Regulars may have been wondering about the lack of reviews lately – with the Beastclaw Raiders, I think I am now two Battletomes behind on the reviews. The reason for this is that GW have been really crap about their deliveries to my local store, and we have yet to receive even Bonesplitterz (in fact, we have yet to receive the new Sylvaneth models…). Hopefully that will all be resolved next week and we can crack on with the reviews.
For now though, I can do you a review of Battletome: Dominion of Chaos.
In a nutshell, this Battletome is all about terrain, much like Chaos Dreadholds but without the narrow focus. It includes fluff and rules for all the current Age of Sigmar terrain pieces, such as the Ophidian Archway and Numinous Occulum, and I rather get the impression this book was first intended to be released last year.
There were rumors flying around that the Shattered Dominion game board was supposed to be released in 2015 but there was an issue with its manufacture – as it features in this book, it makes sense that the Battletome would only be released after the game board was available.
More than half of this 80 page hardback is dedicated to Battleplans and, in the usual Age of Sigmar style, the story behind each battle.
The first pitches the Stormcasts against a Flesh-eater Court (though the term Flesh-eater Court is never used, perhaps another indication of the original intended release date of this book) within the Realm of Death and, through the ‘map’ given for this Battleplan, we get another rare glimpse into what the Realm of Death actually looks like.
A couple of interesting details in this Battleplan, based around a Dragonfate Dais that the Stormcasts are trying to power up. First off, if you look carefully at the pictures above, you will see Warrior Priests are present, the idea here is that once the dais is reached, the Stormcasts can start bringing new units into play, with the intention of them being resurrected Warrior Priests (you can, of course, use any models you like). You also won’t run out of Heroes to do so, as the Stormcasts’ Command Ability allows them to create Heroes from existing units.
This Battleplan also looks like it will work well for small forces – perhaps 20 Crypt Ghouls with some support (would suggest a Ghoul King on Terrorgheist, some Crypt Horrors, and some Spirit Hosts – would all fit in with the story), against 20-odd Liberators, a Lord-Relictor and, of course, the Warrior Priests.
The next Battleplan, Bloody Escalation, is based around a Realmgate in the Realm of Life.
This pitches the Sylvaneth against a mixed Clans Pestilens/Skryre force, the latter led by Plague Priests Kratsik, a face familiar to those who follow the storylines behind these Battleplans – nice to see a recurring character even in an ‘out of arc’ book like this.
This fight is all about possession of the Realmgate in the centre of the table, but forces arrive scattered (you will have your army strewn across the battlefield) and there is a strong suggestion that you have a lot of terrain, to represent the depths of a forest. This implies that the Sylvaneth will have the home ground advantage (Wyldwoods!), but a further suggestion is made to the Skaven outnumbering their enemy.
I can see this being a vicious little fight, and we’ll be giving a whirl in the next two or three weeks – stay tuned for the battle report!
The next Battleplan is going to be a fun one – Endless Battle pitches the Bloodbound (led by Baudrax the Hunter, another familiar – if minor – face) against Beastclaw Raiders and their Spiderfang Grot slaves in the Realm of Beasts.
Three Realmgates are positioned at the sides of the battlefield, and units can bounce between them (and even bring new reinforcements back from other realms!). Effectively, this is an arena fight, which will make any Bloodbound lord happy.
The final Battleplan, Clash of Fates, takes place atop a volcano in the Realm of Fire, a suitably awesome place for an Age of Sigmar battle. A Sorcerer of Tzeentch is trying to harness the energies of a Numinous Occulum within the volcano, but the Seraphon are aiming to stop him.
Now, if you use the forces suggested by the storyline, I can see that this will be a very, very vicious battle – the Seraphon win by wiping out the Arcanites, the Arcanites win by just surviving. All well and good, but these are two summoning armies going head-to-head, plus you can use the Numinous Occulum to replenish units. A tough fight for the Seraphon as they wipe out units only for Pink Horrors to start cackling as they are re-summoned!
The Mythic Monuments chapter is the normal ‘hobby section’, providing 8 pages of (rather lovely) photographs of armies fighting over the Age of Sigmar terrain pieces. All nice to look at, and if you have that Dragonfate Dais or Ophidian Archway still in its box, it may work to get you motivated enough to put some paint on them!
Finally, the Warscrolls. All the scenery Warscrolls are in here – you have already seen them (even the new ones such as the Arcanabulum, which appeared in White Dwarf and are now in the app) and there do not appear to be any changes.
However, there are also four Warscroll Battalions for scenery now.
The Realmgate matrix features three Realmgates (though in a different configuration than those that appeared in the Endless Battle Battleplan earlier). Combined, they allow Wizards to cast spells through them (could be a nasty surprise!), and allow the possibility of any of three realms to ‘leak’ through onto the battlefield – effectively, applying different Time of War sheets every turn.
Fun, and potentially a Battleplan unto itself!
The Bound Arcanabulum uses the Shattered Dominion game board, along with a Dragonfate Dais and Numinous Occulum. This grants bonuses to hit if you have a Wizard or Priest on either the dais or Occulum, and those characters can try to bind the Arcanabulum to their will, choosing its effects rather than having them happen at random.
Finally, on the last pages of the book, you get the Mythic Ruin (a Dragonfate Dais surrounded by 4 Ophidian Archways) and the Magebound Gate (a Realmgate flanked by two Numinous Occulums – Occuli?).
The Mythic Ruin allows a Hero (preferably a Priest) on the dais to first rouse the spirits of the Archways in a major way, but also to bring back an ancient Hero, allowing you to add a new Hero to your army mid-game.
On the other hand, the Magebound Gate might cause the spells of Wizards close to the Realmgate to ‘spill out’ and affect units between the Occulums, as well as transport nearby units across the battlefield.
The last page has a photograph of a Slaves to Darkness force coming out of/protecting a Realmgate – this is the first Age of Sigmar book not to have the four page rules within it. However, I would not read too much into that – as this book weighs in at 80 pages (and printers love multiples of 8 or 16), I think they genuinely ran out of space, so the rules were dropped (it is not as if you won’t already have them…).
So, is this book an essential addition to Age of Sigmar?
A big Hell No on that one!
In terms of content, you already have the Warscrolls for the scenery, if you are using it. That leaves the Battalions and Battleplans.
As far as the Battleplans are concerned, if (like me) you are a fan of the way GW present Battleplans, with the lead-up covered in the fiction/background pieces beforehand, then this book is more than half Battleplan. You get four overall (one more than usual for a Battletome), and there does not seem to be any bum ones. You will be delighted.
And the Battalions are a nice change – they are almost, very almost, Battleplans rather than Warscrolls. All you need do is add victory conditions (wiping out the enemy would be just fine) and you could use them as such. As they are rooted in scenery, that gets a thumbs up as well.
Overall, I might say this Battletome is for the Age of Sigmar player who has everything. You won’t be using it day in and day out, but it will certainly provide some interesting and fun games. If you already have a clutch of the Age of Sigmar scenery pieces, I would say grab it. It is only £20 after all. If not, you can safely skip this one and grab some new models instead.