Thunderscorn

I haven’t gone mad for Age of Sigmar models of late (and I still have to finish off my Kharadron Overlords), but these Dragon Ogors have been sitting in my ‘plastic pile’ for an absolute age (pretty much since Sigmar came out!), and I finally got cracking on them last week.

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I already had a small unit of three Dragon Ogors done, but they were really feeling lonely – they needed some friends and a leader.

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The Shaggoth is so old he is actually a (very heavy) metal model. He was also missing a horn, but I snipped a spine in half from a Chaos Spawn to replace it, and now I bet you cannot tell which one is the replacement!

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To do a ‘proper’ Thunderscorn force, I should probably do a third unit but, for now, I think these chaps will do just fine.

Now I need to get cracking on with the Death Guard and try to get that army ‘finished’.

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The Kharadron Overlords have Arrived…

I was all set to do the Kharadron Overlords earlier this year, but then the Horus Heresy happened and then came 8th edition 40k…

However, last week I read the latest Age of Sigmar novel, which had the Overlords in it, and the Arkanaut Companies kinda fell onto my painting desk. I polished those off quicker than I thought I might… and then polished off the Thunderers too. So, this morning, I can proudly present 60 Kharadron Overlords, all painted and ready to go – the entire infantry section of my planned force, done in one weekend (sort of)!

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The Arkanauts were actually a lot quicker to do than I had thought, and the fiddly bits (like the straps) were  not all that fiddly after all. They end up being a basic process of cloth, silver armour (finished off with Stormhost Silver to make them extra-shiny!), gold armour, straps. The only real ‘detailing’ is a bit of Soulstone Blue for any glowy bits). Base them, then they are done!

In the end, I went for the purple Baraka-nar, for several reasons, though their special rules were not among them (though being able to more or less shut down enemy casting will be fun). First off, as the largest skyport, I figured they would feature prominently in forthcoming campaigns from GW. Second, I picked up Brokk, the High Admiral, and he comes from Barak-nar. True, I could have him leading another skyport, or simply paint him in different colours… but I wanted things done ‘properly’.

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The Thunderers are even quicker for while they are slightly larger, they have no straps at all, so you can just whiz through them – overall, they probably take longer to dry than paint.

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So, there you go – 60 models in a weekend, and all the infantry of the Overlords done. Now they just need some ships and people to lead them. I have already put together three Gunhaulers and all the characters (bar Brokk himself), but I think I’ll take a quick break from these chaps (wasn’t going to crack on with them until the end of the year!) before finishing the force off completely.

Oh, and if 60 infantry were not enough… I also managed to polish off three more Nurglings for the Death Guard!

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Neave Blacktalon

Just a short post today, as I finished the new Stormcast from the Blightwar box set last night, Neave Blacktalon.

Effectively an assassin of sorts, she is leading the Stormcasts in their pursuit of Horticulous and his Nurgle buddies (more of whom will be appearing later this week!).

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Paint-wise… piece of cake. I did her in the same fashion as the Hallowed Knights (or, more specifically, their Vanguard Chamber), and she was super quick to do. Finally, the Hallowed Knights have a female Stormcast in their ranks!

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A quick word about the cloak – if you want to do fur, a Mournfang Brown base, followed by a Tyrant Skull drybrush, with an Agrax wash over both makes cloaks look good and is fast to do. You will think you are going wrong after the Mournfang base (it is quite bright!), but the Agrax does a really good job of transforming the colour. Recommended!

 

Review: Blightwar

After waiting for what seems an age, the next installment of the Age of Sigmar storyline has finally arrived – Blightwar, in a great big box set. So, what secrets does it hold..?

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Now, one word of warning – I quite got into the storyline behind the Realmgate Wars, so I come to Blightwar wanting to like it.

That said, the first impression of the box set is that it is… light. It is one of GW’s big £95 box sets and it really lacks the heft of something like Dark Imperium, being more akin in feel to Execution Force and games of that ilk.

You just don’t get the feeling that you need a pack mule to get the thing home, you know?

Still, opening up the box, you can see it is filled to the brim with plastic models.

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Split between Stormcasts and Daemons of Nurgle, most of these models you have seen before (not classing that as a bad thing at all, as those Nurgle daemons will be joining my Death Guard this weekend!). However, there are two brand new models, thus far exclusive to this box set. First up is the first female Stormcast we have seen, Neave Blacktalon:

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Followed by the snail-riding champion of Nurgle, Horticulous Slimux:

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You also get a Cycle of Corruption wheel, which I will come back to in a minute. Please forgive the meaty paw in the photo, but I wanted to get across the size of this wheel – you are not going to lose it in your box of counters and dice!

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Finally, the Blightwar book itself – for me, the most important part of this box set, as this is the start of a new cycle in the Age of Sigmar storyline.

First impressions? Well, if you got used to the giant hardbacks that made up the Realmgate Wars series, it feels light. In fact, if you remember the softback you got in the original Age of Sigmar starter, it still feels light.

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Blightwar is a 40 page saddle-stitched (stapled) book – however, what is important is content, so we dive in…

The first handful of pages are a general introduction to the Mortal Realms (this is the war, the Realmgate Wars were a thing, these are Stormcasts, etc). This is fair enough, as Blightwar is intended as a starter set of sorts (though you now have a fair selection of starters for Age of Sigmar, and 40k seems to be going that way as well).

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You then get the preamble to the Blightwar, starting with how Nurgle fared (not brilliantly, letting Alarielle slip through his fingers) in the Realmgate Wars, and how he decided what he would do next. In a nutshell, Nurgle believes he was way too selfish when he fixated on the Realm of Life – there were beings all over the Mortal Realms just desperate to receive his blessings.

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So, summoning his Grand Cultivator (Horticulous Slimux), Nurgle sent his hordes across all the Realms, tainting sites of magical power to bring forth his own Garden.

Simples!

The two lead characters in this part of the story (Horticulous and Blacktalon) get their own write-ups in the standard ‘unit’ style. It is suggested that Horticulous might be the first daemon Nurgle ever created, and he is the preeminent expert on spreading the Garden of Nurgle.

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Neave Blacktalon, on the other hand, is the first of the Knights-Zephyros to appear, assigned to the Vanguard Chambers to basically act as an assassin in battle – they pick a target, then race ahead to destroy it.

Funnily enough, while you get a good sense of who Horticulous is and what he is like, you don’t really get a good feeling of what Neave is like as a person, other than being bloody hard.

There is a two page introduction to the Blightwar itself, depicting Neave and her Vanguard Rangers (the Shadowhammers) chasing down Horticulous across the realms. They finally track him to Ghur (Realm of Beasts) where he seems to be heading to one of Sigmar’s cities, Excelsis.

Cue big fights.

There are three Battleplans that showcase this fight, starting with Rearguard Strike which has the Stormcasts falling upon the trailing host of the Nurgle force, and culminating with The Great Sowing where the Stormcasts finally corner Horticulous in a final showdown.

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In the past, such Battleplans were presented on three pages, preceded by 4-6 pages of story that set up the fight. This time round, perhaps because of the limited space in this book, you get one page of story and one for the Battleplan itself. And you know what, GW? If this is indeed the new format for story-based Battleplans… I am okay with it. There is just enough information (once you consider the general overview that comes before) to make the battle mean something rather than just getting a collection of random models to fight.

I quite like it, especially if it means we will see more story-based battles rather than standalone Battleplans.

Oh, and there are no set forces in these Battleplans – while they obviously revolve around the contents of the box set, there is no reason you cannot really go overboard with both Stormcasts and Nurgle daemons if you already have the models.

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The latter half of the book is devoted to rules, and the first thing you come across are the Allegiance Abilities of Stormcasts and Nurgle. These just cover the Battle Traits (so no Command Traits or Artefacts), but fans of Nurgle will not be too unhappy as they now get Cycle of Corruption.

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If you lose the wheel that comes with this set, it is reprinted in the book, and basically Nurgle forces get a new effect applied every round, ranging from everyone getting healed to bonuses to wound rolls – I don’t think there are any bum notes struck here, and Nurgle generals will be able to predict what is coming next and plan accordingly.

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Warscrolls are provided for all units in the box set, along with two new Battalions. Blacktalon’s Stormhammers move a bit faster when they are close to their leader, and gain bonuses to hit rolls when they charge a unit that has already been shot up.

The Fecund Rituculturalists re-roll hits when they are close to Horticulous and can grow new Plaguebearers every round.

Finally, Pitched Battle profiles for all the units in the set, including the two characters and the Battalion.

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So, is it all worth it?

I think that will depend on whether you want/need the models. £95 is a lot (too much) if you are just wanting to continue the Sigmar storyline. However, if you want to continue the storyline and want a Nurgle and Stormcast force… yeah, sure. It is not a brilliant set by any means, but it is solid. Even if you are just after one of the forces and are looking to pass on or sell the rest, it remains solid.

I think the best I can say is that, for me personally, I like the story as presented (as short as it may be), will be using Neave and all the Nurgle Daemons in my existing forces, and consider my appetite suitably whetted for the next installment of the Blightwar which, I very much hope, will be a nice juicy hardback I can sink my teeth into.

 

General’s Handbook 2017 & Open War Cards

When the last General’s Handbook hit the shelves it marked a true shift in Age of Sigmar and how the game was played – will the dual release of the General’s Handbook 2017 and the Open War card deck have the same effect again?

It is time for us to see…

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I’ll say one thing before kicking off… this book is packed with cool things to do in the Age of Sigmar and if it is any indication of how GW will shake things up on a yearly basis for the game (and for 40k, with their similar Chapter Approved book), then the future is looking very bright for Warhammer players of any ilk.

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As expected, the book is divided into the three styles of play; Open, Narrative, and Matched Play. It starts off with Open Play, which most players are just going to skip over – but wait! As well as the general mash-up most players seem to think Open Play is (it really does not need to be that way!), the new GHB introduces some variants that are, in the very least, interesting.

For example, using the Open War cards (scroll down for the review on them), you can construct an Open War campaign with the winner of each battle able to influence the direction the campaign goes in. That might be worth a real look.

There is also ideas for Open War Tournaments – I am less enamoured with that as I am not sure Open Play and tournaments really mix. Still, it is there if you want a swing at it.

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Open Play also embraces Triumph & Treachery which, having played at the T&T event at GW HQ, I can thoroughly recommend. More than just a multiplayer game, T&T actively encourages you to make alliances, bribe opponents, and then treacherously turn against them throughout a battle. Get four or five people all doing that round the same table, and you have a real battle on your hands!

This is done through the use of Treachery Points that are accrued through the game and then spent to nobble your opponents through acts like bribing enemy wizards not to cast spells, placing a turncoat in an enemy unit, or placing a booby trap in front of a unit about to charge…

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GW then go one step further… Triumph & Treachery campaigns. This plays just like the map campaign of the first GHB but with more treachery. That kind of campaign is going to be chaotic in the extreme, but it has to be a lot of fun, and will suit less serious (more fun!) players nicely.

That concludes the Open War section and then we launch into Narrative Play – and I am all about the Narrative Play, as regular readers will know. There are a few pages on forging a narrative and building themed armies… which is okay, but the first real meat comes in the form of new Time of War sheets that now cover each of the Mortal Realms.

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This is useful (I could certainly have used it during the Realmgate Wars), though there is a lot that will be familiar when playing in Aqshy or Ghyran – if you have used Time of War sheets, you have seen many of the rules presented here before. That said, we have our first real look at rules for Shyish, Hysh and Ulgu, which I will certainly be pulling out in forthcoming games.

We then get six Battleplans intended for Narrative Play… and they are all pulled from the Realmgate Wars books. That was disappointing, and I am trying hard not to use the word ‘filler’.  However, we then get a definite plus in the form of siege battles.

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Now, don’t expect anything too complicated here – this is Age of Sigmar, and counting up ‘tunnelling points’ as you try to undermine an enemy wall would not have been the way to go. Instead, GW have adopted a system based upon the siege in the Realmgate Wars – however, rather than just lifting the simple matrix system, they have built upon it. You still focus on starving, battering or tunnelling (if you are the attacker), but the effects of each are now more varied, so even if you concentrate you starving your enemy out, you may till have some success on battering down their walls.

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Two Battleplans are provided so you can start your siege immediately.

By this time, we are less than half way through the book, and now it turns to Matched Play, the bulk of the General’s Handbook.

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There do not seem to be too many changes to the actual core of Matched Play, though there are two new Rules of One (you cannot re-roll or modify the dice roll to determine who starts each battle round – bad news for Seraphon – and no Artefact can be taken twice in an army).

You also have the rules for Allies in your force, which basically allow you to bypass Battlefield roles to take a small detachment within your army – so, if you have always wanted to add a couple of Gargants to your otherwise ‘pure’ Ironjawz, it is now a simple matter. A great move to inject some variety and get new models on the table without having to build a full force around them.

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There are also six new Battleplans intended for Matched Play. This I like, having a new set of Battleplans for tournaments every year (that is how they are going to get used, after all), meaning even competitive play will not be static. There are already well over 100 Battleplans for Age of Sigmar and in a few years time, that number will increase to a truly ungodly amount!

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The Pitched Battle profiles (the points for units) have all been updated – it looks like just the current range is included (I hear rumours that the old ‘compendium’ forces will still be ‘legal, just removed to a download – which is great, as that leaves more room for everything else in this book), but older ‘direct only’ models are still there, such as the Orruk Warboss on Wyvern.

One brilliant little touch on these pages are those stars next to certain (many!) units. This denotes something has changed since the last GHB and that, frankly, is a mark of genius on the part of the designers (really simple things can be genius because the rest of us miss them…). If you want to know if anything has changed for your favourite unit, there is no need to sit down with both books and cross-reference everything, it has all been done for you.

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There is also just one Warscroll update, for the Grundstok Thunderers. This is nice as it goes, but I cannot help thinking that the GHB is not the place for this – think a few years ahead, and these Warscrolls could really start crowding out other material, when they would be far better placed as downloads… like every other Warscroll.

Finally, we get into the new Allegiance stuff. Every Grand Alliance is represented, as before, though there have been some small tweaks (don’t worry, Destruction players, Battle Brew is still there). What is new is that the small alliances are now represented – not all of them (perhaps more will appear in GHB 2018?), but enough to get you going and you do, of course, still have the Grand Alliance to build upon.

For example, Clans Pestilens and Skryre now have their own Allegiance abilities, but Verminus does not.

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There is always going to be someone who gets missed out with this approach, but I don’t think there will be too many glum faces, especially as a force like the Free Peoples get attention…

One of my favourites, the Seraphon, have this treatment, and all you lizard guys will not be disappointed – you can now teleport any unit across the table and unbind spells regardless of range… This is on top of Commmand traits, which are specific to Slann, Saurus and Skink, and new Artefacts (the Coronal Shield, which blinds enemy units, has potential, but I think a lot of people will lock firmly on the Prism of Amyntok and take advantage of the D3 mortals it kicks out during movement phases…).

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Not enough for you lizard players? Well, have a couple of new Warscroll Battalions as well. Not every allegiance gets these, but there are enough scattered about to keep things interesting. The personalities in the Battalions will be familiar to anyone following the Realmgate Wars storylines and though they take the form of the ‘mega-battalions’ that have appeared in past Battletomes, the required models are not too onerous at all. The Fangs of Sotek is a nice addition to boost a Carnosaur, especially when added to the abilities of the other Starhosts within the Battalion, but the Dracothion’s Tail might be worth a look – if someone can ‘figure’ this Battalion out for tournaments, summoning might be a real thing.

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As I said earlier, if GW can keep reinvigorating their games by these yearly books, I think they are onto a winner. Even if they release a ‘bum’ year book, you will only have a few months for things to change again rather than waiting years for a whole new edition. What is even better is that, points aside, this GHB does not really replace the old one, so they can build into a full library of ‘cool things to do in Warhammer’ over the years (that does not apply to Matched Play so much but if you chose to be a competitive only player, well, that is your look out – you are missing out on a lot!).

When GW talk about ‘game changing, again’, they actually mean it. This book is more of an evolution than the last GHB, but it is building on solid foundations and is all the better for it. At £20 for 160 pages, the GHB 2017 gets a big thumbs up.

 

Open War

The Open War card deck comes in GW’s new style ‘cigarette packet, like those of the recent 40k card decks.

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The rules to use them come, predictably, on the first card, but the rules take up four sides – now, it would have been very easy (and, indeed, lazy) for GW to simply print them on two cards but, instead, they made a little ‘gatefold’ card instead. A tiny touch, but a nice one.

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When using the cards, you divide them up into five decks; Deployment, Objectives, Twist, Ruses and Sudden Death. Draw a card from the first three decks, and you have a Battleplan all set and ready to go!

You then count up Wounds in your armies. If one player has more, his opponent draws a Ruses card. If he has more than twice the Wounds, his opponent also draws a Sudden Death card.

There is a great deal of variety here – the Objectives cards create the victory conditions, and they can be as obvious as placing objective markers, to King Slayer, which gets players to count out the Wounds they dish out, doubling their score if they nobble the enemy general.

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Twists create adverse conditions players must either get around or find someway to use to their benefit. Dead of Night, for example, limits the range of all spells and attacks, while Battle Frenzy boosts all melee attacks.

Ruses are used to boost weaker armies, and basically represent inspired tactics like Outflanking an army or bringing in Reinforcements (recycling a dead unit). If an army is really outclassed, it can used Sudden Death cards to focus all their efforts on a single objective to immediately win the battle – Assassinate allows you to destroy the highest Wound Hero or Monster in order to win, while Endure simply means you need just one model on the table at the end of the fifth round.

Assuming you can avoid the real twits in your group (five Bloodthirster man) who just want to win at all costs, I think this is a great little system for pick up games. There is plenty of variety in this card deck, and there is no reason why any two games should repeat themselves, a hallmark of Age of Sigmar.

GW have avoided printing the text too small (unlike their recent Warscroll cards – grrrr!) and, at just a tenner, I don’t think you can go wrong…

The Freeguild Goes to War!

Of late, I have had a bit of a slow down on the old painting – but this weekend, it looks like I got my mojo back! A fair horde of miniatures were completed, which I’ll showcase this week, but we’ll start off with an important milestone… the Freeguild are now complete, as I finished a fair shed load over the past couple of days…

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As you may recall, I had already done a unit of 24 Handgunners, a couple of Battle Wizards, and a General to lead them all – I now have 30 Guard, 10 Greatswords, and the starting of the Ironweld Arsenal. Not a massive army, by any stretch, but a good base to build on and more than enough to get playing.

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The Guard were always going to be the biggest unit and, in a ‘proper’ army, I would probably need at least one more unit of this size. However, they form the core around which all the ‘special’ units will work.

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The Greatswords add some punch, and I thought that (despite there only being ten of them) they would prove to be a bit of a bear to paint with all their frilly bits. However, if you use shading for their ‘ribbed’ sleeves rather than actually trying to paint the under layer (which will send you mad), they are actually easier than even the Guard, as their armour takes a large portion of their bodies and they carry less junk into battle.

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And what is a Freeguild army without some truly heavy support from the Ironweld Arsenal, eh? I wanted them to be a slightly different colour to the Freeguild itself, so switched the green for blue, as I had already chosen that for the Cogsmith I painted up for Warhammer Quest (and no doubt he will join them in battle someday).

I had an open choice for artillery, but went with the Helblaster Volley Gun because, well, boom.

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And if you have the Ironweld Arsenal, you just have to have a Steam Tank. It is sort of mandatory.

Again, this is another model that you might expect to be a pain, but is actually quick and simple to paint up. The shields and crewman match the colours of the other Ironweld models, and the greatest time-sink was probably all the gold detailing but, in truth, it was no hassle at all.

So, those are all the models I had planned to do for the Freeguild, at least for the time being, and I can now focus on other projects. Next up for Age of Sigmar is probably the Kharadron Overlords but, before I get to them, I have some models who want to sort a Heresy out…

New Battalions: Fyreslayers/Beastclaw Raiders

There are new Start Collecting sets for Age of Sigmar out this week, including two that players have been waiting a fair while for – the Fyreslayers and Beastclaw Raiders. Both represent good value and I think will become the standard go-to for anyone beginning a new army.

Each also comes with a new Battalion that uses all the models in the set.

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The Beastclaw Raiders get Loshar’s Frost Guard, for which you need just a Frostlord on a Stonehorn and a Mournfang Pack (potentially just two Mournfangs, though four is a better number on the table and it fits in with the brief lore behind the Battalion).

It allows the Mournfangs to charge enemies close to the Frostlord in the hero phase – which is nice enough, until you realise it can also do this in the enemy’s hero phase.

That is pretty sweet…

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Hajkarl’s Sons of Fortune come from the Fyreslayers set, and requires a bunch of Vulkite Berzerkers (ten will do, though they work better in twenties), a Runesmiter, Runeson, and a Runefather on the back of a Magmadroth.

Once you have all those painted, once per battle you can have every unit in the Battalion move 4″ towards an enemy unit. Not spectacular on the face of it, but the Fyreslayers need everything they can get when it comes to movement, and this will allow you to converge on a single enemy – remember, that last part of a charge is 4″, so this could make or break a combat!