Arcane Journal: Kingdom of Bretonnia Review


“Does evil approach on this fair day? If so, this in approaches rough lands, but they are lands I claim and I do not with welcome it! If this evil thinks to find us weak in this barren place, it will discover that when the flower of Bretonnia grows from parched earth, it grows thorns!”

– Sir Cecile Gastonne, the Wyrm Slayer

With the release of Warhammer: The Old World we have also been blessed with the first two ‘Arcane Journal’ army supplements for this new game. In this article we’re going to dive into these army expansions and explore what they bring to the table for the fans of Bretonnia. With the massive and thorough army compilations in the Fantasy Forces books , what does a Warhammer army book look like now? Are they a requirement to play the game in a meaningful way going forward or just nice to have? Let’s check it out

Thanks again to Games Workshop for providing us the books to review.

What’s in the Book?

Before getting into the content of the book, one thing to mention is the production quality. The whole release has been tied together with the striking blue colour and inside they’re clearly a love letter to what has come before but updated with the polish you’ve come to expect from Games Workshop during the time the Old World was away. Each page has artwork fading around the text and while some of the artwork has been reused from previous editions of Warhammer or Warmaster alongside some exceptional new artwork from the studio team – the detail in things like the Map of Bretonnia is just outstanding. These are fleshed out far more than they’ve ever been before and you can spend a lot of time just looking over them and planning out stories or campaigns around what’s on the map.

The book begins by expanding on the lore on the knights of the chivalrous realm and what they’re up to at this point of the timeline, focusing largely on the war in the Border Princes.  Several pages are dedicated to heraldry and uniforms, which will prove invaluable for those looking for painting inspiration.

The lore section finishes by setting the scene for the Battle of Matorea and a narrative scenario for you to recreate it at home. In this scenario the host of Sir Cecile Gastonne (more on him later) are defending the city of Matorea from the Tomb Kings of Khemri, while a rescue force led by the Duke of Brionne is riding to their air supported by Lady Elisse Duchaard (again, more of on her later). The last section before the additional rules provided within the Tome are a few full colour page spreads of photo’s of a lot of the new kit showing off the Knights of the Realm on Foot in all their glory along with the host of new Forgeworld Resin characters.

Bretonnian Prophetess. Credit – Warhammer Community

The Armies of Infamy

The Armies of Infamy are new and thematic ways to build out your faction’s army lists. They contain new army-wide special rules and unlock access to new ‘upgraded’ units that enhance a particular style of play at the cost of a far more restrictive army composition list than what is found in the base books. Taking an army of infamy invariably locks you out of running particular units and honestly the Old World rules team has done a pretty good job of balancing fun and flavour here in particular.

Bretonnian Exiles

Not all the Knights of Bretonnia are exemplars of chivalry. The Bretonnian Exile lists represent the lords who have suffered exile or banishment from their lands for acts of dishonour. These forces recognise that that chivalry can only get you so far and might be looking to employ some less than knightly tactics or weapons in battle.

Forsaken by the Lady, Characters in this list have to replace their Knightly or Grail Vow with the Exiles Vow – granting the benefits of Stubborn and Veteran, while still giving the benefit of not really caring about the peasantry. Unable to pray for Blessing of the Lady prior to the game, they can redeem themselves through different in-game acts such killing a character in a challenge or running your enemy down. Be warned the Lady will only grant you her favour once and it can’t be regained once lost in game.

This Army of Infamy doesn’t feature many special rules, but does make the most of things such as the new Yeoman Guard regiment (at least one of which is mandatory if not taking Peasant Bowmen), Outcast Wizards (which give access to different lores from the Damsel), Border Princes Brigands or the big blunt instrument in the form of the Border Princes Bombard. Other than that you can also pick up some Mercenaries sure as the Free Company Militia or Empire Archers from the Forces of Fantasy Empire of Man list to give your force a few different options.

Errantry Crusade

Representing what we might know as more of a traditional army (in a Warhammer Fantasy Battle sense) the crusading army lists represents the King sending out a call to arms and knights choosing to answer before riding out to achieve a shared goal in distant lands. This is usually answered by Knight’s Errant riding out to claim trophies that attest to their deeds allowing them to be honoured and move up the ranks to become a Knight of the Realm.

Here a bunch of units (in effect, Knights of all variety and Mounted Yeomen) gain the Crusader’s Zeal special rule which grants them an additional 1″ to their maximum charge range and +1 to the charge roll while also picking up the Impetuous special rule. In addition any Knight can replace their Knight’s Vow with the Crusader’s Vow which grants Veteran to anyone with it in addition to once again, not really caring about what happens to Peasants. What this leads to is a very reliable force in terms of Leadership tests so once you set them to a task their nerves won’t usually be getting the better of them. In addition any enemy standard captured by a unit of Knights Errant is worth 100 victory points instead of the normal 50 (leaning back in to that Lore regarding them needing trophies) and Knights Errant gain the ability to re-roll 1’s to hit while near a model with the Grail Vow or any Lord of Bretonnia.

Composition wise you’re really playing into the theme with similar characters to the Grand Army Composition but the Knights Errant become your mandatory selection at 1+ and the requirement to take peasants is removed with Men-at-Arms and Peasant Bowmen both moving to the Special section of the list. In addition you can also take Mercenaries in the form of the Empire Knights and Inner Circle Knights from the Forces of Fantasy book. Lets just get one thing straight, this army doesn’t do a reverse gear, it goes forward and wants to just keep going.

New Units?

The Green Knight returns in Warhammer The Old World and is a force on the battlefield. He’s not cheap at 275pts but boy, is he fun. You’ve got yourself a more than capable melee character who doesn’t start on the table, instead you have dice roll to bring him on (starting at a 3+) and if so you can place him down in any “Natural” terrain feature and go wild. In addition if slain in combat you can roll again at the start of your turns to bring him back on, it just requires a slightly better roll each time he’s slain to return, but with a 3+ save, a 5+ ward and 4 Wounds he’s not going down without a fight. His Dolorous Blade is a brilliant weapon with 2 different profiles for either a flurry of swings for chopping through the enemy rank and file or for more deadly blows against tougher opponents.

Sir Cecile Gastonne, The Wyrm Slayer. I’m not sure how he managed to fight a dragon for 3 whole days and nights but he’s clearly some warrior! For 165pts you’re getting yourself a more than competent melee character who takes up a Baron Slot in your Army. He has a couple of special rules including The Wyrm Slayer where he can gain Terror if killing the right type of enemy and has a magical axe called Sorrow’s End which includes the Monster Slayer special rule which explains how it managed to take down Norndrak the Tyrant to gain his title.

NOVA Previews – Bow Deeply for Élisse Duchaard - Warhammer ...

Lady Elisse Duchaard is the final named character included and takes the slot of a Prophetess in a Bretonnian force. At 225pts you pick up a Lv3 Spellcaster who knows spells from the Lore of Elementalism (one of my favourites). She rides her Unicorn Arindir to battle and carries a few handy magical artefacts to help her. Her Arcane Backlash ability means she dispels enemy attempts to cast at +1 (in effect making her a Lv4 for that purpose) and if she rolls a double (excluding double ones) the casting wizards also suffers a single wound – handy! The Chalice of Brionne means enemy characters near her who are using any rule which uses their Leadership suffer a -2 penalty. Get her into the fight near a bunch of Tomb King Liches and watch your opponent crumble. Finally the Staff of the Elements lets her take 2 different signature spells, so you no longer have to pick between the different options, have them all.

Outcast Wizards are the new caster open for Exile Armies, you’re limited to Lv3 here and they have a special rule which means miscasts are always going to be slightly worse. In trade for that they gain access to a bunch of magical lore’s the Kingdom of Bretonnia doesn’t normally have access to.

Yeoman Guard are the most hardened guard of Exiled Barons and have a slightly improved melee profile over that of the Men-at-Arms. They still have the benefit of Shieldwall and the ability to take a Blessed Triptych for the good old you’re not moving combo of Shieldwall and Stubborn. They can also take Thrusting Spears for those among you who want to convert or have the really old models with that weapon option.

Border Princes Brigands are an infantry unit and will do anything for coin when hired. You can arm these with a bunch of different weaponry not normally available to the Kingdom of Bretonnia with additional hand weapons in melee or pistols, crossbows or even the blunderbuss at range. They can also be ambushers or scouts so really are what you want to make them, they’re a really versatile unit when kitting them out and I can’t want to see what options people come up with on the table.

The Border Princes Bombard is the big new toy here and is in effect a cannon. Not seen since 3rd edition his little beauty can be combined with the trebuchet and let you play as a more ranged/attrition army with mass ranked of infantry and few units of knights to counter.

Magic Items

There are a host of new magic items here with all categories represented. A few of my favourites are;

Crusaders Lance which is limited to Crusading armies, providing Furious Charge and Hatred (all enemies) and magical attacks – allowing your Lord to really hit harder than the enemy expects.

Lucky Heirloom is limited to Exile Armies but allows the model with it once per round to re-roll a failed ‘To Hit, To Wound or Armour or Ward Save’. This will provide you that little extra bit of reliability when needed and is very flexible.

Banner of the Zealous Knight allows the Exiles Army to have a Vanguarding unit of infantry. – Great for pushing up a unit ready to receive your opponents army further away from your solid base of Bombards and Trebuchets.

Flamestrike Wand allows an Exiles army to have an this Arcane Item which contains the Fireball spell at Power Level 3. Combined with the Ruby Ring, I think you’ve just solved most of your enemy skirmishing/harassing troops issue.

Bretonnian Standard Bearers. Credit – Warhammer Community

What does it look like on the Table?

We’ll start with the Exiles. Here we’re going for that solid foundation of four war machines combined with a really tough to break through centre, some small arms shooting and a little bit of magic support with two Lv3 Wizards, both with a bonus fireball spell.

We’ve got our one man army in the budget Baron – he’s going to ride around and make a nuisance of himself. The Battlestandard bearer’s vow will allow our brick of Knights of the Realm to counter charge the enemy easier once they have closed with our Yeoman Guard anvil. Meanwhile, the siege weapons will rain death across the battlefield. This list works out comes out to 1989 points.

Baron Shield, Royal Pegasus, Lance Virtue of Purity, Gromril Great Helm 236
Paladin Battle Standard, Shield Virtue of the Impetuous Knight, Sword of Might 127
Outcast Wizard Lv3 Ruby Ring of Ruin 135
Outcast Wizard Lv3 Flamestrike Wand 120
25 Yeoman Guard Polearms, Full Command, Grail Monk, Blessed Triptych 200
25 Yeoman Guard Polearms, Full Command, Grail Monk, Blessed Triptych 200
25 Yeoman Guard Polearms, Full Command, Grail Monk, Blessed Triptych 200
18 Peasant Bowmen Full Command, Defensive Stakes 117
14 Knights of the Realm on Foot Great Weapons, Shields, Full Command 182
5 Squires Scouts 40
5 Squires Scouts 40
Field Trebuchet 100
Field Trebuchet 100
Border Princes Bombard 100
Border Princes Bombard 100


For an example Crusading Army we’re going a totally different direction, showing how the same army can be played in a totally different way – maximum aggression. Here we’re forgoing many fancy tricks and just getting across the table. The two Barons lead the Errant Knights having gathered them up ready to prove their worth. The Duke and Paladin each lead a unit of Knights of the Realm while the two smaller Knights of the Realm units and Grail Knights all provide support for those four main lances.

You could easily drop one of the units to pick up some more upgrades, magic weapons or trinkets but I think this style list is full of charm of what a lot of people may have started a Bretonnian collection many moons ago. This list is a point more than the previous one at 1993.

Duke Shield, Warhorse, Lance, Crusaders Vow 197
Baron Shield, Warhorse, Lance, Crusaders Vow 120
Baron Shield, Warhorse, Lance, Crusaders Vow 120
Paladin Shield, Warhorse, Lance, Battle Standard Bearer, Crusaders Vow 80
9 Knights Errant Full Command, Banner of Honourable Warfare, Crusaders Vow 214
9 Knights Errant Full Command, Banner of Chalons, Crusaders Vow 209
9 Knights of the Realm Full Command, Crusaders Vow 237
9 Knights of the Realm Full Command, Crusaders Vow 237
6 Knights of the Realm Full Command, Crusaders Vow 165
6 Knights of the Realm Full Command, Crusaders Vow 165
6 Grail Knights Full Command, Crusaders Vow 249


So, is it worth it?

As this is supplement to for Forces of Fantasy book, this isn’t the biggest book you’re ever going to own from Games Workshop, in fact at 48 pages it’s going to be one of the smaller ones. Thankfully, it’s also going to be priced accordingly.

What it does have are a bunch of new characters, a host of new units, a few pages of additional magic items, some new lore and two variant army lists for army construction. I think if you’re a Bretonnian player you’ll be picking this up before long if you haven’t already and you’ll get good use out of what’s in it.

So what are you waiting for? Get suited up, get on that horse and ride to battle for the Kingdom of Bretonnia!