This review was completed using a free review copy of Dawnbringers: The Long Hunt provided to us by Games Workshop
Stormcast Eternals, despite their main character status, haven’t been doing so hot. Their book is old and is essentially designed for another era. The new Dawnbringers seeks to give them a bit of support in the form of a brand new hero, a new Army of Renown and the surprise apperance of The Blacktalons from the titular Warhammer+ Show of the same name. Are these boosts worth it? Let’s find out.
Debuting in this book is a new Stormcast hero, and he seems like a winner. An Arch-Relictor is already a necessary addition to any Stormcast list, so does a unique version with a terrifying mount justify itself?
Games Workshop revealed his warscroll earlier this week but this is the first time it’s hit print, so what better time to talk about him? First off, his attack profile is excellent. A total of nine Damage 2 and two Damage 3 attacks. He also has a missile weapon, and while it doesn’t do mortal wounds directly like the other Stormdrake, it’s still Rend -2 it does inflict a damage over time effect, rolling equal to or less than the Battle Round each Hero Phase. The effect is permanent, unless removed by healing which incentivizes spreading it around early and tagging as many units as you can. Especially Heroes, who will force your opponent to waste precious Heroic Actions on Heroic Recovery to keep them alive.
He’s solid in a scrap too, in addition to his great profile he causes -1 attack for any unit targeting him and shuts off Rally and Inspiring Presence within 12″ allowing him to scrap hordes well.
Finally, we get to his other role, as a Lord-Relictor. Being Unique means he cannot get the highly coveted High Priest trait, but he arguably does one better. He can chant two prayers, which usually means the one he knows and his warscroll prayer. His Warscroll Prayer, Lightning Tempest is a chain lightning spell that lets you bounce between as many targets as you can for as long as you have valid targets and roll 3+s. Excellent for dealing with cowardly caster armies, but you can always fall back on a cannot fail teleport if it’s not useful in the moment.
If he chooses to only chant one prayer, he automatically gets a 6, or you can chant both normally. He also packs in a short range (12″) Dispel for evocations and endless spells, only requiring a 2+ on a single die. Definitely stronger than a standard Relictor, but is it worth 400 points? Potentially, if you really wanted to build around him. It’s hard to say he won’t pull his weight, but in an army with some pretty expensive units, it can be hard to make room for a fifth of your list.
Army of Renown: Draconith Skywing
Once upon a time at the dawn of third edition, Stormdrake Guard were the most terrifying thing on the block. They hadn’t even come out yet, and people saw the writing on the wall. They were far too cheap and spammable, and did a ton of mortal wounds before alpha charging turn 1 and pinning opponents in their deployment. Before the model even hit the points already saw a hike. This didn’t do much to stop them, only having people bring a handful of fewer dragons. Once the Battlescroll errata’d their movement phase charge to a once per game reroll they dropped off quite a bit. Still good, but not enough to be your only unit.
Games Workshop seemed to have noticed this and created an Army of Renown specifically for Dragon lovers. Everything must have the Draconith keyword, which limits your options to Ionus Cryptborn, Knight-Draconis, Stormdrake Guard, Krondys and Karazai.
As a reminder, Armies of Renown are treated as unique from their source book. This means you cannot use these in a “normal” Stormcast book, nor can you use the base Stormcast Eternals army traits.
Draconith Echelon lets you treat Krondys, Karazai and Stormdrake guard with 2 models (Sorry no single riders) as Battleline. This Stormdrake Guard are likely to be battleline anyway, since all your Viable leader options are Draconith, but should you wish to include Krondys it certainly helps the battleline tax.
If you want to bring Ionus, Draconith Guardians gives him a 4+ Bodyguard with any Stormdrake guard unit. He’s likely to be your enemy’s prime target and you want to protect those 400 points. Further incentivizing keeping your army in close formation is Exemplars of Fury which gives +1 attack to any heroes if they are within 6″ of two other units. Pretty much anyone can benefit from this bonus, as just about everyone is going to be a close combat character. Finally, Stormdrake Champions lets you bring a Single Stormdrake Guard for each Hero. This generally isn’t useful, because it won’t even pay for battleline tax, but mostly exists so if you want to bring multiple heroes (Who cost a lot!) and need something cheaper to round off the last few points.
There is a new Heroic Action, Thunderous Roars which stops Inspiring Presence. It’s a bit awkward to set up because since its used in the Hero phase, it’s only going to work once you’ve been in combat for at least one round. So it’s more useful for those more grindy fights that you need to finish up as quickly as possible.
Last off, two Monstrous Rampages, befitting an army that uses all Monsters. Impact Tremors is deceptively good, locking enemies into only piling in 1″ instead of 3″ on a 3+. So it’s particularly useful if you can flank and hit them on the edges. Stun is extremely useful, giving a -1 to wound to the enemy on a 3+. Easily worth it, and competitive with Roar in many cases.
Overall, a solid suite of options that plays well into the Monster focus.
There’s a very limited set of options here, so it’s easier to compress these into one header. Notable…issue here is that there are no qualifiers that let Unique heroes take the Enhancements, even the prayers and spells. Since you cannot bring in a non-Unique Wizard or Priest, this makes these spells and prayers completely unusable. The intent was that presumably, Ionus would take the Prayers and Krondys would be able to use the spell. As written though, they will have to sit this one out until it’s FAQ’d. Your General will likely be a Knight-Draconis, since it’s the only valid non-Unique character so the Command Trait and Artefact are still viable options.
Your lone Command trait is Favour the Bold, which lets your general make a D6″ move after fighting if there are no enemy models nearby. Excellent utility, as it can even move within 3″ of the enemy and pull other stuff in. Enemy being clever with screens you can’t fly over? Wipe them out then pull in the actual target.
The Artefact is less exciting, Celestium Ensign is a once per battle D3 heal to all Draconith units wholly within 9″. Wholly within 9″ is…asking a lot in this army with their huge bases. Sure your General likely has a huge base but it’s going to be hard to cluster enough together to make D3 worth it. At the very least it can be used at the beginning of any phase, lest you get trapped in a bad situation. You probably will want to just roll with Arcane Tome or Amulet of Destiny.
Your lone spell is Regal Authority, with a reasonable casting Value of 7 and wholly within 18″. Target an Draconith unit and any time they use a Command Point on a 5+ it’s not used. Once Krondys can use this properly it’s an excellent choice, especially on your General (where most of your orders will likely come from). Over the course of a game it’s going to add up, and every 5+ will be worth its weight in gold.
Wrapping things up we do have 3 prayers, which will be useful once Ionus can use them. Sigmar’s Grace is a flat 3 wounds healed to a unit wholly within 12″. Since the battle traits encourage a tight formation it’s pretty easy to remain within range of it. Sovereignty is your anti-horde option. Even though everything in your army is a Monster, you can get outpaced by hordes on objectives, and this prayer makes an enemy unit within 12″ count as a max of 5 models. Perfect for those 80 Zombies your friend brought. Finally Sanctification causes -1 to Spells and Prayers for enemies board wide which is an incredible bonus. Whether Sovereignty or Sanctification is better is going to be a fierce debate, and pretty much helps you forget Translocation missing (Not that Dragons really needed it).
Grand Strategy and Battle Tactics
Like other Armies of Renown, there’s only one Grand Strategy and it’s a pretty good one! On Wings of Death requires 3 of your units be wholly within 9″ of each other. Don’t get tables and you can do this pretty easily. The battle traits want you to say pretty close together anyway so you can fly into proper formation on the last battle round to finish it off.
For battle tactics, it’s probably one of the best arguments for this Army of Renown since Stormcast battle traits are…bad. Real bad. So losing those isn’t really a loss at all. Concentrated Force requires the same enemy unit be targeted it with melee weapons from 3 units. You don’t have to pick the unit, but youre likely going to want to pick the tankiest thing the opponent has and be careful not to kill it before unit #3 gets its shot. A balancing act to be sure, but achievable with a big enough monster or horde to target. Focused Destruction is similar, requiring the same unit be targeted by 3 Monstrous Rampages this turn. Real easy, since you don’t even need to roll high enough to use them, just target them. Finally Cleansing Strike is a bit more opportune, requiring you pick 2 objectives contested (not neccesarily controlled) by enemy units and clear the enemys off. You may need to spread out a bit to pull it off, but it’s certainly viable and clearing out the enemy is what Dragons excel at.
Aside from the gap in prayers and spells, which likely will be fixed in short order, this Army is really good! It revisits an archtype we haven’t seen yet, and given the age of the Stormcast book it actually shores up a few weaknesses in it (Battle Tactics) while not really being a huge loss in other areas (Artefacts). If people want to go back to running all Dragons this is likely going to be very popular.
Regiment of Renown: The Blacktalons
Off the back of the successful Blacktalon series, the Blacktalons got their own Regiment of Renown accompanying this book. Like the other Regiments of Renown to date, this can be taken by any Order army that is not a Stormcast Eternals army. We’ll include it here anyway for completeness sake. If you take the Regiment, they have a 6+ Ward, appreciated but not great, especially when the warband’s primary use is to tank hits for Lorai and Neave.
Neave Blacktalon returns with an updated warscroll, her warband and Lorai, a Deepkin Soulscryer. Neave herself has a bit of a glow up, it’s not clear if this is meant to replace the old Neave (Since the name is identical) or not. Her melee attacks are now Rend -2 Damage 2 (Damage 3 against Heroes!). At a base of 2+ to hit, she’s a damned wheat thresher for clearing out mobs. She maintains her ability to run and shoot, but can additionally charge as well. The downside is her teleport is a bit more difficult to set up, after she kills a model she can teleport but only to her Blacktalon unit as long as they’re not in combat. So likely you want to treat them more as a beacon for her to get out of Dodge after she fights.
Looking at Neave’s Companions they do suffer from some of the earlier Warband issues of being a bit of a mix of different weapons that don’t jive together. There is an interesting missle weapon for sniping out Heroes, and they can 2+ Bodyguard Neave or Lorai but otherwise as stated they’re more of a central base for Neave to jump back to after she’s fought.
Finally Lorai isn’t a super interesting Wizard. she is tough to kill since she’s -1 to hit in all situations, has a 5+ Ward and even still has the Companions to Bodyguard hits onto. Her warscroll spell though is powerful, giving the Cockatrice debuff of 6s only to hit. Which is good…except for the 6″ range, meaning she has to get dangerously close. Worth it if she does though.
At 340 points these guys cost a fair bit but its hard to deny they are good at what they do. Neave will clear house on most units she charges and leave before the counterattack hits. Lorai is basically a Cockatrice with extra steps, but at least the companions can help shield her while she moves up the field.
Overall I’m not sure there’s a pressing need for this, but it’s a fun unit and possibly worth including in some casual lists.
Overall these are some pretty good shots in the arm for Stormcast, a book that badly needed the help. Ionus is solid both in and out of his Army of Renown, and the Army of Renown itself is useful support for a popular archtype that’s tapered off. While they could still use more help, it’s nice to see them get a bit of help.
Up next we have the Ogor Mawtribes and the Roving Maw.