Age of Sigmar: Legendary Battalions Update

Games Workshop dropped a little bit of an update today to clarify some confusing information as a consequence of GH2020 rules updates. The Developer’s Commentary for General’s Handbook 2020 stated that any publications that were not in the most recent General’s Handbook or Battletomes could only be used with opponent’s permission, an example given being the Mercenaries from General’s Handbook 2019 which were unceremoniously removed from Matched Play in 2020.

Unfortunately this was not terribly specific and caused a flood of confusion about what was and wasn’t allowed. For example, Malign Sorcery certainly was allowed, because the Endless Spells didn’t go away, even if Realm Artefacts did. The White Dwarf publications caused further confusion after General’s Handbook 2020. Since they weren’t in a battletome or in the General’s Handbook did that mean they were just immediately invalidated? Games Workshop stated there was concern about individuals getting their hands on issues of White Dwarf that could be used to grant advantages to those lucky enough to get it. They realized that digital copies do exist so theoretically, White Dwarf is never actually a limited run and therefore they could give the OK to allow White Dwarf publications now.

You can read the whole list by looking at the General’s Handbook Developer’s Commentary but here’s the short list of what is allowed:

  • Core Book (If you want to be a pedant here the Gaming book as well but presumably only the parts otherwise legal from the publications it borrows from.)
  • Malign Sorcery (Endless spells only.)
  • Forbidden Power
  • General’s Handbook 2020
  • Wrath of the Everchosen
  • The most recent version of Battletomes
  • Tome Celestial, dating back to February 2019 and later
  • Monstrous Compendium and Legion of Azgorh Warscroll Compendiums
  • Any pitched battle profile otherwise published on or after August 2020

I figured this is probably a good time to look back at those White Dwarf articles and see what could possibly be salvaged for the competitive scene.


Malign Sorcery

RagnarokAngel: When General’s Handbook 2020 dropped I remember explicitly thinking that the removal of Realm Artefacts was a good call. When 2.0 launched they served a useful niche by giving a slew of artefacts to armies with out of date Battletomes that predated artefacts. In practice, they upset the balance of the game by obsoleting many unique artefacts and guaranteed most everyone took something like a Thermalrider Cloak or Ethereal Amulet. As more Battletomes were released the need for a grab bag of Artefacts lessened further and with General’s Handbook 2020 was finally removed.

The weird limbo left over is that realm spells were not officially, to my knowledge, confirmed to be killed off. There was no rule that said they weren’t allowed and even though the General’s Handbook 2020 did say if players use the new realm rules then they ignore the old Artefacts, it didn’t say anything about the spells. The spells are now officially dead as well as the Developer’s Commentary says “Endless Spells only”. Ultimately this is probably good, while less options isn’t the best thing in the world it saves a lot of flipping through extra books and similar to realm artefacts being banished, places a bigger focus on utilizing a battletome’s spells to better effect, rather than relying on the same powerful spells that just happen to come with the realm you fought in.


Tome Celestial Updates

Tome Celestial: Hammerhands – February 2019

RagnarokAngel: Extra battalions for Hammers of Sigmar, which is good news since that’s already one of the most popular subfactions. It has an interesting battalion of all Heroes that probably isn’t really useful for Matched play but it’s a neat idea. The Thunderhead Brotherhood and Hammerstrike Brotherhood are quite good, offering rerolling 1s to hit and wound, respectively. Like much of these it’s not worth changing up your subfaction to get access to these but if you already play Hammers of Sigmar, definitely worth looking at.


Tome Celestial: Steel Souls – April 2019

RagnarokAngel: More Stormcast! Games Workshop really gave them a lot of attention around the turn of 2.0, though maybe not in the right ways. This is for the Hallowed Knights which unlike Hammers of Sigmar are not very popular. Unfortunately the battalions here don’t really help them from that position though if you really wanted to run them, the required units are ones you’d likely run anyway.


Credit: sulecrist

Tome Celestial: Vostarg Lodge – June 2019

RagnarokAngel: Finally something not Stormcast, and one of the more neglected armies to boot. The problem here is the Battalions are for a subfaction that isn’t bad but is thoroughly outclassed by its cousin Hermdar. The units required also are sort of strange and aren’t going to be taken as commonly as others. Fyreslayers suffer from having a pretty limited model range and of those limited options, a smaller fraction as just plain better than the rest. Those aren’t here, unfortunately.


Tome Celestial: Sempiternals – August 2019

RagnarokAngel: Sempiternals? What is tha…oh come on more Stormcast? Alright yeah a few more battalions for another Stormcast subfaction, the Anvils of Heldenhammer. These aren’t too bad, but again will likely only see use if you really want to use these guys. The Cleansing Phalanx seems potentially legit if nothing else, it boosts Evocators and Sequitors and hey, when were you not taking these?

There is an interesting little piece here though that distinguishes it from the rest, a new character. A unique Lord Arcanum on Gryph-Charger for the Anvils of Heldenhammer, Lynus Galmorian isn’t exactly exciting or anything but it does give some kitbashing potential that actually rewards the work on the table if one really wanted to play him.


Tome Celestial: The Host of Syll’Esske – October 2019

RagnarokAngel: Of all the Tome Celestials I think this is the biggest boon from this update. Released back in White Dwarf of October 2019, I describe it more in depth in my Start Competing: Hedonites of Slaanesh Tactics article but the basic jist is Syll’Esske is a lore based allegiance which requires players to utilize the titular Syll’Esske as your general, and keeping an equal number of Daemon and Mortal units on your listbuilding but the payoff comes in the form of double the Depravity Points (Currency spent on summoning new units to the field, if you’re not familiar).

This became an extremely popular allegiance to utilize, as its restrictions were easily justified by the bonuses it granted in doubling Depravity Points. This was especially true after the Christmas 2019 nerf raised the point cost for summoning new units. After General’s Handbook 2020 there was some debate in the community of Host of Syll’Esske could still be used, with some of the (admittedly few, due to COVID) Tournaments opting to not allow it any more. This puts that debate to rest.

SRM: I can’t imagine anything feeling worse than rocking up to an event with an army only to be turned away because the rules aren’t valid. If nothing else, I’m happy this set of releases legitimizes some folks’ armies that might have been on the fringe.


Tome Celestial: The Emerald Host – December 2019

RagnarokAngel: Oh poor neglected nighthaunts. You got so much attention when Soul Wars launched and then were quickly forgotten. Discarding the super battalion there’s only 2 battalions here, focused on mounted combat. The Forgotten Scions which uses a Knight of Shrouds on Ethereal Steed and 2 units of Dreadblade Harrows is actually pretty good, giving his Sword of Hours an extra attack and a free use of his command ability a turn. The Dolorous Guard gives an appreciable boost to Hexwraiths, a unit no one really uses.

These wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t utilize units basically ignored in the Nighthaunts. As a fairly low tier army, Nighthaunts have a few good units, like the Grimghast Reapers, but for such a low tier army you need to focus on those units to get much traction. Most nighthaunt players have switched to using Legion of Grief from Forbidden Power anyway, where these can’t be used. So, nice attempt but these won’t be getting people to dig out their copies of Battletome: Nighthaunts anytime soon.

Leige Kavalos
Credit: Silks

Tome Celestial: Vokmortian’s Tithe Legion – April 2020

RagnarokAngel: I covered this in April 2020 and so I’m bringing this back up real quick. The article didn’t add any new Allegiances for Ossiarch Bonereapers, but just a few new Battalions. None of them particularly great, they were a continuation of Vokmortian’s legion from the Feast of Bones box set so they function alright as a fluffy extension of the short narrative in that box. As a matched play addition? You can safely skip it. Vokmortian is not a great caster, something that Bonereapers are not lacking better picks for.


Tome Celestial: Ironsunz – February 2020

RagnarokAngel: Has potential for use. It essentially adds a few battalions to pure Ironjawz as long as they are the Ironsunz subfaction. Since battalions are otherwise not locked behind warclan and only whether they are Ironjawz, Bonesplitterz or Great Waaagh its at least 2 new battalions for your toolkit and Ironsunz arent bad.

Dakkbad’s Brawl is really bad and essentially non-useable as all super battalions are. Moggorz Rerootin Krew isn’t…awful, as the Kunnin’ ability only applies turn 1 and the battleshock is instead for the length of the game, there’s some argument to be made though I’d probably rather have the -1 to hit for first turn when it comes to Ironjawz. Da Bossfist is quite good. It requires the leader of the battalion take the (mandatory) artefact but gain a CP on a 4+ each turn and +1 attack to everything in the battalion. The battalion is mostly stuff you’d be taking anyway so if you’re Ironsunz having this arrow in your quiver is a net gain.


Tome Celestial: Jaws of Mork – August 2020

RagnarokAngel: Last of the Tome Celestials we’ve covered on Goonhammer while technically not listed in the Developer’s Commentary, it was published after the August 2020 cutoff date so it counts. It’s not about to set the world on fire or anything but the Gloomspite Gitz are cursed by not having any subfactions at all, despite having a 2.0 codex. Giving them a subfaction based around Squigs is a popular idea and while Gitz tend to do poorly in tournaments play, I can see some appeal from a Gitz player determined to make it work anyway.

SRM: Never don’t expect an Orc/Ork/Orruk/Gobbo/Goblin/Grot/Greenskin player to turn down the opportunity for a fun gimmick list. Their Allegiance Ability, Command Trait, and Command Ability make your Squigs bouncier, more reliable in combat, and less likely to run off, so I think it’s a solid choice for anyone going hard on Madballs. This definitely feels like a build people were gravitating towards already that got given rules after the fact, but I’m here for it.


Final Thoughts

SRM: I’ve always found rules in White Dwarf to be a double-edged sword – on the one hand they make the magazine more valuable, and it means you can have agile rules added to the game outside of the Battletome/Codex cycle. The flipside has always been missing an issue and missing out on the rules, and this is something that stretches back as far as I can remember being in this hobby. Keeping the issues and rules available for download after the fact is going to be hugely helpful if you’re a latecomer to the army, and I can only imagine they’ll get baked into the next General’s Handbook or edition of a Battletome. Honestly I think the precedent being set by Games Workshop here is more interesting than any of the rules therein.

RagnarokAngel: I concur. While confirmation of Host of Syll’Esske being valid is a big deal, most of these are more interesting in what it means for the game. White Dwarf has always been a potential outlet to explore more niche subfactions or to expand the lore of a faction with actual gameplay mechanics to give it some meat. I have some reservations that this could mean more books to carry around in the future, which is definitely not a great outlook but at least for now it’s only really important if you’re a Slaanesh player and given the perks of utilizing  the White Dwarf article I don’t think they’re going to complain too much.

Are there rules from this update that you’re excited about finally getting the rubber stamp as legal? Let us know on Social Media or at