The following review was written with a free copy of the Cities of Sigmar Army Set and the included battletome, provided to us by Games Workshop.
Why Play Cities of Sigmar?
Are you tired of gods, monsters, golden Übermenschen and daemons from at least four different hells? Do you want to take the “high” out of “high fantasy” and get down and dirty in the mud and blood with the common soldiery? Well then, Cities of Sigmar are for you! No longer just the Warhammer Fantasy Battles Island of Misfit Toys, they’ve grown into their own identity with a new range of miniatures, with rules to match.
What’s in the Book?
- Warscrolls for the denizens of the Cities of Sigmar, with Humans, Aelves, and Duardin represented.
- Army rules for the full range, with a new Orders system and eleven subfactions to choose from.
- Rules for carrying out your Dawnbringer Crusade in Path to Glory games, with name tables galore.
- Lore bringing you up to speed on what the Sigmarites have been up to, how they found their cities, and how they do battle.
- Matched Play rules to bring them up to date with other 3.0 books.
5 Best Things About The Book
- Multiple Armies in One Book – With the Duardin and Dark Aelf leftovers backing up the human rank and file, there’s a load of variety in this book that folks might not be expecting. There’s also great ally opportunities, with the ability to ally with any Order faction.
- A Distinct Identity – Despite those Old World inclusions, the new range of human models gives the army its own identity; one supported by new rules.
- Orders – In a system that should be familiar to 40k’s Astra Militarum players, your officers can issue orders to the troops around them, bolstering their effectiveness. These do something to make these troops feel useful and distinct in a way that the Freeguilders of old never could.
- Combined Arms – This is an army that lives and dies on its synergies, and rewards your units working together. It’s not just about drowning your enemies in bodies, but about suppressing your enemies, buffing your own troops, and holding out until the time is right to deliver that killing blow.
- A New Perspective on the Age of Sigmar – In a first for Age of Sigmar, we’ve got a real look at the life of the common Sigmarite soldier. These jobbers have only ever felt like an afterthought before, and to see the Mortal Realms from the perspective of a poor one eyed schmuck with scurvy and a musket is refreshing. If you miss the flavor of the old Empire or Brettonian peasantry from The Old World, you’ll feel right at home. There’s a 2 page spread lovingly detailing all the kit your average Fusilier carries to war, and it does more to ground the setting than anything in a Battletome or Black Library novel yet.
The only universal battle trait is Orders, and that’s probably a good thing because it is long. Each character in your army can give a single Order per turn, with some ways of getting more. At the start of each Battle Round, you assign an order token, face down, to each of your characters. There are some restrictions based on whether they’re Human, Aelf, or Duardin, with some generic, faction-wide ones. The same Order can only be given 3 times per turn. Orders are kept secret until they are revealed, and are generally only usable when the Hero is within 3” of the target unit. Any Orders you don’t use are tossed at the end of the turn.
Cities of Sigmar Orders
Advance in Formation is triggered in the movement phase, giving an extra 3” of movement to all units starting by the Order giver. Castellite units can establish a fortified position after using this, giving your gunline a huge boost in mobility. This is likely going to be the opening play for a lot of Cities armies, letting them move up the board and getting their shooting units into position.
Counter-Charge does what it says on the tin, letting one of your unengaged units make a charge move at the end of the enemy charge phase. When they do so, they get a bonus to their Rend, suddenly giving your mob of cheap Steelhelms or nastier Executioners a little more teeth.
Return Fire is revealed when one of your units is targeted by a shooting attack. After and enemy unit shoots, you can shoot back with one of your own units near the Order-giving Hero. This does not need to be the same unit, so if someone is shooting your Steelhelms, after they get shot up you can shoot back with your Fusiliers immediately. This won’t come into play against every army and is somewhat dependent on enemy action, but an extra volley of out-of-sequence shooting can be a nasty surprise. The promise of this Order might even dissuade some of the incidental shooting from your opponent’s skirmishing units, as no scattering of bolas or blowpipes is worth taking a volley of cannon fire.
Suppressing Fire is a hugely powerful one, letting you hand out the strike-last effect to a target unit in the Shooting phase. To do so, roll 2D6 and add however many models you just killed to the tally, comparing that number to the enemy Bravery. If you beat it, they’re Suppressed. With the average on 2D6 being a 7, you’ll easily suppress basically every Greenskin or cheap horde unit in the game even without causing many casualties, and potentially even get lucky and put the kibosh on some more elite units.
Engage the Foe is particular in that it can only be used on a unit that hasn’t fought in melee this battle. Declared in the Charge phase, it adds an attack to that unit’s melee weapons until the end of the next combat phase. While it absolutely can have some play with your rank and file troops, this feels tailor made for cavalry charges.
Form Shieldwall makes your tanky stunties even tankier, granting a 5+ ward save in the enemy Combat phase but also the fights last effect to your unit. Ironbreakers and Longbeards are the obvious targets for this one, with Ironbreakers even turning that into a 4+ ward save. This is also the only order with a drawback.
Grim Last Stand is revealed in your Combat phase and goes in the opposite direction, with each of your casualties causing a mortal wound to an enemy unit within 3” on a 5+. With the focus on Duardin being tanky, this feels like a miss, as ideally you’re not planning on the faction’s most durable units getting killed.
Strike Them Down activates at the start of your charge phase and gives the target unit fights first. It’s not the most inventive of the Orders, but fights first is extremely powerful.
Swift Disengage lets Aelves/Elves/Aeldari/Eldar/Elfs do what they do best, which is run away. After fighting in the Fight phase, your unit can immediately retreat. This is potentially enormously powerful, letting your units fight and get away before getting hit, slingshot their way onto objectives, or otherwise just be a nuisance. Setting it up may be a challenge, as you’ll need to position a charging unit and a character for a charge or be playing on the defense. Both options could leave your character exposed, but we can all agree that this is, at minimum, extremely funny.
You’ll notice a theme here, namely that there will continue to be a divide between Human, Duardin, and Aelf Enhancements. Humans generally get the more interesting and diverse abilities, but one should still consider both our knife-eared and stout friends.
The four traits Humans can take vary between situational at best and good enough to build an army around. Divine Champion feels like the only stinker, turning your Hero into a Priest and giving them a prayer that adds +1 to wound for Human melee attacks so long as said Humans are wholly within 12”. It only inspires on a 4+, meaning it’s a total coinflip whether or not it will even go off. There are also no other generic Human or Cities of Sigmar prayers in the book to take advantage of. Grizzled Veteran gives your Hero the Transhuman treatment, preventing them from being wounded on anything but an unmodified 4+. If you wanted to make your big monster-bound Hero that much tougher, it’s alright. Master of Ballistics is one of the stronger of the bunch, synergizing beautifully with some of the subfaction rules. When issuing All-out Attack to a unit to a Castellite unit in the shooting phase, they also add +1 to wound rolls, in addition to the other benefits of All-out Attack. If you’re leaning into Castellites, especially if you’re running the Greywater Fastness subfaction, this trait can be incredible. Lastly, Fiery Temper lets your general reroll charge rolls, and friendly Human units wholly within 18” can also reroll their charge rolls after the general charges. This can be solid, especially if you’re building into cavaliers, but you could potentially overextend with your general and leave their friends in the dust.
Duardin Command Traits are more Hero-focused, and generally don’t contribute as much to the stunties around them. Of Mighty Lineage lets your general strike first against an enemy Hero, but this is only at all useful on a Warden King, and he’s not really beefy or speedy enough to warrant it. Insurmountable Resistance lets your general roll a die for each wound suffered, and on a 3+ they heal it. This would be great on a monster, but no Duardin Hero has more than 6 wounds, so this one ain’t great either. Master of Ancient Lore turns your general into a Priest or gives your Runepriest an additional prayer from the Rune Lore scripture. This one gives your general a load more versatility, and is likely the only one worth taking.
Aelf Command Traits have much better platforms than the Duardin selection, and generally have more effective rules to boot. Unparalleled Duellist is potentially hilarious, turning each missed melee attack against the general into a mortal wound on the opposing unit. There is no cap on this, and could spike a wild amount of mortals. Secretive Warlock simply adds 1 to casting and unbinding rolls on a Wizard, which is never a bad thing. Lastly, Draconic Blood-Pact can only be taken by one of your Black Dragon-mounted Heroes, and lets you trade a mortal wound for +1 attack on each of the Dragon’s weapons. Unparalleled Duellist would likely be the better shout for actually doing damage to enemy units, as Black Dragons aren’t that accurate in melee anyway.
As per usual, Humans get the widest selection here, and most of the good options. Aelves will have some fun with theirs, while Duardin will likely be grumbling and grousing at their meager selection.
The Human section starts with the Brazier of Holy Flame, which prevents friendly models from fleeing on a 4+. With the middling Bravery of Cities units, this could be decent for keeping your line intact. Mastro Vivetti’s Magnificent Macroscope, aside from echoing Leonardo DeMiraglio of The Old World, adds 3” to the range of Human shooting wholly within 12” of the bearer. Your gunline extending out that extra few inches can really help get more shots off, and comboing that with Master of Ballistics and the Fusilier Marshal’s abilities can push your shooting that extra bit further. Shemtek’s Grimoire is a once per game debuff on enemy wizards, subtracting D3 from all casting rolls in your opponent’s Hero phase. It’s a little swingy but if you’re playing against an army reliant on its casters, this can shut them down for a turn. It won’t be useful against all opponents and you should probably opt for something more offensive if you can. Sigmarite Warhammer improves the Rend and Damage of one of the bearer’s melee weapons by 1. This isn’t where Cities Heroes really thrive and there are likely better uses of your Artefact slot. Flask of Lethisian Darkwater lets your hero heal D6 wounds once per game, which could be decent to get your bracketed monster-mounted Hero into a better wound band, but it’s swingy as they come and only single use. Glimmering is like a turbo-Luckstone, letting your Hero reroll a hit, wound, or save roll once per phase. This is extremely versatile, and on any mounted Hero could save their bacon or let them push their damage that extra bit further. Plan around Glimmering or the Macroscope and leave the rest at home.
Duardin get some classics, starting with the Book of Grudges. This hefty tome lets its bearer pick a unit on the table, and on a 4+ it’s in the book. All Duardin get +1 to hit against that target until the next Grudge is found. That part is interesting because if you fail to Grudge a unit on the next turn, that first unit is still Grudged. A coinflip isn’t amazing for this buff, but pointing to any unit on the table and going “Fuck that guy” is potentially decent. Piledriver Gauntlets have your Hero forego their normal attacks in the Combat phase, doling out a fights last effect on any enemy units within 3” on a 4+. Losing your attacks just to get this ability off kinda blows, as does the unreliable dieroll and short range. Fights last is a huge debuff, but it’s not as reliable as something like Suppressing Fire. Last we have Heavy Metal Ingot, which lets your doughty little dude ignore all negative modifiers to his armor save, provided he didn’t move that turn. It leans into the tanky aspect of Duardin well enough, rounding out a weak set of artefacts.
The Shadowshroud Ring kicks off the Aelf section, a once per game ability that makes your hero invisible to enemy shooting outside 12”. Giving a hard to hide monster like a Dreadlord on Black Dragon this would be huge to keep them alive against a shooting army like Lumineth, or, funnily enough, other Cities of Sigmar. Venomfang Blade is applied to one melee weapon, turning any 6+ on a wound roll into D3 mortal wounds in addition to normal damage. This would be right at home on a Black Ark Fleetmaster or Dreadlord. Last we have the most stylish of the three, the Anklet of Epiphany. This adds 6” to spell ranges on a Wizard provided they’re on an objective or terrain feature. It’ll let your foot Sorceress stay that much further out of danger, or give an unexpected range boost to your Sorceress on Black Dragon.
Humans get a stupefying eight spells here, one for each College of Magic. If you remember the Wizards of the Old World, they’re well represented. Aelves only have three, while Duardin don’t get any, as per usual.
All of the Human spells, save the first two, have a relatively attainable Casting Value of 7. Fireball is the first Human spell, Casting on a 6 and potentially doing a mortal wound for each model in an enemy unit. You roll a D6 for each, and on a 6+ you cause a mortal. Even on a unit of 20 dudes, you’re likely only going to cause 3-4 mortal wounds. Mystifying Miasma is a great utility spell, preventing an enemy unit from running and stacking a -2 debuff to their charge range. It’s got 24” of range and casts on a 5, meaning you can easily slow down that key enemy unit from a distance. Pall of Doom shuts down commands on an enemy unit. Commands can make or break some units, and shutting that off is great both as an offensive option, as well as a defensive one. Pha’s Protection lets you ignore both positive and negative modifiers to save rolls for a friendly Human unit of your choosing. Essentially giving your Steelhelms a 4+ invulnerable save will make for a great tarpit, and can keep your Cavaliers in the fight. Rain of Jade heals a friendly Human model on a 5+ for each wound suffered. With Great Cannons, Steam Tanks, and various monster-mounted Heroes with stacks of wounds available to you, this is a solid support spell. Transmutation of Lead is like Fireball but potentially much scarier. Roll a die for each model in the target unit. If your rolls are equal to or higher than their save characteristic, you cause a mortal wound. Anything with a save of 3+ or better, like say, most Stormcast and Slaves to Darkness units worth a damn, will have something to worry about here. Twin-tailed Comet is the weirdest of the bunch. The Caster draws an 18” line to an enemy unit, causing D3 mortal wounds on that target. Every friendly Human unit under that line now has Bravery 10 until the end of the turn. It might be hard to set up properly, but it’s thematic and will keep your dudes in the fight. Lastly is Wildform, your pretty standard 3D6 charge spell. Huck it at your Cavaliers or Tahlia Vedra and let er rip. There’s a good mix of utility and direct damage spells here, and you generally can’t go too wrong with most of them.
Aelf spells focus on debuffs, as opposed to direct damage. Sap Strength has a Casting Value of 6, applying a -1 to wound debuff to an enemy unit. This works on all wound rolls, so this could even defang a gunline for a round. Umbral Hex also casts on a 6, forcing a targeted enemy unit to take Battleshock tests on 2D6 instead of 1. There are a few ways that Aelf units can shut off Commands or Inspiring Presence, and you could scare a unit right off the board with this one. Our final spell, Tenebrael Blades, Casts on a 7 and only has 9” of range, but the friendly Aelf unit you cast it on turns off enemy saves for their melee attacks. Suddenly even your middling 4+/4+ Bleakswords are scary, as those weapons will cut through Sigmarite like butter. All of these spells are great, and it’s worth taking a few Sorceresses to lean into them.
Only Duardin get access to any Prayer Scriptures, and have three prayers to show for it. Fortunately, unlike some of the Enhancement prayers, these all inspire on a 3+, and also unlike those Enhancement prayers, most of them are pretty good. Rune of Unfaltering Aim gives +1 to hit rolls for ranged attacks on one of your units. It’s not wild, but it’s essentially a free All-out Attack. Rune of Oath and Steel subtracts 1 from wound rolls against the target Duardin unit. Stacking this with Form Shieldwall for a Ward save should make your Duardin some of the tankiest units on any table. Last we have the most swingy and difficult to say out loud prayer, Rune of Wrath and Ruin. Roll 6 dice, and for each 5+ you cause a mortal wound to the target unit. If you cause 3 or more, they are Ruined until your next hero phase, and they ignore positive modifiers to save rolls. This lets you take a unit out of cover and shut down All-out Defense or Mystic Shield. It’s a little hard to pull off and the target unit might not always be one that would benefit much from these anyway, but it’s certainly an unexpected trick you can pull.
There are a whopping eleven subfactions here, each of which build into a different archetype, often supported pretty well by their lore. They’re a fairly light touch, rules-wise, and longtime Cities of Sigmar players may see their favorite city no longer has rules. That’s bad news for all three of you Phoenicium players, but new cities have risen to take their place.
Hammerhal Aqsha – Heroes can give 2 Orders instead of just 1, but they have to be distinct. As we’ve already said, Orders are huge for this army, so right off the bat this is a powerful subfaction with rules that will play into every phase of the game. They also get a cute bonus CP for having Aventis Firestrike in your army.
Tempest’s Eye – Your army, plus any allied Kharadron Overlords units, can retreat and shoot. You generally don’t want your shooting units in melee (shocker, we know) so being able to scoot n’ shoot is enormously powerful, and getting those Kharadron out of engagement is handy too.
Hallowheart – Your wizards can cast with 3 dice instead of 2, but if they go over 10 on their Casting Value they take D3 mortal wounds. Cities wizards tend to be on the squishy side, and while there are some solid spells available in this army, the benefits of this subfaction are likely too specific to see much play.
Hammerhal Ghyra – One extra unit of yours can be reinforced, for example giving you a fifth reinforced unit instead of the normal four in a 2000 point game. Human units also have Bravery 10 when over 10 models. If you really want to lean into hordes, this’ll do ya, but with the 1” range of Steelhelms they won’t be doing much damage in huge blocks.
The Living City – The treehugger faction. For each Living City or Sylvaneth unit you deploy on the field, another can go into reserve and pop up within 6” of a table edge and 9” away from any enemy units. The board control afforded by this is pretty incredible, and having a wall of guns and shields or Kurnoth pop up in your opponent’s backfield on turn 2 can give them a lot to worry about.
Greywater Fastness – Give your opponents the Greywater Welcome, issuing up to 3 All-out Attack commands in the shooting phase for a single Command Point. If you issue 2 or fewer, it’s free. Cities of Sigmar love shooting, and seeing how this stacks with Master of Ballistics and all the other shooting support abilities, this is one worth teching into. The only drawback is that this subfaction can’t ally with Sylvaneth at all, in accordance with their backstory of basically being Irontown from Princess Mononoke.
Lethis – All of your non-wizard Human Heroes become Priests, and they, along with any Stormcast Priests in your army, get the Morrda’s Embrace prayer. This prayer answers on a 4 and shuts off ward saves for a single enemy unit within 12”. This is so situational to the point where it genuinely is not worth taking, especially compared to the more generally useful subfactions surrounding it.
Vindicarum – This subfaction can use the Rally command while within 3” of enemy units, a potentially huge boon in those grinding melees. More specifically, Flagellants can return on 5+ instead of 6+, so you can keep recycling Flagellants for those mortal wounds.
Excelsis – If you’re here for cavalry charges and big monsters, this is your subfaction. Monsters get an extra wound, and your Cavaliers can cause a mortal wound per model in their own unit after fighting. It’s only on a 4+, but if you have enough of them, you could put out a decent number of mortals per turn fairly reliably.
Settler’s Gain – A flat +1 to casting rolls for wizards, and an extra CP if your general is near a Lumineth Hero. If you’re teching into wizards, this is probably the more reliable caster-based Subfaction over Hallowheart, as your wizards’ heads won’t be exploding ⅓ of the time.
Misthavn – At the end of your Hero phase, 3 units can move D6”, or 2D6” if they’re mounted. This can be fantastic for getting your cavalry and monsters to pull off a more reliable charge, nudge a unit onto an objective, get your guns in range, or just about anything else. Out of phase movement is rare, and this versatility makes this a dark horse in the race for best Cities subfaction.
The Core Battalion here is based on a very specific formation referred to frequently in the lore sections of this book: The Castelite Formation. Rules-wise, this is a Unified Drop with Slayers for a once per battle free All out Attack or Unleash Hell command. It consists of a Fusil-Major on Ogor Warhulk, three units of Fusiliers or Steelhelms, and an Ironweld Great Cannon. A second Fusil-Major can be added, but that’s the only option. This formation forms a castle, with the Fusil-Majors being the watchtowers, the Freeguilders being the battlements, and the Cannon serving as the gate. It’s effective, thematic, and likely to be the building block of most Cities of Sigmar armies, as these are largely units you’ll want to take anyway.
We have the typical four Grand Strategies here.
Exemplar of the Academe Martial – We’ve seen this type before, where it’s accomplished by completing at least four faction-specific Battle Tactics, and with how specific some of those are, it’s a pretty poor choice.
Reclaim for Sigmar! – You get this one if you have a Cities of Sigmar unit in each table quarter at the end of the battle. If you have one of the more maneuverable subfactions, this one can be a layup, though a more static gunline may have trouble with it.
Hold the High Ground – If there is a friendly unit and no enemy units within 12” of the center of the battlefield, you get this one. It’s possible to get a tanky brick of dudes up the field and hold that ground relatively early in the game, so depending on the matchup this one is pretty doable.
Banners Held High – If you have more Standard Bearers and units with the Totem keyword left on the table at the end of the game, you score this one. Almost every Cities unit has at least one Standard Bearer, and they’re usually the last or second to last dude you take as a casualty, so as long you don’t get tabled this one should be easy.
There’s six to choose from, with two essentially being locked to Human units and one each for Aelves and Duardin. You’ll likely be attempting to pull off about half of these any given game anyway, and they make for a decent selection of Tactics to achieve.
Bring Full Arms to Bear – You get this one if a unit you designate is destroyed by one of your units with the Suppressing Fire Order. You’ll be using this Order a lot, and so long as you prioritize your targets this one is easy.
Raise the Banner – This one is highly unit-specific, making it a challenge to pull off. You have to pick an objective controlled by your opponent, and you need to control it with a Freeguild Command Corps unit that has a Great Herald in it by the end of the turn. This will likely never happen, but the one time it does, you’ll enjoy those 2 points.
Blackpowder Bombardment – If 3 or more enemy units are shot to death you score this one. You’ll likely be trying to do this every turn anyway, and with this much shooting available, it’s likely to be one you pull off more games than not.
Mount the Charge – Designate an enemy objective and take it with a charging mounted unit. You’ll take this on the turn you want to recreate the Ride of the Rohirrim or just bully a midfield unit off of an objective.
Strike Without Warning – The only Aelf-specific Battle Tactic, you score this if 3 Aelf units made a charge this turn. That’s where most of the Aelves in this book want to be, so this one should be an easy one.
Iron Might – Similarly, we have a Duardin-specific Tactic, and it’s similar, if harder to control. It’s achieved if 3 Duardin units fought this turn and none were destroyed.
The book compartmentalizes the 3 races in the book. Quite a few units have been removed, with the last vestiges of the old High Elf range being put to pasture, and a load of old Empire units have either been removed or replaced by new Freeguild equivalents. In many ways, this is like having 3 armies in one faction, with Humans getting the most attention.
Forming the core of the Battletome and benefiting from the largest number of Orders, Enhancements, and Warscrolls, Humans will be the backbone of most armies.
Tahlia Vedra, Lioness of the Parch
As the face of the army, Tahlia is as much a support Hero as she is a combat beast. With a smorgasbord of powerful melee attacks from both her Weapon of Office and her manticore, Infernadine, she’s going to put the hurt on whatever you throw her at. She has a unique Monstrous Rampage ability that gives an enemy monster the strikes last effect on a 3+, which will give her the time to kill or cripple anything big enough to stop her. Most importantly, she has a pair of support abilities that will keep your army running. Lead From the Front lets her give the Rally command to friendly Human units, even when they’re engaged, and models come back on a 4+ instead of a 6+. If that’s not enough, she can give two Orders instead of just one. With only a 4+ save and a 6+ ward, however, those 15 wounds could get chewed through pretty quickly. A Battlemage with the Rain of Jade spell to keep her topped off might not be the worst idea, but you’re already paying a premium for this model, which is the most expensive unit in the book. Her sheer utility and punching power certainly justify the cost; it’ll just be a matter of keeping her from getting shot off the board.
Pontifex Zenestra, Matriarch of the Great Wheel
The only Human Priest in the book, the Sigmar Skeleton Pope is a powerful support piece. In addition to the typical unbinding abilities shared by most Priests and a solid 4+ ward save, she gets two prayers for the price of one. Each time her Vessel of Sigmar prayer answers on a 3+, she can become a 5+ ward bubble for Human units, grant a +2” move effect to every friendly Human on the battlefield, cause D3 mortal wounds to every enemy Priest and wizard on the board, or cause a few mortal wounds to enemy units in engagement range with her. Ideally, she’ll never be in a situation where that last one is necessary, but her first two support abilities are certainly powerful enough to justify her 150 point pricetag.
Freeguild Marshal on Griffon
Cheaper and not quite as deadly in combat as Tahlia, this Great Value Karl Franz is here to offer a less flashy hero on big damn monster. Instead of giving out two Orders to every Hero for the whole game, this lesser officer can only do that once, and only he can issue them. As a flying monster who outpaces every unit in the army, he’ll likely be out of position to give Orders to the majority of your units that can benefit from them, unless he’s leading a Cavalier charge. He has the cute ability to Roar twice per Monstrous Rampage, and if you do take Carl Francis here, give him the Greathammer or Runesword instead of the lance. Of all the Heroes available to you, he’s likely the one who will benefit the most from Glimmering, and he’d be a hell of a distraction Carnifex if you have the points.
Freeguild Marshal and Relic Envoy
There is the chance for some unexpected damage 3 melee attacks from this guy with his Heirloom Warhammer, but you’re not taking them for their combat prowess. Instead, this budget foot Hero can Deliver a Rousing Speech once per battle as a Heroic Action, potentially letting up to 3 Human units to count each model as 2 models for the purposes of objective control. However, you have to roll under the already mediocre leadership of your Steelhelms and Fusiliers to do this, and on 2D6 those aren’t great odds. More importantly, his Attendant Relic Envoy lets him carry out two Heroic Actions instead of just one, or give out a free Command to a unit within 12”. As Freeguild Steelhelms already can pass along a Command for free, and subfactions like Greywater Fastness can also have means of getting free Commands, this support hero is a great choice for getting Commands off while keeping your CP reserves full.
Freeguild Cavalier Marshal
Somebody’s gotta lead the cavalry charge, and by gum can this guy do it. On his own, he’s not appreciably scarier than the unmounted Marshal, but where he really shines is at the front of a few units of Cavaliers. When he uses the Their Finest Hour Heroic Action, it gives +3” to charge rolls for him and up to 3 Cavalier units. When this stampede invariably hits its mark, the Cavalier Marshal and one of those Cavalier units can fight first. He’s got enough staying power to last a round of combat with most rank and file units, and while he won’t sweep a flank on his own, he’ll make sure your Cavaliers do.
A buff wizard in every sense of the word, this wizard must take the Transmutation of Lead spell. We’ve gone over that spell before, but it can be pretty solid in the right situation. His Runic Crucible either buffs his own casting rolls by 1 or the save rolls of friendly Human units wholly within 12” by 1, which is a huge survivability boost for your troops. That takes the place of casting a spell, but an automatic, free Mystic Shield to everyone who’s listening is worth the sacrifice. His Warscroll spell, Blazing Weapons, casts on a 7 (or a 6 if he stokes his Runic Crucible) and affects all Human units wholly within 12” with the ability to dole out mortal wounds on 6+ to hit, in addition to normal damage. This affects shooting and melee attacks, so your Fusiliers and Steelhelms will be doing bucketloads of mortals with this spell. At 10 points less than a Battlemage, they’re theoretically a bit less versatile, but a strong choice for a support caster.
The old Empire Wizard kit is still alive and kicking, and this time all the geegaws have associated effects. They don’t dictate what spells you can or can’t take, but do emphasize the theming, to uneven effect. There’s some junk options like extra attacks for the wizard or a once per game chance for some mortals, but you’ll generally want to take the Ancient Grimoire for +1 to casting rolls or the Ritual Dagger to trade your Battlemage’s wounds for extra casts. They’re only a single cast wizard, but with the variety of utility spells available, it’s worth taking one to slow down enemy units or heal up your monsters and war machines.
Battlemage on Griffon
You’re spending a lot for a single cast wizard, but they’re riding a decent combat monster and can buff themselves across the board rather quickly. For pure combat purposes you’re better off spending the 20 extra points for the Freeguild Marshal on Griffon, but this unit could easily fly around, chewing up units and casting its Amber Spear spell for some mortal wounds. It’s a decent spell, doing D3 mortal wounds to units in a straight line, with a flat 3 against monsters.
Battlemage on Celestial Hurricanum
This Mobile Orb Pondering Platform is a close range artillery and support piece, handing out a +1 to hit aura to Humans within 9” and blasting an enemy unit within 18” with a bunch of mortal wounds. Roll a D3 per battle round you’re on, and for each 2+, zap the target. It’s tempting to think of that late game potential 5D3 mortal wounds on a unit, but any canny player will make sure this thing is dead by then. The wizard on top can cast another mortal wound spell with Chain Lightning; kind of weak on its own but with the potential to hop to other units for more mortals. The wizard on top and the weapons on board synergize well with their ranges, and if you can park this behind a Fusilier wall it could cause some real problems for your opponent.
Battlemage on Luminark of Hysh
Another holdover from Warhammer Fantasy Battles, this war machine straddles the line between support caster and backfield artillery piece. It projects a 6+ ward save bubble to Human units wholly within 9”, a little on the tight side but potentially doable given its larger base size. Both the main gun and Warscroll spell focus on dealing mortal wounds. The Searing Beam of Light on the Luminark draws a 30” straight line to a single point, doing D3 mortal wounds to each unit along that line on a 2+. It’s important to note that it’s each unit, not each enemy unit, so you can absolutely fry a few of your own poor schlubs with this. This requires some canny positioning, but if you want to blast a horde to pieces, the Warscroll spell here is more forgiving. Casting on an attainable 6, Burning Gaze causes D3 mortal wounds, doubling or tripling that number if the target unit is 10+ or 20+ models. Few units reaching 20 models rely on mortal wounds to remove them, but this unit can reliably put out a few scatterings of mortals every turn. It’s kind of an incoherent unit, dealing mortals to take out elites, with rules that benefit targeting large units, with little melee ability but a support rule that wants to be on the front lines.
Fusil-Major on Ogor Warhulk
As the literal cornerstone of this Battletome’s Battalion, you will likely be taking at least one of these in every list. They’re a bit spendy, but are a tanky counter assault unit you can use to anchor your Fusilier lines and issue Orders. This unit benefits from the Fortified Position rule that Fusiliers and Great Cannons have. This lets the unit ignore negative modifiers from enemy ranged attacks so long as they haven’t moved or been set up that turn. Units with this rule start Fortified as well, so if you don’t get first turn against a shooting army you don’t need to sweat. More specifically, this Fusil-Major gets to pick a friendly Castelite unit (again, Fusiliers, Cannons, and this guy) and can add D6” to their range characteristic. With the relatively short ranges employed by all of these units, that’s a welcome benefit, and all the more reason to anchor your Battalion with a pair of these. He’s no slouch either, with a decent shooting profile that can target specific models in an enemy unit and potentially instantly kill them. Abilities like this are extremely rare, and being able to knock out a banner bearer or unit champion to tank a unit’s Bravery or give you the leg up on the Banners Held High Grand Strategy is as useful as it is funny. Against bricks of Chaos Warriors or Chosen, being able to snipe out an Ensorcelled Banner is going to be some long odds, but could potentially defang a big unit or army strategy outright.
Steam Tank Commander
A best-in-class 12 wounds with a 2+ save ensure that this thing isn’t going to die. Steam Tanks really need Commands to function, and this guy can give the same Command up to twice in the same phase, with the second instance being free. That means you’ll probably roll up with a Steam Tank Commander and the cheaper, Commander-less version, get a double All-out Attack in the shooting phase for some much needed accuracy, take full advantage of More Pressure! on one or both tanks, risking some mortal wounds for loads more movement or shooting, and maybe a Suppressing Fire Order just to keep things spicy. The extra weapons on the command variant add some okay plinking damage, but really what you’re paying for is the Hero keyword. If you’re taking any regular Steamtanks, you should be supporting them with a Commander.
Haskel Hexbane and Hexbane’s Hunters
As with any Warhammer Underworlds warbands ported over to AoS, Hexbane’s crew are a weird unit that’s not exactly the most effective on the tabletop. Hexbane can pick an enemy Hero or monster at the start of the game, and if your opponent has a unit with both of those keywords, it has to be one of those. For the rest of the game, Hexbane and his crew do +1 damage to that particular unit. It’s characterful and kinda funny, and I absolutely love the idea of this group of yabbos chewing through Teclis. I doubt they’ll make it there unfortunately, even with their 5+ ward. Potentially this Hero and unit can also cause some mortal wounds, with a better chance if that target has the Death, Daemon, or Wizard keywords.
Galen and Doralia Van Denst
Even the Order of Azyr has bring your daughter to work day, and this pair of Witch Hunters have some of the same abilities as Hexbane’s crew – namely a 5+ Ward and similar offensive profiles. They do double damage against Wizards and Daemons, and can shoot Endless Spells to death, which is pretty neat. You’re incentivized to keep them together with a Strikes First rule, but they’re a good way to get a few reasonably priced human Heroes into your list to issue some Orders, with good enough shooting to plink away some wounds in the meantime.
This might seem like a slim section for Battleline units, but both Freeguild Fusiliers and Wildercorps Hunters are conditional Battleline once you’ve got some Steelhelms in your army. These doughty defenders of Sigmar’s lands are deceptively durable, even with a 4+ save and only 1 wound a piece. They don’t hit especially hard on their own, but once some Orders are going they can punch above their weight, with a flurry of suddenly Rend -1 attacks when they’re spurred on by Counter-Charge, or getting juiced up by an Alchemite Warforger. They also have the Consecrate the Land rule, where once they control an objective and no enemy models are contesting it, their Battle Priest can roll a die – on a 3+ that objective is consecrated, and all friendly Human units get a 6+ ward on that objective until an enemy unit takes it. This durability can cascade further down the line, as their Hold the Line rule lets them pass on any All-out Attack or Defense Commands they receive to another friendly Steelhelms unit wholly within 12”. You’re encouraged to keep these units close together, and they’re priced to move.
This is basically the same as the Battlemage variant, but 30 points cheaper and without any spellcasting or dispelling abilities. If you can take the slightly pricier version, the wizard’s abilities are a good match for the unit’s abilities, and an extra dispel is nice to have.
Luminark of Hysh
Just like the Hurricanum, here’s a 30 points cheaper, wizard-less version of the laser wagon. It’s a potentially annoying unit, but its role as an artillery piece conflicts with Aura of Protection rule that hands out a ward save to your dudes. There are a few ways to get 6+ wards in this army that don’t cost you 220 points, so this is likely one to leave at home.
For 40 points less than the command variant, you lose out on some incidental fire, even more incidental melee abilities, and the ability to give Commands. You only really need one commander as most of your points are being spent on the sheer toughness of the hull, with 12 wounds and a rare 2+ save. It’s otherwise the same as the Steam Tank Commander, with the More Pressure! rule, the same weapons, and the same Steel Behemoth ability. They’re also battleline if a Steam Tank Commander is your general, so if you want to make an armored battalion, you’re invited to go nuts.
Ironweld Great Cannon
Another Castelite unit, the Great Cannon has benefits and drawbacks from the Fortified Position rule. When Fortified, it can shoot a Cannonball for a pair of D3+2 damage shots out to 24”, or further with the right buffs and Enhancements on nearby characters. There’s a far swingier Armour-Piercing Shell profile that is too unreliable to count on, even if it has a rare -4 rend attached to it. Lastly, the only shooting profile usable whilst on the move is Grapheshot. This turns your cannon into a giant shotgun, blasting out a bunch of lower quality fire at shorter range. None of these profiles are particularly accurate, but this is a prime example of a unit worth using All-out Attack on, especially with all the access to free Commands this army has.
This pious rabble is battleline if Pontifex Zenestra is in your army, not just if she’s your general. These zealots are cheap, extremely easy to kill, and have decidedly subpar attack power. However, each time one dies in melee, on a 5+ they throw themselves at the enemy, causing a single mortal wound. Their Bravery is high for the faction, sitting at an 8, so it’s unlikely too many will run away – a good thing especially as those don’t cause mortal wounds. However, with Thalia Vedra’s ability to Rally friendly units that are in combat on a 4+, or the similar ability from the Vindicarum subfaction, you can keep these guys coming back to die and cause mortal wounds all over again. Now, a full unit of 10 is on average going to score 3 mortal wounds, but if given the chance to get back up and do it again, they could be a problem. They’re unlikely to be worth it unless your army is built hard into regenerating them, as a squad or two will just get mown down by shooting or cut down after a single round of combat. That one round might cause a few mortal wounds, at least.
Freeguild Command Corps
This is a staggeringly complex unit, like an Underworlds warband wandered in from the wrong game. Of the six models in this unit, there are four different weapon profiles and five different special rules. The whole crew can be assigned to a single Freeguild Marshal, and they give him a 4+ ward when they’re nearby him. The War Surgeon lets you restore D3 wounds (or D3 wounds worth of models) to 3 Human units wholly within 12” at the end of your hero phase. Use this after rallying for best effect, or even on this unit after taking a few casualties. The Whisperblade lets you cancel an enemy command ability once per turn (note: not once per battle round) on a 4+, also wasting that command point. This is an extremely powerful and annoying ability for anyone on the other side of the table. The Great Heralrd is necessary for one bad Grand Strategy, but more importantly adds 1” to friendly Human charge and advance rolls within 12”, and a rarer D3” to retreat distances. Lastly, the Corpus Somni and his spooky piper keep retreating models within 12” from running on a 4+. Sorry, Gargoylian and Arch-Knight, y’all are dying first. This unit is certainly on the expensive side at 170 points, but the amount of utility you get from them is unparalleled, and at 3 wounds a piece with the ability to self heal with the War Surgeon, they’re surprisingly durable.
These are Battleline if your general is Freeguild, which they often will be. Note that the various wizards available to the Human arm of this faction are not Freeguild, so you’ll want a more mundane general if you want to recreate the Charge of the Light Brigade, or, more accurately, the Charge of the Heavy Brigade. These horse girls and boys hit like a truck on the turn they charge (harder still with the Engage the Foe order), and they’ve got a 3+ save to hang in there after the fact. If you want to lean in even harder, go Excelsis for a few extra mortal wounds after these guys fight, and keep them with your Cavalier Marshal to benefit from his extra 3” charge distance and fight first ability.
One unit of these shooting infantry can be Battleline per unit of Freeguild Steelhelms. They benefit from the same Fortified Position rule the other Castelite units do, and when they’re in that Fortified Position their shooting doubles in volume and range. You’ll want to use the Advance in Formation Order as often as possible while moving these troops, if only to keep them Fortified while on the move. Once in place, they’ve got an at first underwhelming looking profile, only shooting on 4+/4+ with a Rend and Damage of 1. However, this is the unit practically made for the Suppressing Fire and Return Fire Orders. Burning Weapons from an Alchemite Warforger is a great choice for a bevy of potential mortal wounds. With easy access to free All-out Attack commands from either Freeguild Marshals or the Greywater Fastness army rules make for a unit that lives and dies on its buffs. They’re on the expensive side for single wound infantry, but with the volume of easily buffable fire from them, they’ll be a durable core to your army.
Much like the Fusiliers, you can take one unit of Wildercorps as Battleline per unit of Steelhelms in your army. These are the consummate screening unit, having some decent shooting, made better by being in cover. They have a pregame move so you can get them forward into terrain, where their shooting can be unexpectedly dangerous at Rend -2, or as a screen for your main battleline. They’ll get to shoot with relative impunity, however, as they’re not visible to the enemy when in cover or more than 12” away. Shooting is often how screening units are cleared out, so these guys having built-in protection against it is a welcome surprise. They’re let down somewhat by over a third of the models in the unit being Trailhounds and missing out on more shooting, but the doggos have a little more bite than their human handlers.
The thinnest of the lot, barely filling out a pamphlet. With a paltry 9 units to pick from with some middling-at-best faction rules and Enhancements, it’s tough to be a stunty.
This short king is the most durable foot hero in the book, with a respectable damage output in melee and his own Grudge to bear. If he’s your general, he can bear a Grudge against one enemy unit, and any Duardin attacking that unit in melee will automatically wound on a hit roll of 6+. It’s not world shattering, but if there’s a problem unit you know you’re going to fight, it has some utility. His other ability is a pretty typical one of foot heroes like this, where a nearby friendly Duardin unit can fight immediately after him in the Fight phase.
As a Priest, he gets access to the pretty good Prayer Scripture in the book. His Warscroll prayer is okay, improving the Rend characteristic of a friendly Duardin unit’s melee weapons by 1. It only inspires on a 4+ though, so you might shoot for a more reliable prayer from the Scripture. Naturally, he can also unbind one spell like a wizard.
Your designated combat engineer who can’t actually fix anything, this guy’s a bit of a conundrum. He juggles a bunch of kind of okay weapons, and depending on whether or not he has a free hand some are slightly more accurate. He can also issue orders to Gyrocpters and Gyrobombers from anywhere on the table. Those units are mostly just going to be moving over stuff and dropping bombs, being cheap and annoying little units not worth spending a CP on. Leave the air traffic controller Cogsmith at home.
A decent enough unit that can either have a 4+ save and stronger weapons, or a 3+ save and weaker ones. If you want a tankier Duardin unit, Ironbreakers are right there. Longbeards’ special rule prevents friendly Duardin from running on a 4+, which might be handy but the stunties have generally good Bravery all around so this might not come in handy all that often.
I regret to inform you that these guys are rarely going to kill anything. However, it is my pleasure to inform you that they likely will never die. With a high Bravery, 3+ save, and a 4+ ward when they Form Shieldwall, this unit is an immovable object.
These have a lot of piddly shooting attacks and aren’t amazing in melee, but they’re cheap and maneuverable. Taking a couple of these as single units to float around and take objectives, cause a mortal wound or two with their Guild Bombs, and generally just be a bee in your opponent’s bonnet isn’t a bad move.
“What if Gyrocopter, but more” is the ethos here. Costing half again as much and with a somewhat more respectable shooting profile, these benefit from having an extra wound and an unlimited supply of dinky mortal wound bombs. These might be throwing too many points into the harassment unit role, but if you already wanted a Gyrocopter and had the points leftover, it could be worth the bump.
These guys are more of what you want for greatweapon infantry compared to the Longbeards, as these greatweapons actually have damage 2. They cost about 20 points more, but are markedly nastier in combat, and they give a Warden King within 3” a 4+ ward save. Cast Rune of Oath and Steel on them for some extra staying power and let them whack away with relative impunity.
One unit can be Battleline for each unit of Ironbreakers in the army, and you’ll probably want Ironbreakers anyway to form the anvil of your army. Irondrakes shoot more on turns where they stand still, and have a decent shooting profile to boot. It’s regrettably short ranged and all of the abilities to boost the range of shooting weapons are tied to Human units. However, the Grudgehammer Torpedo is a fun little anti-monster weapon that can spike 3 wounds (or 6 if you stand still) so always take that option. It’s just a shame Duardin can’t benefit from most of the Battletome’s fun shooting abilities.
With 17 units to pick from, there’s enough to form a coherent (if limited) force of old Warhammer Fantasy Dark Elves. The old High Elves getting the axe cut down an already dwindling contingent, so it’s likely that these are on their way out too. For now, however, you have a few to choose from.
Sorceress on Black Dragon
A model this large with a 5+ save and no secondary defensive abilities should give a prospective hobbyist pause. Her Warscroll spell, Noxious Breath, and the attacks from the dragon all want this unit to be front row center, but even with 14 wounds, a 5+ save is easy to chew through. Ideally she can Order herself to Strike Them Down and get her attacks off before her opponent can, but she’s generally looking for a 4+ to hit with all those attacks. She can issue the same Command twice per phase, with the second being free, so she could juice herself up before going in for the kill. It’s a lot of setup for a fairly vulnerable, spendy, and hard to hide model, and at this point a Dreadlord or Marshal on Griffon will do most of the same stuff but better.
So long as you have the bodies to burn for her Blood Sacrifice ability, she can be a reliable caster. For the low, low cost of murdering a single Darkling Covens model, she gains +2 to her casting rolls. Her Warscroll spell, Word of Pain, Casts on a 7 and does D3 mortal wounds, but more importantly hits the target unit with a -1 to hit debuff until your next Hero phase. If you wanted to shut down a unit, a pair of these cheap wizards casting Word of Pain and Sap Strength could debuff a unit into uselessness with some easy to hit casting rolls.
Dreadlord on Black Dragon
For only 10 points more, the Dreadlord gets a better save and much better melee options than the Sorceress on Black Dragon. He’s got what it takes to hang out and do some damage, with a high number of mid-quality attacks that will cut down tougher troops reasonably well. Order Serpentis units, including himself, can reroll charges wholly within 12” of him. With his decent speed and rerolls on the charge, a lance might actually be a decent option on him for some rend -2 damage 3 attacks on the charge. Throw Unparalleled Duellist on him if you want to engage a load of units and spit back oodles of mortal wounds while you’re at it.
A value-priced foot hero, the Assassin benefits from a 40k-style rule that lets him hide when within 3” of Aelf models, becoming invisible to enemy units 12” or more out. Once he gets in close, he gets to strike first with half a dozen merely okay attacks, one of which, on average, will become D3 mortal wounds in any given fight phase. He likely won’t survive the encounter, and ironically isn’t especially good at killing Heroes. It would have been nice to see a reroll or something against Heroes just to reinforce his role as an assassin.
Black Ark Fleetmaster
This peglegged privateer can actually put up a decent fight, even spitting out two mortal wounds on any target that rolls a 1 to hit him in melee. If you were leaning into the thematic and had him supporting some Scourge Privateers, any All-out Attack orders he gives to them adds 1 to the attacks characteristic of that unit’s weapons. Scourge Privateers units aren’t generally amazing, but Long John Silverhelm here can give them a little more oomph. It’s up to you whether buffing generally bad units is worth it or not.
These guys are tailor made for the Sorceress’ Blood Sacrifice ability: cheap and unwitting jamokes who have a decent save and a bunch of unremarkable attacks. Similarly, they’re good candidates for the Tenebrael Blades spell, turning their rend 0 weapons into armor-ignoring lightsabers.
A decidedly old-school brick of spearmen, Dreadspears are even cheaper than Bleakswords, and another great candidate for being stabbed by a murderwizard. This shieldwall benefits from +1 to hit on any turn they get charged, which is comforting in an old-school WHFB or historical wargames sort of way. They otherwise don’t have much going for them. A wall of Dreadspears and Bleakswords should hold your line so the Executioners, Drakespawn Knights, and Black Guards can swoop around and do the actual killing, same as it ever was.
This is a dark horse choice, none too expensive and entirely too durable. Its stats aren’t anything wild, but the old saying about the heads of the hydra apply here. At the end of every combat phase – including your opponent’s – it regenerates 5 wounds. With a pool of 12 to draw from, it’ll take some dedicated resources to make sure it actually dies. It’s otherwise an affordable monster that can clear out screening units with its breath weapon and, with a little luck, put some real hurt on whatever they’re tarpitting in melee.
A smidge cheaper and lacking the regeneration and firebreath of the War Hydra, we have this niche critter. Its only gimmick is that enemy units can’t use the Inspiring Presence and Rally commands within 12” of it. That’s not a bad ability on its own, but one that would be better suited to either a unit that’s easier to hide, with more staying power, or more maneuverability.
These Black Guard blackguards are battleline if your general is Darkling Covens, which means either variety of Sorceress will do. Their fairly standard profiles aren’t anything special, but they’re decent candidates for the Strike Them Down Order, and they’re clearly meant to be a Sorceress’ personal bodyguard. They’re a little expensive to be good targets for her Blood Sacrifice ability, but they have a 4+ ward when they’re within 3” of a Sorceress, and also give that ability back to her in return. This only applies to the footbound Sorceress Warscroll, so they’re not going to make your dragons any tougher.
Edgier, meaner versions of the Black Guard, Executioners are the spendiest Aelf infantry, with the only damage 2 melee attacks across all these footbound Aelves. As an added bonus, unmodified hits of 6+ become 2 mortal wounds and stop there. Their rules don’t hugely interact with the other Aelf spells or Orders, beyond the always-useful Strike Them Down or Counter-Charge, but they’re honestly good enough that they can run around with minimal support.
It took an unreasonable amount of restraint not to call them “Darksharts” and leave it there, dear reader. One unit of these can be battleline per Bleakswords or Dreadspears units in the army. They’re not terribly good, being somewhat more mobile but worse in every other way than Freeguild Fusiliers, and not for much of a discount. They’re the rare unit in AoS 3.0 that still has a bonus rule for being over a certain size, namely getting +1 to hit with their crossbows when the unit is 10 or more models. Because of this, you’d want to take a reinforced unit just to benefit from their only special rule, and that just ain’t worth it on this wholly subpar unit.
This Warscroll isn’t anything special on its own, and requires some setup to really pull off its one trick. If one of these fragile little chariots gets a charge off, you roll 2 dice and on a 2-4 cause a single mortal wound, and on a 5+ cause 3. That’s not too bad. If they charge a unit that is engaged with Drakespawn Knights, however, you add 2 to those dierolls, meaning you could fairly reliably cause 6 mortal wounds on the charge with each of these. If you can fit all these units in a Dreadlord on Black Dragon’s 12” bubble and pull that multicharge off, it would be a hell of a trick. You’ll likely be trying to score Strike Without Warning, so get some mortal wounds while you’re at it.
Battleline if your general is Order Serpentis, so just the Dreadlord. On their own they’re every bit as durable and speedy as Freeguild Cavaliers, punching nearly as hard for 40 points less. Where they really shine is with that Dreadlord on Black Dragon giving them rerolls on the charge and some mobile Orders. Pull a Swift Disengage Order on the turn after they charge, get them the hell out of Dodge, and charge right back in on your next turn to get that lance bonus again.
An interesting if confused unit, Dark Riders are a somewhat unreliable and none too dangerous unit that is best at flanking and being a pain on objectives or understrength flank units. They can retreat and still shoot or charge, saving you the Order, but at no point will they be doing much damage. Instead what you want from them is the ability to shut off a Command within 12” on a 5+, still wasting your opponent’s command point and counting that Command as being used. The 5+ is just a little bit too swingy to depend on, and their attack profiles will generally want to be used on the kinds of units that won’t be using Commands much anyway – chaff, screening units, or poor backfield defenders who won’t benefit much from that command point. A list with a few of these plus a Freeguild Command Corps could be annoying, but might not have the punch it needs for all those points being spent.
Black Ark Corsairs
This pack of scoundrels are Battleline if your general is a Scourge Privateer, limiting you to a Black Ark Fleetmaster. They can either be built for short range shooting or melee, neither of which are particularly good. They benefit from a similar rule as the Fleetmaster, turning 1s to hit them in melee into mortal wounds on the attacking units. A big mob of these with a Black Ark Fleetmaster is a funny combo, although not one anyone will spare much thought or worry. Single wound models with a 5+ save and 4+/4+ rend 0 attacks aren’t scaring anybody.
Made of matchsticks and bad intentions, these are a rapid moving missile unit meant to harass, nab objectives, and cause a few unexpected wounds here and there. Like a few other units in this book, they have modified damage against monsters, doing a flat 3 damage with their Ravager Harpoon instead of D3. At only 80 points a pop these are great fillers for those last few points in your army, and while you can run one big squad of 3, the footprint they take up on the board and their role as skirmishers means they’d be better off as singles. If you really want to focus on these guys, the Tempest’s Eye subfaction would be a good way to keep them falling back and shooting instead of getting chewed up in melee.
Cities of Sigmar manages to be three armies in one book that can only sort of play together. Of those three, one is a clockwork machine of overlapping abilities, buffs, and good Warscroll abilities, one is middling but has some potentially effective edge cases, and one is Duardin. If you are a longtime Cities of Sigmar player, you may be upset to see some old favorite units go, but with a little creative thinking, those Freeguild Guard can find their way into being Steelhelms, Bleakswords, or Dreadspears, and those Greatswords can trade their flouncy hats for pointy ears and join the ranks of the Executioners. There’s enough in the Human third of this book for players to build a perfectly usable army on their own, and it’s clearly the section of the Battletome with the most thought put into it. The introduction of Orders introduces a load of new design space and an extra layer of depth to the poor bloody infantry, and if you can take advantage of those synergies, the Mortal Realms will be yours.
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