GH20 Review Part 6: Realm Artefacts

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.

2 thoughts on “GH20 Review Part 6: Realm Artefacts

  1. I’m by no means a ‘pro playa’ or claiming to have any significant background in theory crafting the most epic list but the Aqshy artefact does seem quite useful for models that do something special on to wound rolls of 6’s (ie bloodthirster of insensate rage)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah any chance to proc an extra 6 with the Thirster is welcome.

      I think it’s a matter of expectations though, and although none of these things are actively bad for your army, they’re not doing enough (in most cases) to justify a precious artefact slot.

      And I wouldn’t mind if they were just out and out fun (like the Gargant Bone Dice example). It’s just as disappointing to me that these artefacts are bland as it is that they are generally pretty limited in their power.

      Now all that being said – if you’ve got a way you want to use one of these that you think could do work for you, please don’t let me put you off. I’m certainly not claiming to always be right about everything.

      These are just my opinions, and although I always try to give a “why”, I’m always open to learning that I got something wrong!


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