G’day, Goonhammer readers! Today we will be covering the latest line of models to be released by Mantic Games for Kings of War, the Riftforged Orcs! The army rules are to be found in the Clash of Kings 2022 book, which we have already extensively reviewed. However, considering there are a whole army’s worth of rules to cover, we thought it best to bring them to you, our dear readers, in a separate article. Since we have already covered the lore in our Part 2 Review, we will be focusing on the very exciting rules and models!
The Mantic approach to new factions
As stated in our Halfling review, Mantic does not release new armies without extensive play-testing and reiterations on the rules. So far this has successfully prevented any major detrimental shifts to the meta with each new army, a common problem in other wargaming titles. It is thanks to the Rules Committee and all the playtesters that such fine-tuning can occur.
Currently, the armies models are in the beginning of their release cycle, with the main army boxes and some heros currently available (along with those that it shares with other factions), and further releases expected in January and March.
Army special rules
Stormstrike: Any natural rolls of 6 to hit are resolved with the Blast (2) special rule. In other words, 6’s to hit cause an additional hit, though this doesn’t work if a unit needs more than a 6 to hit. It’s use is very limited, as there are only three units (heroes) who can actually take it, and one of those is unique. But, when combined with the amount of Host Shadowbeast available to the Riftforged Orcs, it will allow for some very punchy characters.
The Riftforged Orcs are a theme list based on the standard Orcs. This means that while they have a lot of their own units, they can call upon many units from the Orc army list. These include: Skulks, Morax, Gore Riders, Orclings, Flagger, Fight Wagons. One difference in these units is that only the Skulks and Orclings are irregular, the Fight Wagons are not.
The Unforged Orcs are the eager recruits hoping to become Riftforged, so these are the most basic Orcs in the list (identical to Youngax). Very standard profile for Orcs (comes with Crushing Strength 1), which means they’re cheap. In an army of expensive, super Orcs, these guys will just help the Riftforged unlock all those exciting heroes. Feel free to use whichever Orc models to represent them.
The Riftforged Legionaries, compared to the standard Unforged, have improved Melee, Nerve and Defense, so are quite a bit more expensive. These are the other major sources of unlocking in the Riftforged Orcs, but will take up a lot more of the budget in doing so. A horde of these Riftforged will be hard to shift, but also hard to ignore, so will make the perfect anvil in any force.
The Reborn Legionaries are the next step up from the Riftforged Legionaries. As a more elite choice, they are Irregular, but come with extra nerve, and extra Crushing Strength. More interestingly, they are also Inspiring, giving you a solid central unit to inspire your line while your heroes are off cracking skulls.
A flying Heavy Infantry unit that is quite similar to Wraiths from the Undead list. With Speed 7, Fly, Nimble and Strider, these will give the Riftforged Orcs a bit of speed and maneuverability that they otherwise lack, being a largely Heavy Infantry based faction.
The only Cavalry option that is not from the original Orc list, these Tundra Wolves are from the Northern Alliance list, with no changes. They can be a handy tool to have. With their speed and hitting power, they might end up being a useful chaff unit to help get Legionaries up the board without taking much damage.
A pretty nasty looking unit that will be able to bring some pain. Their ability, Visions from the Rift, allows them to redeploy after deployment and scouting but before the first turn. This opens up a lot of opportunities to counter your opponent, putting them straight across from their perfect targets or playing mind games over which objectives you are after. Additionally, they have built in Pathfinder and Spellward along with Defence 5, so they should always get to where you want them.
Manticore-riding Orc knights! These guys are an Alpha strike unit (capital A), with some grind capability in them, too. They hit on 3’s, and with Crushing Strength 1, Thunderous Charge 1, and Brutal, they’ll put out the pain on just about anything. With Height 4 and Fly as well, it’s not unlikely that they’ll find a juicy flank and destroy whatever they hit. The Lifeleech 1 isn’t phenomenal, but it will at least count as little extra survivability, something these kinds of units normally don’t have.
There’s not a whole lot to say about this guy. He’s a troll monster that’ll hit reasonably hard and is Fearless and Nimble, so it might see play as a “thick chaff” piece. There might be some play as a flanking unit, too, being on a 50 mm base and Nimble lets them squeeze in openings that other units can’t.
A shooting monster reminiscent of a kaiju from Guillermo Del Toro’s excellent Pacific Rim. It lacks the direct firepower of a war machine, but makes up for it with some more utility. It is cheap enough to wander up the field blasting, then can hop out in front of an important unit to take a charge. If they don’t charge, just keep shooting! It is the only source of Piercing shooting in the faction, outside of spells, but the amount of Crushing in the army means you don’t really need to worry about that.
A cool giant. A bit more expensive than the standard, but comes with Cloak of Death and Windblast instead of Fury. This does give him a downside of being waverable, but some nice extra utility. Will there be a neat upgrade kit for the Mantic Giant? We will have to see.
Ho boy, this thing has got a lot of rules. It’s got decent melee stats, but that’s not why you’re taking it. It is a perfect support piece for the army. It has a Fury aura and Inspiring, so it is keeping your Orcs in the fight. But its real power (and that’s saying a lot!) is in its spellcasting. With its Power of the Rift rule, you get an extra die per Core Riftforged unit within 6” for your Lightning Bolt, Bane Chant, and Host Shadowbeast spells. Its other special rule, Anvil of the Rift, lets you keep casting your buff spells on different units until you fail one, with one less die each time. This lets you put out four(!) Bane Chants and some extra Host Shadowbeasts a turn, from the one unit, for a reasonable price. This guy is a massive force multiplier and we think you’ll see this in a lot of lists. Luckily for the rest of us, it is limited to one per army.
The basic combat hero, the Stormbringer is relatively unremarkable with 5 Crushing Strength 2 attacks and Inspiring. He can take a mount (the unwinged Manticore). The most interesting thing is that he can take the unique Riftforged ability Stormstrike. Blast 2 on 6’s to hit isn’t anything to rely on, but means this chonky lad can reliably add a couple of damage to any fight.
The most combat-caster of all combat-casters, the standard profile of the Riftforger is not particularly notable. However, thanks to his Arcane Smithy ability, he can cast Bane Chant or Host Shadowbeast on himself whilst in combat! The latter will likely double his attacks, which when coupled with Stormstrike could produce quite the little damage powerhouse. The best thing is, if he’s not in combat he can still buff other units. A very useful smithy!
The primary spellcaster of the Riftforged Orcs, the Stormcaller comes with a built in Lightning Bolt. On top of this, he can purchase Icy Breath, Bane Chant, Blizzard, and Veil of Shadows, enabling both damage and support builds. Chuck him on a mount to get that extra height. Perhaps most interesting is that the Stormcaller has Defense 5, so he’s as immediately killable as a typical wizard.
Stormbringer on Winged Slasher
The Winged Slasher of the Riftforged Orcs is almost identical to the Winged Slasher of the Orcs. However, thanks to being Riftforged it has a breath attack, Stormbreath, which is well worth the 10 extra points this dragon costs by comparison. Gives the Stormbringer something to do between fights.
Stormbringer on Helstrike Manticore
The eternally useful ‘nimble-large-cavalry-hero’ brings all the goodness of the Helstrikers in a compact package. Although it only has 5 attacks, it does bring Brutal, so even his mere presence in a fight will be helpful. Good luck stopping this guy from hitting his targets.
The Thunderseer hero, Vohdler, is a monstrous infantry unit with 7 attacks at Crushing Strength 2; definitely not something to let into a flank. Unfortunately for any opponents, the combination of Nimble, Pathfinder and Visions from the Rift means he will have very little trouble getting into any flanks. Add to this a built in Defense 6 and Spellward, and it will be immensely difficult to remove this chap before he does some serious damage.
The Stormbringer hero, Thonaar, is not unlike a mounted Stormbringer with built in Stormstrike. Where Thonaar gets exciting is his unique ability, Thunderstruck. This makes his Stormstrike activate on 5+ rather than 6’s, and when an enemy is damaged they get -1 to hit in their next turn! Also he has one more attack than a Stormbringer. Not bad for only 15 points more.
The Iron Boots
Two regiments of Riftforged Legionaries and one regiment of Reborn Legionaries. All units get an extra nerve and the Reborn Legionaries get an aura of Wild Charge D3 for Orcs.
This is the perfect formation for an army that plans to mix in some Orc units with the Riftforged. We are talking Morax, Unforged Orcs, Fight Wagons and Gore Riders. All of these benefit from the Wild Charge aura immensely, getting those charges off potentially a turn earlier than usual. Unfortunately, this does not apply to the Riftforged themselves, as they do not have the Orcs keyword (they have graduated Riftforged school).
In our opinions, Mantic’s got a big hit with the mainline Riftforged Orc models; they look great, with a very heroic, elite style reminiscent of Warcraft orcs. This is reinforced by the superb range of hero models; each with just enough detail to be interesting, but not too busy. The support units had some variety to what would otherwise be just orcs, with Thunderseers and the Ambarox giving us a taste of the rest of the new releases (Stormforged Shrine, Riftwalkers, Storm Giant, etc).
In terms of army style, they’ll probably play similar to the current Orc lists, but much more elite; a strong infantry backbone supported by some incredibly smashy characters and monsters. You might even see a heavy flyer list, focusing on Riftwalkers and Helstrikers with some flying heroes thrown in. Regular Orcs won’t be neglected, either, as they find new roles in the Riftforged lists as many of their best units can be used; Morax are a great unit regardless of faction.
The Riftforged Orcs from Mantic have managed to reinvigorate what an orc can be, which is no mean feat considering the plethora of orcs in all the fictional universes. At first glance they seem derivative, but under the hood they certainly have a unique punchiness that only comes from adding a bit of the Rift to some Pnnithor orcs. We expect to see Riftforged armies sprout up all over the world, as is the case when a fancy new range hits the stores.
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