As has been stated many times by me at this point, the first 2 Battletomes of 3.0 offer great insight into what future battletomes will look like. Not only in Matched Play rules, but in Narrative Play as well. We reviewed Path to Glory when the Core Book was released and we each generally agreed it’s a bit…barren. The structure works, sure but there aren’t many options to choose from. The few options available are dull and uninspired, offering basic bonuses and were clearly designed as a “get you by” ruleset.
Now that we have an actual Battletome with (new) Path to Glory rules in our hands will it get any better? There are a slew of options here but the appropriate level of depth may vary from person to person. Let’s take a look and see if it works for you.
The first of two signature faction abilities is the Reforging. It is difficult for Stormcast to truly die, when their mortal body is broken their soul is returned to Azyr by a lightning bolt where the god Sigmar can reforge the soul into a whole. How long the process takes and, more importantly, how successful it is varies drastically. Sometimes a Stormcast Eternal returns as if nothing had happened to them at all, while other times they come back…wrong. It could be a more mundane change like losing some of their memories, or being unable to taste food anymore. It could also be more fantastical such as lightning glowing from their eyes or plants dying wherever they walk. There are limitless possibilities for how the reforging could go horribly wrong.
While a very cool lore element in game terms is a bit more mundane. If a Hero dies on an injury roll during the Aftermath stage, instead of removing them permanently you can elect to reforge them. They lose D3 Renown if they’re a rising hero and 2D3 if theyre a Mighty hero but remain on your roster in their current state. Thankfully Renown can never go negative, but mighty Heroes can lose their status and become Rising Heroes again if they dip below 15. There is a bright side, if you lose 5 or more Renown then you can spend Glory Points equal to the Renown lost and declare that they are reforged by Grungni himself instead, who apparently is way better at this job and actually gives them a Heroic Upgrade which we will talk about below.
Finally, there’s one last caveat to this. The Price of Immortality states that a Stormcast Hero who is reforged two or more times can no longer gain more than 3 renown in the phase. This isn’t that bad of a penalty and is a weird limit to include. At worst you might decide to discard a Hero who dies early since going through their one “free” reforge can set them back if they die again. It’s something, but it’s a pretty uninspired way to model the concept.
Overall, eh. It seems like a really boring way to model one of their most well known lore elements as simply losing experience points. There could have been a table of minor penalties, with a few buffs mixed in to make it interesting. Similar to the idea of Chaos Space Marines becoming Princes or Spawn in Warhammer 40k’s crusade. The impetus then falls on the player to fluff up the reforging to make it at least a little more interesting. One of the splatbooks, Champions of Order for Age of Sigmar: Soulbound has an excellent table for reforging Stormcast PCs that’s worth looking into for players looking to play Stormcast in Path to Glory.
Tenet of the Gladitorium
The Reforging isn’t the only unique faction trait for Stormcast. They also get custom Stormhosts! You may choose one of the default Stormhosts or pick 2 traits to build your own. Games Workshop seems to have learned from past experience of doing this in 40k and doesn’t allow you to pick 2 from one list but instead broke things off into 3 lists, and you are not allowed to pick two from the same list. These are Tenants of the Hammer, Tenants of the Shield and Tenants of the Tempest each with 3-4 possible options.
Tenants of the Hammer are focused on offense and hitting stuff with a giant hammer (or sword, or bow). You’re mostly choosing what exactly you want to be good at killing, Beast Hunters add +1 to hit against Monsters while Champion Warriors add that bonus against Heroes instead. The Obliterating Storm is a bit different since it adds +1 to damage when charging. All solid options.
Tenants of the Shield are, of course, defensive. Relentless Fighters is an interesting one, giving +1 to save against Damage 1 weapons if the Stormcast didn’t move that turn. Celestial Radiance might be the best of the bunch, granting a universal 6+ Ward save which makes it like Hammers of Sigmar but better (plus you get to pick another trait). Unstoppable Determination is for Dragon lovers, as they get to treat a Monster’s wounds as 10 less when referring to the table. Finally the rather lackluster Here We Stand lets you reroll bravery tests.
Tenants of the Tempest are those for a need for speed and has a more swiss army knife variety of options. Swift Strikers lets you add 1 to charge and run rolls, good for the rather pokey Stormcast. One Step Ahead allows them to fall back and charge in the same turn. Eye of the Storm turns the tables on the enemy, making them unable to fall back when in combat. Masters of Heavenly Lore lets you reroll 1s on casting rolls. Not great but the only caster centric one you got.
A solid variety of picks here, making it hard to choose. Now naturally these are Narrative only and not intended for Matched Play. As a result I hope people use these in good faith and pick two traits that would fit their imagined lore rather than optimum builds. That said we could do a little theory crafting.
The Obliterating Storm/One Step Ahead – Combined you get +1 to hit on charges, and can fall back and charge. So naturally, you fall back and charge each turn to keep that +1 going. Cheesy sure, but that’s what combos are for.
Relentless Fighters/Eye of the Storm – Can force an enemy to stand against you and attack in vain as attacks bounce off. Unable to leave but forced to attack a brick wall that also will not leave.
Beast Hunters/Unstoppable Determination – For Kaiju fans. Do more damage to other Monsters while all but guaranteeing you always operate at max capacity. Could be really solid if your group has a lot of Monsters in it.
Only 11 options feels a bit scarcer than I’d like, but given 40k tended to go up to 20 and would have some real duds in there I suppose its good that they get to focus on good ones. I’d love to hear other people’s combos to see what they come up with.
We get 4 new Quests in addition to those in the core book, with decent variety all around. Star-Fated Beasts applies to any mounted Hero, you can name a Mount Trait and once they wipe a unit, they get the trait. Simple, and a good way to get your Draconith, or Gryph-Charger Heroes a leg up early. Guardians of the Dawn and The Rewards of Victory both have straightforward win conditions: Win 1 Major Victory or 3 minor ones. Rewards of Victory lets you pick 3 units to be Favored instead of 1 and Guardians of the Dawn lets you unlock one of the included battleplans which include their own rewards. So this is a quest chain of sorts.
The one that has a few people bothered is the last one The Nemesis Eternal. If you defeat a Chaos army, each surviving unit gains a renown, and if you killed the General, give them 5 renown. A nice fluffy one to take if you know you’ll be fighting Chaos next, or at least soon. I say Chaos but it lists which specific armies apply, and Beasts of Chaos are suspiciously absent which has people thinking some negative thoughts about their fate. I sway no way or the other, time will tell.
There are a couple of new Veteran abilities to use alongside the book ones and they’re actually fairly interesting. Given the nature of Path to Glory they can push some stuff they otherwise wouldn’t in Matched Play and you can make some great combos with units. A Step Ahead is a 6″ scout maneuver at the start of the game. Especially helpful for things that want to move fast like Draconith Riders. Foundation of Victory lets the lowly Redeemer unit issue an order to itself once per battle for free, freeing those command points up for bigger plays. Refusal to Fail is like the Hallowed Knights trait once per battle but better when it works, pop it when you know youre going to have a large chunk of a unit wipe and they will get to fight when they die. No dice roll required. Lightning-Charged Bolts does an extra mortal on 6s to wound, good for most anyone but especially those with multiple attacks. Finally Those Who Burn Brightest lets you get Blaze of Glory on a 4+ once per game. Similar to Refusal to Fail, you can use it right before you die. On a Thunderstrike unit it’s probably the better of the two.
Overall I dig these, nice mix of options and while I don’t like that two are just “pop this right before you know you’re gonna die” because it feels redundant, it’s fluffy for Stormcast to accept their death and fight to the last so good choices. I approve.
In the Core Rules, theres a section set aside in the Territories gained for rolls of 61-66, and Stormcast get a couple of approriate options for it. The Stormcast are about claiming territory lost to Chaos, and taming the savage wilderness. As a result their special territory is centered around capturing strategic military points to aid the war effort. The Abandoned Sigmarite Strongpoint doesnt do anything at first but when upgraded, reduces the glory cost of upgrading territories in the future, making it a good long term investment. Training Grounds let you send units to train during the Aftermath phase to get some extra renown, perfect for grinding up new guys. Wild Metalith lets you double your progress on quests that require multiple points to succeed. A Recaptured Realmgate will allow you to send a unit in to gain glory and renown in battle, but potentially face injury. The Ancient Shrine cuts the cost of Reforging by Grungni down to 1, good if you find you’re getting pummeled a lot I suppose. The Geomantic Node is a medic bay, letting you make a heal injury roll for free.
Overall, pretty good variety. Lot of this stuff doesnt work until you upgrade it so you have to commit to it but the assets are powerful and fluffy.
Stormcast Eternals have a ranking system. Knights become Lords and while the exact ranking is a bit murky the idea is there and since its modeled in the game with an absolutely unnecessary number of heroes you have ways of bringing them up through the ranks. There’s too many to go into specifically, but each upgrade follows a realistic path. Knights can get a mount to become a Knight-Draconis, a Knight-Arcanum can become a Lord-Arcanum (who then subsequently can upgrade into a mounted version) and the list goes on. You can either spend a cost of Renown and Glory or have Grungni upgrade them. The highest rank you can shoot for is a Lord Celestant on Stardrake! Expensive, but a great way to end your warlord’s journey.
There are two battleplans included in the book, which can only be acquired by completing the Guards of the Dawn quest and then finding someone who will agree to fight you with it.
Into the Fire is a Helm’s Deep style fight that’s often more fun in theory than practice. The Stormcast hold the Bottom 60″” of the board and the center 30″ of the next row while the “Invaders” control the rest. The Invaders are attempting to escape to the bottom of the board, and the Stormcast need to pick their defense carefully as they get half the units the Invader does! The Invader can also run and charge and escape off the bottom of the board if they get wholly within 6″ and aren’t engaged. The goal for the Stormcast is to stop as many as possible, while the Invaders want to either kill the Stormcast or Escape. It seems tough for Stormcast to win at this one, given they have half the units but there is one advantage in The Unbroken Storm ability which lets the Stormcast Player create a line that enemy units cannot cross nor end within 6″ of.. The player will need to be extra defensive and keep units tied up, rather than worry about killing as a first priority. The award for winning is 1 Renown point for each unit and the ability to capture a new territory, rerolling if they like. Not the best reward for a hard matchup but the dice gods may favor you.
The Storm that Scours has the enemy in the center Four squares while the Stormcast have the border. The Stormcast have the enemy surrounded and want to stop as many as possible. Stormcast have access to Divine Punishment which lets them block Inspiring Presence for units within 3″ of a unit of their choice. Meanwhile, the enemy can fight again when killed on 6+, or escape off the board edge similar to Into the Fire. The reward for all of this is a budget territory, costing half the Glory points.
Overall the battleplans are fluffy and the rewards being based around acquiring territory is very fitting. I wish they gave a reward to your opponent to make it more of an incentive to play you, like The Stomping of Mattah did.
This is an improvement on the base game but I think it’s still not there. It still relies on using stock command abilities and artefacts, rather than trying something more adventurous. As a Tabletop RPG player I crave character customization and the fact there still isn’t a ton of options, or interesting drawbacks really drags down the experience and makes it hard to imagine playing this over Matched Play with friends.
Much of the appeal is going to come down to crafting narratives with friends so if you got a good group you might enjoy this, and that’s awesome. I hope as time goes on GW can get more creative with the idea and expand into more adventurous avenues. I also hope to see readers send us their Path to Glory warbands because I’m sure they’ll look really cool with hand crafted lore they are passionate about!
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