Broken Realms: Morathi Review

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Morathi is the first book in a new campaign for Age of Sigmar entitled Broken Realms, the first multi-book campaign since The Realmgate Wars way back in Age of Sigmar 1.0. Announced during a recent online preview, the series draws immediate comparisons to 40k’s recently concluded Psychic Awakening campaign with its promises of huge, sweeping changes to the mortal realms and new rules updates for most armies. The first book promised to include rules for Daughters of Khaine, Idoneth Deepkin, Stormcast Eternals, Cities of Sigmar and Slaves to Darkness and focused on the High Priestess of Khaine, the titular Morathi.

This review is going to be very spoiler heavy. In short, Games Workshop did not lie about there being big changes to the Age of Sigmar universe. If you’d rather be surprised and read it yourself, there will be a spoiler-free summary at the beginning.

Spoiler Free Summary

It’s pretty much impossible to talk about the book in any real depth without spoiling some of the major story developments because many of the armies featured have rules that describe how lore shifts affect their army’s play on the table. So let’s talk about what we can tell you, without giving anything away.

Definitely get this book if:

  • You actively enjoy the lore of Age of Sigmar. The metaplot makes some pretty huge leaps forward here and the writers managed to avoid “And then it ended in a stalemate.” This stuff matters and it’s exciting to see that.
  • You play Daughters of Khaine, Idoneth Deepkin or Stormcast Eternals. These armies get some major rule additions that help every player of those armies. Daughters of Khaine and Idoneth Deepkin did get some new warscrolls which will likely be published for free like any warscrolls, but all 3 armies get new allegiance abilities and battalions anyone can use.

Maybe get this book if:

  • You play Slaves to Darkness or Cities of Sigmar.  Unlike the other 3 armies in this book, the rules for these factions are more niche. Slaves to Darkness gets one new subfaction, the Idolators, which is aimed at players who want to field a ton of Chariots. Cities of Sigmar get two new subfactions, Misthavn and Har Kuron. Misthavn is a pirate themed faction without the emphasis on Darkling Covens inherit to Anvilgard and access to a new mechanic, narcotics which are powerful one use relics you may take in addition to your normal artefact. Har Kuron is a city allied to the Daughters of Khaine, allowing you to bring them into the army like the Sylvaneth and Kharadron Overlords in other armies. These new subfactions are…fine. I doubt they’ll replace the most powerful options of these books but they’re interesting change-ups in the play style of these armies. They will likely require an FAQ for some parts, which we will discuss more in-depth in those sections.
  • You enjoy Narrative play. The narrative missions are pretty thin here but there are some interesting battleplans, and an option to play through the storyline of book as a continuous campaign. It could be better, there’s no room for branching narratives or anything like that but there’s an attempt to make it more than just disconnected battles in a vacuum.

Skip this book if:

  • You play any other army only in matched play. There isn’t anything for you here. This is only the first book in the series though, so don’t fret. Your time is coming.

If you care about spoilers turn back now because we are going to spoil the shit out of this.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Lore Summary

Act 1

The book is divided into three acts, which chart the path of Morathi on her quest to complete an ascension ritual that would finally see her cease being a mere mortal priestess to a long dead god, Khaine and an actual god who can stand up to Sigmar, Teclis and Tyrion. Act 1, Blood of Khaine, picks up where Wrath of the Everchosen ended. In Wrath of the Everchosen, the forces of Death lead by Lady Olynder and Katakros successfully managed to breach Archaon’s domain and establish a foothold in the previously thought unbroachable fortress of Chaos, The Eighpoints. Katakros’ body was destroyed in the attempt, but this is a mere setback to one who’s body can be reconstructed and the soul returned. Nagash’s forces created a fortress made of the bones of slain enemies to protect the realmgate into the Eighpoints, guaranteeing that access to the domain of Chaos remained, however tenuous.

It is because of this breach of the Eightpoints that Sigmar was able to gather more information on Archaon’s plans than ever before. Requesting the aide of Morathi and her shadowy agents, the spies of the Daughters of Khaine discovered the mining operations for Varanite, an ore that the forces of Chaos use in their weapons. Concentrated Chaos energy into an ore that drips like blood, a mere flesh wound from this mineral can cause uncontrolled mutations in the victim, rapidly destroying their body and leaving their souls as fodder for the Ruinous Powers. Morathi petitioned Sigmar to donate some of his Stormcast Eternals in an attempt to enter the Eightpoints and sabotage the mining of this dangerous metal. Sigmar reluctantly agreed and in a joint operation the Stormcast Eternals and Daughters of Khaine worked together to force their way into Varanthax’s Maw, one of the largest mining operations.

Sigmar did not know he was being deceived. Morathi bribed Katakros with bone imbued with shadow of Ulgu. Willing to allow his enemies to destroy each other, Katakros accepted the bribe and overlooked the combined forces passing through his domain. Although waylaid by Gresh’s Iron Reapers and the Iconoclasts of the Slaves to Darkness, the forces of Order made their way into the mines suffering few losses. Morathi did not intend to merely destroy the mining operation here, she needed the Varanite for her ritual. When the time was right she allowed the Stormcast Eternals to be trapped on all sides by the forces of Chaos and the commander of the Stormcast realized a moment too late that Morathi intended to leave them their fate. The Stormcast commander was hit by a paralysis poison, leaving her unable to die and return to Azyr to warn Sigmar of her treachery. Morathi disappeared and stole the Varanite she needed.

At the same time, Morathi had planned a daring heist to steal from the Idoneth Deepkin. When the Idoneth Deepkin fled from Teclis they took one of his artefacts, the Ocarian Lantern, an artefact holding purest light of Hysh. Morathi used her best agents to make their way into the Idoneth’s domain and steal the lantern, the last part of her ritual. Her agents all died and were driven mad in the attempt but they successfully returned the Lantern to Morathi. With all the pieces in place Morathi was able to begin her ritual with earnest.

Act 2

With the artefacts in place, Morathi makes her move. In the depths of Ulgu, the ritual began. Bringing many captive worshippers of Chaos, of Nurgle, Khorne and Tzeentch before her the priestesses of Khaine slit the throats of these cultists and allowed their energy to flood into the dark portal before them. Morathi plunged herself into a cauldron, which lead to the most dangerous place she could possibly go, the belly of Slaanesh himself.

Outside, many of her enemies sought to seize the opportunity to destroy Morathi in her moment of weakness. Morathi hired the services of the Misthavn, a City of Sigmar filled with pirates and vagrants to guard the waters outside her temple in Ulgu. The Idoneth attacked, seeking to have the Lantern stolen from them returned. At the same time, the forces of Slaanesh came upon the shores, seeking to destroy one of their greatest foes. It is likely only due to their simultaneous arrival that Morathi’s fortress remained unimpregnated by Slaanesh, as the two forces sought to fight each other first, reducing their numbers. The forces of Slaanesh were driven off by the Idoneth who began their march into Morathi’s temple.

Meanwhile, Morathi was swimming in the depths of the belly of Slaanesh. Using the Ocarian Lantern, the light of Hysh was able to summon the residents of the belly of Slaanesh. Like a lighthouse, it beckoned forth souls of dead Aelves from the World That Was, Morathi took her true form, the terrifying snake like visage, and began to consume powerful dead kings from ages past. Many she remembered, she sate her thirst on their divine power, increasing her own. She was only stopped by a chance meeting of a lover from a bygone age. Hesitating, he thrust his sword into her forcing her to flee. But it was enough, she had ascended.

Returning to the physical world, the Idoneth were breaking through the temple walls and just as they were to enter the ritual chamber the new deity Morathi appeared before them. Morathi and her horrific snake form were now separated, both more powerful as separate being than sharing a single body. Morathi and her Shadow Self single handedly dispatched the Idoneth forces, the few survivors she showed mercy to. Giving them back the lantern they wanted, the light was now gone, she no longer had need for it.

Act 3

Things move quickly now. Morathi traveled to Anvilgard with her retinue of Khainites under the guise of reporting to Sigmar about the results of the battle in Varanthax’s Maw. The Sigmarites there were suspicious of her, but it was too late. Morathi had set plans in motion long ago to place Aelves loyal to her in high places in Anvilgard and those who could not be persuaded were murdered in secret. Now with her newfound divinity, the trap could be sprung. The local garrison was disorganized and could not put up resistance against the daughters of Khaine. Morathi handedly destroyed the garrison present in Anvilgard but demanded the Stormcast Eternals be taken alive, so their souls could not be returned to Azyr and warn Sigmar of what was happening. In the end Morathi took Anvilgard and renamed it to a new city, Har Kuron. This was to be the beginning of a new empire, and she its empress.

We’re left with a few mysterious portents of things to come. Lord-Veritent Van Brech, commander of the Stormcast garrison in Anvilgard wakes up in prison, taunted by one of Morathi’s priestesses. It is not long before she is killed, and Van Brech released from his bindings. He leaves his cell to find every guard murdered in a grotesque fashion. This allows Van Brech to escape, but he only gets a momentary glance at his rescuer: A figure cloaked in shadow with crimson eyes and bat-like wings.

Finally, in an unknown location, worshippers of Slaanesh both mortal and daemon alike gather. Their savior has been reborn, he speaks his first words since his imprisonment.

Summary

So a lot happens.  I was genuinely impressed, I’m very used to these books ending in stalemates with little substance. While this book does resort to planting some unexplained seeds for future books, we know some important details:

  • Morathi successfully succeeds in her ascension ritual and became a god. She has claimed the empty throne of Khaine.
  • Morath has betrayed Sigmar. Stabbing him in the back and capturing Anvilgard, slaughtering all non-aelves and any aelves who refuse to renounce their allegiance to Sigmar, and renaming it Har Kuron. She now openly opposes Sigmar and has designs to form her own Empire, with her as its Empress. For now Sigmar is not aware of her treachery; his attention elsewhere but it is not long before he’ll ready himself to retaliate.
  • Slaanesh, for reasons unknown, appears to have been freed from his prison. This is the most important part as Slaanesh being missing and jailed has been a major pillar of the Age of Sigmar lore since the beginning. Presumably, Morathi breaching his prison gave him the opening he needed to escape.

That’s a big lore dump, let’s get to the rules!

 

Hag Queen

Morgwaeth’s Blade-Coven Hag Queen, Credit: Richyp

Daughters of Khaine

As one would expect, Daughters of Khaine got probably the biggest boost, as one would expect with a book named after their leader. There are two new updates to their battletome here: New warscrolls for Morathi and her Shadow form which drastically modifies her playstyle, and a new subfaction, Zainthar Kai. Zainthar Kai represents those who are closest and most loyal to Morathi and focuses on a previously ignored unit, the Khinerai.

Morathi Warscroll Updates

The first and most obvious change in the whole book is Morathi. in brief, her mechanics have been completely rewritten. Previously, you were required to field Morathi, High Oracle of Khaine. Once Morathi suffered enough damage (or voluntarily) she could transform to her Medusa-like form, the Shadow Queen. Now, both are considered separate units but must be fielded together, for a combined total cost of 600 points, up from 480. Few will complain however, as this situation is a serious upgrade for all parties involved.

Morathi, High Oracle of Khaine is now called Morathi-Khaine. She lost the Iron Heart of Khaine ability but theres a trick here, all wounds are passed to her snake doppleganger, the Shadow Queen who still can only take 3 wounds per turn. If the Shadow Queen dies, so does Morathi so effectively grants them a shared health pool of 12 wounds. This effectively means they have the same number of wounds as before, since it used to be that when humanoid Morathi transformed into Snake Morathi, the wounds carried over anyway.

She more or less retains her original design. Her unique spell has been upgraded to Black Horror of Ulgu, it is the same spell but with a range of 36″ now instead of 18″, and Worship Through Bloodshed is now 24″ instead of 14. Both of which grant massive board control, otherwise she’s the Morathi DoK players know and love.

The Snake form, now renamed to The Shadow Queen, has gotten a huge boost. Previously, transforming to the Shadow Queen was something to be avoided. High Oracle of Khaine Morathi was one of the better spellcasters in the game, while the Shadow Queen was quite good in combat, it wasn’t good enough to justify the neutered spellcasting. In its new form, Shadow Queen loses its spellcasting. Not a big deal given the new arrangement means caster Morathi doesn’t have to leave. In exchange, the Shadow Queen is a terror in combat. Gaze of Morathi was upgraded to an 18″ ranged attack with 2+, 2+, Rend -3 and D6 damage. Ultimately this makes it far more useful than the rather finicky old version, which relied on rolling higher than the targets wound characteristic to slay them. Heartrender picked up 2 additional attacks at each health bracket, and the Venomous Tail now has more consistent damage decrease as opposed to the random damage dice of before. Other than spellcasting it didn’t lose anything and picked up a slight buff of +1 attacks to Khinerai and Melusai units within 3″ which synergizes well with the new subfaction.

Even without all of this stuff, the fact that this is now split across 2 models on the board at the same time is huge for action economy, and it allows you to fully enjoy the martial prowess of the Shadow Queen without fear of losing The High Oracles spellcasting prowess. The book is actually unclear if these warscrolls are mandatory. Technically the names differ from the original which makes them new units and there is precedent in a Cities of Sigmar entry later in the book to allow you to use “older” models but without naming it specifically it’s hard to say. I ultimately think this will get answered in an FAQ and players will want to use new Morathi regardless. Presumably these will be published for free as unit Warscrolls always have been.

Zainthar Kai

A new subfaction for Daughters of Khaine, in the lore they represent Morathi’s most trusted agents. On the table they focus on a much neglected unit, the Khinerai and Melusai. Like the other subfactions of Daughters of Khaine this carries an Allegiance Ability, Command Ability,  and Command Trait. It’s a pretty decent battalion, granting a bravery buff to Melusai and Khinerai units and more important, a free artefact rather than forcing you to take a subfaction specific one.  The command ability gives a bonus attack to Melusai and Harpie units and the command trait is solid, a D3 mortal wounds on all units within 3″ on a 5+.

I don’t think its going to replace Khailborn or Hagg Narr given its focus on niche units but a free relic of your choice is nothing to scoff at.

New Battalions

The book contradicts itself a bit here. The Zainthar Kai entry says these battalions are granted to Zainthar Kai allegiance and while they do seem to favor that subfaction but the actual battalion warscrolls dont say there’s a subfaction requirement (while other faction specific warscrolls do). We will likely need an FAQ but I’m going to assume the intent is making them Zainthar Kai only.

The Vyperic Guard grants a free command ability per turn for the price of Morathi-Khaine 1-2 Bloodwrack Medusae or Melusai and 2-3 Bloodsisters or stalkers. Scathcoven is a grab bag of units (1 Bloodwrack medusa or Ironscale, 1-4 Blood Sisters, 1-2 Blood Stalkers, and 02- Harpies) to avoid taking battleshock tests which will likely be ignored while Shrine Brood is an interesting one, requiring 2 Bloodwrack shrines, 2 Bloodsisters or Blood Stalkers and 2 harpies units it allows you to heal the Bloodwrack shrine and if you voluntarily sacrifice models from the battalions Blood Sisters/Stalkers or Harpies (1 wound for Blood Sisters/stalkers and 2 wounds for harpies).

I get what they’re going for here, I do. They’re trying to give more incentive to bring Melusai and Harpies to shore up the new subfaction but the unit tax cost is just much too high. I like the abilities but not sure I’d want all the units contained within.

Silks Aspect of the Sea

Credit: Silks

Idoneth Deepkin

Idoneth are a weird army. They tend to perform decently well at the competitive level but have been maligned for really only having one real competitive build: Morrsarr Guard spam. Morsarr guard are good, but not so good you want to nerf them. Take that away and they lose everything, so GW has made attempts to reduce the cost of other units but it still isn’t really enough. The updates in this book seem to be making an attempt to rectify that by updating the warscrolls of a few different units in the hopes that they’ll be more competitive viable.

Warscroll Updates

I don’t want to break down every change that happens because this isn’t a Morathi level change. It’s mostly keeping the units the same while improving their potency. More attacks, better hit/wounds/damage, better wound characteristic and so on. Presumably these will all be publically published as all unit warscrolls are but I’ll give the jist of what’s changed.

  • Akhellian Allopexes – Increase movement. Additional attack and rend on the harpoon, and the net prevents pile-in attacks by enemy units hit that turn. Additional attack and improved wound roll on the Hooks and Blades and 2 additional attacks on the bite, albeit losing 1 damage. Scythed fins have been removed. 10 point price hike per model.
  • Eidolon of Mathlann – Both gained a 5+ feel no pain save and a 50 point price drop.
  • Akhellian Leviadon – Harpoon gains 2 attacks but loses rend. All melee attacks have a higher attack characteristic. Save is now a 2+ but degrades while wounds are taken, with a static 10″ movement. Deals mortal wounds after a charge. Interestingly it now grants +1 to hit for Namarti units wholly within 12″ which is a nice little boost to an underused unit. Price hike of 30 points.

Hard to say if these will help, the price hike on already struggling units is rough even with a buff. Eidolons getting a 5+ FNP and a price drop is pretty solid, benefitting an overlooked Hero. But that’s not all, mount traits also exist.

Mount Traits

While the warscroll updates will likely be public, these will likely remain tethered to the book. Morathi comes with 6 new mount traits for Idoneth, 3 for Heroes on Deepmare and 3 for Leviadons. Like other armies with mount traits, you get one for free and one for each warscroll battalion you take.

For Deepmare mounts, you get Swift-finned Impailer which lets you deal D6 mortal wounds with the horn on a 6 instead of D3. Savage Ferocity adds 1 to the mounts attacks and Voidchill Darkness inflicts a -1 to hit debuff on units within 3″ of the mount. For Leviadons, you can have Ancient, letting you ignore -1 rend, Denizens of the Darkest Depths which adds 1 to the wounds dealt by charging and Reverberating Carapace increases its cover aura to 15″.

None of these are super exciting but they are free. Voidchill Darkness seems to have a lot of practical applications for Deepmare while if Leviadons start to see play, Ancient will make them pretty damn hardy.

Battalion – The Bloodsurf Hunt

There’s only one battalion in this book, and it comes with a big gotcha: It’s Ionrach only. A so-so enclave it’s often overlooked in favor of Dhom-Hain for its eel spam potential. For the price of an Akhelian King and 1-2 Allopexes you gain 1 to hit for Allopex units within 12″ of the King, and the Allopexes get to take wounds for the King. The King is treated as a named character for all intents and purposes so he’s forced to take the Lord of Storm and Sea command trait which is…less than ideal. He can still take an artefact. Overall I dont think this is going to break people out of the eel spam meta Idoneth have so this will likely go forgotten.

Classic Black Ark Corsairs. Credit: Ranch Turkey

Cities of Sigmar

This is a big one, 2 new subfactions for Cities of Sigmar. I don’t think either of them are going to replace Hallowheart in the meta but more options is nice. Unfortunately unlike some other armies in the book there arent any general buffs to the army so if youre not interested in playing with new subfactions you can probably skip this book.

Misthavn

Misthavn [sic] is a pirate haven. A pirate haven in cities of Sigmar? Didn’t we already do that one? Well yes but there’s a few unique things here. First is the Underhanded Tactics ability which lets you set aside Order Serpentis, Shadowblade or Scourge Privateer as long as it has 10 or fewer models, and deep strike them in as usual (More than 9″ from enemy units etc.). That is, however, unless you use the Shadowstrike command ability which allows you to set up units set aside within 12″ of a friendly Hero, ignoring the usual restrictions of being more than 9″ from the enemy and then moving D6″! You might have noticed Order Draconis is amongst the list of units that can be set aside, meaning, thats right, surprise dragons.

Second, Misthavn heroes get access to Narcotics. Powerful one use artefacts, you get one to give to a hero and one additional one for each battalion. They dont count as artefacts so you can hand them off even if the character has an artefact. The one use abilities dont seem terribly inventive but can be helpful in a pinch. Things such as Witch-mist allowing the user to ignore modifiers to saves and  Glatch Ink granting 1 to casting and dispelling rolls.

The artefacts and command traits aren’t all that exciting. They consist of the usual suspects, 6+ Feel No Pain, make the bearer a wizard, +1 to saves that sort of thing. The only one that sticks out as particularly powerful is the Shadowlord command trait, granting a free use of Shadowstrike each battle round. If players want to play this city, I feel this will be used practically every time.

Curiously, there are no spells listed. I assume this is an error as every other Cities of Sigmar has its own spell list, with no generic to draw from. This could be true but seems unlikely to design it that way. We’ll have to wait on an FAQ to see.

Har Kuron

So big lore changes here. Anvilgard is gone, seized by Morathi she has executed most of the inhabitants. She has renamed it to Har Kuron and made it capital of her new empire. The book specifically states Anvilgard is not gone for rules purposes, if you wish to keep doing so you can, treating your army as from before the fall. Matched Play never particularly cared about lore anyway.

Har Kuron occupies a strange dead zone in the rules. Players ignore the Ways of the Free People battle traits from the Cities of Sigmar book and yet the rules have a strong, unmistakable similarity to Anvilgard. They keep the Make An Example of the Weak Command ability, allowing you to sacrifice a model in a unit to skip battleshock tests. After that it starts going off the rails.

While Anvilgard tended to emphasis these units, Har Kuron can only use Darkling Covens, Order Serpentis, Scourge Privateers and Shadowblades, representing Morathi’s new order. Like many Cities of Sigmar subfactions, this one allows you to include units from another army, in this case 1 in 4 models can be from the Daughters of Khaine.

The spell lore brings it back to the Anvilgard, there are 6 spells here with half of them being reprints of the Anvilgard spell lore. The new ones include The Withering which lets you add 1 to wound rolls on an enemy unit, Steed of Shadows which gives the caster a 16″ movement speed and fly and Pit of Shades which lets you deal mortal wounds equal to the difference of a 2d6 roll vs the targets move characteristic. The command traits and artefacts are pretty dull, pretty much the standard you expect.

Overall I think Har Kuron could work, though the strict keyword requirement really messes with its potential. The buffs to Daughters of Khaine can go a long way to support it but probably wont entirely help it surpass lists like Tempest eye or Hallowheart.

Battalion – Kraeth’s Shadowhost

One battalion, similar to Idoneth it represents a particular lore composition in the book. Useable only by Har Kuron or (amusingly) Anvilgard it requires a sorceress on Black Dragon and 1 unit of Dreadspears and 1 unit of Dreadshards. In exchange, the sorceress can grant a bonus to attack characteristics for the Dreadspears and Shard and the cost of -1 to saves. If the Sorceress is your general she must take a command trait which a free command point the first turn. Pretty garbage honestly.

Credit: FlamingFig

Stormcast Eternals

Stormkeeps

Someone at GW clearly picked up on the fact that many Stormcast players were unhappy with their rather… basic set of allegiance abilities, and decided to give them a new set to effectively swap out. Before we go into the nitty gritty of this new set you can optionally choose to use, it’s important to note exactly what happens:

  • You still pick a Stormhost as normal, or make your own – this is not simply another Stormhost.
  • Once you’ve picked a Stormhost, you can pick whether they use the base allegiance ability set (Deep Strike and -1 to be hit when they drop in), or this new set.
  • If you choose to run a Stormkeep, you still count as a Stormcast Eternals army for the purpose of other stuff (command traits, artefacts, spells etc).

Okay so base level understanding established? No? Good. Let’s keep going.

Shield of Civilisation adds 1 to the bravery of SC units wholly within 12” of any friendly Liberator units. While that may not seem like much, in a faction running many 5 man units a bump up from 7 bravery to 8 can be quite significant. As previewed in the Warhammer Community article, you can also elect to have Liberator units ‘stand fast’ if they did not move or were not set up that turn. This grants them +1 to save and +1 to hit until your next movement phase, which is a fairly significant boon considering Liberators are likely to be your unit that stays behind on Objectives while the heavy hitters move up. What immediately jumps out about this ability is that it lasts until your next movement phase, meaning it’s active for things like the Anvil of the Heldenhammer’s fight in the hero phase command ability.

Mortal Auxiliaries on the other hand lets you take 1 Cities of Sigmar unit for every 4 units in your army – interestingly they keep their battlefield role, much like the wording for Stormcast in CoS, and unlike the wording for Dispossessed in Kharadron Overlords. Other comments of note:

  • CoS units gain the same bravery buff as other Stormcast, +1 near a Liberator unit.
  • These units don’t gain the Stormkeep, Stormhost or Stormcast Eternals keyword.
  • They can benefit from command abilities of SC units, but the above bullet point means that they’re locked out of most of them anyway.

There’s nothing strictly speaking that’s stopping you taking a CoS unit as your general… which is interesting as it presents a potential backdoor opportunity to get a Stormcast Command Trait on a CoS model, thereby bypassing the typical restriction of a specific Command Trait for a specific Stormhost. Long story short? As it stands right now you could theoretically have a Staunch Defender general in an Anvils of the Heldenhammer army… though I expect this will get errata’d in due course as it relies on a number of charitable interpretations of the rules.

Battalions

The book is very clear here that these battalions can only be used by Stormkeep armies, with each warscroll specifically naming Stormkeep armies as a requirement. They are not limited by  Stormhost however.

Wardens of the Stormkeep requires a Lord-Celestant and 2-5 Stormcast Heroes. You get to roll a dice for each Hero in the battalion and on a 5+ (2+ if its your general) get a free command point. This seems like an absurd way to farm a lot of command points and the fact its so flexible on what Heroes you can bring makes it practically a no brainer.

Stormtower Garrison has a lot of units required, a Knight-Vexillor, 2-4 Liberators, 1-2 Paladins and 1-2 Judicators. In exchange they can all Standfast in the same manner as a Liberator if they remain within 12″ of a Liberator unit. This has some real power in terms of securing objectives, making the Stormcast difficult to dislodge and while it may have a high unit requirement these are units you are frequently bringing anyway.

The final one, Stormkeep Patrol requires a Lord-Veritant, a Gryphound and 2 Redeemers or Judicators. The Battalion lets you relocate the unit anywhere on the field after units have been set up, but before moving. It follows similar rules to other deep strike, more than 9″ from the enemy and everyone must be wholly within 12″ of the Lord Veritant. This is really good for some early game mobility or locking down objectives.

Stormcast got some kickass battalions out of this and I think fans of Stormcast Eternals will be very happy with this book.

Chaos Sorceror Lord. Credit: SRM

Slaves to Darkness

Idolators

Compared to some of the other factions featured in this book, the Chaos lads are a little bit under-represented here. Despite the confusing wording on their own website suggesting four sets of Allegiance Abilities, and the bizarre table of contents previewed spoiling that Chaos were in fact Idoneth all along – STD receive what is effectively one new legion to choose from, the Idolators.

This particular flavor of edgelords in plate centers around priests and prayer, offering up a number of buffs to priests within the allegiance. If you take Idolators as your legion, you may add 1 to your prayer roles for units with the Priest keyword, which is a nice little buff considering the Warshrine prayers are mostly fantastic and anything to mitigate the randomness of an 3+ dice roll is a good thing. In addition, units with the priest keyword gain the leader battlefield role which is an unexpected delight, as it makes sense thematically and leaders are more relevant than ever when you consider several current missions use them for scoring.

To represent the followers of these dark priests, Panoply of Ruin gives cultists the Battleline battlefield role, so rejoice those of you who were upset about that particular snub when the battletome originally came out! They also decided to give Idolator cultists the same rule that Marauders get for charge purposes – lowest of the two dice rolls becomes a six. This is obviously a big buff for the Warcry bozos, though they still are unable to take a Mark of Chaos and lets be honest, getting Cultists into combat was rarely a problem – it was the fact they hit like a Mace made of tissue paper when they got there.

So you might have been wondering “why all the buffs to Priests when the book only has one to speak of?”. Well the good news is that if you run Idolators, Idolator Lords lets you upgrade one of your Chaos Chariots or Gorebeast Chariots into an Idolator Lord, granting them the Leader and Priest keywords, and a set of Prayers to use. Said Chariot must be in a unit of 1, and it is an Exalted Charioteer despite only being a unit of 1. Unfortunately the Chariot itself isn’t a particularly exciting warscroll, and we’re not sure the upgrades merit consideration, I’ll quickly summarize the broad strokes of the Idolator Lord prayers below:

  • Not locked to the mortal keyword, so a rare method to buff your Slaves to Darkness Daemons
  • The buffs themselves are Mark of Chaos locked, so if your Idolator Lord is Tzeentch, he can only pray to Tzeentch and can only give the benefit to a Tzeentch unit (in this case, Tzeentch prayer grants reroll saves).
  • They’re mostly strictly worse versions of the Warshrine prayers as a result, with the only major change being that the Undivided buff *isn’t* Chaos Mark locked, and simply heals D3 wounds.

Destroy the False Idols rounds out the base Allegiance Abilities, granting all Idolator units +1 to wound against enemy Priests, a nice flavor rule that most players will be forgiven for forgetting in the 5% of game situations where it’s applicable.

Continuing with Games Workshop recent theme of Scenery hate, the Idolators have the Desecrate Command Ability, that lets them shut off a terrain feature for the rest of the battle if they have a unit nearby, roll a D6 and the result is larger than the number of enemy models near it. 

Idolators have a different set of Command Abilities to choose from, locked to the Priest keyword. Some are just copy and pastes from the other sets like Favoured of the Pantheon (which is a little odd considering Warshrines and Chariots lack the EOTG keyword necessary for it to trigger…), whereas others are quite powerful and a worthy consideration. Of note to us in particular is Fiery Orator, which lets the unit pray twice a turn, and even letting you chant the same prayer twice if you wish – this is a nice boon for the Warshrine, who can suddenly bestow full hit and wound rerolls to two units instead of one on a 2+, or stack Nurgle and Undivided buffs on a Nurgle unit for a potent and durable deathstar unit.

In an example of GW being either negligent or straight up mean to Slaves to Darkness players, Idolators don’t get their own set of artefacts. Much like with the Everchosen legion, this means that the only Artefact you have access to is the realm artefact associated with whichever Realm your army is from. It’s our hope that this is rectified in an FAQ or Errata, because as it stands it kinda sucks!

Slaves to Darkness has been on the periphery of competitive success pretty much since it’s release, with several Desolator, Knights of the Empty Throne or Everchosen lists popping up now and again on the podium. There’s some interesting potential in this legion for fans of the Warshrine, which can with the right Command Trait buff two units on a 2+ a turn, though the rest of the set of abilities here leave something to be desired.

In conclusion, the most competitive lists using Idolators probably ignore half of the gimmicks, which should tell you all you need to know about where it stands competitively speaking. On the other hand, this legion is a pretty big flavor win and has more than enough fun tools to merit consideration in more casual circles.

Warscroll Battalions – Gresh’s Iron Reapers

Idolators get their own warscroll battalion to match their new box – and it’s a strange one. It is locked to the Idolators Legion, and consists of two Gorebeast Chariot units and Rokar Gresh, an Idolator Lord with Greatblade and Lashing Whip. Interestingly it doesn’t specify which Chariot you must take, so you have a bit of flexibility which ride he gets, although all three units must take the Undivided Chaos Mark.

As for benefits, Rokar Gresh gets 4 attacks instead of 2 with the Greatblade and the damage of it is changed from 2 to D3 (which is pretty hilarious considering many would prefer the consistency of flat 2). If you roll an unmodified 6 to hit with the Greatblade, inflict D3 mortal wounds and end the attack sequence. This is a nice little boost for Rokar and makes him a pretty potent duelist, though having to take at least two Gorebeast Chariots is a bit of an expensive tax considering how lacklustre the Muscle Gorillas themselves are.

If Rokar Gresh is your general, he gets his own command trait – Profane Oratory, which lets him pick an STD unit wholly within 18” at the beginning of the combat phase and grant them +1 to hit until the end of the phase – this is a surprisingly strong ability, it’s just unfortunate that as Gresh is Undivided, it skews your entire army in that direction as a result. 

Conclusion

I’ve found myself frustrated with how often Games Workshop material will fail to progress the story and leave everything on a cliffhanger or total stalemate. Not so here, stuff happened here, big stuff, and the promise that the Mortal Realms will never be the same actually held weight. I love that they’re willing to take risks with the setting here and do some really daring stuff. I’ve come to love the Age of Sigmar universe over the past few years, as its been crafted into a complex world of gods and epic heroes clashing and this represents a huge next step. In terms of lore this is what Psychic Awakening in 40k should have been and this is only the first book! I’m excited to see where things go from here.

In terms of crunch the book is a bit more lacking. Much like Psychic Awakening, boons granted to armies are very uneven with Stormcast Eternals and Daughters of Khaine getting huge overhauls to their army while Idoneth and Cities of Sigmar got so-so boons. Slaves to Darkness got absolutely clowned on here, with a subfaction that covers a niche that I think has its potential fans (Chariot spam) but fails to really do good with that premise and without an FAQ is seemingly fundamentally busted. It’s technically playable, sure, but rules as written does not work as its clearly intend to be working. I hope this book isn’t a total substitute for a new Daughters of Khaine or Idoneth Deepkin battletome because I think they’re still going to need it even with these buffs.

It sucks to buy a new supplement because you were promised it would buff your army only to find out it’s only a minor rule change that you still need otherwise youre just leaving boons on the table and yet it involves carrying another whole book around. I think this book kind of failed on that, and a few players are going to feel obligated to pick up this book they probably shouldn’t need to in order to make sure their army is up to par.

I actually really love this book. It might sound like I am being down on this book but that might be because I don’t play any of the armies featured within. I am very excited to see the inevitable Death themed supplement and maybe seeing it from that perspective will change things.

What are you most excited for in Broken Realms: Morathi? The lore? A buff to your favorite army? Let us known at contact@goonhammer.com or on social media!

 

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