SRM’s Ongoing Stormbringer Review: Week 11

Stormbringer is a weekly hobby magazine from Hachette Partworks introducing players to Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. In this 80-week series, our intrepid magazine-receiver will be reviewing each individual issue, its included models, and gaming materials. A Premium US subscription was provided to Goonhammer for review purposes. If you want to follow along at home, US Customers can check out Stormbringer here.

This latest delivery of Stormbringer contained Stormbringer: The Mug. I will be reviewing this next week when I have had more time to get to grips with said beverage container. Please understand that I am a professional, and my fastidious nature better serves you, the reader.

The Narrative Materials

Giant Green Centaur stop a Boulder brandishing a hammer and shield.
Kragnos, End of Empires by FreshPrinceofBielTan

The narrative section of this magazine covers Excelsis, more specifically its rise and fall. This is the part where I must inform you that it is pronounced “ex-chel-sis” and not “ex-sell-sis” provided the audiobook of Blacktalon: First Mark is on the mark itself. I probably heard Stan Lee say “Excelsior!” one too many times on the Marvel Action Hour in 1994 and let that inform my pronunciation of all similar looking words for the following 30 years. Excelsis is a city of Sigmar, a steadfast monument to Sigmar’s defiance in Ghur and a city as rich in meteoric iron as it is in prophecy. Tzeentchian Cults want to steal those prophecies, Kragnos doesn’t really jive with the whole “civilization” thing, and the city has had to stand up to the predations of both. Defending it are of course the mortals who dwell in any given city of Sigmar, but also the Knights Excelsior Stormhost. They serve a similar narrative purpose to the Black Templars, being both powerful defenders of humanity but also being a bit too purge-happy when it comes to suspected Chaos cults.

Our new unit this week is a Beast-Skewer Killbow, a crew-served piece of Kruleboy artillery. These ramshackle ballistas are, befitting their title, bows that skew beasts. They shoot tree-sized bolts into whatever big critter they want dead. Naturally, we have a Battle Record to roll up for our cobbled together killing machine:

Throkk Sharptoof lounged lazily on his piles of pilfered goods; this shady little burrough in Garagevale had been rich in dried grains and rolled of oats. Just then, a Ghur-Murid, larger than any he had ever seen, emerged from the grain sacks, bucking Throkk to the ground. “Oi! Pit-gitz! Get to da ‘Ead-spiker!” Throkk barked. His krew of grots ran to the massive Killbow, Gitsnitch already notching one of its massive bolts. Throkk leapt behind the weapon and angled it towards the giant rodent feasting on his ill-gotten gains. “No rat’s gettin’ fat off my stash!” Throkk barked, loosing a massive bolt towards the beast. His shot went wide, the whirling winding handle of the killbow clocking Gitsnitch in the jaw and snapping his neck backwards, killing him instantly. The Ghur-Murid scampered off and Throkk breathed a heavy sigh, unsatisfied in his half-victory.

The Hobby Materials

Credit: Mike ‘Ellarr’ Chadderton

This week sees our biggest model in Stormbringer yet, the Beast-Skewer Killbow. Despite its size and detail, it still fits on a single frame and can be assembled without glue. It’s a wonderful little diorama that invites a hobbyist to look at it from all angles, just to see the grotty little jerks doing their jobs while the orruk takes aim. The build guide is thorough, noting what spots should probably get glue anyway, which bits are most liable to break, and how to repair them. Painting instructions are still on the slim side, but I support the magazine’s suggestion to paint this whole dang thing with Catachan Flesh first. I find brown to be a better basecoat than the green so often championed for basecoating orcs/orruks/orks, as their skin doesn’t take up as much of any given model as their clothes and equipment do. The direction is also given to paint this model in subassemblies, which I wholly recommend. The two grots squabbling over the quiver are left off the base, only to be attached after painting. I would also leave off the winder at the rear of the ballista too, if possible, but that might involve more finagling than Stormbringer wants us to deal with.

The Gaming Materials

Kruleboyz Gutrippa Boss Haggok. Credit: SRM

This week introduces the Bravery stat and Battleshock tests, the simple morale system Age of Sigmar introduced in its first edition and has left largely unchanged. It’s explained well in an illustrated example, and we get to try it out in this week’s mission: Test of Courage. In a somewhat wackadoo arrangement of forces, Xandire’s Truthseekers join us from last week, alongside the lone Praetor-Prime and Lord-Imperatant. Opposite them are a wall of Gutrippaz and Hobgrots and our new Beast-Skewer Killbow. Unless the lone archer in the Truthseekers can snipe this thing, it’s going to absolutely dominate our little battlefield, and the illustrated examples support this theory. Oddly, the Stormcast player is largely insulated from actually having to engage with Battleshock altogether, having lone characters and a single 3-strong Bravery 8 unit that literally can’t take enough casualties to fail a Battleshock test unless it’s already been destroyed. A unit of Vindictors would have been better for teaching this concept than the Truthseekers, as they could take 2-3 casualties and potentially lose some models to Battleshock with their signifier-less Bravery of 7. The Orruk player will actually have to take some morale tests if the Stormcast can get to grips with them, as their Bravery scores are low across the board. There is, as always, an invitation to change sides after playing once, but I feel that both players should get to engage with the systems being taught.

Final Verdict:

Beast-Skewer Killbows are $35 a pop, so this issue’s $13.99 cover price makes picking one up extremely affordable. They’re a great unit in an Orruk army, providing some cheap, compact, and powerful fire support on a somewhat fragile body. The issue itself this week isn’t the strongest, with only a brief lore section and a mission that I don’t think teaches its core concept all that well.

See you next issue, warhams.

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