Age of Sigmar Review: Wrath of the Everchosen

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(Authors note: Due to a misunderstanding some incorrect information was reported in the allegiance section. These have been corrected)

Wrath of the Everchosen is the first Campaign book of Age of Sigmar 2.0 that didn’t double as an Endless Spell expansion (like Malign Sorcery and Forbidden Power), making it the first such book since Malign Portents in early 2018. Games Workshop promised something for everyone, with a focus on Chaos and Death. Campaign books can be fickle things though; for players who prefer to focus on Matched Play, the rules often go unused. They’re a great resource for lore freaks, though it can be difficult to say if their particular army will be featured. Should you get this book? Read below to see if it piques your interest.

(If you haven’t read the plot of Malign Portents or Forbidden Power and wish to, there are minor spoilers so I would skip to “Fighting in the Eightpoints” where the crunch starts)

By the standards of Warhammer, Age of Sigmar has done a pretty good job progressing its plot forward. While in traditional Warhammer fashion, no faction is wiped out or seriously crippled (except for End Times, the less said the better) Age of Sigmar has tried to make these plot progressions mean something. The plot (which can be traced from Malign Portents, to the Soul Wars box set, to Forbidden Power, and finally to Wrath of the Everchosen) is that Nagash has attempted to gain power by building black pyramids and recovering souls from Sigmar he believes rightfully belong to him. During Malign Portents, Nagash attempted to create a Black Pyramid to achieve ultimate power. Although the Skaven blew it up before he was finished it created such a shockwave through the Mortal Realms that a massive earthquake, the Necroquake, that awoke the Nighthaunts. Nighthaunts are ghosts, restless and damned souls who are angry that the gods, Sigmar in particular, abandoned them. Nagash appointed Lady Olynder as his new Mortarch of Grief to lead the new spectral arm of his forces.

In Forbidden Power, Lady Olynder led the Nighthaunts on an assault on one of Sigmar’s stormvaults. The stormvault was successfully defended by an alliance of Order forces, though only through the help of Flesh Eater Courts, who misinterpreted the spirits as the enemy and drove them off. Lady Olynder still had enough time to open the stormvault, which awakened Nagash’s next army: the Ossiarch Bonereapers.

Unlike Nagash’s other forces, who were largely mindless and disposable, the Ossiarch Bonereapers were vessels engineered for combat. Crafted of only the best quality Bone collected from tithes, they were imbued with the spirits of the dead. The higher ranking members of the legion were some of the best military minds of their time when they were alive; none more so than Katakros, Nagash’s 5th Mortarch (How many more of these is he going to create?).

Katakros seems ready to make a name for himself and in Wrath of the Everchosen he’s poised to lead the assault on one of Nagash’s greatest foes: Archaon the Everchosen, the champion of the Chaos gods. Katakros has mustered the forces of Nagash to assault Archaon’s stronghold, the Eightpoints, a realm where pure Chaos reigns and the constantly shifting battlefield can help or hinder any one who ventures into it, even their own followers aren’t safe. In the interest of preserving the spoilers, Chaos and Death battle with unbridled ferocity fitting of the greatest champions of the Mortal Realms.

Fighting in the Eightpoints

Wrath of the Everchosen has a number of rules intended for all 3 game modes, which help give some flavor to battles themed in the eightpoints. These include a new Realm of Battle, wandering monsters and endless spells and siege campaigns.

New Realm of Battle: The Eightpoints

Like other Realms of Battle, the Eightpoints contain 6 realmscape features you can roll or pick and a spell and command ability both players may use. The spell, Marked Quarry, is a niche option and makes wandering monsters (detailed below) aim for the target of the spell. If you’re using wandering monsters it can help make sure their randomness isn’t used against you. The command ability Forced by the Aether is a little more useful, allowing you to add d6″ to any Endless spells you move. The Realmscape features are fantastic and definitely make up for the rest. There is a realmscape feature for each god, such as Khorne’s Furious Bloodstorm which gives all wizard’s a -1 to casting rolls and rerolling 1s on charges for all units or Nurgle’s Drifting Chokespore which prevents flying and causes a -1 to hit for ranged attacks. What brings it all together is the last Realmscape feature, The Great Game which lets players roll off each round to determine which god’s realmscape ability reigns for the round. Utilizing this could add a real tactical element to a game, with a bit of luck.

It’s clear the realm is meant to be used with the other rules in the book but the Realmscape features do make this worth exploring even as a standalone product.

Wandering Monsters and Endless Spells

To represent the constant churning chaos of the Eightpoints, players can choose to include wandering monsters, endless spells or both. These have been experimented with the past, notably in Warcry where it is possible to draw an event card that would add wandering monsters into the fight. If both players agree, players take turns placing monsters or spells down at the beginning of the match. Endless spells can be added mid-game due to their ability to be dispelled though monsters will remain until killed. Both monsters and endless spells do not belong to either side and follow a basic script where depending on how close they are to a unit (on any side) the player rolls a dice and consults a table. This is similar to Blackstone Fortress for those who have played it.

While an interest idea, it will likely slow down gameplay because players have to roll to determine behavior every round for all the wandering models in play. Probably a fun diversion especially in a narrative campaign, but not something you’ll use long term in matched play. Which is a shame since the Eightpoints Realm basically assumes you’ll use these.

Siege Gameplay

Sieges were part of the General’s Handbook 2017. At the time though, Age of Sigmar was still a bit of a sleeper hit compared to what it is now, so many have never seen that particular General’s Handbook. The basic outline is reprinted here, but before the match players are determined to be either attackers or defenders. Both players engage in a bit of rock paper scissors where the attacker chooses to starve the enemy, batter the walls or tunnel in. The defender chooses to gather supplies, rebuild broken fortifications or to counter-tunnel. Players reveal their strategies, each being weak and strong against another which modifies a roll off. If the attacker wins the roll of they get a perk in the ensuing fight, but if they lose nothing happens.

Battles proceed as normal after this, though there’s an assumption the defender has more terrain on their side to represent walls and fortifications. Wrath of the Everchosen expands these rules a bit further by adding 3 command abilities to attacker and defender, and unique passive abilities to every army in the game (each army gets a unique ability as attacker and defender). There are a lot of abilities here and I appreciate the effort to make it more unique, but siege gameplay doesn’t quite replicate the unique circumstances one would think a protracted siege would. This may be for the best but it means there isn’t enough here to bother with the extra book keeping outside of a narrative campaign.

Battleplans

The book contains 8 (get it?) unique battle plans which help replicate some of the battles that occur in the narrative. While these aren’t really appropriate for matched play there are genuinely some really fun ideas in here. The Battle of Haradh’s Torment lets you replicate the Battle of Thermopylae in Age of Sigmar, defending a mountain pass from a large invading force. This is a really common theme for narrative games but has been hard to replicate. This does a pretty good job of it, blocking off the edges of the field to give a cramped feel. Defenders will need to be smart to keep their objective safe.

My favorite though has to be The Fate of Eightpoints. A standard Hammer and Anvil deployment with a twist. In the center is a 12″ circle where both players pick a champion and place them in the middle. Both are given 20 wounds, a 5+ Feel No Pain, and instant death abilities aren’t allowed (They do d6 Mortals instead, no cheating!). While these champions fight the rest of the army fights around them, and it follows Hong Kong martial arts cinema rules: nobody may interrupt when the protagonists are fighting. While a gamey way to make Heroes duel by forcing it, it’s a very cinematic idea and one I’d love to try every so often.

Chaos Ascendant

Moving onto the new allegiance rules, this is really the meat of the book and takes up a large majority of it. The book has a new allegiance, Chaos Ascendant. It’s similar to the Legion of Grief from Forbidden Power in that it uses models that already belong to another force to create something new. Though in this case, that’s a bit of a reductionist take. Chaos Ascendant is intended to allow an army of all Chaos Daemons from all four gods, which is something players couldn’t really do before outside of Grand Alliance Chaos.

In addition to that, the book contains some new subfactions for each of the four chaos gods, intended to supplement those books.

Allegiance Abilities

Similar to Legion of Grief which this seems to be inspired from, the list is pretty stripped down, offering half the options you would normally get for the usual army options, 3 relics, command traits and spells to go around. Especially in a Tzeentch themed army this seems like one would run out of spells pretty quick unless one used Realms of Battle bonus spells from Malign Sorcery, except then you can’t use Eightpoints featured in this very book.

The Chaos Ascendant allegiance abilities are intended to supplement the daemon theme. Infernal Realmwalkers gives all your daemons a free 6+ FNP, and Unyielding Legions allows you to summon more minor daemons (10 Horrors, Bloodletters, Daemonettes or Poxwalkers. As a side note the book says Horrors of Tzeentch which as of the new Disciples of Tzeentch Battletome is no longer the appropriate name; they’re now simply called Horrors. I assume this will be errata’d).

The relics, command traits and spells aren’t much to write home about. A lot of these you’ve seen before in one form or another. Some interesting standouts are the relic Fourfold Blade which deals d3 mortal wounds on a 5+ and the spell Spirit Gouge which lets you target a Death unit and reroll all hits and wounds against it. Do note I said interesting and not good because it’s obviously excessively niche and while fluffy given the book’s storyline it seems wasteful to use one of only 3 spells on something so narrow in utility.

The Legion of the First Prince

An optional subfaction within Chaos Ascendant. The surprise guest…Be’lakor is BACK BABY. Yes, the finecast named Daemon Prince nobody has used in forever gets his own unaligned faction, the Legion of the First Prince. This breaks the mold completely so I’m going to break it down a lot more closely than I have been the other subfactions.

Instead of the normal layout of Allegiance Ability, Command Ability, Command Trait and Relic, this faction has Allegiance Ability, Command Ability and a Spell. This is because the Command ability requires Be’lakor be your General, and as a named character he cannot take any traits or relics of his own. It’s worth noting you don’t have to, if you don’t want to, but most of the faction doesn’t work without him at least being on the field. The allegiance ability allows Be’lakor to reroll all hits and wounds if a minor daemon is within 8″ of him, and allows said daemons to tank hits for him on a 4+. The command ability The Shadow Legion lets all minor daemons restore D3 slain models on a 3+ if Be’lakor is the General. Combined with the ability to blink on battleshock tests that will keep your daemons topped off for quite a bit.

The unique spell, the Master’s Command lets a minor daemon unit get one last hit in before a model dies in melee. Not bad for Bloodletters or Daemonettes especially.

Every single one of these abilities is hyper focused on one playstyle: Be’lakor leading legions of minor daemons. It’s certainly an interesting choice and could be fun to play around with

I’m going to break the rest of these by their gods because there are subfactions for each one, and a battalion themed around each god. As usual with subfactions by this point, every subfaction comes with a Command Trait and Artefact (which must be taken), a command ability, and an army allegiance ability or two.

Khorne

Khorne gets 2 subfactions: The Flayed and Baleful Lords. The Flayed are centered around Mortal heroes, their Blood-Woken Runes allegiance ability gives mortals a +1 to hit for the rest of the battle after slaying a Hero or Monster, while their command ability lets you grant a unit of mortals a +1 to hit as well. Baleful Lords are for running lots of Bloodthirsters, as their allegiance ability allows them to run and charge, while the command ability lets them fight as if they’ve taken 0 wounds.

Kind of slim pickings but Khorne does share this fate with Tzeentch.

Tzeentch

Fresh off his new book, Tzeentch also gets 2 subfactions: Unbound Flux and Cult of a Thousand Eyes. The allegiance ability for Unbound Flux is quite powerful for a Tzeentch daemon army, if a daemon wizard deals mortal wounds with a spell you can roll a die for each mortal wound. On a 4+ you deal another. The Cult of a Thousand Eyes is the Mortal side of things. It lets you pick D3 enemy units and get rerolls against them in melee for the entire game! While Tzeentch also gets only 2 subfactions his are broad enough that unlike Khorne they can work for a much larger variety of lists. It’s a shame this came out after the Disciples of Tzeentch book since that does make them less exciting compared to that book.

Nurgle

Nurgle gets four subfactions. GW seems to have taken some pity on Grandpa Nurgle because of all the Chaos gods he is the only one who hasn’t received an updated battletome, so he gets more options here… sort of. There’s 4 factions on paper but there’s some overlap going on here. The Munificent Wanderers and The Droning Guard are built around Nurgle daemons, and share the same allegiance ability which reduces the rend of all attacks against them by 1, ouch. The actual difference between them is in the command ability, trait and relic. Wanderers give a more generalized daemon experience, punishing opponents who get too close. They get a command trait to deal D3 mortal wounds for charging next to one of your heroes, comboed with a warlord trait that does a mortal wound for every 6 they score on the Grandfather’s children. The Droning Guard is meant for those who like flies. The command ability gives plague drones +12 to hit, and the command trait gives them a 4″ scout move. The artefact is not bad either, giving a -1 to hit the wielder (and can be used by anyone).

The mortal half follows a similar layout. The Blessed Sons and Drowned Men both explode when a Rotbringer (A common keyword for mortal heroes and elite troops) is killed, on a 2+ they do a mortal wound to whoever killed them. Not bad but given how elite Rotbringer units are 1 mortal wound seems a bit pitiful. Blessed sons help accent all Rotbringers by letting them use At The Double once per turn for free and Drowned Men are good for a lot of Pusgoyle units, as their trait lets them reroll charges and the command trait improves their rend by 1 on a 6. Useful considering Nurgle’s notable lack of rend.

Admittedly Nurgle’s subfactions are odd. The Daemon options are widely applicable and could see some use, but the mortal half is so narrow and specific (Applying only to the most elite of mortals) as to make me question what the design decision was here.

Slaanesh

Slaanesh gets 3 subfactions, even though they have a book. This is mostly because rather than separate the factions into mortal and daemon, the player must chose from the 3 subfactions of that book: Godseekers, Invaders and Pretenders. There’s one subfaction for each of these subfactions. Subfactions within subfactions!

Invaders can become The Lurid Haze. Players can remove D3 of their units from the field before the first battle round and redeploy them anywhere at the end of their first movement phase. This is more powerful than the average deep strike since it lets you trick your opponent into setting up a certain way and then redeploy on them. The downside is the unreliability about how many models you’ll get to remove but that’s Chaos.

Pretenders can become The Faultless Blade. A simple +1 to hit for units that charged this turn. Maybe it isn’t exciting but it’s certainly practical. The command ability accents this offensive ability with a defensive option to ignore the first 2 wounds suffered. Useful given how soft Slaanesh models often are.

Finally Godseekers get to be The Scarlet Cavalcade which encourages massive units. If a unit has 10 or more models, you get +1 on the charge. Again this is simple but effective but Slaanesh has lots of buffs to charging and that extra inch might let you get more Daemonettes in. The command ability gives them a bit of Papa Nurgle’s blessing and lets you choose a unit to deal 1 mortal wound for any attack that hits them on a 6.

Of all the gods, Slaanesh’s new rules feel most consistent. It draws lines around the subfactions that already existed and lets you use the allegiance abilities you’re already familiar with, while substituting new warlord traits, relics and abilities. It almost feels like this was written separate from the others but I give it credit for being coherent.

Knights of the Empty Throne (Slaves to Darkness)

There’s one extra faction here and it’s an odd one. This is not a Chaos Ascendancy faction but a subfaction for Slaves to Darkness. It’s an absolutely bizarre one too. It benefits a list of lots of Varanguard. Varanguard heavy lists are viable with Archaon, but the allegiance ability here doesn’t work if you have Archaon! The command ability turns them all into heroes, so you can nominate one as a General. When you do this, they get their own relics and command traits, and you must use them. They’re not bad, not great either, basically things you’ve seen before like the ability to dispel and unbind once per turn like a wizard and rerolling charge rolls for units within 12″ of the General, but it’s not awful.

The two command abilities exist to help compensate for such a low model is an interesting one to be sure, Unmatched Conquerers, allows you to target a unit within 12″ of a Varanguard and roll a die for each model. For each 3+ the number of models counting as capturing an objective is reduced by 1, allowing you to compensate for the small unit sizes.

The other command ability lets you take a gamble when a unit dies. On a 5+ you can bring in another 3 man unit. I’m not a fan of command abilities that are so risky considering you still lose the CP, but in a make or break game it might be worth trying.

Conclusion

For me, this is an odd book to review. I want to be forthcoming that I am primarily a Matched Play person, so in a lot of ways this book just isn’t made for me. Going through this book a few strange things stick out to me:

  1. The Book is very Chaos Centric – I mean duh, right? It’s called War of the Everchosen. But the allegiance abilities are only for Chaos. Despite the book being about Nagash attacking Archaon, absolutely nothing is detailed to model these forces, despite the excellent detail for Archaon’s army. I expected a bit more out of this, sure Nagash has a lot of allegiance options already but I would have liked to seen some things to model his forces as well. This book has a novel approach for how it deals with its allegiances, which brings me to:
  2. This book’s allegiances are weird Look, usually the books try and follow a consistent logic to their subfactions. They break them down in to easy to understand divides such as mortals and daemons in Disciples of Tzeentch or into certain kinds of playstyles like Stormhosts in the Stormcast Eternals book. Khorne gets a subfaction completely dedicated to its greater daemons, and no other god gets this. Slaanesh enhances already existing subfactions, Tzeentch focuses on the Daemon/Mortal split already present in the Disciples of Tzeentch book, and Nurgle hyper fixates on specific units (while also overlapping its abilities). It took me a while to understand this and I believe the goal is to model specific legions within the narrative, and exist to supplement the current battletomes. This means these probably aren’t attempting to be tourney balanced. I can’t really see these being used much in tourneys, they’re too niche and specific in their utility and are likely just intended to be used to play out the campaign. If you’re not a competitive player though, it could give you some pretty new and interesting list building opportunities.
  3. Narrative Players will enjoy this – So I said above I’m primarily a Matched Play player, but I can enjoy the usual asymmetric narrative fight. This book has a wealth of these options from battleplans, sieges and wandering monsters. Even if you don’t want to play a campaign as described in the narrative here, there are tools here for narrative events to use in the future to make more unique bouts.

So overall I’d say this: If you’re a competitive type, I probably wouldn’t bother. If you like the lore, love narrative play or are a Chaos player who is bored with their current battletome and would like to try some odd lists, give this a shot.

 

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