Review – Battletome: Bonesplitterz

The forces of Destruction are getting some love at the moment with the recent release of the Ironjawz Battletome, Bonesplitterz this week and, of course, the Beastclaw Raiders!

We have already had a look at the Ironjawz and Beastclaw Raiders, so the Bonesplitterz are up next.

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There are no new releases for the Bonesplitterz but just a few pages in, one thing will be made clear – these ain’t your Pappy’s Savage Orcs, not by a long shot.

In fact, there is nothing ‘primitive’ about the Bonesplitterz at all, despite their garb. The basic idea behind them is that they feel the call of the Waaagh! far more keenly than other Orruks, and have decided that the spirit of Gorkamorka rests within the bones of the greatest monsters in the Mortal Realms. So, the Bonesplitterz, driven on by pure Waaagh! energy, have become monster hunters!

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As with the Ironjawz book, the classic orcish humor of past editions lurks just beneath the surface of this book – nothing crass or in your face, just a hint of the writer smiling as you read. For example, there is a description on the various ways an Orruk becomes a Bonesplitter (they are not born into it). Perhaps they get caught up in too much Waaagh! energy during a fight and never really come back, or perhaps they got zapped by lightning. There is also a theory among Orruks that they can become Bonesplitterz by being headbutted by a Weirdnob, so long as it is done often enough and hard enough…

Once an Orruk becomes a Bonesplitter, he seeks out the nearest Wurgog Prophet, who tells his tribe where they will next hunt the spirit of Gorkamorka. It is pretty clear from the text that the prophet really is just making this up (even if he believes it himself) but wherever the Orruks go there will be things to duff up, so they won’t complain.

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As a side note, there have been some questions on a few of the forums about whether the Bonesplitterz are going to ally with the Ironjawz. The answer: Absolutely. In fact, all the Greenskinz factions will happily thump each other or fight alongside one another, from the biggest Ironjawz to the weakest Grots. So, go ahead and build up your Orruk legion, it is all in conformity with the background.

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Once the Bonesplitterz kill a great monster, they will hack it apart to steal its bones, believing (and who is to say they are wrong?) that if they wear the bones or use them as weapons, part of Gorkamorka’s spirit and strength will be theirs. The picture above shows some of the weapons they make from various creatures, and it is interesting to note that note everything is strictly bone – there is a reference to the bone fragments of volcanoes (obsidian), and that shards of Magmarite are thought by the Orruks to be the bones of Aqshy. Even the blood of Frostheart Phoenixes can be turned into weaponry…

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There is a quick guide to the language (such as it is) used by the Bonesplitterz, and this is not an idle side piece, as it links in to the way the tribes organise themselves for battle.

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The way the Bonesplitterz fight is a cross between the Fists used by Ironjawz and the Horns of the Buffalo, which will be immediately recogniseable by anyone who has seen the film Zulu.

The individual elements of the tribe are called Rukks (it is possible that reference may only be understood if you are British), with the leader of the tribe, the Wurgog Prohpet, in the centre and back within the Kop Rukk (Kop meaning head or brain). To the flans are the Snaga Rukks (boar-riders), and right up front are the Teef Rukks (the Orruks that carry the huge two-man spears).

The bulk of the force comprises the Kunnin’ Rukks (dedicated to Mork) and the Brutal Rukks (who have pledged themselves to Gork). The Kunnin’ Rukks sneak and shoot stuff before charging in, while the Brutal Rukks just bash stuff. As you can imagine, there is a fair bit of rivalry between them…

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As we have come to expect from Battletomes, a painting guide is present – however, as far as the Bonesplitterz are concerned, this more or less boils down to different coloured tattoos and different materials used for their weapons. However, there is some background tit bits buried in here, such as the symbols that need to be painted/branded onto a boar to make it go faster…

The different units of the Bonesplitterz are described next, though instead of each having its own section, they are done within the context of the the Rukk they are found within – so, the page on Snaga Rukks covers the Maniak Weirdnobs that lead them and the Savage Boarboy Maniaks. Oh, and in another shout to the past, squigs are back, little beasts that the Weirdnob squeezes to get extra magical oompf!

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As always, there are plenty of photographs showing every unit off and, it has to be said, they have me itching to do some Bonesplitterz myself!

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Next up is my favourite section of the Battletomes, the Battleplans and, as usual, there are three presented in this book.

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The first presents an interesting dilemma for the Bonesplitterz – the Seraphon have some really big monsters, but how can the Orruks get hold of their bones if the beasts simply disappear in a flash of light when killed? As it turns out, this does not stop the Orruks from trying, as shown in the The Beast Hunt. A nice touch is that this Battleplan contains a nice little balancing mechanism, with the size of the forces being dictated by the number of Monsters chosen by the defender (so, load up on beasts and you will be facing a massive Bonesplitterz horde). Look like it should work quite well, at least for Bonesplitterz vs. Seraphon.

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The next Battleplan (Slay the Prophet) reverses things a bit. A Khornate warband is really annoyed at the Bonesplitterz because every time they try to take the skull of something big, the Orruks show up and kill it first. The Khorne Lord decides to hit the Bonesplitterz while they are not looking, striking directly at the Wurgog Prophet.

This is an escalating battle, with the Khorne player trying to kill the Prophet before too many Bonesplitterz show up and terminally out number him.

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Finally, there is Horns of the Beast, which pits the Bonesplitterz against the Stormcasts.The Bonesplitterz are after one of the Stormcasts’ Stardrakes and, this time, the Wurgog Prophet has a plan. He wants Gorkamorka to blow up the sky for him.

This is a big one. The Stormcasts have an Extremis Chamber, with Stardrakes, plus support from a Warrior Chamber. You are going to need a big Bonesplitterz force to face them – but I quite like this idea. The other Battleplans can be used with small enough forces, and it is nice to have something to aim for as you build up your tribe, Rukk by Rukk.

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The Forces of the Bonesplitterz is, as we saw in the Sylvaneth Battletome, a new feature of all these books, containing all the rules needed to play, starting off with the Allegiance Abilities that are granted if you use a ‘pure’ Bonesplitterz force.

The Battle Traits are nicely atmospheric, with the Bonesplitterz Warpaint always giving them a save of 6, regardless of Rend or mortal wounds. In addition, their Monster Hunters rules means they never take Battleshock tests and gain random benefits (such as bigger pile-ins or re-rolling wounds) while fighting big beasties. Command Traits follow a similar vein.

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The Lore of the Savage Waaagh! grants new spells to Bonesplitterz wizards, such as the Squiggly Curse which can turn a Hero or Monster into a squiggly beast which the wizard can then squeeze for its ju-ju power, or Gorkamorka’s War Cry, that unleashes a terrible roar which can damage and stun an enemy unit.

Artefacts of Power are divided into Magical Artefacts that any Bonesplitterz Hero can take, and Arcane Treasures which are for wizards only. These include Mork’s Boney Bitz, which give bonuses to casting rolls depending on how many Monsters are nearby, and the Big Wurrgog Mask which is unleashed once per game and deals D3 mortal wounds on a 3+ – the trick is that you can keep on rolling but if you ever roll a 1 or 2, then the wearer is instantly slain!

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The Warscroll Battalions are next, and I think these will be somewhat more relevant than those of other forces we have seen in the past. Other forces can benefit from Battalions, but the Bonesplitterz seem to be very heavily based around them – I can see these being the ‘default’ way Bonesplitterz are played rather than just a source of some added benefits.

The Savage Warclan is the mega-Battalion that combines all the others into one horde, as we have seen on some other Battletomes. Never used one of these in a game, and I am not sure I ever will. However, it is always good to have something to aim for, and a single page given over to something like this will never be a waste.

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The rest are the various Rukks that go to make up a Bonesplitterz force.

Allied to this are the Warclans – similar to the Wargroves in the Sylvaneth book, these are Battalions that reflect the dispositions of specific groups of Bonesplitterz. This time round, there is no facility for combining units from other factions, but that is no hardship with the Age of Sigmar force composition rules, whatever system you are using.

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And finally, all the Warscrolls you need for the individual units among the Bonesplitterz.

 

Conclusion

This is a good, solid entry in the Battletome line. In Fantasy Battle, Savage Orcs tended to be the poor cousins of regular Orcs, with just a unit popping up here and there to take advantage of all their attacks. They always seemed to be on the periphery of the Orcish background, something slightly removed from the mainstream of Greenskinz culture.

Not with this book! The Bonesplitterz are fully fleshed out, with a solid reason for being in the Mortal Realms, and a definite drive that marks them apart from other Orruks – they are far more than just ‘Waaagh! Hit Stuff!’.

If you are new to all things green, the Bonesplitterz are a good solid force that will give the biggest models in your opponents’ armies the willies. If you were always a Savage Orcs fan, you will love the way they are portrayed now.

This book gets a big thumbs up.

 

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One Response to “Review – Battletome: Bonesplitterz”

  1. Ian Says:

    I picked up the digital version of this, back in my whfb days some 10 years ago savage ork were always my favourite force and I had a pretty large (for that era of metal models) collection of them.

    This is one of my favourite battletomes released yet. Since the flesh eater courts one they’ve certainly got a lot better when compared to the early ones such as the fyreslayer or bloodbound tomes. The addition of the new alliance abilities, artifacts and spell lore make this a good value purchase.


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