“They make war not just to fill their extensive bellies, but because they love the thrill of it. No longer are they outsized monsters repeatedly lashed by the elements, challenged by would-be heroes and often starved to near-exhaustion by their own ravenous metabolisms; on the day of battle, they are gods.”
— Battletome: Sons of Behemat
At this point, it’s fair to say I’ve banged on about the book at length. This final post in the Sons of Behemat series will be a quick one, addressing a few questions that have already come up time and again, hopefully acting as a useful reference for people who, like me, are planning on playing the army.
I’m going to flip the script and give a few pointers on how I would go about beating Sons if I saw it across the table, and then we’ll wrap up with a couple of quick thoughts on quality of life in Sons of Behemat, because I just can’t help myself.
Then it’s over to you: let me know your war stories, let me know what lists you’re playing, let me know how you’re finding them out in the wild!
Ready? Let’s go.
Do they have any Allies?
No. Hard No.
What about the Fungoid Cave Shaman?
Still no. The rules allowing this cheeky sausage to be included in any Destruction army came via Malign Portents and its FAQ:
However, GW recently uploaded a list of publications that are part of Matched Play (without requiring special permission from your opponent). Malign Portents is not one of them.
Check out the GH20 DC for the full list:
And huge shoutout to Vince from Warhammer Weekly for suggesting this on his show, it’s a great resource for the game. If you play an army that’s had the White Dwarf treatment – which is loads of them, at this stage – you are back in business!
How about Mercs?
Brilliantly, yes. The Merc rules from GH19 were removed from the game, but that doesn’t mean all Mercs are gone.
Forbidden Power, which is on the Matched Play list linked above, has its own self-contained rules for using Fyreslayers or FEC as Mercs. The whole playbook is open with the exception of some FEC monsters, meaning you can bring onboard an Arch Regent for a proper 2-spell caster who comes with 20 free Ghouls.
This one was thrown out there by Rob on his brutally entertaining (or entertainingly brutal?) review of the book, and it’s certainly a good option. One thing I’d point out though is that you don’t get those Ghouls turn 0, so you can’t deploy them as a screen to push 9″ teleporting dakka back from your good stuff. It’s an intriguing option, nonetheless.
Can the Kracken-Eater Dispell or cast Endless Spells?
No, because he doesn’t gain the Wizard keyword. This is the trigger that allows access to both, from the Malign Sorcery supplement:
This might get a favourable FAQ down the track, but as it stands, that artefact feels pretty underpowered.
Does Longshanks allow me to step over Endless Spells?
No. Read the rule carefully, and it’s pretty clear that this falls through the cracks:
The rule allows you to “ignore models that have a Wounds characteristic of 10 or less”. Endless Spells do not meet those conditions. The first part is fine – they are models – but the second part is not. They do not have a Wounds characteristic of 10 or less. They do not have a Wounds characteristic at all.
Their Wounds characteristic is not zero, nor a million, nor blue, nor a sausage, nor Wednesday. It doesn’t exist. They don’t have one. Claiming that they have a Wounds characteristic of zero is, unfortunately, just making shit up.
Encouragingly, Facehammer don’t seem to understand how this rule works. In their second bite at reviewing the book, they talked about using Longshanks to charge or pile in over models to reach a Mortek Crawler (which is not legal, because neither of those are normal moves); they also stated that you can walk over Endless Spells, which is wrong as detailed above.
Why is this encouraging? Because if it implies that the rule doesn’t do what the playtesters thought it would do, then perhaps it isn’t functioning as intended, and we could have a favourable FAQ incoming.
My one big hope here would be that this is an erratum to the Longshanks rule itself (adding “and Endless Spells”), rather than a face-saving “clarification” that models without a Wounds characteristic count as having a Wounds characteristic of zero. The latter could raise knock-on questions in terms of terrain models having a Wounds count, so let’s just keep it clean and clear and fix the issue where it sits: within Longshanks itself.
How to beat Sons of Behemat
Most analysis I’ve seen focuses on what can or can’t take down a Mega Gargant in a single turn. My advice? Don’t bother.
What I’d be doing in most cases is walloping the Mancrushers first. They can’t screen at all, and putting 12 wounds through a 5+ save really isn’t hard. Once you’ve smashed them, the Sons player only has a couple of models left, which you can overwhelm or ignore depending on the mission.
Let me tell you, if I play against you with KO, I won’t be throwing the kitchen sink at failing to kill your rerollable Warstomper; your Mancrushers are going to be standing around with their heads exploding like a scene from The Boys, and then your Stomper won’t be quick enough or strong enough to solo the army.
It’s broad advice and of course you’ll need to adapt to individual circumstances, but as a Sons of Behemat player, I feel like you’ll be playing right into my hands in most instances if you go straight for my most durable units.
A few words on Quality of Life
Regardless of where this book ultimately sits in terms of power level, I think there are a couple of ways the quality of life could have been improved, purely to help people just enjoy these guys as much as possible.
The first point is customisation. The obvious comparison for this army is Stonehorns, and when I look at them, I usually run two Frosties: I’ve played about 30 games with that army now, and in every single one of them, they’ve had 1 Command Trait, 2 Artefacts and 2 Mount Traits between them. That’s 5 pieces of additional tech layered on to two models, and this is not a stretch: it’s just how people play them in the real world, without having to bust your army to get there. It’s just what you get.
If any model in the game should have agency, it’s the Mega Gargant. Look at them! The rules writers only had one kit to work with, I hear ya, but I do feel like they left something on the shelf in terms of giving the big fellas a bit of leeway with “Mount Traits” and maybe a second, free artefact for the army since they can’t take Battalions. I don’t think that would push them beyond the pale.
Secondly is the damage issue. The tenor of the debate has tended to boil down to:
On the one hand, a call for fewer attacks doing more damage per swing, because damage 2 is a bit daft and not thematic for these gods of war;
On the other hand, a defence of the current position, which is around 8-10 attacks doing about 2 damage each, because rolling more dice smooths out the bumps
My two cents would that this didn’t have to be either / or. In a book with four Warscrolls, it would hardly bloat the rules to allow each Mega to choose how they use their weapon when they attack: either “Swing” or “Smash”.
I actually don’t find it unthematic that a Mega-G can get 10 attacks per swing; the Gatebreaker for example has a flail, and we’ve all heard the expression “flailing around”. I could totally get on board with multiple opportunities to hit from one big lunge, whipping that thing around on its chain.
On the other hand, how cool would it be to have just the option to bring this thing smashing down in one big swoop, to fucking stove something’s head right in? One mighty attack, with an unmodifiable 4+ hit roll, doing a surreal amount of damage if it does connect.
What this does is puts agency in the hands of your players. Most times they’ll choose the Swing anyway, because it’s reliable output; but you’re giving them the choice. Even just having access to the Smash will make these guys feel like they have the potential to unleash absolute hell, if they land this one huge blow just right. It might not stop KO and Tzeentch hoovering up the podiums, but fuck me it’ll give you some epic stories.
Just a thought.
So that’s a wrap folks! If you’re still thirsty for more, the Just Saying guys have a full review that is both detailed and insightful, so go check them out and you’ll be ready to go to war:
If you’re planning on playing this army, I’ll point you one more time to my own Takers review, which is when I started to get excited for Sons. What’s more, the tech is in large part transferable to other Tribes by bringing the kicker with you:
Takers Tribe yesterday got me pretty fired up: breaking all those scenarios wide open felt pretty good, in my head at least!
I’m going to be up front after that and say that Breakers is the Tribe where I personally see the least competitive potential, even though the Executioner has the coolest look; if Lotan had a Sons of Behemat tribe, it would be Breakers.
But that being said, Breakers Tribe does at least lean into bumping up the big boys, so let’s see where it can take us, and have some fun with the Megas.
What do they do?
They do this:
They break scenery. That’s their thing. Faction terrain springs to mind, but unfortunately a lot of that is well behind enemy lines, and you’ll never get to it. Exceptions to that rule being Wyldwoods (finally: I don’t care if Sylvaneth are shit, I’ve always wanted to smash those stupid trees into splinters) and Skaven Gnawholes (you really can’t afford to leave one quarter of your army behind standing behind in them).
Sadly, Idoneth shipwrecks will still ruin your day. It’s been pointed out in the Sons WhatsApp that these boats are >4″ tall at the point of the mast, so you can’t walk over any part of the boat for free with Longshanks. And there you have the tragedy of the Longshanks rule in a nutshell.
You can break them to Rubble, but there’s nothing in this book saying what that actually means; it looks like a pointer to 3rd edition (whenever that may be), but in the meantime we can’t actually use the rules in our own book.
Seriously though, how can you literally smash terrain into rubble and then still not walk over it? The book really should have had a rule that just let you walk over Rubble; or better yet, a Longshanks rule that didn’t just get switched off so easily and unthematically by so many things.
You can potentially get some juice out of smashing scenery in Realms, if you play them; the main application I can think of is removing Entangling from terrain features in Chamon, so you can chase down a gunline with any models you still have standing.
For going in Allegiance, you get a dicey opportunity to break terrain with Mancrushers (not really worth planning around when the Mega-G himself does it so much more reliably), and your Mancrushers do extra damage against enemies wholly in terrain or garrisoned.
Meh. The terrain thing could be good for forcing small Heroes out of cover, but otherwise this is most likely to be a thing against KO in their boats (unless, as is more likely, they’ve already hopped out and massacred all your Mancrushers). If your opponent forgets that you have this rule, you might screw them over with a gotcha moment in terrain. Once. I guess.
Of more interest is the Fierce Loathings ability: this grants +1 To Hit for your Gatebreakers and Mancrushers against a target of your choice (which must be selected at list building stage). This is a prime example of the disconnect between the passion and creativity coming from the background writers on this book, and the often half-arsed rules writing: they have cool, thematic and genuinely funny descriptions, but then they’re all just +1 To Hit something. Ho Hum.
What’s a little bit sad is that the Gatebreaker only hits on 4s to begin with on his main attack, whereas everyone else hits on 3s. So it can feel like this book takes rules away from you, then makes you jump through hoops to get back to where you should have started.
It will get your Mancrushers hitting on 2s though, so for a Big Waaagh player like me it’s nice to know I’m not leaving that crutch behind completely!
Like any table of 6 things in a GW book, there is some solid gold, some worthless dross and a little bit inbetween. My picks here are Bossy Pants and Clever Clogs (+1 vs Heroes and Wizards), Idiots With Flags (units with command models, which is a lot) and Shiny ‘Uns (anything with an armour save of 4+ or better). The danger with Idiots is that your opponent can pluck out their command models after you’ve done your Mortal Wounds on the charge, but even that is having its own impact.
What I do like here is that we have an ability that makes your Megas fight harder: with a pretty punchy rend -3 damage 3 per swing and a decent number of attacks, this might just be the Tribe for those determined to have a Mega-G that feels like the wrecking ball it should.
And also for people who hate Wyldwoods. Fuck Wyldwoods.
40 Wounds is always a good ‘un, and there’s a tempting option (Louder than Words, cool name yet again!) to give yourself two extra attacks with the Flail. I’d generally avoid aggro options with these guys at all costs, but if we’re looking to kill shit and make Megas feel fun – and if we’re not doing that, we probably shouldn’t be playing Breakers – then it’s not a bad old choice.
Extremely Bitter lets you choose two different Fierce Loathings, again an aggro option but a good ‘un. Worth noting is that you can sometimes overlap these effects, getting +2 To Hit. I’d stick to picking from those three.
Enchanted Portcullis delivers a 6++ aftersave, combining nicely with the 40 Wounds CT to give you a true pain in the ass to deal with. 6++ is decent enough when you’ve got a high wound count and don’t chart hard.
The Great Wrecka is absolute garbage: it gets slightly easier to smash terrain, and delivers 1 puny mortal wound on natural 6s with your Flail. Oh that’s in addition to the normal damage, and not instead of? Stop spoiling us!
I genuinely cringed when listening to Facehammer trying to pretend that they liked this thing. OK new rule: anyone who claims that this is a good way to use the only Artefact you can possibly have (remember, no Battalions) has to both run this army and actually use that Artefact for the next 12 months. Then talk to me about how good it is.
The last one is also a crappy, situational reroll wounds thing. Forget about both of those and run the Portcullis, every time.
Part of the reason I’m so keen on the Gatebreaker is that he reminds me of the modern classic Gutbusters Tyrant. Me and the Little Big Man had a lot of fun and took some decent scalps over the years:
So our list today is going to lean into the making Mega-Gs feel like Mega-Gs should. Minimum baby giants, because that’s not what we’re here for; and the luxury of an aggro CT to put the cat amongst the pigeons.
Gatebreaker (General) 490
Command Trait: Extremely Bitter
Artefact: Enchanted Portcullis
Fierce Loathings: Shiny ‘Uns, Bossy Pants and Clever Clogs
3x Mancrushers 480
Extra Command Point 50
2000 Points, 141 Wounds
Hitting on 4s against anything where you don’t have a Fierce Loathing makes me nervous for these guys in general; even a single neg 1 to hit will pretty much switch them off. But at least with two Executioners we’ve got two chances to cover off the right units.
Flailing away pathetically at a Tzeetch Hero would just feel bad, so we’re going after them with Bossy Pants, and Shiny ‘Uns can help our General to layeth the smacketh down on tough units, and hopefully keep him feeling like a force of nature.
Minimum Mancrushers have to go in a single block to stay under points, so we have the choice between a Triumph or a CP. Triumphs are amazing, but so is keeping your babies on board when you face Turn 1 firepower, so we’ll grab a safety CP instead of bidding for the Triumph with this particular army structure.
As a combat army, I’m not sure that this is quite the best this book can offer; across the course of a few games, or a tournament, I do think you’ll get more mileage out of Mancrushers in Stompers. But if you want to steer your Sons back in the direction of Mega Gargants – running multiples of the sweetest model, looking epic on the tabletop, and with the big boys doing the heavy lifting – then this is the way I would go.
Within the next few days I’ll be aiming to wrap up my SOB coverage with an overall look at the release, what I liked about it and where I think it could have been done better. That’s going to take a little while to gather together because like a lot of you, I’m conflicted in multiple ways about this release; so please do bear with me if it doesn’t hit the press straight away.
Until then: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.
Let’s not muck about: the mechanics of the Kraken-Eater in general, and his Takers Tribe in particular, are without a doubt the most innovative, exciting, new-shiny, powerful and generally fucking wonderful thing in the whole book, glistening like a diamond in a dog turd.
Today’s review is all about getting our kicks from Takers Tribe, and breaking missions apart.
In a world of puny, underpowered Mega Gargants, this guy stands alone as the most feeble of the lot. I’m not going to waste everyone’s time and energy going back over that ground, but suffice to say you’re not taking him for his brutal melee output.
No, you’re taking him for this:
Holy shit! Ok, there’s a couple of things to note here:
It’s going to a new position on the battlefield (no kicking it off the board!)
You must control it first (no grab ‘n’ kick on the same turn)
It has to be more than 1″ away from all models, so don’t forget to leave a landing pad
Why is this so strong? First up, it plays into your gameplan. You have a chronic shortage of units, and the Mancrushers will start dropping dead from the top of turn 1, so projecting power to multiple areas of the board is a huge issue for this army. Well, what if we make the board come to us instead?
Secondly, bear in mind that per the core rules (p10), you can capture at the end of either player’s turn (but only score VPs on your own turn). So you can go second, capture objectives while your opponent does their thing, then you’re ready to rumble from your very first hero phase.
Thirdly, it busts a lot of Battleplans wide open. Our batrep went over that ground with a mission from the Core Book; let’s take a look at what other jank we can pull off with the GH20 missions
Objective in your zone? 1 VP
Objective in your opponent’s zone? 3 VPs.
BOSH! Kick em forward, and your opponent could be out of the game before they know it.
Bonus VPs for Monsters and Behemoths? Don’t mind if I do!
BOSH! Have one model within 6″ of multiple objectives, and they can hoover up multiple bonus VPs every time
Bonus VPs for having a leader within 6″, sounds good to me!
BOSH! No rest until all four are beneath our feet.
Battle for the Pass
1 VP in your own zone, 2 VPs in the DMZ and 4 in your opponent’s.
BOSH! Punt that rock 7″ turn one, and they can’t score 4 VPs all game.
Burn in your enemy’s zone, with a bonus VP for having a leader nearby
BOSH! Kick ’em forward, now you can burn and they can’t. Sucks to be them!
Knife to the Heart
Need to hold both, but don’t want to leave a huge chunk of your army behind?
BOSH! Shuffle your own objective forward with your army, until you’re in range to rush your multi-capping bodies forwards and swamp theirs. Kick and flood, kick and flood.
Counterpoint: Why Bother?
The fact is, you don’t need to take Takers to gain access to this game-changing mechanic. I believe the Kraken-Eater is the best backup Mega-G in Stompers, and even the best Ally to other armies.
With my Gloomspite hat on, I’m not averse to the idea of kicking an objective underneath a block of 60 Grots (maybe with the Madcap Shaman’s signature spell protecting him); and Theo Jansen has pointed out on Twitter that the Kraken Eater gets access to some generous “Friendly unit” tech in Fyreslayers.
I’m sure there are plenty of other unintended consequences in Grand Alliance: All The Toys, and the Kraken-Eater in Stompers may well be the best way to use him in Sons; but for today, we’re going to focus on leaning in to his Tribe, and where that can take us with the pure objectives ‘n’ jank playstyle.
Big boys count as 30, babies count as 15. Love it.
There’s a school of though that 20 and 10 in Stompers is enough, and I can see that argument, but anyone who’s played Stonehorns will tell you that you regularly win matches by retreating onto an objective late game.
Using the Boulderhead CA to zoom along in your top movement bracket is money, so this army will certainly be slower, but retreating a Mancrusher onto a point that already has 10 models on it, or a Mega-G onto one with 20 models perched there will win you games.
You also get a free Triumph for killing enemy heroes who hold artefacts. Whoop de doop. Triumphs are fantastic, but how often is that going to happen when you need to wade slowly through all their chaff first? Given how seldom this will happen, it’s more of a memory test than a rule.
All the standard stuff, including 40 wounds, but the one that stands out is Strong Right Foot. Kick objectives 3D6″ instead of 2D6″, sounds good to me! It’s that little bit more reliable and that little bit closer to getting one out of your deployment zone – in practice it could turn the kicking from a fun gimmick into a reliable win condition (as long as you can keep the fucker alive, at least).
The other one that catches the eye is Very Acquisitive. You can take a second artefact and even give it to the same dude, which genuinely breaks new ground in design space for this game. Trouble is, these artefacts aren’t worth giving up the 3D6″ kick (for my money at least), but it’s certainly interesting.
Thematically, these guys get 6 artefacts to choose from.
Unthematically, they’re mostly shit, and probably the worst selection in the book overall.
Some people seem excited about the ability to make this guy literally the worst non-wizard in the game. One spell, no bonuses to cast, no bonuses to unbind, no spell lore and not even access to the Wizard keyword that gives access to Dispell and Realm spells.
This doesn’t seem to have been thought through at all and is downright shoddy. Hopefully an FAQ will elevate it somewhat, but this artefact can get fucked either way.
Unfortunately there’s little in the way of defensive tech, and there’s a lot of situational, 4+ RNG crap in here. Jaws of the Mogalodon appeals for rerolling 1s left, right and centre, which should add up over the course of the game; Krakenskin Sandals makes your Stomp a lot more effective, and bumps it all the way up to a whopping 3 attacks.
Probably Jaws followed by Sandals I’d say, but it’s fairly slim pickings.
The Chuckle Brothers
Command Trait: Strong Right Foot
Artefact: Jaws of the Mogalodon
3x Mancrushers 480
2000 Points, 142 Wounds
Double the Kraken for double the craic. Punt that rock and get that gold!
One thing that can’t be overstated is just how many keywords you have in this army for harvesting bonus VPs. Literally every unit you will run is a leader, a monster, a batteline unit, a behemoth or multiples of the above.
I’ve played Ironjawz a lot over the years, right through the era of the 30-odd% win rate, and I reckon I got tabled in at least half of the victories I won. This army turbocharges that playstyle: people will be setting new world-records for getting tabled inside 2 turns, and still being too far ahead on VPs to be caught.
Is that fun? Well that depends on your mindset and expectations. It’s not the brainless, smashfest drinker’s army it might have been imagined as, but you can have exciting games with this army on its own terms, especially with the right matchups on the right Battleplans. I honestly feel like getting a lucky run with this build could be your best (slim) chance of a 4-1, although let’s be clear, you could also wrack up a lot of heavy losses just as quickly!
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the Breakers Tribe, and then wrap it up with an overall review of the release. Until then: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.
What if giants, but smashier? Make the Warstomper your General, run your Sons in Stompers, and all your dreams of stamping on puny infantry like insects can come true. Kinda.
Before I launch into the details of this army and how I see it winning games (or otherwise), let me steer you towards Alex Butler’s excellent batrep. Although I’m still struggling through the cognitive dissonance of what these guys are versus what they could have been, which will no doubt come across in this article, Alex put together an excellent showcase of Stompers and what they can offer on the tabletop, which did help me turn that frown upside down.
Why Run Stompers?
At heart, this army’s main strength is capping objectives. Anyone who has played with or against Stonehorns will tell you how game-defining their Might Makes Right rule can be: get them down to one wound, and with barely a toenail on the objective, they still count as 10 models and instacap. It’s hard to overstate the importance and impact of that rule.
Sons of Behemat are essentially the Hearthguard Bezerkers of scoring objectives: if you push your models towards each other, they automatically come out on top, every time and against everything.
But with Sons, you will lose models, and most likely quite quickly; so then the whole balancing act with this army becomes trying to insert at least situational damage output on the one hand, and on the other hand foregoing that almost entirely, to focus instead on scrambling to stay alive and on the objectives for just long enough before getting tabled.
In the real world, you’ll always be doing both: fighting and dying, capping and retreating. So which way do you want to lean on that sliding scale? Stompers pushes the needle more towards mixing it in melee, and staying alive by killing their shit first, but it’s important to note that you’re still unlikely to run right over the top of any half-decent opponent.
In common with all Megas, your Warstomper is surprisingly (and disappointingly) feather-fisted in melee. Let’s take a moment to appreciate how truly pathetic that Damage 2 is on his main weapon, the spectacularly oversold Titanic Boulderclub. A profile similar to some relatively cheap support Heroes (looking at you, Arkanaut Admiral) is one thing, but even at its peak number of attacks, it’s lower than a minimum unit of Fellwater Troggoths can deliver. Last time I checked they weren’t exactly dominating the podiums, and this is honestly just sad.
This thing does scale up, depending on what you’re fighting:
Why? Why cap it at 10? That rule has “It’s Destruction, better not make them too good” written all over it. This guy is meant to be an anti-horde specialist, his core stats are already underwhelming and then you put a hard cap on his upside too? Well at least he always gets a minimum of 1 attack, I guess. How very generous.
Relative to other Megas he has more stamping attacks (labelled as Jump Up and Down here), although 4 damage D3 attacks isn’t going to shake the world; and his pluck attack (which works on both players’ turns) can parlay into a mid range shooting poke, if you get lucky and hit a 4+:
Long story short, we’re going to have to find different ways to win games with Sons, and if you’re up for the challenge, that’s fine. But without labouring the point any further, I think it’s important to manage your expectations about what this epic beast of destruction will actually do for your army; and for a lot of people the gulf between what these guys are supposed to be, and what they actually deliver, will be vast to the point of immersion breaking.
Stompers Tribe Abilities
What do we get for running Stompers? What it actually does is turns your Mega-G into a force multiplier. He’s here to crank up the little giants, and get them firing on all cylinders.
First up, the Mancrushers get a welcome damage bonus: +1 damage against units of 10 or more models, +2 damage against units of 20 or more models. That’s really not hard to trigger, and so is of excellent practical benefit.
Whilst very welcome, it does (in my opinion) often only get Mancrushers back to where they should have started: 10 attacks at rend -1 damage 2 is in no way excessive for a unit that costs 180 points on a 5+ save. Nonetheless, it may well be your best chance of actually killing shit with this book.
In another stroke of pettiness, these damage bonuses don’t apply to the Warstomper himself (“Better not make them too good” klaxon); but on the plus side, it currently applies to all Mancrusher attacks, including chucking rocks. Look out for that one disappearing in the FAQ, but if not, enjoy it!
The second thing that Stompers gives you is a set of unique Command Abilities, called Big Shouts, which only affect your Mancrushers. These include strictly-better versions of the generic CAs we all have access to (since they affect every Mancrusher within a decent 12″ bubble); of particular interest is the one that lets you run 6″, since they can run and charge natively, making your army pretty fucking rapid.
Also worth a close look is the Big Shout that lets all of your Mancrushers throw rocks. If you’re running the full complement of 9, that starts to add up to a decent bit of output, although you’ll need to be wary of thinning out a chaff unit to the point that you lose your extra damage. It does give you something you can usefully do on the first turn too, because you’re otherwise foot slogging, and not particularly quickly.
Another thing to point out is that you can only use Big Shouts, and no other Command Abilities. This rules out Realm Commands, which sucks if you do play Realms.
Alongside the generic options (40 wounds is always worth a look), Stompers get 3 of their own. I’d be seriously tempted by Very Shouty for D3 extra CPs, because you’ll want to fire up those Big Shouts early and often.
Eager for the Fight, providing a 3D6″ charge, is probably my other pick, on the basis that your Warstomper is otherwise the slowest of the Megas. Getting him onto an objective mid-game onwards could be clutch. Any of those three CTs will contribute to your win condition.
OK, this is where it gets exciting. The Warstomper is probably blessed with the best set of kit in the book. Remember how a minute ago I was moaning about those weird pre-nerfs? Well GW have flipped the script here, and given each Artefact a dual benefit. In each case, I would argue that there is one rule that on its own would make the artefact top tier, and the secondary benefit is just the icing on the cake.
Ironweld Cestus is very, very hard to look past. Reroll all saves…and every save roll of 6 does a MW back. Hell yeah! And you’ll be getting the benefit across a lot of dice rolls, especially if you take the 40 wound Command Trait.
Club of the First Oak heals 1 wound every turn, but get this: when your Warstomper is slain, roll a dice, and on a 4+ you don’t die, and all remaining wounds to be allocated are discarded. Holy shit! Are you a gambler? Keep rolling those 4+s, keep refusing to die, turn after turn!
This is exactly the kind of fun and powerful rules I was hoping for with this book. Although perhaps not as consistently useful as the reroll saves, it’s a straight-up game changer when it does deliver, and you’ll get some great stories out of it. Charge a pack of Death Frenzied Plague Monks when you’re on low wounds, clean house and then shrug off their infinite damage to hold the objective. Hell yeah!
Alex Butler’s meme sums this one up perfectly:
Last but (arguably) not least, Mantle of the Destroyer gives you a decent 12″ bubble of immunity to Battleshock and rerolling charges. This might not be as sexy as the other two, but don’t sleep on it: what it does is liberates your CPs to be spent on aggro actions such as rerolling 1s to hit, and chucking rocks with your Gargant gunline.
It makes your Mancrushers stick around, get where they need to go, and do what they need to do with consistency and style. So if it looks boring, don’t be fooled!
List Building Considerations
So how are we going to go about winning games?
First thing to say is that we need Mancrushers, and plenty of them. Everything we get for running Stompers benefits them, and them alone. We’re looking for at least 6, and probably 9.
We need multiple units, to be in multiple areas of the board at once. Capping as 10 or 20 is great, but to challenge for multiple objectives, we need to threaten in multiple directions – otherwise we’re too easy to screen off. So we’ll probably want a few individual Mancrushers.
We also want a big, scary unit to deliver the pain. If we’re not trying to kill shit at all, there are other tribes (Takers) that work around objectives better; Stompers is going to work by clearing off threats as well as scoring. So we also need at least one big unit of 3 Crushers, to benefit from the Big Shouts and issue a devastating burst of damage in one activation.
This army is Command Point hungry. Big Shouts place heavy demands on that resource, and you do not want any 180-point, 12-wound models fleeing to Battleshock, so you’ll generally want one up your sleeve if your opponent has bravery debuffs.
So what this is telling us is that we need to invest in and support our Mancrushers: you want your Warstomper to deliver for them, but part of that means keeping him around, so his loadout needs to bring a combination of durability and support.
I’d be looking for either two sets of Durability items, or one Durability and one Support. It becomes dealer’s choice at that point, but my preferred combinations currently are:
40 wounds and reroll all saves
40 wounds and the bravery / reroll charges bubble
D3 extra CPs and reroll all saves
I’d be happy taking any of those three loadouts on my list. That Club of the First Oak does keep calling me though…
The Gargant Gunline
Warstomper (General) 480
Command Trait: Very Shouty
Artefact: Ironweld Cestus
3x Mancrushers 480
3x Mancrushers 480
1980 Points, 143 Wounds
One Mega-G and 9 Babies, chucking rocks like they’re going out of fashion. D3 extra CPs to keep those big blocks firing on all cylinders, and reroll saves on the Warstomper to make sure he sticks around to use them.
Those triple-blocks will be legitimately scary to a lot of units, bringing 30 attacks at rend -1 damage 3 a pop, plus all the ancillary pain from plucking models and spiky Eadbutts.
Look to use your solo Crushers as the world’s most inefficient screen when required, but also as utility pieces to bomb down the flanks, stretch your opponent’s attention and steal objectives wherever they can.
Loads of nice keywords and Battlefield roles for those bonus VPs, and you’ll utterly annihilate the right opponent in combat. Look out for chances to make essentially your whole army run 6″ with a single Big Shout, and rearrange the status quo around objectives dramatically.
Smash Mouth Football
Warstomper (General) 480
Command Trait: Monstrously Tough
Artefact: Ironweld Cestus
Kraken Eater 490
3x Mancrushers 480
1990 Points, 142 Wounds
The list that Alex showcased in yesterday’s batrep, bringing all of the above but subbing out one unit of Mancrushers for a second Mega-G.
Not only will this look cooler on the table, the Kraken-Eater brings some serious utility…and serious fun. Kicking objectives around is the shiny new game mechanic that will get you out of a hole on certain missions, and create great war stories. Overall a nice blend of punch and tech.
If you want to fight, Stompers might be the best Tribe to do it in. When the stars align, Mancrushers can be true wrecking balls, even if the concept of those old models doing the heavy lifting won’t appeal to everyone (and wasn’t why they got into this army).
Some people will be OK with that, and it might even suit a person who has a lot of the old Aleguzzlers in their collection; it can be a cheap buy-in with only one Warstomper required.
If you want double the big boys for double the fun, then Alex Butler’s batrep demonstrated that you can chuck in a Kraken Eater for some objective jank and have some really exciting games with this Tribe. That combination of tech and punch might well hit the sweet spot for a lot of people who want to make this army work, and have fun doing it.
We’ll be back tomorrow for a look at Takers, which is the Tribe I’m most excited by, following up with Breakers and then a wrap up of the whole release.
Until then, May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.
Are they good? Are they shit? Are they fun? Are they frustrating? You know what, there’s room for more than one opinion here – and certainly room for nuance between the extremes. Although I might have my own reservations about where this army will ultimately sit, I was rapt to read about Alex’s early adventures with the army, which really showcased a lot of the good things they do bring to the table.
So let’s sit back and enjoy Alex’s army at work, doing what it does best. Over to you Alex, show us what you’ve got!
Alex runs the Vaniljsas YouTube channel, a new venture focused on tactical videos offering punchy and practical tips for improving your game. Check out the channel, watch the videos, Like, Subscribe, Comment, all those good things right here.
Like many of you I started out enjoying Warhammer at a young age, specifically Eldar and Space Wolves from 40K. Following the classic pattern, I then lost touch with the hobby and came back when I got older, but this time jumping into AoS because of the higher focus on fun and excitement.
I jump around armies frequently, and I currently run Ironjawz, Ogors, Fyreslayers and KO. I have always favoured large cavalry focused lists, or a big monster mash – for example in Fyreslayers, I currently run five Magmadroths and no HGB. So I really enjoy leaning into that Timmy style of play, but trying to ‘make it work’ as I go.
Naturally for me, Sons seemed right up my alley: a big stompy army, massive models, and stuffing people in your pants… with all the recent news, what an amazing roller coaster of emotions. But rather than going into that, let’s talk about actually playing a game on the table.
Sons of Behemat
Like many of you, I have looked at Sons of Behemat and wondered where the power is, where is my big play? After having some time with the rules and playing a test game, I believe the route to victory may lie in the tricky plays; but how do we balance this, and get some damage to maintain relevance and keep in the fight?
Warstomper Megagargant – General – Monstrously Tough, Ironweld Cestus
Kraken-Eater Mega Gargant
How The List Works
Required to be our General for the Stomper tribes, the aim is to increase our damage against hordes (changing those 1 damage, 10 attack swings from the Mancrusher to 2-3 damage is huge).
Killing hordes will also help capitalise on our Mightier Makes Rightier rules. I am taking your hordes off you, while demanding that you use a horde-sized unit to take the objective off me!
Given that we are locked to a Warstomper general, we need to help him answer some resilience questions, so we’ve gone with +5 wounds as the Command Trait and Reroll Saves for his artefact, hopefully helping him remain relevant whilst acting like a tarpit.
This guy adds some serious utility, with the ability to move objectives around and massively reduce the army’s need to spread out on the battlefield (with a game-changer of a trick later!).
These are our bread and butter battleline. The Stomper battle traits take these guys from zero to hero the moment they look at hordes. Our set-up is a 3 man unit, aiming to make a big hammer focused on fighting the hordes of enemy models…and hope for the best (fair warning, the army is very swingy).
We are also bringing 3 of these little-big guys as a screen, and general utility. If we have an odd job, we will throw them into the situation and hope for the best, even if it’s just to steal an objective for a turn with the ‘Counts as 10’.
The Batrep: Sons of Behemat vs Slaves to Darkness, Border War
My opponent was one of my main practice partners, and he brought his S2D with a toolbox army set-up. The aim was to have an answer to every question, even if it is a ‘sort of’ answer, rather than getting caught unawares.
We rolled up Border War as the Battleplan, and after reading the details of the mission, I was positively vibrating: I had an idea for a ‘big play’. This battleplan states that the objectives are worth victory points based on their location, and we just got a model that can move the objectives.
In theory, we can move our home objective (which is worth 1 VP to us and 4 VPs to our opponents) to their side of the board, and give us a second objective worth 4 VPs to us and only 1 to them!
I was out dropped, so I was given first turn and had to make of it what I could.
Channeling my inner Blood Bowl player, I moved up my 3 individual Mancrushers, securing both middle objectives for the easy victory points and creating a wide net. This would force my opponent to bring out his Marauders and Knights to deal with the giants, whilst also bringing enough bodies to capture.
We moved the big unit of Mancrushers alongside the Kraken-Eater, and the Warstomper on the other side, essentially creating a protective cage around our valuable units, the Kraken-Eater in particular. He would get his chance to shine in turns 2 and 3, as I needed to capture the objective before I could kick it forward. With 5 VP secured, I handed over to my opponent for his turn.
My opponent moved up as expected, with the Knights going towards my left flank, and the Marauders going for my right flank whilst shifting his army forwards to gain board position. Both of the flanking Mancrushers died this turn, a whopping 360 points down already, reinforcing my belief about how squishy this army is.
Already a big priority roll! I got lucky and rolled high, eagerly taking the turn. The big opener was the objective kick, punting it up the board an average distance. Not where I need it yet, maybe next turn. The Kraken-Eater followed it up the board diligently.
We pushed our big unit of Mancrushers up the right flank, onto those Marauders who had taken down our lone giant. And wow, the damage total was perfect for an excitable player like me! We got started with some throwing attacks chipping in a small amount of damage, followed by some good charge damage, and my opponent still had 10+ models in the unit so we had +1 damage to all our attacks.
3 Mancrushers all swinging with +1 damage to every attack against Marauders with a 5+ save? We busted them open with headbutts before we even rolled with the clubs, doing in excess of 30 damage over and above the health of the squad.
On the left flank our Warstomper got stopped by Be’Lakor… well… that’s that I guess. Pretty sad that he got stopped in his tracks but I expected this, and would hope for better next round.
Our lone Mancrusher in the middle ran forward, dodging past Be’Lakor and getting a toe in on the backfield objective, capturing it and securing 7VP this turn for a total of 12.
My opponent then moved his Knights in, buffing them up and charging my Kraken-Eater whilst staying away from my now out-of-position Warstomper. What a nightmare, my high value unit who had the big plan was about to feel the pain. Luckily, after all the dice were done, I had 19 wounds taken. *Phew* Not out yet.
My Mancrusher on his home objective was promptly executed (you did a good job buddy, 4VP!).
Now wary of my Mancrushers, my opponent also moved his Chaos Warriors up on my right flank to intercept my team of hordekillers. My Mancrushers were saved by a god-tier dice roll: on 12 dice, I got ten 5+ saves! This was quickly followed by another brutal demonstration of why they were a hordekiller, from both a double stuff ‘em in me bag and the +1 damage paying dividends again (rerolling saves is only so good when the rend pushes you to a 5+).
We were both still in the game, 12-7 in my favour.
Priority roll, this time won by my opponent. Oh no… it’s all coming crumbling down… I won’t get to pull off the big play, surely my Kraken-Eater is going down this turn…
In a twist of fate, he was not within range to make the Knights fight twice, nor reroll all wounds. This meant I got away with it (just), with 31 wounds taken.
Elsewhere, I had him on the ropes. He mostly moved into positions to try to provide a threat in subsequent rounds, and turn those Knights back up to 11 with the Warshrine plugging the gaps in a front-and-center combat role. He secured 3 VPs, and passing the turn to me.
The Big Play
Immediately when my turn began, I kicked the objective 10” into my opponent’s zone, followed by paying a CP to run-retreat my crippled Kraken-Eater over his Knights’ heads and onto his back-field objective, securing 4 VP.
My Mancrusher unit then moved up onto the newly-moved objective, stretching out onto the side objective at the same time, securing both objectives for a total of 6VP.
The Warstomper you ask? Oh. That guy. Yeah… he ran up the left flank and unconvincingly killed a sorcerer, embarrassing for a 480pt model really, but he was the bread that bound my Mancrusher hammers together so we can’t put him down too much.
We then calculated the points, and I was up 24-10. We chatted about the Battleplan, and how the rules explicitly told us that the objective victory points were based on the location of the objectives.
This meant that I could score a maximum of 12 per turn, and him, 6 per turn: we laughed about it and virtually shook hands, and agreed that it was an interesting use of game mechanics.
The Mancrushers performed mostly as expected, screening and getting a cheeky objective capture, with a shout out to the dice gods on my save roll in turn 2, and some shockingly good damage against those unprepared hordes of enemy models. I expect my opponent will behave differently against them in future, reducing the shock value; watch out for that swingy damage though, folks.
My Warstomper was Be’lakored by Be’lakor, a tragic situation which was expected. In games of Age of Sigmar, we have to expect that sometimes we will face an answer to a large point sink, in this case disabling it during a critical turn. When I did get to attack though… what’s with that? Why don’t you get the damage bonus of your little guys? Ugh.
The Kraken-Eater was the submarine, the hidden star of the show, before all the spinning plates that made my army collapse he was able to push the objective up and create a no-win scenario in my favour. Once again, like his brother the Warstomper, the damage was a joke. Whilst this tactic was funny, and proved amazing, I don’t expect my opponent to let me do this again, so I expect his role will be to push objectives closer to each other and let me castle up instead in future.
The Big Play
Looking at other battleplans, it looks like this can also be done on Scorched Earth, Battle for the Pass, and Total Commitment, which were in GHB20 alongside the points for SoB. Is this intentional from GW? How do you feel about it?
Personally, I like to think that the GW rules team would think of things like this before printing. However, I have emailed it into FAQs and asked others to discuss it with the playtesters. Hopefully we can get confirmation on whether this is your Sons of Behemat edge-case play that adds some interesting game to the army, and makes them relevant in the more spread-out battleplans.
Having a game like this has really excited me about the army: it has completely undone my bad feelings, I am now fully on board.
Will we lose games? Yes.
Is it going to get beaten by top tables and opponents who have experienced the army before? Most likely.
But will you, the player, have fun? Definitely. I have no doubt about it.
Maybe for my next game I will play football with all the objectives and more Kraken-Eaters, or even set myself a personal challenge to use Gatebreakers to destroy my opponent’s faction terrain. For me, this game is all about the social experience and the fun along the way.
For the performance-minded folks, whilst we probably have issues on the top-tier competitive scene, it still has game and can sit in the fat middle.
You know why I love playing Destruction? Because I want to be King Fucking Kong, not the dickhead in a biplane. Nothing – nothing – in the game has the same potential for rule of cool, rule of epic, rule of pure fun as a whole army of giants, but gianter. I’m all in. Does the book deliver on that promise?
Well the week leading up to the review embargo being lifted was quite the rollercoaster on social media; but now Man has Read Book, and the full rules are out in the public domain. The purpose of this article is not to regurgitate the contents of the book: there are plenty of other people who received review copies and then essentially keyed them back in for you, so there’s no value to be added by me paraphrasing what they’ve already done.
So rather than covering the same ground, what I’ll be doing over the course of a series of articles this week is sharing my thoughts on the structure of the book, and steering you towards some of the excellent coverage that is already out there. In forthcoming articles I’ll be jumping into each Tribe with some initial list building archetypes and how the army might go about winning games. And I’ll wrap it all up with a final article reflecting on what I believe went well, and what perhaps went less well with the release.
Ready? Let’s go.
Honestly…I dunno, but if I was a gambling man, I’d say it will be excellent. The Battletome lore for Destruction books is consistently engaging and imaginative, and it really shines through that the writers have a true affection and affinity for these armies.
As the proud owner of God Beasts, I’m keen to know what the Sons’ relationship with Order is like (seeing as the Celestant Prime murdered Behemat himself, and Sigmar murdered his father), and even how they view and interact with Aleguzzlers. But that will have to wait until I’ve got the book in hand; for today, it’s the rules we’re focussing on….
…But not just yet. I can’t skip past the fact that there has been some sensational artwork revealed for this army already. When I was a kid, staring at the classic Space Marine epics for ages was one of the things that hooked me into the hobby, and I can definitely imagine a new generation of Megabosses being lured in by this. Truly epic.
How Sons Work
Once it became apparent that Mega Gargants could be allied outside of Destruction, I had two wishes:
That the Warscrolls were only OK
That the Allegiance kit was exceptional
It’s quite a different prospect to have a big, ass-kicking centrepiece surrounded by 100 Skinks or 100 Marauders. In Sons, when you’ve got nowhere else to, you need the big boys to really carry the water. How did that turn out?
The way this book functions is actually more in line with a standard book than you might expect. Each Mega Gargant has their own Tribe; to use that Tribe, that particular genre of Mega must be your General. There is no option to go without a Tribe, and no table of generic artefacts, so if you take a Breakers Tribe (for example) you will never be able to give a Warstomper an artefact.
Honestly, I think that’s pretty lame. For an army with a wafer-thin number of Warscrolls, I did find it surprising that the structure of the book seeks out ways to limit your choices further, rather than finding creative ways to give you free reign and customization tools.
Speaking of Warscrolls, there are four of them. Yep. One of each Mega Gargant, and the Mancrusher (which is a repurposing of the existing Aleguzzler kit). This is also weaker than it needed to be, because the Battletome could easily have included named character versions for example, or multiple Mancrusher variants based on how they are equipped.
There are no Battalions in this book, so no way of getting extra CPs and Artefacts, and no extra Battalion rules to layer onto what you already have. You’ll get one Artefact that is keyword-locked to your Tribe, one CT and that’s your lot. Let’s hope the Battle Trait and Tribe rules are amazing.
As teased on the Community site, all of the big boys get 35 wounds on a 4+ save:
This might sound like a lot compared to other big monsters, but that’s not really a fair or relevant comparison. A Terrorgheist, or a Maw Krusha, or a Carnosaur, or a Griffon does not have to carry the water for the whole army: they can have units of troops in front of and around them, often summoning extras where needed. But these guys are your army: they’re the only thing that your opponents have to focus on, and they can only be in one place at a time. In that context, 35 wounds is a baseline expectation rather than generous.
Also worth commenting on is that their melee output in general is poor. Vince has done a good job of breaking it down on Warhammer Weekly (link below), and the maths didn’t change much for the Megas even with the full suite of rules. I won’t go back over old ground, but those facts do inform a lot of what’s to come.
We’ll look at each variant more specifically in the context of their Tribe, but there are a couple of common themes to explore first. Every Mega has a special rule that means they can’t be insta-jibbed, and instead takes D6 Mortal Wounds, which is nice to have but only really an edge case. They all can splash some Mortal Wounds on the charge, and all crush individual models, which is superb for breaking coherency or removing unit banners and the like.
They also get the Longshanks rule on their Warscroll:
This weak version of Fly is so badly undercooked that it’s important not to skip over just how bad it is. Let me break it down:
It’s impossible to skip over even the smallest of screens. By definition, you need to start your move 3″ away from enemies (unless you are retreating), so even a single model on a 25mm base will stop you getting over the top by the time you lug that base across (3″ buffer + 25mm base + 3″ buffer at the other side + 130mm base = 12.10″ of required movement, whereas your fastest Mega moves only 12″)
It doesn’t work in the charge phase or pile in phase (they aren’t (normal moves”), so you can’t leap over the top of a screen even if you get a good charge
Endless Spells do not have a Wounds characteristic of 10 or less (they do not have a Wounds characteristic at all), so you can be blocked in place and completely unable to do anything by the likes of Shackles
Just about the only use for this will be retreating onto an objective, which while still welcome, is pretty fucking weak relative to how the rule might have read at first look.
Next up we have Timberrrrr!:
Urgh. Could we not have just been allowed to have a fun thing to do with our own big, expensive model? Memo to the rules writers: this kind of RNG crap is not “fun”, nor is a D6 damage weapon. Please, enough whacking us with the “fun” stick.
Another constant across the Tribes is the Mancrushers. These are essential as Battleline (there’s no 4 Big Boy Tribe), but I wouldn’t go as far as calling them a tax: the Warscroll is a significant upgrade over the Aleguzzler, albeit that’s starting from a low base.
Perhaps the biggest improvement is that you no longer fall over when you roll a double to charge: these guys are military-minded warriors, not drunken idiots shambling around. That’s been replaced by the ability to run and charge when a Mega is nearby. Hell yeah! Well that is quite the improvement.
Their melee output, on the other hand, underwhelms. Their random number of attacks has been switched to a static number, which is a welcome change, albeit the conversion rate was not a generous one. Their main profile starts with 10 attacks and rend -1 damage 1. Damage 1 is honestly quite puny for a Giant (almost to the extent of being immersion-breaking), so let’s hope that gets significantly better in Allegiance.
They do have a small amount of MW output on the charge (D3 if you roll well enough), the classic spiky attacks from ‘Eadbutt and Mighty Kick, and the (excellent) opportunity to pluck out models if you roll at least double their wounds characteristic.
Five separate lines on their damage chart seems frankly ridiculous for a 12-wound model, and with a measly 5+ save they will go down like a sack of shit. Underpowered and easy to kill, but reasonably fast and great at scoring objectives. The Mancrushers are in some ways a pretty interesting proposition, as long as the rest of the army’s rules can deliver the output and durability they can’t.
You get two things here: bonuses to capture Objectives, and a trash-tier shooting attack on one single model.
The former is outstanding, and essential to make the army in any way playable. Big boys count as 20, babies count as 10, and that’s us off to a great start. Already ticking that box for the Gargants being way better inside Allegiance than out of it.
The latter is garbage: D3 shooting attacks, hitting on 4s really is wafer thin. There are ways to buff it in one specific Tribe, but in general it does precious little for the army.
Worst of all, there’s no inherent survivability bonuses for playing in Allegiance. I would argue that this is probably the key weakness in the book, and puts a hard ceiling on how this army will perform: not just how many tournaments people will be winning with them, but how many close, exciting fun games you will have, and even how often you will just avoid being tabled by Round 3.
Sons are coming at you in three flavours, one for each Big Boy. These are definitely thematic and push you towards a distinctive playstyle, but are also weirdly restrictive.
Each Tribe unlocks 6 Command Traits, of which the first three are common to all. The pick of these generic choices is an extra 5 wounds, taking your General up to 40 wounds overall, and it’s certainly something I’d consider in any Sons army.
One common theme is that any given Tribe will actively lock other Megas out from taking their own keyworded artefacts, so there’s little to no incentive to mix and match your Megas. From a hobby viewpoint, this is a crying shame, because we all want to see “one of each” on the table; from a theme perspective, it makes no sense, because if any army should have agency in its heroes, it’s this one. Running two different types of Mega Gargant is hardly some kind of Grand Alliance soup army.
There’s also no Tribe that allows you to run nothing but nothing but Megas, so you will always need at least three of the (divisive) old Aleguzzler kits, which is also a shame. But when we come to take a look at the individual Tribes, you’ll see that there is some real juice in there, and some pretty exciting and thematic rules.
So there you have it, that’s a wrap on the army-wide rules and Warscrolls. There is some solid gold in there – particularly the bonuses to capping Objectives – but I’m honestly pretty nervous about the lack of both punch and durability in the army.
I can cope with an army being underdone and underpowered (although I’d obviously rather not), but it does feel a little sad that these guys are a million miles away from the rampaging powerhouses that they should feel like to play.
The good news is that the Tribes which we’ll be exploring next do layer on some really interesting rules, so all is not lost. I’ve bought into this army, I’m playing this army, and I’m not someone who is in the habit of chucking in the towel when GW sets Destruction to Hard Mode.
Let’s see what we can come up with, hey?
Let’s wrap up today’s article by pulling together the best content that’s already out there. There are podcasts, blog posts, YouTube reviews, unboxings and batreps all over the internet, and the book isn’t even out yet…what a time to be alive!
First up, Warhammer Weekly has served up an analysis of what kind of damage output you can expect from Sons, along with a typically enlightening discussion of ludonarrative dissonance. Fair warning, it makes for some pretty grim viewing from a Sons perspective; and although it was broadcast before the whole book was out, I think it still stands up. Keep an eye out for their full book review in a week or two.
Where would we be without Man Reads Book? If you want the scoop, without any obfuscation or bullshit, here’s the place to go.
Next up, we have Dark Artisan, who have performed a huge service to the community with this excellent magnetizing video. Great to see somebody do something actually insightful and useful with their free review kit.
40K big fish Goonhammer have been expanding their AOS side, and are off to a flying start. Check out their full review here:
Well you know what? There are a lot of people out there making Giants – like, a lot.
My previous article collected some of my own favourites, but it also launched a tidal wave of (positive) feedback about other big boys that deserve a mention. So today we’re gathering up the best behemoths that the interwebz has to offer: they’re big, they’re beautiful, and they definitely don’t cost $320 a pop.
Yedharo Orc Champion
You want your Giants swole? How about a head swap on this guy (also known as “The Reverse Grimmas“)?
This fella is well worth his EUR 44 over at Yedharo Models. Alex J has got one in the wild, and he’s certainly not lacking in presence:
How good is that? The head fits like an iron glove, and the scaling is perfect. I’m blown away by this one.
Yedharo has a great range of Orcs over on their site, including some excellent Queens; so if I was running the 1 Mega and 9 Mancrusher build, I’d hoover up a heap of these for sure. Scavenge some second-hand heads (of which there are plenty in the Aleguzzler kit), and you’re ready to conquer.
Verdict: Just a head-swap away from the best little giant in Texas. Love it.
This whopper is perhaps the one mini that got the most mentions from you guys:
Strutting onto your tabletop like he owns the damn thing, Mucklegeet is 18cm tall and ready to rumble. His girth and stature would make him fit in just fine alongside a Mega Gargant or two, and he’s currently reduced to GBP 85 over at Heresy Miniatures.
Whether you prefer this guy or Old Bill from Mierce really is dealer’s choice: they’re both excellent models, they’re both suitably hefty and they’re both particularly affordable for those of us outside the UK, who otherwise get slapped with a premium by GW.
Verdict: Wow. I’m seriously tempted to buy one of these myself, no bull.
That covers off my own favourites, but there were a couple more worthy of mention.
In the super heavyweight category, Mike Marshall pointed me towards this Crooked Dice effort. This is another whopper, and although the aesthetic is not what I’m going for, it could be a great pick for anyone seeking a classic fantasy look:
Finally, Wrigglesby in the comments to my previous article pointed me towards Antlantis minis:
They do have Cyclops and Ettin (two-headed) variants available too, if you’re looking for something a little different. I do have concerns about the height profile falling in between the Mancrushers and the Megas, so it’s probably not for me, but these minis do have a pleasing sword and sorcery vibe.
So where did I land up on this? I’ll set my plans in stone after seeing Man Reads Book, but for now I’m leaning towards a combined arms approach.
I already own two Aleguzzlers (one painted) and a Bonegrinder:
The Bongrinder is carrying a huge piece of rubble swinging on the end of a pole arm, so he fits the bill for a Gatebreaker.
I already jumped in on the Mierce Kraaken, because fucking look at it, so I will of course be running that as Kracken-eater.
That means I have room in my collection for one more, in the classic Giant slot: as tempted as I am by Mucklegeet, I think that’s likely to be one GW Mega Gargant, which gives the added bonus of plenty of bits to adorn the rest of the army.
I’ll convert the unpainted Aleguzzler into a giant orc and paint him green, then add a third monstrous model in that size range to complete the army.
At that point I’ll have a Giant, a Giant Orc and a Giant Monster at each height profile, so it’ll be a proper Destruction rabble of Giant Monsters, and yet thematic in its own way.
That third Aleguzzler-sized model is now confirmed as Vore from Mierce, (how fucking grimdark is this!):
This disgusting specimen is currently GBP 39.99 under Mierce’s promo, and the moment I set eyes on that adorable face, I just could not resist giving him his forever home.
Whether this list will be accepted at events is obviously up to individual TOs, but with a bit of effort put into it (and 4 of the 6 models being official GW) I’d hope that most would give it fair consideration. That’s really a secondary consideration though, because I’m not currently planning on running this as my main competitive army.
Will they actually be a competitive army? Let’s find out once we’ve seen the book, and until then: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.
So Battletome: Sons of Behemat is incoming: prices have been leaked, and we’re starting to see rules over on the Community page. I will say a few words about pricing at the end, but that’s not the main thrust of this article; what we’re looking at today is what alternatives are out there.
As always, I want to point out that this website is entirely non-commercial. I don’t get any kickbacks, and I’ve received no free product, discounts or incentives for showcasing these minis.
Look at him. He’s epic! Why wouldn’t you just buy the GW model? Well you certainly can, and a lot of people will. But there are a lot of reasons why you might want to explore what else is out there:
The Mega Gargants are pushing new frontiers in pricing for individual models. You may or may not thinnk they are worth it, but either way, most of the options that I will explore here today are cheaper – and often substantially cheaper. So for gamers on a budget, it’s worth exploring alternatives.
Wait, didn’t you just say the Mega Gargants were epic? Well yeah, but they’re only half the army. Based on the GH20 Pitched Battle profiles, at least half the models you include will be Mancrushers (the current Aleguzzler kit), which is about 15 years old and at best divisive. I actually quite like the kit, but I recognise that I’m in a small minority, and there are plenty of other Giants out there that are at least as good, and probably better.
We Don’t Need To Go Nuclear
This isn’t all or nothing. You don’t need to lurch from one extreme (nothing but nothing but Citadel) to the other (an entire army of 3rd-party models). In the real world, people will mix and match.
You might buy one Mega Gargant kit, and after assembling it, use some of the bling and bits in the kit to decorate the other two 3rd-party models.
You might already own a couple of Aleguzzlers, and rather than buying another bundle of two (and ending up with a spare), you buy a 3rd party Giant to make up minimum Battleline.
One thing I would caution against here is muddying the waters: you definitely want clear daylight between your Megas and your babies. I wouldn’t be mixing short Megas and tall babies to end up with grey areas. But if you avoid that pitfall, you can engineer yourself an army that looks epic on the tabletop, in all its eclectic glory.
A Word on Scaling
I’m going to assume we all know how big an Aleguzzler is now. There are quite a few photos of Mega Gargants up against other models out there, and they seem to be on a 130mm base (not the full 160mm pie plate), and stand around 18cm to 20cm tall (he actually looks like he’ll come in shorter than a Bonegrinder). This isn’t precise, but it should give you some context for what’s to follow.
Let’s start off with a bang, by looking at perhaps the greatest resin specialists in the game. Mierce provides a fantastic range of miniatures: I’ve bought a few myself over the years, and have always been delighted with the quality. The resin is crisp, clean and a delight to work with: if your sole experience of resin is the train wreck that is Finecast, I would advise against letting that put you off superior resin, which this is.
Safe to say that Mierce’s price points are premium, but if you sign up for their email list, they have regular, heavy discounts. And get this: currently, they have a whole section of their website devoted to Giants and Giant-adjacent models, all at half price until midnight GMT on Monday. This offer is also limited to 10 of each model, so if you’re interested you might want to act on that.
All of these models can be found at the link below:
Would you take a look at that! This cheeky sausage fills up his 120mm base, so I’d be happy to run him as a Kraken-eater on an official base. He could even serve a sneaky dual-purpose as an alternative Idoneth Turtle if you wanted to go down that path too.
GBP 59.99 on promotion, so exactly half of a Mega Gargant. I think I’m in love.
Big, Big Toys for Big, Big Boys
There are a whole range of XXL giants on here, all based on the same frame; above we see Old Bill and Gomagg, and on the link above you can also find Papworth and Borruk.
Standing around 180mm tall to the top of their weapons, these boys are suitable chonky and fit the aesthetic very well indeed.
Again, at GBP 59.99 they are half the price of the Mega Gargants; and better still, Australian customers don’t get charged a special premium.
Mierce will charge you actual price at the actual exchange rate plus the actual postage, which comes in around one-third of the anticipated price GW will charge in the Australian market ($108 for the Mierce Giants versus $320 for the GW model).
Verdict: Fantastic, premium-quality Big Boys at a competitive price
Mierce have nailed it. Their models are sensational, and their current promo is bang on the money.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m tempted.
Mantic, publishers of Kings of War, have a really sweet plastic Giant in their range:
Thanks to Hobby Heroes for this size comparison: they’ve done a full review of this kit, which you can check out on their blog:
As you can see above, there’s clear daylight between him and the Mancrusher. Given that the Mega Gargants look like they’ll also come in smaller than a Bonergrinder, I’d be more than happy to put this guy on the table – he looks like he’ll compare very nicely to the GW Mega Gargant model for scale.
You can pick this rude boy up for USD $39.99 over at Mantic’s website, which is a bargain for such an imposing figure. Worth noting that the kit comes with two heads, of which I much prefer the bearded version as modelled by Hobby Heroes above.
Mantic also have a resin Frost Giant which, according to their website, stands almost 18cm tall:
This one comes in at a very reasonable USD 59.99, and of course you wouldn’t have to paint him blue. He could just as easily be flesh-coloured in any tone that suits your army.
Verdict: Solid, substitute Megas at a real bargain price
Both of these models look excellent, and I’m particularly keen on the plastic Giant. I could definitely see myself taking a huge chunk out of the total cost of the army by picking up one of these guys to put in the mix – and by using some of the spare bits from a Mega kit, you could quite easily make these fit any of the three roles.
Reaper have a whole host of Giants in their range. As you can see from this photo by Decker, they tend to scale pretty well with the Mancrusher:
Bearing in mind that these guys are standing barefoot on the ground, by the time you put them up on a base they will fit just fine. Coming in at or just below the size of a Mancrusher is just the right place to be; you don’t actually want them to be taller, because then their height profile would start encroaching on the Mega’s turf, especially if your 3rd-party Big Boys are slightly smaller than GW’s.
Best of all, they come in below USD $20, which is seriously good value.
Verdict: Decent, budget stand-ins for the Baby Giants
You could run a heap of these if you wanted, but where they work for me personally is that I already own two Aleguzzlers. I don’t particularly want four, so rather than buying a double-pack and being left with a spare to offload, I could see myself grabbing one of these to make up minimum 3x Battleline at a real bargain price.
Gale Force Nine
GF9 produces a range of minis for Dungeons and Dragons, including some cool Giants. BOLS have done a write-up on the Frost Giant Reaver; it’s a cool model, but that quoted height of 5.5″ is potentially a problem. That translates to around 14cm, which falls betwixt and between the two GW scales, potentially breaking the clear delineation between your Megas and your Mancrushers:
You can pick this guy up for just AUD $59 at Mighty Ape, which is truly a snip, but I wouldn’t personally want to commit without seeing them side by side with the GW range first.
One more thing to note in the GF9 space is that they have a very old-school Hill Giant:
You can pick this one up for AUD $49 at Mighty Ape. I don’t think the aesthetic matches AOS at all, but if you have a couple of old school Giants that you are wanting to expand into an army and get back on the tabletop, then this could fit the bill.
Verdict: Good models in their own way, but probably not what we’re looking for here
These models are good sculpts at good prices (I actually really like the Hill Giant for what he is); but between the scaling and the aesthetic, they might not be my first choice for a Sons of Behemat army.
Food for Thought: 3D Printing
I’m certainly not going to pretend to be the expert on this subject – because I’m not – but Ranzani in the SOB WhatsApp group has put me onto a very cool stl file that is worth a second look:
A high-quality 3D printer is certainly a big investment, but when we’re talking AUD $320 per model for the new Megas, the payback could start to stack up – and then you own the asset.
You would need to do your own research on before jumping in – but if it’s something you’ve been considering for a while, now could be the time.
A Word on the Pricing
As mentioned at the start of the article, the price point for these models breaks new ground – the strong rumours are that we’re looking at AUD $320 for a Mega (GBP 120), and AUD $210 for a bundle of two Mancrushers. I’m not actually that shocked about the pricing for the Megas – it is a little higher than I thought it would be, which is a blow, but not a deal-breaker for me personally.
In the context of the overall price point of buying an army, it comes out OK but not great. You would hope an elite army would be an affordable buy-in, which Stonehorns for example certainly are, but even at this price point the total cost is broadly in line with other recent releases – more than OBR, less than LRL.
What I find harder to justify is the pricing on the Mancrushers. For starters, I don’t like being forced to buy them in bundles of two. That feels like you’re being actively screwed in an army-building context where lots of people will want to run 3 as minimum Battleline (and which the Pitched Battle profile encourages). Instead, you’re compelled to buy at least 4 in order to run the army legally, and that’s just grubby.
Furthermore, the sticker price on these Walletcrushers is a bitter pill to swallow. I can handle paying top dollar on a brand-new, cutting-edge kit like the Mega Gargant; but the Walletcrushers are around 15 years old, and that’s why it feels like a blatant cash grab.
In Australian terms, we’re currently paying $83 RRP for one Gargant, but based on leaked pricing we’re looking at $210 for a bundle of two. That’s over 2.5 times the cost of buying them individually, which quite frankly feels like a piss take.
Other countries seem to be getting a very slim discount for being forced to buy them in double packs: but even then, when Aleguzzlers were sold in an Allies twin pack 3 years ago, they were GBP 45 for two. Jamming the price up to GBP 75 in such a short timescale, for an old kit, leaves a sour taste.
As a GW fan, the pricing decisions on the Mancrushers are the part I’m struggling to justify. Is it the end of the world? No, but it does feel sordid and exploitative.
So there you have it! Quite a few options there for anyone who wants to get on board with an army of Giants but either likes the eclectic look on the tabletop (a proper rabble can actually be more thematic for Destruction than bland coherency), or just wants to save themselves a few bucks.
I’m personally very keen on the Mierce models and that’s where I’m looking to invest. If I’ve missed any beauties, please let me know either in the comments here or on Twitter, and until next time: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.
Following up on our rundown of the new Jaws of Mork rules, it’s time to get busy with the fizzy and crank out some army lists. There’s honestly loads you can do with these guys, depending on how deep you want to draw from the rest of the book, so let’s get into it and have some fun.
There are some common threads running through these lists that we can cover in one place. One theme is that they have a very high wound count – on paper. Take that with a slight pinch of salt, because they also have bad armour saves and terrible bravery, so those wounds can evaporate quickly, and what you will have on the table even mid-game might come down to how good you are at rolling those 4+s to regenerate units.
As the old saying goes: Wargamers aren’t superstitious, because it’s bad luck to be superstitious.
So how can I put this without tempting fate? My record on rolling those 4+s is…um…is not an endless string of unmitigated failures. Let’s say I’m happy to ride that rollercoaster.
Next up: Sneaky Snufflers are dynamite. They can buff all keyword Moonclan units with an extra attack on each melee profile, so they’re a true force multiplier for your Boingrots in particular. They do have a wholly within range, but with 10 or 15 models that isn’t too restictive (unlike, say, 60 Grots). Dishing out their buff restricts their own movement, but bear in mind that you can always Hand of Gork them if needs be.
Teleporting Squigs is a thing. They natively reroll charges without needing a Hero nearby, so they are a prime candidate for the Hand of Gork. Put 48 wounds of fangs and blood in their face, annihilate their screens and then say deal with this, buddy, while you move your army into position. This is a classic power move in Gloomspite armies, and it dovetails so well with the new Loonshrine rules: throwing 24 Squigs under the bus turn 1 gives you plenty of chances to bring them back from the dank.
You will see the Moonface Mommet in a lot of these lists. The only hero that can take it is a puny moron, so if your opponent has any kind of reasonable shooting he will be turned into green paste quick-smart. Remember though that not everything is bringing the Dakka; even some trending armies such as Blight King spam will struggle to reach him, and he’s a real asset in those matchups.
If they’re shooting him, they’re not shooting something else, and they can’t shoot everything right? Unless they can, in which case you’re fucked regardless. In any case, you have an abundance of artefacts, so you might as well take a great one.
Finally, Boingrots in the Stampede are a common thread here: these lists in general are not for the faint-hearted, but flying Squigs with rend -2 damage 2 attacks feels like they let a 13-year-old have a go at writing a warscroll, and I want in on it.
The big battalion gets you moving up the board quickly, but in the lists where I do take that, I don’t see its sole purpose as being the Alpha Strike. The primary use will be too hold a high line and get on centre objectives early, with your hammer units perched in behind.
Although I do of course reserve the right to blow up their chaff with my chaff nice and early if the opportunity presents, especially since my chaff has a good chance of coming back through the Shrine if it dies early. I can get an itchy trigger finger with stuff like this, so it’s nice to have an outlet that isn’t a dead loss.
Boingrots want to charge early and often. They want to charge, charge again and keep on charging some more. This comes back to their warscroll, since they access both Mortal Wounds and stat bonuses when they charge, but also their nature: they are the epitome of a glass hammer, and if they don’t clear house, whatever is left will likely take a big chunk out of them in return. You want to swing once, and make it matter.
The good news is, they fly over screens, including your own. In general, Plan A will be to advance behind a flesh wall, then pounce and blow shit up. You’ll be mercking units but dying in droves, stretching the board with Hand of Gork and taking your opportunities to run + charge, and putting Squigs in places they won’t believe. So you’ll be patient, until you’re not: and then all hell will break loose.
The Narrative Wankery
My Loonboss will be called Squiggy Stardust, and I will paint his face thus:
And believe me, I am well aware that this is Aladdin Sane, rather than Ziggy. I’m doing it anyway.
Can I Get A Boing Boing
Let’s start off by leaning into the theme, and seeing what a standard build using both Battalions might look like. We’re going for a cheeky little two-drop, which I personally think is stronger than the one-drop version.
If you really wanted nothing but nothing but Squigs, you can quite easily pull out your Madcap Shammy in favour of bumping up the Squig Hoppers to a 10, landing at 2000 on the nose:
Allegiance: Jaws of Mork
Leaders Loonboss on Mangler Squigs (280) – General – Command Trait: Envoy of the Overbounder – Artefact: The Clammy Cowl Loonboss on Giant Cave Squig (110) – Artefact: Syari Screamersquig Madcap Shaman (80) – Artefact: Moonface Mommet – Lore of the Moonclans: The Hand of Gork
Battleline 24 x Squig Herd (280) 24 x Squig Herd (280) 5 x Squig Hoppers (90)
Units 10 x Boingrot Bounderz (200) 10 x Boingrot Bounderz (200)
This one is a patient list for impatient fuckers (like me). You’ll be moving up behind your lines of chaff, ready to explode at just the right moment:
Allegiance: Jaws of Mork
Leaders Loonboss on Mangler Squigs (280) – General – Command Trait: Cunning Plans – Artefact: Syari Screamersquig Madcap Shaman (80) – Artefact: Moonface Mommet – Lore of the Moonclans: Squig Lure Fungoid Cave-Shaman (90) – Lore of the Moonclans: The Hand of Gork
Battleline 24 x Squig Herd (280) 24 x Squig Herd (280) 10 x Squig Hoppers (180)
Units 15 x Boingrot Bounderz (300) 6 x Sneaky Snufflers (70)
Putting the Colossal Squig on the table will be like saying hello to an old friend, and he’s rarely been in a better spot. As noted in yesterday’s article, he can reroll those mighty 4D6″ under Jaws of Mork allegiance; and the 5 Squigs he craps out when he dies can potentially cycle back as 3 more. Chucking him forward as a missile can be a legit strat, with his little baby Squigs stealing an objective or just forcing your opponent to waste time killing them.
You may or may not also decide to teleport your Squig Herd right up in their business; meanwhile you’re running up the screens and the Snufflers, so that everything is in position for a big Turn 3. Even the Squigs can skirmish, and then your Mangler Boss, Boingrots and Hoppers are ready to step over the top and unleash hell.
Out of all the lists I’ve posted here, I think this might be the most fun to play. It creates a lot of clutch decisions about when to hit the accelerator and with which specific unit. You’ll be attacking in devastating bursts, but your own units will just evaporate in return.
Everything leads you towards a really nail-biting Round 4 and 5, where huge chunks of both armies are gone, you’re desperately scrambling onto Objectives, every single body counts, and those 4+s to regenerate units are as big and exciting as priority rolls.
I’ll be honest, I may have invested in some reinforcements to get this list on the table asap!
Want to use the new rules, but not quite ready to let go of your classic Gloomspite crutches? Well how about instead of leaning in, we lean out, and take Jaws of Mork in a mostly Grots list?
Allegiance: Jaws of Mork
Leaders Webspinner Shaman on Arachnarok Spider (280) – General – Command Trait: Cunning Plans – Artefact: Syari Screamersquig – Lore of the Spiderfangs: Sneaky Distraction Zarbag (160) – Lore of the Moonclans: Squig Lure Madcap Shaman (80) – Artefact: Moonface Mommet – Lore of the Moonclans: The Hand of Gork Loonboss (70)
Battleline 40 x Stabbas (260) – Stabbas & Moon Shields 40 x Stabbas (260) – Stabbas & Moon Shields 20 x Shootas (120)
Units 10 x Boingrot Bounderz (200) 10 x Boingrot Bounderz (200) 6 x Sneaky Snufflers (70) 6 x Sneaky Snufflers (70) 7 x Zarbag’s Gitz (0)
You’ve got 100 Grots on the board, with the Mommet in there to effectively give everything an extra pip of rend, and a splash of negs to hit with Netters, Sneaky D and Geminids. This will play similarly to the classic Grot builds, but with less control and more fightin’.
The list has a couple of tricks up its sleeve too: you can Hand of Gork Zarbag forward to rip Geminids through their army with his buffed casting (a move I’ve enjoyed pulling since Malign Sorcery first dropped), and your Snufflers will switch gears between buffing the Grots early, and the Boingrots mid-game. Then late game it’s back to Grots, as you get your units back from the Loonshrine.
Worth noting is that even a pure Spiderfang army could take Jaws of Mork allegiance. This would give the Arachnarok access to the Command Trait, which doubles up very nicely with his Prophet of the Spider God warscroll ability, the trade-off being that you are forced to take a bad artefact. Worth considering for the Arachnophiles out there.
You could totally do something similar with Skraggy who loses nothing through being General of this army, and I could even see myself shuffling things around to put the Troggoth Hag in there. Dealer’s choice really, although I do think big spider is the one I’d run most often.
So there you have it! That’s what I came up with, but there’s loads more to explore. Ya boy Dalton has already got some interesting lists with allied Orruks, and I know that Donal is working on armies starring the Troggoth Hag, wielding the Syari Screamersquig to mulch Heroes in combat.
One thing I’ve found from writing these lists is that taking the Squigalanche really squeezes what you can fit in, largely due to the compulsory basic Mangler. I personally think that mixed lists using just the Stampede as a torpedo will shake out as more competitive, but a proper Squig army is no joke, and something I’d certainly be happy to take to a one-dayer.
Czech ETC Captain Adam Slovak is taking a proper Squig list to an event this weekend, starring triple Manglers, and with Hoppers and Bounderz all over the shop:
Love it! That’s the spirit.
So let’s all get behind Adam, and for everyone inspired to give Squigs a run out in the near future: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.
Well look what we’ve got here! Squigs are getting the White Dwarf treatment, and boy did this come at the right time.
Gloomspite generally aren’t in great shape: their Heroes are particularly susceptible to being shot off the board, the army turns into a rabble and runs for the hills without them, and they are stuck paying for good magic in an era of great magic. On top of that, their most successful list has effectively been banned from the game with the cap of 3 Endless Spells, so they needed some sugar.
Before we get down and dirty, let’s take a moment to remember one the all-time greatest achievements in Age of Sigmar, and one that will echo through history: the day Nick Thompson won a Heat with Squigs:
Remember when you could control the game with Fanatics? Those were the days! Well the Squigs are back in the spotlight, as this issue focuses on the Jaws of Mork, so let’s see what GW have got for us.
Who are the Jaws of Mork?
The bounciest, boingy-est, most maniacal Squigs straight outta Ghyran, that’s who the Jaws of Mork are. They follow a Loonboss known as The Overbounder, whose ambition is to overleap the Bad Moon itself.
They actually got a write-up in the Battletome, along with a few other tribes:
Even at the time it felt a bit weird that these tribes didn’t get Clan rules, especially given that the main Battle Trait was so heavily undercooked, but this rules drop can hopefully go some way to tackling that.
What are the new rules?
The format of White Dwarf rules have varied over time, from straight-up Battalions to Syll’esske Host sub-allegiances. Sometimes they include named-character versions of existing Warscrolls (such as Bael-Grimnir when Vostarg Lodge got the treatment), although there is no Overbounder this time around. Don’t worry though, because there’s plenty here to sink your massive, fang-filled gob into.
Jaws of Mork is now a sub-allegiance
Massive thank you to whoever leaked these photos:
First thing to note is that there is no requirement to have a Squig keyword on your General: you can just opt in to this package if you so wish. It comes with an Ability and Command Ability, with the trade-off that it locks you into an Artefact and Command Trait.
The Ability is money: you get to reroll all random movement characteristics on your Squig units. This alone is huge: perhaps the biggest complaint about these units was their unreliable movement.
You could access the same ability via a Battalion (and still can), but that costs 140 points without getting your drops down in any meaningful way; and what’s more, this is no longer limited to Boingrot Bounders and Squig Hoppers. Your Manglers and even the mighty Colossal Squig, with its 4D6″ movement, get to reroll their movement: no restrictions, anywhere on the board.
I like it. So far, off to a good start.
The Command Ability is also strong. It’s the same as Boulderhead, right down to the fact that it’s not phase-locked. Fighting on your top tier is great, but don’t sleep on the movement phase: that has probably won me more games with my Stonehorns than using it to punch harder.
It should be noted that this has a fairly narrow range of usefulness: Manglers already get better on their bottom tiers, so it’s only when they’re in their middle bands that you get any benefit. Furthermore, these things certainly aren’t Stonehorns, and anything getting seriously stuck into a Mangler will knock them from top to bottom in the blink of an eye.
Still, it’s a nice option to have, and you’ll definitely have times you are thankful for its presence.
The Artefact is terrible: because it doesn’t specifically call out the Mount, it only affects the rider. If you’re planning on using this on a Loonboss on Manglers, prepare yourself for disappointment when you realise what a puny set of attacks that actually encompasses.
The only silver lining is that it’s not tethered to the Squig keyword. We’ll go into suggested Artefact loadouts in more detail below, but it could be used to slightly more effect on something like a Troggoth Hag.
The Command Trait is pretty good: Battleshock is most definitely a thing for Gloomspite. However, you will quite often find yourself in situations that are beyond salvaging with a reroll, and only Inspiring Presence (or a nearby Loonshrine) will do. For that reason, it might not have been my first choice; and what’s more, it does preclude taking Fight Another Day on your Mangler Boss, which was one of the best things about it him.
So although I wouldn’t say it’s fully optimal, it’s also not an outright tax, and perfectly fine in the context of the overall package.
The first thing to note is that this is not actually tethered to Jaws of Mork subfaction: all you need is a Squig keyword on your General. It’s also optional, and done after the terrain piece is deployed (i.e. at the tabletop rather than at list building stage), so you could potentially adapt your choice to the matchup with a mixed Grots and Squigs list.
You can run a Jaws of Mork army that recycles Grots; you can run a standard Gloomspite army that recycles Squigs. It’s completely independent, and even if a lot of people (myself included) will want to play with the new toys and lean into the Squig theme, it’s wonderful to have that bit of flexibility.
I seriously love this.
Since the book first dropped, I have been baffled as to why you couldn’t just recycle all Battleline: thematically they’re all coming up out of the same underground caverns, and in gameplay terms, it was locking you into the most competitive and least fun option. It was just another little nudge to playing debuffing Grots as the preeminent list style, and it feels great that you can have a little fun with the chompy section of the book.
It’s not giving you all Battleline (sorry Spiders and Troggs), and you have to choose between Grots and Squigs, but that’s ok; on the flipside, you also get Boingrots and Hoppers back, which feels pretty generous.
One word of caution here. Recycled units will not count as Battleline for the relevant scenarios:
Q: If the answer to the previous is ‘No’, how do units that have battlefield roles that are added to your army during a battle work with the Pitched Battle (2020) battleplans? A: These units are added to your army after you have picked your army using the Pitched Battles rules and therefore do not count toward the maximum number of battlefield roles that can be taken in a Pitched Battle army. This means that any units that are added to your army during a battle do not gain the battlefield roles listed on their Pitched Battle profile.
From the wording on the Loonshrine, these are new units added to your army, so you won’t get bonus VPs on Shifting Objectives for example.
What’s more, the new unit is not part of the Battalion, so you won’t get the Battalion bonus (more of which below). This might nudge you to opt for recycling Grots instead in a Mixed list, since it gets you more bodies (and more Netters) to steal an Objective late game, and I wouldn’t disagree with that. But even getting 8 basic-ass Boingrots back when your unit of 15 pops is pretty decent.
It’s just nice to have the option, hey.
Now you’re talking! These are excellent. The Battalion Abilities themselves are outstanding, and the big Battalion gets your drops waaaaay down (all the way down to one drop, if you wanted to go that far).
Being compelled to take a set of basic Manglers in the Squigalanche is a bit awkward, because it makes it difficult to fit another one into the Stampede, which is where you really want them. Two basic Manglers is probably one-and-a-half too many in all honesty, and you’re getting strictly into novelty army territory at that point; but hats off to anyone with the joie de vivre to give it a crack.
Anyway, let’s look at one wombo-combo that jumps off the page: take a big unit of Boingrots, and buff them with Sneaky Snufflers for an extra attack on each profile. Issue a Moonface Mommet to the Madcap Shaman to degrade your opponent’s armour saves, and slam them in the Battalion.
You now have a unit of flying Squigs doing Mortal Wounds on the charge, with 6 attacks each, effectively rend -2 and damage 2 on the bites. That sounds like they let a 13-year-old write a Warscroll, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
All in all, at 230 points for the pair, it’s a pretty compelling deal: 2 artefacts, 2 great abilities, 2 Command Points, all wrapped up in a very low-drop package. In practice I’m finding that the compulsory Mangler means you run out of points pretty quickly – you’re up to 470 points locked in, which is almost a quarter of your army – but I’m a fan, especially of the Stampede.
The issue: there is only a smattering of good artefacts in the book, and only one of those that your keyword Squig heroes can take. Let’s walk through potential loadouts with only one artefact, and what it might look like if you did take the Battalions for access to more.
One artefact: if you haven’t taken the Battalions, your relationship with these rules is probably limited to using the Loonshrine to recycle Squigs in a Squig-themed general Gloomspite army without taking Jaws of Mork.
In this situation, I’m probably putting the Clammy Cowl on my Mangler Boss, and giving him Fight Another Day as his Command Trait.
Two artefacts: if you’re investing in the Battalion to make Boingrots hit like a truck, you need to be in Jaws of Mork, which is great because that keeps them moving.
In that situation, I’m probably dumping the forced artefact onto someone inconsequential (most likely the Loonboss on Giant Cave Squig since he can at least fight a tiny bit), and running Clammy Cowl with the Envoy of the Overbounder Command Trait.
Three artefacts: so you’re leaning in and taking the big battalion. Good on you! You are doing Mork’s work, my friend. If you go one-drop, you quickly hit inefficiencies: after putting something useful on the Mangler Boss, your only other Heroes are any Loonbosses on Giant Cave Squigs.
One of them has the forced artefact, and the other has to take something bad from the book (maybe the 5+ Mortal shrug, if you’re forcing me to choose). Take multiple Loonbosses if you want to, but I wouldn’t be doing it purely to maximise the artefacts you can take in a one-drop. The artefacts on offer are simply not good enough to justify that.
The other option is to increase your drops, and that opens up the playbook a little. The Troggoth Hag can benefit from the Screamersquig to a certain extent (although not enough to make either of them actually efficient), but more importantly, you get the Mommet.
My suggestion here would be Clammy Cowl on your Mangler Boss, Moonface Mommet on your Madcap and again dumping the Screamersquig onto a support Hero, most likely the Loonboss on Giant Cave Squig.
Honourable Mentions: A Webspinner Shaman on Arachnarok is still a really solid pick, and could do work in this army. He loves the Headdress of Many Eyes, coupled with Sneaky Distraction, to give you a pretty durable Hero that can fight a little, and is generally a thorn in the side of your opponent.
A Troggboss could also use the Screamersquig, since you probably want him in combat. 250 points still feels a little stiff for my money, and when you work out how many Squigs or Boingrots that buys I’d struggle to include him, but if you’re determined to make use of the artefact he’s an option.
Is there any Bullshit?
First up, the Artefact stacks. Look carefully at the wording, and you’ll see that it happens in the combat phase – not in your combat phase. So it happens on your opponent’s turn too.
Better still, it doesn’t switch off until your next Hero Phase. So if you get double-turned, you could rack it up three times over: it procs in your combat phase, then in your opponent’s, and then in your opponent’s again, before your Hero Phase comes around again and presses Reset.
There’s a hard ceiling on how much joy you’ll get out of that because of the Heroes it can go on, and the fact that it doesn’t affect Mounts; still, it’s worth bearing in mind.
Second of all, the Colossal Squig can double-recycle little baby Squigs (thanks to Donal for this one). When it dies, it pops out a unit of 5 Squigs; when they in turn die, you can bring them back at half size (rounding up) through the Loonshrine. So that’s a total of 8 Squigs from your dead Colossal, giving you 32 wounds of heavenly joy for your 300 point investment.
Neither of these is likely to win you a game, but every little helps, and they’re both good to have up your sleeve.
Are you doing an army?
Sweet of you to ask! This comes at a perfect time for me personally: I’ve been expanding my own Squig collection recently, and started mucking around with Greenstuff World’s fluorescent paints.
They’re not fully painted yet – I literally just slapped one layer right on top of an undercoat, to see what it was like – but you can already see that these things react pretty heavily under UV light:
I’ve heard the comment before that Squigs in a range of colours look like Skittles; well get ready to taste the rainbow, motherfuckers.
What I’d love to do is take this to the next level by putting my UV lamp on an adjustable stand and with a frame around it, so I can light up whole sections of the board to represent Da Bad Moon. I suspect the paints won’t react enough when the lights are on, but let’s give it a good go!
People in this game often talk about armies being “fun”, but in practice, running a “fun” army in Age of Sigmar can be a particularly bleak and dispiriting experience. There’s nothing “fun” about being kerb stomped by an army that just walks all over you because its rules are so far out of whack with your own, and Gloomspite in general has been hit pretty heavily with the “fun” stick.
What Jaws of Mork does is lifts you out of that quagmire, and elevates Squigs to the point where you genuinely can have fun running them.
Is this top-tier competitive? In a word, no.
And that’s fine – not everything has to be. What we have here is a tangible quality of life improvement rather than a cutting edge army. And I think that’s a really good space for White Dwarf rules to be in.
Fundamentally, you’ll still be playing Squigs because you want to play Squigs, and you’d need balls like King Kong to run this army at a GT, but it’s certainly good enough to run in casual games or at a one-dayer. And when the great state of Victoria is in a position to ease back the Covid restrictions, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.
Tomorrow we’ll bring this together into some sample lists, which have got me pretty excited. I may have even impulse-purchased some reinforcements to get one of them on the table.
Until then: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.
Farewell, Artefacts of the Realms; you were too beautiful for this world. The Malign Sorcery artefacts are gone, replaced with the assorted junk that we’ll be reviewing today.
How Does It Work?
You can pick an artefact from your book, or one of these, just like you did with the OG Realm artefacts.
Really that’s the only way it can work, because (in theory) we’re rolling to see which Realm we’re playing in before each game; so if it was tethered to the Realm you’re playing in, they couldn’t follow you from round to round at an event.
Now let’s crack into it.
Aqshy, Realm of Fire
Incandescent Rageblade:Pick one weapon, and an unmodified hit roll of 6 with that weapons counts as two hits.
Verdict: Piece of shit
Compare this to the fun people had with Sword of Judgement, and you have the new artefacts in a nutshell.
But wait! My Hero does something amazing on a hit roll of 6! So if I take this, every 6 does double the crazy, is that right?
Sadly not. The extra hit is just an extra hit; that one doesn’t count as a hit roll of 6, and doesn’t trigger any special miracles or wonder.
From the FAQ:
Q: Sometimes a dice roll will trigger an effect. For example, a weapon might have a rule that says a hit roll of 6 causes two hits on the target instead of 1. What happens if another effect applies to the same roll? For example, the weapon from the previous example might have a rule that says it inflicts D6 mortal wounds on a hit roll of 6 and the attack sequence ends – would I get to inflict two hits that each inflicted D6 mortal wounds? A: When a dice roll triggers more than one effect, each effect is triggered once. For this example, this means that the hit roll would cause two hits, but only one of the hits would inflict D6 mortal wounds (you would carry out the rest of the attack procedure for the other hit normally).
So yeah. Piece of shit.
Chamon, Realm of Metal
Plate of Perfect Protection:lets you ignore Rend -1.
Verdict: Worth considering, in a pinch
Although Rend -2 is no longer as rare and precious as it once was, Rend -1 is still the most common by a distance. This inferior version of the Ethereal Amulet (Inferial Amulet – let’s make it happen) should not be dismissed out of hand.
Ghur, Realm of Beasts
Predator’s Torc:Reroll charges
Verdict: Piece of shit
There’s already so much access to this that it does not add any tools to your toolkit, nor weapons to your arsenal, nor strings to your bow.
For one, your Hero is by definition a Hero, and is therefore always in range of a Hero, and can therefore already always access this ability with the generic Command Ability if needs be. Meh.
Ghyran, Realm of Life
Everspring Diadem: Heal 1 wound each Hero Phase
Verdict: Piece of shit
You were alive, but on death’s door. You’re now alive, but on death’s door. If you wanted to throw good resources after bad, you could combo it up with an Emerald Lifeswarm. I guess.
Best case realistically is that it chips you back up a tier at a crucial moment, but you’ll have to play all year with a wasted artefact slot waiting for that to happen. In modern AOS you’re much more likely to just get one-shotted.
Hysh, Realm of Light
Syari Trueblade: Reroll Hits of 1 for attacks with “a melee weapon”
Verdict: Piece of shit
Repeating the errors of history right here. Is every attack with each melee profile an attack “with a melee weapon”, and therefore they all meet the criteria?
Or is it referencing “a melee weapon” singular, meaning you have to pick one melee profile to represent the Trueblade, and only that one gets the rerolls?
This exact, ambiguous wording has required and received FAQs on multiple occasions in the past (going all the way back to Gnarlroot in the first Sylvaneth Battletome), which is quite frustrating.
I’m leaning towards the former, more generous interpretation. But ultimately, who cares? It’s still crap.
Shyish, Realm of Death
Gravesand Brooch:Re-roll saves of 1.
Verdict: Da Best
Yeah this one’s pretty good.
Alongside Inferial Amulet, it’s the one I see getting the most inclusion in lists. With my Destruction hat on, I’m quite keen on a Maw Krusha with the Ironclad Command Trait and this artefact for a 2+ save rerolling ones. This combo will almost always be better than Ethereal Amulet, although it is of course costing you a CT too (which is a huge opportunity cost when Brutish Cunning is on the table).
Ulgu, Realm of Shadow
Trickster’s Foil: Reroll wound rolls of 1 with “a melee weapon” (there it is again)
Verdict: Piece of shit
Yawn. Aggressively unimaginative, meme levels of dull, and signing off the selection in this manner can only be sending the message that these things are intended to be boring, thank you very much.
So there you go. They’re mostly shit, and that’s probably the plan.
Is this a good thing? No, it is not. Let’s address the reasons why, by skewering some of the common arguments that are tossed around in favour of this approach.
“You just kept seeing the same things over and again”
Not true. Ethereal Amulet was the poster boy for this argument, but it was really just a punchbag for the incompetent. It was rarely a part of lists that made podiums, and never a part of any dominant list as far as I recall. (For what it’s worth, only the Thermalrider Cloak in Slaanesh truly has that honour, but that seems to be relatively below the radar).
Sitting right behind the most popular picks like Aetherquartz Brooch, Ethereal Amulet and Thermalrider Cloak was a whole plethora of great choices.
Off the top of my head, we had the Sword of Justice, Ghyrropian Gauntlets, Luminary Rod (connoisseur’s choice right there), Ghyrstrike (Troggboss represent), Gryph Feather Charm (Troggoth Hag represent), Ignax’s Scales, Mirrored Cuirass, Guardian’s Coronet and the Cloaks both Ragged and Doppelganger.
We also had niche choices like the Hypersnare Seeds, Amberglaive and the pure joie de vivre of Gargant Bone Dice. I’ve seen all of these and more in tournament lists.
But you just keep telling yourself it was all about Ethereal Amulet, if that’s what makes you happy.
“Everyone else loses them too”
You can’t lose what you never had, and books who already enjoy a high quality of life won’t miss these things. On the flipside, books with a poor quality of life will miss them dreadfully.
In Gloomspite Gits for example, the Troggoth Hag doesn’t get access to Troggoth artefacts, because Destruction. At a (ridiculous) cost of 380 points, she demands further investment, and was always a prime candidate for a Realm artefact (Gryph Feather charm was a big favourite). Now she’s fucked.
OK, but she’s a Forgeworld model. Well apart from the fact that plenty of other FW models get access to their faction artefacts, let’s look at the Fungoid Cave Shaman. He doesn’t get access to Gloomspite Wizard artefacts, because Destruction.
He was hardly a melee ass-kicker, but it was nice to be able to give him something like Aetherquartz or even Hypersnare Seeds that could benefit everything around him. Y’know, like a support Hero? And it’s not as if he has Clan artefacts he could use instead.
Over in Warclans, we have the humble Warchanter who has no access to Ironjawz artefacts: they’re all keyword-locked, because Destruction. It was good to have access to Ragged Cloak to try and actually keep him alive for a turn; the ease with which he’s swatted aside in the current ranged meta is a handbrake on the whole faction.
What about the artefacts from the Clans? They are also locked to the Megaboss (Ironsunz), Megaboss (Bloodtoofs) and Weirdnob (Da Choppas). Looks like you’re shit outta luck, son.
Can I interest you in rerolling wound rolls of 1 instead?
Since our Heroes are typically riding Mounts, and not that hard to kill, the Ethereal Amulet was a huge boon to Frostlords and Maw Krushas. You can talk about “everyone losing them”, but this is a big net loss to Destruction, and overall it kicks armies that didn’t need a kicking. Like Gits.
“There were too many of them, 84 items was just ridiculous”
Yes, there were, and yes it was. But there is a whole world of options that lie in between the two extremes of what we had in Malign Sorcery and what we have now. The idea that the only two options are 84 shades of broken, or 7 shades of shit, is utter bollocks.
I’m all for stripping back the bloat and adapting the rules for the modern game, but that didn’t have to be the evisceration that we’ve seen here. One or two decent, meaningful artefacts for each Realm should be the goal.
“They were forcing out the artefacts from the books”
Well then let’s do a better job with the book artefacts, motherfucker. I’ve been messing around with KO lists and let me tell you, Artefacts of the Realms does not affect them at all. After your Skyport artefact (if you’re even compelled to take it), you luxuriate in choices such as Spell in a Bottle, Phosphorite Bombs, the Voidstone and the Aetherflare Pistol.
There is plenty of design space for Realm artefacts to sit alongside book artefacts, especially if we’re talking about them being tweaked on an annual basis. What it’s going to do under that model is to lessen the gap between the haves and the have nots, and surely that’s an admirable goal?
So are you saying they were perfect then?
Of course not. The list was bloated, and some of them were too good. Forget about Ethereal Amulet, it was Thermalrider Cloak and Ignax’s Scales that were problematic.
What those two actually did was limit design space. It’s impossible to design a fast but linear army, that can be screened off with 1-wound chaff, when every army in the game has access to flying tech (as Slaanesh have proven).
And it’s impossible to give something hyper-elite armour save, with and Achilles Heel to mortal wounds, when everyone can access a 4+ mortal shrug.
That’s why I’m advocating a curated list, adapted on an annual basis, where everything is meaningful and interesting. Not a shower of shit where nothing is meaningful or interesting.
Overall Grade: E
These artefacts are garbage. I’m sure that’s a feature and not a bug; but it’s a bad feature in my opinion.
The principle of streamlining the ludicrously-big list into something more rational is a good one; and I’m not opposed to rounding off the edges on any artefacts that were proving to be problematic, which had already been done with FAQs to the likes of Spellmirror and Doppelganger Cloak.
Where it went awry is the ham-fisted bludgeoning of the artefacts into worthless junk. A preferable approach would have been to streamline the list so that everything is meaningful, not meaningless. What we see here is not streamlining, folks; it’s a waste of time and paper.
The beauty of the General’s Handbook is that we’re always less than a year away from improvements. Hopefully GH21 will take this structure and give it a bit of a bump up. Maybe you reduce all incoming rend by 1, instead of ignoring all rend; maybe Aetherquartz Brooche gives you one CP on a 4+, so it’s less spammy.
And maybe we see some of the techy stuff like anti-charge Hypersnare Seeds or anti-shooting Ragged Cloak making a comeback. And how about an auto-unbind, to whip away some of those crutches?
That’s the beauty of the GH structure: there’s always room for a comeback.
I’m a competitive gamer at heart, but that doesn’t mean I’m only interested in 2000-Point Matched Play in its purest form. It’s certainly what I’m most interested in, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. We were all drawn to this hobby by the fantasy setting and cool minis, so I believe that there’s a little narrative wanker in everyone.
The Whisper Engine
Team games have always been particularly popular in our local gaming group, so the Coalition of Death content in GH20 was one of the first things I jumped into.
We weren’t quite ready to go Full Narrative, so we completely skipped the Team Battles rules on pages 46 and 47 this time around, but that’s the beauty of something like a Coalition of Death Campaign: if your group skews casually competitive, you can agree to trim down some of the whacky stuff, and play a campaign as a linked series of Matched Play games. So that’s what we did.
Why play a campaign at all, if you’re a Matched Play gamer at heart? Wouldn’t you be better off just getting more reps in with your proper 2000 point armies, on the new Battleplans?
Well first of all, maps. I fucking love maps.
And second of all, this is bloody good practice. Don’t worry, you’re still building lists and working out cool combos.
When you get to the tabletop, you are absolutely playing a tactical and strategic game: none of us are declaring charges with a Wardokk because “I feel like he would charge”; that little fucker is staying safe and sound behind his screen, believe me.
All it’s doing is adding to the experience by linking tactical games together in a memorable way.
Sounds good? Sounds good.
Thirdly, I genuinely believe that it’s important to put yourself in new and unusual positions,
If you’re a serious competitive gamer, you clearly need to know what’s required by the current set of missions to the point that it becomes instinctive, and you need be fucking razor-sharp on exactly what is out there. That separates you from the herd, but it’s not everything.
You’re going to find yourself up against it at some point. You’re going to face an opponent playing a build way out of leftfield, a smart General who pulls a rabbit out of the hat, or have a game where the dice fuck you over royally, then fuck you again for fun.
When Plan A goes belly up, what will separate the Bosses from the Gits is who can keep calm and think their way through it. Putting yourself in unusual situations with unusual armies on unusual Battleplans trains your mind to be elastic, and you can’t put a value on that.
Other people are obviously welcome to charge small buffing heroes into a blender if it suits their storytelling; other people are welcome to skip this stuff entirely and crack into another round of Kroak vs Kroak. But for most people, I think this is not only valuable practice: it’s bloody good fun.
How does it work?
The Whisper Engine campaign is set in Chamon, and you’re chasing an artefact with the power to sort truth from lies. You’re playing teams every week, but the composition of those teams changes every time. We’ve jumped into a 5-player campaign to run over 4 weeks: four consecutive Friday nights. Nice and punchy, keep it simple and crack open a few cold ones to wrap up a week at work.
The Teams: The book has an elaborate mini-game where you make bids to form the teams: you essentially start with 2000 point armies and bid away those points to form the teams. Fuck that.
If the bidding is cagey, the game will be stupidly drawn-out with 5 huge armies, somebody is going to be the fat kid picked last in sports, and it’ll still end up with too many points on one side. What we’ve done instead is randomly-assigned teams, with the people who end up in a team of 3 getting fewer points per person:
1200 + 1200 vs 800 + 800 + 800
The Armies: We decided that it would feel more meaningful if we each stuck to one Allegiance for the duration. We have Seraphon, Fyreslayers, Kharadron Overlords and Beastclaw Raiders.
I’ll be running “A Rhapsody in Gloom”: taking Gloomspite Gits each week, but cycling through each of pure Squigs, Grots, Spiderfang and Troggoths.
The Map: Argetoria has 19 locations, and in a 5-player campaign you pick 3 each to kick off. This is the first little piece of genius: it seemed weird at first that 15 of 19 locations were claimed before you’ve even got started, but that all made sense after our first game.
You’re stealing territory from each other from the very first week and believe me, nothing puts the competitive into narrative play like seeing your territory get conquered.
Week 1 was all “Hey, this is fun, I’m running pure Squigs”; watch your mate wipe your initials off the board and take your land, and you’ll switch gears into a blood vendetta pretty fucking quickly. Nobody was bringing Squigs in Week 2, let me tell you.
Several of the locations give special bonuses: these are generally pretty well-judged to be meaningful but not game-breaking. We’re talking about things like an extra Artefact for your army, or an extra Command Point. The only one we tweaked was the one for “1 additional force point”; this is analogous to 100 Matched Play points, but since we weren’t doing the bidding thing (nor playing with that many points), we bumped it down to 50 points. That felt fine.
Scoring: This is the second really smart thing the Campaign does. After each round, every player claims one piece of Territory, starting with the winners. Winners cannot have territory taken from them (not even by each other), so their Lebensraum ratchets ever upwards; losers look nervously at their key locations, and at the tanks parked on their lawn.
You score one Glory Point per piece of land held, plus a number of Glory Points equal to the size of your single largest group of territories. So if your land is clumped into blocks of 4 and 2, you’ll get 10 Glory: 6 for the total of 6 territories held, plus 4 for the block of 4.
So that’s your first dilemma right there: do you grab land that gives you the best bonuses in-game, or do you forego better locations to develop your powerbase? Do you buttress a location whose bonus you’re desperate to keep, or make inroads towards something shiny?
There’s an art to playing the map in the same way that there’s an art to playing the scenario, and frankly, I’m yet to master it. I grabbed a clump over here for bonuses to cast, a clump over there for extra points in my army, and as a result my dominion is fractured. Through the first two weeks, I’m literally winning the battles but losing the war.
This is how we stand after two weeks, and it really couldn’t be better poised going into the stretch:
Once you’ve conquered new lands and totalled up the Glory, you roll up the teams for the following week, and you start plotting for the battle ahead. Last week’s comrades become this week’s enemies, and your group fractures into a whole new set of side-chats. Glorious.
After the alloted number of rounds, you add up your Glory points and declare a winner. It’s great fun, it’s memorable and it’s very, very tactical.
Now like most people, I’m more interested in some things than others, so if I skip over part of this book that appeals to you, it is what it is; I like what I like, you do too, and that’s what makes the world go round. Let’s smash into it.
Not for me. I am a huge fan of what GW are doing with White Dwarf these days, but I skipped over this when it was published in there the first time around, and I’ll skip over it again, because I just don’t care. There’s literally one Destruction warsrcoll in the entire thing, so that doesn’t help, but honestly I don’t have any real inclination to learn some banking and wheeling system.
If I’m having a skirmish game on the side, it’s because I want something fresh and a break from the Mortal Realms. The superb Marvel Crisis Protocol scratches that itch for me. I can imagine that if I was in my early teens, I could have spent an entire summer holiday playing this obsessively with one mate, and remembering it fondly for life. There will be someone somewhere who is having a ball with this, and good luck to them, but it ain’t me.
Not strictly Narrative Play, but it makes the cut here under the guise of “stuff I’m not interested in”. They lost me at bases hanging off the edge of the board I’m afraid.
I’m more than happy to play the core system at lower points, so I feel like this is answering a question nobody asked; there’s also an element of social engineering in the way that it’s rammed inbetween the Battleplans (which Matched Play gamers do actually want to read) and the Realms (which Matched Play gamers do actually want to read), compelling you to flick past it on the regular and literally shoving it under your nose.
It’s very reminiscent of the way that Path to Glory is thrust into Battletomes between the army rules and the Warscrolls. It’s transparent as fuck, and we’re not falling for it. Please stop.
Meeting Engagements got very little traction as far as I can tell, but I’m sure there is a group somewhere that is lapping it up, and good luck to them, but it’s not for me.
Reading between the lines, I believe that this is a passion project for one particular GW rules writer. The resources that have been pumped into it for a second consecutive year are certainly seem to be driven by an internal push, moreso than any great clamour from the player base.
I’d personally have preferred that time and energy to be devoted to improving the points review, but we all should recognize that ours isn’t the only opinion that counts. There are people out there who love this stuff, and good luck to them; there’s plenty in this book for everyone.
Overall Grade: A+ for The Whisper Engine
The structure of rolling alliances is very well-conceived; the map puts you into each others’ faces, and has you getting each other’s backs up from Week One; the bonuses for holding key locations are nicely judged and thematic.
You can lean into the narrative side and use the full alliance rules, or you can trim it down to a linked series of Matched Play games like our group did. Either way it’s a great structure that can adapt easily to any gaming group’s needs.
I won’t be giving a grade to the other Narrative aspects of the book, because I’m not really the core audience for that. There will be other people who have given them a fair go who can rate them properly, but I’m not in a position to do that.
So if you love Meeting Engagements or Skybattles, let me know why you think I should give it another look.
On the flipside, if you’re a hardcore tournament player who is cynical towards the whole concept of campaigns, I hope I’ve given you the spark to reconsider.
Whatever your favourite flavour of Warhammer, you’ll be able to make it work for you. You’ll have a ball.
Following up on yesterday’s high-level review of the points and the process, my Australian ETC team mate Michael Clarke will be presenting you with his thoughts on the biggest outliers in the game as it stands.
Michael made his name running Hallowheart under the classic Firestorm rules, and almost won the event (playing off on Table 1 in Round 5) with what this blog named as the coolest army at BBBB 2019. Michael was the only player to beat my Big Waaagh with his Cities of Sigmar edition of Hallowheart at Summer Smash 2020, and he hosted a huge night at his (amazing) pad that Saturday night.
Michael is known for his analytical approach to list-building, which he has applied to this analysis. I can guarantee that everyone reading Michael’s article will find something in there to strongly disagree with, but you know what? If you stuck your neck out, there are people who would disagree with you too. It’s an interesting discussion to be had, so get your pitchforks ready and let’s smash into it.
Grand Alliance Chaos
Most Underpointed: Marauders
Marauaders got an extremely minor nerf in GHB2020 going up by 0.5points per model, after getting massive buffs at the release of the STD book.
Like the Savage Orruks (see below), they are a very cheap but very versatile unit that can perform multiple functions. Unlike the Savage Orruks, they can’t just rely solely on their own ‘on-warscroll’ abilities and faction buffs, but actually need to be used more in joint operations to get true value efficiency from them. They are much more of a thinking man’s unit. But once buffed up correctly, these guys can perform any tactical role you need them too, as good or better than most specialist units perform that same role!
One of the keys to value is sheer reliability. They have on-warscroll guaranteed minimum 8” charge which equates to a 97.2% chance to hit that those critical 9” charges. As most competitive tournament players will highlight, you want statistical reliability wherever possible, and Marauders give that big time – and they are simply not adequately pointed for the strategic value of high reliability on the charge. As discussed elsewhere, GW often doesn’t fully factor in synergy / buff potential into points as a system-wide feature, but Marauders have access to such a wide variety of potentially stacking buffs that they really need to have that factored in at least somewhat.
Ultimately they are 1-wound human battleline infantry for ‘cheap-as-chaff’ 80-points per 10…. But when you compare to other relevant alternatives in that range, they just come up sooooo much better. More attacks, faster and (most importantly) more buff potential – leading to more high-value strategic versatility. Even at (say) 100 points per 10 they compare up very favourably to majority of other 1-wound Battleline infantry, so at 80-points per ten you are getting a real bargain!
Most Overpointed: Pusgoyle Blightlords
While the PB’s did get a small points drop in GHB2020, they also effectively got hit with the nerf stick at the same time (i.e no longer allowed to have multiple after-saves), so net-net they are actually now even worse than pre-GHB2020! They remain pillow-fisted in the their damage output potential, are simply nowhere near tanky enough to really take a hit in any attrition game, are very expensive for small model counts to contest objectives, and have access to only a ‘middle-power’ suite of potential buffs.
With their foot-slogging Blightking brethren now getting a serious points drop down into the “very interesting” category, it only makes the comparison to the PB’s even worse. Advice: simply take more Blightkings instead!
It is a shame, because they are gorgeous* models and I’d love to see them on the table more often! Note: while the PB’s ended up as my pick here, it was fairly close call between them and some of the other Nurgle middle- and heavyweight choices.
*beauty is in the eye of the beholder….
Grand Alliance Death
This was a tough one – tough enough that I gave up!
GA: Death is actually quite well internally balanced at the moment. While (as usual) there a few things that are around +/- 10% points out of kilter, there really aren’t any massively ‘standout’ obvious things that are wildly under or over-pointed. Although Mannfred might come close, I couldn’t find any high-conviction picks here.
I see this as a good sign – there are no real obvious “auto takes”, but by the same token not many “auto ignores” either. This gives Death players both hard choices in list selection stage, and also many viable ways to play!
Grand Alliance Destruction
Most Underpointed: Savage Orruks (in a 30-man squad)
This was super easy pick…. for 10 points per model you get a 2 wound model with ok armour, that has 3 medium-quality attacks, and access to huge buff potential….. woah!
This unit is easily one of the most point efficient ‘tarpits’ in the game. With 60 wounds and a 5+ save (in combat, noting this is buffable) followed by a 6++ DPR aftersave, this unit can soak up more damage (on a point-for-point basis) than anything else in the game. Stop complaining about Pink Horror split spawn… on a point-for-point comparison, 30 of these guys are statistically harder to kill than stamping out those Horrors!
But they are not only a tar-pit. Savage Orruks are actually a versatile multi-purpose unit. They are cheap enough to be your screen when you need (and they are a VERY good screen – they are tough enough and control enough board space that standard ‘screen clearer’ tactics don’t work!). They are cheap enough to leave behind as your rear zone control unit (anti-summon, anti-deepstrike) if the mission-matchup dictates that requirement. As above, they are an incredible tarpit to camp a side or rear objective –> your opponent will usually need to commit 800+ points of an attack force to displace them, which leaves your main army to rampage away and engineer skewed matchups in their favor elsewhere on the battlefield.
They are also really good as a first-wave attack force to fling across the table (with Breath of Mork) and control the board, locking up your opponent’s units on their side of the field while you control the objectives and move into position. Finally, with 3 attacks and 2” reach on the spear, plus access to multiple buff options, they can actually also do a surprisingly decent amount of work in combat too.
To really see how wildly underpointed Savage Orruks are, just compare them to other 30-man infantry squads that cost around 300 points…example: 30 Bloodletters are the same 300points. The comparison just looks stupid. Or by way of a different angle, compare them to another 2-wound infantry … lemme see – Tzaangors! Tzaangors come in at nearly double the points (180 for 10 vs 100 for 10) and are basically equal or worse on almost every stat, as well as buff potential!
I think one mistake GW has made with Savage Orruks is to give them a double-bonus for horde. Not only do they get a points discount for horde, they also get a very good buff (+1 attack is super solid). Now, I generally quite like that we have bonuses for hordes, but I think as a starting point, maybe give either a points discount OR a horde buff – not BOTH! Savage Orruks are not unique in having both, but they do standout in the extreme quality of both!
Overall, even if Savage Orruks didn’t get a points discount for horde size they would still be pretty decent, respectable and quite points efficient (i.e cheap) when compared across the meta and for the roles that Warclans needs them for. Once the horde points discount is added in, they become the second-most points efficient units in the system and extremely close to outright “broken” category. The only unit in the game more wildly under-pointed is the great Fat Frog himself!
Most Overpointed: Gordrakk
Overall, Destruction is in a pretty good place right now – while there is a bit of stuff here and there that is still off (i.e overpointed) by say 10% or so, there really aren’t too many clear contenders for ‘crazily over-pointed’. After much thought, I’m probably left with nominating Gordrakk (as a weak conviction pick).
This pick ultimately came down to a direct comparison of Gordrakk vs a generic Megaboss on Maw Krusha. You are paying a 80-point premium for Gordrakk to:
(a) gain very little benefit that you actually need*, while
(b) losing the option to pick the incredibly good Brutish Cunning Command Trait, as well as your own choice of custom Artefact that best suits your army’s needs
Overall, paying the points premium means poor Gordrakk therefore becomes a narrative choice rather than a competitive one, until his points deficit versus between the obvious alternative is closed to be (frankly) close to identical.
*For example Gordrakk’s bonus to Big Waagh point generation… well given you will probably have all the Big Waagh buffs you really need by the end of the first turn anyway, the bonus to Waagh point generation becomes basically meaningless….
GRAND ALLIANCE: ORDER
Most Underpointed: Lord Kroak (Seraphon)
This was the easiest pick of the lot – not only is Kroak the most underpointed Grand Alliance: Order hero, he is the easily the most wildly underpointed unit in the entire system. By a long margin.
While on a standalone, no synergy, warscroll-only basis he would already be up there in points efficiency, the best way to view him is what I am calling in this article “Real Kroak’. ‘Real Kroak’ is the obligatory auto-take combination of Kroak (320p) + minimum 5 Saurus Guard (100p) + Astrolith bearer (140p) + Balewind (40p). He never leaves home without this entourage anyway, so lets for a minute just pretend this all just got bundled up into single warscroll!
“Real-Kroak” comes in at the ultra-efficient, low low price of 600-points. For this bargain price you get:
The single most tanky (nearly unkillable if played right!) of the god-tier builds in the game
The best ranged MW damage output in the game (should pump out at least 15MW at range per turn)
Excellent anti-magic control – yes, not the absolute best in the game, but still a top tier option….
Plus then a boat load of other synergies with the rest of Seraphon… including:
Awesome CP generation
Excellent buffing command ability (which also stacks nicely with other Seraphon buffs…),
Very respectable summoning
Vessel casting – to further avoid risk (adding further to his unkillable tankiness factor), and creating effectively a “triple-stacked buff” on extending spell threat ranges
Access to the extremely powerful Bound Endless Spell mechanic
Strategic flexibility to switch Lore spells to whatever spell is most needed at that moment
But wait, there’s even more!
He is small enough to get access to Cover bonuses and Look Out Sir protection.
“Real-Kroak” contributes both Battleline (via the Saurus) and also Leader/Hero status for objective control – both of which got even better with the new GHB2020 mission pack!
“Real-Kroak” literally has the lot…. plus the kitchen sink, the kitchen table, the bread basket and well, the whole fucking pantry!
”Real-Kroak” is the best god-tier build in the game – and by a fair margin too. This combo is worth something close to 1000-points (I see “Real-Kroak” as being comfortably better than Nagash and Archaon). Noting that it is a system-wide feature that individual unit prices don’t place full value on synergies/ combos (even where they are auto-take obvious combos…), Standalone-Kroak should be still pointed at something around 500-ish (which would bring the “Real-Kroak” combo in at 780pts => still a bargain and likely still close to ‘auto-include’ in every Seraphon list).
Unfortunately, the Fat Frog is simply so good and underpointed at 320p at the moment he currently pretty much breaks the game. If you want the “glory” of face-stomping some easy wins (while garnering no respect from anyone), just show up for a club friendly with your Kroak-Seraphon list!
Most Overpointed: Battlemage on Griffon (Cities of Sigmar)
By coincidence, the most overpointed unit in GA: Order is also a wizard and comes in at a whopping 300 points…. the not-so-mighty Battlemage on Griffon.
This guy is very confused as to what he wants to be – he simply doesn’t have a useful role on the battlefield that cannot be done by multiple other options both better and for half the price! Harrassing skirmish units – better option. Buff casting – waaay better options. Hammer – hahaha. Tank – hahaha. What can you use this guy for?!?
As many of you know, magic-heavy Cities: Hallowheart is actually one of my ‘go-to’ tournament competitive lists. To entice me to add the BMoG in he would probably need to be around 150-160p or so before I’d take a serious look at him compared to all the other options available. So you can rule a line through this guy, safely ignore him, and simplify your life choices!
Not only does he win the award for most overpointed in Order, he comes in as my gold medal pick for single most overpointed unit in the whole system.
Well there you have it – tell us what you really think, Michael!
I’m slightly sad that my beloved Savage Orruks have made it onto someone’s radar – they’re a bargain, no doubt, but they’ve not copped much heat so far. I’d also put the Thundertusk right up there with Gordrakk from a Destro viewpoint, doomed to remain overcosted because he fills a role with very little useful purpose.
Let me know what you think, either in the comments below or on Twitter, because everyone’s got their own view on this one.
Up next will be a look at the (excellent) Coalition of Death content in GH20, and until then: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.
What the FAQ? Points are out, and some of them are…baffling. Today I’ll be rattling through them at a high level, and in a follow-up article, my Australian ETC team mate Michael Clarke will have a deep dive into specific changes.
Let’s get something clear from the off: paper-based points have had their day. They are too slow, too unresponsive, and too far away from anything resembling the reality of how the game is currently played. If these things went to print way back in November 2019 – which has been strongly implied – they are not fit for purpose in a game that is moving this quickly.
The whole structure of the way points are updated needs to change. The fact is, GW are setting themselves a task of Hercules by trying to guess 8 months into the future.
Will that leave the GH threadbare?
Nope, there’s loads of content that can and should take its place in the printed book. I’ll cover that in a separate article, but the reality is that the Pitched Battle supplement is already a waste of paper. It would honestly be better for everyone if it just didn’t exist. It’ll never be opened again all year as it stands: half of it is already obsolete, and we can get our points from Warscroll Builder or Azyr anyway.
A printed points update was a fantastic idea at the time, but it’s now an anchor on the game. Its time has come and gone, and we should be moving to a points pdf as the official source – published on the Community site on the same day that the book launches.
OK, so I’ve got in my two cents about the structure – so what about the meat? I’ll be dividing this into three sections: things that moved the right way, things that didn’t move at all but should have, and things that moved the wrong way.
Opinions are like arseholes so I won’t labour the point too much, and I certainly won’t pick over every bone, but here’s my 2 cents on what went right, and what…didn’t.
And I would also like to take this opportunity to point you towards Heywoah’s excellent FAQ thread. For anyone not aware, Heywoah’s Twitter feed at FAQ time is the actual highlight of playing AOS, so go check it out.
Which points changes did I like? Well, a lot of things moved in the right direction. Some didn’t move as far as I would have liked, but there were some solid calls.
Drops on a lot of the underused Skaven units were welcome. The FAQ to Gaunty was excellent, and I don’t think too many people would argue with Flamers and Horrors being nudged upwards.
Marauders were ludicrously cheap for what they did, outshining most of the proper Battleline in God armies, so they needed to go up; Chaos Warriors needed to come down. Both did, although a mere 10 points on Marauders seems particularly lenient.
Rebalancing OBR internally had to be done. Petrifex was too obviously stacked, and although the faction has taken a net knock, that’s coming from a decent place to begin with. They have been nudged to alternative builds rather than being shelved.
Nighthaunt got a bit of welcome relief. Anyone who doesn’t believe that power creep is real, just remember that this is a second edition book that was winning tournaments when it first dropped. Nighthaunt needed help and they got it; everyone should be glad for them, whether they play the army or not, because they are without a doubt one of the coolest and most engaging armies in Age of Sigmar.
Are they getting to the point where they could be an interesting proposition for serious play? I’d say so.
So the Troggboss and Battalion came down…I guess that’s heading in the right direction, so I’ve painted myself into the corner of putting it in this section, but come on. 10 points off the Troggherd is an insult.
Brutes were rarely seen competitively, so any fall is welcome (although it’s really a Warscroll problem). The Savage Big Boss being trimmed by 10 lightens his Battalion-tax status.
Thundertusks came down. They are still hamstrung by a weird-ass warscroll that answers the question nobody asked: How can I precision-deliver a small amount of high-quality damage to large troops units? But hey, they did come down.
Salamanders up 30 points to 110 is pretty reasonable and they’re still viable at that points level, without being as oppressive. Pop up and blast away was a meta that nobody asked for, so seeing them and Flamers getting their wings clipped is welcome.
On a similar theme, it’s good to see the Bridge creep up to 100. I’m including that under Order because it was Cities that mainly benefited from what was, let’s be honest, a zero-skill move.
Magmadroths got a deserved massage. They’re not going to be truly competitive under this book, but at least it helps anyone wanting to have some fun with the other half of their collection and dust them off.
Stormcast in general were chipped into relevance, which is welcome. Shootcast can just bang some armies off the board, but their bad matchups will hopefully keep that in check; other than the old Vanguard Wing (the gold standard for negative play experiences), which is long gone, the poster boys usually give you really tight, engaging games. Welcome back.
Gotrek stayed the same, which is ideal. I’ve heard a couple of people asking for points drops, but I don’t think he should be cutting-edge competitive. He should be slightly on the wrong side of correct, an absolute powerhouse but quite difficult to use effectively. In that sense I think he’s spot on right where he is.
KO are the biggest phantom NPE there’s ever been, and I’m glad to see they were thrown a bone. They have an horrific reputation harking back to the old “Deploy and Destroy” Clown Car days, but that playstyle is long gone. I’ve played against them a lot with their new book, and GW pulled a rabbit out of the hat: their current playstyle is actually highly rewarding.
They can apply pressure anywhere at any time, but are constantly on the cusp of getting tabled. The game feels like a rolling series of tough decisions, every one of which can be the difference between life and death. They needed a lift and they got it, even though some specifics (Gunhaulers? Really? OK) were a welcome surprise.
Whose points didn’t move at all, but (in my opinion) should have done?
First up we have the Chaos Warshine. How this thing slips through attracting zero heat is beyond me. It’s way better in combat than it has any right to be – it compares pretty well to pure combat Heroes at a similar points level – backed up by a huge wound count and buffs galore. A major beneficiary of the Chaos Keyword Jamboree through its access to Khorne’s prayer lore. At least they didn’t drop it like they do most years.
I’d still argue that the FEC Arch Regent is undercosted – that free unit really should be priced in to some degree, if only to head off bullshit future comparisons at the pass – but FEC as a whole have settled into a decent spot, so I wouldn’t push too hard on that.
Was the entire Gutbusters half of Mawtribes absolutely perfect? Really? Off the top of my head, the Tyrant is tragic and the Butcher is too expensive for a one-spell caster with no inherent buffs.
On the Bonesplitterz side, the Battalions and pigs could have used some attention, but at least the heartbeat of the army (Savage Orruks and Wardokks) weren’t punished for the existence of Big Waaagh.
What happened to Gloomspite Gits was shameful. Spider Riders are still way overcosted, they have been since they dropped and GW doesn’t seem to give a shit. 20 Spider Riders cost the same as 20 Hearthguard, and if you think that’s in the same postcode as being reasonable, I wish you good luck.
Same with Troggoths. Same with Squigs. It brings me no pleasure to say that the Gloomspite points have “Will this do?” written all over them.
Oh Kroaky Boy, that cheeky little tactical nuke sitting on a toadstool.
There’s a school of thought that his current cost fine, because you have to price in his support pieces. This is bollocks. If we’re taking him in the context of paying for what’s around him, that’s fine, but then we also have to take into account what a powerful army he sits in: one of the few armies in AOS to have a complete suite of tools, movement jank galore, undercosted chaff and the ability to generate more for free if required.
His boardwide mortal wounds and boardwide unbind are oppressive, and Seraphon players can point to needing other support pieces (the horror!) as much as they want – 320 is still too low regardless. He comes in at around the price of a Thundertusk (more than a Huskard, less than a Frostlord) which is a fucking joke whatever way you look at it.
On the subject of Seraphon, Bound Endless Spells are also well under. 10 points to never have Geminids move back towards you? Yes please! The whole point of Endless Spells was that you have a dilemma over taking priority. Making them Bound was an abysmal idea, dumbing down the whole concept and at far too cheap a price for the impact.
Fyreslayers continue to fly under the radar. As an army they are stubbornly unpopular and I’m sure that the only reason they don’t attract more heat is because barely anyone plays them. At the very least, Hearthguard should have had their horde discount reduced to 10 points (making them 120/440).
I actually have a soft spot for this army (closet dwarf fan), so I reluctantly accept that the book really leans on Hearthguard and GW was walking a tightrope with any nerfs, but I reserve the right to continue comparing my own units to them!
Skryre Acolytes, what the fuck? Wow! 10 points per wound will make a whole lot of things look pretty shit in comparison. If GW wanted to give a few Skaven units a nudge, that’s very commendable, but this was not a unit crying out for help. Offset by a cap of 20 in unit size, but still a big net winner in my opinion.
Still in Skaven, how about that Warp Lightning Vortex? I don’t think Veruca Salt would have had the nerve to ask her dad for that one. The proof is in the pudding: compare it to Mork’s Mighty Mushroom. When it was 10 points more than the Mushroom, KO could choose either, and they were willing to pay a premium for this one. Every. Single. Time.
The fact that it now costs less is utterly, utterly baffling. But very welcome to all those Admirals out there, I’m sure.
And still in Skaven, how about that Glottkin? Now in Allies range, and capable of giving Plague Monks an extra attack and making them 2-wound models. Because that’s what we all needed.
Finally, and perhaps most egregiously, we have Slaanesh: who asked for them to get another kicking? The last round of nerfs already brought them to heel, and what’s happened since then to make them need looking at? All that’s happened is that the meta has moved against them, with far more armies not needing to engage in melee, and the Keeper has lost her Thermalrider Cloak.
If there’s a single argument for the points process having broken down, it’s Slaanesh.
Really, the big thing was getting some relief for Nighthaunt and maybe the under-represented half of OBR, and that’s what we saw. I don’t think there’s too much to complain about with Death points changes, but let me know if you disagree. I’m just glad there’s a chance we’ll see more spooky ghosts around.
Maniak Weirdnob at 140 points? Huh? I mean…I guess it’s nice that the wizards who actually see competitive play (the Wurggog and especially the Wardokk) slipped through…but really? All he brings is one rerollable unbind, so he was presumably knocked out of the game because he was the closest thing Destruction had to a wizard who might have ideas above his station and unbind a spell.
I’d love to know who surveyed the desolate wasteland that is Forgeworld’s competitive representation in Destruction armies and decided that they needed nothing but nerfs. If you want an illustration of why Destruction players often feel like they get the short end of the straw, this GH is it: compare the treatment of two books that came out around the same time, Gloomspite and Skaven.
Not only was Skaven the stronger book by far at launch, wracking up a huge string of 5-0s after release, but now they get significant attention to the parts of their book that needed points drops, while Gits seem to have been left to rot.
Skaven get points drops for Acolytes, Gits have their most successful list (Endless Spells) banned from the game.
Skaven get to have fun with the Glottkin as an ally, Gloomspite get the Rogue Idol removed as an option.
So yeah, the only change was the Rogue Idol going up to 420. That poor Troggoth Hag.
How does a Carnosaur come down in points? That thing is already a wrecking ball. Baffling.
Overall Grade: D+
The easiest thing in the world to do would be to say everything is awesome, and anyone who isn’t gushing over these changes (or lack of) needs to git gud. I’ll happily give lavish praise where I believe it’s due, but I just can’t get on board with what I see as a pretty weak effort.
The idea of moving towards a pdf for more recent books is an attempt at going in the right direction, to make updates more current, nimble and relevant. But it’s not enough. We ended up with this weird limbo where the book was out but the most important points weren’t, and the Pitched Battles supplement is already a waste of paper.
There were definitely some positive moves in here, so let’s not get silly and claim it was an unmitigated catastrophe, but my gut feel is that what is a paid-for points update didn’t get the deep attention it deserves.
Whether that’s because 9th edition 40K is taking up too much of GW’s focus, whether it’s because some factions (mainly those with a green tinge) lack a voice in the room to advocate for them, I can’t answer. But this was quite disappointing on multiple fronts.
I’d argue for a refresh in the voices that are heard: Destruction needs somebody in that room who will go out to bat for them, because that honestly doesn’t seem to be happening currently.
And I’m hardly the only internet gobshite to bang this drum, so I’m sure the message is getting through, but next year I’d love to see a move to pdf-only points updates, released on the Community site on the day the book is launched.
It’s just a much more modern and robust structure, and its time has come.
I don’t want to end the article as a Debbie Downer, because honestly, the future is bright. I would argue that GH19 also had pretty significant flaws, but we still had a great year of Warhammer, for two reasons: the release schedule was superb, and Battleplans trump everything.
We have the best set of missions yet, so I’m genuinely excited for what I believe is set to be a great season. But if we can have another look at how points updates are done – the year after could be even better.
Everybody loves the Anvil. Seriously, everybody loves the Anvil. And I love everything about it.
I love the limitless hobby opportunities it presents. I love the cool, thematic characters you can create. And I love breaking it, and coming up with batshit-crazy, underpointed bullshit.
To celebrate the Anvil in all of its wonderful insanity, I’ve invited a couple of legends to contribute their creations and showcase all aspects of the hobby.
Before we jump into that, I’d invite you to enjoy the excellent Malign Portents short story on the Anvil itself, what it is and how it works. The Anvil of Apotheosis is where Stormcast warriors are forged and reforged, and this story really is a superb insight into it.
Does the Anvil belong in Matched Play?
Matched Play – sure.
Tournament play specifically? Honestly – maybe not.
As much fun as I’m having with it, I don’t think competitive tournament play is its natural home.
We’ve got plans afoot to run a local campaign using homebrew heroes, and I think the most likely format for that will be a series of linked Matched Play games (claiming territory on a map) leading to an ultimate winner, with Anvil allowed right out of the book.
If Anvil was going to be part of a competitive 2-day event, there’s a couple of ways you could go: either heavily restrict it, which is a huge burden for TOs to police, or let it all hang out and making it the focus of the event to change things up.
What things would be on the priority list for reigning it in, if we did go down that path?
Do we need minimum / maximum base sizes?
Someone could declare a Gnoblar on a 25mm base to be a Monster and give it 18 wounds!
Someone could put a small buff character in the middle of a pie-plate base!
Eh, I guess they could, but any TO worth their salt is going to tell them to go fuck themselves. For most of its lifespan, AOS has worked competitively without any official base sizes at all.
“Don’t be a dick” coupled with TO discretion is arguably more effective than imposing rules around minimum / maximum base sizes, because as soon as you set parameters, everything jumps to the extreme of those parameters. Setting limits just gives people permission to go to the edge of those limits with no shame.
Let it ride.
Should the Command Abilities be spammable?
No they should not, and I can’t believe I’m having to write this again, but please, for the love of Gork, can GW start checking every Command Ability for spammability before they hit print?
This comes up again and again and again and again. It’s getting wearisome.
Anyway. Give it an Erratum, or enjoy my 1+ Save Gloomspite Gits. Either way works for me.
Should Ethereal be house-ruled out?
Nope. If you can’t deal with one model on 15 wounds and a 3+ save, you need to take a look at what you’re doing.
If you can’t handle this, you can’t handle Nagash, or Archaon, or Bastilodons, or Hearthguard, or Blight Kings, or OBR in general, or Nurgle in general, or Lumineth in general, or Savage Orruks, or debuff Grots, or Hagg Nar, or … do you want me to keep going?
Now I would argue that 4 DP is undercosted – any Monster you build is going to want to ignore all rend at that price point – but only in isolation. The 400 point Monsters overall don’t end up too far out of whack, and in a world where 20 Hearthguard costs the same as 20 Spider Riders, you are just going to have to learn to deal with it, my friend.
So other than maybe an Erratum for spamming the CAs (seriously, how many more times?), my own preference would be to just run with it, in Glorious Technicolor. Everyone is on the same page, everyone has this huge toolkit available to them, and everyone knows what they’re getting themselves into.
I don’t actually mind if these things never see competitive tournament play, because I’ll be able to enjoy it just fine in a local campaign, but at the same time I would certainly go to an event where they were allowed.
Honestly, I’m happy to just have some fun with this thing and see where it takes us.
Monsters are automatically good in Mawtribes, and this cheeky sausage qualifies for most of the Boulderhead and Mawtribes abilities:
Counts as 10 models for capturing objectives
Gains +2″ to move when Hungry and +1″ to move from the Boulderhead Command Trait
Can crack out D3 MWs thanks to the Everwinter
Gains one extra wound in Boulderhead
Can take the Brand of the Svard Artefact
Can access that sweet, sweet Boulderhead Command Ability to operate on his top tier even when damaged
We all know he’s a Frostlord on Stonehorn, but he won’t have those keywords, so he can’t access any Command Traits or Artefacts outside of the subfactions (since they are hard keyword locked) – but that’s ok, he fits fine in Boulderhead, and we’re golden. Unfortunately he also won’t get a Mount Trait, but hey, he does have his own charms, right?
As Heywoah put it: sometimes the obvious thing is fun.
Boss Glutton (120 Points)
What’s the scoop?
The Boss Glutton can have whichever Command Ability, since they’re both crazy-gravy, and either way he makes for a nice hero that effectively makes Ogors Battleshock immune without spending a CP: Bravery 14 (11 + “Eating” + the Banner) means you have to virtually wipe the unit before you even need to roll.
Gaining a 4+ Armour save (or more until they fix it) on Gluttons (or 3+ Ironguts) is great, as is hitting on 2s without having to roll on a stupid 1-in-3 table with a 12″ wholly-within range.
Meatlord (120 Points)
What’s the scoop?
The Meatlord illustrates a few things: firstly that the most effective way to go isn’t necessarily pumping points into Ethereal; in fact a bare-bones, cheap-ass hero with an amazing Command Ability is arguably the most competitive thing you can build. Some races can have a 30-point hero with an incredible, spammable Command Ability. He won’t be particularly survivable, but who gives a shit? He’s 30 points.
Secondly, it’s worth highlighting that you can essentially buy an extra CP now. CP purchasing was capped at 1, presumably for a reason (looking at you, FEC and Bonesplitterz), but Consummate Commander lets you get around that.
Thirdly, it emphasises that Punches and Kicks are a joke. The only zero-point Weapon option, presumably intended to represent a feeble Grot flailing away pathetically with his bare, puny hands, is chillingly close to the actual attack profile enjoyed by Frostlords, Huskards and Beastriders.
Heywoah’s view: Other races can make far cheaper “Bare Bones Command Ability Holders” since Ogors start at 7 DP, but these two at 120 points are arguably better than any of the Gutbuster heroes anyway, so we’ll call it a win.
Ollie Grimwood: Olrog “Badkop” Ironead
Ollie is a true legend of the hobby, and his superb Twitter feed throws up a constant stream of delights. Ollie has helped me turn that frown upside down when I’ve hit a flat spot with the hobby over the years, and he taught me the wonders of sticking Ork heads on other models, which is a never-ending source of hobby joy.
Olrog “Badkop” Ironead, Beast of Colarcanium and Incarncate of the Waaagh
A Warboss of infamous renown, Olrog is rising fast through the ranks of Orrukdom through the dint of low cunning, and a devastating head butt.
Plying his trade as a petty mercenary, Olrog found religion at the culmination of the Realm Hoppers crisis. Convinced he was Gorkamorka’s true Prophet of the Waaagh, Olrog cut a swathe through the Realms, growing in power with each victory.
Olrog’s prejudice almost proved his undoing, as his hatred of Aelves drew him into an ambush by an alliance of the Daughters of Khaine and Stormcast Eternals. However, far from proving to be his destruction, that defeat began his apotheosis. His acolytes styled themselves as Da Faifful and secured his rebirth as the physical Incarnation of the Waaagh. Thus has Olrog Ironead returned alongside his Waaaghcast Eturnals and Da Faifful to bring Gorkamorka’s true judgement to the Mortal Realms.
What’s the scoop?
Olrog is definitely a Conqueror, so I’ve taken the full 40 DP to create a character of suitable power. This is how we’re loading him up:
Grandhammer 2 DP
Gargantuan Beast 15 DP
Vicious Charge 1DP
Savage ferocity 1 DP
3x Savage Frenzy 3 DP
2x Extra Armour 4 DP
Ward 3 DP
Mighty Weapon 2 DP
Weapon master 2 DP
Ferocity 2 DP
In terms of Matched Play, Olrog costs 400pts and is both Leader and Behemoth. As the Incarnate of the Waaagh, Olrog is a suitably powerful character and a whirlwind of violence, akin to a monster such as the Rogue Idol.
We kick off with an Ironjaw ancestry, armed with a great hammer. An extra attack, damage and a bonus to hit has been added to represent Olrog’s trademark Iron shod ‘Eadbutt which provides his “Ironead” title. A Commander archetype gives him the ability to inspire friendly units. The Gargantuan Beast companion is used to convert Olrog’s base ancestry into a monster. The Claws will be used for his Axe, and the Maw his Hammer. Two extra attacks are added to the Axe, along with a bonus to its to hit value, and he deserves no less. An extra attack has been added to the Hammer, because of course it has.
Vicious charge (Stampede) nicely illustrates destructive impact of a charge from a Bloodthirster-sized Orruk. This mountain of muscle and bone, barreling into you at full-tilt, is going to leave a dent!
Defensively, two bonuses to Olrog’s Save give him some staying power. The Ward (Waaaagh Incarnate) ability represents Olrog having transcended the status of a mere mortal, being a creature of the primordial power of the Greenskinz.
All that’s needed now is some Aelves to smack around, who’s bought some Lumineth?
Peter Atkinson: Overtyrant on Great Maw
I’ve been having a great time running my Stonehorns recently, and they’re lead by an Overtyrant on Great Maw that I modelled up. I was keen to get some use out of my Dread Maw, which happens to be on the same base size as a Stonehorn, and you can quite easily imagine an Ogor tribe who worships this thing as a direct descendant of the Great Maw itself.
So although he’s already seen action using the Stonehorn’s Warscroll, this seems like a perfect opportunity to give him something bespoke. If we were going completely free reign, I would make him an Underguts Hero. They’re all about bursting up out of the ground and banging away with black powder, so I’d have to give him some kind of hand cannon, but I’d also tie that in with an aura that buffs Leadbelchers significantly.
Their shooting is honestly quite tragic for a cannon to the face at point blank range, so I think it would be pretty reasonable to give that army a decent lift. But for the purposes of what we’re doing here, I’m happy just to work within the parameters of Anvil as it stands, and make his Wyrm as good as I can.
What Narrative Wankery Is This?
Do you know what the capital of Thailand is called?
I’ll give you a clue – it’s not Bangkok.
No, the full honorific name is:
The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarma
A Tyrant also needs a name. A Big Name. And mine is called Bollgo.
And if that doesn’t seem very big, well don’t worry, because Bollgo was just a plucky Ogor making his way in the world: as his conquests have grown, so has his name.
Across the eight games I’ve played with Bollgo (<cough> 8-0 <cough>), he’s earned the following titles:
Slaves to Darkness
Bollgo the Edgelord Eater
Featuring two Warp Lightning Cannons
Bollgo, the Unzappable Edgelord Eater
Bollgo Skysnacks, the Unzappable Edgelord Eater
Narrative Battleplan where you had to sack their holy relics
Bollgo Skysnacks, the Unzappable Edgelord Eater, Devourer of Ancestors
Bollgo Skysnacks, the Unzappable Edgelord Eater, Devourer of Ancestors and Quencher of the Flame
Cities of Sigmar
Army with 202 bodies and no Battleshock
Bollgo Skysnacks the Everhungry, the Unzappable Edgelord Eater, Devourer of Ancestors and Quencher of the Flame
Bollgo Skysnacks the Everhungry, the Unzappable Edgelord Eater, Dakkbad’s Ruin, Devourer of Ancestors and Quencher of the Flame
Featuring 30 buffed Arrow Boys
Bollgo Skysnacks the Everhungry, the Unzappable Dakkaproof Edgelord Eater, Dakkbad’s Ruin, Devourer of Ancestors and Quencher of the Flame
See how much fun you can have with this shit?
His Warscroll would be a pretty standard Good Monster Build, leaning towards slippery over killy. I mean look at that thing: if there’s something standing between it and where it wants to go, it’ll just tunnel right over there and burst up out of the ground. So that’s where Run + Charge, and “Fly” come from.
Ethereal in this case represents its tough, scaly hide deflecting even the sharpest blades (replacing the 4++ DPR that the Dread Maw used to enjoy), and the rest of the points go towards making it respectably killy. And I had to put that nom nom attack in there, because look at it.
As with Heywoah’s contribution, this rude boy gets all the benefits of being an Ogor Mawtribes Monster, although not those of being a Stonehorn.
Rules fit for an Overtyrant, and clocking in at 400 points on the nose.
What else ya got?
Honestly, my mind is popping with ideas for this.
I want to do a Grot Wizard with Troggoth bodyguard as his Mount – reposed, so he’s standing in the background menacingly, cracking his knuckles.
I want to do something with Grom the Paunch, to get him rampaging around the Mortal Realms and doing impact Mortal Wounds with his triple-wolf chariot.
I want to do something with Johan and his pet Bonegrinder as the Mount, and all the points go into making Johan a one-man wrecking ball.
Let me know what you’re all cooking up: the sky’s the limit, people. This is going to be a lot of fun.
Of course there’s some insane stuff in here – there was always going to be, and that’s fine with me.
I love it, and I love the wave of creativity that is crashing through the hobby right nowthanks to the Anvil.
Bravo, GW, bravo.
Grade: A+, show some joie de vivre and join in the fun!
Book in hand! A new GH is arguably the biggest event in the AOS calendar, and I’ll be exploring all aspects of it over the course of a few distinct articles: today we kick off today with the Battleplans, and I’ve already got in a few games (including a one-dayer) under the new book.
To give what follows a bit of context, I’ll be mixing in my early first-hand experience, during which I’ve been running the following list:
Leaders Frostlord on Stonehorn (400) – General – Command Trait: Lord of Beasts – Artefact: Brand of the Svard – Mount Trait: Black Clatterhorn Frostlord on Stonehorn (400) – Mount Trait: Metalcruncher Huskard on Stonehorn (320) – Blood Vulture – Mount Trait: Old Granitetooth
I’m currently 8-0 with this army, having played against good players with good armies, casual players with meme armies, and every combo in between. I obviously say this to boast, but also to illustrate that my experience will hopefully be relevant to all different types of player. But mainly to boast.
Ok, now let’s smash into it.
First up is…
Forcing The Hand
Oh man. I’ve played this Battleplan a couple of times now: I took on Adam Bray’s Fyreslayers when the mission was leaked, and against Corey Ford’s Ironsunz at Measured Gaming’s one-dayer in Bendigo. It’s amazing, believe it.
This is similar in some ways to Relocation Orb (more of which below), but so much better.
The way it works is that you effectively set your opponent a challenge each turn. There are 6 Objectives, worth 1 VP each, but the twist is this: on each player’s turn, their opponent nominates one of the Objectives on their own side of the board to be the Primary Objective, which is instead worth 3 VPs.
It’s over here. Come and take it.
Everything about this works like a dream. Six Objectives stretches the board, which is always a strong starting point for a dynamic Battleplan. The requirement to project power in multiple directions asks questions of players, and asks questions of their list; it forces a constantly evolving stream of decisions, and that, my friends, is the spice of life.
We do need to recognise that in the occasional matchup, one player will just set up camp with something like 20 Blight Kings and continually nominate the Primary right underneath their fat ass:
Where the mission does help though is that the Priority Objective is one of 6 and not one of 3. If your opponent sets up their little castle, you can contest the others and still score heavily.
It’s not perfect – games with castling armies rarely are – but the mission does give you an out, and that’s a big tick from me.
Be aware that once you measure 12″ back from that zig zag line, your deployment zone is quite restrictive and you’re pushed out to the edges more than you might think. It could be worth having a practice deployment if you’re going to be playing this at an event, but failing that, if you’ve got a big important unit you might want to place that first so you don’t cock block yourself.
Another pointer I’d have is that although the board looks symmetrical visually, not all points are equally easy to access early on. If I remember Pythagoras correctly from school, you can be no closer than 24″ from the top and bottom Objectives, but a smidge under 17″ from your opponent’s Objective along the centre line. If you want to pressure at the top of 1, you’ll need faster units top and bottom, slower units in the centre.
In the image below, you can see that despite being close to the 12″ line, the Mournfang are quite a bit closer to the green Objective than the Red one, right before my opponent tried ramming two Maw Krushas down my throat:
If I wanted to pressure that red Objective, I would have needed to place a Stonehorn there instead. Luckily for me those cabbages bounced, and I was able to go through Corey’s Ironjawz pretty quickly after that, but in the same mission against Adam’s Fyreslayers it was a lot more cagey.
I spent the latter stages of that game running away onto the wide Objectives, and clung on by my fingernails 20-17. If we’d both just pushed our models into the middle, Hermdar wins that 100 times out of 100, so I think this is a great example of how a well-designed scenario in AOS really levels the playing field. Having only a handful of ultra powerful, but slow units can become a liability in some missions, and this is one of them. I love it.
Honestly, if this is what Age of Sigmar was – just playing this mission over and over, on a loop – I still don’t think I’d get bored of it. It really is that good.
The Blade’s Edge
Did you see it? First time I read this, I thought it looked bland as fuck, because I’d skimmed right over the heartbeat of the mission (right there in the Objectives section): “At the start of each battle round after the first, the player taking the second turn in that battle round can pick 1 objective on the battlefield and remove it from play.”
There ya go! It’s genuinely exciting to see a mechanic that gives the winner of the priority roll a dilemma. Relocation Orb (there it is again) had the kernel of a great idea, but it was wildly overdone to the extent that it often took the dilemma right out of your hands.
With Blade’s Edge however, as the game goes on, the equation becomes tighter, and tighter, and tighter, like a python wrapping itself round both armies. The Objectives are already unusually close together (only 6″ back from the centreline), and as you get deeper in the game, you’ll be clustered around fewer and fewer points on the board.
This Battleplan will give you stories – we’ve seen scenarios where you burn Objectives, but not without having to cap them first, and it’s hard to overstate the importance of that. I’m already waiting for the game where some bright spark sets up his Stone Elves, with Teclis and the big cow, so everything is in pretty little bubbles of after saves and negatives to hit. Their whole army is effectively Ethereal, and their whole army effectively has Stone Skeleton.
And then you say so fucking what, and whip the Objective away from under them. What else ya got?
So although it’s a pretty straightforward point to make, I’d be looking for opportunities to get ahead early, then suck away your opponent’s oxygen by giving up priority and whipping away their key Objectives.
I did play this one at the weekend against a thematic Cities of Sigmar army, with 202 bodies, 200 of which were pointing loaded firearms at my 9 models. They were all ignoring Battleshock in their own territory, so I would have to kill all 202 of them. And I did. Huzzah!
Honestly it was a pretty bad matchup for my opponent Chris (who was an absolute gent) so there wasn’t much to learn specific to the mission, but I did pull off one manoeuvre that will be good to bear in mind against Cities.
Finish a charge within 3″ of their Handgunners and you’ll take a round of Dakka to the face, so the workaround is to charge a nearby unit instead. Declare your intent, get the combat gauge out, and finish up 3.00001″ from those Handgunners. Then we move on to the combat phase: you pile in around the base of whatever you’ve charged, you’re now in melee with those goons and ready to rip their fucking heads off. Those pea shooters aren’t going to help them now!
A key thing here is to make sure you select your charging unit to pile in first, so you don’t get base-locked in position away from your true target:
Stonehorns being Stonehorns, I charged the Hero right off the table before we even got into Combat, so you will just have to pretend he’s there (X marks the spot where he fell). But you get the picture.
What’s Not There
Duality of Death goes in the bin. Static, boring, deploy first and bunker the fuck up.
You will not be missed.
Relocation Orb was something of a curate’s egg. This was a fantastic idea, but poorly executed. I love the idea of giving people a strong reason to defer after winning the priority roll; 3 points to 1 just went too far. Win the roll off, give it away. Repeat and your opponent is fucked.
I didn’t hate this as much as most competitive players did, but I can see why it was retired, and the seeds of a good idea have been executed much more effectively in the new missions.
Refined and Reloaded
How about the Battleplans that have been reworked? Hey Ho, Let’s Go.
Knife to the Heart
You deploy diagonally, and further apart. Slightly increases the probability of stand-off bore-draws, which is a bad thing. In the context of the wider book, however, we might have some good news. The main purpose of this mission in practice is to “Split the field”: because it’s perceived as being hard to get a Major Win, a lot of TOs like to include it as Game 3 to get a couple of Minors out there, and sort out the pack going into Day Two.
I’ve long thought that was a red herring; I’d love to know the stats on it, but my gut feel is that if anything it rewards people for getting a good draw more than for playing well. There aren’t really many decisions to make other than crush your opponent if you outmatch them, ping away with ranged output if you have it, or sit back and play for the minor if you’re that way inclined.
With the new Auxilliaries, which I will cover in a separate article, I’m optimistic that TOs will see less need to put this in their packs. If you do want an instawin mission, Blood and Glory from the Core Book is just straight up better, so hopefully this one can be parked.
This is the one where you get a bonus VP for stealing an Objective back from an opponent. I’m taking this opportunity to call out the Great Total Conquest Fallacy.
I’ve heard so many people say that they chose not to cap because if their opponent then takes it back off them, they’d give up 2 VPs.
Well – so what?
If you cap and they take it back, you’ve scored 1 to their 2. So you’re 1 down on the deal.
If you don’t bother, they score 1 to your 0. So you’re 1 down on the deal.
See what I mean? In both cases, you are 1 VP behind and in position to nick it back for 2 of your own.
Don’t fall into that trap. Assess it like any other Objective. If you have something cheap that you can trade favorably, take it and make them trade. If you can tank it out, tank it out. If you can do neither, give your opponent difficult decisions like splitting their forces.
By letting them just walk onto it with any old crap, you’re in exactly the same position for VPs, but you’ve let your opponent dictate the flow of the game. Don’t do that.
This mission is pretty cool because you can get big swings in momentum: you now also get a bonus VP for having a Leader nearby when you control a point. This does feel like it might reward the Haves over the Have Nots: given the amount of shooting and splash mortal wounds in the meta, small support Heroes and the armies that depend on them are looking slightly fucked already, and this could exacerbate that.
You might well not have those guys on table after a couple of turns, and if you do, you are scarcely in a position to frontline them for the sake of a VP. If you’re lucky enough to have durable Heroes, like Kroak sitting on his Balewind with Saurus soaking up the damage, then it’s all gravy.
I’m not super keen on that change personally, because it feels a bit like being rewarded again for having good rules, but it’s certainly something to consider in list design if you see it in a tournament pack.
And hey, my Stonehorns aren’t complaining.
Battle for the Pass
The same but better. A classic mission, a staple of Matched Play, and still endlessly engaging. And best of all: no longer do we have to endure the drudgery of that triangular deployment zone. It was cool that it rewarded speed (or teleporting), but it was just too much of a pain in the arse.
Anyone who can set up a durable little base on their home objective and still project power is in a great position. So that would be another good one for Seraphon, then.
Another improvement. Last year’s 2D6 is gone, replaced by the classic D3 roll. 2D6 was an interesting idea, but it gave the illusion of being more random while actually being more predictable. You could play the percentages, jam up the middle, hope it would land there and it probably would.
The D3 roll is a true crap shoot, and genuinely exciting every time. Much better.
This was the third mission that we played at our one-dayer, and boy was it good for my Stonehorns! It’s nice to see the Monster keyword actually being useful, rather than purely a burden for things like Lookout Sir, so in that sense I think it’s the most impactful of the new scoring bonuses based on Battlefield Roles.
What I like here is that they’ve covered both bases between the Monster keyword and the Behemoth battlefield role. In the past they’ve focused exclusively on the former, which means that you get weird loopholes like huge Not Monsters benefiting from Lookout Sir; I’m glad that Ironclads for example won’t fall between the cracks.
This is still not as good as the 2018 edition, which was on the diagonal and meant that games really pivoted around the centre, but it’s a modern classic mission and a worthy inclusion in any pack.
Yeah – bring Stonehorns. Seriously, if this is in a Tournament Pack, you will need to strongly consider putting Monsters or Behemoths in your list, because it’s a high-scoring mission that can be skewed quite heavily.
I played this one in Round 3 at the weekend against Dalton’s Big Waaagh, and it was one for the ages. I blasted out to an early lead with those bonuses to scoring, but the Orruks were all-too-capable of lifting off a couple of Stonehorns a turn, so by the end it was a very tight equation. Every priority roll was heart stopping, every charge was critical, every body on every objective mattered. Dalton tabled me, but I ended up hanging on 29-28 for the Major Win in another vintage installment in our rolling personal rivalry*.
The two things I would take from this matchup are first and foremost, if you have fewer monsters than your opponent, the scoring can get out of hand fast. Dalton scored 2 points on his cagey first turn, and I then max-capped for 13; if I’d won the first priority, that puts me on 26 points at the top of turn 2, and the game would already be beyond him at that point because he simply can’t score as many points as I can. Playing cautiously is not a low-risk strategy in this case, in fact quite the opposite.
Secondly, I picked Objective based Auxiliaries for this one, because they’d been serving me so well up until that point; I really should have chosen Objectives based around units dying, because that was simply inevitable in the matchup.
I finished the event at 3-0 which put me level with Rohit Thomas and his Skaven (More More Points Drops!). Roh deservedly took out the event on Auxiliaries as the tie breaker, so the selection proved to be quite important.
Going forward, I wouldn’t be adverse to choosing The Bait, particularly if I’m looking at a score ‘n’ scramble strategy on a fast, high scoring mission like this one.
Still 8 Objectives, still D3 for burning your opponent’s from Round 2 onwards. Wide deployment now, and perhaps more importantly, another one where the Objectives interact with Leaders.
You can’t burn an Objective while your opponent has a Leader within 6″ of it, and you score an extra VP for burning an Objective while you have a Leader within 6″ of it.
This one favours shooting / ranged mortals to snipe out those Heroes, rewards armies who are already blessed with durable Heroes (and Battalions that include them in a low-drop package), and incentivises pushing your Heroes forward before you start burning (great for frontline Heroes like Stonehorns).
A pretty interesting proposition all up.
The Better Part of Valour
Again it’s flipped from longways to wide ways. As always, you burn your own Objectives in this one, and the longer you hold them, the more points you score. What’s changed is that only Battleline can cap, and only within 3″. It’s also easier to take it off your opponent in combat than it is with shooting.
This one is a headfuck in a good way, creating horrible dilemmas as the game gets stretched late on. And although the game wasn’t really crying out for Battleline to get a boost (we’re all taking them anyway), it is interesting that they’ve done it in a scenario with 8 Objectives – we’re not all taking that many!
All we need now is for Snotling Pump Wagons to be made Battleline If, and we’ve got a new meta on our hands, ladies and gents.
The Primary Objective still jumps around the centreline at random, but it’s only worth 2 VPs now (rather than 3) so the variance is less pronounced. The other change is that you now score an extra VP for having a Battleline unit within 6″ of an Objective you control.
Although I appreciate the symmetry of having another Battlefield role gain bonuses, being rewarded for building a block of hyper-durable Battleline is not something I think the game needs. Those are already the units that are best at capturing Objectives – you’re really not putting yourself out on a limb or thinking outside the box by capping with a tanky Battleline unit.
With all the Objectives jammed along the middle, this is a static mission with few tough choices to make, and will often up boiling down to:
“Push your models together and see who wins”
Or even worse:
“I outdrop you and have 60 Blightkings, do you want to keep playing?”
Shaping up to be the new Duality of Death, and not one I’m hoping to see too much of in all honesty.
Places of Arcane Power
Hero missions very rarely make it into competitive packs in Australia these days, and this one may continue to be squeezed out by the new generation of “cap with anything, but bonuses for Leaders” scenarios. Worth noting that it is improved over earlier versions, because you can no longer pull the ultimate dick move of teleporting away from the Objective and keeping control of it (because it’s a set up, and you therefore haven’t technically finished a move outside of 3″ from it); I’m pretty shameless, but not even I would have the brass neck to pull that one.
For that reason, I think we’ll continue to see this one as a niche Battleplan only.
Or Total Bullshit as legendary Stormcast Wanker Adam Burt refers to it. This one hasn’t changed at all: you still get substantial bonus VPs for capturing points in your opponent’s territory, and you still can’t set anything up off the board. I like the idea of a mission based around pure aggression, with the Objectives spread out along all four edges of the board, but the No Reserves thing really rubs some people up the wrong way, and understandably so.
I respect the idea of it: we’ve whipped away your crutch, what else have you got? Where it falls down is that it narrowly focuses on a single small mechanic and pounds it into the dirt, and worse, that mechanic is not even a crutch for the top armies. Who suffers from this? Stormcast, Nighthaunt, and Idoneth. Only the last of these could be in any way described as an army that leans on its crutch; the others need help, if anything.
As a suggestion for next year, I’d suggest tweaking the No Reserves rule to state that no units can be set up on the Battlefield in the first Battleround. You can either set it up during deployment, or hold it back for Battleround 2 onwards, so it isn’t just slain. This would mean it’s not so brutally punishing on armies who simply want to use their Battle Trait; you may just lose your Plan A and have to come up with something else instead.
It would nip a few things in the bud, such as:
Auto-teleporting Flamers in your face and blasting away
Auto-teleporting Salamanders in your face and blasting away
Chucking entire Hallowheart gunlines across the Bridge, into your face and blasting away
Alpha-bunkers in general
No Retreat Tzeentch Horrors in particular
This would challenge far more on-meta builds to come up with something original, and nudge you to actually play Warhammer. That’s got to be preferable and closer to the intent than forcing some poor bugger to start his Loonsmasha Fanatics on the table.
I should point out that although people often think of Heroes and Leaders interchangeably (and I have trampled carelessly through that minefield myself above), that’s not entirely accurate: Gotrek (for example) is a Hero (keyword) but not a Leader (Battlefield Role). So no bonus VPs for the Wee Man on those scenarios.
One last thing worth pointing out is that the bonus VPs for having a certain unit types within range of the Objective are contingent on that Objective being under your control – but not necessarily by that unit.
What’s the difference?
Well as per the core rules (Page 10), a given model can only contribute to capturing one Objective:
So you might think that a Behemoth (for example) could only earn a bonus VP on one Objective at a time: but that’s not the case. If you have a big enough base (Stonehorns don’t quite cut it), you can cover multiple Objectives with a single Monster, and harvest the bonus VPs from all of them.
You’d have to have at least one other unit around to actually capture the Objectives, but as long as that’s the case, you’re golden. You’re not actually capturing the Objective with these models – you’re scoring VPs for being within 6″ of them. This is a subtle but important difference – and has got me keen to give my Skitterstrand Arachnaroks a run out, deep striking Monsters on pie plate bases FTW!
My ideal spread of missions might look something like this:
Round 1: Starstrike
Loads of exciting, memorable moments for those grudges
Round 2: Focal Points
A classic all-rounder with a modern Behemoths twist
Round 3: Scorched Earth
No need for KTTH with Auxiliaries; make this your Leaders mission
Round 4: Forcing the Hand
Give people time for some overnight Theoryhammer
Round 5: The Blade’s Edge
A balanced mission that will give us some great stories
One thing I’d urge caution on is accidentally including too many Leaders missions, which I’ve tried to work around here.
This might also be the first time I’ve seen Battle for the Pass or its equivalent squeezed out of my dream lineup, although it easily could be included: there really is an embarrassment of riches on offer.
This was a triumph: taken as a package, these missions are superb.
If the cost of this book is seen purely as annual subscription for playing Matched Play, it would be worth Every. Frikking. Cent.
We’re going to have a great year playing these scenarios, believe me.
Grade: A+, no bullshit
*In case you were wondering, mine and Dalton’s rivalry began at Badgacon 2017 when we both rocked up with identical armies: Stonehorns, Thundertusks and Kunnin Rukks. And when I say identical, I mean identical, down to the same Command Traits, artefacts, everything.
I got the Major Win that day and went on to win the event, which has no specific relevance to the GH20 Battleplans, but I just wanted to throw it out there. That’s the beauty of having your own little soapbox, hey.
This will be my 40th post in the 46 weeks since Plastic Craic went live, and while this is a pace I’m really pleased with, please do bear with me if we slow down for a while. Huge thanks to everyone who has contributed articles, and for every Like, Retweet and Share along the way. Let’s keep on trucking.
What have you got for us?
Today, we will be looking at the biggest Orruk in all of the Mortal Realms. The Sons of Behemat hype train may have been sleeping quietly in its shed recently, with attention focused squarely on the 9th Edition of 40K and the new Aelves; but a self-indulgent wankfest on one of my hobby projects is what you were promised, and that is exactly what you shall receive.
So hang on…are you banging on about Giants this time, or Orcs?
Why choose, when you can have both?
When I saw the sheer scale of the Bonegrinder Gargant, I had to pick one up. So today we’ll be taking a look both at the Bonegrinder in general, and my Bonegrinder in particular.
Because my Bonegrinder – Durdokk Da Biggist – is an Orruk.
“What are you doing?”, my wife asked.
“I’m chopping his head off, to stick an orc head on there.”
“Can you do that?”
“You just watch me, darling.”
Mierce Miniatures – legendary for creating models that are anatomically accurate (and NSFW) – happen to do a giant Orruk head, which you can buy separately from their giant kit. So I did.
Orruks are well-known for getting bigga and meaner after every fight – it’s literally the entire foundation of what Ironjawz are – so why stop at a Megaboss?
Strength From Victory is hardwired into their Warscroll, so that can’t be the ceiling. If an Orruk has been krumpin’ long enough, couldn’t he reach truly epic proportions?
Hell yeah he could!
Runebrush has an excellent Warscroll designer that I would encourage you to take a look at:
Because my intention was to use Durdokk in Matched Play, I resisted the temptation to pimp his stats, but I did add a little flavour text to his rules and abilities.
Is The Bonegrinder Any Good?
Eh…kinda? Not really. Allow me to explain.
His 6″ Pile in is sensational. For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, this rule is an absolute game-changer.
The first major impact is that it has its own unique hold in Activation Wars: because you’re attacking from outside of normal combat range, you effectively get to swing first with multiple units sequentially. So you attack with a unit that has charged as normal, and the best your opponent can hope for is to fight back with their depleted unit into yours that has already activated. Then it’s back to your turn, and you get to stride in and go again with your Bonegrinder, who is sitting pretty and ready to rumble.
In this way, it also bypasses interactions like Hermdar’s ability to fight at the start of the Combat Phase (since you are outside of 3″ at that point). I’ve been playing Activation Wars with this guy since before Activation Wars was a thing, and it’s so, so good.
Yep, he’s almost impossible to pin down, and phases in and out of combat at will. Your opponent might need a bit of a memory jog on this one, because sometimes people have it in their heads that retreating means you are “locked” out of combat; that’s not quite true.
Retreating and / or running specifically means you can’t charge, but because The Big Fella can just moonwalk back into combat without charging, you’re golden.
Worth a mention here too is that mighty 3″ melee range. Because combat doesn’t require line of sight, and you don’t need to be able to get close enough to complete a charge, you can even just pile in to enemy units cowering in the nook of a Numinous Occulum and swing at them right through that wall. If your opponent thought you were a gamey fucker before, wait until you pull that one on them.
The final little boost this gives you is that it bypasses anti-charge tech. Whether that’s Cities of Sigmar firing overwatch at you, or Slaves to Darkness messing with your charge roll, the Bonegrinder gives zero fucks. He just struts up like he owns the place, then walks right into the fray.
Durdokk packs a menacing shooting attack, although it’s rarely used in practice. I find that there is significantly more value to be gained from running, retreating and moonwalking back in every turn, giving sequential pile ins and helping you reach the unreachable, than there is in staying put and taking one pot-shot hitting on 4s. So it’s only a minor nice-to-have on the tabletop.
Much more interesting are “I’ll Bite Your Head Off!” (aka “Stuff ‘Em Down Your Pants on my Warscroll) and “Jump Up and Down”. The wonderful, wonderful thing here is that these are both active in “the combat phase”. Note: Because it’s not “your” combat phase, you can do it in both players’ turns. Boo yah!
“I’ll Bite Your Head Off” still feels a little bit stingy, only working as it does on a natural 6. I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on this one in any potential Warscroll rewrite to accompany the new book, because it feels like something that is ripe to be cranked up a notch. But when it pops, it really pops, because plucking out a banner or breaking coherency is serious business.
“Jump Up and Down” is also pretty sweet. Because it works at the end of the combat phase, you can actually make it harder to trigger by performing better in melee and leaving fewer models around to stomp on; but whatever works, works, right? It can be a bit of insurance if you crap out in combat, and a nice little bonus on your opponent’s turn. Enemy units with 1 wound sitting behind elite armour saves (Mortek and now Lumineth spring to mind) should fear this in particular.
This is where it gets a bit awkward. His main melee attacks are badly underpowered.
The Bonegrinder is another unit like the Troggboss and Fanatics where he seems to be costed on the assumption that D6 always equals 6. It’s easy to look at 3D6 attacks and think hey, that could be 18 attacks! The fact is that will rarely be the case, and even if it was, it wouldn’t be too much.
3D6 is an average of 10.5 attacks. That’s not enough, and especially not enough when you’re paying 400 points for the fucker. At that level, you should be demanding something that will have a devastating impact on the game – you don’t have to search far to think of examples (Kroak) that cost less and do more. So much more.
Taking an example closer to home, let’s compare him to the Fellwater Troggoth. It’s a good comparison because they are both Gloomspite units, and both keyworded to be universal Allies in Destruction.
3+ 3+ rend -1 damage 2 attacks are a sweet, sweet profile. And both Durdokk and the Fellies have exactly that. But whereas Durdokk has 10.5 such attacks for 400 points, a minimum unit of Fellwaters gets 12 identical attacks for 150 points. What the fuck!
400 points is actually the equivalent of 8 Fellwaters, which is 32 wounds and 32 attacks. That’s almost triple the output that Durdokk brings to the table, and with much better shooting on top.
What about the 6″ pile in? Ok, let’s compare him to Yetis, who have the same rule; and they’re bringing 9 attacks for 110 points. Again that works out at 33 attacks per 400 points, so way more bang for your buck. They’re only hitting on 4s (instead of 3s), but that’s still a pretty ugly look for the Bonegrinder.
Really, you should get a risk premium for the unreliability of his main attack profile; most competitive players would consider 3D6 to be worse than 10.5 attacks, because you can’t count on it. Instead, you are expected to pay through the nose. He will let you down when you need it most, and for me, that’s what kills him as a serious competitive pick.
Boyz Before Toyz. Whatever army you’re playing, whatever the role that Durdokk fills, there is probably something that does it more efficiently. Whether that’s Fellwater Troggoths in Gloomspite Gits (or as Allies in other Destro allegiances), or Yetis if you’re super keen on that tricksy mobility and 6″ pile in for a Mawtribes or Mixed Destruction force.
Now, that being said, I still believe that he is useable. He might not be optimal, mainly due to his undercooked and unreliable combat output, but there is enough going on there with his special rules that he can sometimes come in clutch.
Trying to make this guy work is not for the faint-hearted. You have to really want to use him. And you know what? I do.
I’ve ran him at local one-dayers before, and after every game my opponents ask “Have you thought about swapping out the Bonegrinder for XYZ?”. But his presence on the table is breathtaking, he will draw a disproportionate amount of fire, and his special rules do keep him interesting right down to the last wound.
He’s not the most competitive unit in the game, but he’s not army-ruining trash either, and he’s my dude.
The Future for Durdokk
Yeah, I’ll be using him in my Sons army. I genuinely have no idea what (if any) official role he will have in Sons of Behemat, but worst case scenario, I’ll rebase him to a Mega Gargant base and use him as one of those.
This gives me a dilemma: do I make my other Gargants (including Aleguzzlers) into Giant Orruks, or keep them as Giants led by a Giant Orruk? I’m honestly not sure yet, and I’ll need to have the new kit in my hands before I decide.
I’d love Durdokk’s Warscroll to get a refresh with Sons of Behemat, but if not, I’ll be chucking him in there regardless. You can’t keep a growing lad down, and Durdokk will keep fighting and fucking his way through the Mortal Realms for a good while yet.
And if I could wishlist one thing for Sons of Behemat to learn from the Bonegrinder, that would be to have “Longshanks” as a Battle Trait, giving an army-wide 6″ pile in. Please Mork!
Let me know if you’ve ran a Bonegrinder and how you’ve made it work, let me see any photos of your cool models, and until next time: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.
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.
Leaders Frostlord on Stonehorn (400) – General – Command Trait: Frostfell Aura – Artefact: Ethereal Amulet – Mount Trait: Metalcruncher
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.
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)
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 .
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)
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!
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
In my opinion these are aggressively ugly, and too thick:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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):
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Hopes for the Battletome
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well this one is certainly a little more interesting! Let’s break it down:
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.
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 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.
Ok, let’s have some fun with this.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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
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?
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.
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