The winds of change have been sweeping through Age of Sigmar, and it is the turn of the Stormcast Eternals to feel their effect. A brand new Battletome is about to be released for them, and I managed to snaggle an early copy.
So, is it any good?
Well, first off… the cover seems a little less detailed, a little less inspiring to my completely untrained eye than the first edition. Not really here or there and, it has to be said, entirely unrepresentative of the glorious art inside, but still… not completely awesome for what is a very important book in the Age of Sigmar line.
This Battletome follows the same format revealed first in Disciples of Tzeentch (so it has a lot more rules content, for example), and begins with the general background of the Stormcasts. However, don’t be tempted to skip past this bit of you have been following Sigmar’s soldiers from the start – there is new stuff in here.
The first thing that becomes apparent is that, again like Disciples of Tzeentch, the timeline has moved on from the Realmgate Wars (about fifty-odd years, I think). Sigmar is not just seeding the Mortal Realms with permanent outposts – whole cities are beginning to appear.
Second, there is a sidebar in this chapter that does a great deal to emphasise the reforging process Stormcasts go through, and its effects, with particular focus on how it affects certain Stormcasts in certain ways, which gives rise to different characters between Stormhosts. This will be important a little later on when we get to the rules section…
The different types of Chamber are covered in broad strokes at first, including the recently opened Vanguard Auxiliary Chambers – these are the guys who, in modern terms, act as recon and fast strike forces. So, finding the big barbarian horde then constantly hitting its flanks until the Warrior Chambers gather would be how they act in the field. They spend most of their time in the wilderness and rarely return home to Azyr.
We have four pages of the ‘timeline’ pieces, that often drop little hints as to what is coming next. The first couple of pages sum up the events of the Realmgate Wars, highlighting some specific battles for those of us who have played through the storyline. There are some hints that the Stormcasts are not always the great and noble heroes (the word ‘purge’ is used in one extract), and the new units (such as the Vanguard and Gryph-Hounds) make an appearance.
And then we get something people have been pining for since Age of Sigmar came out…
These show areas of the Realms of Life and Fire, the realms straddled by Hammerhal, the first of Sigmar’s cities (and one that will be becoming more relevant next week, as it is the location of the new Warhammer Quest – I’ll see if I can do a review on that too!).
Plenty to get your teeth into on these maps, as both features not only locations but entire wars that we have not even heard of before!
I thought this spread was nicely done – we have seen the organisation of a Stormhost before, but never done this well. And yes, the eagle-eyed among you will have seen that new chambers have started to appear. Just what is a Logister Chamber, eh?
The next few pages break this spread down further, explaining the Warrior, Extremis and Vanguard Auxiliary Chambers.
Following that, we get into the real nitty-gritty, as we explore in some detail each of the units that are currently available for the Stormcasts.
And that includes the Vanguard Auxiliaries…
This section is going to be the meat of things for some of you, as it explores areas that have only been lightly touched upon up to now. For example, when the Lord-Veritant appeared, you could only really think ‘umm, okay, anti-magic guy’. Now, however, there is a healthy amount of background laid out for him (they have a real dislike of corruption and spend a lot of their time rooting out cults – again, the word ‘purge’ springs to mind…). The same applies to the Knights-Questor and Errants-Questor, both of whom are now set properly in the ranks of the Stormcasts.
Once you get past all the different units, the next chapter takes a look at the heraldry of the Stormcasts – basically a lit of ideas for painting up your armies.
Some of this we have already seen, such as how the tabards and buckles mark out specific retinues, but there is plenty of new stuff. Check this out…
As well as pages covering the Stormhosts we have all come to love (such as my own Hallowed Knights), Stormhosts from the Later Strikings are also featured. A few of these have appeared in the fiction before now, but others haven’t.
Beyond that, we are into the ‘hobby’ section, with lots of glorious miniatures, including the new Vanguards and Aetherwings.
So, that concludes the background sections, and I suspect more than a few of you have skimmed through everything to reach this point – the rules!
These begin with the Allegiance Abilities, something people have been crying out for with the Stormcasts.
Their Battle Trait is Scions of the Storm, which basically gives the whole army deepstrike, though you no longer have control over when they appear (and you are still going to be 9″ away from the enemy).
Command Traits follow, and they are a nice simple list that will nevertheless not have you pining for the generic Order table.
The Artefacts of Power are divided into Blessed Weapons, Enchanted Armour and Magical Artefacts. However, Totem Heroes also get access to the Treasured Standards list, while Lord-Castellants, -Veritants and Knight-Azyros can choose from Mystic Lights. There does not look to be anything desperately powerful among these choices (though tournament games may refine this somewhat), but the spread is a nice one that gives a lot of character to the army.
What is really new though are the Prayers of the Stormhosts. Every Priest in a Stormcast army gets one of these (in addition to their usual abilities), which makes me think that Lord-Relictors may become a thing quite soon. The prayers allows the Priest to pick from one of six choices, ranging from blessing weapons of a nearby unit (hit roll of 6 grants another attack – could be interesting on Retributors) to a Lightning Chariot that effectively teleports units across the battlefield.
Not enough for you Stormcast diehards? Well then, let me introduce you to the Steeds of the Celestial Realm tables. These allow you to pick one Dracoth, Stardrake or Gryph-Charger (from the new Vanguard Auxiliaries) and give the actual mount a trait. A Dracoth can become Keen-Clawed, for example (giving it Rend -3 on wound rolls of a 6), while a Stardrake can become a Thunderlord, extending the range of its Roiling Thunderhead.
I have a feeling some players are going to be spending a long, long time working out tricksey combinations on all these traits!
As with Disciples of Tzeentch, there are two new Battleplans for the Stormcasts and, as with Disciples of Tzeentch, no addition to the storyline to go with them. Come on, GW, some of us play Age of Sigmar specifically for this!
The Stormcasts also get some revised Path to Glory tables, which are all well and good, and can now focus on specific chambers. So, if you want to lose all your friends, you can now have a ‘pure’ Extremis Chamber in a campaign!
Finally, we come to the Warscrolls.
There are some old favourites in here, such as the Warrior, Harbinger and Exemplar Chambers, but there are also some notable by their absence – the Skyborne Slayers have disappeared (some might say ‘good riddance’).
On the flip side, there are also some new additions, in particular focussing on the new models, with three different flavours of Vanguard Battalions (the two Conclaves, with some added leadership, go to make up the Vanguard Auxiliary Chamber).
Some of the new Battalions are quite evocative – once you hear there is a Storm Vortex Garrison, don’t you just want to know what that is, eh?
However, I think the big thing for many players will be the Warscroll Battalions that cover specific Stormhosts, and this is where we begin to see the flavours of the different Stormhosts appear.
My own Hallowed Knights, for example, can ignore spell effects, run and charge a bit further, and can still give the enemy a smacking before they finally succumb to their wounds.
Other Stormhosts get similar coverage, including the Hammers of Sigmar, Celestial Vindicators, Anvils of the Heldenhammer, Knights Excelsior, Celestial Warbringers, Tempest Lords, and Astral Templars.
Yup, there is enough there to keep you going!
Unit Warscrolls for all the Stormcast units follow, but don’t simply skip these, as there have been changes – I have already noticed that the Knight-Azyros no longer acts as a beacon for Stormcasts coming down on lightning…
The four page rules set is at the back and, on the very last page, an updated Pitched Battle Profiles list.
If you are a Stormcast player, you and I both know you are going to be picking this up. However, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that this is a near-perfect Battletome. The art is good, there is a veritable tonne of background material, and the rules bunnies are going to be kept busy working out all sorts of different combinations of units, traits and Battalions, in a way that Age of Sigmar has not really had up to now. In short, ‘proper’ list building is going to start happening.
The only thing that would stop me giving this book a 10/10 is the lack of storyline to the Battleplans which would serve to place them within the overall storyline. Come on, GW, just give me a page or two for each, and I will declare one of your books to be a Perfect Work!
The Battletome is not all the Stormcast players are getting. At long last, after countless requests on forums for them, Warscroll cards are now a thing.
At long last, surely, we have an easy-to-read reference right on the battlefield.
I don’t think so!
This card is entirely representative of the rest in this set. Nice big cards, with the smallest font known to graphic design to spell out the rules.
Now, I can see why they did it – a standard format that would cover every unit in the game, no matter how many abilities it has (gives hope for more cards for different armies). But even the likes of the Stardrake fill up less than half the surface area of these cards.
Honestly, I cannot really get across to you just how small the text is. I have decent eyesight (for my age), and I don’t automatically focus onto them.
This, it has to be said, is a bit of a Fail.
However, you do get these counters, which I think some players will find useful – and they have been printed on the thickest cardstock I think I have ever seen for counters like these. Gives them a nice feeling of quality.
But at some point, you are going to go back to the Warscrolls. Why have text so small?
Yeah, that just confuses me.
In summary, big thumbs up to the Battletome, but what the hell was someone thinking with those Warscroll cards.