This review was completed using a free review copy of Dawnbringers: The Long Hunt provided to us by Games Workshop
Over in Ghyr, the Twin Crusade marches forward. Despite the destruction brought by Nurgle and King Brohd, the followers of Sigmar continue toward their destination of a city deep in Ghyr. Meanwhile, the Sylvaneth watch from a distance, fighting Nurgle and the Gargants who rampage their forests.
Belthanos, First Thorn of Kurnoth
If you want to read along, Games Workshop already posted the warscroll here. Belthanos is a welcome sight to an army that quite frankly lacks a lot of unit diversity. He’s a solid combatant, packing some decent melee attack profiles and a 5+ ward, meaning he’s very difficult to hit on the counter attack.
As for utility, every hero phase he lets you make a piece of terrain whatever mysterious terrain you want within 6″ with Nature Aetheric and it counts as Overgrown, letting you plant Overgrown in your opponent’s territory should you need it. Change a piece of terrain to Arcane before your wizards start casting, great value.
Kurnothi War Horn allows units to run and charge wholly within range. It starts at a very generous 18″ and while it does shrink to 9″, his base size makes this pretty easy to set up and what more could Sylvaneth as for than running and charging? His final trick is a Command Ability to grant a unit the ability to fall back and charge. Good if you got yourself caught in a bad spot and need to get out to reposition.
There is a trick worth mentioning, he has the Kurnoth Hunter keyword which means Alarielle can summon him in. But don’t be surprised if they errata this real fast, don’t get mad if you thought that was honestly going to work.
Overall, he’s solid. A good buff pieces, and probably about worth his cost at 360, though he could probably come down a bit.
The Evergreen Hunt
Belthanos’s special warband, the Evergreen Hunt, is an elite focused army. It allows Arch-Revenants, Kurnoth Hunters, Revenant Seekers and Spiterider Lances. So basically you lose your wizards and your chaff, which is a pretty big hit especially when you don’t get your Tree Lords either.
To Honour Kurnoth makes all your non-Hero units battleline, simple enough. This is an elite army and you gotta fill those mandatory slots. Abundant Growth is a modified Places of Power, granting only healing within range of Overgrown terrain but not Awakened Wyldwoods. Although you can still use an Awakened Wyldwood if you wish, you won’t be able to summon more during the game without a Wizard..
The major mechanic of this army is handled by two rules: Rhythm of the Chase and Harmonies of the Hunt. Rhythm of the Chase simply asks you to pick an enemy unit to be your Quarry after deployment, and you can change it any time the quarry is destroyed. A new heroic action A Prized Quarry is Sighted lets you change your quarry to something else within 9″, which can be worth it if your opponent moved the Quarry away or if you want to catch them off guard with another target that is closer. A new monstrous rampage Merciful Strike. It’s a bit convoluted but you may pick a quarry you are engaged in combat with, and roll a die. If you roll higher than their wound characteristic, slay a model. You get to add the amount of wounds allocated to the unit to the roll as well, making it pretty good at picking up elite infantry or even a Hero who has taken a few licks.
Quarrys key heavily into Harmonies of the Hunt. Harmonies is a mechanic that gives escalating buffs as you fulfill criteria: including Having Belthanos on the field, each friendly unit in the same quarter as the Quarry, and killing a quarry. These are checked on a per round basis (except killing Quarries, those are permanent). As you accumulate points for accomplishing these tasks, you receive cumulative buffs which include +1 to run and charge, +1 to hit and wound, +1 attack and 6″ pile-in. Powerful stuff, and makes even eliminating cheap screen a valuable use of your time.
One Command Trait and one Artefact. Sapwood Leader heals D3 instead of 1 wound when near Overgrown Terrain. Not great but not terrible either. Since you don’t have any casters it’s not like you need Spellsinger. The lone Artefact Trophy of the Hunt lets you have a once per game +1 to your Hunting Harmonies, which can make quite the difference when you’re toeing close to your next threshold. Again, the Vesperal Gem isn’t going to help much without casters.
Grand Strategy and Battle Tactics
Like past Armies of Renown there is one Grand Strategy and 3 Battle Tactics. The Grand Strategy is The Grand Hunt which requires you kill 4 quarries. This is very doable, since you have a lot of ways to manipulate your Quarry. It’s essentially asking you to kill 4 units, and to call your shot each time. Not too hard.
The Grand Strategies equally play into the quarry mechanic, Trophy Kill merely asks you to kill your quarry this turn with a melee weapon, which you can always change to something more vulnerable with the Heroic Action if you want to fake out your opponent. Encircled asks all your units to be in the same quarter as the quarry which is…daunting, and could put you in a weak position on some maps to leave objectives. Finally Spring the Trap ask you to charge with 4 units and at least one attacked the quarry in melee. 4 units is…a lot, but Sylvaneth want to be doing this so it can’t be entirely ruled out.
That said these Battle Tactics are…not great. Especially losing Harness the Spirit Paths hurts a lot and the requirements for these can be pretty tough. Compounding this is the lack of good GHB options for a Wizard-less army.
The Army of Renown is simply…interesting. Sylvaneth are generally more caster heavy and want to play with a lot of ranged attacks or Strike and Fade tactics. This focuses more on being a bruiser, which means it’ll play very differently if you want a change of pace.
Lack of Tree Spirits in a bruiser Sylvaneth army is certainly an odd choice, but I think this will do the job in Casual games for those looking for something very different.
Next up we’ll cover the Stormcast Eternals!