Dominion Warscroll Reviews: Thunderstrike Stormcast

Yndrasta, the Celestial Spear. Credit: Games Workshop
Yndrasta, the Celestial Spear. Credit: Games Workshop

They’ve got lightning! They’ve got gold! They’ve gotten much taller! Ladies and gentle-orruks, give it up for the newest champions of the Mortal Realms, the Stormcast Eternals of Dominion! We’ve got 1,360 points of heavily armoured justice to here today, so let’s take a look at what the poster children of Age of Sigmar are getting up to now!

 

Allegiance Abilities

Scions of the Storm lets you set up one unit in the Celestial Realm for every one unit you deploy at the start of the game. These units can then be set up on the battlefield more than 9” away from enemy units at the end of one of your movement phases. This will be familiar to anyone who’s taken a look at Stormcast in the past, but something to note here is that it’s missing the final line in the Battletome about units not deployed before the fourth battle round are slain. We’re going to assume this was cut for the sake of time, and that you can’t drop down in round four or five, but you should absolutely check how your opponent or event organiser is going to run this.

Blaze of Glory is brand new ability, representing your tiny armoured children exploding into lightning upon their death and return to the forges of Azyr. When a Stormcast model is slain within 1” of an enemy unit, you can roll a number of dice equal to the Wounds characteristic of that model, adding one more if it was Thunderstrike (the new breed of Stormcast). On a 6, inflict a mortal wound. Alright, it’s not remotely as good as the Kruleboyz ability to do mortal wounds on a 6 to hit, but it’s still something, right? …right?

Credit: Games Workshop

This is an odd ability, because Stormcast armies tend to be fairly low model count, so I’m unsure how much this will meaningfully affect your armies. Sure, sometimes you might just knock that final wound off Nagash, but most of the time you’re only really going to see this a lot if you’re trying to go for something like the currently popular Liberator horde with Stormkeep Patrol. It’s always a bit of a feels-bad when a model dies, and this does take the sting out of that loss a little, but it’s an odd ability that you kind of don’t want to ever have to use.

 

Heroes

Yndrasta. Credit: Games Workshop
Yndrasta. Credit: Games Workshop

We’re going to start with Yndrasta purely because she’s the best looking Order model around and is also very obviously Sanginius in his renfaire phase.

A 12” aura of ignoring battleshock is nifty, but what I’m really excited about here is Dazzling Radiance. Every hero phase you can return one slain model with a wounds characteristic of 3 or less to each friendly Stormcast unit within 12”. As a Death player primarily, it’s good to see Sigmar’s chosen slowly turning to worship the true god of the Mortal Realms, the Undying King. More importantly, the already resilient units Stormcast fling around are going to adore her. How do you feel about resurrecting Annihilators every turn? 

The Celestial Spear is an odd one; her resurrection and battleshock immunity auras are fairly tight, so you’ll need to stick her right in the middle of your most central bricks to get the most use out of her, but her offensive prowess, 12” fly and resilience suggest throwing her out as an assassin. 8 wounds is nice, but her survivability really comes from her 3+ save and 4+ ward; I can already imagine yeeting her across a unit of Gitz to impale Skragrott. On the other hand, sticking her with some Praetors (below) can lead to some frankly hilarious levels of resilience, and you can very solidly instead use her movement to redeploy exactly where you need her, likely where some monster is threatening the line. 

Credit: Games Workshop

Adding 10 to the number of wounds monsters have suffered when determining which row on their damage table to use can really cripple some monsters (I’m painting gargants right now and they are sad and she isn’t even nearby), but be wary of getting greedy; a bunch of monsters can more than happily yeet her into the sun even with 10 wounds ‘taken’, and remember that Mangler Squigs get better again as they take more wounds. Also, uh. Skarbarand. Yeah. Run away from him, mkay?

Finally, shout out to Kragnos for giving out a +1 bravery aura (compared to Yndrasta’s battleshock immunity aura)  for two and a half times the points cost…

Verdict: Please bring her to all your battles. She’s too pretty to leave at home.

 

Stormcast Lord-Imperatant. Credit: Games Workshop
Stormcast Lord-Imperatant. Credit: Games Workshop

More like Lord-Impertinent, amirite, fellow Death players?

The Lord-Imperatant proudly continues the noble Stormcast tradition of wearing your pet’s parent as a cloak, being accompanied by a Gryph-hound who is obviously going to be on their very best behaviour to avoid a similar fate.

Defensively, he’s 7 wounds with a 3+ save, two more than a Lord-Celestant. Time has yet to tell whether this is a function of Thunderstrike units being a bit beefier than their, uh, Firstborn companions, or if this is unique to him. Offensively, he’s fine, but nothing to write home about. A D6 shot Stormcaller Baton is interesting but unlikely to make a meaningful impact, and his Blessed Warhammer is nothing to write home about except for the, uh, extra point of damage over the Lord-Celestant. 60 points more, but he is leaving his old mate in the dust.

Credit: Games Workshop

Once per turn you can issue a command without a command point being spent, a power I feel we’ll be seeing more and more as this new edition expands the volume of commands being used, but the real reason you’re taking a Lord-Imperatant is to allow your Stormcast with less than 4 wounds deploying via Scions of the Storm to deploy within 7” of your opponent, rather than 9”. Given the volume of ways you can buff Stormcast charge ranges (hi Gavriel!), you’re given a real incentive to use that power now; formerly you’d see a lot of Stormcast foot slogging across the board, because the alternative was often to drop down from the heavens, fail your charge, and stare awkwardly at the rampaging hordes that got to charge you instead.

Verdict: A real neato-burrito, Stormcast already have a surplus of buff characters and a lack of beatsticks. The Lord-Imperatant continues this legacy by being interesting and likely of use in some very specific builds, but most commonly going to be seen in the armies of new players down the back end of the event hall.

Knight-Arcanum. Credit: Games Workshop
Knight-Arcanum. Credit: Games Workshop

Our second to last hero of Dominion is the Knight-Arcanum, who has clearly recently returned from a stint cosplaying as a Harlequin from Warhammer 40,000 and forgotten to remove her mask.

Single cast wizards are rarely anything to write home about, and she’s no exception here. Thanks to Blaze of the Heavens, predatory endless spells can’t pass across or finish a move within 3” of this unit, which is neat until you remember some of the more horrific spells (such as Warp Lightning Vortex) aren’t predatory endless spells, and there’s also no restriction on a predatory endless spell being set up within 3” of her. We’re also yet to learn if not moving a spell counts as moving it 0”, which is actually important to understand in both major Games Workshop game systems. 

Her unique spell is Blaze of the Heavens, which got me incredibly excited until I finished reading the damn thing. Casting value of 7 and 18” range for D3 mortal wounds isn’t… great, honestly, but you do add 2” to the range of the spell for every Thunderstrike unit wholly within 12”. So, if she’s in the middle of your Dominion army, this is a 32” range spell! …that still only does D3 mortal wound on a 7 to cast with no innate bonuses. When I first read this spell, I thought it was plus two damage for each unit within 12”, and was about to lose my mind at how awesome it is. Sadly, that spell only exists in the darkest recesses of my own home-brew rules. Remember that she’s a Thunderstrike unit herself, so the minimum range for this spell is always 20”.

Verdict: Of all the wizards in the Stormcast list, the Knight-Arcanum certainly is one that exists. For only 10 points more you can get her Lord-Arcanum boss, who has far more utility and far more interesting uses. Send her back to the space elves where she belongs!

 

Stormcast Knight-Vexillor. Credit: Games Workshop
Stormcast Knight-Vexillor. Credit: Games Workshop

Finally for the heroes, the Knight-Vexillor with Banner of Apotheosis reminds us all of how awesome battle-standard bearers are, and how we should be seeing them in every army from here on out.

Graced with the longest rules text of this box, the Banner of the Reforged allows you to, once per battle, pick up to three friendly Stormcast units to be affected. Those units either heal D3 or, if no units are wounded, return a number of slain models with a combined wounds characteristic of D3 or less. If you picked only one unit to be affected, the total is 3D3, and if you picked two units, one is 2D3 and the other is D3. Death players, yes, Stormcast have better resurrection than most of you right now, at least in this one model. Remember though that you can’t bring a model back wounded, and with the lowest wounds characteristic in the army being 2 you’re gambling every time you activate this banner. I’d probably recommend picking one unit and doubling down with Yndrasta to potentially bring back four 3 wound models in a single turn.

More importantly in my books is the Soul-charged Icon ability, allowing friendly Stormcast units to re-roll charges if they’re wholly within 12”. Dropping down a unit within 7” (thanks to the Lord-Imperatant) and then rerolling that charge gives you a roughly 82% chance to make that charge. Add in Gavriel Sureheart and you’ve got a ninety nine percent chance to make that charge. Granted, it was a 4” charge anyway, but you know how well you can roll sometimes…

Verdict: Soul-charged Icon is nifty, but you’re paying a lot of points for Banner of the Reforged, and I just don’t think it’s worth it. You’ve got a tonne of other ways in Stormcast to buff charge distances, and what are you excited for, bringing back a Vindictor once per battle? Pass.

 

Units

Stormcast Annihilator. Credit: Games Workshop
Stormcast Annihilator. Credit: Games Workshop

The beefiest friends in the Mortal Realms, Annihilators make their debut to not really… annihilate anyone. 3 attacks, 3+ to hit, 3+ to wound, -1 rend, damage 2 is fine but not what I’d call annihilation. They’re certainly beefy, with 2+ save, but what makes them actually interesting to me is their abilities. First up comes Blazing Impact, influencing D3 mortal wounds on enemy units within 10” on a 3+, when the Annihilators are first set up, in addition to re-rolling charges that turn. Combined, these are what we call ‘a subtle hint’ that you should set up the Annihilators via Scions of the Storm. Force of a Falling Star is another nifty punch which can do an ugly amount of mortal wounds for such a small unit. After you make a charge, pick an enemy unit and roll a number of dice equal to the charge distance you just rolled. On a 4+ (degrading as your unit loses models), inflict a mortal wound. Nifty. While I like the idea of setting these guys up with support, the idea of slamming them down behind enemy lines and just deleting some poor wizard by just running them over makes me smile a little on the inside.

Verdict: Annihlators weirdly are scarier to me on the charge and when deployed than when they hit, but the 2+ save is a tasty treat. Just don’t play any games against things with high mortal wound output, like, say, Kruleboyz.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Putting your old Liberators to shame, Vindictors (not Vindicators) arrive with a 2” spear to really hammer home the new rules about coherency. A 3+ save and a 3+ to hit, 3+ to wound, rend -1, damage 1 attack profile really puts these another pip above Liberators, with a 6 to hit causing a mortal wound and the attack sequence ends. Please note that I am not at all bitter about Kruleboyz getting this ability on every single attack in their army. Other than that, really nothing much to write home about. They’re taller, they’re better armoured, they’re Stormcast.

Verdict: They exist. They’re your new Primaris Stormcast, better get used to them. Solid, but uninspiring, but what else did you expect from this army?

 

Stormcast Praetors. Credit: Wings

Finally, Praetors. Praetors are senior officers of the Legiones Astartes, and some of your favourite characters of the Horus Heresy might be called Praetor, including Eidolon, Sigismund, and – what’s that? Wrong Praetor? Damn. Well, in Age of Sigmar then, Praetors are bodyguards to other Stormcast leaders, and my god they look cool.

An extra damage pip on their Soulguard’s Halberd compared to Stormspears is neat for sure, but what you’ve really got here are possibly the best bodyguards we’ve seen to date. At the start of the battle you can pick a friendly Stormcast hero for this unit to be bound to. Whenever you’d allocate a wound or mortal wound to that hero while Praetors are within 3”, instead roll a D6. On a 1-2, hero takes the wound. On a 3-4, Praetors take that wound. On a 5-6, that wound is negated. For those keeping track at home, this means that Yndrasta could have a 3+ save, then a 4+ ward, then (functionally) a 3+ ignore wound in addition. This roughly equates to a 2+ ignore mortal wound roll, or a, uh, 0.3+ save against a normal wound with no rend.

Verdict: On the one hand, this unit made me have to do maths. On the other, dear god they look cool. If you ever want a hero to not die, here’s your shot.

 

The Points

So! We won’t go over them all, but let’s do some quick points comparisons, shall we?

At 140 points, Vindictors are a full 40% more than an equivalent 5 Liberators, but for that you gain an extra pip of save, an extra point of bravery (from their banner), an extra +1 to hit, rend -1, mortal wounds on 6s… Yeah, I doubt we’ll see Liberators on the table again except to make minimum battleline requirements.

On the other side, Knight-Arcanum is only 10 points cheaper than a Lord-Arcanum, and is just… bad? That 10 points contains a lot of stuff, including healing, once per battle mortal wound bombs, a nifty command ability, an awesome debuff spell (-1 to hit on an enemy unit), and a super charged Arcane Bolt. Aside from her cool mask, I don’t think she’s really worth the points right now.

Finally, I’ve chosen to compare Yndrasta to the one she’s apparently taken the job of, the Celestant Prime. The Prime is only 40 points more, but for that you get a little AoE shooting attack that inflicts mortal wounds (as opposed to Yndrasta’s cool spear), a much better melee profile (Retribution from On High giving the Prime even more attacks is just a bonus), and while he doesn’t have an imunity to battleshock aura, he does have a +1 bravery bubble. Finally, the ability to once per turn change a hit, wound, save, run, charge, or number of mortal wounds roll to any value you like is probably worth 40 points on its own!

We can’t say whether or not the old points will go up, but the Dominion points don’t seem to have a fair relationship to the older book. We’ll see which changes first!

 

Final Verdict

I’ll never let a filthy Destruction reviewer upstage me, so here’s a graph for you to sink your electric fangs into!

 

It’s not an inspiring graph, but there’s a fairly decent spread in here. Praetors and Yndrasta are the real winners, while Annihilators are interesting, Lord-Imperatants and Knight-Vexillors both have use cases, and Vindictors are your bog standard vanilla battleline. The only real loser here is the Knight-Arcanum, who really just needs to go home and level up to become a Lord-Arcanum before being interesting again.

At the end of the day though, Stormcast aren’t flash hot as an army right now. There are some intriguing ideas in this set, but we really need to wait for the new Battletome before we get too excited. Except for the teased chariot, of course. GW, be a bae and just shoot a couple of those little beauties our way, ‘kay?

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