The new Battleomes for Age of Sigmar third edition don’t just come with matched play rules; similar to Crusade in Warhammer 40k, each battletome for Age of Sigmar now also comes with faction-specific Path to Glory rules. We reviewed the rules from the new Stormcast Eternals Battletome on Tuesday and today we’re talking about the new rules in the Orruks battletome. There’s a bit of an uphill challenge to this as the book is more like three factions combined into one book, meaning there’s a lot more work to do narratively. So how do you make a narrative that benefits this? Well in this case the answer seems to be “focus on their journey to call a Big WAAAGH!,” of course! In an Orruk Warclans Path to Glory Campaign you will either rise to be the mightiest war boss to unite all the clans or die in the process. Let’s dive in to how it works.
Gathering the Big Waaagh!
When first starting an Army you can choose any of the 4 main factions (Ironjawz, Kruleboyz, Bonesplittaz or Big Waaagh!). If you choose Big Waaagh! you do not benefit from Gathering the Big Waaagh! or Calling the Big Waaagh! but for the other factions, you can still recruit Orruks outside “your” faction and add them to your roster. Depending on the tier of the battle, you can add them as coalition units. Lower Tier gets to add 1 in 4 Coalition units, Middle Tier can add 1 in 2 and Higher Tier can do a total mix to your pleasure.
Calling the Big Waaagh!
But why bother with all this convoluted nonsense? If the point is getting to add units from other clans then why not go Big Waaagh! from the outset? During a Higher Tier battle you will unlock the true power of the Orruk. Instead of relying on the Big Waaagh! points you can spend one Glory point to get most of the major battle traits from all the factions. You unlock all the Big Waaagh! Abilities and keep all your mono-faction traits as well. Essentially for prioritizing you get to get the best of both worlds during the big battles. During the smaller battles it’s a bit more of an annoyance but 1 in 4 or 1 in 2 coalition isn’t bad. You can even give these Rival units upgrades like any other unit in your army.
I wish there could be more of a build up to gathering a Waaagh! or becoming a Warboss, but they seem to want to keep it simple and let people have their toys. Which is fine too.
While Stormcast are focused on building up territory, Orruks tear it down. To represent this there’s actually a pretty unique mechanic surrounding the new territories. These territories are free to obtain if you roll them on the table, and they either continue to gain wealth or do nothing until Ransacked. After completing the Battleplan Tornado of Destruction you get to ransack a territory you own, allowing you to reap the spoils and losing the territory.
Just like the Stormcast book, there are 4 quests. The first, Ransack just tells you to win a Major Victory, then you get to ransack terrain. Simple. It’s pair is Tornado of Destruction which tells you to…play the Tornado of Destruction battleplan and get a Major or Minor victory. Although this feels redundant, Tornado of Destruction has some extra prizes for winning, though you may get sick of playing it so much for the loot.
Break Da Beast is a clone of the Stormcast mounted trait one. Have a Mounted Hero kill a unit and boom, mount trait.
Monster Hunt is an interesting one. It’s a quest chain that requires you to roll a die at the end of every battle for each surviving Orruk unit in enemy Territory. For each 4+ (2+ for Bonesplitterz. They are excellent trackers after all) you find a clue for the location of “The Monster”. Once you have 3 clues you can do the Monster Hunt Battleplan.
Overall, the diversity here is really weak. 2 of which are just about ransacking, 2 are about battleplans, and one is a clone of the Stormcast book for a mount trait. Not even a little different.
The Veteran abilities are where this falls apart hard. Like the Stormcast book there’s 6 new ones that are all once per game abilities, except they further dilute it by making 3 of them tied to each of the subfactions, meaning any given unit can only pick from 4.
The two generics are Kunnin’ Plan, Big Choppa and Bring it On. The first makes it so the unit can only be hit on 6s, the second giving an additional rend and the final one allowing you a unit to charge at the end of the enemy Charge Phase. Which are at least incredibly good options on the Defense and Offense. So if you’re stuck with “generic” choices at least they’re good ones.
Then we move into the tribe specific ones. Kruleboyz gain the ability to attack immediately after another friendly unit has fought, which is fitting for their dirty tactics and can really tear a unit apart. Ironjawz can gain an extra attack if they target a unit that was already attacked this turn, also a decent option. Poor Bonesplitterz get to unbind like a Wizard once per game, ick. You would have a Wizard with you in most cases anyway, there’s little reason to take this and I feel like there were more fluffy options they could have gone with. Perhaps the ability to take down an enemy Monster easier.
Overall not breaking the table up into each faction to give multiple options feels like a missed opportunity, especially when so much time was spent on Stormcast custom battle tactics. If nothing else the abilities are at least good overall and let you do some serious burst damage (or in the case of Kunnin’ Plan, burst defense) so it’s not a total loss on the power end.
As stated in the Ransacking section, these territories are unique. They are free to take, but don’t do much for you at first. They all involve stealing land from other races and then defiling the hell out of it. The Duardin Mine lets you make a D3 roll during each aftermath phase on a 3+ and accumulating Glory points. You can do this as long as you want but you can only cash out once you ransack it. So it’s about holding onto it as long as you can until you feel you’ve gotten what you need.
A Human Settlement does nothing for you, you gotta Ransack it for 2D6 glory, or 3D6 if you used Siege Warfare for the quest. Definitely worth using then.
An Aelf Shrine lets you keep desecrating it, gaining Glory and Renown on a 4+, but divine retribution gives a Wound or Casualty on a 1. Teclis doesn’t mess around. Or you can just set fire to the thing and get some renown and glory.
The City of the Dead doesnt do anything for you but nets a 3D6 glory for ransacking it and 15 renown on a Hero of your choice, making it a great way to get a new guy to Mighty Hero status asap.
Chaos Dreadhold has gotta be my favorite, and certainly creative. There is a Mega-Gargant taking refuge inside and you can send somebody to convince him. On a 1 he is eaten, on a 2-5 he is unsuccessful but alive. On a 6, the Mega Gargant joins your army! You can then ransack it for some glory points, gaining even more if a Mega-gargant is in your force. This is the kinda stuff I like, not too overcomplicated but amusing in its design.
The Realmgate is also fun. You can set up a piece of Realmgate Terrain as if it were faction terrain and once per battle step through it to appear on one of the board edges. This is great, a unique game effect that isn’t just a pure bonus to stats. More of this stuff please! …or you can just smash it for glory points, of course.
I give them credit on the territories for this time around. They’re reasonably clever and let you weigh your options about using them or smashing em. The two that don’t do anything until Smashed are less interesting, but it keeps giving players an excuse to Ransack shit, which is what Orruks do best.
Tornado of Destruction as already previewed by the quest. Compared to the absolutely bonkers deployments of the Stormcast books this is a pretty normal deployment cut down the middle with deployments on the left and right sides. The Orruk player gets to lay out the terrain, making sure to set up at least three on both sides, then the “Guardian” gets to decide which side they’d like to defend. Then its a simple defense vs offense battle. The Orruk player can vandalize any enemy terrain, both players roll a die and add the number of friendly models within 3″ of it, if the Orruk player wins it is vandalized. An Orruk Wizard can also cast a unique spell that lets them roll 2D6 and if its more than the length between them and the terrain it is also vandalized.
The Orruk player wins if he can vandalized all the terrain within 5 rounds, if not then a minor victory goes to whether more than half or less than half the terrain was destroyed. They only need a minor victory to complete the quest, so they get to ransack one of their terrain, gain an orruk unit of their choosing for free and a renown point for each unit just for playing. Not a bad prize pool!
Monster Hunt requires a quest leading up to it, when you get there. Orruks control the entire outer border while the “quarry” is stuck in the center. The Quarry must have 1 in 4 units in their list as Monsters. From there it’s simple, kill all the Monsters. Orruks don’t take battleshock, absorbed in savage fury, but the Monsters get +1 to hit. If the Orruk player can kill at least half the Monsters then they can immediately rank up a unit or Hero that killed a Monster! If that’s not possible, they get some Glory in consolation.
I like these battleplans a lot more than the Stormcast ones. They’re fun and fluffy and rewards are fantastic. If there’s any downside it’s that players will likely want to run them multiple times for how good the reward is, and that could really get tiresome.
Warscroll battalions may have gone away for Matched Play but they’re still here for narrative. Unfortunately they seem to have really gotten lazy here. There are 3 warscrolls, one for each subfaction, and then 5 “battalions” inside of various combinations. Unlike the Warscroll battalions of past editions, these all do the same thing, just give different combinations to get there, not unlike the core battalions offering the same abilities as the core book with different units.
It’s not worth listing off every combination, Kruleboyz get the ability to force an enemy they’re engaged with to fight last, and a friendly unit to fight first. Ironjawz gain +1 attack when they charged this turn and are within 3″ of someone else within the battalion and Bonesplitterz can reroll Wards of 1. These abilities are all fine but the fact the diversity is so restricted really brings the whole thing down.
I get being gunshy after banning Warscroll battalions. That was a key design decision to cut down on haves or have nots, and I think it was the right move. Then why bring them back? Especially this watered down? There are better ways to do army customization than copy and pasting an ability five times.
I like some of this, and really don’t care for other parts of it. While I was pretty meh on the Stormcast narrative stuff this was a real roller coaster. The stuff I love, mostly the territories and battleplans, I really love while the stuff I don’t like I really didn’t like. Warscroll battalions feel unimaginative when the one thing Narrative play should be is imaginative. Veteran Abilities are strong but could do with more diversity.
The territories at least introduce fun mechanics and I’d like to see a lot more of that. I’d also like to see a long term goal like forming a Waaagh! more realized than something you can just kinda do concievably from the outset. Starting from a wimpy grot to become the best warboss and earn respect of the other clans would have been a great narrative to build on. It’s still early though and like Crusade there is room to grow and get more creative.
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