This review was completed using a copy of Battletome: Slaves to Darkness from the Slaves to Army Darkness set given to us free by Games Workshop.
Update: Our original version of this review did not include the FAQ that was published alongside preorders. We have updated this review to integrate those changes to the rules.
For such iconic faction, the very one that burnt The Old World to the ground and continues to despoil the Mortal Realms, Slaves to Darkness have been found rather lacking. The old Battletome didn’t really hit with the thunder it should have and Wrath of the Everchosen didn’t do a ton to improve it. The book has sort of languished in mediocrity as a book with Archaon in friends, and even their iconic Chaos Warriors saw almost no play. They needed a book badly, and finally Games Workshop has delivered, along side some sweet new sculpts for many units in the line. Lets open up this accursed tome and check what’s inside.
Why Play Slaves to Darkness?
Because you love Chaos in all of its forms. Slaves to Darkness are basically the OG Warriors of Chaos, rebirthed in Age of Sigmar. They represent all the gods in their ranks, and even those who worship Chaos as an abstract concept, not wanting to pledge to one god.
On the table Slaves to Darkness have a huge model line, able to run many different playstyles and abilities. They don’t always have a ton of finesse but hit like a truck and few enemies can stand in their wake and survive.
Top 5 Things About the Tome
- Consolidation of Rules – The original Slaves to Darkness tome was definitely unwieldy, with lots of modular rules that unnecessarily complicated list building. Then add Wrath of the Everchosen on top of that and it became a real mess! Well all that has been consolidated down into one easy to follow book.
- Tons of new models – One of the biggest waves of new models in a while and they look great, including the new Daemon Prince and finally non-easy build Chaos Warriors
- Improved Marks of Chaos – The rerolls are gone, but replaced is units that don’t require a babysitter hero to use those marks. The army can now be customized to use multiple marks and not rely on a single one for Synergy!
- Daemon Princes are way more bad ass – While a force to be reckoned with in the Lore, they havent exactly shown that on the table. With more ways to customize them than ever before you can put one on the table with a lot less shame!
- More Ways to Play – The old Slaves to Darkness book was loaded with lots of sub-par units which restricted how many saw competitive play. The new book has a ton of excellent units which drastically open up playstyles, from elites to hordes, from infantry to cavalry and everything in between.
Probably the best news about the book is how much simpler the basic traits go. Second edition Slaves to Darkness was rife with options that didn’t do anything meaningful. You no longer need to go through nested rules of Marks of Chaos, subfactions and Circles of Chaos. Just 2 rules for everyone and a subfaction to customize your force but trust me, it’s worth it.
Marks of Chaos
The rules behind this have been heavily pared down. The original version was a huge convoluted set of rules, where several units could take marks but they only did anything if they were near a Hero with that matching mark. Also, your General got yet another buff to keep track of. This ended up making it so most Slaves to Darkness armies would just roll with the same mark, to keep up the Synergy. Not exactly ideal for the army intended to represent Chaos in all of its forms.
Now it’s so much more straightforward. If a unit has the Mark of Chaos keyword (or one of the gods pre-chosen for them) they get a buff and if they’re a hero, a command ability (or a spell for Tzeentch). Simple, easy, and gives you ways to customize a unit to fulfill a role. It’s also worth noting that there are several abilities that interact with specific enhancements which can tip the scales a bit for a specific unit.
Each ability has been freshened up a lot. Naturally “reroll 1s” to hit etc. wasn’t going to work here so they got a lot more creative. First we have Undivided which as you might expect is a solid jack of all trades option, particularly for Heroes. If a unit didn’t have Eye of the Gods (see below) they do now, and Heroes get to reroll one of the dice on the table. They also get the command ability Slay Worthy Foes to issue to any Undivided unit, giving +1 to wound against Monsters and Heroes. It’s a perfectly solid option if you don’t have a clear role for a unit, and want to play the slot machine on the Eye of the Gods more.
Next is Khorne who is predictably better at combat and little else. +1 to attack for a unit if they charged that turn, which is absolutely brutal on the right unit. Their command ability is sadly only OK, doing D3 mortals on a 2+ after charging, which is made worse by the fact that Nurgle gets a much better version. Still, the passive buff is good enough to carry this and is probably my second favorite of the bunch.
Tzeentch, though, is probably the worst. From rerolling 1s to save to a 6+ shrug spells. Shrugging spells is fine if it’s a passive army ability everyone has (like Blades of Khorne) but on individual units when you can choose other stuff? Not so hot. The nastiest spells in the game tend to be buffs, so you won’t get to stop those with this. It’s possibly worth taking for the spell Warp Reality, which is a straight teleport spell for any Tzeentch unit. Teleports are always welcome, especially when they come with few restrictions. There’s also a few other rules that interact with it that might make it better than it appears at first glance.
My favorite is probably Nurgle who is obviously going to be Khorne’s opposite, all units attacking them get -1 to wound. Ouch! Need I say more? It’s effective and makes some of the already tanky Slaves units even harder to kill. Their command ability is also a better version of the Khorne one, doing D3 wounds on a 3+ for each enemy unit within 3” after a charge.
Slaanesh closes it off with a solid finisher, +1 to run and charge. I think there’s some niche use on any units that deep strike in like the Corvus Cabal or have extra movement like the Untamed Beasts. The command ability compliments it well, allowing a unit to run and charge in the same turn.
Overall all the marks are at least solid. Tzeentch is probably the worst but I can see bringing at least one Tzeentch Sorcerer to jump around and grab objectives and the like. They’re also just plain less frustrating to use and do what you expect them to do. It’s going to be a lot for new players to track but I think once it “clicks” it will be a far more satisfying game experience.
Eye of the Gods
This mechanic returns more or less intact. When killing an enemy Hero or Monster, you roll on a table and get a random effect for the unit that killed it. Most are good, but if you get snake eyes then they turn into a spawn!
The most notable change here is that in the past only Heroes could benefit. This made it a bit too limiting as many foot heroes can struggle to get into range of another hero that is properly shielded. Now it can be used by any unit with the Eye of the Gods keyword, which is any Mortal or Ogroid unit! To counter-balance this, instead of rolling 2D6 you roll one die and add 2, which simultaneously avoids the worst outcome (Spawndom) but keeps the best stuff just out of reach to balance it out.
The table has been heavily reworked. Most of the abilities return, though they have been shuffled around a bit. Since it’s a 2D6 table that means a lot of abilities are more or less common than they used to be. Most notably, Snubbed by the Gods (the result which does nothing)has been moved from 7 to 3, making it one of the rarest rolls on the table. Incredibly good change, since previously it was statistically the most likely outcome and would make an already rare trait potentially useless. Instead, Slaughter’s Strength ( -1 Rend) takes up the 7 slot, which is a damned good outcome for what is statistically the most common roll. Some other changes of note are that +1 to save has been changed to a 6+ ward. The 5+ ward is still there, which makes it feel a bit lazy but given the changes to save stacking, +1 to save is not what it used to be.
Possibly most importantly, Daemon Princedom is no longer mandatory. If you roll an 11 or a 12 you may instead forego ascending and choose any other bonus on the list. Previously, ascending to Daemonhood wasn’t much of a deal. Daemon Princes were bad and losing an important Hero’s ability wasn’t exactly a prize you wanted. Daemon Princes got better, but some times you need that hero to stay as they are for now and getting a 5+ Ward or an additional attack or rend is killer.
Vow of the Gods
Two Heroic actions anyone with Eye of the Gods (which is most Mortal Heroes) can take.Both are solid when used in the right circumstances.
Pledge to the Dark Gods allows you to roll 3 and drop one for the Eye of the Gods table if you roll on it this turn. Niche, but an excellent choice if you know you’re going to get a shot at rolling on the table, either from killing a Monster or Hero, or another ability.
The other, Draw from Power is a bit more dangerous. You can roll 3D6 to cast but if you get 1 on 2 of those dice, the Wizard fails the spell and takes D6 mortals! Worth taking a chance if you really need a specific spell to go off. The odds of rolling 2 1s is about 7%, which means it’s more likely than rolling snake eyes on 2D6s, with far harsher punishment, but it can also get you a number high enough that the spell cannot be unbound no matter what.
You get one set for any heroes, and one exclusively for Daemon Princes with a whopping 5 each!
Let’s look at what any hero can take first. Death-Dealer lets that General Fight a second time (giving them the Fight-Last ability on it). A very good pick on a beat stick General like a Chaos Lord or Daemon Prince, if you whiffed and need to make sure you put them down. Most of the book is good beat-sticks, so this will likely be the go to. Favoured by the Pantheon gives the Hero a free roll on the Eye of the Gods table at setup, probably best to be used on an Undivided Hero to push things in your favor, but I think you have better choices. Arch-Sorcerer is for Wizards, granting them all the spells of the book lore. Unfortunately I don’t think the overall lore is worth burning a command trait slot on it. Finally, Idolator is my favorite of the bunch for being the most interesting. The General becomes a Priest and you may choose the Mark of Chaos on each Cultist unit to match your general’s keyword. As of the new book, all Cultists are Undivided but there are still some great combos you can pull with some of the gods like Nurgle Iron Golems or Slaanesh Corvus Cabal or Untamed Beasts.
Daemon Princes get their own. Not to Be Denied may be the practical, letting the General carry out a heroic action even if another has been performed this turn. If the book has one major flaw, it’s that it overburdens itself with Heroic Actions and the Daemon Prince is a particularly bad culprit. Probably an auto take with a Daemon Prince, just to get to use the abilities on his warscroll. Bolstered By Chaos is certainly…interesting, an extra 2 wounds for the General and they’re a Monster, for all that entails. Since we’re out of the first season where killing Monsters gave extra VP, this is mostly an upside, except for some matchups. Radiance of the Dark Glory turns them into a heal bot, healing nearby models 1 wound on a 3+, and 3 for Monsters. It’s fine, though probably won’t heal enough to be worth the trouble. Diabolic Majesty might be the most exciting of the bunch. The Prince must be Undivided but once per battle they can use the heroic action of any of the gods instead!
Overall solid choices here. Death-Dealer seems the most obvious, and Not to Be Denied will be a huge relief for Daemon Princes trying to get their unique abilities off.
These have been broken off into 3 tables with 3 for each: One for any Hero, one for Wizards and one for Daemon Princes.
The first table, Trophies of Conquest, for any hero has some real winners. The Hellfire Sword is pretty good, 6s to hit convert the damage to Mortals which makes it better on characters with lots of attacks like a Daemon Prince’s Talons or a Chaos Lords Flail. Helm of the Oppressor makes it so units cannot Rally or use Inspiring Presence within 6”. Much shorter range than a similar Daughters of Khaine artefact, but devastating to keep any units that might have survived your initial onslaught from building back up. Last up is the The Conquerer’s Crown which may be the best of the bunch as it steals Orruk Brutes ability to keep enemies from counting on objectives, but expands that to to 1-2 wounds and 6” which can make entire units completely worthless on the point. Probably my favorite of the lot but I think you can’t go wrong with any of them. A strong start for artefacts that absolutely anyone can take.
For your nerdy Wizards we got the Chaos Familiar which gives a twist on the “know an additional spell” artefact that is basically standard in most tomes. Once per battle the bearer can cast a spell that they don’t know from the Lore of the Damned. This is a boon when it comes to more niche spells that could be handy in the moment but you don’t necessarily want to burn a slot on. Still, lack of a bonus to casting makes it a downgrade from its previous incarnation, which just plain gave you the extra spell. Infernal Puppet returns and might be my favorite in this section because it is a massive dick move. Once per game you can choose a Wizard within 24” of the bearer and any time they attempt to cast a spell they take D3 mortals, before the casting roll is even made. This absolutely devastates casters like Kroak or Teclis who can be massive threats to you. Finally we get the Helm of Eldritch Command which lets you take a page from Tzeentch and wrestle an Endless Spell you attempt to dispel and put it under your command. Very solid option as Endless Spells become more common in the game.
Finally, Daemon Princes get one all to their own. Helm of Many Eyes grants First-Strike, which is one of the most useful buffs you can get, no notes. Doombringer Blade lets you select an enemy Hero or Monster and gain +1 to wound on it for the game. Solid, if your goal is to be a Hero or Monster hunter, as +1 to wound is a valuable buff. The last artefact is…odd but I think there might be something here. The Realm-Warper’s Twist Rune lets you pick a piece of terrain, roll a die for each unit within 1” of it and do a mortal on 5+s. It then changes it to a wyldwood until your next turn. In theory I believe the idea is meant to try and hit ranged units hiding on terrain, doing a few wounds and forcing them to move up so they can see you through the woods. In practice it feels like a bit of a dud and I don’t see much value in this compared to so many other good options.
Overall however the Artefacts here whip ass and I think they nailed it, especially on the Trophies of Conquest for any Hero to take.
Lore of the Damned (Spells)
5 spells in total with 2 offensive spells and 3 buffs. All the spells have a 12” range, to avoid redundancy.
On offense we get Blinding Damnation with a Casting Value of 7, which inflicts the Strike-Last effect. Absolutely killer and will likely make it every list. The fairly short range means you want to put it on something kinda tough, Archaon or a Chaos Sorcerer on Manticore is probably a good call. Strike-Last is one of the most powerful debuffs in the game you can inflict and will decimate a lot of armies who can’t hope to stand up to a Slaves to Darkness Charge. The other offensive spell not so great, Spite-Tounge Curse returns from the old book intact. It has a nice low casting value of 3 and does 3 mortal wounds but if you fail to cast it or it is unbound it does 3 to the caster. Barring any minuses to casting, the only way its going to fail is a miscast which means it can quickly spiral out of control to 2-6 mortals on the caster. Even if you get it off, it can still be unbound, overall while 3 mortals is nice it’s probably not worth this level of risk.
The buffs are no slouches either. Chaotic Conduit may be the most interesting with a Casting Value of 7, and it grants an automatic roll on the Eye of the Gods table (they must have the keyword, of course). Probably should use it on Undivided units so you get that extra dice to roll, or a Hero with Pledge to the Gods Heroic Action. That said, it’s probably more of a gimmick choice. Ruinous Vigor is another returning star with a casting value of 6, you get to use a Monster’s top bracket for the turn, which can be crucial if used on Archaon now that the command ability from last season is gone. Finally we end with a new spell, Daemonic Speed which will likely be an auto include for any list with mounted units. A casting value of 7 grants a 3D6 charge, with a max range of 18”.
Overall a solid mix here, Blinding Damnation and Daemonic Speed are the big winners here and will likely see a lot of lists using them. Call to Glory getting axed hurts a lot but I think we all knew that was not going to survive. For the most part, Slaves to Darkness aren’t much of a caster army anyway and rely on general toughness and power built into the units themselves.
These are a unique Enhancement, which we haven’t seen a lot of so far. Think like Holy Commands in the Stormcast book, you get one of these for free in your army if you have a Chaos Warrior, Chaos Knight or Chaos Chosen with a banner. There’s a total of 6, one for each mark of Chaos (including Undivided) and one for anyone to take.
The Blasphemous Icon is mark agnostic and it is nice, at a -1 to Chanting for any enemy priest (Range doesn’t matter!). The problem is how limited priests are right now. If you fight someone who has prayers, it’s likely the backbone of their strategy (Fyreslayers, Daughters of Khaine and Seraphon come to mind) but they simply don’t exist in most other armies. If you bring it and it applies, it’ll pay dividends but in most games it’ll end up doing nothing.
Undivided’s Dread Banner is yet again for those who like playing the Eye of the Gods table. It allows a unit to roll 2 dice instead of 1 and keep whichever one they want. Since you’re only rolling one die for non-Heroes, the results are much more evenly spread and the results arent weighted toward the middle.. This can assist in getting a better result but ultimately its still playing with luck.
Moving to Khorne we start getting into the good stuff. Khorne got the Banner of Rage which adds +1 to wounds on the charge. Combined with the marks built in +1 to attacks you can do some serious damage especially on a unit with solid attacks like the Chosen. Definitely a highly rated take for its brutal simplicity as Wound bonuses are just harder to come by.
Tzeentch redeems itself from a mediocre ability with the Blasted Standard which gives a 4+ Ward on ranged attacks. Niche to be sure, but if Slaves to Darkness have a major weakness it is incredible vulnerability to ranged attacks.They don’t have many of their own and need to rely on charging up the field. If that concerns you, some protecting like this is ideal.
Nurgle has The Eroding Iron which doubles down on Nurgle’s resilience by reducing Rend of enemy attacks by 1. Combined with -1 to wound from the base trait units become basically unkillable, perfect for holding objectives.
Finally Slaanesh gets The Banner of Screaming Flesh which adds +1 to attacks, pairing well with their built in +1 to run and charge. With Slaanesh a turn 1 charge is very doable and the extra attacks will do extremely well on units like Knights that can run up the field early and make early contact with the enemy.
Overall These are all great. While I’m less enamored with the Blasphemous Icon and Dread Banner they have their niches. All 4 god options are phenomenal and open up more customization for your list.
Damned Legions (Subfactions)
Slaves to Darkness had some overly complex subfactions going on, with lots of nested rules. It has now mercifully been reduced to 6, and they function like any other book. Take a subfaction, get a perk for your army.
Host of the Everchosen may be the top pick, especially if you want to run the heavy armor boys. Any Chaos Warrior, Chosen, Knight or Varanguard rallies on a 5+ and you get an extra Ensorcelled Banner, and we already saw how great those are.
Second is Belakor’s Legion of the First Prince. Predictably, it is nothing like it used to be. While I am saddened by the loss of a dedicated Chaos Daemons legion, it couldn’t stay as balancing it was a goddamn nightmare. So what does it do now? Well, 2 things. The Favour of the Four lets you turn any Undivided unit’s Mark of Chaos keyword into one of the 4 gods for a turn instead, which grants them a lot of versatility which your opponent may not anticipate. Allied basic daemons also benefit from Marks of Chaos, which may play well with Plaguebearers. Overall, an interesting faction choice for those who like playing games with their opponent.
Cabalists return, and their ability is incredible: every Hero becomes a Wizard! If theyre already a wizard they get a second casting each turn and know an additional spell from the Lore of the Damned. I don’t think Lore of the Damned is good enough to warrant this many Wizards but it grants a lot of extra redundancy. They also can use the Draw from Power heroic action as many times as they want as long as each wizard is within 3” of the original, a nice little perk.
Next is Despoilers for Monster and Daemon Prince lovers. Monsters all gain 2 wounds and every Daemon Prince you take gets another command trait. Daemon Princes are pretty economically priced so if you want to bring multiple you could use this though I think it pales compared to many other options.
Ravagers are pretty recognizable to their old form. Their Rally the Tribes command ability is now a heroic action instead, allowing you to bring back a Marauder or Cultist unit (and has now been expanded to include Darkoaths) back from the dead at half strength. The key changes here is that they no longer need to deploy on a board edge, they deploy within 12” of the character who used it, which is far more versatile. The change to a heroic action also means they get to move in the movement phase and (if necessary) have buffs cast on them which makes it a far more powerful tool. This is going to remain very popular for people who want to run a more swarm heavy list, just a shame they lost the ability to take multiple command traits.
The one everyone has been waiting for is probably The Knights of the Empty Throne. First, Circles are gone, which is fine. All mounted units get run and charge and if Archaon isn’t in your army you can make one Varanguard your general and a Leader. They can then Rally other Varanguard on a 5+ instead of a 6+ Varanguard. Its competitive, because Hosts of the Everchosen does the same thing but on a wider variety of units. The Run and Charge is good and shouldn’t be discounted entirely.
A lot of the factions feel like a bit of duds. I think Host of the Everchosen might be far and away the best option for people looking for a classic Warriors of Chaos army while Despoilers will remain for those favoring a more Horde heavy approach. Cabalist could be an interesting Dark Horse option, giving you a frankly irresponsible number of casters.
Both battalions have returned from the White Dwarf Tome Celestial. To recap, Overlords of Chaos is exactly as it was, mandatory 1 leader and 4 Units that are not Leader, Behemoth or Varanguard. You can expect that number of units to 8 and include 1 Behemoth. In return you get Slayers (All out attack or Unleash Hell once per game) or a one drop. Naturally you want the one drop, but it’s a good option for those running a very infantry heavy list where Battle Regiment will not suffice.
The other, Overlords of Chaos is potentially of more interest. For 3-6 Varanguard you get a one drop or a free enhancement. This is great for Knights of the Empty Throne players who run a lot of Varanguard. Both options are good, depending on how you wanna take your list.
While these battalions aren’t as crucial as say, the ones in Sons of Behemat (you can get along just fine with the ones in the core book) they’re good for certain kinds of lists.
Like most books you get 4 Grand Strategies but unfortunately they’re mostly not great. Dominating Presence returns from the White Dwarf intact, requiring you to have a unit wholly within each quarter of the battlefield. Probably best for Ravager’s lists where you can push small units into each quarter but a realistic goal for many lists.For new stuff we have the Follow the Path to Glory which requires you to get the Dark Apotheosis on the Eye of the Gods table at least once during the game. Basically a non-starter, unless you pack your list full of bonuses on the table, why would you when there’s easier options? Bring Ruin to the Realms borrow the Fyreslayer strategy of requiring you only use your book tactics and accomplish at least 4 of them. Unlike Fyreslayers these aren’t as easy to accomplish so I would skip this one. Master of the Dark Ritual is the final one and requires you to end the game with a Slaves to Darkness endless spell on the field. They are frankly, not very good and you’re banking on getting that casted on the 4th or 5th turn and not be dispelled or unbinded. Too much riding on chance here.
Similarly, you got 6 battle tactics like any other book. In Thrall to Chaos is back from White Dwarf and still good, pick an objective with units within 12” and make sure you end the turn without any enemy units within 12”. Simply wait for the right timing, when a weak enemy is the only one on it and push them out. Remember that it is twelve inches and not 6, so it does not mean just capturing. Be wary. Lust for Power is also back, requiring you to roll on the Eye of the Gods table that turn, but it is made significantly easier now that the Chaotic Conduit spell exists to let you attempt it on demand.
For new stuff we have March of Ruin which has you taking a unit with an Ensorcelled Banner who is not in your enemy’s deployment and ending the turn wholly within, and within 3” of another friendly unit. Absolutely cakewalk for Host of the Everchosen with their multiple banners but doable for most armies who have at least one banner. Iconoclasts is straightforward, on the appropriate armies: Pick a Priest or Totem and kill them this turn, simply save this for the times it works. Champions of Chaos asks you to put 3 Heroes within combat with 3 enemy heroes, another one that is doable if the situation arises, though not every army is going to even have that many heroes. Finally, Run Them Down may be the best, asking you to just charge with 3 units, and that should be what you’re doing with Slaves to Darkness anyway.
Overall, a decent mix. Like most Battle Tactics, just use them when the opening is there.
The big man himself. Archaon’s attacks haven’t changed all that much, though the Monstrous Claws now do a flat number that declines as he loses health, instead of a D6 which is much more consistent.
His abilities are wildly different, however, and most changed for the better. Crown of Domination is now a 12” no Rally or Inspiring Presence bubble which is far better than a piddly Bravery +2 or -2 Buff/Debuff. Three-headed titan is now a Heroic Action, which is going to sting a bit as you’re using it instead of your free CP or Finest Hour. To compensate, the abilities are much better with the Nurgle head doing damage that scales to unit size, the Khorne head able to eat a unit to regain health and the Tzeentch head hurting the Wizard when dispelling an endless spell.
The Eye of Sheerian is no longer a -1 to be hit, which may impact his survivability. However the replacement is interesting indeed. Once per battle the player can roll a die and on a 1-3 your opponent must go first and on a 4-6 you must go first. This procs in your Hero Phase and knowing for a fact how the next turn is going to go can help guarantee you make proper tactical choices.
As for Survivability, Archaon now has a built in 5+ ward for all damage, not just mortals. This makes him slightly more vulnerable to mortals but able to resist all damage in general. With the change to the Mark of Tzeentch he no longer has access to a 2+, Reroll 1s to save so you might want to play him a bit more cagey, even with the increase in wounds. Overall he’s still a beast and hasn’t changed in cost! Archaon is someone you have to build around as he is basically half your list in one model, but as a Warrior-Wizard with a lot of utility it’s hard to argue he doesn’t make up for it. However unlike before, there’s a lot of other good stuff that you may want to sideline him to fit more of it in.
Games Workshop was very insistent this guy got better. As part of the new box set, and the fact that one of the most powerful beings Mortals can ascend to in Chaos is a bit of a laughing stock never sat quite right. So they gave them some more wounds, more attacks, and a new toolkit of abilities to play with. Mounted Skulls of Fallen Foes make them a mobile Inspiring Presence, letting you bypass Battleshock tests for anyone wholly within 9” (adding 3” if you killed a for each Monster or Hero that turn). Really important as abilities to block inspiring presence become more commonplace. They also got a slew of nifty Heroic Actions, for each Mark of Chaos they can have. Undivided get back their Strike-First they lost during the transition to third, Khorne heals a wound for each model killed that turn (unfortunately a bit of a far cry from halving moves and charges). Tzeentch gets a 2+ spell Shrug (and gets to cast any spell from the Lore of the Damned it wants), Nurgle gets to bypass Wards and Slaanesh gets a +1 to attacks when it charges. Overall, honestly not bad. They’re priced very cheaply at only 195 points and a Nurgle Daemon Prince could absolutely eviscerate some of the toughest armies in the game. Good argument for bringing one along in many lists.
Be’lakor hasn’t changed from before, which probably surprises nobody since the model (and warscroll) is relatively new. He’s still very powerful and worth taking, if only for the ability to completely shut down a model for a turn from being able to do much of anything. Being able to be added into his own allegiance again and not be regulated to an ally in other Chaos armies is going to be big for him as he can finally benefit from the player’s own battle traits again.
The new Be’lakor Fanboy, he’s…interesting, His attack profile is solid. Perhaps not awe inspiring but his 5 Rend -2 Damage 2 glaive is pretty scary. He also has Strike-First but his real appeal is that he gets you an extra command point if you have some Furies or Legionnaires near him and if he dies he can come back again on an 8+ on a 2D6 (with a +1 if Be’Lakor is on the field). A bit pricy at 235, and you have to attach some Legionaires to get the full effect, but if you’re playing Legion of the First Prince he makes a good second in command.
His warscroll is identical to his Tzeentch incarnation, which unfortunately makes him far less useful as a result. Since he now teleports in only Tzeentch units you have to give a unit the Mark of Tzeentch to get value from it. Not the worst thing but not the best either. Keep this guy on the shelf or play him in Disciples.
Chaos Lord on Daemonic Mount
He now has some options, either the Lance or the Warhammer. The Warhammer gets a flat Damage 2 over the lance but the lance gets an additional rend and Damage on the charge, making it slightly better in my eyes. Additionally, on the turn it charge it gets to Strike First and issue an order to fight immediately to a nearby Knight or Chariot unit. Sure that bonus may only be on the charge but play it right and they won’t survive for a second round.
Chaos Lord on Manticore
Similar to its original incarnation with some key changes. The lance now only improves rend by -1 but it starts at -1 as well now, meaning the charge is still the same. Territorial Predator now gives +1 damage to the mount instead of rerolling hits against monsters, which will likely average out better as the mounts attacks are now locked at 2+ to wound instead of declining. The most interesting ability is the Iron-Willed Overlord which lets nearby units reroll redeploys, which is insanely good. Redeploy is one of the most powerful abilities in the game, despite the fact most everyone has it. The chance to fix a measly 1” redeploy will pay off massively.
Chaos Lord on Karkadrak
Pretty much the same and underwhelming compared to other Chaos Lords. His command ability is the same as the Daemonic Mount and he is a little tankier with an extra wound. Save the points and get a Daemonic Mount lord.
Some big changes here. Oracular Visions is a 6+ Ward instead of +1 to save. 6+ Wards are not the best but they’re something and with the way save bonuses are more restricted, a much more practical bonus. Their warscroll spell is also +1 to hit and to wound instead of rerolls (naturally). Still worth taking given their cheap price.
Chaos Sorcerer on Manticore
Almost identical to its original form, it copies Territorial Predator from the Chaos Lord’s Manticore, and Oracular Visions from the on foot version. Stick to the on foot version for it’s killer spell.
Exalted Hero of Chaos
This guy got a new model so he has a variable loadout. Either option is good, take the shield and board to be extra tanky or the Axe if you really want to put something down. The attacks are much less swingy, no longer getting D6 attacks but a set number which are of respectable damage. He lost a lot of abilities but makes up for it with a free roll on the Eye of the Gods table after setup. Pretty good deal for only 100 points, though foot slogging heroes that only exist to kill things continue to suffer pretty bad in Sigmar, he needs a way to get to the thing he wants to kill. Treat this as something to add when points are looking low.
His number of attacks were dropped but damage in melee increased to 2, which more than balances out. What kills him is his rage ability now only grants a +1 to wound, really not worth it. Dump this guy.
Completely reworked. She lost a lot of abilities but her new one to use Rally on two units if she made her way into the enemy deployment with Oath of Supremacy has huge potential. Definitely a must take if you have multiple Darkoath units. She also can order one to immediately fight after her, which synergizes well as shes a decent, though maybe not superb, combat character
Not quite as desirable as the Warqueen. He needs to kill an enemy Hero or Monster to get his oath, which grants Strike-First. Good, but not superb, as he’s not much better in combat than the Queen, only getting a Mortal Wound on 6s over her in an otherwise identical combat profile. Stick to the queen if you want to run Darkoaths.
We’ve seen this guy recently due to being an early release for Warcry. Unsurprisingly, he hasnt changed. Hittiing with the spear gives additional attacks, the net can inflict Strike-Last and he rallies Undivided units on a 5+. Very solid all around attack profile and good for buffing up your undivided units, if you have enough of those.
Mercifully, all of the Warcry warbands are now just straight battleline. You no longer need to do any awkward contortions to get them in like using specific subfactions or matching your General’s Mark of Chaos. The downside is they do not have a mark of chaos, so you are locked in to whatever the warscroll says (mostly Undivided, Hashut is notably the only one who doesn’t have an alignment, since they of course worship Hashut) unless you take a specific warlord trait.
Most of the Cultists haven’t changed much otherwise, so it would belabor the point to hit them up individually. Instead I’ll only hit the ones with notable changes. For the most part, their role remains the same: They’re cheap and cost effective units, most aren’t great but Iron Golems and Untamed Beasts have some role in armies.
Pretty much all of them got an extra attack, which definitely increases their lethality. Splintered Fangs have 3 attacks which feels like a mistake, and may need to be fixed as that makes them an insane value add for their price. The Unmade now block Rally and Inspiring Presence, a huge increase over a simple bravery debuff. Corvus Cabal now are invisible from ranged attacks when in cover and can deep strike, which is a huge utility buff for them. Cypher Lords can fly over enemy units and drop mortal wound bombs, though with their 6” move the utility of this is likely limited. Scions of the Flame now do 3 hits on 6s to hit on large units (10 or more), Spire Tyrants got a radical change, gaining an extra attack (boosting them to 3 attacks) when near an enemy hero and getting to ignore battleshock when in melee.
Unchanged, and largely fine as is. They get a 5+ Ward if they take an objective and 6s to hit do mortals. Solid at taking points and holding them.
The OGs, with a fresh new model. Their weapon options are heavily streamlined, asking only for weapons or spears. The spears have longer range and due to the 32 mm bases, you can make an argument for the spears in a sufficiently large group, but stick to weapons in the 10 man unit. The Chaos Warriors are generally pretty vanilla, they got decent weapons and good save, gain an extra attack in enemy territory or trying to capture an objective. Their flexibility allows them to fulfill several roles depending on which Mark of Chaos they took, from strong shield walls with Nurgle to Aggressive Khornates with lust for blood. They make an excellent backbone to your army with the new changes.
Chaos warriors on horses and just as flexible. Naturally being mounted makes them faster, and better at charges. While you do get 6 attacks with the flail, theyre without rend. The spear is -1 to rend base with another one when charging and doubles the damage, making it far more effective. Like Chaos Warriors, they’re very open to flexible playstyles depending on which mark they have.
Chaos Warriors in Training. Alright combat profile, mostly excel in shutting down enemy command abilities nearby (which isn’t nothing). Mostly worth considering in Legion of the First Prince or as cheap battleline, but that slot is very crowded.
While Chaos Warriors are Elite and powerful, these guys are largely meant to swarm the board, which is a quality all to itself. Unfortunately these guys got hit pretty hard, losing their killer charge ability and only gaining +1 to hit on the charge, which isn’t near the benefit it should be anymore.
Chaos Marauder Horsemen
Largely the same, though they got a new ability, Swift Raiders which gives them -1 to be hit by ranged attacks. At this is their biggest weakness, this can do a lot to save them. Sadly they’re still kind of weak like their foot brethren, but they are absurdly cheap.
Chaos Chariots have sadly always been a bit of a laughing stock and that hasn’t changed much here. The War-Flail is now a flat 6 attacks and 3+ to hit and to wound which makes it a far better option than before. Probably the better weapon of the two at this point but still is going to struggle to make it compared to the other vastly superior battleline you can pick from.
The most important Behemoth in the list. The prayers have been massively pared down, presumably for ease of readability. Instead of a primary ability for any unit and a secondary for those with a specific keyword, it just works on one specific keyword. This is a bit of a problem because it’s going to limit its flexiblity.
As for the prayers themselves, Undivided gets to halve models who run away after a battleshock test, which is pretty junk. Khorne gets +1 to charge, a far cry from its rerolling charges but we knew that was going away. Tzeentch gets -1 to be wounded, which is a huge sell for its otherwise lackluster ability. Nurgle adds +1 to their wound rolls, which adds some important offensive punch to the largely defensive mark. Finally Slaanesh gets a 3D6 charge which blows Khorne out of the water.
Overall, the restricted buffs of this unit is a bit of a problem but it has been dropped down to 185 points, so its entirely reasonable to run 2 to be able to run multiple prayers.
Mutalith Vortex Beast
Surprisingly changed very little. It got 2 more wounds and…thats it. Its random abilities stayed the same and its attacks just as powerful. I would have expected the D3 damage to change but alas. Ultimately this thing is fun for casual games but too swingy to ever see competitive play, and yet it went up 10 points.
Shockingly this did see some changed. A few more attacks, and the Master mechanic was given a bit more depth. You can assign a Hero to be its Master and they must essentially baby sit it by remaining within 12″ of it. This is no longer solely a burden but also unlocks some command abilities for the Master to use on it. Leave None Alive lets it act at top bracket and Let Loose the Chains gives it a 3D6 charge. The flaw of it moving outside its Master’s range has been easier to manage, now only hurting a unit in 3″ instead of 6″.
A fun monster, possibly useable in Despoilers.
Unchanged, still bad and too expensive.
Another unit everyone is excited over. Conceptually cool, never quite got there. Now they’re back to kick ass and look good doing it. Their weapon damage was doubled, and now they get a free roll on the Eye of the Gods table from the opening and can fight twice once per game. Pricy, at 240 points for 5 but they will do the job.
Not quite the overhaul Tzeentch got, but its something. When within 9″ of a friendly unit with their matching Mark of Chaos they get to reroll one of the dice when determining movement. Really these guys exist to have a ruleset when you roll snake eyes on the Eye of the Gods, or to fill space.
This thing got…substantially better. While its attacks did not change, it gains an extra damage on its melee attacks if its within an inch of terrain. Additionally, its ability to pick a nearby terrain feature to deal mortal wounds can also destroy any defensive terrain or faction terrain on a 3+. This is in the hero phase rather than the end of the Charge Phase like Smash to Rubble so a bit harder to set up, but he is much smaller than most Monster and can get into small hard to reach places. An interesting gimmick option.
Unchanged. Mostly exist to be annoying and support the Centurion Marshal.
Weapons are the same but possibly one of the best sleeper abilities in this book. At the end of the combat phase, they are able to make a free move (even in combat), passing over enemy units with 4 wounds or less, and do D6 mortal wounds on a 3+. A great way to give the finger to screens, or just nope out of a bad situation. Being a normal move it cannot move into something else, so be wary.
The ability to inflict Strike Last is now a Bravery test, which really sucks for it and is a lot less fun. It even lost its -2 Bravery Aura, the one time where this might be useful. I think this may diminish it to a niche pick, depending on the army youre facing.
One of the new models in the box set. Possibly one of the most killy units in the book, they’re a bit more delicate than Chosen but have more wounds, so they can count as double the models, and once per game increase their number of attacks. Basically a unit of Ogroid Myrmidons, and can be very dangerous in combat.
Mostly the same, other than not needing to take Battleshock when near a friendly monster. Pass.
End it off on everyone’s favorite of Archaon’s bodyguards. These guys didn’t change a whole lot and quite frankly? Didn’t need to. They are super charged Chaos Knights, who can fight twice once per game. Now their spears get increased rend and damage on the charge, heavily incentivizing taking this route. They no longer get +1 to hit from Archaon which could be a problem, but you’ll find other ways to get that +1. Their mortal wound ward is also a 4+ now instead of 5+, making them even harder to kill from range. At only 10 points more, these guys still do their job better than almost anyone in the book.
Eightfold Doom Sigil
Remains unchanged, stuff dies near it, your stuff nearby gets an extra attack on a 3+. It’s fine but a bit fiddly and difficult to use.
Does D3 mortals on a 2+ and halves movement characteristic. Costed a bit too much before at 85 but 60 might be a more fair asking price now.
Does D3 Mortals but does more mortals if there are Endless Spells near it. Garbage, it already costs too much even at the reduced price of 80 and you need more endless spells to make it worth something. Just pack one of the million Mortal Wounds spells that already exist.
I really like this book. I don’t think it’s broken, but it is very strong. We’ve seen a few aggressively technical books in the past few months, like Lumineth and Tzeentch. This book is a hammer. It’s blunt, it hits hard and it probably will break a few bones in the process. It’s got very strong brute force energy which is going to appeal to a lot of players who want something more straightforward.
It’s also extremely customizable. The improved Marks of Chaos went a long way in making this book more exciting to explore, and each mark comes with a bunch of new artefacts and abilities that proc on top of them, furthering the customization without needlessly complicating it. Finally you can rock that true Chaos Undivided force you always wanted. Get out there and burn the mortal realms to the ground!