Age of Sigmar: Skaventide – Goonhammer’s First Take

We asked Matt Jett and Mathew “chimp” Ward to take a look at the models that have been shown in the Skaventide launch box. Each is a fan of the faction and we will continue our coverage of the new Age of Sigmar edition.

Games Workshop held their Mortal Realms Reforged preview event for the Skaventide launch box at the US Open Dallas last week, and Goonhammer is here to give you our first impressions on all the models you’ll be able to pick up when the box drops later this year.

Stormcast Eternals

The story of the Stormcast half of the Skaventide box begins all the way back in 2015 with the release of the first edition of the game and its launch box. That box came with Vandus Hammerhand, a mounted leader, ten Liberators, three Prosecutors, a heavy infantry unit of three Paladins, and a Lord-Relictor, an on-foot character. If you’ve already seen the contents of Skaventide, this will sound very familiar. 

Image courtesy of Games Workshop

Those early Stormcast, while not without their charms, were an early draft that was pretty desperately in need of refinement. Designed to be easy for newcomers to paint (anecdotally, at least), their stoic, fully-helmeted faces and squat proportions exchanged personality for simplicity. Nine years later, we’re seeing the end result of several waves of Stormcast releases as Skaventide finally realizes the promise of that original launch box and gives us new Stormcast with a refined, developed aesthetic. Whenever you become numb to the new models, scroll back up here and look at the original box, It’ll put things in perspective.


Image courtesy of Games Workshop


The Lord-Vigilant is the box’s leader character and the foremost representative of the new Ruination Chamber. The lore of the Ruination Chamber, which spotlights those Stormcast who have died and been resurrected so many times that they’ve lost their sense of self, is reflected in every inch of this model. His mount, the Gryph-Stalker (NOT a Gryph-Charger, those are still hanging out in the Vanguard Chamber) is a bit off, with legs that wouldn’t look out of place on a Flesh-Eater Courts model. Outside of the death-like vibes, my favorite part of the model is the axe. The long haft and the trail gives it a good sense of motion and it looks like it could really mess someone up.


Image courtesy of Games Workshop


Another Ruination Chamber hero, the Lord-Veritant continues the themes we’ll see with a lot of the models in the box. The wrappings around her eyes and the Gryph-Crow companion bring the goth vibes, while the torch and flaming sword call back to the flaming axe on the Lord-Vigilant and forward to the Knight Questor. She also has the same giant popped collar behind her head that all of the Ruination Chamber characters/special units (everyone but the Prosecutors, really) have, and I’m not sure I’m into that part of the aesthetic but the wavy, vertical lines do give a feeling that the characters could fade away like smoke at any time.

Side note: Do you think the goth Gryph-Xs are like two steps away from being mindless zombies like their companions are or do they just look that way naturally?


Image courtesy of Games Workshop


Going off the lore, the Lord-Terminos is one of the darkest parts of the very dark Ruination Chamber, so it’s fitting he’s the last hero from that chamber we’re looking at today. I love the robes and chains that set him apart from the rest of the range, and the giant headsman’s axe that reflects his duties both within and without the Ruination Chamber is super cool. I think painting the multiple layers of flowing fabric might be a bit of a pain given that it’ll be a push fit model and those are hard to do in sub-assemblies at times, but hopefully it’ll be easy to separate. 

We also get to see our first Memorian, robed acolytes who follow their Stormcast companions to keep them from losing themselves entirely. They look evocative but not overly detailed, which is a sweet spot to be in for what is really a fancy token. These two being in such similar poses really does it for me. They’re about to drop the hottest mixtape of the Age of Sigmar.


Image courtesy of Games Workshop


This dude looks like they turned Conan into a Stormcast. I like that they gave him a torch, it serves the dual purpose of evoking his lore as a lone adventurer, wandering the realms on a mission from Sigmar, while also tying him into the rest of the box set by being another model with fire on it somewhere. I’m genuinely impressed that they could take a model that’s basically the polar opposite of the Ruination Chamber, in outlook, aesthetic, lore, and make it fit right in. Also, again, it’s King Conan as a Stormcast Eternal.


Image courtesy of Games Workshop


Stormcast seem to get a heavy infantry unit in every launch box, and the Reclusians are our champions for Skaventide. The leader here has a pair of axes, while the other models have an axe and a shield. They’re accompanied by more Memorians, with one holding a huge torch that looks pretty cool and keeps the fire theme going. The Memorians are some of my favorite models in the whole box, and I think I’m going to try to get some extras to put in a diorama or on a display board. 

The Reclusians, on the other hand, really don’t do it for me. They’re detailed like character models, but without any of the unique hooks of actual character models. There are no cool weapons, no characterful helmets, no dynamic effects like fire or a cloak blowing dynamically. The poses on the two non-leader models are almost exactly the same and really closed off, while the leader is a bit too splayed out. I’m sure I’ll enjoy having them painted and on the table, but thinking about getting there makes me tired.

Image courtesy of Games Workshop


Incredible glow-up from first edition to fourth. Gone are the slightly springy, ugly ribbons of parchment holding up the models, replaced with much sturdier looking rocks. Now that the Prosecutors are in the Ruination Chamber, their wings have taken on the look of flames, with the leader’s posed in a classic phoenix motif. They’re much more dynamic than the old ones, which were more evocative of Space Marine jump packs than anything else. I like the half-helmets a lot; the more faces we get on Stormcast the better. It goes a long way towards making them feel like real people and not just statuesque silent warriors. Last but not least, tridents? Fully sick.

Image courtesy of Games Workshop


The new Liberators have solidified my opinion that Thunderstrike Armor is the best thing that ever happened to Stormcast. The redone proportions make the Liberators look like tall, strong warriors, able to descend from the skies and move quickly across a battlefield, as opposed to the stocky, bulky look they had before. The long hair on the models is blowing in the wind, both on the bare-faced models and the leader that has a helmet ponytail, and all of the poses are dynamic, with nobody just standing straight up holding their weapons, waiting for something to happen. They’ve got the right amount of detail for a line unit, with just enough to be interesting but not enough to make painting up the amount you’ll need a chore. When you might end up with 30 painted Liberators, that helps a lot.

My favorite thing that we’ve heard about these models is the amount of customization you’ll be able to do. We’ve read in preview articles that there will be enough heads included for you to make the Liberators all helmeted, helmet-less, or a mix of both. The collapse of multiple weapon profiles into one statline means that you won’t have to choose between two hammers or the hammer shield combo, so you can just have fun and pick what makes the pose and the head all work together to make each individual Liberator look exactly how you want to.


Poor Skaven are GW’s classic fantasy army that have languished longest with a decrepit range. Monopose resin models statistically older than you, Big Hand Era monstrosities, a smattering of acceptable plastics from the dying days of eighth edition Fantasy and a culture of hoovering up every last copy of Island of Blood/Spire of Dawn.

You know what? I’m so glad we waited this long. GW have been smashing it out of the park with their AoS sculpts for a while now, but it feels like they’re really into their stride with reimagining these more defined traditional Warhammer armies. This Skaven refresh looks to be slotting into that Soulblight/Slaves to Darkness/Seraphon (wait, why do they all start with S?) banger rework. But let’s have a look at what’s on offer and how it slots in with the range.

Clawlord on Gnaw-beast

The only truly new concept in the box for Skaven, a choppy mid sized hero is something the faction actually lacks, so its inclusion is very welcome. Clawlords have had a rough time of it in AoS – it’s rarely worth it investing in an offensive buff character for Clanrats. With Stormvermin leaving the range it will be interesting to see if there’s a second wave with something this model can play with, otherwise I’m worried it might be a bit of a Killaboss on Gnashtooth.

Credit: Games Workshop

Grey Seer

A new Grey Seer is fairly unexpected, the old one was a (for Skaven) decent plastic kit, and if you build a Plague Furnace you get one for free. The giveaway, I guess, was that they stopped selling the old one, and this is a very nice update whilst keeping that absolutely classic Grey Seer look. I appreciate the more dynamic posing, the inevitable hero rock gives it some nice height over the seething mass of Clanrats, and it’s always good to get a model release in wave a big swirling cloak for the painters to meticulously highlight.

Credit: Games Workshop

Warlock Engineer

I was surprised to see the Engineer return! The AoS team have struggled over the years to find a happy balance between the Warlock Engineer and Bombardier as warscrolls, and when we were told the Engineer was leaving I figured that was a fairly sensible solution to that. This might be my favourite sculpt of the set, it’s very different and I love them. Hopefully the design team have cooked up a way to keep both this and the Bombardier relevant, and they’re both excellent minis.

Credit: Games Workshop

Ratling Warpblaster

New war machine! Maybe a bit of a shame as Skryre already have a monopoly on the good models out there for Skaven and we could have used some love for Eshin and Pestilens. However, the new Engineer needed something to… engineer. Basically a scaled up Ratling gun, and fine for it. Ratling guns were one of the warscrolls where the pushing your luck mechanic for Skaven really shone, so expect to see some way of throwing lots of dice with this thing at terrible risk to yourself and your opponent. As a mini, it’s kept a lot of the design cues from the other big Skryre war machines – the wooden structure reinforced with metal, the extra spherical chambers bolted onto the warpstone power pack, and the gas mask wearing engineer. A lovely bit of design that will both look beautiful and modern but slot into the existing range.

Credit Games Workshop

Rat Ogors

Bangers, of course, but some fairly obvious notes for current Skaven players – they kept the warpfire gun! Hurray! There’s three of them! Ah. Three Rat Ogors makes a lot of sense and is in keeping with how GW typically run their monstrous infantry, but it’s a departure from the previous kit which was two Rat Ogors and some packmasters poking them with sticks.

For new players, this is a fully sick kit with heaps of detail and dynamic posing. For Skaven players with an existing collection that you might not want to instantly replace, it’s a slightly more awkward proposition. I’ve got a couple of old Rat Ogors that will now eventually become shelf fodder. That’s fine, these are worth it.

Credit: Games Workshop

Warplock Jezzails

Not much to say about these, it’s a modern version of a classic Skaven concept. They’ve done a lovely job with them. It is another Skryre unit in the box, and this one feels like a bit more of a missed opportunity than the Warpblaster. One of the joys of Skaven has been mixing and matching in the clans and having that less unified appearance on the tabletop, it lends itself to the theme of the army so well. I get that with 40 clanrats in the starter set they probably didn’t want more ‘normal’ infantry in there, but for diversity of clan it’s a slight shame this couldn’t have been something like Plague Censer Bearers.

Credit: Games Workshop


Someone somewhere is photoshopping these next to the old ones to try and divine a base size, but that’s boring and I’ll leave it to them to post on Reddit or whatever.

Credit – games workshop

If you’re a new Skaven player, 40 Clanrats in a starter set is amazing – a backbone of Clanrats has been a part of Skaven in AoS since they were reunified. Being able to get so much of the ‘boring’ model buying out of the way in a starter box also just feels better (or maybe it’s just me that gets slightly irritating buying a box of basic fodder). If you’re a current Skaven player you’ve probably got 80+ of these kicking around and probably wont be needing any more. These sculpts are a league above what came before, and the Island of Blood ones, but I know for me these will be the last models I get around to replacing. Big screens that get viewed from feet away and removed as casualties by the handful just aren’t that exciting.

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