GW have just released their latest tome for Age of Sigmar, Grand Alliance: Chaos – and a bit different it is from the rest too!
I am not going to go into a blow-by-blow account of every page and section because, if you are playing Age of Sigmar already, you have already seen 96% of what this book has to offer. So, I will just give the highlights.
You first need to be aware that this is a budget book. You are getting 304 full colour pages, but it is a softback, much of the information inside is available elsewhere (for free, legitimately!), and there is a lot of re-used art inside.
But it only costs £20 straight from GW, and I have already seen it offered for £18 from independents. You get what you pay for.
For my part… I would have preferred this as a hardback, and would have happily paid £30 or even (gulp) £40 for it. I do have concerns about durability, and I think if you like to keep your books pristine, that will be a pipe dream if you also use this book to regularly look up stats during games. In that case, I might suggest you cut your losses early; separate the pages, hole punch them, and set them in a folder.
Then again, it is only £20 for all this material. You might think about buying a new one every year or two anyway (wouldn’t it be interesting if that was GW’s idea all along, and these Grand Alliance books become the tomes that are reprinted/updated every 2-3 years to include new models – just four books would give you every unit in the entire game, and would mean you just buy one £20 book every year, hardly a burden…).
Oh, and I mentioned recycled art. Yes, that is a thing though, again, for £20 you cannot really complain. Now, there are pieces in this book that you have not seen before, like this rather funky one of a Liberator facing off against a Bullgor (that is what Minotaurs are called now):
However, I am willing to bet a doughnut that we see those pieces in the next handful of books, perhaps starting with Balance of Power, released next week…
Anyway, enough of that – the book is £20 and you get what you pay for. Fair do there.
What about content?
Well, as I said, I’ll just give the highlights, as you have seen most of this before. The book is divided into factions within the Chaos Grand Alliance – in the past these would have been separate armies but, with Age of Sigmar, you can mix and match to get some funky combinations, or remain ‘pure’ for some very interesting forces…
Everchosen: Basically all the rules, including one of the Battalions, from Battletome: Everchosen!
Slaves to Darkness: These are the original unaligned Chaos Warriors (and Marauders), though every unit in this faction can be given the Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch or Slaanesh keywords, meaning the four powers can dip into this section as they see fit, and make each unit truly their own, no fudging. There is a bit of background that shows how Chaos Warbands are created and organised, and this leads directly into three Battalions – not too big and not too small, if you followed just one of these Battalions, you would have yourself a fully functioning Chaos army.
Khorne Bloodbound: There is really nothing new here – you have seen everything before. Even the Goreblade Battalion will seem familiar.
Daemons of Khorne: A little update/revision here – Heralds are no longer just on foot or on a Juggernaut. If they are on foot, they are Bloodmaster Heralds, if they are on the Juggernaut, they Skullmasters. Still get the option for the Blood Throne, but no new title there…
Tzeentch Arcanites: Possibly the shortest faction with just Tzeentch Lords on Discs, Sorcerer Lords (but still no Sorcerer on Disc -see my downloads for a different Warscroll!), and a Curseling. Not the Curseling, a Curseling. HOwever, bear in mind that you can just dip into Slaves to Darkness, and you will be well away for a pure Tzeentch warband.
Daemons of Tzeentch: The same, and Kairos still gets his Oracle ability. Nice variant painting on the Flamers though…
Nurgle Rotbringers: All three Maggot Lords get proper pretty Warscrolls now, and the Nurgle Chaos Sorcerer is now the Rotbringers Sorcerer – fulfils the same role.
Daemons of Nurgle: Fairly predictable, though the Beasts of Nurgle get two pages to themselves, so perhaps that model is not going anywhere soon…
Hosts of Slaanesh: Ah, now, this is where things start getting interesting… There is a short background piece about the effect Slaaneshi’s absence has had, but of particular note is what the god’s followers have decided to do about it. There are basically three factions within Slaanesh now. The Pretenders rally around a Keeper of Secrets or Daemon Prince, who thinks they are going to be the next Slannesh. The Seekers actually try to do something practical, and are looking for their god. However, by far the largest groups are the Invaders, those who just said %^*& it, our god has gone missing, I am going off to %^*& something!
I think there is probably something for everyone there…
Another interesting note on Slaanesh – daemons and mortals are rolled into one faction, no separation for them while their god is gone.
Daemons of Chaos: Instead, there is this ‘general’ category for, well, miscellaneous daemons, I suppose. Includes the Furies, Daemon Prince, Soul Grinder, and Be’lakor. Very much not a faction in and of itself, but something to be dipped into for other forces.
Brayherds: Having faced these guys for the first time, it is good to seem them representing.
Warherds: Now these, apparently, are very much a thing – not just intended to be used by Brayherds for heavy support, you can rock up with a Doombull and use Bullgors for your main troops, adding a dash of Cygor for something really tough…
Monsters of Chaos: Another ‘dipping’ faction, includes Centigors, Razorgors, Warhounds, Harpies, the Jabberslythe (got one of those to paint up at the moment!), Chimera, Slaughterbrute (perhaps not going away to be replaced by a Khorgorath kit, as was rumoured at one point?), Vortex Beast and Cockatrice. Basically, everything except the Forge World stuff. Get your skates on, Forge World.
Chaos Gargants: I was a bit worried when I saw this, as I really like the idea of a bunch of drunken giants staggering across the battlefield, but to have them all turning to Chaos too? As it turns out, only some have, so you can still have non-corrupted beer-drinking giants if you like!
Thunderscorn: Dragon Ogors and Shaggoth, plus a little background about how they got really shafted by Chaos…
Masterclan: Back onto the interesting stuff! We have seen a fair bit of information about Pestilens in the Realmgate Wars – now we see the rest of the Skaven! First up is Masterclan, and we learn the Council of Thirteen is still a thing. Not the one that was in the World-That-Was though. Remember the other Council of Thirteen that popped up in the End Times? The one that was staffed by Verminlords? That is the one that survived.
However, Skaven are still Skaven, and even these guys are still trying to screw one another over, their Grey Seer minions helping out where they can.
Now, here is another interesting thing… We have seen some personalities from the World-That-Was disappear (normally because of tired, old models), some become regular heroes (such as the Seraphon Eternity Guard), while those that were transported to the Mortal Realms generally had really good reasons – Chaos preserved its most favoured, Alarielle was basically becoming a goddess anyway and survived the End Times… that sort of thing.
And now here, we have Thanquol and Boneripper.
Now, being a fairly new plastic kit (not to mention a beloved character in Black Library fiction), I did not imagine for a moment that he was going to be going away. However, this is the first truly mortal character to make the leap to the Mortal Realms… and we still don’t know why!
Hopefully something that will be answered in a forthcoming Realmgate War book.
Clans Verminus: Slaves are gone, but that just means more Clanrats to fill the position, I suppose (model-wise, there was never a great difference unless you used really old models). However, it is quite apparent that Verminlord Warbringers are very much invested in the Clans Verminus.
Clans Skryre: Notice Clans Skryre. No longer just one, big, monolithic clan, Skryre is now spread throughout the Mortal Realms and from the background text, this can range from a small group of Warlock Engineers with their followers (a perfect small force for Age of Sigmar, if you just want the cool toys while avoiding painting up loads of Clan Rats – not cheesy and perfectly viable with these rules…) to million-strong hordes who create walking war-cities and giant warp lightning cannon capable of splitting mountains apart.
Clans Moulder: Another clan that now works perfectly well on its own.
Clans Pestilens: You have seen this before in the Ghal Maraz book. Nothing new other than a different paint scheme on the Plague Priest and Censer Bearers that looks quite funky.
Clans Eshin: The last and my favourite – a bunch of Gutter Runners led by an Assassin is such a good force for Age of Sigmar!
The book finishes up with the four page rules.
So, should you buy Grand Alliance: Chaos?
If you are a regular user of the Age of Sigmar app then, frankly, no. You will be able to pick up the new Battalions (if you want them) fairly cheaply, and you already have everything else.
If you like reading every scrap of information on the Mortal Realms, well, who am I kidding? You already have this book in your hands, right?
For everyone else… I don’t see how you can really go wrong for £20. Yes, I have concerns about durability, but if these Grand Alliance books do indeed end up getting updated every few years (the more I think about it, the more sense that makes)… you know what? That would be fair enough. £20 every few years to keep your army updated (remembering all those free Warscrolls you will get anyway) is not too much. Even if you want to be updated on everything and it ended up being £20 every year for a Grand Alliance book, that is not too much after so many years of the Codex Treadmill.
So, for that alone, I might say go ahead and buy it, to show your support if nothing else.
Oh, and those ‘joke’ rules that were in the ‘legacy’ Warscrolls? Gone. Mostly. I found a little one with the Great Unclean One but, frankly, it is the sort of thing you might do anyway. You won’t be pushing Beastmen around while making bestial roars (well, not unless you want to).
Final Verdict: For £20, buy it. You cannot go wrong.