This week has been all about Fyreslayers for me (well, when I haven’t been painting Beastmen!), reading the Legends of the Age of Sigmar novel, Fyreslayers, and now Battletome: Fyreslayers.
So, what’s up with these orange-haired dwarfs then, eh?
The first thing to bear in mind, if you are a Warhammer Longbeard… these ain’t your daddy’s dwarfs. They are not even his Trollslayers. While sharing a few aesthetics with slayers (orange hair-dos), there the similarity ends.
In manner, they are more your ‘typical’ dwarf – staunch, brave, honourable. They do hire themselves out as mercenaries (in fact, the novel shows an instance of how they can end up fighting for Chaos) but they are not just two-dimensional dwarfs that can be thrown into any army. There are reasons they do what they do…
This is covered in the first section of the book which looks at the Fyreslayers, their history (myth), society and organisation. In a nutshell, they believe (and they are probably right) that their god, Grimnir, was split into lots of pieces of ur-gold when fighting the Mother of Salamanders, Vulcatrix. Thus, by scouring the Realms for ur-gold, they prove devotion to their god – however, it is more than that, as they make runes out of ur-gold and then hammer it into their flesh, gaining a part of his divine power. This is what makes them so hard in battle…
So, if a Chaos Lord comes along with a problem and a big chest of ur-gold, Fyreslayers may do some nasty things. But they have their reasons. They are not greedy mercenaries, though other races certainly think so. The gathering of ur-gold is a religious act.
One thing that becomes clear, however, reading both this book and (especially) the novel. The Magmaholds of the Fyreslayers (where they all live) are big and they contain a lot of Fyreslayers. When the lodge marches to war, it can have thousands of Fyreslayers in its force – they are not tiny little mercenary bands, these guys are a major force in whatever part of the Mortal Realms they reside in.
It is also clear that the Fyreslayers are pretty much everywhere – you can set your lodge in any of the Mortal Realms and it will slide right in (a benefit to having such vast areas to play in). For example, they are present in the Jade Kingdoms (Realm of Life), where the Paleslayers of Winter (as they are known) rub tree sap into their hair, and are feared by Nurgle minion and Sylvaneth alike.
As I have said with other Battletomes, the artwork in this book is second to none and, in fact, it might just be the best Age of Sigmar book yet in this regard. Check out this spread, which precedes the ‘unit’ section.
There are twelve lodges (armies, if you like) of Fyreslayers that have write-ups in this book, covering just about all the Realms. You are going to find something in here to latch onto with your own force, even if it is just inspiration for something new.
This is followed by the by-now-usual painting guide. This covers a handful of lodges, plus Magmadroths;
This is then followed by the ‘hobby section’ that features lots of photos of pretty painted miniatures – orange is very much a theme that runs through this part (and the rest of the book, for that matter).
All very interesting thus far, but the next section is rapidly becoming my favourite in the Battletomes – the Battleplans. As well as providing new ways to play Age of Sigmar, they also add little chapters to the ongoing storyline, and our group is looking to incorporate, well, all of them into our campaigns!
The first, At the Threshold, depicts a Khorne horde in the Realm of Fire attacking a Fyreslayer Magmahold – just from the miniatures needed for this fight I can see we will be tackling this one fairly soon! Might need some more Fyreslayers though, I only picked up enough for a little band…
The next, The Fiend’s Lair, puts the boot on the other foot and has the Fyreslayers entering a shadowy cavern to root out a vampire. As always, this has a narrative lead-in, accompanied by one of the maps that are becoming a hallmark of Age of Sigmar.
The final Battleplan, The Putrid Bog, pits the Fyreslayers against Pestilens, trying to topple a Warpstone Shard before the Skaven can enact their plans.
All of these fights are much more than just stand-up pitched battles, and all have their own little unique angle. When they try to root out the vampire, for example, zombies start tumbling from the roof of the cavern!
Finally, the Warscrolls. I won’t go into much detail on these as they have been well-documented in White Dwarf and the various ‘rumours’ sites. Aside from some of the heroes on foot, you have seen them already.
The Battalions, however, are worth a peek as, after some of the immense forces that have appeared in previous books (looking at you, Stormcasts!), these seem almost… doable.
The first, the Lords of the Lodge, has three characters (one of whom must be on a Magmadroth) and a single unit of Hearthguard Berzerkers. Simples.
The Warrior Kinband steps things up a bit with one leader on a Magmadroth but, even then, you just need three units of Vulkite Berzerkers to round it off. You have to figure that if you are just half-serious about Fyreslayers, you would have picked up two anyway, so this battalion might be just what you need to push you into a slightly bigger force. The Forge Brethren does pretty much the same, but with Auric Hearthguard instead (you may have less of these units but, to be honest, you probably need this many to field some effective missile fire).
And, of course, you have the silly battalion, the Grand Fyrd which requires all of the above, with two Warrior Kinbands.
As mega-battalions go, it is actually not the largest that has been published!
If you can get over the idea that, despite hair-dos, these are not the Slayers of old, then I think you might well get along with this book (assuming you have bought into the concept of Battletomes in the first place, not a given or even a necessity with Age of Sigmar). The artwork is first class, the Fyreslayers are an interesting development of what Trollslayers could/might become after a few thousand years of myth and social evolution, and there is nothing that strikes me as ‘silly’ or half-cocked about their background.
I would give this book an overall thumbs up. There is nothing truly negative about it, and I think the Fyreslayers are going to become a strong part of the Age of Sigmar setting.