Getting Squiggy With It: Jaws of Mork Review

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:

https://www.warhammer-community.com/2017/07/06/warhammer-age-of-sigmar-grand-tournament-heat-3-recap-squigs-sportsmanship-and-surprisesgw-homepage-post-4/

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.

We can recycle Squigs through the Loonshrine!

Oh yes! This was what I was asking for back in January, and I couldn’t be happier.

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.

Battalions

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.

Artefact Strategy

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?

Oh yes.

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!

Conclusion

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.

2 thoughts on “Getting Squiggy With It: Jaws of Mork Review

  1. Thanks for the review! Really well explained. I think its pretty minimal improvement personally but something is better than nothing. I am not sure it will take squigs out of that place where you lose so much that the fun is lost….

    Like

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