This review was written using a copy of General’s Handbook 2022-2023: Season 1 from Games Workshop provided for review purposes.
Much like the season before it, this book has everything you need to dive into a matched play game of Age of Sigmar including:
- Lore about Gallet, a massive continent within Ghur, the realm of beasts. The lore explores the miles long tunnel systems where your battles take place, infested with horrific arthropod creatures.
- Unique Realm rules for fighting in Gallet including rules to support your infantry who’ve spend months and years fighting in The Tunnel Wars with spells and abilities to fell creatures too large and impractical to move through the tunnels.
- Two new core battalions any army can take, which massively improve the ability of your infantry to secure objectives and take down enemy forces.
- 6 new Grand Strategies and 8 new Battle tactics.
- Updated core endless spells from Malign Sorcery and Forbidden Power
- 12 new and unique missions
- The core rules printed in the back for easy reference.
The most important thing to note going forward is this pack is self contained. You will not be using any rules from the General’s Handbook 2021 here, so a lot of these are going to seem like extremely radical shifts. There’s a lot of ground to cover so we’ll address what this is going to mean for players but trust me, it’s going to be big.
Masters of the Splintered Land
If you pay attention to any rule, pay attention to this one. When using this Battlepack, all battleline units (including conditional battleline) who have 4 wounds or less and do not have a mount gain the Galletian Veterans keyword. This doesn’t do anything by itself but fuels a ton of rules interactions going forward, so keep this in mind.
At the start of every battle round, after rolling off, the player who goes second may choose a point to be the Proving Ground until the end of the round. Only Galletian Veterans can contest that point. No objective may be chosen more than once per game.
It’s important to note that the second player does not have to do this, and in fact there are many cases where they can’t or wont. If you run out of objectives to mark as proving grounds, or want to hold out to see if maybe you can seize a better opportunity to hinder your opponent’s chance to seize ground then it may be best to do so. This could also be used defensively, if you go second on round 1, maybe you will want to select a point your opponent might use against you later, removing it as an option now.
On its face this isn’t quite as impactful as pulling an entire objective away that an opponent has dedicated a lot of their forces to, like you could last year. That rule, however was only once per game and often the game might be over by then. What this does is create a more interesting dynamic of push or pull where there is another consolation for going second because what point you select as the proving ground could cause you to affect the momentum of the fight.
The Bonds of Battle
Ah but what about your fat boys on us 32 or 40 mm bases? They’re Galletian Veterans too you know! One of the most lamented facts of third edition’s coherency rules is how badly it punished 32 or 40 mm bases. 32 mms can force it a bit with a honey comb pattern, but that is often unwieldy in practice. 40 mm are just stuck, if you have 6 or more models forget it, you’re not getting everyone in.
This seeks to address this issue, the explanation is very technical: If a model in a Galletian Veterans unit is within 0.5″ of a model in its own unit that is also within 0.5″ of an enemy model, it may attack that unit. In short it lets you attack 2 ranks back, even on models this shouldn’t really be possible like Ogor Gluttons.
It’s worth noting that because it’s keyword locked it doesn’t do anything to help non-battleline units with large bases, like Kroxigors, Fiends etc. It’s a cool idea with clumsy execution. I’m kinda iffy on this, as it seems like slapping a band aid on a serious core problem, but it definitely does the job once you understand what it’s trying to do. I think this could have been addressed more directly by rewriting the core rules instead of putting in a packet that will be replaced in 6 months, but this may be a test for a more permanent solution down the road.
Last year we got Metamorphosis, which turned a Hero into a Monster, which was key for all the battle tactics that book contained around monsters. This season’s spell, Gaze of Ghur is inherently more practical. With a casting Value of 7 and a range of 12″, you can reduce the value of a unit’s models holding the point by half (rounded down).
This is big. We’re about to see some massive units of battleline running around, due to how many game mechanics surround Galletian Vets. There is a core battalion we will get into later which will triple the value of every model in it, and this spell might be mandatory to cast in order to have any hope of outnumbering a massive blob like that.
It’s also worth noting that this also works on Gargants and Katakros (Albeit may be a bit trickier with his inherit magic resistance). With last years rules, pacing 30 models for a Taker Tribe Mega Gargant was very difficult without killing it. 15? That’s a little more practical.
Finally, a new realm command ability: Overwhelming Assault. This can only be given to a Galetian Veteran unit with 10 or more models at the end of the charge phase who is locked into combat with a unit that has 4 or fewer wounds. You roll a die and if your die roll beats the number of models in that unit, they fight last.
This is kinda…not great? It’s worth noting the enemy unit does not need to be a Galetian Veteran, just have 4 or fewer wounds, but the fact you have to roll one die and beat the number of models is a real killer. This is likely intended at the “Elite infantry” units that pepper the game such as Necropolis Stalkers and Annihilators which, combined with one of the new Core Battalions, will be one of the key tools to help dispatch hordes.
The problem is command points can be scarce, especially as you’re moving into the combat phase. Wasting it on something that might not work is a really difficult proposition. If you do get into the situation this seems intended for, it might be worth a shot but if a unit has more than 3 models its probably not worth the risk of rolling.
Two new core battalions aimed at infantry only and they are both stellar. Like the GHB before this, each is only able to be taken once so picking what goes in which will be a big decision point in listbuilding.
Expert Conquerors requires 2-3 Galletian Veterans, and they now count as thrice the number of models on the point. It’s basically the Stormhold ability from Stormcast Eternals, but better. This is going to be practically an auto take in most armies, because if you don’t take it your opponent probably will. And while 5 Vindictors counting as 15 models on an objective is annoying, try 60 zombies counting at 180! Horde armies are going to love this as it will balloon their effective model count to insane levels, while elite armies will appreciate being able to meet on more equal ground.
Bounty Hunters can take 2-3 Troop units but they do not need to be Galletian Veterans. The troops inside gain +1 damage in melee against Galletian Veteran units. Acting as an interesting counterbalance to all the things pushing listbuilders towards infantry spam, this creates such unholy terrors as damage 3 Gore Gruntas (with Warchanter buff), or damage 3 Stormdrake Guard. Such units won’t be holding objectives any time soon, but they make for incredible hammer units if they have high quality, high quantity attacks.
We’re onto one of the more radical sections of the book, as gone are the days of Prized Sorcery or Beast Master to make achieving your Grand Strategy a breeze. There are no carry overs from last year, and the ones that we have are generally both more challenging and more interactive.
No Place for the Weak requires your opponent to have no starting Battleline units on the battlefield at the end of battle. Reverse Hold the Line is an elegant way to both stress the importance of battleline in list building, but make the whole exercise a bit more interesting for both parties involved.
Tame the Land requires you to hold all objectives wholly outside your territory at the end of battle. This one is very challenging and I expect it won’t be picked for that reason.
Defend What’s Ours is scored if you end the battle with no enemy units wholly within your territory. An interesting choice for aggressive alpha strike armies that plan to live in their opponent’s territory and prevent them from establishing board control, or likewise strong castle armies.
Take What’s Theirs flips the script but tweaks it slightly – you have to have more friendly units than enemy units wholly within your opponent’s territory.
Demonstration of Strength is the closest thing we have to a more traditional GS, as it requires you to keep at least 3 Galletian Veteran units from your starting army alive. If you’re stocking up on foot infantry that’s durable than this may become the default choice.
Show of Dominance asks you if you’re prepared to try and complete a harder version of Demonstration of Strength – have a Galletian Veteran unit in each quarter of the battlefield. It doesn’t specify starting army so this is technically an option for summoning armies but it seems significantly more fiddly and likely not worth it.
The relative difficulty of these Grand Strategies recontextualise the battletome specific options and makes them inherently more appealing. Many of them didn’t make much sense when passive options such as “keep one battleline alive” existed, but now we’re working with something.
Like with Grand Strategies, these are also significantly more challenging and will have a big impact on how games are played going forward. The general trend is that they are a bit more interactive, with far fewer gimme options that can be scored without having to make any significant tactical decisions on the battlefield.
Gaining Momentum requires you to pick an enemy unit and destroy it that turn while ALSO controlling more objectives than your opponent at the end of the turn.
An Eye for an Eye is achievable if you’ve had a friendly unit die in the previous turn AND you destroy 1 or more enemy units THIS turn. Notable in that because of the wording it’s impossible to achieve at the top of turn 1 or indeed if the previous turn didn’t result in at least one of your units being destroyed.
Desecrate their Lands is one of the more easily scorable BT, as you must simply nominate a terrain feature (faction or otherwise) that is at least partially within your opponent’s territory and control it at the end of the turn. It’s interesting to see them make terrain features themselves a vital part of the battlefield in this way, and as one of the easier tactics it’s one that will be considered carefully when players first deploy their armies.
This One’s Mine! let’s you nominate an enemy unit on the battlefield that is then scored if the model PICKED to be your general destroys that unit with an attack. The wording here is key, because Warmasters won’t benefit unless they’re your actual general, and because it requires it to be done by attacks it’s not easily achievable by spellcasting juggernauts like Slann.
Head-to-Head pits Galletian Veteran units against one another – pick an enemy veteran unit and destroy it with an attack or ability of a friendly Galletian Veteran unit. This battle tactic’s existence by itself heavily incentivises foot infantry in every army that can get it’s hands on it… or avoiding Veterans altogether to deny your opponent the ability to score it.
Outmuscle requires you to pick a Galletian Veteran unit contesting the objective nominated as the Proving Ground and ensure that no models are contesting it at the end of the turn. This is a fun tactical battle tactic that will make for some interesting priority decisions because of how it affects whether this is an easy BT or a nightmare.
Against the Odds makes you pick one of your starting units on the battlefield and have it contesting an objective you control that is NOT being contested by any enemy Galletian Veteran models. This will likely be the turn one battle tactic of choice thanks to the wording, but is also a useful late game BT if you’ve got other easy options early game.
Barge Through Enemy Lines is the only BT here with a bonus point available which makes it especially notable. You score this one if you have 2 or more units from your starting army wholly within your opponent’s territory at the end of the turn, with an additional point being scored if 2 or more of those units are Galletian Veterans.
On the whole they’re not going to completely change the way you play the game, but they are more interactive and will force difficult decisions sooner. Once you get past turn one you’re immediately going to be pushed towards getting aggressive and making plays as gone are the days of Monstrous Takeover, Ferocious Advance or Aggressive Expansion.
In a little surprise, Endless spells have seen many tweaks and adjustments, and the general trend is – they’re getting better! Several of these have our staff excited about combos and possibilities, and they’re a lot more compelling options in some cases than they were prior.
Also worth noting is Endless Spells are no longer locked behind how many wizards you have, but by the size of the game. 1,000 pt games can bring 2 and 2,000 point games allow 3. Combined with the point changes this grants a little more leniency with bringing niche options, supplemented with more practical choices.
Horrorghast went down by 25 points and now has a casting value of 5 but is otherwise unchanged – as leadership has increased in importance and battleshock has become a bigger part of the game, this humble little Endless Spell becomes a lot more enticing.
Aethervoid Pendulum saw a 25 point drop and it’s range has been bumped up to 8″ from 6″. Probably not enough to make it a compelling choice but may have some fringe value.
Chronomantic Cogs has received an overhaul that may push it straight into spellcasting builds. It still increases or decreases the flow of time, but the charge effect is now just reroll charges for friendly units WW 12″ rather than +1 to charge to all units within 18″ – great for Nighthaunt but less useful for combo builds hoping to make charges out of deep strike more consistent. The spellcasting side of things is significantly more interesting, as it now simply grants rerolls to casting rolls for friendly wizards wholly within 12″ of the endless spell. Fans of Master of Magic know how strong this is, and being able to make your spellcasting more consistent will open up build options almost entirely by itself. Cogs is big money for Nighthaunt and also great for other factions and is a serious consideration going forward.
Emerald Lifeswarm no longer heals/revives when it’s setup, meaning it’s utility to double tap heal something is gone and thus it’s utility is somewhat diminished. It’s still a strong effect, but more in line with other endless spells.
Geminids of Uhl-Gysh had it’s range reduced by 1″ and is 40 points cheaper to compensate. It’s okay? honestly the utility of this one is limited as it triggers at end of Hero phase and ends at Combat phase, meaning the stuff you want to shut down it just… won’t.
Malevolent Maelstrom saw a 15 points price drop and a 2″ range increase – fine but still won’t be taken.
Prismatic Palisade saw a huge update – It’s range has increased by 2″ but it’s actual effect has been completely rewritten. Games Workshop has struggled to make this thing work as intended so they finally said to hell with it, it blocks shooting. Units within 6″ of the endless spell cannot make shooting attacks. Each battle round this Endless Spell remains on the battlefield, the range of the ability increases by 3″. Blockbuster change that now finally gives it a strong effect. It’s relatively short range of 8″ and low CV means keeping it in play might be tricky, but it was previously basically unplayable so we’re glad to see it receive such a pushed effect.
Purple Sun of Shyish has ALSO received a complete overhaul – it’s range has increased by 2″ and it now does two simple but powerful things: It subtracts 1 from save rolls for attacks made against units within 6″ of the endless spell, and when it moves you roll a dice for each unit within 3″ of it at the end of it’s move, on a 1 a model from that unit is slain. Instantly kill Archaon anyone? It’s a double sided sword that is especially strong in Nighthaunt who won’t care about it effecting their own units as Ethereal shrugs off the modifier anyway.
Quicksilver Swords now does mortal wounds on 5s instead of 6s and received a 30 points point drop. It’s a bit more playable now but it’s still fairly short range and suffers from being a niche utility spell that must be picked before you know what you’re actually going up against.
Ravenak’s Gnashing Jaws is now a strong pick for most improved Endless Spell. Forget what it was before and behold it’s majesty – It’s range is 8″ and it has a CV of 6. It moves 3d6″ and you can reroll the move on the turn it was summoned, which is important because of what happens next. After it’s moved, pick a unit it passed across or ended it’s move within 1″ of and roll a dice. On a 2+, if the roll for the move was greater than the target unit’s movement characteristic (this is important), deal mortal wounds equal to the difference between that unit’s Move characteristic and the roll for this endless spell’s move. Roll a 11 and tag a 4″ move unit? That’s 7 mortal wounds. This is an incredibly spicy murder spell that is especially good into a metagame that is pushing people towards line infantry that typically have 5″ or less movement.
Soulsnare Shackles had it’s range reduced to 8″ and received a 15 points price drop but otherwise remains untouched – still a strong choice for control lists.
Suffocating Gravetide had it’s range buffed by 2″ and received a 10 points price drop. It’s still firmly mediocre.
The Burning Head had the standard 2″ range increase and is now cast on a CV, but now had a slight tweak to ensure that if it doesn’t actually do any mortal wounds to a unit it sticks around. It only disappears once it’s dispelled or actually tags a unit with mortal wounds.
Umbral Spellportal can no longer be used to cast Endless Spells through it but is otherwise unchanged. Take that Rune of Petrification Teclis nonsense.
Soulscream Bridge is now 10 points more expensive but now has 6″ more reach, making it a scary option to hurtle foot infantry up the board. The points increase is however notable as at 80 points it’s starting to compete with actual units in it’s price range.
Shards of Valagharr is now 20 points cheaper and has the same effect with one notable addition – units tagged by it’s Ensnaring Soul-drain cannot be removed from the battlefield with an effect that would allow it to be set up again in the same turn. Shutting off teleports is a strong effect.
Lauchon the Soulseeker received a substantial 25 point price drop and, possibly in anticipation for the power of infantry in this book, has been rewritten. Now it only transports Wizards, but it doesn’t shut off their move after. This gives it a useful niche of being able to transport wizards to better positions than they might be able to do on foot, or to safety.
On the whole it looks like they’ve made concerted efforts to make more of the generic Endless Spells have a defined purpose, to mixed results. That said, there are a lot stronger choices now than there were before, with staff favourites being Ravenak’s Gnashing Jaws, Purple Sun of Shyish and Prismatic Palisade, all of which have strong effects and expand tactical options for armies.
12 new battleplans and overall these are really great! The creative juices really got going on some of these and I don’t think I outright hate any of them, which is a great sign. Unless otherwise noted every mission follows the “Hold 1, Hold 2, Hold More Than Your Opponent” scheme from last year, and 2 victory points for each battle tactic.
The Prize of Gallet – The Deployment of this mission is similar to Savage Gains, 11″ up on both sides, with a cross shaped arrangement, but instead of four objectives there is a 5th in the middle. The gimmick of this mission is that not all the objectives can be captured from the outset. Every turn the player who goes second gets to choose which one becomes active, and then they remain active for the rest of the game. They did think ahead on this and put in a rider that you cannot activate the one on your side of the board turn 1, so opponents who choose to go second first to snag the double can’t just activate their own to shut you out. As far as I can tell, you also still can capture the objectives (e.g. for the sake of Battle Tactics) if they’re not turned on yet, you just can’t score off them. Combined with the ability for the second player to also make an objective a proving ground, there’s a lot of chances of manipulation to force an opponent to go in directions they may not want to to secure ground.
The Realmstone Cache – Probably my favorite mission in the pack from being so creative. Sort of like a reverse The Vice, there is a single objective in the center you and your opponent will fight over. Then, on turn 3 it explodes. A player rolls a die which removes the objective and sends two shards in opposite directions which become new objectives. So the first 2 turns will be a brutal brawl in the middle and then send armies scrambling as they try and grab the leftover objectives.
Battlelines Drawn – Each player deploys in an opposite quadrant of the board and there are no objectives, instead you need to capture quadrants. This works the same as capturing objectives, indeed any Grand Strategies, Battle Tactics or unit abilities still succeed as if you captured an objective, but a model must be wholly within the quadrant to count. Finally there is an additional rule that you cannot use any rule that would remove a model from the board and redeploy it, which is important since redeploying within an entire quadrant is quite different from a single 12″ circle.
There’s going to be a lot of ways to approach this, fast units can jump from quadrant to quadrant as needed to mess with the balance of power, while large infantry forces have sufficient room to stack several models within without being tormented by monsters
The Lurkers Below – This Seasons Knife to the Heart or Marking territory, but with some notable changes to make it less of a gotcha. The layout is new for 3rd edition, players start on the short board edge and deploy 15 inches up. There are 3 objectives, and the big twist is you need to capture each subsequent objective, starting from your deployment. So you must hold your own to capture the center, and then finally hold the center to capture your opponent’s and win. This means it’s going to take at least 2 turns to capture (since you don’t gain control until the end of the turn) and just to drive it all home you cannot capture any objectives turn 1.
Being in a straight line like they are is difficult as its going to just force armies into the center and the one who does the most damage (or can keep the most models on) wins. It’s definitely going to be a blood bath as you may have to commit forces to the center you otherwise wouldn’t want to just to keep up.
In the Presence of Idols – This is literally just Survival of the Fittest from last year. The deployment is a bit different but you’re still picking 3 units to be your “Idols” instead of “Predators”. At the very least, they do do something now rather than function as kill pinatas. Any friendly unit wholly within 6″ of an Idol loses half the number of units when it fails a battleshock test. My Ossiarch playing ass is unimpressed.
The Nidus Path – Just 4 objectives, no gimmicks for capture this time, but an interesting twist here. In the 4 corners are tunnels that allows 1 unit to dig through at the end of the movement phase if they are wholly within 6″ and then pop out the other side. This of course has the usual restrictions of any teleport – you need to be set up within 6″ of the opposite corner and more than 9″ of the enemy. This creates an interesting problem, do you split up your forces to guard the rear flank, seize that opening yourself or let them come as they may?
The Mighty and the Cunning – This is where all those Galetian Veterans rules really shine. In this mission, an objective can be the Proving Ground more than once per game. This gives the player who loses the roll off significant advantage to decide where the battle has to happen. In response, shattering enemy Galetian Veterans gives you 2 more victory points for each you kill, plus a third point if you did it with your own Veterans.
Head on Collision – The scoring here is the same as Savage Gains. 1 point for your objective, 2 for the center and 4 for your opponent’s. The difference is that one had you needing to spread out your forces to capture the middle, where this has you charging each other right in the middle! You cannot capture objectives turn 1, to prevent an easy grasp of the center, but you will be fighting for the middle nonetheless and trying to swing your faster units behind to seize the opponent’s point or just punch though.
Won’t Back Down – No funny scoring gimmicks, instead Rally becomes a 5+ if the receiving unit is wholly within 6″ of an objective. And Galetian Veterans get it on a 4+! Less ideal if youre an army who gets this ability anyway (Daughters of Khaine, Fyreslayers) but covers a wider area and behooves you to try and hold multiple objectives so your opponent cant bring back dead models.
The Silksteel Nests – This one I’m not a big fan of because it’s Feral Foray with 8 objectives instead of 6. This is annoying because almost every objective set, even official GW ones, come in packs of 6, but not an insurmountable one. For those unfamiliar with Feral Foray, extra points are gained by setting fire to objectives on your opponent’s side which removes them from the board. The addition of an extra point on each sides is going to stretch forces even more thinly, which will cause a more chaotic rush of push and pull as armies try and protect their own points while pushing up. There is one extra gimmick here, when setting fire to them all units within 9″ of the point need to make a bravery test, failure means taking D3 mortal wounds. This includes the unit who set it, so its very possible to kill your own unit in the attempt. Do it wisely.
Close to the Chest – A real tetris deployment if I ever saw one with 3 objectives on each players side. On each players turn, whoever’s turn it is not picks one of their own objectives to be the alpha, this is going to be the one worth an additional victory point. Naturally players will choose the one they feel most confident in defending, which will probably be their backline objective at first, but if they want to push up they will need to leave that back line less defended.
Turf Warf – This ones basically going to be a blood bath. 2 Objectives in the middle, no reserves and summons cannot shoot or charge when they come in. Just revel in the violence.
I’m…really excited about this one. It’s a huge step up from last year, which I enjoyed very much. If I had any complaints about Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics as they stood, they were too passive. “My opponent must table my army to stop my grand strategy” was just an awful experience if you weren’t one of the armies who benefit highly from those. The Battle Tactics similarly require more tactical play and actually ask you to do something.
I think ultimately these accomplish the goal Games Workshop wanted, the rules, missions and core battalions accomplish their goal of making Battleline infantry better while also giving a way to counter them with Bounty Hunters, similar to Hunters of the Heartland last year. Monster heavy army like Sons of Behemat are going to struggle hard, and even nurgle flies may struggle to hold points when an opponent only needs 3 living battleline models alive to counter a minimum unit of flies.
I risk something controversial here by saying the difficulty may have dialed up a bit too much for some. Simply because these rules aren’t as passive as previous ones, if you’re someone who just plays with friends once a month or so, and your head is spinning at how to accomplish these, maybe suggest sticking to the GHB 2021 with your friend group, or even the core book missions. That’s a perfectly valid way to play in a small circle. If you’re ok with a ratcheted up difficulty then absolutely don’t hesitate to pick this up, it’s well worth your money.
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