It’s been a couple of months since the last Battlescroll update. The last major update was in March, where the Prime Hunters system was added to give bonus victory points for killing certain scourges of the meta (and another if you did it with one of the armies who weren’t doing so hot). The idea was in the right place but it was contingent on you being able to kill those units in the first place and for many armies that just wasn’t possible or required far too many resources to justify 2 VP.
This new update is what a lot of us have been asking for, more like what 40k’s Dataslates are like: Targeted updates looking to take down some of the more busted abilities and raise up some of the armies struggling in the current meta. There are big and when combined with the new General’s Handbook in Galet are likely to change the entire landscape of the game. You can take a look at the changes yourself here.
Order is home to a few of the top tier factions, namely Stormcast Eternals and Seraphon and every change here is a nerf laser targeted at them.
Stormcast Eternals & Cities of Sigmar
While these cover 2 armies: Stormcast Eternals and Cities of Sigmar these are both meant for Stormcast Eternals units.
First the Stormcast Eternals Holy Command Thunderstrike Volley has been a frustration of the meta since the book first came out. Although once per game, a free shot from a strong unit like Vanguard-Raptors is devastating. They do 2 mortals on 6s and even if they don’t get a 6, Rend -2 Damage 2 is pretty harsh, especially when you can’t All Out Defense in the Hero phase. To further complicate matters you can’t even deploy to avoid them. They have 30 inch range and with a Lord-Relictor and Translocation that’s a free 2+ rerolling prayer to move where you need to. With 2 rounds of such devastating shooting turn 1, it was frequently a free pass to delete whatever they wanted turn 1 by just focus firing what they want dead.
The change now restricts it to non-reinforced units, which cuts the damage in half in the hero phase. You could still bring 2 units of 3 but that’s still going to cut down the damage of the initial volley, where most of the damage is happening anyway (since the opponent cant all out defense). Definitely much more manageable and gives many units a fighting chance.
The second Stormcast nerf is to the Stormdrake Guard warscroll. Previously their ability Draconic Onslaught allowed them a free move and then a free charge. This meant they got to try 3 charges per turn (Hero phase, charge phase, and reroll that one if needed) and got 2 movements in their initial turn. Pretty gnarly and not fun to deal with. Similar to the Thunderstrike Volley it meant you got no defense against the charge, as you couldnt redeploy or unleash hell to dissuade a would-be charge. The new change is now…reroll charges. Once per game. Pretty damn lackluster, especially considering where it was.
Similarly, there was the Cities of Sigmar nerf that is absolutely aimed at Stormcast Eternals. The ability Strike then Melt Away for the Living City subfaction was being abused in a way that aided stormcast. The clear intent behind the ability was that you would shoot with your ranged units then run away. Instead a particular Living City list would deep strike in Stormdrake Guard and Fulminators, shoot, then move outside of 3 toward a unit. Since Stormcast Eternals in Cities of Sigmar count as part of that army for all intents and purposes, it was yet another move the opponent could not redeploy away from for self-preservation. The change now necessitates that the unit end wholly outside of 9″ of the target they shot, which actually may make the move impossible to complete for some units, but fits the intent better.
In both cases I think Games Workshop learned a hard lesson about not being too generous with out of phase actions, as they can lead to some real shenanigans. Players don’t feel like they have no counter-play to something. You should feel like you could have avoided a problem, when simply there was no other option but to tank the hits and hope they roll poorly.
There’s going to be a lot of hand wringing here about how this completely ruins Stormcast. I disagree, these units are all still very good. Longstrikes are still going to do some fair damage, and Fulminators and Stormdrakes are still power, just more of a blunt object than the technical exploits they were pulling before. Is this going to radically reduce their power? Absolutely, but I don’t think they’re going on the shelf either.
I will throw Stormcast a bone here, they are not the only army with this sort of shooting abuse. Daughters of Khaine get less potent shooting but can fire twice every round, and Lumineth get access to several stacking buffs that is similarly unpleasant. I do hope these are eventually addressed, but it’s a good start.
Slight change here to Scaly Skin for the Coalesced Seraphon (most importantly, Thunder Lizards). The damage reduction now “only” applies to Monsters, Saurus and Kroxigors. Skinks and Slann take damage same as normal.
I think they went a bit soft here, the -1 damage is still incredibly good on Bastiladons and while not having damage neutered on skink screens is a definitely improvement they probably could have just stripped the whole thing out and been fine. Saurus might see more play as screens now instead, which is something.
Real ups and downs here. A big nerf to Legion of the First Prince, and 2 appreciated buffs to Khorne and Slaanesh – 2 of the more underperforming armies in the game right now.
Legion of the First Prince
Woof, this is a rough one. Legion of the First Prince is one of the stronger factions right now, it’s not as showy as Thunder Lizards or Fly nurgle but it sees the podium enough times. Be’lakor himself is powerful, and there’s a lot of synergy he can pull with characters like Kairos Fateweaver and Khorne Daemon Prince the lynch pin holding the faction together was the titular Legion of the First Prince rule. It let Be’lakor reroll all hits and wounds, which is absolutely powerful with his attacks but the most frustrating part is the 4+ Bodyguard rule for all minor daemons which, due to how it was written, still granted a Ward save to the daemon. Between the healing and constantly spawning legions of new minor daemons, it was extremely hard to ever lay a finger on Be’lakor, not one that lasted long anyway making the army a real slog.
The change is massive, first the rerolls are just +1 to hit and to wound, good but not nearly as good and the body guard rule is gone. This is a rough one folks, Be’lakor only has a 4+ save and its Etheral, he may be immune to rend but he’s also not able to do better than that, and enough attacks will chip him down eventually without bodyguards to soak up half those hits.
This might be enough to kill the faction. A mere curiosity, as it’s not a faction with a formal battletome, it just didn’t have a ton of options (it literally has one spell). Players found a really strong combination of units that exploited how the army worked and just wasn’t very fun to play against. Games Workshop seems to just wish it would go away and hey they might finally get their wish.
Blades of Khorne
Simple but big change, Blood Tithes now don’t all instantly go away when you spend them. Which is, honestly, how it should have worked from the start. It was an unfair way to balance it, as it punished Khorne players for killing things too fast (It’s Khorne for God’s sake!) as they might accumulate points too fast for the buff or summon they wanted. Every other chaos faction doesnt start from 0 once they summon something. Players assumed this change would come eventually, so rather than wait for a new tome they GW just gave them their Christmas present early.
The book needs a rewrite top to bottom to actually get to “good” but this is a strong change in the right direction for them.
Hedonites of Slaanesh
I already talked about point changes earlier this week but a few more changes snuck past for the PDF. Hedonites of Slaanesh got some deep discounts on Blissbarb Archers, Painseekers, Twin Souls and Sigvald. These were frankly badly needed. 140 is about what Blissbarb Archers should cost and the Twinsouls/Painseekers costed too much, but they may find new life as Bounty Hunters and Expert conquerers in the new book. Sigvald getting yet another drop is surprising, at 205 he’s a damned steal.
Like Khorne, Slaanesh needs a total rewrite but these are great points changes when combined with all the points changes we discussed back on Saturday.
Two buffs to the more ignored factions in Death: Flesh-eater Courts and Ossiarch Bonereapers.
Flesh Eater Courts 6+ ward used to be shared with Nighthaunt, a unit had to be wholly within 12″ of a Hero. This meant a lot of babysitting and the army would collapse very rapidly if the Heroes got sniped. The new Nighthaunt book pulled that out and just made it a flat out 6+ Ward army-wide. Games Workshop took a look at Flesh-Eater Courts and said “what the hell” and just gave it to them too.
Good change, for the reasons mentioned. It means less meticulous measuring to keep your massive hordes within that 12″ bubble, and if your Heroes get sniped off early it’s not a death sentence. Good change.
Necropolis Stalkers and Immortis Guard are battleline if a Mortisan is your general. This is bigger than you’d think, Bonereapers didn’t have any conditional battleline before and their two options were very expensive. Between the Mortek which are tough but mostly do chip damage and the horses are fine as outriders, not much for killing. Stalkers and Guard are both cheaper than the horses so its great for filling out that last slot or two of mandatory battleline after your requisite big blob of Mortek is settled.
A stealth change not mentioned is Arkhan the Black also went down 20 points. I’m not sure that was needed but every price slash helps. With all the point adjustments it’s going to be easier for OBR players to slip in an extra unit or some of the new Endless Spells.
Finally, some more buffs for the most overlooked of the Destruction factions – the 2 non-Ironjawz orruks and Gloomspite Gitz.
The Orruk Warclans book is a land of contrasts. On one side you have the Ironjawz who top the charts as one of the best meta armies right now, but Kruleboyz and Bonesplitters are in a real rut. Some really important targeted buffs to these factions might push them up a few ranks in the ladder.
Kruleboys got 2 buffs, one is small. You may take 1 unit of Hobgrot Slittas as battleline for every Gutrippaz unit you take. Kruleboyz feel the pinch on battleline more than other factions because their only stock choice cost 180 points but definitely don’t feel like 180 points. They’re fairly delicate and not that strong, mostly fishing for 6s for mortals. This lets them take a cheap filler unit to pad out the mandatory battleline and get other units in instead.
It’s worth noting it does say you may take them as battleline. There are times you may not want to do this, because they become Galetian Veterans, making them very vulnerable to Bounty Hunters. But on the other hand, they can now cap Proving Ground, so you may want to.
The other change is to the Grinnin Blades subfaction which made your army invinsible from further than 12″ away…but only for the first turn. Underwhelming, so the simple fix was just to extend that over the rest of the game. Solid change, not too broken but gives them a sporting chance against armies with good shooting. I think there’s going to be significant debate if this or Big Yellers is better, since that gives you battleline Boltboys and 9 of those with Venom-Encrusted Weapons? Still hard to say no to.
For Bonesplitters the Spirit of Gorkamorka ability was changed to no longer require 5 or more models in a unit. This means your units no longer lose out if theyre cut down to their last few models and even your heroes and the mighty Savage Big Stabba can get in on the fun. Solid change, a bit swingy but thats Bonesplitters right?
The Bad Moon sucks. I think we all agree there. For those who don’t know, it starts in a corner, offers buffs only to that quadrant, and it gradually moves to the other corner and disappears. If you roll poorly it can be gone by the end of Turn 2. Many of the buffs aren’t even that good.
Well these are some huge steps in the right direction. 2 of the benefits were rewritten and they are good. The one for Moonclan Grots Frothing Zealots lost its practically useless Reroll 1s and gives GW’s new favorite buff to hand out: 4+ Rally instead of 6+. There’s a reason they hand it out though, it’s a good buff. Especially on a large unit, which most of your large units are from the Moonclan. Keep your chaff alive and healthy to delay the enemy while your bigger stuff does the hard work.
Bigger stuff like Troggoths, instead of rerolling their regeneration ability, they now get +1 to save making them tougher to crack. I’m not suring if losing rerolling healing is as good but the +1 save will reduce them getting hurt in the first place, so a good trade off.
Now, the problem is still that the moon’s movement sucks, and it’s probably going to need a new battletome to fix that. For the time being there is an additional bonus to the Loonshrine, it now gets the Badmoon effect within 12″! Now that is huge. Put that sucker up as far as it can go and keep the enemy fighting near it, you’ll keep bringing back more grots turn after turn.
All good changes, not the sweeping changes Gitz need but a damn good start.
Love these changes, all of them. This is exactly what I want to see in these Battlescroll updates: Targeted changed that recognize that some rules interactions are just plain unfun and that some armies are really struggling in a way that a few points drops won’t fix and they can’t just wait for a battletome. I don’t really have any bad things to say except that I think a few didn’t go far enough, but combined with the changes from Galet in the general’s handbook, this is a brand new Age of Sigmar.
Stay tuned fomorrow when our Age of Sigmar team discusses what these changes could mean for the game at large.
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