I managed to snaggle myself an early copy of the latest Battletome for Age of Sigmar this week, and have been busy ploughing through it. Covering all things Tzeentch, and at the vanguard of a wave of miniatures releases that have been gaining a lot of attention, this is one of the most awaited books for the game yet.
So, we must ask ourselves the question… is it any good?
Weighing in at 136 pages, Disciples of Tzeentch is a £20 hardback, in keeping with GW’s recent policy of low(er) cost books.
One change, however, is that it does not cover a single faction, as with previous Battletomes, but now covers all Tzeentch-based forces – Daemons of Tzeentch, the new Tzeentch Arcanites, and even the likes of Slaves to Darkness who take the Tzeentch keyword. Basically, if Tzeentch is your thing, this is the book for you.
The book starts off with a basic overview of who Tzeentch is, and what he is up to. With regards to the main storyline, you rather get the feeling the Tzeentch forces are going to be a Big Deal in the next round of campaign books (as Khorne and Nurgle were in the Realmgate Wars), and there is a steady progression through the first part of this book about the Changer of Ways having waited as he enacted all his various schemes to claim ascendancy among the other Chaos Powers (particularly over Nurgle, as the old rivalry is well highlighted in this book).
As well as the familiar daemons, a fair amount of weight is given to the Arcanite Cults. While they have sort of been around since Grand Alliance: Chaos came out, it is only with the release of the new Kairic Acolytes and Tzaangors (the latter going on pre-order next week!) that the mortal followers of Tzeentch have been given any real focus beyond the Slaves to Darkness in the Realmgate Wars.
The basic idea here is that the many, many cults of Tzeentch have sequestered themselves in all the major cities of the Mortal Realms (not just Sigmar’s – the cities of the Chaos Powers have them too, especially, once again, Nurgle), and are now just starting to make their moves, casting off their disguises and taking over.
There is an ever-so-slight shade of 40k Genestealer Cults here, keeping in hiding as they grow and expand their influence, before finally engaging in a massive uprising to topple those in power.
The next section of the book, Servants of Change, takes a traditional approach to reviewing the background of every unit in Tzeentch forces (as opposed to the formation approach used in Beastclaw Raiders and Bonesplitterz). There is nothing massively new here (a Pink Horror will always be a Pink Horror), but the new Lord of Change is front and centre, with Kairos Fateweaver waiting in the wings.
All the usual suspects are here, including the Changeling (new model coming!) and the Blue Scribes, all integrated into the current Age of Sigmar source material. Added to that, there are some ‘new’ daemons, in the form of Blue Horrors and Brimstone Horrors who, as veterans of Warhammer (and the Silver Tower) will know, appear when Pink Horrors are slain. More on that a bit later…
The mortals of the Arcanites follow, starting with Tzaangor Shamans (who, among many other things, like to track down Chaos monsters – the Mutalith is mentioned here, which fits in well with a Tzeentch army) and the Ogroid Thaumaturge. One small negative here is that the Ogroid has been kept mysterious, as there is no hint of what they are and where they actually come from. Fitting enough for a Tzeentch follower though.
Gaunt Summoners will be familiar to all Age of Sigmar players, and the Magisters (the leader of most Arcanite cults) is what used to be called a Sorcerer Lord of Tzeentch. Hot on his heels are the Fatemaster (used to be Lord of Tzeentch on Disc of Tzeentch – Fatemaster is less of a mouthful) and the Curselings, who are now ‘standard’ heroes rather than a single special character. They are now formidable warriors who also act as inquisitors and lie-seekers within cults.
The ‘hobby section’comes next. I won’t dwell on this too much, but feast your eyes on some of the new models, including the Changeling, and Blue and Brimstone Horrors.
The rest of the book, from page 72 onwards, are full of rules, making this the most rules-concentrated Battletome yet.
In one respect, this is to be expected, as the book has to cover two (and effectively three) armies, and efforts are made to keep them distinct (as opposed to separate).
First up are the Allegiance Abilities. All Tzeentch armies have the same Battle Trait, namely the Masters of Destiny, which allows the rolling of Destiny Dice at the start of a game, which can then be substituted for dice rolls throughout the battle. This alone makes Tzeentch armies very, very powerful, as just a modicum of restraint will mean a Tzeentch player will always be able to make that one critical charge roll, spell casting, or Battleshock test. Anyone who has played with the Celestant-Prime will know how good that can be – and the Tzeentch version is better.
Every other Allegiance Ability is broken down between the different Tzeentchian factions. For example, Command Traits are divided between Arcanites, Daemons, and Mortals, selected depending on which keywords your general has. The same applies to artefacts and spells, the latter sporting two new Lores; the Lore of Fate (for Arcanites and Mortals) and the Lore of Change (for daemons).
Regular visitors to this page will know that of everything in new Battletomes, it is the added Battleplans I like the most, integrating them into our long-running Realmgate Wars campaign.
Well, this Battletome has two Battleplans… but no storyline behind them. Just two pages each (I am sure this was done for space considerations, but I am hoping it is not a new policy, as I really enjoyed those background pieces), demonstrating ‘typical’ battles daemons and Arcanites (respectively) might engage in.
Yes, I could (and will) write my own background to these battles, but… I liked the way each built upon the Age of Sigmar background, adding just a little extra weight to it each time.
Narrative Play is supported by the introduction of Warband tables for Path to Glory campaigns… which is nice, glad to see them. But, frankly, I am still quietly fuming about those Battleplans.
The next just-under-40-odd pages are taken up with Warscrolls, both for Battalions and single units.
And it is here that the full weight of Tzeentch forces begins to make itself apparent.
If anyone has played against a Tzeentch daemon force under Narrative Play without summoning restrictions (yeah, I know I have lost most of you at this point), they will know that Tzeentch fields a real brute of a force. With even Pink Horrors able to summon (and then chain-summon), it becomes a game of whack-a-mole as you hunt down any unit that even has a whiff of the Wizard keyword.
Well..’ it just got a lot tougher. First off, the summoning has not been reduced in the slightest and, in fact, with the likes of the new Lord of Change, it has gotten a lot deadlier. Add to that, Pink Horrors now split into Blue Horrors and then Brimstone Horrors. So, you can wipe out that unit of 10 Pink Horrors in a single turn, great – you are now facing 20 Blue Horrors. Kill them, and you still have 20 Brimstone Horrors to deal with.
Now look at the Multitudinous Host in the picture above. It adds (not heals or replaces) D6 Pink or Blue Horrors to every unit in every round. Even Brimstone Horrors get D3 new models. Every. Round.
You will find that while this is happening, Arcanites are cheerfully turning your models into more Tzaangors, making Tzeentch forces possibly the most durable in the game under Narrative/Open Play, possibly even more resilient than your typical Nurgle army.
Under Matched Play… well, you will have less to worry about (though the sheer amount of magic this force has, along with the Destiny Dice, makes it a serious contender – expect to see Tzeentch forces at the GTs this year). However, if that is the only way you play, I think it might be a shame that you will never get to see Tzeentch Unleashed, as it were.
Personally, I am looking forward to defending a Sigmar city against that force!
After the Warscrolls comes the 4 page ruleset, as per normal – but it is not the last thing in this book.
All the Pitched Battle Profiles are included for all Tzeentch forces (the single Slaves to Darkness entry is for a Tzeentch Chaos Spawn – no different to vanilla ones aside from keyword – included among the other Warscrolls). So, you have all your Battlefield Riles and points costs from the get go.
Well, it is a good book. Tzeentch forces are now definitely born again hard, even with summoning toned down by Matched Play. And the new models are gorgeous.
As for this ‘new style’ of Battletome… please, please, please GW, make it be that those shortened Battleplans appeared because lack of space, not because of lack of interest in the story elements of Age of Sigmar. I promise I will paint up all the models needed!