Mr 90 Seconds. Now anyone should be able to roll out a full Rukk of dice without boring their opponents into submission.

And on the subject of extra attacks – there is a really nice pre-emptive FAQ which states that all similar effects (each granting 2 hits on an unmodified 6) do stack. You could have achieved the same result by making it “an extra hit” rather than specifically 2 hits, but nonetheless it’s a good pickup and it’s great that this made its way into the book rather than slipping through. It strikes me as something that may have been picked up at the playtesting stage, and if so, hats off to those guys for a job well done.

Heroes

The Wurggog Prophet got an extra Wound, and a kickass horde-clearing spell. He also pops out a “free” CP on a 4+ in each Hero Phase. He did lose his Hero Phase pile-in Command Ability, but overall he’s in a great spot. The range on his anti-horde spell is super generous, and a cheeky Mystic Shield for his second cast combos really well with the stacking saves available to the army.

The Maniak Weirdnob can reroll a cast or unbind in each Hero Phase, Holy Moley! So, so good when perched near a Rogue Idol. He also has a really important role as “the Hero who can keep up with people”.

The humble Wardokk got a drop to 80 points, and best of all, you can choose which dance to attempt now. Still has no Warscroll spell, but his dance makes up for that; I’ve been taking multiples in every list.

Finally, the Savage Big Boss got an extra attack, but you are still probably taking him because a Batallion requires it, which means he is more important staying alive and out of the serious action – although he can tackle chaff at a pinch. And don’t forget that if you’re willing to invest, the Goonboss has a naughty build that turns him into a liquidiser!

Boyz

Savage Orruks got a much-needed boost to their volume of attacks. They probably get the nod over Morrboys now, who still struggle with 1″ reach on 32mm bases. Buffed up Savage Orruks with Stikkas for 2″ reach can do some serious work, as well as being a superlative tarpit with the defensive buffs stacked on them.

Arrow Boyz are still basically the same. They now trigger their 3rd shot at 15+ models (which helps compensate for the change to the Kunnin Rukk that we’ll discuss in a moment), but they still get their rend -1 against Monsters. Importantly, they dropped to 120 points, which puts them in a great spot as Battleline who can do a bit of work.

Cavalry

Boarboys of all types got a boost to 12″ movement, which is just wonderful! Throw in Tireless Trackers, and these guys are hyper-maneuverable now, particularly in Icebonez. There really isn’t much to choose between the two flavours: Maniaks have a higher volume of attacks, Boarboys have a better save and so can really tank it out with the bonuses.

With their charge bonuses, Boarboys have virtually identical offensive output to Maniaks, but Maniaks get better with the attacking buffs (more dice rolled = more exploding 6s). It’s close enough to be dealer’s choice.

Threshing Machines

Big Stabbas….oh, Big Stabbas! I’ve always been a huge fan of these guys, and in fact I recently ran 12 bases of Stabbas at a 2-day event. They have been dialed back quite a bit from the full-blown insanity of their old Warscroll: their damage output is less devastating, and Da Final Fling (splash back Mortal Wounds when you are slain) has been curtailed significantly.

Incidentally, that rule was low-key the most busted thing in the old book, for the simple fact that it applied in any phase (including Battleshock). Once you were in, you were in, and they were going down one way or another! The number of times I saw my opponents having a sly check of the Warscroll to make sure I wasn’t making it up was cute.

It has been reigned in significantly, which is a shame. Nonetheless, the extra attacks, better hit rolls and run + charge make these guys more reliable, even if the damage per swing is a lot less savage. I will definitely miss the wild rollercoaster, but the new Warscroll is still legit.

Battallions

Kunnin Rukk is still da best. Although the units are capped at 20, so your output is less devastating, the cost has come right down to reflect that. It leaves space for more other fun toys, so the Rukk is now a strong tool within the army, rather than being the army, and that’s a pretty cool space to be in.

The fun part is that with Tireless Trackers, you’ll sometimes be able to get in range to shoot Turn 1, and use the Rukk to double-tap rather than move + tap. What’s more, the new Breath of Gorkamorka spell lets you fly in all phases, and even shoot into Wyldwoods: there’s nowhere to hide!

Teef Rukk is interesting, because a Big Stabba meta is a meta I want to be a part of! 140 points seems a bit stiff, but it’s certainly usable.

The others are garbage unfortunately, and not really worth dwelling on.

Kunnin Rukk is the pick, with Teef Rukk as the alternative. Hopefully the Pigs might get something better next time around, because I can’t imagine their Battalions in this book seeing the light of day very often.

Allies and Generic Endless Spells

Is there anything else I would sprinkle into the army? Big Waaagh is obviously a separate case, and will be reviewed in its own article.

Fungoid Cave Shaman is always a good shout, but in this army the Prophet can bring extra CPs in the same manner. Never rule him out, but he’s probably not the priority.

Some 1-wound chaff wouldn’t be the worst thing, especially with Slaanesh so strong in the meta. You could bring in some Stabbas or even a Merc Company of Marauders.

I like this idea more than I probably should, partly because I think it would be a great hobby project to do some Gork-worshipping humans, who paint themselves in green warpaint (as referenced by Phil Kelly in a recent White Dwarf). They can even take a Mark, which would give you some cheeky protection against Nurgle’s antics. Probably more of a niche interest than a serious competitive pick, but I am intrigued by it.

Amongst the Endless Spells, the Burning Head is a decent shout, because its rerolls are not phase- locked, meaning that a Kunnin Rukk that’s digging in its heels can bang away with rerolls all day.

In general though, I think this army operates well as-is, and your counter play to Slaanesh is probably bringing the Dakka. Most of my Bonesplitterz lists currently are pure Bonesplitterz.

List Building Archetypes

My goal here is to give you the foundations of a list, rather than a 2000 point army to pick up and play. It will give you a solid core which has a defined playstyle, ready for you to put your own stamp on. I believe these are all super powerful in their own way – let me know what you think, and how your own builds are shaping up in the Comments!

Drakkfoot Kunnin Rukk

Dakka Dakka Dakka! This build is all about drowning your enemy in a hail of arrows. All your Battleline is sorted, and you have 440 points for some fun stuff. With the pregame move, you might even be able to get into range to shoot twice turn 1, rather than using the Rukk bonus to move up into position.

It’s still important to keep the Savage Big Boss alive for this Battalion, and the Ragged Cloak is the perfect artefact for that. They’re not getting to him through a wall of green flesh, and they’re not shooting him off either – at least, not until you have had a chance to unload yourself.

Slap the Weirdnob spell on them for exploding 6s, give them Brutal Beast Spirits so they’re hitting on 4s, and if you score a CP from the Prophet you can even have them rerolling 1s in the Shooting Phase with the Generic CA. It’s like a green Agincourt.

Icebonez Super Pigs

Remember that spell that doubles your move and makes you fly? Well that puts your pigs on a cheeky little 24″ flying move. In Icebonez, you also get to retreat at the end of the combat phase: so now you’re moving an extra 24″ + D6″ (because you can run when retreating too).

Let’s not forget that you add another 1″ to run rolls from from Brutal Beast Spirits, and you’ve probably had a +3″ charge in there too (+2″ from your musician and +1″ from Brutal Beast Spirits).

So all up, that’s 52″ + 3D6″ of movement in a turn. And you might notice that we took the Great Hunter Command Trait, because you can do that in Icebonez, so slap another 8″ on there for your pregame move.

What the actual fuck, 60″ + 3D6″ in a turn! Wowzer.

You can fly up to your opponent, obliterate his chaff lines and step back onto the centre objectives.

You can beat up his dickheads, then zip into the backfield to cap his home objectives and threaten his Heroes.

You can tag a unit with the Warcry Spell to make them fight at the end of the phase. Then when the end of the phase comes, you do your stuff first (so phase out of combat) and then they have nobody left in front of them to hit when it’s their time to activate (thanks to The Dark Prince in the comments on Doom’s Bonesplitterz review for that one).

These pigs are serious business too. Both varieties have a good volume of attacks and high wound count, but whereas the Maniaks have more output (7 attacks each = more exploding 6s and more hitting the rend), Boarboys have more alpha bunker potential (stacked up with Kunnin Beast Spirits, Mystic Shield and Glyphdokk Dance to put them on a 3+ save, rerolling 1s with a 6++ on top). Taking 10 of each lets you choose your flavour as appropriate.

You might want to back them up with some heavy rend in the form of Big Stabbas or a Rogue Idol; but whichever one you go with asks serious questions of your opponent.

The Pain Train

As we discussed above, a real power move with Bonegrinz is a tanked-up unit of 30 Savage Orruks to pin your opponent in place and prevent them retreating. Grind armies aren’t my own preferred playstyle though, so let’s have some fun with a redonkulous Big Stabbas build.

Remember when Big Stabbas had 2 attacks each, hitting on 4s, and they massacred anything that went near them?

Well how about Big Stabbas with 5 attacks each, hitting on 2s, with every hit roll of 6 exploding into 3 additional hits?

We’re loading them up with an extra attack from the Batallion, an extra attack from the Waagh Command Ability (so every unit benefits from both), and then stacking one unit with the Brutal Beast Spirits and Maniak Weirdnob spells. Let’s also sprinkle on the Bonegrinz Command Ability and the Savage Big Boss Command Ability, to make it super-more-extra-killy. And that’s before any benefits from the Monster Hunters table.

A pre-game 5″ move, 10″ flying move from Breath of Gork, and run + charge (at +1″ to both from Brutal Beast Spirits) makes these guys hyper mobile, and those small cav bases will fly over screens then leverage their 3″ reach to hit exactly where your opponent doesn’t want them. Meanwhile, 30 Arrow Boys spraying shots around should buy you time to get into position and accrue a couple of CPs to fuel the wombo combo engine.

Once you have tagged an enemy unit or three, you’re fighting to the death: most likely theirs. They can’t retreat – we’re Bonegrinz, remember?

Rogue Idol: The Rock Star

How can we load up Pebbles? Loads of ways!

Breath of Gorkamorka is putting him on a 20″ flying move for starters. His base is a lot smaller than a Maw Krusha too, so with +1″ to charge from Brutal Beast Spirits, you’ve got a decent change of vaulting those screens.

You’ll be hitting on 2s, rerolling 1s on the charge, with all of your attacks at rend -2, and also +1 damage from the allied Warchanter.

The best thing is, he’s virtually indestructiable. His 4+ base save is the best in the army, so by the time you stack the defensive buffs from the Warchanter and Mystic Shield, he’s on a 2+ save rerolling 1s, 5++ ignore, 6+++ ignore. Then when they go through all that drudgery to put on like 2 wounds – let’s heal them right back up with another Wardokk dance. Holy Guacamole!

Most armies can’t ignore him, but also can’t deal with him. And here’s 90 arrows in your face too – thanks for coming.

In Conclusion

Today was a good day.

There are a few clear downsides to the book: some iconic entries (notably Big Stabbas and the Wurggog Mask) have lost a lot of their character, and the absence of Endless Spells is pretty disappointing for a magic army.

However the upsides compensate for that many times over. Tireless Trackers is incredible; you have strong shooting, which puts you in a great position in the meta; and you have enough tricks and combos to pose serious questions of your own.

This book has had a serious lift in power level, and gives you all the tools you need to do well. There’s plenty here to keep all the Big Bosses busy for years to come.

As a long-term Bonesplitterz player, I’m delighted with where this book has taken us; GW have done a great job making so many completely different builds viable, and exciting to explore. I could play this army alone for ages without getting bored – but wait until you see how much fun the Big Waaagh is.

Excelsior!

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Big Wins for Da Big Waaagh! Part Two

Following on from our review of Frank’s win, let’s dive into Dalton’s army which also won a separate one-dayer within a week of the book launch. Dalton is a friend of the blog and it was really exciting to see these two Megabosses blast out of the traps so quickly. Tell us how you did it, Dalton!


Dalton Copeland, Australia

Dalton is one of Australia’s top Destruction players, regularly repping the Boys in Green at major events. We also have an ongoing personal rivalry, since we are both usually contenders for Best In GA Destruction at any large tournament we both attend. This year I won out at SAGT and Lord of War, but Dalton got up at BBBB.

The List

Measured Gaming’s monthly tournaments are typically a chance to try new or experimental lists.  I decided to bring a list with the box-fresh Rogue Idol to see what he could do in a Big Waaagh:

Allegiance: Big Waaagh!
Mortal Realm: Aqshy

Leaders
Megaboss on Maw-Krusha (460)
– General
– Boss Gore-hacka and Choppa
– Trait: Ironclad
– Artefact: Ignax’s Scales
– Mount Trait: Mean ‘Un
Wurrgog Prophet (160)
– Lore of the Savage Beast: Kunnin’ Beast Spirits
Wardokk (80)
– Lore of the Savage Beast: Breath of Gorkamorka
Orruk Warchanter (110)
– Warbeat: Fixin’ Beat

Battleline
30 x Savage Orruks (300)
– Stikkas
30 x Savage Orruks (300)
– Stikkas
5 x Orruk Brutes (140)
– Pair of Brute Choppas
– 1x Gore Choppas

Behemoths
Rogue Idol (400)

Total:  2000 / 2000
Extra Command Points: 1
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 184


Tactica

The list focuses on giving the Rogue Idol +2 to save from Glyphdokk Dance and Kunnin Beast Spirits, as well as applying +1 Damage from the Warchanter onto either the Maw Krusha or Idol, dependant on the situation.  

The Maw Krusha is a solid piece that does benefit from the Warchanter but realistically doesn’t need it, and the rest of the list ensures I have a decent mass of bodies.  These bodies in turn mean that I generate plenty of Waaagh points, and also gives me the flexibility to protect buffing units early on and then switch gears to serve as waves 3 and 4 if I need more punching.


Game 1: Better Part of Valour

Opponent: Legion of Night led by Mannfred, backed up by an Ethereal Zombie Dragon, two 6-man packs of Vargheists and 3 units of Skeletons in a Nightfall Pack

Deployment: So immediately I was on the back foot: having just explained to my opponent that I don’t get my Allegiance Abilities until I get a turn, I just realized I was going to be outdropped and that he would probably deepstrike a bunch of surly vampires behind my lines to kill all my support Heroes killed pretty fast. 

So I castled up, holding my Objectives as best I could while still surrounding my Heroes in walls of green flesh.  I left the Maw Krusha outside of the castle because I was pretty sure he could tackle either Mannfred or the Dragon alone; the Idol was at the front of the castle, 3” from the front of the line so I could pile him in and bash some heads in; and the Brutes were strung out holding the backfield, screening out vampire deepstrikes.

BATTLEROUND 1

My opponent set up his Vargheists in ambush, surrounded all this objectives with a unit of Skeletons each, and plonked Mannfred and the Vampire Lord on either flank.  He then proceeded to take first turn, buffed the snot out of his Vampire Lord on Dragon, and moved both Mannfred and the Vampire Lord up in position to charge.  He also ambushed one of the 6-man Vargheists next to his Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon.

Shooting phase found the Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon stripping 6 wounds off the Maw Krusha, but that was all the damage that would be done since my opponent flubbed all his charge rolls. Sucks to be him.

So my turn one, I was keen to see what a buffed-up Rogue Idol could do!  I gave him +2 to save and double movement, got a free Command Point out of the Wurrgog, and used ‘Ere we go, ‘Ere we go to shoot straight up to 12 Waaagh points.  To round out the Hero Phase, I healed the Maw Krusha for a wound and buffed him with the Warchanter.

Movement saw the Idol move to 3” away from Mannfred, the Maw set up to charge the Vargheists, and some shuffling of bodies and support Heroes to keep in place the screening and buff ranges.

Shooting had the Maw Krusha yell some wounds off the Vargheists, and the Charge Phase saw both of my monsters get into combat.  Showtime!  First activation was the Maw Krusha, who ripped off 5 Vargheists (noice!) and the Idol tanked all of Mannfred’s output before punching the Mortarch of the Night right off the fucking table.  The remaining Vargheist decided to run in Battleshock – smart guy.

BATTLEROUND 2

My opponent won priority into Round 2, and brought the last wave of his buffed-up Vargheists in to fight the Maw Krusha.

Nothing else moved, shooting was uneventful, and the charge phase had the Krusha charged by both the Zombie Dragon and Vargheists.

Combat happened: the Maw Krusha barely survived the hail of blows from the Zombie Dragon, then turned around and fucked up most of the Vargheists before they could get a swing in.  He was able to tank out the remaining two Vargheists’ return blows, because he’s a stone-cold legend.

My second turn was mostly me being annoyed that I’d ran my Rogue Idol outside of buffing range.  However I was also at around 20 Waaagh! Points, so I threw what healing and damage buffs I had at the Maw Krusha, and moved the two Wizards up into range of the Idol for the next turn.

The Maw Krusha shot at the Vargheists, killing one more and then in combat he proceeded to kill the Vampire Dragon.  The Krusha alone punched through a cheeky 20+ damage after a bunch of horrid save rolls, and the last Vargheist was removed with by the Megaboss’s own attacks.

BATTLEROUND 3

I won initiative and buffed up my Idol, getting the double on spell casting so it could move a saucy 30 inches and fly. 

This meant that I could move him up next to the Skeleton unit on Mannfred’s side of the table, charge it and delete the unit.  At this point my opponent decided that he had seen enough and gave me the win.

Result: Major Win


Game 2: Scorched Earth

Opponent: a Bloodtoofs Ironjawz list comprising of 3x 5 Brutes, 20 Ardboyz and 3 Goregruntas all bundled up in an Ironfist.  The Hero line up was a Warchanter, Weirdnob, Maw Krusha with Weird Un, and a Footboss with the Quickduff Amulet.

Deployment: Obviously, it was time for a Maw Krusha duel! My opponent deployed mostly on the frontline, keeping his Warchanter back along with the Ironfist Big Boss’s unit.

Seeing another list with teleport shenanigans, I castled up again, similar to last time.  This time however I kept the Maw Krusha inside the screens, as I was certain another Maw Krusha swinging first would annihilate mine.  My opponent took first turn.

BATTLEROUND 1

My opponent popped a Mighty Destroyer to launch his Maw Krusha forward towards my own Krusha’s flank.  He simultaneously used the Amulet to teleport the Ardboyz to the opposite, promptly forgot to buff his units with his Warchanter and then moved onto the Movement Phase. Christmas comes early!

His Maw Krusha surged forward another 12” and parked his fat ass on some Mystical terrain, then shot at and charged the screening Savage Orruk unit, killing 10 of them.  The Ardboyz charged the other screening unit, pulling off 4 for their trouble.  I used my Command Point to auto pass Battleshock on the unit hit by the Maw Krusha, and luckily rolled low on the other unit.  My opponent scored his objectives and we moved onto my turn.

My Hero Phase had me buff the Idol (double movement) and give the Savage Orruks fighting the Ardboyz +2 to their save. I used a CP to farm 12 Waaagh Points, and gave the Maw Krusha the Warchanter buffs.

In movement I ran the screening unit away from the enemy Maw Krusha, making sure to screen my support heroes, and jumped my Maw Krusha over the screen, landing on the same Mystical terrain. The Idol advanced towards my opponent’s Weirdnob, and shooting was predictably a non event.

Praise be to Gork, all my charges went off, meaning I swiftly killed his Weirdnob and a Brute that was minding him.  In return his Maw Krusha swang, doing relatively little damage because of the two 6+ aftersaves and me rolling hot.  In return I hit back a little harder but his Maw Krusha also survived. The four remaining Brutes rolled hot and took my Rogue Idol down to 6 wounds remaining, and the Savage Orruks and Ardboyz continued their pillow fight off to the side, losing a couple of bodies apiece.

BATTLEROUND 2

My opponent won initiative, buffed a unit of Brutes with his Warchanter, and advanced them menacingly towards the Ardboy / Savage Orruk pillow fight.  Meanwhile his Maw Krusha used its Command Ability on itself, and he set up to charge his Megaboss on Foot around my screen and into my Warchanter.  The Goregruntas positioned to back up the Brutes fighting the Idol.

Shooting phase was another damp squib so we continued through to Charging.  The Idol took wounds from the Goregrunta charge, and the Brutes joined the pillow fight.

Combat saw the Idol dying, triggering a Smashing and Bashing into my Maw Krusha, which managed to survive.  In return I took his Maw Krusha to the brink of his demise, took the Ardboyz down to half strength and killed a Brute.  Poor Brute.

Onto my turn, and the buffs went up on the Maw Krusha and Savage Orruks. My Brutes moved forward into charge distance while my Warchanter fled from his Megaboss.

Fuck all happened in Shooting, but the good news is my Brutes made their charge and by the end of the combat phase my opponent had lost the rest of his Brutes and his Ardboyz to my Savage Orruks. These guys performed so well all day, and they honestly look like one of the big winners from the new book.  The Maw Krusha duel finished with my cabbage asserting his dominance and reigning triumphant.

The later turns were mostly clean-up of his units and grabbing objectives. By the end of the game, my opponent had only managed to kill my Rogue Idol; the rest of my army remained, battered and spoiling for another fight.

Result: Major Win


Game 3: Duality of Death

Opponent: Troggoth Heavy Gloomspite. My opponent brought three units of Rockgut Troggoths (6/3/3), two units of 3 Fellwater Troggoths and a Dankhold Troggboss in a Troggherd battaltion, along with three units of 20 Stabbas, two Fungoid Cave Shamans, a Scuttletide and Geminids.

Deployment: Knowing what I was in for (being a Gloomspite player myself), I tried my best to bait my opponent to one side, where I could brutalize his Troggoths before moving onto beating his Stabba units. This is all provided I could stop him stacking on the debuffs to hit.

Fortunately I got what I wanted: 40 of the Stabbas, most of his Rockguts and one of the 3-man Fellwaters joined his Troggboss General on the same flank as the majority of my army, sans a 30 man Savage Orruk unit who were threatening the other objective and stood facing the remaining Trolls and Stabbas.

BATTLEROUND 1

My opponent outdropped me and took the first turn, failing to cast his spells but quickly racking up five Command Points. He ran his army forward, making sure that he had his Stabbas on the Objective and the Netters in his unit spread around, so I had to fight through -1 to hit. Meanwhile his Troggoths were sitting pretty beind a wall of bodies, waiting for me to come at him.

My turn saw me throw a speed buff onto my Rogue Idol but only manage to activate one of the armour buffs, which were put onto the Savage Orruks. I managed to barely scrape my way to 12 Waaagh! Points, so I counted my blassings and then abused the fact I was on Damned Terrain by moved my right flank up in its entirety.

The plan was to try and wipe my opponent’s two 3-man flanking troll units and his front line of Stabbas, while my left flank of 30 Savages backed off to try and avoid the countercharge of my opponent’s Rockgut units. It was important to keep the Savages relatively healthy in order to compete for the objective on that side.

Combat went the way I hoped (mostly), with the Stabbas swiftly knocked down to two Grots standing. My Idol killed the three Fellwaters it had charged, and my Maw Krusha also succesfully wiped the unit of three Rockguts it had engaged with. So all was looking good for me if I could win the Round 2 priority…

BATTLEROUND 2

…Which I did not. My opponent had another underwhelming outcome with magic (other than sending a Scuttletide into my support Heroes), and I was a little lucky to unbind Geminids.

My opponent sought to press the advantage by moving aggressively forward: he sent all 6 Rockguts into my Maw Krusha, and his Troggboss moved in to try and pull apart my Rogue Idol, while his Stabbas streamed towards the Objective. Meanwhile on the left flank, the 3 Rockguts moved up to engage with the Savage Orruks, while the Fellwaters and Stabbas stayed on the home Objective.

The charge phase went my opponent’s way, with every charge being successful; however his activation against my Maw Krusha was less so, with my Cabbage surviving on a few wounds. Big mistake. My Idol then flattened his Troggboss in return, and the Savage Orruks chipped off one Rockgut as well as backhanding off all the remaining Stabbas.

My wounded Megaboss stepped up to smash off all but one of the remaining Rockguts, who promptly ran to Battleshock, and on the left hand side of the Battlefield my Savage Orruks lost only 4 boyz to the Troggoths’ attacks.

Battleshock saw only one of the Savages run away. My opponent then set up a replacement 10 man Stabba unit blocking my way to the left Objective.

In my turn (yep that’s right, all that devastation happened on his turn), I buffed up my Idol including, crucially, the double speed spell; and used another Command Point to get up past 20 Waaagh! Points. Show time.

Movement Phase, and it was time to dispatch my task force of the Rogue Idol and Brutes to clear off the 10-man Stabbas who were blocking the left side Objective. My Maw Krusha had benefitted from some healing and shuffled his fat plodding ass around to line up against the remaining 20 Stabbas on the right flank.

Shooting from the Maw Krusha killed a couple of grots, and more importantly I managed to successfully charge the Idol into the 10-man Grot unit screen. The Maw Krusha limped into combat against the Stabbas, and as predictably as death or taxes, the monsters managed to take their respective Grots off the table. The Savages made similarly short work of the last of the Troggoths, in return for losing a couple more of their number to combat and Battleshock.

BATTLEROUND 3

Having secured the initiative, I threw all the buffs onto my Idol, making use of my extra Waaagh points to buff the spellcasting. This is a really useful option to have, for bludgeoning a clutch cast past those unbinds.

In the Movement Phase I surrounded my opponent’s brave, last Stabba unit with my Savage Orruks, my Brutes and the Rogue Idol, while my Maw Krusha trudged into combat against the Fungoid on the right flank.

All the charges were successful (hurray for +1″ to charge), and we quickly rattled through combat with the Idol and Brutes managing to eliminate his Stabbas and Fungoid on the left flank, while the Maw Krusha managed to krump his last Fungoid.

My opponent had a final crack at securing some kill points with his remaining three Fellwater Troggoths, but when they only managed to kill a single Brute before dying in return, we called it a game.

Result: Major Win


I ended the day 3-0 and had tabled all my opponents! While I wasn’t up against the strongest of lists, I reckon we have the casting ability to muscle through the buffs when we need to, and I feel like Big Waagh could really have some legs competitively.

This list will continue to evolve, but one thing I’ll be looking out for in the FAQ is whether I can add in a whole bunch of Greenskinz Orruks to up the body count in the list.


Thanks for that Dalton! When I received your write ups and noticed none of them went beyond Battleround Three, I wondered if there was something missing… I needn’t have worried, hey?

I’m delighted that you and Frank were both able to win one-day tourneys so quickly after the book dropped. Looking forward to seeing where you guys and all the other Megabosses can take this book next.. exciting times for Team Green!

Featured

Big Wins for Da Big Waaagh!

Today our Orruk Warclans coverage continues with some good news stories: friends of the blog Frank DeLoach and Dalton Copeland both wasted no time in getting down to business, winning separate one-day events with their Big Waaagh armies, within a week of the book’s launch!

I’ll be inviting both to share their lists, run us through their games, and looking at what’s next for their armies.

I’ll now hand you over to Megaboss Frank for Part 1 in the series.


Frank DeLoach – USA

Frank is co-founder of the We Slay Dragons wargaming club in California, USA: WSD are regulars on the top tables of the ITC competitive scene. Frank’s videos are legendary in the Gloomspite Gits WhatsApp group, and also kinda NSFW.

Oi! Get’em Ladz!!

The mantra Da Chonk Boyz holler as they push down the field smashing choppas, shooting arrows & crushing with gruntas.

I took my Big Waaagh list to a one day event at Warp Rider Games in San Diego this past weekend (October 12th 2019): Warp Rider Games is a super cool Independent game store owned by a lad named Larry Dante, with events ran by manager Benjamin Cornelius. Both dudes are some of my favorite people.

The List

Allegiance: Big Waaagh!

Leaders

Wurrgog Prophet (160) – General – Lore of the Savage Beast: Brutal Beast Spirits

Orruk Warchanter (110) – Warbeat: Get ‘Em Beat

Maniak Weirdnob (120) – Artefact: Mork’s Boney Bitz – Lore of the Savage Beast: Breath of Gorkamorka

Battleline

20 x Orruk Ardboys (360)

6 x Orruk Gore-gruntas (320) – Pig-iron Choppas

6 x Orruk Gore-gruntas (320) – Pig-iron Choppas

30 x Savage Orruk Arrowboys (360)

10 x Savage Orruks (120) – Stikkas

10 x Savage Orruks (120) – Stikkas

Total: 1990 / 2000 Extra Command Points: 0 Allies: 0 / 400 Wounds: 219

Tactica

What makes this list work? Well, my little snottlings and rabble rousers, here’s why I chose my units.

After reading the Battletome, I took one look at the Wurgogg Prophet and was instantly drawn to a 7 wound, -1 to hit 2 spell caster, who gets a chance at an additional CP. Oh, and his spell is killer. If you read the Celebration post, he’s a top pick for Big Waaagh. He just serves the purpose almost to the “T”. 

Let’s talk Goregruntas, ok I’ll keep this quick. Take pigs, I think if you’re looking for a smash unit 6 is the magic number. I don’t rate Hackas, I think you’re asking for a perfect storm to get the bonuses; Choppas are consistent and in big Waaagh with the buffs, they’re monstrous. Move fast, hit hard & wound dense. What more do ya want?! 

Savage Boyz. They’re good. Take them. Stikkas are more reliable for more attacks, especially in big units. 2” reach is big. Don’t let the lack of rend fool you. They throw buckets of dice.

Arrow Boyz. I mean, like… ummm…. if you’ve been sleeping the past iterations of Bonesplitterz, K Rukk was a thing. You can achieve the same bonuses (except Hero Phase stuff) now with some buffs and spells. It’s why the Maniak Weirdnob is in there with Bony Bitz, getting procs on a natrual 6. With lore spells you can get these guys REALLY pumping damage. They present a threat to your opponent at arms reach. 

Ardboyz… take them, always take them. They’re too good to ignore now. With 3 saves in Big Waaagh (4+ 6+ 6+) and increased damage output, they are a hard-hitting anvil. 

Why didn’t I take a Maw Krusha… there are builds that work now. I just wanted a wound dense, board controlling list that could take a shot and swing back with a haymaker. I think my list will go through a couple more versions. But it’s a great start. 

Now, let’s get to the games!

Game 1: Focal Points

Opponent: Roberto DeCampos, Cities of Sigmar

What happened?! So… Robert outdropped me, but he ended up passing me the first turn. I deployed fairly aggressively seeing as he didn’t have anything particularly fast.. I just accepted he’d get magic off.

So, I Turn One charged with one unit of pigs, got the other pigs scoring the opposite flank objective, and ran some Savage boyz up into the center.

6 pigs on the left flank dropped 18(!) Ironbreakers in a single swing of combat! They had the +1 damage and got the Get’m beat to allow the 3d6 charge. After battleshock, he only had a couple of dudes left in that unit and now he’s playing on his back foot.

His Turn 1 was spent failing or having spells unbound… BRUTAL. As well as some movement up into position. 4-2 was the score at Turn 1.

Turn 2 I got priority, and continued to ram Orruks down his throat. Hammerers are killing some hogs now. His half, he got Racist Swords off and Shackles too, putting pressure down. 8-4.

Turn 3 he got priority, he kept killing pigs, and did some ranged damage with his deep striking shadow warriors. My half, my boys went nuts! Popped a Waaagh, deleting just about everything in his list sans Shadow Warriors and a couple of small casters. I have control of all objectives and we shook hands.

Result: Major win for the Da Chonk Boyz

Game 2: Battle for the Pass

Opponent: Cory Szabo, GA Order

So here Da Chonk Boyz faced off against their nemesis from the Old World! Brettonia!

With the Mission being Battle for The Pass, I knew I had to apply pressure early and begin scoring.

In typical Chonk Boyz fashion we hit hard and hit early. Cory gave me the first turn after much deliberation, so I took this opportunity to gain some ground, setting my pigs up to act either as an anvil or for second turn charges. His turn, he slammed all 16(!) Knights into my Gruntas unit that had mystic shield and +1 damage. Doing a few wounds almost killed a pig, but the Ladz punched back something fierce, picking off 12 of the 16 knights! This left his force fairly gutted.

My half, we came out and did some more charges…smashed up many Knights and by Turn 3, he was left with very few units to stick around. Just the King, Wizards and 3 knights. He had positioned his King in hopes he’d take off 6 Savage Boyz, but with their 5+ up save in combat and the 6+ FNP they were a tough nut to cracl. They passed their 6++ saves with ease, and couple that with potato level rolls from Cory, only one boy was slain.

They returned fire with Da Waaagh popped and easily dusted him off, meaning the game was over by the end of Turn 3. Cory was a great sport and was totally aware he had no business winning games with Brets. He smashed off a triple Thirster Khorne list in round 1! So I knew he’s an experienced player. Hats off to that lad, playing what you love. (He made me very aware, he typically plays Slaanesh and that he wants a rematch with his Daemons!)

Result: Major win for the Da Chonk Boyz

Game 2: Total Commitment

Opponent: Chris Hernandez, Seraphon

This game was intense. Not only is the deployment long ways, but Seraphon in his build can teleport two units a turn, and Chris is a top player with the Dino Dreams.

So, Chris gave me Turn 1. I spent this turn putting up buffs and jockeying for position. On his Turn 1, he teleported tons of skinks into my face, blocking off half of the board. Score even.

Turn 2, I won priority. Shot those skinks off, got the Gruntas into positon and made a nice big charge into some more Skinks. I also managed to clip a Bastiladon with both units of Savage Boyz.

One unit of pigs on the left flank did get bogged down a bit with Rippers and Skinks, but I wasn’t too fussed because I knew I had to keep pressure up while maintaining board control.

Chris’s Turn 2 was really all about moving units out of combat to be able to shoot next turn, summoning more Skinks & Rippers, and trying fight his way back onto board space. Fortunately for me, I had tons of board space covered meaning he couldn’t just make me lose out on scoring.

Turn 3! BIG TURN. I again won priority. I needed to keep the pressure up and not give an inch.

After losing my left flank of pigs I had to make a move. I decided the Arrow Boyz would better used spidered out on my home objective to hurt his teleport abilities, and I moved up the Ard Boyz up into charge position, with the plan of just hitting the front line of Skinks/ Rippers/ Razordon. But after hitting them with Get’em Beat, and rolling a natural 16″ charge on 3D6, and adding +3” to that with Ardboyz, I decided to go for broke and wrapped as much as possible.

This was the game winning moment.

This charge enabled me to clear another 40 Skinks, severely damaged one Bastiladon and kill off the Razordon. Chris’s half of the turn was played extremely well; he is a true warrior and did everything he could recover.

Mind you, at this point I’m only up by 2 points. So, in his Hero Phase he used the Banish spell, to send my Ardboyz packing! They ended up 9” away from the Rippers on the left flank which took some pressure off him.

Turn 4. Chris won priority. Knowing he’s going to lose if he can only keep 3 objectives, he spent all of his summoning to drop another 40 Skinks onto that objective. He shot up some Savage Boyz and finished up the left flank pigs.

Unfortunately in his quest to finish off my pigs, he had to charge big and pile into range of my Ardboyz. Big mistake, simply cost him the game. He killed the pigs, and I piled in my three inches. Killed some Rippers. Turn over.

My half I buffed up my Ardboyz again, ran my Maniak Weirdnob 18” (6” run CP) in the hope that I can end up with more models on the Objective if things get tight. In combat I cleared all of the Rippers and a few Skinks. The Ardboyz had won the day!

This game was INTENSE. Tons of jockeying for position and really well played by Chris.

Result: Major win for the Da Chonk Boyz

3-0, all Major Victories and that’s the event in the bag!

In Conclusion

I love my list, and at this stage the only thing I might change is to give more Savage Boyz a go.

This would possibly mean dropping some pigs and taking it to 2×3 to make room, but I don’t know. This book is so deep, the possibilities are endless.

So Ladz! Get out there and Waagghh!!


Thanks for the write-up Frank, and congratulations once more on being the first Megaboss in the world to rack up a win under the new book!

We’ll have a report in a similar format from our boy Dalton Copeland coming up in the near future – Dalton also won a one day event with a very different Big Waaagh list on the other side of the world, later on the same weekend. How exciting is that!

Featured

Ongoing Coverage of Battletome: Orruk Warclans

“Success in any endeavor requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration.”

~ Slick Willie Sutton, Bank Robber

Good morning Boarboyz and Boargirlz! I want to add a quick note to let people know what to expect from the blog over the next couple of weeks.

As you know, I’m a huge Destruction fan, and this release means a lot to me – so I will be pulling out all the stops to make sure we do it justice.

What we’ve covered so far

So the first article, written a month out from release, was a preview filled with wild predictions. It’s quite good fun looking back at which parts were on the money and which were utter bullshit:

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/08/21/battletome-orruk-warclans-wishlist-and-predictions/

After that we launched into a fan-service review of the book, where I invited some stalwarts of the Destruction community to share their thoughts on the new book. Our guest writers each picked out their favourite Warscrolls, some cool combos and any other initial thoughts they have on the book:

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/11/battletome-orruk-warclans-a-celebration/

The most recent article was a two-part focus on Maw Krushas. Part 1 was a deep dive on the new Warscroll from Tom “Double Cabbage” Bell:

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/14/cabbage-soup-part-1-exploring-new-maw-krushas/

In Part 2, I explored how to build a Maw Krusha loadout to fit your own requirements:

https://plasticcraic.blog/2019/10/15/cabbage-soup-part-2-building-your-own-maw-krusha/

But we’re just getting started!

What’s next?

Coming up later this week, I will have a two-part mini series where friends of the blog Frank DeLoach and Dalton Copeland both discuss their tournament wins with the new book.

That’s right, both of these Megabosses exploded out of the blocks to win one-day events within a week of the book launching. I’m delighted that they are taking the time to share their lists, and how they operated on the tabletop.

I’ll be putting up an analysis of the FAQ when it drops this weekend, and after that, I will be diving into a full 3-part review of the Battletome, kicking off with Bonesplitterz.

The format you can expect is a quick blast through the lore, and a deep dive on the rules and tactics. I will be putting up some list building blocks and army bulding archetypes, and flagging up some really filthy combos that myself and others have already spotted.

The upside of this schedule is that it means we will have the FAQ in hand before we publish the full review, so we will be as informed as possible.

Let me tell you, initially I was royally pissed off that there were no Endless Spells and Terrain; but there is so much good stuff in this book that I’ve turned that frown upside down. I’m loving that #AoSLyf right now and this book has loads to offer.

Content Directory

Finally, I want to point you in the direction of some other great content that is already out there.

Although I do think those “Read the book from cover to cover” leak videos have an important place – believe me, I was all over them – I think at this stage they are no longer a high priority for most people.

We have the book in hand, we know the contents – what we want is value-added analysis. So that’s what I’m focussing on here.

Doom and Darkness

Full disclosure, I’m a massive Doom fanboy. Nonetheless, he has absolutely nailed it with his coverage of this release.

The main reivew (with a heavy focus on Ironjawz) has some really thoughtful analysis of how the book will work in practice, and some great ideas for exploiting the movement shenanigans:

The Bonesplitterz and Ironjawz Unlocked shows both bring back a beloved format, which effectively reviews the book by presenting and breaking down multiple list archetypes. Both guests (Matt Gammie and Vince Venturella) are outstanding:

Finally (for now) there is a Batrep where new Ironjawz take on new Sylvaneth.

Spoiler alert: 30 Dryads have historically been a real challenge for Ironjawz to trudge through.

How will the irresistable force go against the immovable object?

I’ve got one word for ya: TIIMMMMBBEEERRRRRRRR!

The Honest Wargamer

Rob and Nathan put out a great overall review of the book. Nathan is a long-term Megaboss and he really knows his stuff; some of the combos he comes out with leave Rob audibly shocked:

Following on from that, Rob picked the brains of Leo Rautonen. Leo has consistently achieved S-Tier results with the GH19 rules for Ironjawz, so there is nobody better to break down the new book for you. It’s a great insight into the thought process of a top, top player:

I’m sure there is plenty more great content out there, but that’s what I’ve been enjoying so far. Hour after hour of stimulating discussion of the book, at your fingertips…what a time to be alive!

I’m looking forward to keeping the bandwagon rolling over the coming weeks, with plenty more coverage on the blog.

The next landmark is the FAQ this weekend…see you on the other side!

Featured

Cabbage Soup Part 2: Building Your Own Maw Krusha

Maw Krusha Varities

Thanks to Tom for running us through his Cabbages! Now for the second part, I’ll be exploring some different loadout options for building your Maw Krusha.

As a little history lesson for all the snotlings out there, back under GH16, there was only one way you loaded up your Krusha: Bellowing Tyrant and Battle Brew. If you were a real hipster, you might have the Talisman of Protection instead of the Brew.

Fast forward to 2019 and now we have multiple levers to pull: Command Traits, Ironjawz Artefacts, Artefacts of the Realms, Mount Traits and faction buffs are all available to help you fine-tune your very own smashmouth doomfucker.

Principles

Broadly-speaking, we have three competing imperatives: durability, killing power and tech.

This guy is a quarter of your army, and demands further investment in buffs: he really owes you some output. On the other hand, you can do a million damage per swing, but if you never get to roll a dice because you get murderfucked in the first turn, he might as well have a Moonclan Grot’s attack profile for all the good he’ll do you. How do we find the right balance?

Underpinning it all

The first thing to bear in mind is that you will always want a couple of Warchanters in your army. They’re just that good. The +1 to Damage just happens, and you don’t even have to roll for it.

Warchanters aren’t a tax, they are the heartbeat of the army, and I think it’ll be a very unusual build that doesn’t take at least one, and probably two.

Now let’s be clear, there are some armies that can blast a Chanter off the board turn 1, no worries: he will be deployed with a wobbly red dot on his forehead whenever Vanguard, Jezzails and the like are across the board from him.

For this reason, I’d always have two of them. If we’re at the point where your opponent can shoot off both of those in a turn, then you could look at taking Ragged Cloak as an artefact, Prismatic Pallisade or even some allied Sporesplattas; but it’s probably fair to assume that in 90% of your games, you will have access to +1 damage on both profiles (the Megaboss and the Krusha itself), and a chance at healing back D3 wounds every turn from the Fixin’ Beat.

Option 1: Build for Impact

I can’t be the only Megaboss who wants to see how redonkulous this can get, can I? Let’s take a look at ramping it up to 11, and then going one louder because we can-can-can.

Weapons

Needless to say, we’re taking the 8 attacks, because 8 is more than 6.

That’s maths, and you can’t argue with maths.

Command Traits

Worth a mention here is that Live to Fight (reroll all Wounds on the charge) now benefits the Mount as well as the Megaboss. GW has explicitly thrown us a bone there, so if you are reading: thank you!

I don’t think the Mighty Waaagh Command Ability is worth building around, so we won’t dwell on that.

Brutish Cunning is certainly worth having, but off the top of my head you can also get extra CPs from the following sources (while having a Maw Krusha as your General): Batallions, purchasing a CP, Aetherquartz Brooch, Ironsunz Command Trait, Fungoid Cave Shaman and the Wurrgog Prophet. So although it’s probably the sensible one to take and will be popular, you can still get Krumpin in the Hero Phase without it.

Artefacts

Metalrippa’s Klaw is certainly solid: investing in rend -3 on your Boss’s weapon just gets better and better and better as Strength from Victory ramps up the number of attacks with that weapon.

But Destroyer. Ohhhhh, Destroyer. Whisper it…but I think I might be in love.

+3 Damage to a weapon of your choice once per game is off its fucking tree. It also creates a really cool mini game where you have to choose between unleashing it early for a breakthrough – and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be tempted to pop this at the first opportunity – versus banking it for late game when you have more attacks to maximise it.

Damage 5 per swing, or 6 per swing with the Warchanter buff. 6 per fucking swing! I don’t think Grots can even count that high.

Mount Traits

Mean ‘Un is the go-to here, putting the Krusha’s attacks on Damage 3 per swing base (Damage 4 per swing with a Warchanter buff). This is getting out of control pretty fast, hey?

Tech Support

The Big Waaagh can realistically achieve +1 to hit and +1 to wound by the second Battleround, putting you on 2s and 2s across the board.

With a bajillion attacks, doing a bajillion damage each.

You know what a bajillion times a bajillion is? Plenty, that’s what.

Worth noting too is that he will have a 6+ ignore damage save in Big Waaagh, and the absence of Clans really liberates your options for Artefacts and CTs. It’s worthy of serious consideration, even in a pure or mainly Ironjawz army.

Sample Loadout

This guy is an unstoppable, whiff-proof wrecking ball.

Solid To Hit and Wound stats, backed up by a high volume of Damage 6 and Damage 4 attacks, rerolling all Wounds on the charge. And hey, let’s spend a CP to reroll 1s to Hit, because why not?

Allegiance: Big Waaagh!

Megaboss on Maw-Krusha
– Boss Gore-hacka and Choppa
– Trait: Live to Fight
– Artefact: Destroyer
– Mount Trait: Mean ‘Un


Option 2: Build for Durability

Doom argued convincingly that the key imperative is to build to last: if you build for durabiility, the output will take care of itself. Strength From Victory will rack up and get out of hand pretty quickly, if you can just avoid getting jibbed in a turn.

Incidentally, Doom’s whole Battletome review really is very good, and I recommend it to everyone who hasn’t yet seen it:

Weapons

The levers you can pull for durability begin with your weapons profile: you have the choice between extra attacks, or taking a Riptooth Fist which bounces back Mortal Wounds on a natural save roll of 6. This might not sound like much, but when you’re facing opponents that force you to roll bucketloads of save dice (hello, Plaguemonks!) you can deter them from attacking at all in some cases.

This could actually be quite funny if doubled up with Armour of Gork, to bounce back 2 Mortal Wounds every time, and could be worth consideration if you are playing in a Horde meta.

Command Traits

Ironclad stands out: this puts you on a 2+ save, which is huge. The old Mystic Shield was nerfed for a reason, folks!

Artefacts

Probably the standout is the Ethereal Amulet from Shyish, which ignores all save modifiers (note that this would also switch off Ironclad, hence the two cannot be combined); or Ignax Scales, which ignores Mortal Wounds on a 4+.

Gryph Feather Charm (-1 to be hit in all phases) also warrants a mention – and if you are concerned about Activation Wars, Doppelganger Cloak comes into the equation too.

Mount Traits

Loud ‘Un gives a once per game -1 to hit to all units within 3″, which shouldn’t be overlooked.

The other one to look out for is Weird ‘Un, which ignores the effects of a spell or endless spell on a 4+. This can act as a proxy for Mortal Wound protection, since a decent proportion of Mortal Wound output in the game comes from magic. It won’t help you against Jezzails popping off headshots; but nothing in the game should be completely invincible, and this does go some way to squaring the circle.

Tech Support

An Ironsunz Maw Krusha will be negative 1 to hit in the first Battleround. Not to be sniffed at!

The forced Artefact from this Warclan is actually a decent defensive item too, the Sunblessed Armour: this reduces your enemy’s rend by 1, so it’s effectively a nerfed Ethereal Amulet.

So there’s quite a lot of help there in keeping your Maw Krusha alive.

You also have the standard options of Mystic Shield (combos nicely with Ethereal to shut normal damage right down), and sending Geminids out prowling. Although this might not be efficient for an expensive one-spell wizard like the Weirdnob Shaman, they can be decent uses of an allied Fungoid Cave Shaman, or as the second cast for a Wurggog Prophet.

Sample Loadouts

Both of these loadouts offer a good spread of improved saves, Mortal Wound protection and negatives to hit, the Holy Trinity of defensive buffs:

Option A: Ironsunz

Allegiance: Ironjawz
– Warclan: Ironsunz

Megaboss on Maw-Krusha
– Boss Choppa and Rip-tooth fist
– Trait: Right Fist of Dakkbad
– Artefact: Sunzblessed Armour
– Mount Trait: Weird ‘Un

Option B: Big Waaagh or Generic Ironjawz

Allegiance: Ironjawz
Mortal Realm: Aqshy

Megaboss on Maw-Krusha
– Boss Choppa and Rip-tooth fist
– Trait: Ironclad
– Artefact: Ignax’s Scales
– Mount Trait: Loud ‘Un


Option 3: The Cannonball

There is a specific build which is designed around maxing out on the impact mortal wounds: chaining together as many Destructive Bulk charges as possible. The world record as far as I’m aware was achieved by Adam Kakwah at SAGT in Adelaide, 2019: he strung together an impressive 7 chain charges!

The build here is to take the Hulking Musclebound Brute Command Trait, so on a 2+ you are triggering an extra D3 MWs every time you complete a charge. This is backed up by the Heavy’ Un Command Trait, so you are triggering Destructive Bulk on a 4+ per dice rather than 5+, meaning each charge is worth roughly 6 Mortal Wounds.

This can give you a great reason to trigger a charge with Mighty Destroyers or even the Ironsunz countercharge.

Tech that combos well with this includes anything that can knock a few more wounds off, and get those multicharges happening more easily. So chip damage from Arrow Boys shooting, from magic or even the Luminary Rod artefact can tee you up to go Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! through the backfield.

Sample Loadout

Allegiance: Ironjawz
Mortal Realm: Hysh

Megaboss on Maw-Krusha
– Boss Gore-hacka and Choppa
– Trait: Hulking Muscle-bound Brute
– Artefact: Luminary Rod
– Mount Trait: Big ‘Un


Option 4: Double Bubble

The final thing to cover is the opportunity to take multiple Maw Krushas in your list. Tim Holbrook discussed his “Tank and Spank” build in our previous article, and there is certainly scope for them to work in tandem.

Punching holes in chaff screens for each other with combined charges, giving each other a prod forward with Luminary Rod while softening up enemies at the same time, throwing a Brutally Cunning activation each other’s way…sometimes it’s good to have a buddy.


Bringing it all together

In terms of supporting your Maw Krusha, I believe that Ironsunz or Big Waaagh offers the most overall.

Time will probably prove that a balanced loadout is the most sensible option: maybe something like the Ironclad Command Trait to reduce damage, Ignax’s Scales to reduce Mortal Wounds and the Mean Un Mount Trait to give that little sprinkle of extra burst damage would be a solid choice. All backed up by a Warchanter to kick up the damage output another notch, and maybe heal a D3 or two across the game.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ll be taking that build with Destroyer for a spin!

Featured

Cabbage Soup Part 1: Exploring New Maw Krushas

Thanks for joining me as we continue our series of articles on the new Orruk Warclans Battletome. Today’s focus is the mighty Megaboss on Maw Krusha: I will be joined by an expert in the field, Thomas Bell, as he runs us through some fundamentals. In the second part, I will be exploring the options and considerations when buliding your own Maw Krusha loadout.

Thomas Bell: Me and My Cabbages

Tom is a competitive Ironjawz player based in the UK, and known for his double Maw Krusha lists. Tom’s recent exploits include an exciting Double Maw Krusha + Weirdfist combo, which he ran under GH18 rules, and more recently a Gordrakk + Cabbage list that he took to a 4-1 result at Blackout 2019.


As someone who has mainly played Ironjawz since getting back into the hobby nearly 3 years ago, when I was asked to do a post on the new Orruk Warclans, it was obvious to me which aspect I would talk about: I decided to take a lead from one of my club leaders.

Anyone who watched The Honest Wargamer’s coverage of BOBO 2019 will remember Lee “Tuggy” Kay. Maybe you don’t remember the name, but you will definitely remember his carrot measuring sticks. In honour of Tuggy, I’m going to list the reasons why everyone needs more Cabbages in their lives!

My Cabbages

First things first, what is a “Cabbage”?  A Cabbage is the colloquial term for a Megaboss on Maw-Krusha, the massive angry flying death-monster of both Ironjawz and the Orruk Warclans book. It’s also the only monster in the entire book, which when combined with its points cost of 460 means you will never run out of Behemoth Slots, because you just don’t have the points to fill them up! 4 Cabbages would leave just 160 points at 2k, not enough to fill your Battleline requirements. With that sorted, let’s get into why you need more Cabbages.

Mobility

As every Ironjawz player knows, it doesn’t matter how big your stick is if you can’t apply it to your opponent’s face, or their units. This is one area where a Cabbage doesn’t suffer: having a starting movement of 12” means it’s the same speed as any of the boar riding Bonesplitterz, and even after suffering 10 wounds it’s still movement 8”. Considering the standard speed of an Ironjawz unit is 4” it’s basically got a jetpack on. Conveniently for my jetpack analogy it’s also the only unit in the entire book which has Fly as an innate part of its warscroll. So it’s fast and can fly, two things which are incredibly useful and sorely lacking anywhere else in the Orruk Warclans book.

Command Abilities

Anyone who has ever talked to me or seen my army lists will know that I ***LOVE*** the Aetherquartz Broach, because I spam Command Abilities and can never get enough Command Points. The problem is that all the Command Points in the world don’t matter if you can’t spend them when and where you need them. Fortunately, being so mobile and having such a large base means that a Cabbage is a highly effective Command Ability delivery mechanism. Unlike the other slow and plodding Ironjawz Heroes, if you need to throw out an Inspiring Presence, use Mighty Destroyers to fight in the Hero Phase, or even just reroll a charge your cabbage can get there to provide it.

Mighty Destroyers

Speaking of Mighty Destroyers, a Cabbage isn’t just one of the best delivery methods, it’s also one of the best recipients. This is because it can really utilise all aspects of the Command Ability: I’ll first go over what Mighty Destroyers does, then show why it really helps make your Cabbages the best around. I’ve cleaned it up a little bit for clarity.

Mighty Destroyers

You can use this Command Ability in your Hero Phase. If you do so, pick 1 friendly Ironjawz unit wholly within 12” of a friendly Ironjawz hero or wholly within 18” of a friendly Ironjawz General. That unit must:

  • Make a Normal Move if it is more than 12” from an Enemy unit
  • Fight if it is within 3” of an enemy unit
  • Make a charge move in any other situation

You cannot pick the same unit to benefit from this Command Ability more than once per Hero Phase.

This is obviously a fantastic Command Ability which offers a massive amount of utility and power, but why is it so much better on a Cabbage?

Firstly, we have the Normal Move portion. As noted above the Cabbage has a 12” move with fly. As the Command Ability doesn’t prevent you from moving in the following Movement Phase, that means it’s rocketing 24” across the board. This makes it one of the fastest and most mobile units in the entire game!

Secondly, we have the pile in and attack: as possibly the biggest hitter in your army, getting bogged down in combat with chaff is your worst nightmare. Mighty Destroyers offers a solution for this situation by giving your Cabbage the opportunity to fight its way out of combat. This frees it up to move on to the much more important targets later in the same turn.

Finally we have the charge, nothing special about that.  Except for the Destructive Bulk impact hits that is!

Destructive Bulk

Most of you will be aware of impact hits: when a unit completes a charge, it inflicts mortal wounds, often based on some sort of dice roll. A Cabbage has one of the best forms of impact hits: you pick an enemy unit within 1”, then refer to the damage chart and roll a number of dice equal to the Destructive Bulk value. This starts at 8 and decreases by 1 per profile down to a minimum of 4.  For any 5+ dice rolls you inflict 1 mortal wound on the target; you can increase this to a 4+ with a Mount Trait, more on those later.

While that’s reasonably strong it’s not what really makes the ability terrifying. Unlike every other ability which does impact hits, Destructive Bulk has a unique second part to the ability. If the mortal wounds inflicted by this ability mean there are no enemy models left within 3” of the Cabbage, it can then attempt to make a second charge. This charge also benefits from the Destructive Bulk ability, so inflicts the mortal wounds and can trigger a Third charge. So far my personal best is 4 consecutive charges, wiping out two units and a Hero in the charge phase.

Combine this with the Mighty Destroyers Command Ability. Suddenly you can potentially charge in the Hero Phase, bounce through several weakened or low-wound units, then move in your Movement Phase, and charge again in the Charge Phase!

Shooting

Disaster strikes, despite your best efforts you’re locked in combat with some pathetic irrelevant creature, like Archaon or Nagash, who should be nothing but a stain under your Iron boot. How can you finish them off, so you can get on to find some more targets to smash? Well the Cabbage has the only shooting attack in the entire army. Normally this would be a downside; what self-respecting Orruk would want to get caught with a missile weapon?! Well don’t worry, this isn’t actually a missile weapon, it’s just your Cabbage shouting so loud it messes the opponents insides up. Inflicting death by shouting at your target, how to kill in style!

Damage

Finally we’re onto the bit that really matters: just how mighty is the Cabbage?  Turns out it’s pretty mighty, with its Mighty Fists and Tail being the only -2 rend Irojawz have. Throwing out 8 attacks at full wounds with 2 damage each is pretty nice but not amazing…if only we had some way to increase the damage.  Well we do!  Another one of those tasty Mount Traits just gives a flat +1 damage on its Mighty Fists and Tail.  Throw in a Violent Fury from one of your Warchanters and it’s now 4 damage each!

This is before we even get to the Megaboss himself, who forced the Cabbage to submit and then chained themselves to its back for maximum style. Starting at a reasonable 6-8 attacks (depending on which weapon option you choose), again it’s solid but not amazing.

Don’t worry though, this gets better as well.

Orruks get bigger and stronger with every enemy they duff up. This means that at the end of every Combat Phase in which they killed at least 1 enemy model, your Megaboss gets +1 attack on their Choppa and the Cabbage gets +1 wound. So as your opponent fights and pummels your Cabbage down its profiles, making the Fists weaker, your Megaboss is continually growing stronger. 

In the last game I played, my General was up to 11 attacks and 20 wounds by the end of turn 3!

‘Ard as Iron

That’s right, Twenty wounds.  Starting at 15 and getting +1 from killing stuff in every Combat Phase means you can get up to a potential 25 wounds by the end of the game.  That’s just 5 shy of that pathetic Khorne Dragon!  Throw in a 3+ save and that’s one tanky Cabbage. Oh and that Warchanter we mentioned earlier, they can take a Warchant called Fixin’ Beat.  This lets you attempt to heal a model for D3 wounds in each of your Hero Phases, keeping that Cabbage in top fightin’ form.

Da Biggest An Da Ardest

All of this is great you say, but what if I want more Cabbage?  Even Da Best Cabbage there is?  Well then it sounds like you need The Fist of Gork himself, Gordrakk. With +1 Mighty Fists attack, +1 Destructive Bulk dice, +1 wounds and a stronger Command Ability, we’re already off to a Mighty start.

Big G has way more than just this though. His Massively Destructive Bulk doesn’t just kill enemies, if you end a charge with 1” of terrain you can roll a number of dice equal to the value in his Damage Table. If any of those dice come up a 6 that terrain piece no longer gives +1 to save for cover, preventing your cowardly foes hiding from the Krumpin’ they’ve got coming.

But wait, there’s more. Not only is Big G’s Cabbage, Big Teef, the mightiest of Cabbages. Big G himself is the Mightiest of Megabosses. Instead of the usual choppa, Big G wields Smasha and Kunnin’ each with their own attack profile, and BOTH of which gain +1 attack for every stack of Strength from Victory he has.

Each of these weapons also has its own special rule: every unmodified Wound roll of 4+ inflicts D3 mortal wounds against Wizards, or Heroes who are not Wizards, depending on the weapon!

Cabbages!

Personally I’m running 2 at the moment, Big G and a normal Cabbage (the third isn’t painted yet, sadface).

This comes to exactly 1k points so they’ve even gotten together to make my list building easier.

Hopefully it should be clear by now why everyone needs more Cabbages!


Featured

Battletome Orruk Warclans: A Celebration

So the waiting is over, and we’ve all got our little green paws on the book! To celebrate the release we’ve all been waiting for, we have a special article this week: I’ve invited some stalwarts of the Destruction community from all around the world to share their early thoughts.

We’ll be looking at some combos that jump off the page, our favourite Warscrolls and analysing some list building blocks. Let us know your own thoughts in the Comments!

I’ll be doing my own in-depth review of the book over the next couple of weeks, but for today, let’s smash a 12″ charge straight into it!


Ian Spink, United Kingdom

Ian is one of the most respected and beloved players on the UK tournament scene. A staunch Bonesplitterz loyalist, Ian rode the Green Wave all the way to Masters last year.

I am a player who is not a big fan of the Kunnin Rukk: yes I know it’s strong, yes I know it has been on the podium at recent events, but I am a stubborn old fool and it’s not really the way I like to play. This is why I feel Bonesplitterz my way has started to feel a little behind the curve this year. That’s not surprising as the book is over 4 years old.

I have enjoyed playing Bonesplitterz for that time and winning is not really my primary goal, although I do try to win more games than I lose at a tournament.

So when Ben Johnson grabbed me as I entered Warhammer World on the Open Day and literally dragged me to a little glass case to show me the 1st display of the new book I was over the moon.

Hopes for the book

My hopes for the new book before it arrived were fairly simple,: don’t mess with the fun stuff, and tweak the stuff you never see to make it at least a choice. Oh, and some Endless Spells and scenery.

I got my hands on the book on Saturday, and after skipping past the Ironjawz section and the Big Waaagh, I landed happily in the Bonesplitterz section. I like that they have put all the Orruk rules in one book, I like they are still separate things if you want them to be and I like you can combine them if that is what you want to do. More options are never a bad thing.  I am a pure Bonesplitterz player so I will look at the other options later. Mind you I did play a game against Ironjawz the other night after the scrolls went live on the app, and boy does a unit of 10 Brutes buffed with +1 damage hurt!

There were 2 things I said when asked about the new book when people asked: Don’t turn Hand of Gork into a generic teleport, and leave my Wurggog Mask as it is.

Well I got one of my two wishes, Breath of Gorkamorka is now better than Hand of Gork as the Movement buff and Fly keyword last until the next Hero Phase. I am sure this will catch some people out. For the Kunnin Rukk move this means flying and double move in the Hero Phase, and for charges we now fly over screens, happy happy days.

The Mask is still good but it’s no longer for me, I happily took the risk every time to just keep rolling the die until one of us was dead. More times than not I died after 2-3 wounds but those times it did 20+ mortal wounds stick in my memory: inflicting 26 mortal wounds on a unit of Enlightened was certainly a highlight.

Winners and losers

I love the way all of the scrolls have had a revamp and all just hit a little bit harder. The big winners I think are Savage Orruks with spears, and Orruk Boar Boys with spears. Unfortunately I think with the loss of the horde bonus, Morboys now slip into second place behind spears. Maybe in small units they could work, but units of 30 seem to be a waste now.

Big Stabbas took a hit but got better overall. Their mortal wounds on death now triggering on a 4+ is disappointing, but the extra attack and the extra +1 to hit is great, and I love that they can run and charge. With all the buffs on them, that’s 21” move in the 1st turn, hitting on 2 with a 4+ save and 6+ after save. That’s a lot of points to buff one unit, but boy will it make a mess.

Boars are movement 12″! Oh happy days. Again we got some good with some bad, I feel the loss of the second pile in for the Maniaks is big. In a world where we have whole armies fighting at different points in the Combat Phase it’s a shame this little trick was removed from us. I am just going to have to be happy with more attacks, damn it would have been nice if they hit on 3+ though.

I am most disappointed by the lack of Endless Spells and scenery, a nice Monty Python style foot lovingly painted green would have made an excellent centre piece for any Orruk army.



Tim Holbrook, United Kingdom

Tim is a Grots stalwart, making his first steps into playing the bigger greenies. Tim is known for his creative list-building, being the brains behind the Gloomspite “Launchpad List” and the Gordrakk Fanatics Bomb. Whereas many people leave such innovative ideas in the studio and settle for running standardised lists at events, Tim walks the walk by actually running them at major tournaments, always painted and presented to an exceptionally high standard.

Warboss Timmy’s Ironjawz Thoughts

3 favourite scrolls:

Basically all the chargey smashy ones. I love Gore Gruntas for big movement and charge bonuses. 2s and 2s feels like a unit of Heroes, it’s great!  You even get some token mortal wounds on the charge which is nice.

But the real chargey smashy scroll is of course the Megaboss on Maw Krusha, I love how customisable these things are now: you can make one of them tanky and one of them very smashy and chargey.  

Finally, the Warchanter – drop some beats, deal some extra damage, and again I like the choice of buffs.

Combos

What I’m finding is that crazy wombo combos are optional: one thing I already like about this book is that it’s pretty easy to just run forward and kill things without being too smart about it.

So my favourite combo is a Megaboss on Maw Krusha, and a Megaboss on Maw Krusha.

I load up one for burst damage:

  • Live to Fight Command Trait to reroll wounds
  • Metal Rippas Claw Artefact for Rend -3
  • Mean ‘Un Mount Trait for Damage 3 attacks

And one for durability:

  • Ethereal Amulet
  • Mount Trait to ignore spells on a  4+

I call them Spank and Tank, and of course I name them the wrong way round for mind games.

I send in Spank (the durable one, remember) with some pigs to kill chaff and pin stuff down, then send in the chargy smashy one (Tank) with even more pigs to kill the exposed stuff.

All with Warchanter buffs of course, hopefully rolling 3d6 to charge on the chargey smashy one to hop over stuff.

The chargey smashy is loaded out so that only the hit rolls need buffing, which there are Command Abilities to help with. And I won’t need that many CPs, cos everything will be dead in 2 turns, right?

List building

I tend to focus on one gimmick and then build things around that, with mixed but fun results, exacerbating strengths and ignoring weaknesses whilst hoping for the best. I hope that this book will reward such a playstyle…we’ll see!

In my initial list (few models, fast to paint up) it’s all about pinning down the scary stuff with a pretty tanky Maw Krusha, and killing chaff with Warchanted Gorefist pigs – even 3 of them can dish out enough damage to kill stuff. They are a throwaway meat-rocket, to deal with what seems a big weakness for the Ironjawz: chaff screens.

2 Warchanters seems better than 1, allowing you to buff up and charge in 2 units of spicy meat each turn.  This means that after your kamikaze pigs are dead, you need two more chargey killy units to do it all again – so another Maw Krusha (otherwise your free artefact and mount trait is wasted), and an even bigger unit of pigs.

I think most lists will need some ways to get free Command Points somehow, or spend them for free, but there are lots of options for that.  And ways to move really far, which again there are lots of options for.

Missed opportunities

  • The Weirdnob Shaman seems a bit weak; I prefer a Fungoid with Arachnacauldron.  This gives the army some play in Activation Wars via Itchy nuisance, buffs his casting and unbinds, and is another sneaky way to trigger free movement for the ladz via Mad as Hell.
  • The Warclans. I really want to like them, but the Traits and Artefacts they force on your Megaboss is just … I can’t let go of all that smashy chargey stuff above that excites me.
  • The WAAAAAAGH! I thought this would be the big thing in the book, that lists are built around and players dream about.  Seems a bit … shit?  Great on many units of Ardboyz though. But the chargey killy stuff I like barely benefits from it. The real WAAAAAGH! in this book is the Warchanter buff.


Dalton Copeland, Australia

Dalton is one of Australia’s top Destruction players, regularly repping the Boys in Green at major events. We also have an ongoing personal rivalry, since we are both usually contenders for Best In GA Destruction at any large tournament we both attend. This year I won out at SAGT and Lord of War, but Dalton got up at BBBB. Zenith is still looking for his first.

3 Favourite Warscrolls

Big Stabbas
Boy did these lads get a dream buff, now up to 3 attacks and rocking a 3+ to hit.  With some delicious running and charging baked into their warscroll , these lads have turned from something you’d put in a ‘fun’ list to a legitimate threat.

Wurrgog Prophet
Another case of a cool model getting decent rules, I’m glad that my Wurrgog will finally be ready to lead his Warclan in battle, especially with his new 4+ for a Command Point and warscroll spell: Fist of Gork.  While you do need to cast it on a 10+ to get the improved effect, it turns out it’s not all that hard to get casting buffs in this book.

Mawkrusha
This glorious, angry, head of cabbage is now the Destruction equivalent of a Terrorgheist.  It hits hard on its base rules, with an extra wound and +1 attack each turn you kill anything.  Smart play will see this turn into the boulder trap from Raiders of the Lost Ark.  With the new Mount Traits, not mention all the combos you can build from the Artefact list and the obligatory Warchanter buffs, all will learn to fear the mighty cabbage!

Coolest Combo

So my experience of writing really hard lists came from the heady days of deathstars in 7th ed Warhammer 40k, and there’s still a little bit of me that loves nothing more than pushing a super buffed unit over my opponent’s army.  So as an ode to those days, here is a quick recipe for my ‘Big Stabbstar’:

1. Teef Rukk: so what’s the first thing we need for our cake of doom? More attacks!  The Batallion also comes with a Savage Big Boss, adding some explosive fun with his Command Ability.  Sure we have to keep the Boss within 12”, but you can also take a Greenskins Warboss (pre FAQ) and have him baby sit the nutters with the giant stabby branch.

2. Big Waaagh! Allegiance: Now before you get upset and start yelling at me about where is the extra movement that we get from the Bonesplitterz allegiance, I know it’s good, but our cake of doom needs to hit and wound better, and that’s what Big Waaagh gives us with 20 Waaagh Points.  We also get Mad as Hell and +1 to charge to compensate.

3. Maniak Weirdnob: This mad Orruk on a pig is the third ingredient to our mix, providing another exploding hit on every unmodified 6.

4. And finally before we whack this bad boy in our proverbial oven we sprinkle a bit of Wurrgog with Breath of Gorkamorka into our stabby batter, making our mad lads twice as fast (three times if we roll a double) and fly until our next hero phase.  Chaff lines, what chaff lines? We got places to go, and big monsters to stab, repeatedly.  He can also provide extra CPs to allow us to run 6” before we charge, or reroll a failed charge.

Our final cake looks like this: 8 to 10 attacks hitting on 2s, wounding on 2’s, -2 rend, d3 damage (d6 against Monsters), all 6’s to hit exploding into 3 hits, while moving at least 10″, flying and running and charging. And this is for an entry-level unit of two Big Stabbas: one unit, tiny cake.

Best part about all this is that you bring most of these ingredients in an army anyway, so the stabby goodness is not only fun, it’s also not a huge investment of points. It is priceless to see your opponent get mauled by a 100 point unit then have it just throw mortals back at them when they die.

List Building Blocks

Now having mentioned what you’d bring in a list anyways here’s some list building blocks I’m currently finding in a lot of my lists:

Kunnin Rukk: cue the groans from everyone who isn’t an Orruk, this slightly toned down Battalion is still rocking.  A Big Boss plus two units of 20 arrow boys is two battleline slots covered, plus it provides a Hero to buff your other non-shooty infantry, a CP and an artefact all for 720 points. This can also be really good in a Drakkfoot, because being able to kill those murder-blender Witch Aelves / Plaguemonks / Terrorgheists / Daemonettes / Keepers of Secrets, or anything relatively threatening or with a damage prevention roll from range is the thing Greenskinned dreams are made of.

Gorefist: Goregruntas are cool yeah? So Goregruntas moving 18” turn one must be extra cool right? This Battalion coupled with a Mighty Destroyers move is a viable way of getting a buffed up 6-man Goregrunta unit into an opponent’s lines, moving 27” then a potential d6” from Mad as Hell.  Add in a 2d6” charge…yes please, I’ll have my 45” move thanks!  If nothing else, it lets you go hunting for the more fragile parts of your opponent’s list while the rest of your army crashes into their scary stuff.

30 Savage Orruks: Now that you can get these guys down to a 3+ save with Wardokk buff plus a Kunnin Beast Spirits cast, this big block of green ass can tarpit pretty well all of a sudden, keeping your arrow mobs safe to rain down hell on the enemy.  They put out a fair number of attacks in combat to boot.

Now this is definitely not all you can do with what we have in the book, I’ve barely touched on things like Icebone Warclan boar units that can move 53” to 68” a turn or how to get multiple triggers of Mad as Hell per turn (the answer is Gloomspite), but these are some things I think are really handy and I hope they help.



Donal Taylor, Northern Ireland

Donal is one of the world‘s most accomplished competitive wargamers. His many achievements include a Top 10 at London GT 2018 with Stoneklaw’s Gutstompa’s Allegiance, and 5-0 at Facehammer GT 2018 with Mixed Destruction. Donal also ruined the Command Ability “I’m Da Boss, Now Stab ‘Em Good” for the rest of us forever, by unleashing Moonclan Grots with a Damage characteristic of 128 per swing on a world that just wasn’t ready.

Grots are da best.


Ollie Grimwood, United Kingdom

Ollie is a long-term orcs player with a focus on narrative play and rule of cool. Follow him on Twitter for some of the best Destruction-themed conversions and painting around.

The Narrative

It’s no secret I love Orruks. Those big green maniacs are what floats my boat in the Mortal Realms. I was ecstatic at the release of the book, and it delivers. 

Due to the dual (triple?) nature of the book there’s a little less room for narrative, however what it’s lost in width, it’s made up in quality. The most important is the confirmation of them being mushroom monsters, fighting fungi, tussle truffles. 

Orruks not being green humans is part of the interest for me. They have no gender and the battle is a critical part of their reproductive cycle. It gives a great motivation for their behaviour and sets them apart from the other very humanesque nature of most of the other fantasy races. 

The Warscolls have all been rewritten and greatly simplified; granted this has meant the loss of the magnificent Brute Boss Klaw and Basher weapon option. However the less wordy rules-ridden scrolls make for a better in-battle experience, and their brutal simplicity has a distinctly Orrukish feel.

Highlights

A few highlights are the new Maw Krusha which is now a touch more survivable, but much more offensively capable with almost twice as many attacks. With the inclusion of mount traits, the Maw Krusha’s fist are capable of 8 damage 3 attacks. Much more fitting for a model which exudes so much physical menace. 

A raft of similar simplifications are present in the Bonesplitterz ‘scrolls, most pleasingly with the Morboys. Gone are less impactful separate toof shivs and the situational and weak death ride. They’ve been replaced with a straight 3 attack combined melee attack, and a bonus attack at a strength of 15 or more models. Power of the Beast Spirit remains. Even in minimum sized units they’re still a dangerous proposition. 

The Wurrog Prophet still shines. Its now combined melee profile has lost rend on two of its attacks, but has gained D3 damage on them all, a fine trade off. Its Squiggly Beast companion still accompanies its owner into battle.

Gone is the Command Ability, replaced by a Command Point generation ability the Command Abilities that come with the Allegiance. The ability to cast 2 spells is still there, and the Fists of Gork spell has increased range, a decreased casting roll and boosted enhanced effect.

In  one of my favourite combos, with the correct Traits and Artefacts a Wardokk-boosted Big WAAAGH Prophet could be casting 3 spells in a Hero Phase with +5 to cast for an impressive magic assault. 

Allegiance Abilities

Allegiance abilities are boosted for both Bonesplitterz and Ironjawz.  For me however it’s all about the Big WAAAGH, allowing for a mix of units which will build WAAAGH points. These give cumulative bonuses as they increase, which mixes some the abilities from the other two Allegiances with extras thrown in, such as an Army wide WAAAGH +1 to hit and +1 to wound.

These bonuses are available for any Orruk units meaning a complementary army of Jawz and Splitterz is great under this Allegiance. It’s also worth noting Greenskinz are still in the GHB and possess the Orruk keyword meaning they’ll still generate WAAAGH points and benefit from its bonuses, for now at least. 

A resounding WAAAGH

If there’s one missed opportunity it’s the lack of a new unit or two. With the Warscoll rewrites, the army does feel new but it would have been a perfect opportunity to correct the Ard Boys’ posture to fit with that of Brutes and Bonesplitterz. There was also the chance to take a leaf from FEC and put the Arrow Boy weapons sprue in with the Boarboys, to create a mounted archer unit. It’s nothing critical but might have been a nice touch. 

Taken altogether Warclans is a detailed and versatile book (and I’ve not even mentioned the freebie Warclan rules for the pure Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz armies) which just feels right. It’s a resounding WAAAGH from me.


Seth Cook, New Zealand

Seth is all Destruction, all the time. “The Goonboss” is always a live contender for Best Opponent Votes, and made a big splash in Australia when he took a Skitterstrand-based Gloomspite list to 4-2 at Cancon 2019. Seth’s speciality is building hyper-damage wombo combos, including a Spider Boss that could dish out a surreal volume of Mortal Wounds in his Skitterstrand list.

3 favorite warscrolls

Warchanter: already a modern classic, this guy is absolutely essential in any Ironjawz list. It cannot be stated often enough how strong his +1 damage ability is.

Wurgogg Prophet: two casts, a kickass warscroll spell, CP generation and an extra wound. What’s not to love!

Savage Orruks: Extra attacks and access to stacking +1s to save make these a real force to be reckoned with. Finally more than just a chunk of wounds.

Coolest Combo

So you thought the Savage Big Boss was a Batallion tax? Not with this loadout….

First he takes the Monster Killa Command Trait, which allows him to pile and attack a Monster twice.

Then he takes the Greatdrake Tooth Artefact, that makes unmodified 6s to wound cause double damage, going from 2 to 4.

Then he uses his Command Ability on himself: unmodified 6s to hit are now 2 hits. This gives him potential of 12 hits.

Then cast Bone Spirit on him from a Maniak Weirdnob, giving him another exploding hits on unmodified 6s to hit (every 6 is now 3 hits).

So he goes from 6 to 18 potential hits per pile in. And if he’s fighting a Monster, unmodified 6s to wound cause a mortal wound in addition to regular damage. 

So you’re looking at potentially 18 attacks that are 4 damage each, plus 18 mortal wounds, and doing it all twice.

That is a potential 180 damage in a single Combat Phase.

All you have to do is roll nothing but 6s for all your Hit rolls and all your Wound rolls, which I have mathed out at 1 in 4,738,381,338,321,616,896

A cheeky little 4.7 quintillion to one shot…easy! If enough Orruks believe in it, it’ll happen, right?

List Building

I’ll be using a lot of the following foundations in my armies:

Savage Orruks: as described above, these guys are now a really solid Battleline choice.

Ways to build Waaagh: I’m pretty keen on the Big Waaagh, and it’s important to have a feel for how quickly you can expect to build up points in the first couple of turns.

Buff synergy: our units benefit massively from their support Heroes, so you need to be all over buff ranges, which buffs are locked to certain phases and so on.

Missed Opportunities

I’d have loved to see a pip of Rend on Morboys.

I’d also love to see a new Wurgogg Prophet on Chariot in the future.



Frank DeLoach – USA

Frank is co-founder of the We Slay Dragons wargaming club in California, USA: WSD are regulars on the top tables of the ITC competitive scene. Frank’s videos are legendary in the Gloomspite Gits WhatsApp group, and also kinda NSFW.

Oi Ladz! Big Boss Frank here, let’s do some talking about my three favorite units and combos in the new Orruk Warclans!

Favourite Units and Combos

Wurgogg Prophet! 

This lad does all da magic needed for da Waagghh. At 160 points he’s a two spell caster, -1 to hit in combat and gets a chance at a Command Point every hero phase on a 4+! That’s such value.

His warscroll spell is GREAT! Fist of Gork: CV 5, pick an enemy unit within 24” visible to them. Roll a dice for each model in the unit, with each 6 causing a mortal wound. Cast this on a 10+, mortals happen on a 4+. 

Combo: Wurgogg Prophet as the General, take the Command Trait Waaagh!-Monger (another chance on a 4+ for an extra CP) or Dead Kunnin (D3 extra command points at the start of the game).

Combine this with the Mystic Waagghh Paint! Now you’ve got a super-solid caster, dumping 2 lore spells a turn while creating more Command Points for you! Stick this Savage on a Balewind and watch him go to THREE CASTS per turn! 

Ard Boyz

Well, these little bastards saw a BIG boost in the new Battletome. With straight 3/3 -1 1 damage on the profile, throwing 2 attacks per model (4 for the leader), you can see already why their price tag of 90 points for 5 is relevant.

Are they a touch over costed when next to a similar unit like Thralls? I don’t think so, having 2 out of every 5 Ladz shrug regular wounds on a 6 is huge! Oh, did I mention you can take them in 5’s?! That’s a BIG deal, now you can run a pesky tough little screen. 

Combo: These dudes are straight utility, you can use them as small screens or a big heavy hitting anvil if you have the points available. It’s a SOLID choice for smashing choppas into enemy faces.

Take these bro’s in a Big Waaagh and once you hit 12 Waaagh points, they gain another 6+ DPR save; this one also shrugs Mortal Wounds! 10 Ard Boyz buffed with extra damage from a Warchanter in Big Waagghh is a serious threat. 

Megaboss on Foot

Waaagghh!!! Da boss man himself! (Megaboss Leznar! Da big bad of Krump’n Ladz!). He has a cleaned-up attack profile, built in wound reflection on a straight 6 for saves, and Strength from Victory is so easy to buff up now.

For 150 points this guys is a SAVAGE! I love using him. 

Combo: He’s just a good beatstick: his stats make him basically a super consistent Daemon Prince who gets better with fights.

What this guy loves is artefacts! Personal favorites are Thermalrider Cloak for the +4” move and fly, or Gryph Feather Charm for -1 to hit and +1” move. This gives him more mobility, helping to keep him in buff ranges and doing some SMASHING! 

Honorable mentions

Fungoid Cave Shaman with Scuttletide: Umm… maybe the best ally for 90 points. Take Scuttletide to block off board space, do damage and even hit your own dudes to get you moving. 

Big Waaagh!: Alright I’m just putting this on here because it gives so much flexibility and tool kit to get your Ladz in the mix and doing some proper Krump’n! 


So there we have it! This book has loads going on, and it’s got enough variety and tech to explore to keep any Megaboss occupied for years without getting bored.

I’ll be continuing to explore this book over the next week or two, so stay tuned for more articles and don’t forget to let me know your own favourite units and combos in the comments.

Featured

Why even go to a tournament, if you don’t aim to win?

“Good luck on the weekend, I hope you win”

“Oh I won’t be winning, I haven’t taken that kind of list”

“So why are you even going to the tournament then?”

When my wife asked me that, I genuinely didn’t know how to answer.

Like a lot these things, I obviously had my reasons for it, but I hadn’t really thought them through explicitly. This post explores the question of why someone would knowingly take an underpowered army to a competitive event, and seeks to articulate the reasons for that in the context of the army I will be taking to BBBB this weekend.


First Things First

Before we launch into it, let’s get something straight:

If you take an underpowered list to a competitive event, that’s on you

There’s no sense or logic in list-shaming. It’s a competitive event. People are perfectly entitled to try and win as many games as they can, and to take the armies that give them the best chance of doing that.

Moaning about someone taking an OP list to a competitive event is just as bad as bringing the filth to a Saturday night beerhammer smash-up. A GT is an appropriate time and place for stretching what you can get out of a book. That’s not to say it’s the only type of list that is suitable for a GT – this article aims to explore exactly that subject in more detail – but it most certainly is fair game.


What are you looking to achieve?

So if you’re not going to a tournament to try and win it, why are you going at all? There are a few different potential motivations:

The social aspect

This is the thing I personally enjoy most about Age of Sigmar. AOS rightly has a reputation for having a great community, and I’m pretty much at the stage in life where my Warhammer friends are my friends.

I’m lucky enough to have a great group locally, and just as importantly, Doom and Darkness once made the point that the great thing about playing tournaments regularly is that he can turn up pretty much anywhere in Australia, and he has friends locally that he can engage with. That’s huge.

The social aspect alone has kept me in the hobby through times when I’ve been down on the direction of the game itself, and I know a lot of other people for whom this is the case.

Masters rankings points

For anyone chasing a Masters slot, they will have a rankings points target in mind, and an idea of what kind of result they need to achieve that. It may be the case that they are more interested in locking in a 4-1 result than shooting for the 5-0, because that will give them the points they need. So an army like Idoneth Deepkin, which is a consistent 4-1 army, might be prefereable over something riskier but with a higher chance of winning the thing.

In my own case I’m currently sitting in 15th spot in the rankings, and the top 16 qualify for an invitation to Masters. My current total includes one smaller score from an undersized event ready to drop out, so it wouldn’t be hard to bludgeon my way to a 4-1 result with a Kunnin Rukk and lock in a Masters invite. However I’m not available the weekend that Masters takes place, so it’s not a consideration for me – otherwise that may well have been my primary goal this weekend, and I’m sure it will be for some attendees. The race to Masters is a great motivation and sub-plot in the tournament year.

However I do currently hold the Bonesplitterz and Mixed Destruction icons in the rankings, and it would be a nice little goal to choose one of those armies, and hang on to that icon. So that’s a consideration in army selection too – it’s obviously not as big as winning a GT, but it can be a nice little achievement in its own right.

Your own mission statement

What do you actually want out of Warhammer? For some people, it is to win as many games as they can. If you’re not a regular tournament-goer, it might surprise you to know that these are a small sub-group of even competitive players.

I’ve really got no problem with that, as long as people are honest about it. Own the filth! Just spare me the old “I’ve always loved the models, no but I really have” bullshit. It’s really not a good look.

Let me give you a positive example. Tristan Smith recently won Badgacon with a DOK netlist, and he slapped down any attempts at list shaming by simply stating his goal: to win the majority of his games consistently. Taking a high-powered army and practicing with it relentlessly gives him the best chance of achieving that, and he has achieved his goals, so fair play to him.

Other players want the underdog win, and to explore how far they can take an off-meta army. They want the buzz of knowing that every victory is due to their own smart play and not leaning on the rules of their army.

These are the people I really admire: for me, Mike Wendel winning a GT with Gutbusters or Rob winning SCGT with Spiderfang will echo through history, long after another goober pushing FEC forward is forgotten.

Or to put it another way: I personally respect people who are honest about just wanting to win, but I admire people who find a way to win against the odds.

There is also a contrarian strain of thought, that seeks to analyze the meta and take the tools to break it. When everyone else steps left, they step right. With a fair tailwind and the right matchups their list can go far, but their primary goal is to take on a filth-chaser and piss on their bonfire.

My own mission statement is: To do as well as I can, with the armies I love.

I’m an orc guy, first and foremost, and I always run Destruction armies.

Not a lot of the time. Not most of the time. Always.

Competitively, I win over 70% of my games with armies that generally run at 40% to 50%, so in that sense I’m achieving my own goal. Having said that, I’d also be more than happy for Destruction to be back in the position of GH16 where they were right up there alongside Order and Chaos – if the new books are top tier, I’ll be delighted for the “To do as well as I can” part to mean regularly competing for podiums.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

People might run an army because it is going out of circulation: either completely deleted from the range, or gone in its current form and replaced by a new book. One more spin, for old times’ sake!

With the new Orruk Warclans book imminent, this would be my final chance to get a tournament out of the current rules for Bonesplitterz and Ironjawz.

I was expecting the Kunnin Rukk to disappear in its current form, so that was a factor, but also keen to run one of the Ironjawz big batallions before I expected them to become “free rules” with Clans. Either way, it ruled out Gloomspite or Ogors for this one.

What kind of games you like

The games I always look back on and remember are tactical games with ebb and flow, lots of movement, retreating onto objectives, big decisions and swings in momentum.

Lists that are designed to win as many games as possible can give you that. They can also give you complete non-events. Let me give you a couple of examples.

At SAGT in Adelaide this March, I took my Kunnin Rukk as an anti-meta choice: FEC and Skaven were all the rage. I played Mick Creighton from the Failed Charge podcast with his FEC, and we had an absolutely epic match. I held him to 8-8 on the scenario, he got the Minor on Kill points on his way to a 5-0 result, and we were both reeling after an absolute rollercoaster of emotion.

At the same event on Day 2, I played Andreas and his Skaven. Now Andreas is no scrub: he won a 60+ player event in Melbourne with his rats a couple of months later, and he was running a top tier army. I utterly annihilated him and he conceded at the end of the first Battleround.

Not because I played well, not because he played badly, but purely because these two armies created such a wild mismatch that what we played could scarcely be described as a game.

So if your goal is to enjoy a series of tactical games, bringing top tier armies to an event can give you amazing matches, or it can give you an utterly broken experience.

So let’s all bring fun armies! Yeah…it’s not as simple as that either. If you think you’re going to have fun getting smashed again and again and again, to the extent that you can barely interact in 3 or 4 out of your 5 games, by all means go ahead. But in my experience, there is nothing as bleak as bringing a “fun” army to a competitive AOS tournament.

The rules are ratcheted up to 11 and it is utterly punishing if you are off the pace. You might get lucky and have some great games against similar armies – especially by Day Two when the pairings have done their work – but you certainly can’t bank on it.

Whatever army you take, from hardcore to beerhammer, there will be a band of matchups that are close to auto win, and a band that are close to auto lose. Then you have that band in the middle where you have interesting, tactical games.

At some events in the past, my goal has been to make that first band as wide as possible and give myself the best chance possible of winning the most games I could. I won’t apologise for that because it’s a competitive event – but at this event coming up, that was not my goal.

A “fun” army makes that band at the bottom far too wide: best to save that for Friday night games with your mates, where you can both plan your armies in advance. My goal for this event was to make that middle band as wide as possible, so I could engage with as many opponents as possible, on as many Battleplans as possible, in a meaningful way.

I want to have the best chance possible of having five great games – bringing a soft army will not achieve that, and the army I have brought is not soft. It is a balanced army, not cutting edge but with a diverse toolkit, and I will be aiming to actually win games of Warhammer rather than choke the life out of them.


The List

So there ya go, 12 Big Stabbas! They will rip monsters to shreds, especially with the buffs stacked on them. In the Batallion and with the Wurggog Prophet’s Command Ability, I can get them piling in up to three times per turn, all fully buffed. They also contribute to Activation Wars in their own little way, through the Mutually Assured Destruction of Da Final Fling.

Boarboy Maniaks are another unit who can do a bit when buffed up, and whereas Savage Big Stabbas bring the heavy rend and mortal wounds, these guys bring the mobility and volume of attacks. Plus they look fucking hench on the table.

And to avoid the negative play experience of trying to fight a combat army when you have little foothold in Activation Wars, the Arrow Boys can bring the Dakka if needed. It’s not the full face-melting insanity of a Kunnin Rukk, but it is a useful tool within the army, and the Arrow Boys can also carry the buffs if required.

Probably the only bit of sneaky tech in the list is the Kunnin Beast Spirits spell. I think this one has largely flown under the radar, but it is dynamite in the current meta: it forces your opponents to reroll 6s to hit a given unit. Fling a unit out there, and just switch off all the crazy shit that happens on exploding 6s these days. Love it.

And that’s it! That’s Da Final Fling. Hopefully this army will give me and my opponents 5 good games, lock in the Bonesplitterz icon in the Australian Matched Play rankings, and give Battletome: Bonesplitterz the send-off it deserves.

Let me know your thoughts, and tell me if I’ve got it all wrong, either here on the Comments or hit me up on Twitter @PlasticCraic. Excelsior!

Featured

BBBB List Analysis: Power Picks and Coolest Lists!

Bendigo Bush Bash Bonanza, aka BBBB, is a 2000-point Matched Play event organised by Measured Gaming, and taking place 5th – 6th October in Bendigo, Australia.

With 41 lists submitted and a fully-licensed venue, this is shaping up to be a cracking event. BBBB will again have representation from multilple States, drawing in another big crowd to the Australian bush.

For many involved, this will be their last chance to rake in the rankings points before the cutoff for Australian Masters, so we can expect people to bring their A-Game.

In this article I have invited a group of guest reviewers from various different scenes to each hand-select one Power Pick and one Coolest List.

Measured Gaming will also be doing a full YouTube List Review show this Sunday 29th September at 7.15pm AEST, so jump on board – and the good news is, I’ve got Monday off work, so feel free to join me in the chat as I get pissed up and call everyone scrubs.

The full lists are available here on the event page, so to whet the appetite, here are our top picks!

The Pack

A couple of things to be aware of:

  • Missions are not announced in advance, bringing balanced lists to the fore
  • One nice touch that Measured have introduced to their events is recording in-game Victory points as part of your tournament score. So playing to the objectives is effectively the first tie breaker
  • Like many modern packs, this event will disregard Realmscape Features

So with that context, let’s hand it over to our guest pundits!


Frank DeLoach – USA

Frank is co-founder of the We Slay Dragons wargaming club in California, USA: WSD are regulars on the top tables of the ITC competitive scene. Frank’s videos are legendary in the Gloomspite Gits WhatsApp group, and also kinda NSFW.

Power Pick: Charles Black, Skaventide

Alright, this guy Charlie is coming with the dirty dirty rat filth. I’m into this list, it brings a few threats and creates a lot of board control. So let’s break it down. 

How the list works

Let’s start with the easy stuff, 40 Plague Monks… if you don’t know what these guys are doing by now, you’re sleeping in a sewer with the other ninja turtles lol. 

So with 40 Monks and 80 Clanrats, this list could pose problems for opponents, having the Screaming Bell backing them up granting battleshock immunity wholly within 13”. Sounds small but on that size of a base, it’s fairly easy to achieve.

That Screaming Bell took the spell Death Frenzy, allowing a friendly unit to pile in and attack when it dies. BRUTAL. The Bell also offers its Peal of Doom ability, giving buffs or damage dealing effects every turn.

Finally the Grey seer’s spell, Crack’s Call can wreck low movement units like Fyreslayers with potentially decent mortal wound pop. 

Now, Warlock Bombardier. This model is sick! Just wanted to get that out of the way, but what is he doing? He’s got a Doom Rocket, which is a pretty quality shooting attack. His Warp Lightening spell is kinda like a super Arcane Bolt, at 13” doing d3 mortals. You can supercharge it to do d6 mortals with the chance you possibly blow this dude up! How appropriate for Skaven. 

With his Command Ability (allowing 1 Skryre unit to reroll hits for shooting attacks wholly within 13”), along with his spell (allowing a Skryre unit to re roll hit and wound rolls), he becomes a quality buff piece. 

Verminlord Shenanigans

Let’s talk about this Verminlord.  Well, the Deciever is a beast! I love this guy.  He’s got a decent little shooting attack doing extra damage against units of 10 or more models, and in combat he can totally handle chaff to small to elite units. He’s got a 5+ DPR save, -2 to hit in the shooting phase and move 12” at full profile.

If this wasn’t enough (!), his Command Ability allows him to reroll wound rolls, he’s also got a spell… oh his spell.. Dreaded Skitterleap. Casting on a 6+ allowing him to teleport a unit with 12 wounds or less, then setting them up outside 6”… did you hear that?! 6” that’s so close!

Meaning he can use his ability to dump him self into range to drop his SUPER SWEET artefact! The Gnawbomb! Once per game, he can turn a terrain feature into a Gnawhole!!!! Did you hear that?! Turning any feature into a Gnawhole, allowing those Monks to get where they need, or those Jezzails to get that sneaky Hero.

The Wrap

This list controls the board, has quality shooting and combat, is solid in the magic phase and will keep the pressure up while maintaining objective scoring. 

Coolest List: Michael Clark, Mixed Order (Hallowheart)

Why I like this list

Why is this so cool?!  Well, Mike here has built a list utilizing the defensive capabilities of the 60 Phoenix Guard and the Anointed, whose Strategic Genius provides an extra Command Point at the start of the first Battleround.

Those guys are BRUTALLY tough:

  • With a 4+ save (3+ in cover)…
  • And a 4+ DPR save…
  • And the Anointed sitting behind them, granting Battleshock immunity while within 8”!
  • Not to mention rerolling wounds in the combat phase using his Command Ability

Then he’s got the quick and easy always breezy 3×10 Freeguild Guard with sword and board, rerolling 1’s on their saves.

Combat punch

Let’s talk about the punch units in his list. Mike’s using Fyreslayers to do this, they’re great units with again solid saves and quality damage output.

But you’ll say Frank, how’s he getting them there? Ahhh… here we go. 

So he’s paired both units of Hearthguard with a Smiter, allowing them to deep strike and it grants them a 4+ DPR save as well! See a theme? Hehe. 

Bringing it all together

Finally let’s talk about why are the hounds here? Screen and small time objective grabbers, for 20 points.. they move quick and have 2 wounds each! 

To round this out, he’s got an Archmage whose spell grants ANOTHER 6+ DPR in a bubble, and the allegiance of Hallowheart allows any unit to attempt to unbind a spell.

I think this army looks like a weird mash up, and in ways it kinda is. But when you look at the details, it’s well thought out and should do decently. 


Joel Hennessy – New South Wales

Based in Sydney, Joel is one of the top Destruction players in Australia. Joel followed up an excellent 4-1 performance at Sydney GT (rocking a double Colossal Squig list, no less!) by taking out Best Destruction at Cancon 2019 with his Gloomspite Gits.

Power Pick: Joel McGrath, Staunchcast Eternals

How the army works

Joel is going wait to get charged, his opponent will bounce off, then he is going to counter attack.

Hard.

This army is tough, and has plenty of ways to put damage out. He has plenty of mobility to hit where he wants to, and if you try to castle up he’s going to drop a comet on your head.

Why I like this army

The big reason that this army is strong is because it is a brick wall, in a meta where so many armies are relying on high damage output units, with limited staying power (looking at you Skaven, FEC and Slaanesh). Joel is a very competent general also, having recently won a 1-day tournament with a similar list.

Oldcast is an army we rarely see these days, but they are tough as nails and not to be underestimated. The Desolators with Staunch Defender have a 2+ save rerolling 1’s, and 30 wounds of killing power, with reliable midrange MW output and insane melee output (5 Thunderaxe attacks each) that can’t be bogged down by chaff due to the Heraldor.

Good Matchups

Any of the Skaven Plague Rat lists – they won’t have the damage output to remove the big pieces and are going to be forced into combat situations. FEC is in a similar situation and will have a tough time short of amazing Terrorgheist rolls.

Bad Matchups

Lists with enough bodies to get on objectives quickly and hold them, while gumming up the board and preventing the list from playing for Objectives. All the while standing up to the punishment that this list can put out.

How I would tackle it

I would tackle this list by attempting to take out some of the characters, particularly the Heraldor and Castellant, preventing some of the mobility. From there, you want to try and tie up the Drakesworn Templar and Desolators – I play Gitz, so I have plenty of ways of applying debuffs.

Coolest List: Pat Nevan, Mortal Khorne

This was a toss-up between Alex Sobiecki’s Namarti Corps, or Pat Nevan’s Bloodthirster Lite Khorne Mortals. Pat’s Khorne Mortals won out.

The army has a ton of Blood Tithe to gain, and will look to throw buffed units of Bloodreavers across the board at you relentlessly.

I really like that this is an intelligent gamer’s army. This army in the hands of a bad general will not fare well. Having said that, as we saw at Cancon with Matt’s Khorne, movement shenanigans and good play win games, and I think Pat will do really well. There’s a lot that Pat will be able to do once he builds up some Bloodtithe and how he decides to use them will be very interesting.

I think this army can definitely go 4-1. I’m really intrigued to see how it goes up against some of the power lists in the tournament.


Michael Thomson – Queensland

Michael is the founder of The Savage Northmen, a gaming group based in and around Cairns, Queensland. A specialist in Death armies, Michael went 6-0 at Cancon 2019 with his Nagash list, securing a podium at the world’s largest Age of Sigmar event to date.

Power Pick: Dalton Copeland, Gloomspite

Why I like this army

I have picked Dalton’s army for several reasons, one of them being that I know he is a good, tactical AoS player. We saw Dalton TO Badgacon in June, so I imagine he is raring to go for this tourney.

His army works on multiple levels: negs to hit, mortal wound output, run and charge mechanic and teleporting, just to list a few. This makes it a very versatile list: he can sit back and defend, or he can be aggressive and in your face.

156 wounds is nothing to sneeze at, with 100 Stabbas backed up by a Colossal Squig and Arachanarok Spider.

How I would tackle it

The way I see his list operating is that it all revolves around the Heroes: they will be providing buffs and holding the army together. If I played against the army, I would be getting those guys off the board as a matter of priority, to leave the Stabbas isolated without buffs and Battleshock protection.

Good and bad matchups

This list is so well-rounded, which is key when the Player’s Pack has no missions announced.

With the addition of Scuttletide and Geminids, Dalton will be forcing his opponents to really think about that priority choice.

Dalton would know better than me, but I would have loved to have seen Itchy Nuisance as a spell in his arsenal, for those tough matchups with Slaanesh (although negs to hit will help there). Skaven will be another tough match up for Dalton in my opinion, but knowing Dalton he will be all over that and I’m sure he has a plan laid out.

Good luck mate.

Coolest List: Michael Clark, Mixed Order (Hallowheart)

My selection goes to Michael Clarke: we see two units of Phoenix Guard buffed by two Anointed, with an Archmage and the Elemental Shield, as well as two units of Hearthguard and Runesmiters, giving Michael the ability to tunnel up.

With 4+/6+ damage saves, Michael’s army is the “Challenger 2′ battletank of the AoS world… he’ll be looking to bring units tunnelling up where you don’t want them, he has the bodies, and he has a lot of anti-magic. I think he has given himself a really interesting toolkit to work with here.

Unfortuately for Michael, there are a lot of Jezzails in this event, so he might struggle against Skaventide or the SCE Raptors. Nonetheless I think this list has a possible 4-1 in it, dependant on matchups and scenarios.


Donal Taylor, Northern Ireland

Donal is one of the world‘s most accomplished competitive wargamers. His many achievements include a Top 10 at London GT 2018 with Stoneklaw’s Gutstompa’s Allegiance, and 5-0 at Facehammer GT 2018 with Mixed Destruction. Donal also ruined the Command Ability “I’m Da Boss, Now Stab ‘Em Good” for the rest of us forever, by unleashing Moonclan Grots with a Damage characteristic of 128 per swing on a world that just wasn’t ready.

Power Pick: Tristan Smith, DOK

How the army works

  • Sisters can retreat & charge, ensuring the unit isnt locked or tagged in combat
  • Bodies score objectives, and kill things
  • 6″ pile in, 2″ reach of Sisters win Activation Wars

What makes it so strong

  • Rerolls: Hag Narr 5++ rerollable after save, reroll hits/charges/wounds with Daughters Allegiance Abilities and the Hag Queen
  • Lots of bodies
  • Lack of ranged in the meta means that characters should stay safe
  • Relatively low drop (for the tournament) so should choose majority of the time

Unique aspects of the list

  • Double Medusa, double Hag Queen, 3 units of 30 is a different choice (rather than Morathi)
  • It will be super difficult to clear off the units with this level of target saturation

Good and bad Matchups / Battleplans

  • Good Battleplans: All the Battleplans
  • Good Matchups: All the Matchups
  • May struggle on Hero missions, as they lack a lot of Heroes. That said, they should be able to run the Cauldron into the middle, screen with Sisters / Witches and then put Heroes on the other objectives also screened

How you would tackle it if you saw it across the table

  • Take out support characters (Cauldron / Hags) 
  • Avoid the Blessing of Khaine unit
  • Debuff them in combat

Coolest List: Peter Atkinson, Bonesplitterz

How the army works

Shoots things with arrows, makes friends and does damage with Big Stabbas.

What you like about it

Big Stabbas.

How well you think it can do

Probably 3-2.

Note: this is my own list, so thanks Donal for the vote!

I’ll do my best to Stabb them Biggly.

~ Pete aka Plastic Craic

Thanks everyone for your contributions. And a big congratulations to Michael Clarke, with two separate nominations for Coolest List you win the prize…Make yourself known to me at the event, and I’ll buy you a beer!


Tipping Competition

Frank DeLoach, USA

  1. Matt Kent, Slaanesh
  2. Hayden Frankhuisen, Slaanesh
  3. Tyson Gleeson, Idoneth Deepkin

Joel Hennessy, New South Wales, Australia

  1. Joel McGrath, Staunchcast Eternals
  2. Hayden Frankhuisen, Slaanesh
  3. Charles Black, Skaventide

Michael Thompson, Queensland, Australia

  1. Dalton Copeland, Gloomspite Gits
  2. Andreas Nicolay, Skaventide
  3. Tristan Smith, DOK

Donal Taylor, UK

  1. Tristan Smith, DOK
  2. Lachlan McLean, Gloomspite Gits
  3. Matt Kent, Slaanesh

Thanks again to all involved, and here’s looking forward to a rippa of an event!

Featured

Product Review – Mini Mag Trays

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete

~ Buckminster Fuller

What are MiniMag Trays?

They are tiny little strips of metal that bring joy into your heart and transfrom your wargaming experience.

You can find them on their website here: https://www.minimagtray.co.uk/

Before I fanboy out over these things too much, I want to make it clear that I am in no way affiliated with this business. I do not have any financial interest here, and I do not know the people behind it personally. I’m just a satisfied customer, who paid for these things out of his own pocket, and nothing more.

I think it’s important to get that clear before I start banging on about how amazing these things are, because – Spoiler Alert – I fucking love them.

Why MiniMag Trays?

In a nutshell, these things are designed to make moving your models around easier. I’ve gone on record that my preferred army build is a couple of big monsters, with swarms of dickheads nipping around their ankles – a proper Destruction rabble.

It’s those swarms of dickheads that can be a problem. Picture the scene:

  • Deploy 60 Grots on the table = Pain in the arse
  • Pick them up and move them with Hand of Gork = Pain in the arse
  • Complete a 9″ charge and move them all again = Pain in the arse

We’re now 20+ minutes into the game, everything you’ve done is pure drudgery and we’re not even into your first combat phase yet. Your opponent is probably comletely disengaged and pissing around on their phone at this point, and I wouldn’t blame them either.

This can be such a dispiriting experience that maybe you don’t even use those big units as much as you’d want to, especially in friendly games. And it’s not just a single block of 60 Grots, it could be multiple blocks of 40 Plague Monks, 30 Witch Aelves plus 30 Sisters of Slaugher, and so on.

Move a million models, move a million more models. complete your charges and move them all again. Real talk, you’re not gonna finish your game in time to have a beer between rounds.

Get them on MiniMag Trays, and that unit of 60 is now effectively a unit of 12, and suddenly that’s a whole different beast.

Let’s pause to think about that for a moment: MiniMag Trays will help you drink more beers at tournaments. I’m not even joking. It’s a real, practical benefit.

What are the advantages over the alternatives?

It’s accurate to say that there are other movement trays on the market, but it’s also accurate to say that they’re all shit. MiniMag Trays blow them all out of the water, and make them instantly obsolete.

The competition is generally MDF, or sometimes plastic (GW released their own recently under the Apocalypse brand). All of which have rims to keep the models in place.

Rims have two downsides:

  • They look crap
  • They are impractical

In terms of the appearance, they are clunky and jarring on the Battlefield. You can paint them to match your army’s basing scheme, but that’s a huge amount of busy-work, and you still have a big blob around your guys that doesn’t need to be there.

And when you come to use them, the damned things just get in the way. If you want to get your models into combat or base-to-base contact, the rim is in the way, so you have to lift your models up and out of the trays. So from the first combat phase onwards, your models are out of the trays, and the trays are already effectively unfit for purpose.

Like a lot of people, I bought the MDF trays, used them once or twice, and then put them in a cupboard. More hassle than they’re worth.

No rims is a game changer

In sports, they say a referee has had a good game when you don’t notice them. Same applies to movement trays in my opinion. MiniMag Trays are virtually invisible on the tabletop, which is exactly what you want.

It also comes into play when you are removing models, and piling in on top of the trays. Check out the video below from their own Twitter feed:

The magnetism is easily strong enough to lift a tray and move it around, just by grabbing one model:

There are also a couple of neat little touches, which really show that these were designed by an actual wargamer:

  • You have the option of tight or spaced formations, so you can either bunch up into buff range, or spread out at 1″ coherency for zoning and control
  • There is a combat tray designed to space your models such that you get the maximum number into 1″ combat range
Max 1″ Coherency for the front rank, so the second rank fights between tha gaps

Pro tip: The strip of 3x models on 25mm bases, spaced 1″ apart, can also be used to keep 5x models in tight formation.

See? Flexible!


Are they affordable?

In a word, yes. Each one individually is fairly cheap, and postage is a flat GBP 6.00 whatever you buy.

Once you start clicking and adding things into your cart, like anything else the cost will start to rack up.

But the beauty of these things is that you will use them again and again.

You don’t have to match any basing scheme, so they will follow you from army to army to army. My own 25mm trays have already followed me from Gitmob to Moonclan to Squigs.

Similarly my 32mm trays have already seen action with multiple blocks of Arrow Boys in a Kunnin Rukk, and big blocks of Ard Boyz in my Ironjawz.

Once you own them, you own them forever.

Look at it this way: we’ve all got some plastic sitting in a cupboard of shame that never sees light of day. For the price of a unit, you can completely transform your hobby experience with something you will use in every single game. They will actually make your life a tiny bit better.

The only “extra” cost is more magnets, but they’re like 10p each or something. I did buy mine from MiniMag Tray (rather than scouring eBay for an equivalent), because they’re the perfect depth to sit underneath a base, and they effectively cost nothing for shipping when you add them to an order (due to the flat rate shipping).

The Downsides

As far as the product itself, I couldn’t be happier. However I wouldn’t mind having an instructional video on the website of how to magnetize your models.

The website suggests using a glue gun to attach magnets underneath the bases, and there are some photos showing how to do that. My ineptitude with anything practical is legendary (I had to give away my airbrush because I was too dumb to use it), so for someone like me, a video of this process would be helpful.

That being said, I just used superglue instead, and so far I’ve not had any dramas.

The Verdict

MiniMag Trays are a real Before and After moment: I couldn’t play a game without them now.

I bought them with my own money, and then went back for more. I really can’t give them a better review than that.

It’s a solid 10 / 10 from me.

Featured

Gotrek! Hot Takes, and How to Handle Him

Everybody has two lives.

The second begins the day you realise you only have one.

~ Confucius

For anyone who has been living under a rock, Gotrek is back! Who’s he? Well, Gotrek was a much-loved character from the Warhammer Fantasy Battle era, starring in many of the most popular Black Library books ever released. To say that my own Warhammer Fantasy Battle career was brief would be quite the understatement, but even I had heard of this guy!

He has a new model, Matched Play points, and a Warscroll that has already caused quite a stir…so what do we think of him? Is this a good thing for the game, and when you see him across the table (which is definitely gonna happen), how do you handle him? Let’s take a look at the Wee Man in detail.

The Lore

He’s an angry little dude who likes fighting. One cool aspect is that he’s actively seeking his doom, in a manner that is truly fitting for a mighty hero: his sidekick Felix actually came along to chronicle the story of Gotrek’s inevitable death.

There is extensive background information available here, but honestly, Games Workshop has a catchup article which directs you towards the source literature. People whose judgment I trust speak very highly of the original books, so I suggest that anyone interested goes back to them.

If you’re not keen on necroing the old books, you can jump on board with Realmslayer, which brings Gotrek into the Mortal Realms: as pointed out by Ollie Grimwood, this also serves as a nice satire on the journey of WHFB players into AOS. This one is on Audible, which is a lot more affordable than going direct to Black Library, so I suggest going down that path.

One thing worth a mention is that after the End Times, Gotrek spent his time fighting in the Realm of Chaos, before making his way on to the Mortal Realms. What I do like here is that we have a proper pathway from the World That Was to the current setting.

Honestly, I’d prefer that we move on from WHFB and start telling new stories with new characters, like we did with Skragrott for example. But if we are going to play favourites and resurrect some old heroes, I’m glad that in this case we have a proper narrative thread explaining their continued existence.

If you like Gotrek, if he’s your boy, I’m glad for your sake that he’s back: and he certainly got a miniature and Warscroll worthy of his legendary status.


The Model

In a word: Epic

Yup.

One look at that, and I was sold. He’s so defiant and full of spunk, ready to take on the world in his blue jeans and bovver boots. Possibly my favourite smaller character since the Megaboss, and certainly worthy of the Avatar of Grimnir.

The price tag is also very reasonable. $55 Aussie Dollars is a lot cheaper than I was expecting, and it’s a great price point for anyone who just wants to pick him up as a painting project or as a tribute to his legend.

The one thing I’m not keen on is the base size(s). The GW Webstore states that: “He comes with two options for bases – a 32mm round base for using him in your games, and a 40mm round base with scenic detailing”.

That’s just bullshit. He is an epic Hero, with an epic Warscroll, and he looks epic on the proper base: don’t fudge it and give him another advantage by bumping him down to a Blood Reaver base. This isn’t some Battleline goober. He comes on a 40mm and that should be the end of it.

Pick and stick, fellas! Literally every promotional image shows him on the larger, scenic base, which can’t be a coincidence: compared to his proper base, he will look shit on a 32mm, and GW must know that.

Anyway, people with a keen eye will spot something very, very unusual buried in that last point…yes, I will be buying one! Any non-Destruction purchase is incredible rare for me, but one look at this fella and he won me over. You’d need to have a heart of stone not to be on this guy’s side, so once I saw the model, any thoughts I had about him being better left to rest in The World That Was were swept aside.

I should also take this opportunity to annouce that… I am actually a closet Dwarf fan. A dear friend of mine, who passed away far too young, was the person who originally got me interested in The Hobby way back in 1994. Until I jumped back on board with AOS shortly after launch in 2015, my only experience of Warhammer was those couple of years where I collected Undead and he collected Dwarves. So I do have a lot of goodwill towards the little fellas, dating way back.

I have no current plans to put my own Gotrek on the tabletop, but I do suddenly find myself owning over 25% of an Order army, so never say never.

On The Tabletop

Erm…I guess that’s OK?

How Will He Play?

Like a little Stonehorn, but with a much better Stone Skeleton…and crucially, much slower.

Honestly though, when you’re this hard to kill, you can safely run him out on his own to dominate a whole area of the board. Round 1, Gotrek can run 10″ out into the wild blue yonder (using a CP if necessary), and stand out there with his dick flapping happily in the wind. He doesn’t have (or need) any real synergy, so he’s super modular in the way he operates.

According to the Community article, he automatically wins literally every combat and is completely unkillable. Please don’t accuse me of exaggeration there; if it is an overstatement, it is GW’s overstatement, not mine:

https://www.warhammer-community.com/2019/09/05/gotrek-vs-the-mortal-realms/

I do think they may have stacked things in his favour a little (no Hero Phase for Nagash?), but you get the picture. 4″ may still be his Acchiles’ Heel, but it isn’t as slow as it looks when you look at how this guy operates in practice.

What Kind of Armies Will You See Him In?

Literally the whole of Order can Ally him in, and really, he can operate well in most builds.

One early piece of tech doing the rounds is including him in an Idoneth army, using the Ionrach enclave. This gives Allied units access to the Tides of Death, meaning that he gets various bonuses depending on the Battleround, all of which are really clutch for him:

  • Cover in Round 1
  • Run + Charge in Round 2 (Ooooh Lordy!)
  • Fight at the start of the Combat Phase in Round 3
  • Retreat + Charge in Round 4
  • Cover again in Round 5

These are all huge, especially Run + Charge. If you are chaffing him up late game, remember to wrap around him so he can’t retreat!

Will this prove to be better than Fuethan + Eel spam in the long run? That is open to debate, although I suspect not. It will certainly be a strong army though, and one I think we’ll see in action.

You might see Gotrek crop up a lot in forthcoming Cities of Sigmar armies, because as a Soup tome they will have a lot of angles covered, and hence little need for other Allies. Keep a keen eye out for any tech in this book that affects all friendly units, and is not keyword-restricted!

Chronomatic Cogs obviously works very well with him, and even at 80 points could be worth building into your army. I especially like this one if you have a Plan B usage for it, specifically a durable wizard that can benefit from slowing down time in the matchups where you really don’t want to give your opponent short charges. If you have that dual-purpose built in, I think it can justify its 80 points.

So look out for the Gotrek + Morathi 1-2 Punch, with Cogs to get those stumpy little legs pumping, or to have Morathi rerolling all saves, as the scenario requires.

Healing in general is dynamite on this guy. Your opponent has to work so frikkin hard to remove every single one of those uber-expensive wounds, and slamming D3 back on there will be debilitating for them. The Excelsior Warpriest fits the bill – and it might be time for the Emerald Lifeswarm to see some table time too.

One concept that Jack Armstrong mentioned was looking at Shootcast lists that funnel your opponent towards Gotrek, which really is smart thinking. Chaff screens and avoidance are all very well until you get 100 arrows in your face, and you have to step forward into the Lion’s Den; I’d be very interested to see any list ideas along these lines.

See what I mean? Spunky!

Is He OP?

Hellz no! When people are whining about him being uninteractive, what most of them mean is that they can’t just push their Terrorgheist into him, and that leaves them clean out of ideas. He’s a good counter to a lot of on-meta armies, but that is in no way the same thing as being OP.

Honestly, there is loads of counter play…none of which involves pushing a fucking Terrorgheist in his general direction. We’re not that basic here, we can do better than that!

This whole thing is just so cinematic. You will have all these widely-feared Monsters running away in blind panic from this tiny dude pumped up on rage. It’s going to be hilarious to see on the tabletop.

Honestly, I love it.

How To Take Him On

Realistically Gotrek can’t whiff, because he rerolls everything and gets two bites at the cherry. You can’t just ignore this guy and hope for the best.

The first thing to recognise is which of the potential workarounds are limited by the Warscroll. Damage 1 spam is obviously the most efficient way to churn through those 3+ after-saves, but it’s hard to fit a lot of bases around his. Units on 25mm bases with 2″ reach would have a decent shout, so things like DOK and Plague Monks could be in decent shape.

Crucially, you can’t instajib this guy with the likes of Reality Splitting Axe or Hand of Dust. I’m not sure this was really necessary – those things are very rare, and the units involved pay a premium for them. For how often it will come up, I think they should have just let it happen. It’s good for the meta that “unkillable” stuff can always meet its Armageddon.

Reducing that damage to 1 Mortal Wound (which he will probably save anyway) is a bit of a slap in the face. Gotrek is already an uber-tank, and removing opportunities for tactical counter play is rarely a good thing.

With that said, strap yourself in, because the good news is that this Warscroll has built in some very well-designed limitations, and we’re going to look at how to exploit all of them:

  • Only 4″ movement
  • No deep strike
  • 1″ range in Combat, so screens do work (at least for the first pile in!)
  • Second pile-in comes at the end of the Combat Phase, so you get a chance to hit back inbetween

The Fundamentals

Basic best-practice movement and board control will see you a long way here.

Layered chaff screens: Keeping 3″ gaps in between screens will leave Gotrek marooned after his first activation, and unable to pile in for a second time. This might sound familiar to people from my last article: the meta is pushing you towards multiple screens, folks. Take the hint!

Smart removal of casualties: When removing models, look for opportunities to leave Gotrek outside of 3″ to prevent his second pile in, even if it means you can’t attack back yourself. Holding the objective for an extra turn, and forcing Little G to waste a second turn killing the remainder of a chaff unit, will usually be more valuable than putting a wound or two on him.

You might even be able to leave those few remaining bodies on the Objective but behind him, so he has to move backwards to clean them up in his next activation! Shape up with this in mind when preparing to face a charge.

Waste his time: He’s most likely running Turn 1, so he has a maximum of 4 turns to have an actual impact on the game. Each of those turns is therefore a huge resource, and making him waste those turns killing junk units can be as effective as killing him.

Screen the objective: Set up to face a charge with the back of your base inside 6″ of the Objective, and the front outside. Gotrek relies on holding Objectives by 1 model to 0 after murdefucking everything on there. This way, even if he kills you, he can’t score VPs…as long as you are careful not to leave him a second pile in that would bring him onto the Objective! But you’re already all over that from reading the points above, right?

Multi charge: As noted above, Gotrek’s second pile in is at the end of the phase. If you can attack with multiple units first you can potentially grind him down. Units that fight first, Slaanesh’s Locus, the Doppelganger Cloak, and spells like Itchy Nuisance are all really impactful against him as long as you can get in range to attack.

Summoning: If you can resurrect your units as quickly as he kills them, you can keep scoring those Objectives and break his heart: he’s only 1 model!

Even though it’s my beloved Grots, I must admit this image is fucking epic

Movement Denial

You know what’s worse than a 4″ move? A 2″ move. There’s plenty of tech out there to slow him down further, but one of my favourites is the litte-seen Shards of Vargharr Endless Spell. Combo the movement debuff with a neg to hit, and that little bastard will be running around puffing and panting with a bright purple face, while you just Moonwalk around the table scoring the Objectives.

Other than the many ways to half his movement, what else can we do to manage his positioning on the board? Plenty!

Deny him charges That’s a lot of free movement. If you give him a 6″ charge, that’s a turn and a half of movement for him. Obviously you can’t always leave all your units 16.1″ away from him, because you’ll give up far too much space on the battlefield, but do try to leave him praying for long bombs as much as possible.

Pre-measure your movement so he’ll be just outside the distance to complete a given charge, rather than just inside – if you don’t think an extra 1″ matters, ask your wife.

Edge cases: Hypersnare Seeds (Ghyran artefact) could be a good second or third artefact behind Ghyrstrike and / or one from your Faction. This is useful in a lot of matchups, and dynamite against Gotrek.

I’m charging with +2″, so I can’t fail this charge…

Well you can today, motherfucker!

It only works on a 5+, but you’ll likely be rolling for it multiple times in every match. So many games come down to a key charge being made or not made…Across the course of a tournament season, this artefact will win you matches.

Stormcast budgies are another useful piece of charge denial tech. They can also perform neat tricks like zipping onto on Objective away from the main unit that is being charged, so even if the unit being charged gets wiped, you continue to hold it…just make sure you stay out of 3″ to deny that second pile in!

By dangling a secondary target just under 3″ back from your screen, you might be able to tempt Gotrek to pile in a second time, ending up away from the Objective and failing to capture it.

If you give your opponent enough opportunities to make mistakes, occasionally they will do so.

Fjul used as a stand-in for illustration purposes!

#BuildThatWall: He can’t fly or teleport: block him in with Palisades, Soulsnare Shackles and Scuttletide. Bit of a dick move? Hey, I’m not the one who designed a Warsrcoll, then boasted that there’s literally no point in ever trying to engage with it.

And if you think I’m just going to push my models towards him so you can delete my army, you’re in for a fucking shock, let me tell you.

Debuffs

Gotrek is sensitive to stacking Debuffs to hit. Rerolling a 3+ means you get basically everything through. Rerolling looking for 5s or 6s is another beast entirely: Grots can feasibly have him fishing for those 6s and nothing else.

He still does a lot of MWs, but you know what Grots have a lot of? Wounds. It’s gonna take more than a few D6 MWs to blast through them in a turn. Which makes all the difference between him being an infinite-damage wrecking ball, rolling around the table deleting your army, and an expensive liability that gets bogged down until Turn 4.

Killing him

As you’ve probably gathered by now, in general I think containment and managing him is the route to success for most armies. But that’s not to say he’s unkillable!

Due to his Super Stone Skeleton, high volume of Damage 1 attacks is the way you’ll whittle him down. Forcing 48 zero-rend saves is the magic number to wipe him in a turn….hellooo, Kunnin Rukk!

(Incidentally, this is yet another situation where Kunnin Beast Spirits is low-key one of the best debuff spells in the game right now, and one that I hope makes it into Battletome Orruk Warclans.)

In combat, again you are looking for a high volume of low-damage attacks. Because Rend is still useful in getting past that initial 4+ save, Rend -1 Damage 1 profiles with 2″ range are the sweet spot. This is even better if you can explode into 2 Hits, or into 1 Hit + 1 MW (e.g. Daemonettes or Stabbas), again forcing Gotrek to roll more and more dice at those 3+ after-saves.

Even the packaging feels special

In Conclusion

The way this has been impletemented is super thematic, and the restrictions built into the Warscroll make it an intriguing challenge. I do think the death-proof bonus was unneccessary, but that is an issue more in theory than in practice, and really a minor distraction in the grand scheme of things. Way more important is that the decision to block any teleport / redeploy was a masterstroke. This is a huge limitation in modern AOS, and the key factor that makes this Warsrcoll strong, but fair.

It’s often said (including by me) that you legitimately need to consider the impact on the mid-tables and garage gaming when assessing whether something is so powerful as to have a negative impact on the game. Well this is the exact opposite – it will be a huge net positive in those arenas, by proactively teaching and training people to Git Gud.

Let’s be honest, a lot of players will get utterly wrecked the first time they face him, but learning how to tackle him across a few sessions is a great training exercise – because what works against him also works against many other Death Stars. Learning to screen, controlling space on the table, debuffing, and above all having the clarity of thought to avoid engaging in a battle you can’t win (rather than being drawn into it through morbid fascination) is all money in the bank for your Warhammer career.

Good players will find ways to win a lot of games when using him; bad players will lose a lot of games with him.

Good players lining up against Gotrek will find ways to contain him; bad players will push everything in his general direction, lose it all, and then complain that he is OP.

Honestly, there is so much scope for player skill to determine the outcome here; and if that’s not a well-designed Wasrcroll, I don’t know what is.

The model is amazing, the Warscroll is spot on, the Black Library support is on the money…GW have nailed it with this one. It’s a great release.

Welcome back, champ.

Featured

How to Beat Slaanesh with Joel McGrath

Following on from last week’s article, which discussed “Are Slaanesh OP?”, we’ll be taking a look at how to beat the bastards!

Joining me this week is none other than Australia’s #1 Slaanesh player, Mr Joel McGrath:

Joel has been running this army with great success, both before and after the book came out. In fact, Joel took Slaanesh to Australian Masters last year, which at the time was definitely a bold move!

Taking a very off-meta army into an environment where, by definition, every match is hard-fought against a strong opponent with a strong list, Joel nonetheless won the majority of his games (finishing up 3-2), which was an excellent achievement.

With the current Battletome to underpin the army, Joel has doubled down on his success with Slaanesh in 2019, by winning the Battle of the Northern Realms, a 2-day GT in Queensland, Australia.

Before we launch into it, I do have a couple of basic pointers of my own that I think are worth flagging up:

  • To avoid DP generation: 1-wound infantry is your friend! If Slaanesh summoning is causing you a lot of problems, everyone has access to 1-wound chaff that doesn’t give up Depravity; if not in their own army, then via Allies or even Mercs.
  • Check out my previous post for specific advice on how to place your models, if your goal is to minimise summoning.
  • In terms of countering Locus, one simple counter play to have in your pocket is multi-charging: If you can engineer a situation where two or more hammer units charge an isolated Slaanesh Hero, she can only apply Locus to one of them, leaving the other unit(s) free to layeth the smacketh down.

So now I’ll gladly hand you over to someone who actually knows his arse from his elbow: take it away, Joel!


Joel Spills the Beans

When Pete first asked me to do a write up on this particular subject, I couldn’t refuse, as nothing would give me more pleasure than to backstab my fellow followers of the Dark Prince.

So let’s get into it!

The First Principles

The first step on knowing how to beat Slaanesh, is knowing what makes Slaanesh tick.  Here’s a quick list of things you’d expect to see happening on the table when playing against them:

  • Slaanesh are super quick. One of the fastest armies in the game without question.
  • An almost abusive summoning mechanic.  Some argue that Depravity Points are broken, which they’re not.  But it is very good, and something you need to be mindful of when playing against them.
  • Insane damage output. Damage 5, rend everywhere, Mortal Wound output. The list goes on!
  • The most abusively powerful thing in a Slaanesh army is the Locus of Diversion. All Hedonite heroes have a relatively good chance to make you fight last in the Combat Phase… Every Combat Phase.
  • A surprisingly strong magic defence, with the Harp/Mirror combo especially.
  • A fair few ways to self-heal on Heroes: Spells, artefacts and the Hand on the Keeper’s Warscroll.
  • Double pile-in mechanic from the Keeper’s Command Ability makes them super strong in combat.
  • Daisy chain summoning. Probably the most effective way of daisy-chaining in the game, due to how much depravity you can generate.

So let’s balance this out and look at some of the weaknesses:

  • Slaanesh are super squishy. There is literally nothing in the entire book that has better than a 4+ save. No rend immunity, and fuck all Mortal Wound protection.  (Excluding the Contorted Epitome – which is probably the best unit in the book, more  to come on that later).
  • Apart from a few spells which have a wholly within 18” range (or worse), and the harp Shiela, there is realistically no shooting in the army.
  • There are no flying units in the army – everything is coming at you across the deck.
  • Did I already mention Slaanesh are super squishy?

With all that said, how do we beat Slaanesh?  Let’s break it down into the key points…

List building considerations

If you are looking to play the meta, then you should have already considered these. It’s just business as usual for us scrubs who can’t afford to chase the meta:

Shooting: Nice and simple to work out. You will need some form of ranged output in your list to beat Slaanesh. Otherwise you’ll be fighting uphill even more.

Chaff screens: Another no brainer.  Lack of flying really helps here.

MSU hammer units: these work well against Slaanesh to counteract the Locus.  Just make sure those units can deal 14 wounds against a 4+ save – the healing on the Keeper is full-on, so it’s your responsibility to make sure you can one-shot them.

Fast units: speed kills, and while Slaanesh are fast they only have the advantage if you’re slower than they are.

Durable anvil units: these can also work a treat. Something that can tank heaps of chaff attacks from Daemonettes will go a long way to winning the attrition game.

Deployment

Slaanesh can’t generally teleport or summon in their Turn 1, unless you failed at an alpha. So you won’t need to give much thought in screening off your backfield. Just make sure you measure the threat ranges, check if a keeper has Thermalrider, and don’t leave any gaps.

You can cancel out the double pile-in pretty easily at the Deployment stage.  This ability can only trigger when an enemy unit (one of yours) is within 3”, so by leaving gaps greater than this between your screens and the units they are shielding, you can choke it off at the source. 

Look for opportunities to bait out Keepers.  Slaanesh players running Godseekers love to go fast, over extend and gift you the death of their Keepers / Bestigor / Daemonettes Turn 1. Keep this in mind when deploying.  Dangle something that will tempt them in, set up for a counterpunch and laugh at the noob across the table while you rack up all the points on Objectives.

If you have units that can deploy off the table and come on somewhere in your turn: Do it!  Because Heroes are crucial to this army, anything that can threaten them by dropping out of the sky will either force the Slaanesh player to waste disproportionate resources by screening front and back, or let you go to work on their Heroes who aren’t as well defended as they should be.

Combos to watch out for:

  • Thermalrider Cloaked Keeper of Secrets. This fucker can move 18” and fly over your screens. Make sure there’s nowhere for them to go, so she can’t fit in between your lines of shit. Deny her a landing zone: you want to create a bit of distance where applicable against Slaanesh.
  • Keeper’s Command Ability + any killy unit (including themselves). Double pile-ins are nasty. But they are exceptionally fucked when you’re also fighting last.
  • Epitome + Enrapturess. The Mirror / Harp combo. Guaranteed to fuck Tzeentch’s hero phase in the ass. You are forced to reroll successful casts, and if it’s a double on the reroll you take D3 mortals. The Epitome gets to reroll its casting, unbinding and dispelling.
  • Speaking of Tzeentch, you might see Kairos allied into a Slaanesh list. He’s the only non-Slaanesh hero that can generate Depravity Points (if a nearby Keeper knows the Song of Secrets spell, then he does too). Slothful Stupor is a very powerful spell, especially when it is cast through the Umbral Spellportal…by a Tzeentch Hero of all things! 
  • He will also change the game and break your heart, when that one time your opponent does actually roll a 1 for Locus…he changes the result.  As a clutch Hero who can generate Depravity (but won’t earn it by taking wounds), Kairos represents a priority target.
  • Spellportals you say?  One combo I do like is casting Hysterical Frenzy through it. This spell can Fuck.  Hordes.  Up.  It is wholly within 18” range, but that’s what the portals are for!

Target priority

You might be surprised when I tell you not to worry about the Keeper straight away.  It’s one model who is surprisingly whiffy.  Let it do its thing, feed it chaff and who cares.  Deal with it on your terms, unless it’s right in your face.  Unless your Slaanesh opponent is running the Super Keeper General – then all bets are off. That’s a scary motherfucker you don’t want roaming free.

Slaanesh players have a habit of going really top-heavy in their lists to get the most out of Depravity Points. I personally think this is a trap. But it’s great for you, reader!  Kill off their bodies and start scoring those Objectives.

Kill off the support Heroes before the Keeper. These Heroes are usually in the backfield or second wave. By killing them, and feeding chaff to the Keepers, you will limit where they can summon – this is a really key point!

Bringing It All Together: Overall Strategy

I’ve hinted at a few things through this write-up, so let’s bring it all together and highlight the key points:

  • Deploy smart. Ask for threat ranges, ask if one of the Keepers flies, and then simply don’t let your opponent get in your face Turn 1.  That’s one turn fewer of Depravity generation.
  • Kill the heroes outright.  Don’t leave them on a wound, if you commit to killing one make sure it drops.  That’s one less Hero your opponent can summon around.
  • Prioritize the support Heroes and infantry.  Control the board and choke your opponent’s summoning options.  The summoning mechanic isn’t great when they can’t use it effectively.  The support Heroes don’t usually have many wounds, so by getting rid of these it’s a double negative for your opponent.
  • Kill the Keeper on your terms. Don’t be afraid of a single Monster. Don’t get me wrong, they can spike damage and that sucks.  But for the most part, outside of a Pretenders Keeper they aren’t hitting much harder than a Ghorgon.  And when you do kill the Keeper, make sure it dies in one go. They have solid healing potential, and you don’t want to give your opponent more free Depravity Points.

I think we’ll leave it there: I hope people get something out of this. And thanks to Pete for giving me the opportunity!


Thanks Joel – Well there you have it, Mr Slaanesh has sold the family silverware! 

No excuses for anyone losing to Slaanesh now, just go out there and dominate. 

And if you want to see Slaanesh in action, make sure you subscribe to the Measured Gaming YouTube channel, where Joel and the boys regularly put Slaanesh through their paces in some great tactical batreps.

Excelsior!

Featured

Are Slaanesh OP?

Part One of the Focus on Slaanesh Series

It is only by sacrificing everything to the senses’ pleasure that this individual, who never asked to be cast into this universe of woe, that this poor creature who goes under the name of Man, may be able to sow a smattering of roses atop the thorny path of life.

Marquis de Sade, Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795)

Well the performance of Slaanesh at Blackout has certainly caused quite a stir – today I’ll be discussing where I think they stand, and what that means for the game.

Part Two of the Series (coming next week) will look at How to Beat Slaanesh, with Australia’s top Hedonites player spilling the beans!

The big headline was that Slaanesh filled out 5 of the Top 10, and the first thing I want to say there is…

That’s not as bad as it might look

Think about what has to happen in practice to end up in that situation.  If all the Slaanesh armies were utterly dominating everyone else, they are all sitting at 3-0 overnight, and end up playing each other on the top tables.  This means they take wins off each other, and knock each other back down.

That certainly happened a lot with DOK under GH18 in particular.  While their overall tournament win rate sat between 70% and 75%, their win rate outside of mirror matches was an running at an astonigshing 90% in their prime according to stats guru LLV.  That’s just fucking ridiculous.

Think of it this way: we’ve all been at events where two people meet at 4-0, on Table 1, in the final game.  Very rarely does the loser of that match actually finish 2nd overall – even though they were playing off for the win.

So what that leaderboard is telling us is that while some of the Slaanesh were mixing it at the top tables, others lost earlier in the event and rose up through the ranks.  Dominating the final Top 10 like that is usually an indicator that they were not dominating all weekend.

Furthermore, they didn’t win the event, and the high-ranking Slaanesh armies racked up losses against Khorne, KO and Deepkin, which would seem to be a decent spread (thanks to @JustPlay_Ritchie for that insight).

Where it gets a bit harder to explain away is that while this may be a blip – it is not only a blip:

  • At Essex GT in July, we saw Slaanesh filling out 3 of the Top 5, and 1st Overall
  • And then at Midwest Meltdown, they got the 1-2-3 and swept the podium for Best General

In this context, I think it’s a fair question to ask: Are Slaanesh OP?

Let’s Dig Into the Discussion

Let’s look at some of the arguments we’ve seen advanced on this topic:

“Slaanesh are not fun to play against”

Well, this one could be a whole topic in its own right!  I get that it can be frustrating to have to kill your enemy and kill them again – it can certainly feel like they are being rewarded for failure in a way that other armies aren’t.  HOS players can afford to misposition or even YOLO their Keeper of Secrets, and they are automatically halfway to getting another one for free.  In that sense they are out of step with the power levels of other armies. 

The second common complaint is Locus: specifically that it is unengaging to sit back and watch the Hedonites activate again and again and again, while you just stand there and die. 

While it’s true that there are some workarounds (more on this below), I do have some sympathy with this complaint.

What I would say here is that at least stuff is killing and being killed.  I would much rather have this dynamic that something like Vanguard Wing in its prime, which was designed to choke the life out of games.

Or putting it another way: HOS are very strong, but at least they are good at winning games of Warhammer, as opposed to avoiding having to actually play at all.

“They are too strong in certain matchups”

I could certainly agree with this one.  It’s very difficult for a Slaanesh player to lose a game against some armies with multi-wound Battleline: you’re not just relying on playing well yourself in that situation, you’re relying on the Slaanesh player doing something stupid, so it really can be out of your control.

The depravity table is just too generous in these games.

Furthermore, is matchup-dependency a sufficient way to “balance” an army?  Let’s say we were at a tournament with an abnormally high amount of shooting (perhaps taken by some people specifically to address Slaanesh), and a Slaanesh army can therefore “only” manage to go 3-2 .  They would be balanced in the sense that they did not dominate the event, but if all 5 of those games were wild blowouts, that’s not my idea of what good game balance looks like.

Pro-Tip: Sometimes you will actively want to avoid killing a Keeper of Secrets, so as not to award Depravity Points which might otherwise let them bring on some Daemonettes, to steal an objective for example.

My suggestion: Charge it!  If you wait for them to charge you, they will be the ones to dictate what models you have in combat.

Whereas if you charge a Keeper of Secrets with 1-wound chaff, you can double-tag the Keeper to prevent them from piling in, and therefore minimise the number of models you are forced to attack with yourself.

For example, this is how I would contain a Keeper with Gloomspite Gits:

You have to attack the Keeper – but you do not have to pile in. 

With the Netters debuffing the Keeper, two models locking her in place, nowhere to retreat to, and her summoning blocked off, these units are going nowhere fast.

“They’re not unbeatable”

I should bloody well hope not.  That really is a pathetically low bar to set for what is acceptable.  If any army was literally unbeatable, we might as well give up now.

An army can quite conceivably be both beatable, and OP.  Anything in that 70%+ win rate window I think deserves be looked at very carefully. 

There are certainly some workarounds that can be built into your army.  For example, you can encircle Slaanesh Heroes to shut down their summoning.  This aspect of the mechanic would be true whether you generated summonable units 10x faster than you do now, or 10x slower.  In fact, you could get an infinite number of Depravity points, but if you get your Heroes shut down or sniped, you can’t use them. 

I think most people would accept that an infinite amount of summoning would be OP.  The exact same difficult-to-achieve workarounds would apply in that scenario.  So just because there are ways and means to shut down the summoning does not in any way mean that the scaling of it is correct.

Shut it down and you’re golden.  Fail to shut it down and they will generate extra units at a ludicrous rate.  It’s a good mechanic that has been overdone – the definition of OP.

“Just take shooting”

Let me flip that around: Why bother, when you can just take Slaanesh?  They are way easier to win a lot of games with than most shooting armies, which will be hamstrung across the course of most tournaments by bad matchups.

If you want to run an S-Tier army, fair play to you, but at least own the filth.  Don’t try to put it on your opponents for not taking jank that will lose them a lot of games, and that you haven’t been willing to go out on a limb and take yourself.

I would argue that if you believe the entire meta should shift to accommodate a specific army that cannot reasonably be dealt with by most mainstream builds…again, that’s actually a pretty good working definition of OP.

WWPD: What Would Plastic Do?

If Slaanesh summoning was cut in half, would they be a bad army?  Of course not.  You will still have that game of cat and mouse where you are trying to shut down their summoning entirely – what it would do to the game is make it a much tighter equation when that is not possible, rather than a dispiriting blow out. 

My suggestion would simply be to rescale the summoning table, and significantly increase the number of DPs that each unit costs: DPs already require a huge amount of bookkeeping so I don’t think that’s a strong enough argument against.  Personally I would look at a 30% – 40% increase across the board, but there is room for some more finesse there once you get into the fine detail.

A more subtle way would be to prevent Mortal Wounds from contributing DPs – this used to be the case before the book came out, and their summoning really didn’t need that buff. This would be a lesser nerf, and has the upside of bringing in more strategic counter play.

A third option that I quite like, as suggested by Michael Thomson (@greenraiderz21), would be to limit the summoning to once per Movement Phase, maybe even wiping the slate clean when DPs are used in a manner similar to Khorne’s Blood Tithes. Any of these methods for reigning it in could work.

Similarly, I think Locus is a good mechanic that has been overcooked.  What if Locus went off on a 5+ (and 3+ for Greater Daemons), instead of a 4+ (and 2+ for Greater Daemons)? 

What you would see in practice is that there would be fewer feel-bad moments from chains of Locus.  Good players still have the tools to win a lot of games with the army, but less experienced players would have to improve their standard of play to do well with Slaanesh on the mid tables, where currently they might often get away with loose play. 

Similarly, it would take the edge off a little in their (very) good matchups, and make more room for player skill to come into the equation.

The rules would be exactly as thematic as they are now – mechanically, they would function in literally the exact same way.  The army’s strengths and playstyle would still be what they are now. 

So you’d end up with a powerful, thematic army that is both challenging and fun to play with and against. 

That would be a great spot to be in.

The TLDR

Slaanesh are obviously very strong: however, the domination of multiple recent events is a red herring.

My gut feel is that they are too strong on the mid tables moreso than the top tables – bad players are not punished sufficiently for bad play.

Similarly they are overtuned in their good matchups to an extent that they breaks those games, even if they don’t break the game.

I believe that Slaanesh has some good game mechanics that have gone too far:

  • Slaanesh summoning is too generous and I would like to see that dialled back
  • Locus should also be made one click harder to trigger

This is about bringing the army back down to earth in specific ways, rather than smashing it across the board – overall, they present an interesting challenge, and relative to other recent boogeymen, it’s not actually that bad for the game that Slaanesh is having its moment in the sun.

Final Thoughts

We all have skin in the game here.  Slaanesh players have a vested interest in arguing that the army is “fine”: partly because they want to feel like they are winning games through superior Generalship (and not simply by pushing around a busted army), and partly to win the online war of words, thereby shielding their army against potential future nerfs.

We also need to recognise that Non-Slaanesh players have the exact opposite interests at stake, so I have at least tried to be fair in my assessments. 

But being fair is not the same thing as failing to reach conclusions or having opinions.  Like all of you, I have opinions on Warhammer, and these are mine: you’re welcome to agree or disagree, either in the comments here or by hitting me up on Twitter @PlasticCraic

Excelsior!

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Battletome Orruk Warclans – Wishlist and Predictions

Everyone knows our horsemen are invincible. They fight because they’re hungry. Our empire is surrounded by enemies. Our history is written in blood, not wine. Wine is what we drink to toast our victories.

~ Attila the Hun

FUCK YEAH! Lock up your monsters and hide your gits, the Orruks are coming!

Battletome Orruk Warclans was announced at the AOS Open Day 2019, and this one has given me a major green boner. Let’s get the hype train rolling with some wild speculation about what might be in there, and what we have to look forward to.

Before we jump into it, make sure you’ve read the Community article on the subject (scroll down to 10.30am):

https://www.warhammer-community.com/2019/07/20/the-warhammer-age-of-sigmar-open-day-2019-live-bloggw-homepage-post-1/

Now I’m gonna fanboy out, so crack open a Battle Brew and come along for the ride!

What’s the scoop?

What we know so far is that Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz are being combined together into one book. They will both have their own individual Allegiance available, as well as a combined Great Waaagh! allegiance. So, essentially Legions of Gordrakk.

Sounds good, right?

Not my Orruks

Well, some people don’t think so. I’ve heard more than a little kickback from Ironjawz players saying that they don’t want Bonesplitterz in their book. Some people are just dicks, and they can suck it up, but in fairness there is a rational reason behind some of the pushback – specifically, Ironjawz have waited so long for a proper book, that it was reasonable to expect that they would get a big update with new models when it eventually came. And this combined Battletome probably means that a significant second wave of Ironjawz models is still years away.

I hear ya.

Nonetheless, I think we can live without a big new release of models this time for the following reasons:

  • The model range is already outstanding. Brutes are the best orc miniatures that have ever been made by any company for any game system. The Maw Krusha looks like a clenched fist about to smash you in the face. In fact, the only true bum note across the two ranges is the Bonesplitterz Maniak Weirdnob – the rest of the Finecast (e.g. Wurgogg Prophet) is actually pretty good.

Pro Tip: Ardboyz can get a bad rep. They look way better with actual orc heads instead of the helmets. It’s those pseudo-viking helmets that make them look goofy – stick a proper head on there and see the difference.

  • The two ranges dovetail nicely. There is always room for more kits and more specialist units (more of which later), but between the two armies we already have chaff, support heroes, magic, shooting, elite infantry, both light and heavy cavalry, and a fucking ass-kicking smashmonster of DOOM. The combined range is in really good shape.
  • It fits the lore perfectly. These guys already fight together all the time. Firestorm told the story of Gulgaz Gutstompa and his Waaagh!, which pulled together Bonesplitterz, Ironjawz and plenty more besides under the leadership of this Savage Big Boss. Battletome Bonesplitterz has a story about an army of Ironjawz getting bogged down in a grind against Nurgle, only to be rescued by Bonesplitterz who came surging in with fresh energy to turn the tide. So don’t fight it, embrace the Savage Waagh! and fall in behind your new Bonesplitter overlords!
  • It’s been designed to fit everyone’s needs. I’m definitely biased here, because I play and love both armies. But at the end of the day, if you want to play pure Ironjawz…you can. If you want to play pure Bonesplitterz…you can. If you want to combine them…you can.

You can’t really say fairer than that in my opinion.


Low-Hanging Fruit

OK let’s bash out a few easy predictions:

The one-drop Battalions will become Skyports: I could see the three existing Bonesplitterz ones being ported straight across: the most magical one that gets better casting, the horde one that requires heaps of bodies and brings on more from board edges, and the one with the best pigs.

For Ironjawz, you could probably expect to see Ironsunz and Bloodtoofs come across. The third one is up for grabs.

There is some interesting lore already out there about a few other clans: my personal favourite is the Skybashas, who thunder around the skies in ramshackle flying vehicles. Brutes on hoverboards? Yes please!

Unfortunately this one ain’t happening , because it would require a bespoke model range, although it could make a really nice themed army if you fancied modelling up some HoverBrutes to use the Gore Gruntas warsrcoll.

You do have plenty of fertile ground to explore with the likes of the Asheater Boyz and Zedek’s Weirdlads, who will just burn down EVERYTHING…that opens up some really cool design space; for example my inner twat would love to burn down your faction terrain and remove it from the board. So it’ll be really interesting to see what they do come up with.

Zedek’s Weirdladz

Gordrakk will lose his Command Ability: Let’s be honest, it must be a huge millstone for the rules writers to have to consider the “What about Gordrakk” factor in every Battalion, in every book, in the whole GA. Getting rid of that (and replacing it with something more focused) will hopefully let GW cut loose with better Battalions in the long run.

Farewell to the Jank: There’s plenty of old rules here that need to be tidied up, both beneficial and harmful to the armies. All of those Within bubbles can expect to become Wholly Within; popping extra attacks for Bonesplitterz will be on Unmodified 6s; buffs will last until your next Hero phase; Strength From Victory will specify that you allocate wounds from the relevant weapon last; and so on, and so on, and so on.

We will get a Megaboss on Gore Grunta: as part of a Carrion Empire-style box. And he will be glorious.

Buckle up, let’s make some calls

So I haven’t really stuck my neck out too far up until now. Let’s run through a few riskier calls. Feel free to chime in with your own in the comments!

The Waaagh! Mechanic: We know from the Community article (linked above) that this is a resource you accumulate over the course of the battle, and choose when to unleash. I’m thinking that this will be something you can build up in multiple different thematic ways: for example, you could gain a number of Waaagh! points for every completed charge, for every 5 opponent models slain in the Combat phase, for every 10 Orruks within 12″ of your General at the start of your Hero Phase, and so on.

You will then have a range of options for how you spend it. Both Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz already have a summoning mechanic based on extra Ladz being drawn to the Battlefield by the pull of the Waaagh!, in this case via the Ardfist and Bonegrinz Batallions. The option to resurrect units via Batallions may or may not live on (unlikely in my opinion), but I do expect the Waaagh! mechanic to give the option to bri