Ruleshammer: Universal Enhancements in Age of Sigmar 3.0

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As part of the streamlining of Age of Sigmar’s matched play, all of the extra parts that come after choosing your units have been combined under one heading called “Enhancements”. This includes your Command Trait for your general, Artefacts of Power, Mount Traits, Spells, Prayers and Triumphs. As part of your list building phase you get to choose one of each of these, and certain core battalions grant you the ability to choose an additional enhancement on top of those free ones. The Core Rules also contain a short series of three Enhancements each that any army can take which are the aptly named “Universal Enhancements”.

Functional as both a way for new players to play before they’ve bought a battle tome, many of them are also actually quite good on their own. As a side note, there are a lot of the same traits and artefacts that are often copy and pasted word for word across many battletomes, such as “make this character a wizard” and “run and charge in the same turn”. I assume this will allow them to avoid repeating those across each tome and will help replace them with much more varied options. We’ll get into the specifics but a few are even going to overrule the options that come in your battletome! What ones are worth taking? Read on.

Command Traits

If you’re a new player, command traits are abilities given to the character you’ve nominated as your General that help customize them to be unique from other units of the same name. Command Traits are unique in enhancements because you cannot have more than one (unless a warscroll or battletome says you can), and Unique characters can never have one. This means it’s the only one you can’t buy more of with battalions alone.

Battle-lust – You can re-roll run rolls and charge rolls for this general. One of those ones that get copied and pasted a lot across battletomes, it was always a pretty solid option for Heroes you wanted to get into melee as quickly as possible. It’s become even more useful here in this edition, with Heroic actions like Their Finest Hour allowing you an even stronger turn 1 blender to force into your opponent’s face so they cannot ignore it (and possibly use their own Their Finest Hour first to try and survive).

Skilled Leader – If this general is on the battlefield at the start of your hero phase, roll a die. On a 5+, you receive 1 extra command point. Another copy and paste and definitely more valuable in 3.0, especially if your Battletome doesn’t have it’s own version of it. Command Points were always at a premium and while you do generate more than you did previously (2 for going first with your General on the field, 3 for going second with your general) you’ve also lost some ways to gain them during list building. You can no longer buy one outright at 50 points, nor can you rely on warscroll battalions. There’s also more ways to use them and while you will only generate them roughly once a game with a 5+, you’ll be grateful for the times you get them.

High Priest – You can re-roll chanting rolls for this general. Priests are not a new mechanic but are definitely a bigger part of the game than the previous edition. Since prayers only use one d6 instead of 2d6 the roll is a lot more “swingy”, i.e. you are just as likely to roll a 1 as any other face on the die (16%), as opposed to magic which is a roughly 3% chance of rolling snake eyes. It also makes high answering calls like Guidance (down below)more difficult to attain without help. If you’re using one of these prayers, definitely consider this one.

Heroic Stature – Add 1 to this general’s Wounds characteristic. Not great! Boring and you have a better option the form of the Amulet of Destiny Artefact (see below)

Master of Magic – Once per hero phase, you can re-roll one casting roll, dispelling roll or unbinding roll for this general. The consequences for failing to cast are a lot harsher in this edition, particularly with the return of Miscasts for rolling snake eyes. In addition to taking D3 mortal wounds your wizard loses the chance to cast any other spells that turn. Don’t let this happen! If your strategy relies on a crucial spell going off, take this. This one is also a double whammy because it also lets you help stop an enemy wizard, making it effective across two phases per turn.

A Stormcast Eternal

A Stormcast Eternal. Photo: RichyP

Artefacts

Like command traits, artefacts are powerful traits that let you give some customization to your army. You can give artefacts to your general or someone else, and you’re allowed to have more than one. Still, someone cannot carry more than one relic, and Unique characters can’t have them so depending on your list you may not have enough Heroes to go around that can carry it.

Amulet of Destiny – The bearer has a ward of 5+. Easily the best option from anything in the universal enhancements and almost seems like a mistake. A 5+ ward effectively gives the bearer 50% more wounds on average. Sometimes you’ll roll poorly and sometimes you’ll roll hot but that’s usually what it’ll do for you. This is a good artefact for anyone, but especially high wound models as they have more opportunities to roll to deflect damage. A Frost Lord with almost 20 wounds? Mega-Gargant with 52 wounds?! Sure why not! I fully expect this to get errata’d as the designers clearly didn’t know what they had here, if you have the opportunity to fit this in, you probably should.

Vial of Manticore Venom – Pick 1 of the bearer’s melee weapons. Add 1 to wound rolls for attacks made with that weapon. The usefulness of this is going to vary from pointless to extremely helpful. In general, bonuses to wound are a lot more difficult to come by than hit rolls. Especially for an army like, say Ossiarch Bonereapers who’s only wound buff is a reroll tied to one character, this can help a lot. Certainly worth considering.

Arcane Tome – The bearer becomes a Wizard that knows the Arcane Bolt and Mystic Shield spells. They can attempt to cast 1 spell in your hero phase and attempt to unbind 1 spell in the enemy hero phase. If the bearer is already a Wizard, they can attempt to cast 1 additional spell instead. A lot of potential uses for this, it’s an artefact you see copied across many battletomes and the ability to add a wizard to an army who otherwise doesn’t have any is huge. With the introduction of Universal Spell Lores you can also take one of those in addition to the Mystic Shield and Arcane Bolt spells and there are some real winners there!

Seed of Rebirth – You can re-roll heroic recovery rolls for the bearer. One of the Heroic Actions available to all is Heroic Recovery in which you roll 2D6 and try and roll under the Hero’s bravery to heal D3 wounds, or exactly their bravery to heal 1 wound. Very situational and might be worth considering on low bravery armies like Gitz, but if you’re Death or Daemons, forget it.

Spell Lores

Unlike command traits and artefacts the spell lore enhancement works a bit different when it comes to allocation. In addition to the Arcane Bolt and Mystic shield every wizard gets on their warscroll, every Wizard in your army gets one spell for free during list building and if you buy this enhancement again with your battalion enhancement you can select a spell for every Wizard again. These can either be from your battletome or one of the 3 universal spells included, or a mix of both. Remember that some powerful casters like Nagash, Arkhan the Black and Teclis automatically know all spells from their battletome so you can basically give them one of these with no worry, unless it gets errata’d.

Flaming Weapon – Casting value 4. Pick 1 of the caster’s melee weapons and add 1 to Damage characteristic of that weapon until your next hero phase. A real winner here, you do have to get kind of clever with it. It can only buff the caster and many of the better Wizards in the game you’re better off keeping away from melee. There are a few really solid “Warrior Wizards” like the Vampire Lord who can benefit from this, but if you want to get even cleverer about it you can take the Arcane Tome artefact from above and hand it off to your best melee combatant. Now they’re a wizard who can enhance their weapon! Put it on something nasty like a Mega-Gargant or Frostlord to really beef up the damage output.

Levitate – Casting value 8. Pick 1 friendly unit wholly within 18″ and visible to the caster. That unit can fly until your next hero phase. Situational, as you can’t know what the board will look like during the list building phase, but free flight for a unit should not be ignored. You can hide a unit behind high terrain, free from getting shot before charging over it, or get to places high up where your opponent hid his general, out of reach. If you have the spare slots it’s definitely a good one to have in your back pocket.

Ghost-mist – Casting value 5. If successfully cast, pick 1 terrain feature within 6″ and visible to the caster. Until your next hero phase, that terrain blocks line of sight. This effect does not block visibility to or from models with a Wounds characteristic of 10 or more. Another handy utility spell, useful for keeping a unit hidden until you’re ready to strike, or shield them from a particularly nasty flank, while still seeing a more juicy target. Like Levitate, the exact usefulness will depend on your list and what the board looks like, but it’s not a bad spell to have handy.

Daughters of Khaine Hag Queen

Daughters of Khaine Hag Queen. Credit: Corrode

Prayer Scriptures

Priests are not a new mechanic but they’re definitely getting more of a focus here. Previously the mechanic was essentially locked behind Blades of Khorne, Fyreslayers and Daughters of Khaine as an alternative to spells for armies where it doesn’t really make sense for them to have wizards. Other factions had Priest units as well but the keyword didn’t do a whole lot until now. Prayers work like spells, except one die is rolled instead of 2. This creates a more even distribution rather than bell curve like spells, but comes with similar consequences. A priest can get zapped by their god for rolling a 1 and take a mortal wound so watch out! On the plus side they can’t be unbound, which does make them somewhat more reliable.

Similar to Wizard’s Arcane Bolt and Mystic Shield spell that are shared across the entire army, every priest has 2 free prayers: Smite and Bless. Smite is like a more focused Arcane Bolt, as it can only target other Priests, but it does D3 mortal wounds on a 6, which has better odds than 10+ in most cases. Bless is extremely powerful, granting a 6+ ward on a 4+. It may not sound like a lot but you’d be surprised how much that can save you in a pinch.

Just like spells, every priest gets a free prayer from either their battletome or from the universal enhancements below, and buying the enhancement lets you give every priest another. Previously they could cast every spell they knew, but in third edition they can only pick one.

Guidance – Answer value 5. Receive 1 command point. Like a prayer version of Skilled Leader battle trait, with all the potential benefits. Another potential Command Point is pretty damn useful.

Heal – Answer value 3. Pick 1 friendly model within 12″ and visible to the chanter. You can heal up to D3 wounds allocated to that model. Combined with Heroic Recovery you can use this to keep a vital Hero topped off, the exact usefulness is going to vary based on how much healing your battletome has but as a healing spell that can’t be unbound, it’s definitely going to be appreciated.

Curse – Answer value 4. Pick 1 enemy unit within 9″ and visible to the chanter. Until your next hero phase, if the unmodified hit roll for an attack that targets that unit is 6, that unit suffers 1 mortal wound in addition to any normal damage. A real good one right before charging in, as the power of mortal wounds is rather apparent. Do note that in 3rd edition, you cannot proc multiple “on an unmodified X” abilities anymore, so if you’re playing with the Kruleboyz (who always deal mortal wounds on a 6) then maybe leave this one at home.

 

Triumphs

Triumphs are another returned mechanic but have seen a massive overhaul. Previously if you won the last battle, you could gain a Triumph which was a small bonus. It was almost never used, because in the rare cases you did play games back to back with someone it seemed awfully unfair for the guy who just won to get yet another bonus. Instead, Triumphs are small once per game bonuses you can pick one for free at list creation and use it only if your list is fewer points than your opponent’s. Unlike other enhancements you can take the same one multiple times.

This is probably not something you’ll actively try to achieve but because unlike Warhammer 40k you don’t get to increase a unit’s size one model at a time or spend points on wargear it’s very typical you’ll end up a few 10s short of your goal. In the past players usually would buy a command point (not an option anymore) and/or add endless spells that they might not cast but there was no incentive to come up short. Endless spells in general got more expensive with some of the changes to their mechanics so it’s going to be harder to just “fill in the gap” with the decent ones. Triumphs at least give some bonus if you can’t hit that magical 2k mark (or whatever you’re playing) rather than filling your list with chafe.

Bloodthirsty – Once per battle, after you make a charge roll for a friendly unit, you can re-roll that charge roll. Falling short of a crucial charge isn’t fun, for sure. Once per battle may not sound like much but often its the early stages of the game when you need to get into combat and after that you’re stuck in, especially if your unit has some bonus of the charge. Basically a free use of Forward to Victory his will save your life more than you’d think especially if multiple charges go south.

Inspired – Once per battle, after you pick a friendly unit to shoot or fight, add 1 to wound rolls for attacks made by that unit until the end of that phase. Wound bonuses are generally hard to come by, and this can come in handy when you absolutely positively need to make sure something dies before the counter attack, like a powerful Monster or your opponent’s general.

Indomitable – Once per battle, after you take a battleshock test you can say it is indomitable. If you do so, no models from that unit will flee in that battleshock phase. More useful than it the past, with the combined double whammy of losing bonus to battleshock tests for large units and only being able to use Inspiring Presence once per battleshock phase. This is basically a free use of that power but slightly better since you can see what you roll before burning this.

And that’s it! Any of the Enhancements catch your eye? Any hidden gems we didn’t give due diligence? Let us know below in the comments or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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