This is part 2 of our review of Battletome: Blades of Khorne for 3rd Edition, you can find part one here. This review was completed using a free copy of Battletome: Blades of Khorne provided to us by Games Workshop.
Like the other Mono-god Chaos factions, the book is divided up by Daemons and Mortals (Bloodbound). Khorne may in fact be the most affected by that design decision, because Mortal heavy lists tend to be more Hero heavy, with the units relying on buffs from the Heroes to push them into the stratosphere. Daemon lists tend to be a bit better as independent operators (especially the almighty Bloodthirster), but it doesn’t hurt to bring some humans around for some of their buffs as well.
You’ll probably focus on one or the other, as dipping into Daemons in a mortal-centric list can cause you to run out of room for those important buffs, or your combat units. Meanwhile many Daemons can’t benefit from Bloodbound bonuses, though that’s not universally true. Check carefully.
Khorne has a lot of heroes. I mean a lot of heroes. So strap in. Khorne is split pretty evenly between daemons and mortals, and while you can run a mixed force, we’ll divide each section by Daemons and Mortals for the sake of ease in following.
In the broad strokes, Skarbrand is still Skarbrand and that’s a good thing. Skarbrand is unique as the only unit in the game that gets better as he gets hurt (You can argue Katakros also gets stronger, but he also loses utility), so if you come at the King you better not miss.
Most of his abilities return intact, but like many monsters in third edition their wound profile is compacted so the top rank is 0-6 instead of 0-3. This is arguably a drawback, since Skarbrand wants to get hurt, but he has an additional 2 wounds to make him tankier and he still has the Skarbrand’s Rage ability to let him treat himself as max profile if he didn’t fight last round. The most important change relevant to this is that his primary melee axe, Slaughter is now at a 2+/2+! So even if he needs to take more damage to get his attacks in, those attacks are all almost guaranteed to hit. He now caps at 8 attacks instead of 9, but with that hit and wound profile, it’s a net gain.
The other notable change is with Inescapable Wrath which previously let you reroll charges. Now it’s a 3D6″ charge, for free! So what’s the catch? There…isn’t. He actually went down in cost to 380. There’s little reason not to include this bruiser in your list. He was one of the best units in the book before and now he’s even better.
Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster
The first Bloodthirster runs duty pretty much as Captain. All 3 generic Bloodthirsters got +2 wounds and 2″ on its movement making them much more of a threat early game. This one’s a solid all rounder, decent in melee and has an (albeit short) ranged attack. His real strength comes from the fact that if he is within 16″ of a Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage or Unfettered Fury, they can fight one after the other. Two Bloodthirster attacks in a row is going to cleave through all but the hardiest of foes, easily.
His other perk is he gets a free command each turn, so he makes an ideal General for that 18″ range. Just a really solid support piece that can also scrap really hard.
Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage
This is the Bloodthirster you want to take when you want something dead like yesterday. It’s got its big old axe and that’s it. It has no ranged attack, and it doesn’t really doesn’t have a lot of utility. Like, it did but that’s all gone now. It lost the command ability to reroll charges and the fact that it rerolled 1s when it charged and just kept the ability to do mortal wounds on 6s to hit.
Its damage is much more consistent at D3+3 now. I may not like the random damage on these very much but when your floor is 4 damage, it’s a lot harder to complain.
Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury
Of the 4 Bloodthirsters, I think this one took the biggest hit. Previously, its best trait was the Rejoice in the Slaughter Command Ability which granted a 6″ pile-in to another unit. This allowed units to bypass abilities like Unleash Hell. The fact you can do a D6″ movement with 1 Blood Tithe alleviates this somewhat, though it’s not quite as reliable. It also lost Drawn in for the Kill which kept an enemy unit in combat from running away. It can now spurn a friendly unit on with Beckon the Hunt for a 3D6″ Charge which, do not get me wrong, is still incredibly handy.
Damage wise it’s just kinda meh. The whip is fine, if very short ranged. It’s melee profile is at least a 2+ to hit now, but that D3 damage really stings.
This guys had a bit of niche play, as a named Herald he doesn’t really get to benefit from this season but he is uniquely poised to handle Galetian champions. His previous warscroll had a lot of rerolls, so let’s break this down.
As a named Herald and Bloodletter, let’s get this out of the way. Every Bloodletter model has Decapitating Blows, which was changed a bit to bring it more in line with how Age of Sigmar generally works with 6s to hit doing mortal wounds. Previously, this ability did a mortal wound in addition to the normal damage, but now it just converts the damage to mortals. So for rank and file Bloodletters it’s a downgrade, for your Heroes it’s better.
Originally he was rocking a 4+ save but a +1 from a warscroll ability. Which was certainly…a choice. He’s still got the 4+ save but he’s got a 4+ ward now, much better, very cool. He gets 5 2+/3+ attacks at 2 damage instead of 3 3+/3+ attacks at 3 Damage, which is a net positive at least and will be more consistent. Like any Bloodletter, he does Mortals on 6s to hit, but it’s still 3 Mortals against Heroes, very nice.
Obviously, all the rerolls had to go, so he can’t hand out reroll 1s to wound and he doesn’t reroll hits and wounds against Heroes anymore. Instead he can force a Strike Last on a Hero, which ultimately can work more in your favor.
Overall, this is an upgrade. It’s not an obvious upgrade but on the aggregate it’s going to make him more effective against his intended target (heroes) and still solid against more general purpose enemies.
Our first generic Herald and notably, has cleaned up his act and found (The Blood) God. He’s a priest now and his warscroll prayer Bloodmark is really good too, +1 to wound against a chosen target within 16″. His attack profile got boosted to 2 Damage, and he still gets to fight in tandem with a group of Bloodletters with The Blood Must Flow. All around improvement and going to be a staple choice in Daemon lists.
The Mounted version of the Herald. He’s fine, got an extra wound and a 3+ save. Lost his reroll hits on the charge (naturally) but kept his impact wounds and once per game he can grant reroll charges to himself and all Bloodcrushers within 16″. Basically he’s going to be a mandatory take if you want to go Bloodcrusher heavy, otherwise he doesn’t contribute a lot over other heralds.
Herald of Khorne on Blood Throne
The…other mounted Herald. Don’t worry about it. Anyway this guy is also a Priest now, which is a nice upgrade. He went from 7 to 10 wounds which is quite nice, though oddly Gorefeast (which heals wounds if he killed anything) is just a flat 1 instead of D3 now. Otherwise his utility is mostly in being a totem and his warscroll prayer which can restore D6 Bloodletters or 1 Bloodcrusher. More reliably than Rally and works even if they’re in combat. Overall, a good support piece if you’re looking to run Bloodletter hordes.
The named Mighty Lord of Khorne Korghos returns largely intact, though it must be said how much better he is in combat. His axe attacks have been doubled to 6, with Rend 2 and Damage 2 instead of D3. That suddenly makes his 8 inch pile-in a lot more interesting.
Otherwise he’s about the same, 5+ insta-merc a wounded model is actually now exclusive to him which gives him a but more distinction, and still unbinds 1 spell per turn. The only real downgrade is his reroll 1s now lets you do two murder rolls instead of, once per game, on a unit within 16″. Meh.
Overall? His better profile makes him a lot better, and I think he could see valid play but he’s not a Gorechosen and has to compete with a ton of other foot heroes.
Mighty Lord of Khorne
The generic version of Korghos, he’s your basic melee foot leader with few frills. Like Korghos he got more Rend -2 Damage 2 attacks and can unbind a spell with his dog companion. His unique thing is a command ability Bring Me Their Skull to grant First Strike to a Gorechosen unit, very important in the event you get charged. He also is Gorechosen so he benefits from certain buffs that Morghos does not.
Lord of Khorne on Juggernaut
The mounted version of the above, he has a lot in common with the Skullmaster. He also grants Reroll charges once per game on his own mounted friends, the Skullcrushers. Also gets the flat 3 mortals on a 2+ when charging but is notable for just how damn tanky he is. A 2+ save and a 5+ Ward against Mortals by spells (and thats after Hatred of Sorcery). Being mounted means he’s harder to hide from ranged attacks this season than the foot version, but if your opponent doesn’t have a lot of non-spell ways to deal mortal wounds he basically is going to be impossible to kill.
Our new lady and your second mortal priest. Unlike just about every other foot hero in the book she is awful in combat so do not let that happen. However, she is an incredible support hero. Once per game she can mark an objective and all of your mortals get +1 to attack within 8″ of it, and her prayer gives -1 attacks to a unit within 16″. Have her escorted by some big strong men to one of the more hotly contested objectives and she can help guarantee that it will be impossible to remove them.
The old standby and still fine. Unbinds a spell like a wizard and still has Blood Boil, but Blood Bind was moved to a prayer anyone can do (likely because if you can chant 1 prayer it seems wasteful to give them 2). Costs 10 points more than the Realmgore ritualist but can hold his own in a fight which means he can run double duty.
Easily the most essential model in any Blades of Khorne list for 2nd edition, and that’s likely not to change. He kept his Rage of Khorne ability to grant +1 attack to Blades of Khorne units, but it’s only once per game now. The upside? Oh how about that it affects every Khorne unit on the battlefield. With that kind of advantage, once per game is fine. Hell, bring 2.
But wait, there’s more. He doesn’t force rerolls against Wizards anymore which is a shame but instead he now has the dreaded 4+ Rally on all mortal units with 3 wounds or less (So anything that isn’t on a mount). Wow. For a unit that could have gone horribly wrong it seems like it went oh so right.
This guys primary ability Whipped to Fury has been reworked, and is largely better. He can whip D3 units and they all can run and charge. The army comes with a lot of movement powers which makes Turn 1 charges very doable, especially with this guy at the center of it. He’s a bit better in combat too. Not essential but nice when a Hero can actually work with his troops.
Complete rework on this guy. With 3 Attacks at Rend -1 Damage 3, this guy is a pretty standard monster hunter with Bone-crushing Strikes which add +1 to Damage against Monsters and inflict strike-last. This alone wouldn’t be worth it, but what is is Tempered With Fury which lets you select a Mortal Hero within 8″ at deployment and improve their rend for the entire game. At only 90 points, a really easy include.
This guy is basically a budget Mighty Lord of Khorne if you want to beat stuff up but don’t need that other stuff. He has the same attack profile but does an additional mortal on a 6. That’s it, he doesn’t grant extra attacks with command abilities anymore so the only thing this guys got is if you’re low on points and need something to shove in for 80, but even then there is the Exalted Deathbringer to do the job better.
A fair bit better. Has 2 loadouts (Take the spear, trust me) he has a 5+ Ward and is hitting on 2″ if he’s within 8″ of your General. The problem is that this is Khorne and the Exalted Deathbringer doesn’t bring a lot that isn’t “be a beatstick”, to an army filled with beat sticks that do other things. His perk is that he is only 90 points
This guys cool and fun. He gets a number of attacks equal to the number of models within 3″ of him, so hes pretty good at clearing hordes and less so with high wound count models. He kept The Slaughterborn which is the real draw of using him, when he dies he can come back on subsequent turns if you roll an 8+ on 2D6. You get a Blood Tithe whenever he dies so he’s like a pinata you can keep sending into battles you know he won’t win, and he might take a few down on the way. Murderous Paragons now just gives an extra die on murder Rolls to Wrathmongers. It’s at least free now but eh, not as nice as pile in and fight.
Valkyria the Bloody
Not great. She does have an interesting ability to Deep strike in The Red Angel of Slaughter and do D6 mortals to a unit within 10″ but beyond that she just grants +3 bravery, but you can’t retreat. Stuff in your army actually has crazy good bravery so you’ll never really need this buff.
Big yawn here. Only change was that their Attack Characteristic is now 8 instead of 2D6. It doesn’t even gain bonus attacks for getting hurt so it’s definitely more consistent but the ceiling is limited. The 8″ pile-in is very funny but with a 5+ save and no other protection he’s not likely to survive long.
Dromm & The Gorechosen of Dromm
The new Underworlds Warband. These guys come close, so close to being worth it. Dromm is a Slaughterpriest with a unique prayer that lets you draw a line 16″ out and deal D3 mortals to each. His Gorechosen aren’t even that bad, the Gorehulk sucks but the Skullgrinder is like a baby Mighty Lord of Khorne. But that’s the problem, you might as well take a mighty Lord of Khorne or any of the dizzying combat hero options you got. Oh well, getting closer.
Significantly improved from their previous incarnation. Now they hit on 3+s (no longer needing to reinforce to do so) and get 2 attacks per model. While Decapitating Strike is technically a downgrade for troops, the fact the attacks literally doubled means they will do more damage on the aggregate now.
Hornblowers and Banners got some reshuffling. First, theres now only one banner, so bring whichever one you think looks cooler. As a result, the instrument’s previous ability to force rerolls of 1 on battleshock is gone, which is fine as it was a niche ability. Instead the Reroll charges from the bloodsoaked banner was moved to the instrument and made a +1 to charges, and the banner now lets them pass a battleshock test on a 1 no matter how many they lost, and bring a model back. Don’t forget to roll even if you cant fail, it’s a 1 in 6 chance to rally back a model!
Overall, pure upgrade. The Bloodletters are the bread and butter Khorne Battleline and they’re going to feel more like they do their job now.
These guys haven’t had a serious change because they’re fine at what they do. Fast and cheap outriders for snagging points and taking out some weaker units. They still deny spells with their Collars of Khorne and Unflagging Hunters grants a +2 to charges instead of rerolls, but its fine. You use these guys to fill space or summon them in for cheap.
These guys are your disposable infantry, and they are effective at that role. At still only 80 points for 10 they make great screens, objective holders or even clear out weaker enemies. They are now at a baseline of 2 attacks per model, rather than needing a totem. Frenzied Devotion now gives +1 wound near a totem, which is actually an improvement. The paired weapons don’t give Reroll 1s to hit of course, but +1 to hit, so take whichever weapon you prefer the math works out about the same.
Your anvil to an army of hammers. These guys aren’t very effective in combat but are extremely tanky grinders. 2 wounds a piece and boosted to a 3+ save, not bad for battleline. They get an extra die for mortal rolls instead of pile in and fight on death, naturally and if they take the Gorefists they do mortal wounds on 6s to save.
Take the Gorefists if you think youll have them holding points or paired axes for an extra attack if you want to press up more. They’re not bad but occupy a weird middle ground where they’re not cheap enough to be bodies as Reavers but dont do the damage your other stuff does. They also melt to mortal wounds, where they have no real protection.
Claws of Karnak
I reviewed these guys back when they came out and they’re…interesting. They have some potential play for first turn charges with a free move at the beginning game to try and tie up the enemy. Though their overall damage output is just kind of OK so on their own they’re not going to kill a whole lot, just back them in their deployment for a bit while the cavalry arrives.
The rarest role in Age of Sigmar and Khorne of all people gets one, the Skull Cannon.
The Skull Cannon does what it always did, which is soften up the enemy before you charge in. How it does that is quite different. It no longer fires one D6 shot at 30″ but 4 D3 shots at 18″. It doesn’t get +1 to hit for bigger units anymore which is fine, you don’t need that as badly when you’re not banking on a single shot to hit.
Between the shorter range and doubling up of attacks for their riders, the Skull Cannon just gels better in Khorne. It can fire a few shots and assist their brothers in close combat if they need to help clean up. Overall, much better for the army.
The Good Boy and one of the genuinely good staples of Khorne even in the book’s dark days. Karanak is one of the best anti-mage characters in your arsenal, he still deals D3 mortals to any Wizard he unbinds. As a result, probably still worth taking just for that. Things start to deviate a lot after that. Naturally his reroll charges is out, as-is rerolls against his Quarry. Instead now he marks a Quarry and if he ends a movement phase outside of 9 of the enemy, he can move toward his Quarry. Basically a more awkward version of the Pelt Hunter from Ogors which I’m not a fan of, because without the rerolls Karanak really doesn’t want to see combat. He’s fine, certainly, but not stellar. 2 extra wounds helps at least.
A big change is that while he doesn’t get his free Blood Hound unit, but an interesting compromise is that he can summon Flesh Hounds within 8″ of him but within 9″ of the enemy. It doesn’t say they can’t be summoned directly into combat, so we might need an FAQ on that. However given all the abilities that let you move right into combat I figure it’s quite clear.
Battleline if a Skullmaster is your General. By now, there’s probably no surprises here. They got an extra attack for the rider, which makes them more effective overall. Like the Skullmaster they also do mortal wounds on the charge. 1 on a 2-4 and 2 on a 5+. I think the most notable change is these are now 5 wounds per model, which lets a basic unit count as 6 models on the objective. Pretty sweet upgrade.
Battleline if a Lord of Khorne on Juggernaut is your general. These guys are shockingly similar to Skullcrushers it can be hard to tell the difference. They are substantially tankier, with a shocking 2+ Save and a 5+ Ward against Mortals from spells. They don’t proc mortal wounds on 6s to hit which means they’ll likely do less damage in the aggregate, but they do get more attacks which will let them hit poor saves better. Take the glaives, the math works out about the same, but the glaives can allow reinforced units to attack easier. Like the Bloodcrushers they got mortals on contact, and upped to 5 wounds per model. Statistically these guys are so similar to Bloodcrushers, which you run probably has more to do with whether your army is leaning mortal or daemon.
Arguably the best workhorse unit in the book, and remain that way. Games Workshop made the wise decision of compressing the weapons down, now it doesn’t matter what you gave them, it’s all the same. Skullreapers get so many attacks, at base they’re already 21 Rend -1 Damage 1 attacks that do an extra mortal on 6s. and that’s not even bad for 5 models. Their power comes from the fact that they just get so many ways to boost that attack value. Wrathmongers, Bloodsecrators, it adds up.
Basically the goal with them is to drown them in buckets of dice, throw enough and your opponent has to roll 1s eventually, right?
Wrathmongers feel similar to Skullreapers, but a bit more defensive because they do Mortal Wounds when enemys roll 1s to hit them instead of on 6s to hit. Their real power is how they make other units better, boosting other units attacks by 1 (But it doesn’t affect Wrathmongers, so you actually don’t want to rely entirely on these guys). So always bring at least one unit.
One change here but it’s a big one. Instead of -1 Bravery he now blocks Inspiring Presence while in combat which is…quite a bit better! His damage output is merely decent, so he’s going to want to have some friends when charging in but since you are in an army that can’t cast Horrorghast that’s pretty useful. He’s gone up to 110 which pushes him up to something you might need to think about including, but that’s a real good combat trick.
These guys are…good? They’re basically a 3 man unit of Blood Warriors which isn’t great, however for 120 points they also get a free unit of Flesh Hounds. That’s a surprise. Economically you might as well spend 20 more points and bring these guys instead of Flesh Hounds.
Two viable warbands in one book? What did we do to earn such an honor? Not too bad in combat but the real star of the show is that they will earn you a blood tithe if they can kill a model rather than a unit. Throw them at some chafe and even if you cant finish them off, blood tithe. At only 70 points they will be a popular option.
-2 to Casting for all Wizards in 8″. If they roll an 8 on the dice, they forget the spell, and the invocation blows up, dealing D6 mortal wounds and forgets the spell they just cast. It’s exactly the same, except for the range being 8″ for all abilities rather than 8″ and 12″. Likely to be easier to remember. It didn’t really need to be changed, it’s absolutely fantastic at what it’s trying to do.
This does what it did before, causing extra models to run on a failed battle shock (D3 on a 1-5, D6 on a 6) but with a nice addition: It blocks Inspiring Presence now, which means it will actually be able to do its job. Naturally this doesn’t affect your own guys, so it’s almost a shoe in.
No changes. Does Mortal Wounds when passing over units, then can do D3 or D6 to an enemy unit it stops near. Perfectly solid choice, especially if your list lacks a lot of mortal wound generation.
This works the same as before, doing D6 Mortals to a Wizard on a miscast (regardless of range) and granting rerolls to prayers to whomever is garissoned inside. They seemed to realize Invoke Judgement to let non Priests chant Invocations was pretty bad, so they changed it to double the range of setup for invocations. Get those Hexgorger Skulls into the opponent’s backline early.
So I find it tough to place this book. In short, Khorne has always struggled with the fact that its options are by its nature limited. It’s not exactly going to be bringing mass archer spam or powerful spellcasters to the table, those are antithesis to the faction’s flavor. It also needs to compete in the “charge forth and slaughter your enemies” space in Sigmar which is very crowded (Ironjawz, Ogors, Daughters of Khaine…you get the idea) and doesn’t have the same scruples about using magic or ranged.
This…doesn’t fix that. It’s not really trying to do that. I think that’s fine. What it does do is look at what Khorne has been doing and try and make that better. The Blood Tithe system is much improved, and more units operate better at a baseline. The reliance on buffs from prayers and Aura is still there (especially on Mortal centric lists) but that’s ok, it’s what the faction does uniquely.
This is a book for the fans. If you didn’t like Khorne before this probably won’t make you a believer, but if you did, it’s more of what you like.