Calvin Rarie of Atlanta, Georgia has been playing Age of Sigmar for 4 years now. Calvin is an enthusiast for under-represented armies and has followed up on his guide to Bonesplitterz by putting it in action at a GT!
Over to you, Calvin.
Bonesplitterz has for the duration of 3rd Edition been an army written off as fundamentally unable to win anything, and the win percentage has reflected that for a while now. Since starting with the army at the tail end of 2.0, it was clear as day that the rules written for the army simply did not show that our favorite naked Orruks had any legs competitively to stand on.
At least at first glance.
Through an obscene amount of testing and several local RTT’s, I came to be a believer that in this gutted shell of an army there was real power behind the Savage Orruks. I even wrote an article on my thoughts regarding the army – which is due to be updated soon since it was written pre-Kragnos’ update – and came to the conclusion that with some forethought, patience, and a hell of a lot of pre-measuring you couldn’t just squeeze out a victory, you could absolutely crush your opponents with what amounted to a meme army to most of the community.
Of course, the real challenge always lay in putting the army to the real test at a large event where you can’t predict the meta, and each matchup could be either great for you or terrible for you. Larger tournaments also mean better players, and the final step in any experiment is to put it through the harshest tests you can to see if your ideas work out.
Ladies and gentlemen, this experiment was a resounding success: a 4-1 with Bonesplitterz in a 52 person GT, good enough for 6th place and Best in Destruction!
Let’s get into it.
First off, I want to say that this has been probably the best tournament I have ever been to, hands down. Hosted in Cherokee, NC at the Harrah’s Casino, FLG went out of their way to create a kick-ass gaming environment nestled in the Smoky Mountains. The event staff kept rulings simple and to the point, everything flowed smoothly from beginning to end, and the event kicked off that Saturday with an actual Cherokee war-dance! I’ll be honest, it was the single coolest thing I’ve ever seen at a tournament.
The spread at the event ended up being heavy on Order vs Destruction, with a smattering of Death and Chaos among the lists. Stormcast Eternals was – of course – the most represented army at the tournament. Beyond that there were 4 Boulderhead Ogor Mawtribes lists, 5 Seraphon, and then a healthy spread beyond that. In fact, for the only time ever, I wasn’t the only Bonesplitterz player in a tournament: another gentleman ended up taking it to 3-1-1 good enough for 9th, though we played radically different lists.
Overall, this meant there were a lot of monsters in the field this tournament which bode well for the only army at the moment with two Bring it Down tactics.
Beyond that, the event used a terrain system that first started at LVO:
- Each mission has terrain deployment maps so that after the attacker/defender roll-off, the defender knows exactly where to place each terrain piece.
- Each table would have 8 pieces of terrain that the defender would place and would then divvy out the following among those terrain pieces:
- 2 terrain would gain the Wyldwood feature;
- 2 terrain would gain the Defensible feature;
- 2 terrain would gain the Impassable feature;
- Then the defender would roll 6 dice for mysterious terrain and place it where they wanted.
This way, being defender actually mattered each game–and believe me as a firm believer in Battle Regiments being the way to go with Bonesplitterz; being defender made a massive difference each game. I really, really hope this system catches on because it completely elevates the game.
Shout out to Joe Krier and Andrew Simmons for being great TOs!
A Brief Explanation of Bonesplitterz
For the sake of simplicity, I’ll assume you don’t know how Bonesplitterz work because there’s like, 8 of us in the world. Without getting too far into the weeds, here’s the basics (none of which apply to Kragnos):
- Every unit in the army with 5 or more models have exploding unmodified 6’s to hit.
- Every unit in the army in the Icebone subfaction deal MWs equal to the damage characteristic on melee weapons on unmodified 6s to wound.
- The whole army has a 6+ ward, which turns into a 4+ ward with a once per game WAAAGH issued by your Bonesplitterz general in the combat phase.
- Before the first turn but after deployment, half your BONESPLITTERZ units (rounding up) move 5”.
- This last point is important, because pre-game moving onto objectives allows you to capture those objectives if your opponent also did not pre-game move. (See: 18.1.1 in the core rules.)
- If it’s mounted, it moves 12”. If it’s on foot, it moves 5”.
– Warclan: Icebone
– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line
– Triumphs: Indomitable
Wurrgog Prophet (150)*
– Artefact: Glowin’ Tattooz
– Lore of the Savage Beast: Glowy Green Tusks
Maniak Weirdnob (100)*
– Command Trait: One Wiv Da Beast – Glowy Green Tusks
– Mount Trait: Fast ‘Un
– Lore of the Savage Beast: Gorkamorka’s War Cry
Kragnos, The End of Empires (720)*
10 x Savage Orruks (165)*
15 x Savage Boarboys (420)*
– Reinforced x 2
5 x Savage Boarboys (140)*
10 x Savage Boarboy Maniaks (290)*
– Reinforced x 1
Total: 1985 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 3 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
If you’ve read my articles, you’ll understand how I feel about Icebone, and how I felt back when Kragnos didn’t have his updated warscroll. Now that he has been updated, let me say this:
Kragnos is the single best model in the game. He lives up to his title as a God of Destruction, as he absolutely DESTROYS everything he touches, especially monsters in the charge phase. The amount of threat he poses is so massive that your opponents counter-deploy their whole army just to get the hell away from him. The best part, though, is by counter deploying Kragnos they open themselves up to being vulnerable to the rest of the army. Between killing monsters on the charge and giving 3d6 charges to everything wholly within 12” of him, he’s a one-centaur-wrecking-crew.
I won’t gush on him anymore than I need to, but I do want to say that you can absolutely compete without him, but Kragnos brings more to Bonesplitterz than even to Ogor Mawtribes. I will die on that hill.
As for the rest of the list, the Weirdnob is there to be a mobile General that can easily run around and tag objectives while also providing a small, mobile base that can avoid Slay the Warlord better than anything else in the army. I went with the CT of an extra spell so that he can cast Gorkamorka’s War Cry when he needs to, but otherwise he’s casting Glowy Green Tusks when the Wurrgog can’t. Fast ’Un in particular lets you hero phase move in range to cast War Cry when your opponent is not expecting it.
You can also do some hilarious tactics with him that came up a few times, including my all-time favorite moment in AOS. Stay tuned on that.
Wurrgog does Wurrgog things, which in this tournament is kill himself a lot, but he was clutch in helping bring a Warstomper down. If you don’t know what he does, instead of casting spells you can have him use his mask on an enemy unit at the start of your hero phase if that enemy unit is within 12” of him. If you do, roll a dice, and on a 3+ he does D3 MWs to the enemy. If the roll is a 1-2, the first roll does nothing, but you can repeat this process. If you do, you keep rolling the dice, only this time the 1s and 2s do d6 MWs to him. You keep doing this until he dies, the enemy unit dies or you stop. All of which can be done on your turn before Heroic actions.
Fun Fact though: Wurrgog + Defensible Terrain = Laser Tower.
Boarboy Maniaks do suffer from coherency rules, but it largely doesn’t matter. They die to a stiff breeze, and are largely a 290 point cruise missile that do huge damage. You can typically get 8 into combat with ease, which represents 57 total attacks between riders and boars. That’s a lot of opportunity for damage, especially when the boars have -2 Rend.
15 Boarboys represent the world’s fastest tarpit. A block of 45 wounds that move 12” and charge with 3d6 inches represents a lot of bacon to chew through before you can even get out of your deployment zone. Put a Mystic Shield on them, give them all out Defense, and suddenly your opponent is going to have a very hard time pushing them off. Stikkas let them fight over each other with that 2” reach as well, so it represents a lot of attacks that can peck away even at 2+ saves.
Lastly, we come to the screens. Five boars run around and easily have the mobility to grab objectives, and 10 Savage Orruks are 10 models and 20 wounds that can tank a surprising amount of damage. Don’t leave home without it.
Playing the List
I want to repeat something I’ve said before: Age of Sigmar is a game of movement phases with some dice rolling in between. There’s this bad habit people have when they play Age of Sigmar of charging all the time whenever they get the opportunity, and I know playing Orruks of all things makes you want to just constantly do that, but it’s a very good way to get yourself tabled. Even Kragnos can’t survive out on an island by himself.
Winning with Bonesplitterz requires you to play very carefully and precisely, because the rules for our army are very good when applied correctly. Part of that comes from pre-measuring, and you are going to have to do it constantly to do well. Measuring opponent charges, measuring your charges, measuring distances to get on objectives, and on and on. Our mobility allows us to basically moves 1500 points of troops wherever we want, and the key to taking advantage of that is to not throw away your troops in combat.
Seriously, charging with a whole army is cool, but Ironjawz we are not. We don’t play to kill our opponents, we playing to constrict, squeeze, and frustrate our enemies no end. We win by playing to the objective, and more importantly keeping our opponent off of them.
All of the above applies to the non-Kragnos side of our army. For things that do get loose, or get positioned poorly due to them either counter-deploying against Kragnos or living in fear of an entire army attacking them no matter where they are on the table, gaps will appear – and in those gaps, Kragnos is going to step right on in and murder whatever is unlucky enough to be standing there when he arrives.
This one-two punch is why the army works. Kragnos is a hammer, and the other 1280 points are a mobile, meaty anvil.
Round 1 WIN 32-15
Opponent: Cody Bates – Disciples of Tzeentch, Eternal Conflagration
Mission: First Blood
Cody is local to the Atlanta region, which I come from. Funnily enough, we played each other in the last round of a local tournament where I won at the top of R2. Being an almost list-for-list rematch, I won the roll-off and chose defender, blocking off large portions of the territory to allow me to create blocking lanes as much as possible. I pre-game moved onto the side objectives, and only nominally moved into the center. Both of us being 1 drop, he proceeded to teleport 20 Pinks directly into my frontlines in the center, where 15 Savage Boarboys withstood an onslaught of MWs, daemon shooting, and finally the guaranteed charge from the pinks.
The boars survived all of that, and in the next turn I failed all my spells before retreating the boars and charging in both the Maniaks and Kragnos, who between the two of them managed to kill 54 Horrors in one combat. I won the double turn, mopped up his entire frontline and broke into his backfield, and from there on all he had left were his heroes who quickly ran out of room to summon and score any meaningful points.
We continued to play it out, but the end result spoke volumes. A good start, and big shout to Cody for being absolute gentleman and great sport.
Round 2 LOSS 15-30
Opponent: Michael Schlegelmilch–Disciples of Tzeentch, Hosts Arcanum
Mission: Survival of the Fittest
Tzeentch again. Despite how the first game went, make no mistake, Tzeentch is very annoying even when Kragnos can shrug off spells. Of particular note, Michael brought Be’Lakor, which you should plan on seeing more of in the future. His ability to turn off Kragnos for a turn or more (if you get the double, for instance) is critical in making armies like Tzeentch and Maggotkin viable. To this point, I want to make myself clear:
Anyway, for his predators he picks Kairos, Be’lakor and 10x Tzaangors. I pick Kragnos (of course), 10x Boarboy Maniaks, and 15x Boarboys. My first turn he uses Be’lakor on Kragnos, and fails to keep him from moving in the movement phase. But he succeeds in keeping him from charging, and on his next turn manages to successfully cast every single one of his spells to slowly start grinding me down. I win priority going into R2, and manage to charge Be’Lakor and kick him to death with 25 MWs on the charge. Take that!
After that though, the game begins going south. Kragnos at his shining moment fails his shield save, and eats 5 MWs putting him low on health thanks to all the chip damage from the Tzaangor banner ability. Once Kragnos goes down, I have no reliable to way to chew through his summons fast enough to get to Kairos, and the game wraps up. Had Kragnos lived, the game is completely different, but that was all she wrote.
Round 3 WIN 24-20
Opponent: Tony Colavito (US Army ESports Team) – Stormcast Eternals, Knights Excelsior
Mission: Tectonic Interference
An absolute nail-biter. Tony has 6x Longstrikes and 2x Stormdrake Guard on the ground, and 6x Annihilators with Meteoric Grandhammers in the sky. He deploys his Longstrikes behind 10x Vindictors along with his Knight-Incantor, and I out-drop him to take the first turn. My game plan here is to completely abandon the objective on my right side of the field and push for him to teleport his Longstrikes into that objective. That way, I can keep my Kragnos on the far opposite side of the map and carefully measure out that 30” range so he can’t shoot him at all when they set back up.
And it works.
The 15 Boarboys smash into the Vindictors, killing half of them even with a 2+ save, and they strike back dealing some chip damage to the boars. On the far left of the map are Kragnos and the 5 Boarboys, screening the corners and preventing the teleportation from opening up a firing lane on Kragnos.
Tony teleports onto my right objective, taking it, and ends up double tapping the Boarboys with the Longstrikes. The dragons hero-phase move onto the center objective and he deepstrikes a unit of Annihilators within 7” of the Savage Orruks. Despite the impact mortals from the Annihilators, mortals from the dragons, and both the Stormdrake and Annihilators attacking into the Savage Orruks, one model survives with one wound remaining thanks to the Waaagh, denying him Broken Ranks.
I win priority, and Kragnos is off to the races. He and the Maniaks move up to charging distance of the Annihilators and the dragons, and Kragnos gets a chunky 12” charge, allowing him to move around the Annihilators and deal 18 MWs on the charge to the Stormdrake, killing them instantly. In my combat phase, Kragnos wheels back around and murders the Annihilators. Just like that, 580 points of models are gone.
My opponent shoots at Kragnos, but thanks to a few 6s and a Mystic Shield + Finest Hour combination, he only takes 4 damage from the Longstrikes. The Annihilators teleport in and try to bring him down, but to no avail. With an All-Out Attack, he kills all of the Annihilators at once. Tony wins priority into R3, and ends up bringing down Kragnos thanks to HOT HOT HOT Longstrike 6s. However, thanks to a failed charge, he fails to take the center objective from me. On my turn, I try to Slay the Warlord and fail with exactly 1 wound remaining on his Incantor. Bummer.
I win priority, and go for an easy Ferocious Advance, and leave my Maniaks (who managed to survive into the next turn) where they are. Tony shoots off the Maniaks on his turn, and takes the center objective.
I win priority again going into R5, put Mystic Shield on my last Boarboys, and score Savage Spearhead. On his last turn, no longer able to score his Hold the Line Grand Strategy, Tony also goes for Savage Spearhead; he teleports his Longstrikes, and fails to shoot off the remaining boars. I score my Grand Strategy and win by 4. Tony, wherever you are, thank you for the great game!
Round 4: WIN 32-18
Opponent: Will Reeves – Flesh-Eater Courts, Gristlegore
Mission: Power Struggle
For the Lady! Will brought Monster Mash with him, including a sick Hive Tyrant-Zombie Dragon hybrid. All told, he had 4 Monsters in his list:
- 1x Royal Zombie Dragon
- 2x Royal Terrorgheists
- A Ghoul King on a Terrorgheist
…and a whole lot of summoning. We’re both 1 drop, but I really, REALLY wanted to set up the terrain to dictate charge lanes for my boars and Kragnos. I win the roll-off and choose defender, moving the terrain around to facilitate counter-charges should he move up on his first turn. Instead, he elects to castle in a corner of his backfield, putting his monsters behind his ghouls and summoning 20x Ghouls into his backline, 10x into my backline, and 3x Flayers to threaten my right objective. Thankfully, he fails his 9” charges and ands his turn.
On my first turn, Kragnos moves over to my right objective to put all 30 “models” on there, while my 10 Savage Orruks deal with the Crypt Ghouls. I charge the 15 Boarboys up and pin his ghouls in his deployment zone. The rest of my army positions in a way that he can’t fly over my boars on his next turn and land behind them.
Will wins priority going into R2 and goes for Broken Ranks on my small unit of Boarboys. He moves up his Royal Zombie Dragon outside of 3” to charge my 5 Boarboys, who I redeploy a further 5” away while most of the rest of his army descends on my 15 Boarboys. His Royal Zombie fails the charge even with a re-roll! I declare Waaagh to protect the 15 Boarboys and they live through the onslaught. Because I redeployed the 5 Boarboys away, Will fails to score Broken Ranks.
My T2, Kragnos walks up and murders a Terrorgheist on Impact, then murders all the ghouls near him in combat. The Maniaks dive into his General on Terrorgheist and fail to kill him, meaning that he kills the Maniaks on the crack back with 18 MWs plus more. Kragnos gets tied up with an Archregent on foot.
I win priority into R3, and pick Aggressive Expansion. The turn is short, as I keep turtling backwards, not allowing Will to take control of my objectives while I push him off one of his in his backfield. Kragnos casually mulches the Archregent, while I retreat the Boarboys back. On Will’s turn, he decides to not give Kragnos a chance to redeploy after picking Bring it Down and positions his remaining monsters just outside of 9”. He fails all of his charges, and that’s pretty much it.
From there, Kragnos Slays the Warlord on the charge and I score max, and while we play it out the game is over. Will was, again, an awesome opponent and we had an absolute blast with some wild rolls!
Round 5: WIN 33-7
Opponent: Eric Urbas – Sons of Behemat, Breaker Tribe
Mission: Feral Foray
Eric is a teammate of mine, and we had a deal that no matter what, we were going to give this game our all, and boy did we ever. He wins the attacker/defender roll and chooses defender, and properly sets up choke points that don’t let me outflank him. After setting up the terrain, I deploy a forward line of my battleline, while leaving everything else in my army 5” behind my front line. He deploys conservatively, at least 6” from the front edge of his deployment zone.
For I think the only time ever, I pre-game move my front line backwards 5”, and give him the first turn. He ends up shuffling his giants around to score Ferocious Advance, moving up a Gatebreaker to threaten my right flank. On my turn, I decided that rather than risk an entire army of Giants charging my whole army the next turn that I would bring the fight to him. Kragnos moves up, scores a 14” charge, and proceeds to deal… 4 MWs on the charge to his Warstomper. Despite this poor showing, he Titanic Duels the Warstomper and brings him down to 6 wounds remaining. The Warstomper surprisingly deals 8 back to him, even with a Mystic shield on Kragnos and the Gargant being heavily bracketed.
Eric wins priority and chooses Broken Ranks on my small unit of boars. Kragnos goes into his Finest Hour while Eric’s Gatebreaker General fails to get a command point. The Gatebreaker moves to just outside 3” of my Boarboys, and they only redeploy 2”. His Gatebreaker General attempts a 3” charge into Kragnos and fails; Eric spends his last Command Point to re-roll that charge and get stuck in with Kragnos. The other Gatebreaker fails his 5” charge on my Boarboys and thus fails Broken Ranks.
The Gatebreaker General and wounded Warstomper both fail to kill Kragnos, while Kragnos manages to kill the Warstomper and wound the Gatebreaker. Meanwhile, Eric’s other Warstomper brutalizes my block of 15 Boarboys and gets scratched in return. Because it’s just Kragnos vs the Gatebreaker left standing, and Kragnos is only in his 2nd bracket, Kragnos counts as more models and wins control of the objective he is standing on.
My T2, I choose Bring it Down on the remaining Warstomper and the Wurrgog finally pulls his weight, racking up 16 MWs from the staring contest before I call it off with 1 wound remaining on the Prophet. The Maniaks with Glowy Green Tusks charge the Warstomper and Bring It Down. Kragnos brutalizes the Gatebreaker General, and the Gatebreaker does the same back to Kragnos.
I win priority into R3 and choose Conquer on one of his back objectives. Eric’s Gatebreaker picks Finest Hour, and I retreat Kragnos away from him. On his T3, Eric chooses Bring it Down, and Kragnos dies but not before the Gatebreaker General gets killed by Kragnos first. At this point he’s at 7 points to my 20. The Gatebreaker, though, is down to just 5 wounds remaining from combat over the course of the game. At this point I’m playing for Best in Destruction, so I decide to try to maximize points here.
On my T4 after choosing Broken Ranks, the Wurrgog Prophet casts Metamorphosis and Glowy Green Tusks on the Maniak Weirdnob. The Weirdnob casts Arcane Bolt on himself, then uses Fast ’Un to get within 4” of the Gatebreaker. The Weirdnob charges, and unleashes Arcane Bolt on the Gatebreaker bringing him to 3 wounds remaining. The Monster Weirdnob Titanic Duels the Gatebreaker, gets all hits with his staff, then proceeds to roll a 6 to wound, instantly dealing d3 MWs to the Gatebreaker, and I roll a 3. I complete my Battle Tactic by killing a monster with a monster, scoring max points!
Eric, thank you for being a great friend, great teammate, great player, and a great sport!
Summary and Shout-Outs
In all, I end up in 6th place and Best in Destruction with arguably the worst-performing army in the game:
It’s a surreal feeling to do so well not only with Bonesplitterz but also in my first GT ever. It feels good knowing that all of the preparation paid off, and all of the theory crafting worked in my favor. I had good matchups and bad matchups, and managed to spike my good matchups and squeeze by in my bad ones. This win put me in 40th place in current ITC ranking, 5th in Orruk Warclans, and 7th in Destruction as of this writing. But at least in terms of ITC and the BCP app, as far as I can tell I’m the first player this edition to go 4-1 with Bonesplitterz, and while I don’t hold much stock in this, there’s an argument that I’m currently the #1 Bonesplitterz player in the world – which is both cool and weird!
For those looking to play this list, I wouldn’t really change much in it, to be honest. With battleline Leviadons and Magmadroths coming, Bonesplitterz looks to really take advantage and continue to build on their reputation as the premier monster hunters. Kragnos meanwhile lives up to his title of God of Destruction, and I look forward to rampaging across the Mortal Realms to add to his already impressive trophy collection.
At this point, I’d like to give a shout-out to the Georgia Warband, my Age of Sigmar team based out of Atlanta, GA! You guys were instrumental in being positive, encouraging, and constructive as I went on this insane quest to make Bonesplitterz relevant. We’ll be hosting events in the ATL area if you ever find yourself that way, and be on the lookout for us as we travel to more events across the country.
I’d also like to give a shoutout to my wife, who supports me in my hobbies and listens to me ramble about Age of Sigmar even when she doesn’t know a single thing about them other than that I am obsessed with naked orcs riding pigs.
Credit for the cover image: art by Marvel Comics, meme by Colin Smigelski