What’s the Deal with Ardfist?

“That’s the greatest comback since Lazarus”

Sid Waddell

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

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

The Rules

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

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

So What’s The Issue?

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

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

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

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

This is specifically noted otherwise:

This is specifically noted otherwise:

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

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

What about the Battalion cap?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it thematic for orcs to have summoning?

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

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

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

Isn’t this a bit much?

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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