Age of Sigmar New Edition – Now With Factions

There are a fair number of people who like Skaven and Stormcast but an even larger number of people that like other factions in Age of Sigmar. Over the past two weeks we’ve covered Spearhead, the release box, our impressions of actually playing spearhead, and interviewing the first person to win a GW sanctioned spearhead event. As GW has changed the focus from a “Model of the Week” to a “Faction of the Day” we’re going to start covering the new edition previews a little bit differently. Compared to the prior edition’s release where “all-out attack” was highlighted as an ability for several factions, indexing of the entire entire rules set means that every article should have something new. Last week we saw Nighthaunt, Skaven, Stormcast, and Gitz and had some thoughts.


Let’s start with the release that I felt was the most interesting and had the biggest design space to work with. In second edition Nighthaunt suffered from being in the release box and didn’t have a well-defined period of light in the meta. In this edition they went from the monster focused GHB to a released with a very flavorful book that ran headlong into a GHB that increased damage against infantry units. However, the rules were well received and have had a recent resurgence by getting 2″ reach on weapons and some massive points cuts.

Both of the key abilities, the wave of terror that applied debuffs based on the unmodified charge roll and the 4/5 unmodifiable save can feel very luck based. Sometimes you make a lot of 4+ saves, and sometimes you pull a lot of 1 wound models from the board.

Battle Traits

Ethereal (passive): This trait remains basically the same and non-Nagash Nighthaunt units will ignore all modifiers to save rolls.

Discorporate (reaction 1): This has long been a substitute to “all out defense” for nighthaunt and is a command ability that gives a 5+ ward.

Wave of Terror (your charge phase): Friendly Nighthaunt units can use a charge ability, who used a charge ability with a roll of 3 or more, can use charge ability.

  • This allows the next three abilities to be unlocked – now that everything is an ability this was required to restrict your worst charge rolls.
  • This ability is active in your phase so using a countercharge won’t let you active your nighthaunt goodies. I’d have to assume an artifact, command trait, or formation would break the rule a little bit.
  • All of the abilities below (Shriek, Petrify, Stun) can only be used once per army. As above, I feel like an artifact, command trait, or formation would break the rule a little bit.

Shriek (your charge phase): Pick a unit that that charged and an enemy unit, subtract 1 from hit roles for that enemy unit for the rest of the turn.

Petrify (your charge phase): Pick a Hero that has charged and an enemy unit. The target has Strike-last for the rest of the turn.

Stun (your charge phase): Pick a War Machine or Cavalry and an enemy unit. That unit subtracts 1 from save rolls for the rest of the turn.

This continues the evolution of Nighthaunt moving from a “high roll” army that needed an unmodified 10 to fight in the charge phase, to a menu of abilities that was gated by a players dice. More of the focus is placed on army construction, picking targets, and using models with specific roles. Auto-wound has moved from an allegiance ability to take advantage of the universal special rules on weapons. Finally, Aura of Dread has been moved away from impacting battleshock to several warscrolls that impact objective control.


We saw warscrolls for Lady Olynder, Reikenor The Grimhailer, Dreadblade Harrows, and the Mymourn Banshees.

Lady Olynder: Doesn’t potentially steal valuable command points, but instead impacts the control score of units while they are within 12″ of her. Changing control scores (up or down) looks to be a powerful ability in the new edition and how those scores on objectives are counted hasn’t been fully disclosed in the core rules.

Credit Games Workshop

Dreadblade Harrows: They have become a real unit, and left the realm of the “Hero” slot completely. They were always in a weird spot due to the easy build package that provided two of them and I hope that a revaluation of the kits leads units in “hero heavy” factions like nighthaunt to have normal units. The passive ability, adding 3 to unit control scores if they charged, pairs well with the Lady Olynder ability above.

Myrmourn Banshees: This unit goes from providing a passive spell ignore to potentially becoming Gobsprakk with unlimited unbinds? Without knowing all of the core rules that govern unbinds, magic, and reaction abilities I don’t want to get too excited but my simple read, that could be wrong, is that they can react each time a unit wholly within 12″ has a spell cast that targets them?

Finally, Reikenor has a royal sampler of abilities that include getting +1 to hit and wound with his main weapon against wizards and priests and a corpse candle ability that, frankly, feels like it would be a pain to explain to your opponent. However, the impact of being able to do mortal damage to an enemy unit in both hero phases will be worth it no matter what.


We saw the “Death Stalkers” ability – there is no escape that lets you do the classic “retreat and charge” but adds running to the mix. It also allows you to retreat without taking mortal damage. This feels like a “default” choice and I’m glad that nighthaunt players that have become exceedingly proficient with retreating and charging units will still be able to apply that skill. More importantly, the ability to run and charge greatly increases the threat range of Nighthaunt.

Each formation is going to have three artifacts and command traits to choose from that can be taken by any hero.

  • While it might just be a formatting quirk, both the Stormcast and Nighthaunt mentioned that that there will be three command traits and artifacts. No such messaging here.


So the “Lore of the Underworlds” has an unlimited spell with a casting cost of 6 that reduces the wound rolls that target your units with 3 or more models by 1. Reducing wound rolls in the prior edition was extremely powerful and from the way things have been reworked certain units like grots might as well give up wounding anything in combat with Nighthaunt. Unlimited spells can be cast an unlimited number of times and being able to put a defensive buff on your units is much better than saying “I don’t have anything left to cast”.


Much of what we know about the Skaven faction, we found out by watching the livestream from the Dallas GT. As the poster antagonist of this edition it remains to be seen how much the index for Skaven will be expanded as one of the first battletomes.

Battle Traits

  • Too Quick To Hit-Hit (passive): This allows infantry and cavalry Skaven units to retreat without taking mortal damage.
  • Splinters of the Vermindoom: This allows you to set up a Gnawhole on the battle field if there are fewer than three friendly Gnawholes.
  • Always Three Clawsteps Ahead: In the enemy hero phase you are able to pick a non-monster unit that was not set up this turn and make a normal move.
  • The Lurking Vermintide/Gnawhole Ambush: These are paired abilities that allow you to deploy a unit into the tunnels and then set up a unit near the Gnawhole.

Taken together these base abilities are going to be annoying to play against and likely exactly what a Skaven player wants. Gnawholes can be destroyed but you can set up a new one and have as many units as you can fit stream out from it. Certain factions, like Sylvaneth and Gitz, have always needed faction terrain and Gnawholes have been a strong part of the Skaven army. I’d highly suggest that if you’re looking to pick up the launch box with a friend you scour and look for Gnawholes in advance. While I’d expect them to show up in shiny new fourth edition boxes it’s better to have-have now-now.

Warpstone sparks are gone, and it appears that the strange and experimental army construction that gave traits based on the type and number of the heroes you had in the army are gone as well. While we don’t know exactly how an army is constructed  I think this is a welcome change for many Skaven players as the prior two army books were extremely restrictive in how units became battleline.


Rejoice! We will be getting formations for Pestilens, Skyre, and Verminus and there is a confirmation that Stormvermin will benefit from the unseen Verminus rules. That means there will be a new Stormvermin kit. By my count that is five of the 16 kits that have been replaced.

The formation we saw, the Fleshmeld Menagerie, allows you to take up to three friendly non-hero Moulder units and roll a dice for each. You could get the “gift” of some mortal wounds, an additional attack on melee weapons, or an additional attack and a 5+ ward.


We saw additional warscrolls for some of the most beloved Skaven units, the Warp Lighting Cannon, Rat Ogors, and Lord Skreech the Verminking. Some good news for each warscroll:

Warp Lighting Cannon: Yes, you can hit the button if you have Skyre Hero nearby and the cannon continues to have the fun and flavorful ability to blow itself up. However, it functions more like a normal unit with a hit roll that does mortal damage.

Rat Ogors: The math on doing mortal damage to get an extra attack on a 4 wound model isn’t great. They already have a good number of attacks and as Skaven infantry they can be brought back from a gnawhole.

Lord Skreech: I think that when it was announced that all warscrolls would fit on one page people worried that fun and flavorful rules would go by the wayside. I’ll leave it to you to decided if these rules have enough flavor. While it appears from the formations section above that Eshin units won’t get a formation at the start they are referenced in his abilities section.

Finally, Gnawholes get more abilities and allow the theoretically unlimited movement and let replacement units get set up extremely close to the enemy at the end of your turn.

Credit Games Workshop


Warp Lighting is still a complete jerk to everyone creating a zone of suck for the entire board. There is a saving grace that you can use skill at arms to remove manifestation. We still don’t know how you specifically interact with manifestations in combat.

Stormcast Eternals

Battle Traits

Stormcast look to remain the elite force dropping from the sky. In third edition there was a split between foot bound Stormcast that were better on points and the sky-focused Stormcast we see today.

The Celestial Realm/Scions of the Storm: These are paired deployment/movement abilities that allow you to set up units in reserve if there are more Stormcast Eternal units on the battlefield. It’s the standard 1:1 ratio we’re use to. Scions of the Storm lets you set this unit up in the movement phase 9″ away.

  • The flow of how units are set up has been much improved. Now you set up units in the normal course of the movement phase and not at the end. It makes it easier to make sure your spacing is correct and prevents you from moving back and forth between different sections of the board because some units need to be moved during the phase while set-ups happen at the end of the movement phase.

Heavens-Sent: Once per Battle, your Movement Phase (1) – set up a replacement unit with half the number of units more than 9″ from all enemy units. The replacement must have at least two models and be non-unique.

Their Finest Hour: The heroic ability returns as a Stormcast-only ability that can be used once per turn in your hero phase. You can’t use this more than once for a unit.

  • Often times the biggest use of Finest Hour in third edition was reacting to a battle tactic or trying to save a unit in your opponents turn. This is a less powerful version that can impact heroes and non-heroes alike.


There will be four battle formations, each with three artifacts and command traits. we saw the rules for the Sentinels of the Bleak Citadel that will allow a Ruination Chamber unit to get a 5+ ward for the turn in any hero phase.


We got to see two unique heroes (Krondys and Yndrasta) and two members of the Warrior Chamber (Annihilators and Knight-Arcanum). Krondys, with 20 health and a 3+ save with an incredibly powerful +2 to casting rolls, feels like he will cost a lot of points. Yndrasta feels much more focused on fighting monsters and has an extra dice on the charge.

One of the things that has me more excited the more I see about the next edition is how every unit has a specific role in the game. The Knight-Arcanum is a wizard, sure, but it really is a manifestation specialist unit with bonuses to summoning and banishment. It even goes as far as getting a bonus to manifestations in in combat with an additional rend when fighting them and preventing those manifestations from moving or passing through the combat range of the unit.

As you can see in the Annihilator warscroll below they have a strike-last ability and do mortal wounds when set up. Now, the mortal wounds are triggered only by the Scions of the Storm ability. In third edition, any setup, such as a teleport, would trigger this ability leading to mortal wounds after mortal wounds all over the board. My hope, and many peoples hope, is that the rules writers continue to keep the wording of abilities relatively tight throughout the edition so that we can get powerful rules that work as intended.

Credit: Games Workshop


Lord help us, are prayers going to be interesting? Moving from “copy my homework but make sure it’s not the same” to a totally different mechanic is going to be fun to experience. Bless Weapons has a minimum value of 6 and lets you pick a visible friendly Stormcast Eternals Infantry unit and add 1 to the attacks characteristic. However, if the roll is 12+ it effects all visible friendly stormcast eternals wholly within 12″ of the caster. The second ability is overwhelmingly better as it can effect, as written, everyone. If you’re charging this ability up a smart opponent has the opportunity to try to kill your priest.

Gloomspite Gitz

Battle Traits

The Bad Moon’s Orbit/Under the Light of the Bad Moon- The good news is the orbit of the moon remains the same as before. Most of the abilities are familiar, with Troggoths being unchanged and getting +1 to save. Squigs go from getting run and charge to rerolling the random characteristic roll for its move. Spiderfang Venom scores critical hits on a 5+ (as opposed to the 6+ the warscrolls likely have) and the Frothing Zealots ability is the most changed. Instead of impacting rally, you now add 3 to a units control score.


We saw the warscrolls for the Loonshrine, Gobbapalooza, Squig Herd, and Skragrott the Loonking.

Skragrott: He retains his ability to control the orbit of the moon instead of rolling, his warscroll spell, and a 4+ ward. However, the babbling wand now makes redeploy a more effective as the minimum value of the roll is a 4.

Squig Herd: The Beast ability is a neat solution to the problem of large model count units contesting points. It is a passive that limits the maximum control score to a 1. This is a great change for the game, if not squig herd, and provides a real downside for using the unit. Squigs are also a single wound preventing a big block of units from sitting on a point and just coming back through the herding squigs unit. This unit is significantly weaker compared to the current version and it will be interesting how it is pointed relative to hoppers and bounders.

The Bad Moon Loonshrine: So the good news is that you’re not rolling a random dice – it simple costs a command point at the end of your turn to bring back a half strength unit. The other good news is that the loonshrine still gives off light of the bad moon. We’ve already established that having 14 health and a 4+ save is a better outcome for an army that could lose a huge part of its power based on a monster rolling a 3+ and smashing it to rubble. The (slightly) bad news is that the Loonshrine feels like an essential terrain piece for the army. Finally, I’m reading the Moonclan Lairs rule to imply that Dankhold Troggoths might be getting the monster keyword. This is a big blow to gitz players that liked to feign being insulted when an opponent would call our wonderful dankholds “a monster” while we were playing. My dankhold Troggoths took that personally.

Gobbapalooza: As you can see from the warscroll below this has been significantly simplified and might be a sign of how “weirdo” units like the Command Corp, several warbands, and any units with a collection of things might act in the new edition. I liked the way that the Gobbapalooza played in third edition with Spiker having a different job from the Brewgit. Now, the unit doesn’t lose power when models are taken away. Even worse, you’ve moved from a “This just happens” to a dice roll to see if its effected.

Credit Games Workshop


It’s no surprise we got a view of the squigalanche: All squig armies are popular no matter how strong they are in the meta and this ability adds 1 to the attacks characteristic of the gobs after they charge. I’m a little surprised they didn’t rename the gobs but it must be fun to write out all the gobs every time.

Of note, since you’re able to charge with this unit in your opponents turn it’s possible to get this bonus in either turn.

We’re also getting formations for Spiderfang Riders, Troggoths, and mad grots.


Sneaky Distraction moves from a spiderfang only spell to something that every grot can cast if they can roll a 7 or more. The -1 to hit might be more powerful in this edition as I haven’t seen a ton of +1 to hit abilities but until we see all of the rules it’s going to be difficult to tell what is powerful.

Final Thoughts

One of the big themes in the 40K index release for 9th edition was the lack of options in the index. You typically had a single way to build the army and as the books were released you got more of the traditional methods of building out and even some new formations. Each of the factions that has been features so far has included several references to different formations in addition to having multiple manifestation lores. Hopefully this will allow indexed factions, especially those that received recent rules like FEC and Cities of Sigmar, to feel fleshed out from day one.

It should go without saying but it is worth repeating – without points, core rules, full faction indexes, or a GHB we really can’t judge the power level of a faction. Even then, unless something is broken to a high degree, it’s going to be worth letting the stats roll in for the first few weeks to see where everything stands.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at