Quite a few people were excited to hear that the old Island of Blood starter set was being re-boxed and re-released for Age of Sigmar, in the guise of the £50 Spire of Dawn. So excited, in fact, that it sold out almost immediately (there is a new run coming soon though, we are told).
However, I managed to purloin a copy myself, and cracked it open to take a look inside…
As with many recent releases of this nature from GW (thinking of things like the Knights box set, Lost Patrol, and the three aeronautical games), this set is really all about the miniatures. And, going for £50 for 74 of them, it is difficult to argue with the value.
The Skaven and Aelven forces come with both square and round bases, for reasons that I really cannot fathom. GW are simply not going to be interested in supporting old 8th edition or 9th Age players (there are just not enough of you, sorry!), so maybe they really are just flushing out old stock (can’t melt down bases for recasting)?
The miniatures themselves, you have likely seen before – plenty of Clanrats to get started with Skaven, and a small but solid force for Aelves (of particular interest as this is currently the only place to pick up the Reavers, which I think are going to be a thing…).
With the miniatures you get a simple but comprehensive building guide…
And, the thing I was most interested in, a background book…
The basic idea behind the box set is that it is set around the Dawnspire, a fortress on the floating Transient Isles within the Realm of Light. There is a nasty artefact protected there – the Aelves guard it, the Skaven are after it. Simples.
This is covered in two background pieces, one covering the Aelven defenders…
And the other, the Skaven…
Four pages are then devoted to pretty pictures of painted models.
The meat of the book(let) is taken up with Warscrolls, covering all the models in the set. I haven’t seen any huge deviations from the original rules for these models (although the High Warden on the Griffon does not seem to have a bow – didn’t he used to have one?).
What is more important are the Pitched Battle Profiles.
First off, the 200 points for Spireguard you saw in the app is a typo. The Swordmasters are 200 points, the Spireguard 120. The Spireguard are also Battleline if you use the Swifthawk Agents allegiance.
I think what will get the attention of many Order players, however, is that the Reavers are pure Battleline. Fill up on 2 or 3 units of those (depending on the size of game) and then have free reign over whatever you want from the Order Grand Alliance. I have a feeling that will make for some very strong Order forces in tournaments in 2017 (and also guarantee the Spire of Dawn sells out again when it reappears…).
There are two Warscroll Battalions given, one for each force and covering all the models in the set.
These are mild enough at 40 and 80 points respectively. The Guardians of the Dawnspire make the Archmage and Swordmasters Swifthawk Agents, while allowing any unit near the High Warden to move or shoot int he hero phase. Ripsnikk’s Raiders get to pile-in during the hero phase, and also feature ‘deep-striking’ units.
The book concludes with the standard four page rules set, making it a proper starter set.
If you take the view that this is basically a £50 box containing a whole bunch of miniatures, you cannot really go wrong with Spire of Dawn. However…
It would have been really funky if they had included some Battleplans, perhaps just three linked ones exploring the Dawnspire location and (maybe) the Realm of Light in general. I would really have liked that, and it would have got me painting up the models in double quick time.
For me, that really is the only misfire on this set. Everything is solid enough and, for the price, you cannot really argue.