Daughters of Khaine Battletome: The Goonhammer Review

An article by and    Age of Sigmar Gaming Reviews        0

The Daughters of Khaine were long due for a new book, and have been waiting patiently for it. They received one of the last books of 1st edition which left them straddling a line: the book was undeniably out of date, but not so much so that they were unusable like early 1st edition Battletomes. The 1st edition Battletome had some more archaic language that could be less intuitive to a newcomer, but the book had a lot of rules that were revolutionary at the time and would become staples in 2nd edition tomes. They had spells, they had prayers, command traits and artefacts. They even had subfactions in the form of Temples, even if they weren’t as refined as it is now (they had a battle trait and either an artefact or command trait but not both, and no unique command ability). They also did pretty well for themselves in the competitive scene overall, making frequently appearances in the top slots.

Broken Realms: Morathi brought some major shifts to the Daughters of Khaine, yet still no new book. Morathi herself was now a goddess on par with Teclis and Alarielle, which had severe repercussions on how her model was played in the game and a new temple had risen as a result of this shift in power. It was questionable if they would ever see an updated tome for this edition. The closest analogy seemed like the recent Psychic Awakening campaign in Warhammer 40k, where in lieu of new codexes, armies received “add on” rules that were meant to compliment the current codex, rather than replace it. Shockingly, the faithful of Khaine have been blessed with an updated book after all, and so soon after Broken Realms: Morathi. What do these changes entail? Will it radically shape your list building? Well, let’s continue, dear reader.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Battle Traits

No changes. Not that they were really needed, this includes the 6+ Feel No Pain save and the Blood Rites table, which grant increasing bonuses as the game went on. These were always fine and were never really anything truly out there so it makes sense they were kept the same. The lack of anything truly new might be a bit of a disappointment, but the new stuff comes a bit later.

Command Traits

The use of these is diminished quite a bit now. The Temples have been updated to include mandatory command traits across the board, which means you won’t be taking these very often. If you decide to avoid the temples though, the old traits return, mostly the same. Zealous Orator is the most notable change, it lost 2″ and now requires your unit be wholly within as has become standard across aura buffs. In return it now boosts Bravery by 2 rather than using the General’s bravery which ranges from an improvement to not changing anything. Bloody Sacrificer got a name change to Sacrificial Overseer, and it’s +1 to hit now only applies to melee attacks. On the flip side, Mistress of Poisons is now called Master of Poisons, and while the effect is the same (+1 damage) it applies to all attacks instead of just melee. I’m not sure why the name changes, as the effects are only subtly affected.

That’s not all though! In addition to the original 6 there are 6 brand news ones, 3 for Bloodwrack Medusas and 3 for Melusai Ironscales. Alot of these, we have seen before in other books, but are nonetheless powerful. For the Bloodwrack Medusa, Arcane Mastery let’s the General reroll one Casting, Unbinding or Dispelling roll per turn (Interestingly, it says “during Your Hero phase” which is incompatible with Unbinding rolls, likely to be FAQ’d). Veteran of the Cathrar Dhule gives Ironscale the much needed CP on a 4+ ability. Mixed in is your standard +1s to saves and -1 to be hit. As previously stated most of these are going to now be overlooked entirely in favor of what the temples have to offer, so it makes sense most of these got overlooked.

Artefacts

Things get a bit more interesting here, since there’s many reasons you might need to take a second relic for your list. We start seeing some real changes here. The generic Hero and Priest Artefacts from last book return in some similar form, often with updated rules. There are subtle changes, and they’re usually for the best. Crown of Woe is now a -2 to Bravery instead of 1 and Shardracer’s Fang gives the same benefit as before, but procs a mortal wound on an unmodified 6, and not a 7+ as before meaning modifiers don’t matter anymore. Crone Blade now heals D3 wounds instead of 1, making it a much more competitive take, while Thousand and One Dark Blessings is now a 5+ Feel No Pain which diminishes its utility somewhat, since you already have a 6+.

The Priest artefacts return as well, completely intact aside from some updated phrasing to be more consistent with current books. Wizard relics return too, though are now marked as for Bloodwrack Medusas only (your only wizard beside Morathi, anyway). Shadowstone no longer grants the rerolling 1s on casting, which doesn’t make it quite the clear winner of the list anymore. Everything else has remained consistent, which makes returners like the Sevenfold Shadows which is a free teleport per game or the Mirror Glaive, which grants a free casting of Mystic Shield or Arcane Bolt for unbinding a spell much more tantalizing options. Overall there’s not a lot new here but the old artefacts weren’t bad either.

Spells

It probably won’t shock you that the spells have returned more or less intact as they did before. Steed of Shadows and Mirror Dance have a higher casting roll, and Mirror Dance also got hit with a slightly more strict requirement in the form of needing to be 18″ to swap targets rather than 24″, but it is less strict in the form of needing to be 9″ from enemy units instead of 6″ from anything. The one that might affect changes is the beloved Mindrazor, which now grants its bonus damage on the same turn a unit charged instead of having a higher bravery. This probably won’t reduce it’s usefulness too much, as Daughters of Khaine tended to want to try and destroy their enemy as efficiently on the charge, and didn’t handle counter attacks well but it does mean that it’s a lot harder to manipulate as the player can no longer rely on bravery reducing effects to get the most out of it.

Prayers

Literally the same. Which is a positive, Daughters of Khaine have a lot of seriously nice prayers, fan favorites Catechism of Murder remains competitive with its exploding 6s to hit and Martyr’s Sacrifice for some last ditch kills. About the only downside to speak of is that due to its 1st edition nature, prayers used to only require a unit be within 14″ of a model, and now they must be wholly within. This is going to require some more deft placement of units, to make sure they don’t stray too far from the Priests buffing them. It’s going to be an adjustment for players who’ve been at the army for some time but at least the prayers didn’t get taken down a peg in the process.

Temples

Probably the biggest changes in the book from the previous. As stated previously, Daughters of Khaine was one of the first books to have subfactions but they were in a prototype stage then. The 4 originals had an allegiance ability and an artefact or command trait, but not both, and never any command abilities while Broken Realms: Morathi introduced a new Temple, the Zainthar Kai. All of these temples return but they have been drastically changed. Although they share the same names, the boons granted by these temples are very different than before (other than the Zainthar Kai, given their brand new nature).

First, the original four. Hagg Nar now let you treat the blood rites as being ahead by one round, which is a notable increase over their previous buff. Combined with their Feel no Pain saves being 5+ within 12″ of the General instead of the previous 7″, they can be a rather hardy army that hits their peak a lot faster than the other temples. Draichi Ganeth now improve rend instead of hit rolls on the charge, which radically improves their usefulness. DoK generally have good hit rolls, and additional rend helps them a lot more than to hit mods, but if you need that to hit bonus it has remained as a command ability. The change to the artefact, which grants +2 attacks to a melee weapon instead of a flat 4 is welcome. The Kraith look a bit more competitive now with the ability to attack again on a 5+ instead of a 6, especially with their new command ability to gain a buff on wound rolls. The real winner is definitely the command ability for Kraith, Bathe in Their Blood!, which gives you a CP if you killed an enemy unit that turn! Wow! Finally, fan favorite Khaileborn return with a slight nerf, Mistress of Illusion, a command trait that let you deep strike a unit near the General has been re-assigned to a command ability, so you cannot use it every turn without a cost (but you can use it more than once a turn if you want). In exchange Generals are -1 to hit with all attacks instead of just ranged.

Switching over to the newer ones, Zainthar Kai returns from Broken Realms: Morathi. In order to keep it in line with the other Temples at the time, Zainthar Kai granted a command trait but lacked an artefact which has been rectified here. Crimson Talisman gives -1 to wound rolls against the bearer, which is a nice little perk Otherwise this has been copied word for word from Morathi and that’s probably not terrible surprising given how recent it was. It does feel a bit harsh for it to be outdated already, no matter how minor of a change it might be.

Brand spanking new are the Khelt Nar and they’re impressive. The entire army has a skirmisher theme to it, as everyone has the ability to fall back and charge. A lot of Daughters of Khaine abilities are procc’d on the charge so this can be combined with many different artefacts and spells (such as the change to the Mindrazor spell) to get the most from the effect. Some other nice perks are the command ability Bleed the Mind which cause enemies to take a mortal wound on a 1 if they roll 1s to hit. Their command trait, The Circling Flock, summons a 5 woman squad of Kinerai Harpies for free once per game which is an insanely nice perk, and an artefact, the Gaisa’s Falx which lets you turn the bearer’s weapon into one with exploding 6s.

Overall I think the winners here might be the Kraith. The ability to fight a second time made even better, a CP for a boost to wound rolls and the ability to gain a CP each round fairly reliably combines together to make a pretty damned powerful faction. The new faction Khelt Nar makes a strong showing and I think we might see a lot of those around, and while Zainthar Kai being so similar to its original is a bit of a downer, changes to the Medusa units may boost its usefulness in other ways. Each faction has seen some sort of buff though and if you want to stick with your favorite temple there isn’t really a reason you can’t. These are the most sweeping changes of the book and I think GW did a really good job here dragging them into the modern age.

Daughters of Khaine Hag Queen

Daughters of Khaine Hag Queen. Credit: Corrode

Battalions

Going back to less exciting news for a bit. There’s really nothing here, and it feels more like a book keeping exercise. Temple Nest is gone from the first book, I have my suspicions that this was due to wanting to fit all the Battalions onto 2 pages to save space and Temple Nest shared a very similar unit make up to Vyperic Guard. Which, speaking of, the 3 Battalions from Broken Realms: Morathi show up here, completely eliminating the need to carry that extra book around with you. Everything here is exactly as printed originally, down to point cost, unit composition and abilities.

Oh also, Shadowhammer Compact, a battalion from the first Battletome which let you combine Stormcast Eternals as part of your list is gone. Not shocking, as those sorts of inter-book shenanigans don’t fly as much in second edition and given certain new developments, Sigmar is not liable to lending aid to Morathi any time soon.

Units

In general, almost everything got a point drop, some of those drops are quite substantial too. This is mitigated in some cases because anything that used to have a “maximum size discount” has now lost it. In some cases this means the unit costs the same at maximum size as it did before, and in other cases it costs a bit more, though not by much. In general, it’s a win unless you were taking a lot of maximum size units.

Most of the actual changes to the data sheet are pretty minute. Some of the older, more archaic wording of the 1st edition tome has been updated to be more in line with modern AoS writing conventions, which helps remove some of the ambiguity for new players who may not be so up to speed on what certain common abilities do. I don’t intend to cover every change so if I don’t talk about your favorite unit assume that nothing of interest happened, but they got a point drop.

Leaders

First, we’ll get Morathi herself out of the way. Her new form from her titular book is in here, and her old form is not, officially retiring the older version. Both Morathi-Khaine and The Shadow Queen are reprinted in here identically, with no point cost changes (Edit: An eagle-eyed reader noted that Heartrender on the Shadow Queen lost one rend. This is hardly a deal breaker though). That’s not likely surprising to anyone and given how much better Morathi Khaine is than the High Oracle, few will be upset.

A sweeping change is for any leaders on palanquins, i.e. the Cauldron of Blood and the Bloodwrack Shrine. These units are the ones who benefit most positively from the point reduction, which reduces their price by a hefty 60-70 points and any changes made to their leader also affects the Cauldron of Blood/Bloodwrack Shrine version. All the palanquins made the wound table much less harsh, the bottom (the most heavily wounded) row has been removed which makes the palanquin heroes a lot more competitive than they were in the past and harder to kneecap early on.

Looking at Heroes in-depth, the noble Hag Queen took a rather big hit in the new tome. Witch’s Brew which grants rerolls to wound rolls now works with units wholly within 12″ instead of 3″ but it is no longer a sure thing. It’s free to use but requires a successful 5+ roll, with a +1 to the roll when you get specific Blood Rites (the ones that normally come in on rounds 2, 3 and 4). This is tough, not being a surefire bet anymore. Players may need to try and take advantage of it by manipulating the blood rites turn, such as with the Hagg Nar allegiance ability. If that wasn’t bad enough, they reversed the point drop from GH2020, bringing her back to 100 pts. This did not happen with the Cauldron of Blood version, making that potentially more appetizing. The most interesting unit to win out of this whole thing seems to be the Underworlds Warband, Morgwaeth and her Blade-Coven. To a degree that it almost seems like a mistake she is now 80 points! That is with her warband! That makes her cheaper than the Hag Queen, which she matches in abilities almost 1 for 1.

Melusai Ironscale is another big winner here. They lost 30 points, and while their abilities are the same they now let you make Blood Sisters and Blood Stalkers Battleline if they are a general (Bloodwrack Medusas got the same treatment for both units). I know a fair few people were disappointed that Morathi seemed to promise the ability to run snake-focused lists and it didn’t quite get there. Combined with the slight buff to Zainthar Kai and the ability to run Blood Sisters and Stalkers as Battleline, this makes that idea a little more tantalizing to people than it was before. Speaking of Bloodwrack Medusas, they also got a nice little buff. Their Whisperclaw attack now deals a mortal on a 6 to hit, and their spear gains a bonus attack, making them a more competitive combat hero.

Battleline

Witch Aelves, the dependable workhorse of the army got a rather big change. While they got a nice 20 point loss per 10 models, their special ability no longer grants a bonus attack, but instead a +1 to attacks they gain +1 to wound. Which is still good, but probably not as good as a bonus attack. Sisters of Slaughter have a much more boring change, allowing them to roll two dice for battleshock tests, rather than risking rerolling to get a worse result, as before.

Other

Lot of big changes here. Blood Sisters had a point discount and had their crystal touch ability rewritten to be more clear. Rather than rolling to hit, you’re merely rolling “a die” which means that to-hit modifiers no longer affect it. This is both good and bad as your opponent cannot affect your ability to hit with it, you don’t get rerolls or bonuses to hit, either. Blood Stalkers might be most improved of the “other units”, they saw a slight price hike but their bonuses make it worth it. They can be battleline now with the right General, and their bows are now 2 attacks per model instead of 1, which is huge for an army generally very melee focused. Doomfire Warlocks look a lot more viable now, gaining +1 to casting rolls for 5 or more units instead of 10, and their unique spell having a longer range. Finally Khinerai Lifetakers get -1 to rend in addition to +1 to wound on the charge with their Death on the Wind ability, with no point hike accompanying it. With the new Khelt Nar subfaction I think these are going to show up a lot more.

Avatar of Khaine, the lone Behemoth, is likely still going to struggle. His stats are identical, other than Idol of Worship now being 12″ instead of 7″  and a new ability, Altar of Khaine granting +1 to prayer rolls within 9″. These abilities are shared with the Bloodwrack Shrine so I probably would still recommend that over taking the Avatar by his lonesome.

Endless Spells

Last but certainly not least, brand new content. Along with the new Battletome Daughters of Khaine are getting 2 new Endless Spells and a Prayer. These are good. One is a bit of a dud but the other 2 more than make up for it.

The msot boring is definitely the Bladewind, it’s your stock “move over this unit, deal D6 mortal wounds” predatory endless spell with it’s only unique ability being to ignore cover modifiers on enemy units it ends its turn near. However, the other 2 are absolutely killer, the Bloodwrack Viper aka blood snek. This thing is awesome, after moving this predatory endless spell you can pick one enemy unit within 1″ of it and roll three dice, for each roll equal to or above that unit’s Wound characteristic, slay a model. This has a relatively decent chance to delete elite infantry, the kind that move in packs of 3 with 4 or so wounds. It also will be a fantasy Hero killer, as many infantry sized Heroes don’t have more than 6 wounds, when you roll 3 dice you have an about 40% chance to get at least one 6. If your opponent sees this he better be ready to bubble wrap his heroes up tight. The last one, Heart of Fury, is a prayer, not a spell. The first invocation in some time, it grants a -1 damage aura to all your units wholly within 12″ of it, shutting down a lot of Damage 2 infantry, particularly the Seraphon. Like other evocations, you need to pass a prayer roll each turn to keep it alive, and Avatar of Khaines do help, so it’s a good argument for bringing a Bloodwrack Shrine if you weren’t already.

The Endless Spells are very nice to see, as some of the only wholly new content for this book it was important they got this right and they nailed it. Definitely worth picking up for any Daughters of Khaine player.

Credit: Games Workshop

 

Conclusion

There was a lot to sift through here, but these are my takeaways.

  • Less new content, more cleaning up the old – When the Daughters of Khaine book was announced I was left scratching my head a bit. Broken Realms: Morathi had just come out, I wondered what they could possibly have to add. The answer feels like: not very much. I don’t want to knock the book too hard, the old book could be hard to read, as a lot of the phrasing was archaic and not consistent with other books in the AoS line. Daughters of Khaine were also getting alone pretty fine, they didn’t need to be massively overhauled so this book seems like it took a very safe route here, much of the content is retreads of old things, updated. The other benefit is it does help reduce the load, as players will no longer need to carry around Broken Realms: Morathi to have all their rules on hand. However this does lead to another problem.
  • Too soon? Releasing new codexes/battletomes is tough, there never seems to be a great time to release it that won’t make people upset. Either you release it too early and players are upset they bought the last book and haven’t even opened it yet, or you take too long and people wonder what took you. I do feel this may firmly fall into the former. Morathi was a big part of the first Broken Realms book, hell her name was in the title, so I suspect a great many Daughters of Khaine snatched it up day 1 as they felt they would be able to make use of the rules inside. Then they just all got reprinted in this book anyway, just a few months later. Including completely superseding the temple that was printed for that book with an improved version. Anyone who bought the book just for Daughters of Khaine might feel a bit burned to have all their rules just transferred to this, making that book completely useless for anything but the fluff.
  • The positives – I don’t want this to come off as too harsh as I think the book overall is a positive change, it’s just not an exciting one. The new subfactions, while they copy the spirit of the old temples, are mostly brand new. Subfactions are often the most influential part of list building, as they can affect which units gain buffs and which artefacts and command abilities synergize best. These new versions are pretty competitive and figuring out which is best might take some time to figure out. I think they did a good job here as the winner isn’t as clear as it is in many other books. This combined with the massive point drops across the board mean Daughters are looking at being in a better place than they were a few months ago, even if the content isn’t the freshest around.

Well that’s that, another first edition battletome finally dragged into 2nd edition. At this point, Idoneth Deepkin, Legions of Nagash and Maggotkin of Nurgle are all that remain. With Deepkin getting rules in Morathi and Nurgle getting rules in the upcoming Teclis it might seem improbable but this book seems to say not to count any of them out just yet. Also, stick around, in just a few minutes we will have our review for the other big preorder today, Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh!

For the Daughters of Khaine players which changes are you most excited about? Is this going to affect your list composition in anyway? We want to hear from you! Message us at contact@goonhammer.com or on social media!

 

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.