The first ever Season of War book was announced over Adepticon this year and its release was rather abrupt. Less than a month later it’ll be in our hands, the question is what…is it? Details were pretty vague, but now we can report in more detail.
In short, Season of War: Thondia is like the Warzone books over over in Warhammer 40,000, particularly the Vigilus books. The book contains rules that benefit all 3 modes of play – Open, Narrative and Matched. We’re going to dive into each of the 3 game modes, and begin with the general rules that will be supported no matter which mode of play you prefer.
What is Season of War: Thondia?
Some of the best stuff in the new book includes:
- Rules for playing games themed for the Thondia Region of Ghur in all 3 modes of play: Open, Narrative and Matched Play
- New Path to Glory rules for all armies to use, including unique strongholds – especially ideal for armies who have not yet received a battletome or Tome Celestial.
- The return of the Anvil of Apotheosis, a custom character creator for designing your own unique Heroes.
- A 5 mission Matched Play Campaign with wholly brand new missions.
- Rules for the Incarnate, a brand new type of unit summonable by any army.
Thondia is a region of Ghur, the Realm of Beasts. Previously Thondia was featured in the climax of Broken Realms: Kragnos as the site of the City of Sigmar Excelsis. Excelsis was almost destroyed in Kragnos’s rampage with the combined strength of the forces of Destruction before being saved at the last minute by Morathi and Lord Kroak working together.
Since then, Excelsis has rebuilt but the war isn’t over yet. Much of the included lore talks about the exploits of Yndrasta and the Stormcast Eternals attempting to defeat the occupants of Thondia to help bring it under control. We’ll cover the lore more in depth later in the week but today is rules day!
Before we get into the individual game modes, there’s a series of realm rules for use in all 3 modes of play, to better represent your battles in the Thondia region of Ghur.
Realmsphere Magic: Metamorphosis & Realm Command: Feral Roar
These return from the General’s Handbook 2021 intact. We are still in Ghur after all. For those not up to date (or those who have not engaged in Matched Play since launch) Metamorphosis is a spell with a Casting Value of 5, that lets you turn a Hero into a MONSTER with all the benefits that entails. For the most part this means getting a free Monstrous Rampage and counting as 5 models on objectives.
Feral Roar is a command ability that lets a Monster fight at the top bracket. Most Monsters drop off pretty hard once the wounds start appearing and you may not be able to heal them off as fast as they appear. Make an opponent think twice about charging your Monster with only 3 wounds remaining.
We’ve seen this type of rule come back every few years, usually for some sort of narrative event. The form changes but the basic idea is always the same: a Monster is placed on the field that neither player controls directly, or control is alternated, in order to add a wild card to the battle.
This time, players roll off before the battle and the winner places a Monster of their choice within 3″ of the center of the field. Each round the players make a roll off and the winner gets to take control of the monster, treating it as part of their army. They can attack it if they want, but it immediately turns hostile and becomes friendly to the opponent. The rule further goes on to clarify you may include a Mounted Hero on a Monster (but the rider is ignored for rules purposes) and the included Incarnate can be used as well.
Overall I think it’s…fine? My biggest concern is that it puts a lot of power in the hands of the one who wins the roll off because the Monster becomes part of the army of whoever wins subsequent roll offs. So if a Seraphon player wins the roll off and puts a Bastiladon down they’re going to have far more ability to make use of that Bastiladon when it’s under their control than the opponent will when it’s under theirs. I’d probably house rule it should be a Monster who’s allegiance doesn’t match either side. Mostly I think it just adds more dice rolls to a game that already has a lot of upkeep from turn to turn and I don’t think many will appreciate trying to remember this on top of everything else.
Amusingly there are no real restrictions on what can be used. Wanna put Morathi or Nagash in the middle? Why not! Might be fun to think of a reason why they’re there.
Mysterious Terrain gets a bad rap. Some will say Terrain in Sigmar doesn’t do anything but then refuse to use the Mysterious Terrain rules because they’re “Too complicated”. And you know what? To be fair they probably don’t do enough to warrant remembering what each of the symbols are. Games Workshop has had an on again-off again relationship trying to add more variety to them, before resetting them back to the original 6 for 3.0’s Core Rules. Now there are some new ones for use exclusively in Thondia, do they make things more exciting? Actually, kinda yeah!
To use these you roll a die for each piece of terrain and see what you get. For a 1 the terrain is Surprisingly Ordinary which just tells you to roll on the usual table from the Core Rules. Number 2 is Thrashing Gnarloak Roots which is literally just Deadly Terrain from the core rules, which feels like a wasted opportunity. Three is where we start to see something new. Itchier Moss functions similarly to Deadly Terrain but instead of taking damage on a 1, the unit is hit with a Buff and Debuff. They gain +1 to Run and Charge and Melee Hit rolls but -1 to all Caster rolls and Hit rolls on for ranged attacks. Actually a pretty clever bonus if you hit it with the right unit. Next is a more offensive one, Barbed Sniffwood Sphere. In the shooting phase you can get a shooting attack on a 6 that does D3 mortals to a unit within 2D6″.
The last two I genuine like. Ghurish Realmstone Deposit I really like and probably more like what terrain should be doing. Everything wholly within 6″ of it gains +1 to charge and melee hit rolls but -1 to casting, save and ranged hit rolls. Although similar to Itchier Moss, it doesn’t require a roll. The range makes it large enough that it can actually have an effect on what units try and stay near or stay away from it. It probably shouldn’t be wholly within as that makes it a bit too easy to avoid, but its a start to making the terrain coverage actually matter. Finally, the Wellspring of Primoridal Energy grants nearby wizards a spell, Wild Form which grants +2 to Charge and Run Roll to a unit within 12″. Any wizard within 3″ knows it and can cast it in addition to their other spells. Pretty decent spell and no reason not to try to cast it, miscasts aside.
Overall I think these are on the right track. They seem like they might have more of an impact on the game but “Surprisingly Ordinary” was a misstep. It means that people will have to memorize these in addition to the 5 new ones. It would have been preferable to stick to all new ones.
An entirely new type of unit/thing for the game an incarnate is an entity of pure realm energy. To take an incarnate in your army it uses all of your ally points and is allowed to cost more than you’re normally allowed in allies (just like mega-gargants or Gotrek). It’s treated like a unit, mostly, and when taken in your army it’s a Single, Unique until with the Behemoth battlefield role (and has the Monster keyword).
The section on Incarnates is broken into 2 sections: One describes how Incarnates work in General terms, and then a warscroll for this specific one. This one being the incarnation of of Ghur, realm of Beasts. The first few rules feel like setting up for future Incarnates, as they speak of Incarnates in a much broader concept.
Binding and Wild Form
When you buy an incarnate for your list you have to bond it to a hero in your army. This is a unique enhancement so it doesn’t take up any existing enhancements. It also means that this is part of list creation. It can only receive orders from the Hero that it’s bonded to as well, so depending on your army you might want to be careful about this and which hero is bound to it. If the hero that it is bonded to is slain at any point then the incarnate reverts to its “wild form”.
The “Wild Form” is basically a simple script it is forced to follow. It becomes hostile to both players and will need to be dealt with immediately.
Controlling an Incarnate
Incarnates are identical to any other unit’s warscroll in terms of how it’s laid out except for one major exception: no wounds characteristic. Instead, they have levels. Starting at level 2 automatically they can go up to level 3 but if reduced to level 0 then they are slain and removed. Each of these levels is tied to a state and a domination range as well, affecting its number of attacks and other abilities.
Wounding an Incarnate
Wounds are still allocated to an incarnate like any other unit though, this one has a save value of 4+ and you hit and wound it as normal; it can suffer mortal wounds as normal too and does not have a ward. During each Battleshock phase if it has any wounds allocated to it then the controlling player rolls 3D6 and the result is equal to or less than the number of wounds allocated to it then its level is reduced by 1. After rolling, heal all wounds allocated to the incarnate.
For example: if it has suffered 10 wounds in a turn then a result of 10 or less will reduce its level by 1 and a result of 11+ will have no effect meaning the more wounds caused to it across a turn the more likely its level will be reduced.
For any other interaction that might rely on it having a wounds characteristic it counts as having 18. So deal 19 or more wounds to it and it will auto lose a level in battleshock. Incarnates start at level 2 so it will require repeating this process a second time to kill it.
To reliably remove it, so long as it hasn’t killed any monsters or eaten any endless spells, you need to deal 38 wounds to it across two turns. Some armies will be able to do this pretty easily but some won’t either. Alternatively, if you have enough of a ranged threat then remove the hero it’s bound to early to make it go wild.
Krondspine, Incarnate of Ghur
This one in particular runs you 400 points, not a small amount, but what does it actually get you?
If the Hero that the incarnate is bound to is a Wizard then it also adds 1 to all casting, unbinding, and dispelling roles. If the Krondspine receives the All Out Attack order, all friendly units within it’s “Domination Range” (an aura of 8-12″ depending on level) also receive it, which is absolutely a huge boon.
Krondspine Incarnate of Ghur has a move of 12” and has a fairly meaty melee profile with 6 attacks 3+ hit 3+ wound -2 rend and damage 2 and 1 more attack at 3+ hit 2+ wound -3 rend and damage 4. Both attack profiles get an additional number of attacks equal to its current level too, which means at level 3 it has potential to do up to 30 damage to a target in one round of combat. If it kills a monster then it’s level is increased by 1 immediately.
It also can charge endless spells as if they were units and can carry it’s one unique monstrous rampage: Devour Endless Spell. To carry out the action pick an endless spell summoned by an enemy wizard within 3” and roll 2D6 adding the current level of the incarnate to the result; if the result beats the casting value of that endless spell then it is removed and the incarnate gains a level. If you roll equal to or under the casting value though then incarnate loses a level. This is a bit dicey, and Endless Spells are less common in the current meta but if you can pull it off it’ll be a huge boon.
If the Hero it is bound to dies it goes into wild form, as described above. When this happens it will treat all of your units as if they were enemies (and your units treat it as an enemy as well) but otherwise remains under your control and as part of your army. In addition, this incarnate in particular in its wild form adds 1 to all its hit roles, can run and charge, and is within 12” of any units or endless spells (yours or your opponents) it must attempt a charge. If this is against one of your own units it will then fight them, so if it goes wild be careful to keep it as far away from your own units as possible!
RagnarokAngel: Overall I’m kinda eh on it. I don’t hate it. It has a lot of very nice buffs and is pretty damaging in its own right. I think it’ll secure popularity in armies that have few good or no monsters (looking at you Nighthaunt). It’s just at 400 points that is a lot and not many armies have that sort of wiggle room. I think it’ll be at least worth considering for fun.
The two problems I see is that rules as written you can’t bring it to tournaments, since Thondia isnt on the “approved list” of books in the General’s Handbook for matched play. I think most TOs will allow it though, as it doesn’t really break anything. The other problem is locking it away behind a very expensive terrain set. I think we’re going to see a lot of conversions, or hoping for a standalone box down the line. I really don’t know what they were thinking here.
This only covers the broad rules that hit up every game type. We still got a ways to go! We’re going to cover each of the 3 modes of play in their own articles and first up is going to be Open Play so stay tuned!
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