Hear Me Out: Grimwrath Berzerkers (a lot of them)

With the current General’s Handbook foot heroes aren’t only better, but pretty necessary to scoring battle tactics and winning games. Most armies are able to field one or two reliably, but there are some armies which can field up to the allotted 6 Heroes all as Galletian Champions and play well. Then there’s Fyreslayers. 

Fyreslayers are in the pretty unique position of being able to field more than the normal 6 Heroes you’d see in an army thanks to Grimwrath Berzerkers and Doomseekers being Heroes but not being Leaders for list building; instead they fall under the “other” category. This means they’re generally “troops” for the purpose of core battalions and means you can take just about as many as you like, so long as you’re hitting the minimum battleline and do have a Leader hero as well. The maximum Grimwraths you’re able to field is in fact 13. If you wanted to go crazy on Doomseekers instead then you could field 19 of those instead, which is just absurd and we’re not talking about those today.

Credit: instagram Slotracer1976

The Grimwrath

Before delving into the list and how this plays, what exactly is a Grimwrath Berzerker anyway? To the vast majority of AoS gamers it just looks like any other Fyreslayer hero with an axe, which is very nearly all of them.

The base profile of these guys you can view in the AoS app, but for convenience they have:

  • 6 wounds
  • 4+ save
  • No innate ward
  • 4 melee attacks at -2 rend, damage 2
  • Fight on death in melee
  • Fight at end of combat phase on 2+

Fighting on death is big when you’re running this number of individual models, it means that the activation in combat matters so much less but isn’t entirely meaningless; they fight on death even if they’ve already fought, so you’re still wanting to make the most of them by attacking at key points first. And hey if they do survive the combat phase they get to attack a second time on a 2+ anyway! Combined with the Runemaster’s prayer to fight in the Hero phase as well as the Heroic Action to fight in the command phase (with a different one of course) that’s going to be a lot of attacks at rend -2 damage 2.

Also, at the start of the game they choose an oath each to take. You can’t have any more than 1 of each oath though and really there’s only 3 that will be useful to you every game, with a 4th becoming relevant if your opponent has any Priests that aren’t also Fyreslayers. The three useful ones are:

  • 6+ ward increasing to 5+ within 3″ of enemies
  • Run and charge, re-rolling both run and charge rolls
  • 6’s to hit cause 1 mortal wound in addition to normal damage (yes, on throwing axes too)

Oh yeah, they also all have the better throwing axe profile, 4+ hit and wound with -1 rend and just 1 point of damage. These won’t do a lot, but when they do it always feels great!

Credit: Bair

The List

Allegiance: Fyreslayers
– Lodge: Greyfyrd
– Grand Strategy: Master of the Forge
– Triumphs:

Auric Runemaster (130)
 Command Trait: Master Priest
 Artefact: Volatile Brazier
Universal Prayer Scripture: Heal

5 x Auric Hearthguard (120)
5 x Auric Hearthguard (120)
10 x Vulkite Berzerkers with Fyresteel Handaxes (160)

Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
 Artefact: Draught of Magmalt Ale
 Aspect of the Champion: Tunnel Master
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
 Artefact: Nightflyer Cloak (Galletian Champion)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)
Grimwrath Berzerker (110)

Endless Spells & Invocations
Molten Infernoth (40)

Total: 2000 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 0 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 138
Drops: 17

That’s a lot of Grimwrath. As mentioned, that’s 13 of them. The lodge is Greyfyrd because it gives +1 wound to all of the foot heroes as well as 2 extra artefacts for free. There’s no core battalion because it’s at 17 drops so there’s no point trying to bring that down to 11, you’re still going to be out-dropped as it is.

Gaining an extra wound puts all of those Grimwraths on 7 wounds each now, making them slightly tougher, and at a great spot to make enemy target priority a real pain.

You need a Priest General for access to Auric Hearthguard Battleline but also for the Master Priest Command trait, allowing you to use the same rune twice in the game, meaning you can have your Grimwraths all on -3 rend in combat (or -4 if you’re lucky) for two turns instead of just one. Or if you’re playing against Nighthaunt then you choose the mortal wound rune twice instead, it’s nice and flexible that way.

I originally wrote the list with 3 units of 5 Auric Hearthguard, since they’re cheap, and a Runesmiter because it’s cheaper than a Runemaster but that wouldn’t get you a 14th Grimwrath. So, 10 Vulkites with Axes means more bodies on an objective, twin axes means more attacks too but 10 guys with shields would be a solid pick here too to really just hunker down on an objective. The Runemaster vs Runesmiter is a hell of a debate here as well and I’m 50/50 on it. I really like the flexibility that a Runemaster gives due to knowing all the slayer prayers, but the Runesmiter tunneling is also good. I went for Runemaster for flexibility but also because I want that Molten Infernoth summoned turn 1 for an easy grand strategy; if your opponent doesn’t have any priests it’s basically an auto-score. To help make sure that scores and to get more use out of the Infernoth is why you take the Brazier relic, for a re-roll on the prayer roll and double its placement from 12″ to 24″ away.

For the other artefacts I’ve gone the Nightflyer Cloak to deepstrike one of them and then for Magmalt Ale on a tunnel master Grimwrath. As far as Oaths go, take the re-roll run and charge on the tunnel master Grimwrath so it can pop up, make a more reliable charge, and then use Magmalt Ale for double attacks (for 16 attacks across the combat phase!). If you’re not able to get many Grimwraths in combat on turn 1 then save the rend rune(s) for later and slam the movement buff rune instead. If you don’t get the enhanced effect then use the Heroic Action for that tunneling Grimwrath to get +2 to charge rolls. A 7″ re-rolling charge is pretty reliable at that point and can help you nuke a back-field hero or unit in the first turn.

Credit: Daniel “Skails” Rodenberg

What About Gotrek?

I think a better version of this list actually swaps the 10 Vulkites back to 5 Auric Hearthguard, drops 4 Grimwrath Berzerkers, and adds in Gotrek. You still get 9 Grimwraths running around as above causing havoc but you can also have Gotrek strut up the mid-board being a really big problem for anything that comes near, making enemy units avoid him where the Grimwraths can get to them on the flanks.

Target Priority

Normally in a game of Age of Sigmar target priority can be pretty cut and dry. You attack with your whole unit at another whole unit and you’re often not going to kill all of them anyways in one go. When you’re suddenly facing 13 identical foot heroes plus another foot hero and 3 units that seem pretty inconsequential your target priority becomes more of a headache. How many attacks do you put into each Grimwrath? Do you overkill to guarantee but then waste attacks or do you try and split to remove 2 or more at once? There’s no real right answer here, which plays to the Fyreslayer advantage. You’re either wasting attacks which aren’t going onto other Grimwraths or you’re splitting and potentially leaving a few around on the table with a few wounds each, potentially healing up in subsequent turns.

Many armies right now, as has been the case all through 3rd edition, are opting for single-drop battalions meaning they’re only fielding up to 5 units, plus up to 3 heroes, and a monster or artillery piece. That’s very few units. Normally not an issue, but the more units you have the more you can see how much damage the previous unit caused before moving on to the next.

Credit: Bair

Test Game

I tried this list out against our resident elf lover, Sylvaneth and Deepkin player, Chimp, to see how it would fair and the game was over after turn 2. He fielded:

– Army Faction: Sylvaneth
– Subfaction: Gnarlroot
– Grand Strategy: Take What’s Theirs
– Triumph: Bloodthirsty
– Seasons of War: The Dwindling

Spirit of Durthu (350)
– Artefacts of Power: Greenwood Gladius
Treelord Ancient (330)*
– Spells: Regrowth, Verdant Blessing
Warsong Revenant (300)*
– General
– Command Traits: Spellsinger
– Spells: Treesong, Verdant Blessing
– Aspects of the Champion: Abhorrant Ghoul King

Tree-Revenants (110)*
Tree-Revenants (110)*
Dryads (100)*
Treelord (230)*
Gossamid Archers (420)*
1 x Spiteswarm Hive (40)

1 x Awakened Wyldwood (0)

*Battle Regiment
TOTAL POINTS: 1990/2000
Created with Warhammer Age of Sigmar: The App

Playing against his Sylvaneth I was exceedingly lucky to roll a double 6 and stop the Warsong bomb turn 1 and then turn 2 made nearly all of my charges, including the tunnel master and Nightflyer deepstrike ones. With the extra point of rend across both turns the Sylvaneth just didn’t have much of a chance, taking down a fully-buffed Durthu and taking out the Warsong Revenant and only losing 3 of the Grimwraths at that point, with a few more of them on 1 or 2 wounds. We called it after turn 2 because there just wasn’t much left to deal damage with on the Sylvaneth side at that point and I was already up on objective points as well. Turns out 13 models that count as 2 for objectives and kills what they look at takes objectives pretty well.

What Beats This?

Lumineth, probably, and Sylvaneth as well potentially. Kharadrons are an issue but they’re an issue to just about everybody right now anyways. Tzeentch would have a good go at it, as well. Anything that’s able to deal large amounts of damage at range, preferably across multiple phases and with big bomb mortal wound spells like the Warsong Revenant or Teclis is going to be a serious issue for the 13 Grimwraths.

Aside from that it’s just going to be a tough matchup because of all of the target priority weirdness that it introduces. That’s not to say this is the new meta and that you rush out and buy and make 13 Grimwrath Berzerkers, but it’d be a hell of a fun list to take to an event and just watch the light go out in your opponent’s eyes as they try to split their attacks well but don’t do quite enough damage. Or it swings against you and you just lose your Grimwraths early and can’t win later on, one or the other!

Hearthguard Berzerkers or Grimwrath Berzerkers? No one knows!

Closing Thoughts

Regardless, if you play Fyreslayers then at least give it a go, it’s a good time with a very different list that created a lot of weird choices in the games I’ve tried with it so far, for both you and your opponent. If you have a smaller event coming up then use some of the Hearthguard Berzerkers you have laying around, make sure the TO is cool with it, and go to town; after all they’re all just 32mm base models with 2 handed axes…and just about no one you play against will know the difference either!

As mentioned at the beginning this hinges a bit on the current General’s Handbook which goes out of date…probably pretty soon, like as in a couple months kinda soon if we stay on the update every 6ish months. Depending what the next one looks like this might not be as dumb, or maybe it’ll be even dumber, who knows?? I do think that as long as this is legal, you’ll only be swapping around the artefacts etc on the models and will always be hilarious  to look your opponent dead in the eye and say “yeah I have 17 drops and 14 of those are individual heroes, go ahead and place your one drop”.