Darkoath Launch Box: The Goonhammer Review

Huge thanks to Games Workshop for providing our team with copies of the Darkoath launch box for review.

Have you stayed awake at night, pondering the Riddle of Steel? Was your first run of Baldur’s Gate 3 as a human barbarian? Does the phrase “Other bands play, Manowar kills!” mean anything to you? If any of these apply to you, then the Darkoath box is going to be right up your alley. The Darkoath tribes are the descendants of those abandoned by Sigmar; barbarian hordes who have turned to the worship of dark gods in a desperate bargain to survive in the deadliest corners of the Mortal Realms. A dark mirror to the soft-bellied cityfolk who make up Sigmar’s armies, the Darkoath make up a large amount of the average humans who live in the Age of Sigmar.

What’s in the Box?

This is an odd launch box as it’s a supplement to an existing army rather than something wholly new. In addition to Warscroll cards, instructions, and a softback rules/background pamphlet, the real stars of the show (and the only things that will be usable in a few months) are the box’s bushel of models! The force is led by a Darkoath Chieftain on Warsteed, supported by 20 Darkoath Marauders, 5 Darkoath Fellriders, and the terrifying Darkoath Wilderfiend.

The Units

Darkoath Chieftain on Warsteed

SRM: A friend said to me that this model has the best hero rock he’s ever seen. I’m not inclined to disagree, though the Freeguild Cavalier-Marshal does give it a run for its money. I had a generally easy time putting this model together, though holding on to some of its bevvy of severed heads while trimming mold lines almost caused a piece to break, so be mindful of how and where you apply pressure. I went for the Immortan Joe head and matching horse mask, though there’s 3 heads and 2 horse masks to choose from. I didn’t notice the horse had a Skrillex haircut until I built it, and that’s just one of the many wonderful details on this big baddie. The weirdest part for me was the weapon option for the Chieftain. I was expecting just a handswap, but there are a pair of nearly identical torsos to choose from which have the whole arm and weapon moulded on. He had some weird gaps in his butt too, but those were covered pretty well by the draped animal skin over his shoulder. The model exudes menace and command, and if you discount the 10 separate severed heads on this model, he’s actually pretty restrained for an AoS sculpt.

Darkoath Wilderfiend

Bair: I’m not huge on the Chaos-barbarian aesthetic as a whole but this thing fucking rules. No clue what it even is in lore (SRM: Think like a Chaos spawn that’s also a tribal totem; it’s neat!) but was given the opportunity to build and paint it which I snatched up real quick. I might move it across to a square base though in future for an Ogre Kingdom army as a Gorger. Maybe that’s why I painted it pale skinned? Or maybe I only think it’d work as a gorger because I painted it with pale skin? I won’t try to understand the workings of my hobby-brain.

Darkoath Wilderfiend – credit Bair

Opening up the kit it’s as you’d expect from most modern Games Workshop models: lots of very detailed pieces, some that fit together kinda funny, but coming together to make a cool model. Surprisingly you get to make two whole heads in four different variations. You get a head with a closed jaw (the one I used) and then one with an open jaw, then you get the horns sticking up and the horns which are lowered (which I used). These are interchangeable with each other for unlimited (literally only four) options.

Darkoath Wilderfiend – credit Bair

This is also the first model I got to paint with my Goonhammer Artis Opus brush set which was cool and decided to slow down, take my time, and actually do a bit more in terms of like highlighting, recess shading, blending(ish) horns, etc. Pretty happy with how that turned out.

Also if you were thinking of using this as a Daemon Prince you probably could, it’s less bulky and a bit smaller but the rock it stands on does a lot of work there, go for it.

Darkoath Marauders

Darkoath Marauders. Credit: SRM

SRM: These are the models I was most excited for, and the ones who will (hopefully) be replacing the Chaos Marauders from Warhammer Fantasy now that those are old enough to drink. These sprues have more empty space than I’m used to, but are still chockablock full of options. You’ve got 5 dudes and 5 ladies in a set, with 2-3 unique heads for each, options for spears or hand weapons, command upgrades, and a dozen or so shields with different designs, any of which can be put on any model. I wish there was something more distinctive to pick out the champion like a cape or something, since he just looks like any other marauder save for a small hero rock. I gave him the ram skull shield (C13) to mark him out, since the rest of the shields tend to be pretty simple. If you managed to snag Tolgar Split-Eye at a previous GW event he’d make an excellent unit champion too, since he’s a big more armored than these guys n’ gals. You could easily use any of the shields or heads from the Darkoath Fellriders here too if you wanted more variety. The shields share the same connections, and some of the heads are close enough that they should fit with little effort. You could easily leave the shields off for subassembly purposes, but I wasn’t doing that for 8 point models. My cutoff is 10 points, thank you very much.

Darkoath Marauders. Credit: SRM

Moldlines are minimal, but some gaps in prominent areas like where the front and back of torsos join are a little noticeable. I wish there was another option for the banner bearer, so multiple units wouldn’t be waving the same icon around. Most models are 6-10 pieces, and took me 10-15 minutes to assemble each one. A couple pieces are spread across multiple sprues, like model 11, so there might be a bit of bit hunting here. The poses convey a load of momentum, lending themselves to open stances that will make getting a paintbrush around them easy.

Credit: Keewa

Darkoath Fellriders

Credit: Keewa

AoS Coach: I hope there are no drug tests in the Mortal Realms because these horses are jacked. I may need to add corrupted Chaos carrots to my meals. The sprues come with five horses, 13 head variants and the options to make broadswords or javelins. I went with javelins for both a shooting and melee attack, plus they looks better. The riders’ legs are modeled onto the horses which speeds up the build process. I don’t think it took me longer than 90 minutes to complete. I’ve kept my shields off the models for now to help with painting, and if I was putting my time into these models I’d keep the riders’ torsos off during painting then bring it all together at the end. The models are a worthy update to the Marauder Horsemen kit, and captures the facial expressions and speed of light cavalry charging into battle.

SRM: Contrary to Coach here, I built a few of them and wasn’t wild about the process. They’ve each got a load of pieces and options which I like, but things like the horse heads each being three pieces makes for a somewhat tedious assembly process. The standard bearer is especially tough, since their icon is so top-heavy and connected to such a small shoulder. I glued the haft of it to one of the several severed heads hanging off this Fellrider, just to reinforce it and make that join stronger. I also noticed quite a few gaps on these models, especially where arms and legs met torsos. It’s a shame because I adore the designs – the riders standing up in their stirrups give this unit some beautifully dynamic poses, and the whole crew is excellently detailed and ready to party. Building them is just kind of a pain.

The Rules and Lore

We already touched on the rules in their own article, and we’ll be covering the lore soon once Dawnbringers VI drops. There are no big changes to the overall story of Age of Sigmar in here, but some great insight into the culture of the Darkoath tribes.

Final Thoughts, Parting Shots, and What Have You

SRM: This is likely the latest into an edition the word “launch box” has ever been uttered, but here we are. It’s a weird note to end AoS 3 on since it doesn’t really tie in to the Dawnbringers series in any huge way, nor does it lead into the presumably rodent-infested 4th edition dropping this year. Personally, I’ve been waiting for this release since the Darkoath Chieftain came with Silver Tower, and realistically I’ve been waiting for this release since I played the Barbarian in HeroQuest when I was 6. I genuinely adore this aesthetic, and find the models to be largely joyful to work with. The rules don’t really matter, as I doubt I’ll get to hit the table with them at all before 4th drops, but the lore around them is interesting. I think the spite the Darkoath feel towards Sigmar (or as they know him, the Craven God) for abandoning them is well-deserved, and the notion that they worship aspects of the Dark Gods under other names is really cool. There’s clearly been some interest in fleshing these guys out for a while, and I think it’s an interesting story in an army that could so easily be two dimensional.

If you have questions, feedback, or you just want to share what your Slaves to Darkness army will be, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.