Age of Sigmar August 2021 FAQ: The Goonhammer Hot Take

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Games Workshop has released surprise FAQ for almost every book on August 27th, 2021. The Mortal Realms correspondents have combed through all of them to bring you the juiciest tidbits and what that might mean for the game going forward.

Core Rules

Most of the changes here are minor clarifications.  I’m not going to look at every little one but I do want to focus on the ones that might severely impact gameplay. First let’s look at Pile-ins, specifically when you are locked in with 2 or more units. So as written you must move closer (or the same distance) from a unit you’re currently into combat with. How this applies with multiple units is something else. What if 2 models are touching 2 different units? Can you move closer to one unit, leaving the other behind since they’re both equally far away? The new official ruling says you must end equally distant from enemy unit. Although slight, 2 or more units can pretty effectively lock a unit in place (at least until a model is removed) which opens up some strategy options for blocking off a unit. Overall not too wild on the change because it does feel too easy to tie things up if a player has more units, but I think it will just make people play different as opposed to bad.

The biggest and probably going to cause a lot of controversy is the change to Wards and Feel No Pain/Damage Prevention Roll saves. Ostensibly, it seemed Wards existed to replace these and the rules were quite clear you only got one ward. However a twist exists now: Wards occur before wounds are allocated while many unique warscroll abilities like Archaon’s Armour of Morkar or Ossiarch Bonereapers Deathless Warriors abilities occur when wounds are allocated. Therefore they occur at different times and you can do both.

This is…a baffling decision. I do not understand why they did it this way and it genuinely feels like a mistake based on a very literal reading of the rules. Since early second edition you only ever got one FNP/DPR check, which was to prevent abuse from stacking them. Calling them Wards seemed to codify it into game terms so there was never any confusion about only ever getting one. Now they’re rolling it back? Why?

Most every ability like this in second edition is written this way too. The only way I can figure they thought this was a good idea is they are future-proofing, when a lot of these similar abilities will explicitly be called Wards. But as of this writing not a single third edition battletome is out so it feels super premature to do it this way. They really should have stuck to one roll per point of damage, the end.

Yndrasta, the Celestial Spear

Yndrasta, the Celestial Spear. Credit: Jack Hunter

General’s Handbook 2021

Most of the Pitched Battles stuff is pretty boring, adding “Single, Unique” where they should have been. A few battleplan changes worth looking at as they will drastically change how the game works in those modes.

Hold Your Ground requires you to hold an objective for at least 2 consecutive turns and it wasn’t clear if losing the objective only to get it back by the end of your next turn counted. It does, and that’s going to matter a lot about whether its worth pushing up or taking back an objective.

The biggest change to a battleplan is going to be to Savage Gains which now gives 2 points for each center objective instead of holding either one. This is probably a more dynamic way of handling it because it means there are more incentives to spreading out across the center rather than just holding one. 2 points is no small sum.

Battletomes

To avoid redundancy, a specific note for Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh and Tzeentch armies that is repeated across their FAQs is that you cannot take coalition units just because they have the appropriate god keyword. They must specifically have the Mark of Chaos for this to work.

Beastclaw Raiders

The Rime Shroud relic sees a small nerf causing now only -1 to hit rolls from incoming missile weapons, instead of re-rolling 6’s to hit. The re-rolls were great against Lumineth Archers, and abilities like curse. A flat -1 to be hit is more broadly useful however. 

Along with every other army (being a core rule now) mount traits cannot be taken more than once each, so no more 5 Metal Cruncher Stonehorn lists (not a bad thing).

Beasts of Chaos

Ungor Raiders now get +1 to wound for shooting attacks when at 10 or more models, rather than rerolling hit rolls of 1 for having 20 models or rerolling 1s and 2s for 30 or more models. This is much more consistent, but in general a reroll is better than a modifier.

Dragon Ogors now benefit from their status as lords of ruin. They are now Elite and thus can issue orders to themselves.

Blades of Khorne

Only mechanical change is that the Banner of Wrath now procs at the beginning of the Combat phase instead of at some undefined point. This does make it slightly worse since you can’t wait to see how much damage you do in melee before deciding to use it or not but probably not enough to change its esteem in anyone’s eyes.

Cities of Sigmar 

The Cities of Sigmar FAQ is largely tightening up the language where necessary, which is always welcome but never earth shaking.

Coalition units gets a clarification, noting that Coalition units never count for the number of battleline you require, but do count towards the limit for other slots like Leader or Artillery, and they don’t cause an issue when you check to see if your army is drawn from a single faction. This is largely making Coalition and ally rules consistent across all the books.

Living City Sylvaneth units now also gain the Cities of Sigmar keyword, which now lets them benefit from neat little buffs like the Celestial Hurricanum’s +1 to hit aura. Tempest Eye Kharadron Overlords gain this keyword as well.

Hallowheart Wizards now know two additional spells from the Lore of Whitefire, rather than it being wizards in a Hallowheart army; this means that units you ally in don’t get that extra spell.

Daughters of Khaine

Really the only thing we need to care about is that Morathi is -2 to Rend again on Heartrender. It was changed to -2 in Broken Realms: Morathi, and then changed back for the battletome. This was presumably a mistake due to the close printing of both books, but its officially back to its Broken Realms version. I’m sure DoK players missed it.

Disciples of Tzeentch

Well well well, we haven’t had the Horrors warscroll rewritten in like what, 5 minutes? Time for another. The general jist of this unit isn’t changing, not nearly to the degree as the second battletome did but the changes are going to be very controversial, for both players of Tzeentch and those going up against it.

First, the most minor change is that you have to choose between Split and Split Again or Petty Vengeance first, you don’t get to choose later. This isn’t a huge deal. You probably were doing Split and Split Again anyway unless you just did not have the blue models so don’t worry about that.

It’s how Split and Split Again works where it gets interesting. Now, Pink and Blue Horrors do not count as Slain when killed. This holds some significant advantages and disadvantages. On the positive you are basically immune to battleshock for the first 30 wounds you take. This could be a downside if they kept the old Banner rule, where you got to return D6 slain models on a 1 for Battleshock tests but now you get a fate point on a 3+, so it’s a pretty good deal. The only downside is because they don’t count as slain, you don’t get to Rally them back, only Brimstones get to do that. 

It’s tough to say how this is going to play out. It certainly cut down on the amount of spam Pink and Blue horrors get to pull off, forcing to put that bullshit off until the Brimstones come out but not facing battleshock for the first 30 wounds of damage is a pretty concerning prospect for the enemy.

Oh also Champions get double their ranged and melee attacks now, pretty cool!

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Fyreslayers

As with all armies with mount traits, from the Core Rules FAQ, cannot take the same mount trait more than once. So Lofnir lists running multiple of the same trait is no longer good to go. 

A very small buff though, Magmic Invocations no longer have to roll for Temperamental Nature at the end of battle round. They’re still horrendously over costed for what they actually do but that’s another story. 

Gloomspite Gitz

Squig Hoppers can now do their Boing! Boing! Boing! mortal wound attack if they do a run or retreat move, as well as with a normal move. Nice change!

Hedonites of Slaanesh

Just the coalition rules. Poor Slaanesh, it really needs a total makeover and there just doesn’t seem to be the motivation right now.

Kharadron Overlords

Some nice clarifications here, with how strange wording is on a few of their abilities it’s good to see:

Ships are allowed to use Fly High instead of moving from any other sort of ability that allows them to make a move, specifically called out is the Scent Tracking ability from the Alpha-Beast Pack battalion. 

Barak Thryng has seen a slight buff here, going back to the original wording for their Coalition Duardin units gaining the Barak Thryng keyword (and so benefiting from the re-rolls and the once per game ability for exploding 6’s).

Unfortunately, no other changes as to how embarking or disembarking works with the vessels, which would be a welcome change. 

Soulblight Gravelords

Morbheg’s Claw artefact has just been updated to 3.0 terminology in regards to retreat so nothing to do here. The rest of it is where it gets interesting. Notoriously, Deadwalker Zombies are eligible to fight in the combat phase and pile in 6” instead of the default 3” which did leave a bit of ambiguity if their returned models could force an opponent into combat. Well, they can’t. You can now only do this if you are already within 3”, sorry! It’s not all bad though, you can go above the maximum size with this ability now, letting you possibly host a true horde of zombies.

Vile Transference Ggot an odd change. It is now locked to 3” instead of 6, and has a casting value of 7 instead of 4. This is probably going to impact Vampire Lords on Zombie Dragons the most as the outlet of healing was a huge boon for them with their easy access to a solid save and a ward. You also can’t hide outside of combat, you need to get up close and personal. What’s the positive? It now heals for all the mortal wounds dealt instead of just 1. Small but a more useful option.

Maggotkin of Nurgle 

Nothing here outside the aforementioned coalition things. Moving on.

Seraphon

The lesser-used Stegadon variation, Engine of the Gods, has seen a buff by gaining the Priest keyword. Now being able to Heal, Curse, Smite, etc is a big boost on an otherwise lacklustre unit. 

Small clarification so that mortal wounds cannot be affected by the Coalesced rule to reduce incoming damage by 1. This seemed pretty clear since 

The Saurus Sunblood command ability Scent of Weakness is now the mirror of it’s original version. Instead of granting to +1s to wound against a target unit, it adds +1 to wound for a friendly unit. Not as good, but a notable change is that there’s no longer a listed range. Since that has been wrapped into the core rules (based on a Hero, General or Totem issuing the order) it’s no longer required to clarify, so we will likely see more Command Abilities written like this.

Credit: Dan “FromTheShire” Gates

Orruk Warclans

Literally nothing despite saying it was updated? Eh they’re getting a new Battletome soon anyway let’s not dwell on it.

Ossiarch Bonereapers

Immortis Guard, Necropolis Stalkers, and both strains of Morghast are now Elite and can issue command abilities to themselves. This is odd, as they were always able to use Ossiarch Bonereapers command abilities without that keyword.

Arkhan the Black can no longer use Mystic Shield more than once per phase, in line with Nagash. We suspected this was coming, and I feel it’s based more on the fears of the dev team than from any actual lived experience.

OBR armies can now use the same command ability more than once per phase. This is incredibly important and may entirely change how OBR play in 3.0 You still can’t use multiple command abilities on the same unit, and you need different units issuing the orders, but this is what the OBR book was largely built around. You can now pop Shield Wall on all your Mortek Guard or both your catapults now, or march up your whole army with Unstoppable Advance.

Skaven

Giant Rats now cap out at range 2” for having 6 or more models, and gain +1 to wound rolls for 6 or more models. Flat buff here!

Verminlord Warpseers with Scry Orbs now only gain +1 to their saves instead of re-rolling saves, which is a loss for them. They retain the ability to yeet their Orb at an enemy unit for D6 mortal wounds though

Slaves to Darkness

Archaon takes a big hit here by losing the Eye of Sheridan’s ‘6s to hit against this model must be rerolled’, replacing it with a once per battle -1 to hit him from your hero phase until your next. The rerolling 6s ability was a huge component of his survivability, especially against high volume, low quality attacks, and more importantly units like Skinks and Vanari Sentinels who could generate mortal wounds on natural 6s. Expect to see a lot fewer Archaons getting past those armies on their way to the podium.

Varanguard are now Elite, which is nice, and a neat little bonus as they continue to do well in Knights of the Empty Throne lists in particular.

Finally, Slaughterbrutes and Mutalith Vortex Beasts gain the Mark of Chaos keyword, which feels like resolving an oversight, and allows them to be used in god-specific books under the Legions of Chaos rule about Coalition units.

Sons of Behemat

Mega-Gargants no longer have to worry about the number of wounds a unit has or terrain height when moving across them. So if you have the movement, yes, you can absolutely walk across Archaon on top of a Realmshaper Engine. Still, this is going to be tough with the 3” qualifier.

Stormcast Eternals

There has been some contention on how Yndrasta’s ability works with abilities that are opposite to it. Some Monsters have the ability to act as if they are as full health (or at least above their current bracket) and how Yndrasta matches that has been a bit fuzzy. For the sake of example Stonemage Symbiosis on the Alarith Spirit of the Mountain occurs “when you look up the value on this model’s damage table” as does Yndrasta’s Monster hunter ability. As a result the ruling goes to whoever’s turn it is, as that is in line with the “simultaneous rules” clause.

Crucially, it seems that means it also affects Feral Roar in the same way, which has been a common way to get around Yndrasta’s ability. This is likely in Yndrasta’s favor as the assumption tended to be that Feral Roar overode it. If she chooses her battles wisely she can kill her target before they can recover.

Sylvaneth

Alright…deep breaths. Get ready for a lot of salt.

First, Winterleaf’s command ability got a total revamp. It now lets you target a friendly unit in the ranged phase to attack and for every unmodified 6, deal a mortal. It’s certainly…a choice to do it that way? Perhaps they felt it was too powerful not being a spell. Not as if Sylvaneth were demolishing anyone.

But that’s not the problem. The problem was the complete lack of proofreading on the Awakened Wyldwood scroll. During third edition’s launch, it lost the Line of Sight blocking ability and moved the Navigate Realmroots ability from the Battle Traits to the warscroll itself. This was a bit of a hit to the Wyldwoods as being tactical line of sight blockers is a bit of a key purpose for them. Well that returned and yet…Navigate Realmroots is gone. It’s clearly not supposed to be, the same FAQ even says to consult the Warscroll and yet it’s not there. Just an absolutely bizarre lack of proofreading that is going to have a lot of people very, very upset.

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Broken Realms and Wrath of the Everchosen

Very small additions to each so let’s just run through those rapid fire:

    • Morathi: The Coalition rules are tightened up to be brought in line with all other examples of the Coalition rule.
    • Teclis: Coalition rule tweaked, same as Morathi and all the rest.
    • Kragnos: Synessa now has the Wizard keyword, shutting down potential That Guys” who thought that maybe having a unique spell and being called a Wizard didn’t matter because she didn’t have the Wizard keyword.
    • Be’lakor: Krulghast Cruciators now grant their 5+ save to all wounds for Nighthaunt wholly within 12”, not just mortal wounds.Nice buff for a faction that needs it to an already pretty popular unit.

 

  • Wrath of the Everchosen: Munificent Wander’s Command Ability “One Last Gift” now deals a Mortal Wound on a 1 instead of 6. Probably because they wrote themselves into a corner with the “Can only get one ‘procs on a 6’” ability, which made it too easy to shut down. Not anymore!

 

Monstrous Arcanum

A battletome…of sorts. The Monstrous Arcanum is a collection of Forge World models which can be added to Age of Sigmar armies. While Age of Sigmar hasn’t seen as much support as 40k, it still has a few notable models that work it’s way in here. It hasn’t been updated in quite a long time but finally it sees the light of day again. All of these warscrolls were rewritten so there’s simply too much to cover, we will go into a deep dive this week on what’s new about them.

Legends

I’m not going to cover everything because Legends probably goes outside the realm of interest for most of our readers. For those that don’t know, Legends exists purely as a way to catalog old, out of print models so players can use them in their own friendly games. They are almost never updated, and arent allowed in most tourneys so they go beyond the scope of what is relevant to most of our player base. I will discuss a few noteworthy additions though

Two Aelf models, Mistweaver Saih and Tenebrael Shard always kind of drifted toward theborder of legal and not. They kept coming up in yearly point updates but outside of Gortrek and Kragnos, were the only models who didn’t really belong to any of the established factions anymore (And Gortrek and Kragnos at least have unique rules to ally in). Games Workshop seems to be unable to decide what to do with them and have retired them, alongside the Balewind Vortex which is now back in Legends form.

The one that people will probably be reeling the most from is poor old Legions of Azgorh. Yes with this pdf they are finally dead as a post. This might not matter to most, but Chaos Dwarf fans are passionate and it’s gonna suck to see them go. If the rumors are true, there might be something more current coming along though…

What’s missing?

Orruk Warclans say they’re updated, but no actual changes were made in the document. Very strange. They are shared in company with Nighthaunt, Flesh Eater Courts and Lumineth Realmlords. I fully expected these all to see some changes (though for different reasons).

Conclusion

Not…feeling very good about all this. It feels sloppy, almost every change here seems to be for the worst or feel like an outright mistake. The Ward ruling is going to exacerbate a lot of problems and it was done for seemingly no reason at all. The Awakened Wyldwood change is plain sloppy and lacks proofreading rather than any rules discrepancy. Random units had abilities changed for no reason at all, such as the Saurus Sunblood’s command ability inverted for seemingly no real reason.

I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here but almost every change here left me in a state of distaste to mild confusion. I feel like we could be doing a lot better here and there’s no real attempt to address the actual issues in the game right, like some heroes being too tanky and some armies left with some severely underwhelming army abilities. I hope this is just working out the kinks of an earlier edition and more changes will come in due time.

 

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