Blood for the Blood God, Skulls for the Skull throne. You know the slogans, but ol’ Khorne has been hit by hard times in the Mortal Realms. A 1st edition launch army and one of the earlier books for 2nd edition, the Blades of Khorne book came out and was fine but saw itself outclassed pretty quickly by power creep. As a result it’s sat in the bottom rungs of the competitive ladder. A balance warscroll change fixed the army’s signature Blood Tithe ability, but that only helped so much.
Finally Khorne faces off against Slaanesh with another battletome for 3rd edition. Let’s see if the harvest of blood and skulls will be fruitful once again.
Why Play Blades of Khorne?
You like big dudes who can cause a lot of carnage, and Daemons out of a heavy metal album cover. Khorne is a bruiser army with no magic, very little ranged and lives and dies in the combat phase.
On the table, what sets them apart from other bruiser armies is being a synergy army. The stat blocks on most Khorne units are usually “okay”, outside of a few units like Bloodthirsters which can tear shit up by themselves just fine. What makes the army work is the heroes powerful prayers and auras that supercharge these OK units into the stratosphere. So really, Khorne is about supporting your bros and the power of friendship.
What’s in the Book?
5 Best Things About The Book
- Hatred of Sorcery feels good – More than just a 6+ Spell Shrug, its now a 5+ and generates Blood Tithes, making your opponent second guess throwing spells at you.
- More Punch to your Hits – Damage has been increased across the board, and variability has generally been reduced.
- Better Prayers – Prayers are going to be even more of a central focus, with several great options both in the Scripture and Warscrolls
- Rebalanced Blood Tithe – Blood Tithe abilities have been fully reworked and generally are just far more interesting.
- Locus of Fury – Your daemons actually being able to survive to get into combat is going to feel so, so good.
Locus of Fury
For the Daemon players, Locus of Fury gives all your Daemons a 5+ Ward if they are more than 8″ from all enemy units. An extremely handy little buff that keeps your precious Bloodthirsters from being shot off the board turn 1.
Murderous to the Last
Every Bloodbound unit (a keyword shared with all mortal units) gets this buff. Whenever a model is killed, roll a “murder roll” (yes it is called that) and on a 5+, deal a mortal wound. Heroes get 3 dice. A few individual warscrolls also roll more dice than usual.
This replaces the book’s previously high number of Fight on Death abilities which is not…great. It’s basically a slightly more consistent but less damaging version of the Stormcast lightning. Obviously, you want to avoid stuff dying anyway but because it’s free some damage back won’t go unappreciated.
Hatred of Sorcery
If an enemy spell or endless spell would affect one of your units, roll a die and on a 5+ ignore it and receive a blood tithe point (we’ll get to those next). This is a huge upgrade from the last edition, which only worked on a 6 and conferred no other benefits.
A 5+ probably won’t save you as much as you’d like, but because it’s free and army wide it’ll proc frequently enough. This also stacks with the 5+ Ward against mortals caused by spells that many units in your book have. The free blood tithe point is a nice little bonus and if, for whatever reason, you have a friendly spell cast on you it’s no longer worded in such a way that you are forced to try and stop it. However, you don’t get a blood tithe point either, so no use taking Arcane Tome to cast Mystic Shield just to farm points, sorry.
The Blood Tithe
Khorne’s signature ability in Age of Sigmar. Blood tithes are points you generate when a unit is destroyed, either yours or your opponent’s (Khorne cares not from where the blood flows) and a few other miscellaneous abilities scattered through out the book can also generate a few.
In a change from the last book, at the end of your Hero phase you can spend your points on a number of buffs. This is actually a bit of a bonus because there are several ways to Generate command points in your Hero phase, so you can do that before you have to spend. You’re only allowed to use one per hero phase, and in line with the balance change for the battlescroll, you don’t lose all your blood tithe points, just the cost of the power. You’re also no longer locked to a maximum of 8 points.
As the the buffs themselves? They got a major rework, largely for the better.
- 1 Blood Tithe – Murderlust: Move 3 units that are not in combat D6″. Notably the rule specifically says they can end within 3″ of the enemy. Despite only being one point, it may be the most interesting of the lot for the ability to waltz into combat. This is huge for Khorne, no redeploying away, no Unleash Hell, just waltz into combat where they want to be. The fact you can do this on your opponent’s turn before they can move away, for a single Blood Tithe, is frankly insane.
- 2 Blood Tithe – Spelleater Curse: Same as the last book, unbind a spell without a roll. Obviously, this is the one you don’t need to wait until the end of the phase to use. You don’t get to use a second ability just because this one was during the hero phase instead of the end though, sorry.
- 3 Blood Tithe – Brass Skull Meteor: Target a unit on the battlefield and roll 8 dice, for each 5+ deal a mortal, 3+ for Monsters or units of 10 or bigger. Real good for sniping a monster with a few wounds left or plinking a few models off a horde before charging in. Not the castle cracker it was before, but can do more damage to a single unit. Worth the reduction in cost.
- 4 Blood Tithe – Apoplectic Frenzy: Immediately have a unit fight in the Hero phase. You can argue this took a slight debuff as it now being at the end of the hero phase means your opponent has time to set up their buffs like Finest Hour. You’re going to want to keep this in your back pocket in case you failed to finish off a unit last combat phase.
- 5 Blood Tithe – Rising Hatred: +1 to Hatred of Sorcery rolls. 4+ Spell shrug is going to be extremely situational, and even when you need it I’m not sure 5 points is worth the cost, but if you’re facing down the gun barrel of a Tzeentch or Seraphon list it could save your neck.
- 6 Blood Tithe – Heads Must Roll: -1 Rend to all your units till the end of the turn. This is probably the soft cap of what you’ll want to reach for but it’s a solid bonus. Nobody ever wanted less rend.
- 7 Blood Tithe – Let the Blood Flow: Roll a die for each enemy unit in combat, on a 2+ Deal D3 mortals. As exciting as this might sound it probably costs too much. By the time you rack up these many points there won’t be enough combats left to get a return on investment.
- 8 Blood Tithe – Slaughter Triumphant: Everything in your army is +1 to attack for the rest of the game. No doubt, this is very exciting and very powerful. Whether you can accumulate this many points in a timely manner is going to be very list dependent – both yours and your opponents.
As for how you should spend your points, it’s going to be very dependent on how many drops you and your opponent has. While Nurgle (and the new Slaanesh book) can control their own point generation fairly reliably, Khorne is going to have to hope for an opponent who gives him a lot of MSUs or screens to merc. If you’re fighting something more elite like Stormcast or, god forbid, Gargants, you just won’t generate all that many.
From a practical standpoint, I’d say it’s worth keeping 4 blood tithe points on hand for the first 4 powers. They’re easily the most consistent to use, especially to pull a free attack in the hero phase out of your pocket. If you happen to be fighting an army with a lot of units or spellcasting well, treat it like Christmas and open up those higher buffs.
Summon Daemons of Khorne
The other use for your blood tithe points. You can burn some points at the end of the movement phase to summon a unit of Khorne daemons within 8″ of a Hero or 16″ of your terrain piece, with the normal 9″ from the enemy restriction.
I won’t list them all here but in general things got a bit more expensive. They broke from the trend on this one, Bloodthirsters no longer cost 8 points, but 10. This does make summoning one pretty impractical outside of some real edge cases so your focus is mostly going to be to summon Flesh Hounds or Bloodletters to help screen out your important pieces or hold objectives.
There are 8 traits, 4 for each Daemons and Mortals. Overall there’s some really good ones here, and on average they’re a win.
First let’s look at the daemons. Embodiment of Wrath is probably the least exciting, letting you return D3 models to any Bloodletter Host wholly within 16″ of the general on a 2+. While it could have some value if you have a lot of bloodletters, the return can be a bit low. Firebrand is the most practocal option, it makes your General a Priest, or gives them another prayer if they already are one. Excellent for Bloodthirsters to chant Bloodbind and pull the enemy close to them. The other 2 are far more interesting. Favoured of Khorne gives you one blood tithe to start, which doesn’t sound like a lot but it lets you send 3 units forward D6″ to start which can make a turn 1 charge very viable. Probably my favorite of the lot here is Unrelenting Hunter which lets the General make a pile-in at the end of the Combat phase if they’re in combat. If they’re not in combat they get a free move or charge! Perfect for setting up an Apoplectic Frenzy next turn that your opponent can’t hope to stop.
Next, the mortals, which aren’t nearly as good save for one. Diabolical Purpose is the least exciting, giving a General +1 to damage against Heroes. The problem is most of your heroes are foot heroes, and trying to seek out other Heroes can be a challenge. Lord of the Gorechosen is potentially viable in a more Herohammer style list, giving +1 Attack to all Gorechosen within 16″. Barbarian Lord benefits an odd mix of units, granting +1 to Runs and Charges with Claws of Karanak, Flesh Hounds and Bloodreavers within 16″. So these aren’t good, but its salvaged by possibly the best trait in the book High Priest of Khorne which for the first time in third edition allows a Priest to chant 2 prayers instead of one. They don’t learn a second, so you have to rely on generic ones or their Warscroll. Luckily both mortal Priests have excellent Warscroll prayers, so this trait is probably going to be an auto take every time.
Like the Command Traits, there’s 8. 4 for Daemons and 4 for Mortals. While the command traits are a bit lackluster, the Artefacts make up for it.
First, Daemons. Ar’gath, the King of Blades is a niche pick, shutting off ward rolls in combat. Either the best or useless, depending on your match up with little in between. Halo of Blood grants Strike-First to the bearer, which is good for that big charge with multiple units or if you get surprised. Defensively we got the Mark of the Bloodreaper which is a 4+ Ward against mortals and Skullshard Mantle for a 3+ Hatred of Sorcery Roll (sadly it’s not a 2+, but it’s also not a forced artefact anymore). It’s hard to say which is ideal, you probably won’t regret any of them except maybe Ar’gath, match up depending.
Mortals probably care more about their artefacts, because mortals lists often are very hero heavy. The Blood Rune gives you a blood tithe for putting a wound on a Hero or Monster, it’s not bad, just too specific and matchup dependent. There’s better options. The Crimson Plate gives a 5+ Ward which is quite nice since you don’t really have anything that can break the game with it. Gorecleaver is probably the second best pick, increasing rend by 1 on a melee weapon and gives them a mortal wound on 6s to hit (this is additional damage, not replacing it). What holds it back is a lot of your mortal heroes already have this ability, and it won’t stack since it’s a seperate effect and you cant proc 2 6s on hits abilities. Banner of Blood is going to be an auto take in any mortal list, granting rerolls to all friendly units within 16″ of the bearer. It’s Bloodsecerator only but, trust me, you’ll have one.
Blood Blessings of Khorne (Prayers)
A whopping 6 prayers and it’s a really good set. We’ll split them into buffs and debuffs, first the buffs: Blood Sacrifice returns as-is, on a 4+ does D3 mortals to a friendly unit within 8″ and gives you a blood tithe. A solid farming option without needing to outright kill stuff to get the engine going, cast it on Skarr Bloodwrath, its fine he likes it. Bronze Flesh returns as your Mystic Shield substitute, giving a +1 to saves to a unit within 16″ on a 3+. Unholy Flames is going to be highly desirable, giving a straight -1 Rend to a unit within 16″ though a bit dicey with a 4+. Finally Killer Instinct, which is a free normal move on a 3+ in the Hero phase. Out of phase movements should never be taken lightly, since they get to bypass redeploy, or even just straight up double the movement of the unit. Probably the best of the lot.
The two debuffs aren’t shabby either. Witchbane Curse is a great anti-magic option, it has unlimited range and inflicts a -1 to cast on an enemy wizard on a 4+ but there’s more. If they fail to cast a spell they take D3 mortals as well, which may make them Bloodbind got filched off the Slaughterpriest. Cast it on an enemy unit within 16″ and on a 3+ they have to move up to 8″ toward the Priest. Here’s where it gets good, just like before, the rule specifically says units can end their move within 3″ of one of your units. Wanna really drive them insane? Use Killer Instinct to move your blood thirster in between your priest and the enemy unit, then Bloodbind to pull them in. Hell, use Apopleptic Fury if you want to just finish it right there.
Like most books, 6 is the magic number for subfactions. 3 are more Daemon-Centric while 3 are focused on mortals. So let’s look at Daemons first.
First the Reapers of Vengeance is likely the most underwhelming, granting a simple +1 to hit against Heroes and granting a bonus Blood Tithe on a kill. +1s to hit are a common buff and while the Blood Tithe is nice, it’s likely going to be around 3 Heroes in an enemy list, at best. Unless you’re fighting Gargants, it may be difficult to even get to them. Luckily the other 2 fare better. Baleful Lords is for your Bloodthirster lists, as long as a Bloodthirster is within 8″ of another Bloodthirster, they always fight at top profile. Skarbrand is of course exempt from this, because that would be bad. The bonus is very feast or famine, either you will be grateful for the buff, or you will manage to avoid taking too much damage and it probably won’t come up much. Bloodlords is likely the best option for daemons, turning the Bloodletters 6 to hit do mortals into a 5+ instead on the charge, and a lot of units have the Bloodletter keyword. Just a very solid and practical buff that radically increases damage output.
Mortals fare better, with 3 pretty good options. The most finicky is Skullfiend Tribe which gives Strike First on an unmodified 8+ to charge. Excellent if you get it, but statistically not super likely. It is the only subfaction with a provisional battleline, with Skullreapers. Which are actually pretty good! On a more positive note is The Flayed which grant a 5+ Ward to all Mortal units that already fought that turn. A bit weird to set up, but it lets you play the army more like a grinder army, and plays very well with just about anything. The best one might be the Goretide which all gain +1 to wound when attack enemies on a point you don’t control. Since points are often being traded a lot in Age of Sigmar it’ll give you a leg up in snagging objectives away and holding them with some of the tougher units.
Just one, the Gorechosen. Minimum 5 Gorechosen units to a max of 8. Gorechosen units are all leaders so normally you can’t take that many, I assume the max of 8 is for the sake of the meme and to scale to games above 2k.
For the sake of clarity, the following units have the Gorechosen keyword: Realmgore Ritualist, Bloodsecrator, Gorepriest, Skullgrinder, Aspiring Deathbringer, Exalted Deathbringer and the Bloodstoker. Confusingly, not the Gorechosen of Gromm.
This battalion grants you a one drop and a free enhancement which makes it…actually pretty good. Khorne is a Herohammer army, and will generally be taking a lot of heroes to augment their forces anyway. Depending on what kind of list you’re going for, this might be a tight squeeze but probably one of the most viable book battalions in a while.
4 Grand Strategies. Blood Legions March and Reap the Blood Tithe are two sides of the same coin. Blood Legions March asks you to summon a Daemon every round after round 1, and Reap the Blood Tithe asks you to use a blood tithe ability every round after round 1, with the additional caveat that it has to be different each round. This is simply asking too much, especially to always use a different Blood Tithe ability. It can be hard to judge how much you’ll be able to farm stuff which makes this too risky.
The other two far better. Bring Me A Worthy Skull is fun and flavorful. Your opponent picks one of their Heroes and you have to kill it by the end of the game. Depending on the match up, can be difficult as they will fight like Hell to stop you, but they may also not get much of a choice. Disciples of Carnage is your rote “complete 4 battle tactics choosing only the book ones” and well, good news, Khorne has some good battle tactics.
You got 6 here. Let’s run through em.
- Blood for the Altar – Kill an enemy unit who is within 8″ of the altar. Probably will inevitably come up during the game, especially if you put it far up. Even if it gets Smashed to Rubble it still counts.
- Slay the Sorcerer – Pick a wizard and kill em, if you get your chance you take your shot. Easy.
- Trial of Skulls – Pick a friendly unit and have them kill 8 models. Generally easy enough especially if your opponent has chaff. Pick this right before charging into a weak screen.
- No Cowards Among Us – All your units have to be within 8″ of an enemy unit at the end of the turn. This one is actually deceptively difficult because if you do it before a mass army charge, its entirely possible you kill stuff and leave yourself not close enough to an enemy unit. So try and position yourself to be near multiple enemy units for redundancy.
- Leave None Standing – Pick a friendly unit in combat and by the end of the turn they must have fought and have no enemy units within 3″. This usually means you fight and kill them all, naturally but it can also succeed if they pull models in such a way you are no longer within 3″. That’s a risky way to do it though, so in most cases yeah just kill a unit you feel confident in putting down.
- The Battlefield Runs Red – Kill 4 units this turn. 4 is a lot but it is doable, depending on the match state. Just save it for when it seems easy, naturally.
This review is getting pretty long so we’re going to stop here and pick it up with the Units next. See you in a bit!