Goonhammer Reviews the Armies of Vashtorr

Vashtorr the Arkifane releases this weekend along with Arks of Omen: Vashtorr and Wrath of the Soul-Forge King. And while Vashtorr’s datasheet has been released online, and we love the model, you may have seen that we’re not particularly big fans of the Arkifane’s rules. That said, Games Workshop offered some support for the would-be Chaos God in the form of two army updates: The Cult of the Arkifane, a Vashtorr-specific force for Boarding Actions games, and the Cogs of Vashtorr, an Army of Rewnown representing Vashtorr’s followers.

But are these any good? Are they worth your time? Can we use this as an excuse to further roast Vashtorr and his garbage datasheet? The answer to at least one of these questions is “yes,” but read on to see which.

Negavolt Cultists. Credit: Crab-stuffed Mushrooms

Cult of the Arkifane

You can find the rules for the Cult of the Arkifane here.

Let’s start with the better of the two forces. Last week Games Workshop released rules for running Vashtorr’s devotees in Boarding Actions games, and Surprise! – the rules for this army are actually incredibly strong and this particular brigade of morons might be one of the strongest forces you can field. Here’s the schtick: You get 3 extra Troops slots to work with but everything in your army has to be a CULTIST unit. So we’re looking at Dark Commune, Cultists, Accursed Cultists, and importantly, Traitor Guardsmen, a unit that’s definitely worth considering here.

The other interesting thing here is you don’t get enhancements in this army; instead you get Technoarcane Blessings, which are round one/pregame effects that help you get an edge over your opponent. These are all very strong, starting off with Schematographic Omnipotence, which gives each of your units a 6” move at the beginning of the game. This is great considering your deployment is gonna get plenty crowded at the beginning of the game and it can be combined with Ill-o’-The-Will Impulse to pull off some insane pregame moves and combinations. Datagheist Howl prevents your opponent from gaining CP in the first battle round, which can be brutal to some game plans. And Finally there’s Cybernematode Infestation, which lets you select any objective on the board – you control that objective until your opponent controls it. This can be incredibly good on maps with hard-to-reach objectives and for forcing elite opponents to commit to going wider than they’d like. All in all these are incredibly powerful effects in Boarding Actions and we haven’t even gotten to the Stratagems, which offer more fantastic effects.

Speaking of which, the Stratagems give you some powerful abilities to work with. These are all useful and there are enough stand-outs that we’re just going to go through the whole list.

  • Eye of the Auspex – Gives your units double exploding 6s in shooting, not great on its face but combined with the special weapons in a traitor guard squad there can be some real value here.
  • Lumenblink – Turns off the lights on the spaceship, giving a unit -1 to hit as long as they’re more than 6” away. Again, very solid for protecting otherwise fragile Cultist units.
  • Infernal Teleportarium – Lets you deep strike a unit. This is great for helping clear out your cluttered deployment and getting the jump on someone with some Accursed cultists, who are basically the unit you’re going to use for this.
  • Ill-o’The-Will Impulse – Possibly the single strongest Stratagem in this game mode, letting you open or close a doorway more than 1” away from  any enemy models. This is huge, giving you an early game speed boost with Schematographic Omnipotence or forcing your opponent to open a door twice if they have reinforcements on the way.
  • Arkifane’s Wrath – Use this when an opponent opens a door to dump mortals on them, D3 on a roll of 2-5, or 3 mortal wounds on a 6. Very funny but you’re gonna be strapped for CP with this army, so this is probably not the best use of it.
  • Daemon in the Machine – Has you roll a D6 and on a 4+ makes an objective not count for an opponent’s scoring. This can be devastating and change the tide of the entire game. Kinda sucks that its only on a 4+ but very understandable considering its effect

There’s an interesting dichotomy here: On the one hand your force is largely composed of fairly weak datasheets, supported by some of the strongest Stratagems and abilities in Boarding Actions. If you can keep your cultists alive, the tricks you’ll pull off can be a nightmare, helping you get the drop with your Accursed and chipping away with Traitor Guard. Most importantly, it gives you a reason to run the Dark Commune, which everyone wanted to but couldn’t justify.

The Best Part of this Army: You don’t have to take Vashtorr, since he’s too big to fit into the halls of the gallowdark

The Worst Part of this Army: There are no rules for Negavolt Cultists, which is a deep cut but would be pretty funny

Verdict: Very Good

The Cult of Vashtorr have enough strong abilities to make them worth trying in Boarding Actions, and while the mode isn’t particularly competitive, we like it enough that we’re glad this is an option. The big question is whether Cultists can get it done with these rules or if they need more help than some dynamite stratagems can give. The upside is that even if they still end up underpowered, that’s an ideal situation for a more casual game mode.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Cogs of Vashtorr Army of Renown

Shortly after releasing the datasheet for Vashtorr but before our review for Arks of Omen dropped, Games Workshop released the rules for the Cogs of Vashtorr, an Army of Renown to represent Chaos forces dedicated to the god of the forge. You can find the rules for the Cogs of Vashtorr here.

The Restrictions

  • All of your units have to have the TRAITORIS ASTARTES keyword. So no knights.
  • Vashtorr has to be your Warlord, and you can’t include any other named characters or Daemon Princes.
  • You can’t take any cult troops, so no Plague Marines, Rubrics, Berzerkers, or Noise Marines.

The Benefits

  • Your units get the Cogs of Vashtorr keyword and gain access to new Stratagems and Relics.
  • You don’t get a legion trait but instead get the Techinfernal Foci ability, which has DAEMON ENGINE units count as always Engaged in all three Wanton modes, while non-Daemon Engines never count as being Engaged in a Wanton mode.

Losing Chaos Knights doesn’t make a ton of sense but the rest here is fine and it helps set Vashtorr apart from Be’lakor, I guess. Being in triple Wanton modes all game is potentially more interesting for Daemon Engines, since many of them have both shooting and melee attacks to work with, but as we’ll come back to, this army’s value is very much tied up in how good daemon engines actually are.

The Relics

There are three relic options, and they’re all pretty good. Talisman of the Forge lets you pick a friendly Daemon Engine within 9″ to give a 5+ feel no pain save every Command Phase, Helm of the Cyberphage gives friendly Daemon Engine units within 6″ a +1 boost to their AP against vehicle targets, and The Spite-Iron Goad lets you pick a friendly Daemon Engine within 9″ to fall back and shoot and charge every Command Phase. Of these the Talisman has the most universal value, and will likely be the one you take most games.

Norman: Imagine if any one of these were on Vashtorr’s Datasheet. That would have been cool.


On the stratagem side of things we have some similar bangers, with Forge Surge giving a daemon engine max number of shots instead of having to roll for shots (double soulburner decimators get a lot of mileage out of this), and Master’s Guidance (2 CP) gives your warlord, which has to be Vashtorr, an aura that gives full re-rolls for daemon engines rerolling hits within 6” (ok maybe 3 double Soulburner decimators). Outside the buffing realm we have stuff like Cakospark Prattle, which lets you make a Stratagem your opponent uses cost one more CP for the rest of the game (excluding the command re-roll of course). Foul Alterations lets a Daemon Engine Shoot and Charge in a turn after Advancing, which makes it the kind of Stratagem you’ll use every game to get off some long charges. And while Red Corsairs get this all the time, there’s other value here.

TheChirurgeon: These are very good but Master’s Guidance relies on keeping Vashtorr alive, and that’s going to be a problem.

Norman: The short review is this Army of Renown is really good except for the parts where Vashtorr is there.

The Best Part of this Army: Support for Daemon Engines. And also CSM have very little going on right now competitively, so what have you got to lose?

The Worst Part of this Army: You have to bring Vashtorr.

The Verdict: Possibly Good?

Norman: These are all really strong, and there’s some really fantastic tech here but Vashtorr is a 260 point albatross around this army’s neck. Not only do you have to include the worthless, bad, awful, dumb, moron but you also need him to be your warlord, which means that the stratagems that key off your warlord means you gotta keep his 14 wound, non-Look Out Sir-able ass safe. I think this army will see some play, but you can’t help but think about what may have been if Vashtorr was either weaker and able to be protected or buffed up to Be’lakor status.

TheChirurgeon: Ultimately Vashtorr sucks but he’s a relatively small part of this – not being able to take Daemon Princes is a bigger handicap in a lot of ways but he’s only about a 100-point handicap. There are two ways to run this in my estimation: The first is going triple Soulburners and going for that re-rolls aura to push out a bunch of mortal wounds. The second is going triple Lord of Skulls to really take advantage of that triple Wanton mode play. Your list is naturally going to run at least one Lord Discordant, and you’re going to want a Master of Possession in the mix as well.

When it comes to your objective holders, I’d opt for MSU marines, where the loss of Wanton modes doesn’t mean a whole lot given the small number of attacks/shots you were working with. On the whole, I think this army is interesting – interesting enough that I’m going to try it out at my next RTT – a charity event happening this weekend.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at