SRM’s Ongoing Stormbringer Review: Week 20

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.

When I was a wee dweeb, I would regularly stop off at a comic and coin shop in Millerton, New York with my dad. It was the closest place to my house that sold Pokémon cards, Mage Knight boosters, and other general nerdery, and I’d regularly grab some comic books that caught my eye. These individual floppies would often have beautiful, exciting covers with little to no relation to the stories inside. I’d pick up a comic with Batman decking the Joker on the cover only to reveal a quiet conversation between Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon over coffee and a B-plot about Man-Bat within. I relay this particular memory to you now, in this review of the 20th issue of Stormbringer, which bears the cover art of the excellent Gotrek Gurnisson audio drama Realmslayer: Blood of the Old World. Yet, this issue does not contain a single mention of the hardest-to-kill short king in all of Warhammer.

The Narrative Materials

Mindstealer Sphiranx. Credit: Dan “SaltySea” Herrera

We get another in-universe article about the monsters of the realms, with our unseen narrator chiding us for thinking they’re all just fairy tales. The further into the realms you go, the less things make sense, and the more pervasive the powers of Chaos are, suffusing even the air itself. Mindstealer Sphiranxes are the first of these Chaotic beasts, once thought to be guardians of Teclis who at this point are more likely to devour your memories and kill you than anything else. I’d like to know why they abandoned T-posing Elf Daddy, but that’s outside the knowledge of this folksy narrator. Chimeras are next, and are as they appear in all folklore before them – a couple nasty animals stapled together by magic. It’s odd to see more “generic” fantasy monsters like Manticores and Chimeras show up in the highly trademarkable Age of Sigmar setting, but it’s a nice reminder of the game’s roots. Lastly is the Cygor, a big magic-eating beastman monster. I like the survival tip here to drop your magic equipment and put some distance between yourself and any wizards in your party. This all feels like background material for a role-playing game, and I find it so, so charming.

A chapter of fiction continues from issues 13 and 16, with the third installment of Spearhead. Our Stormcast hero, Alyria Swiftwind, has died and been reforged, with nothing but a wee chronic pain condition to show for it. Bastian Carthalos, Lord-Commander of the Hammers of Sigmar and generally a very big deal, has a sparring match with her while he assigns Alyria her next duties. She’s going to go off to Ghur to help secure a realmgate that links up with Ulgu and fight some orruks and grots. She wins the sparring match and is off to do her job. It’s largely exposition, with the sparring match thrown in there to give the characters something to do while they set up the next chapter of the story. I assume it’s also to make us think this character (who just died) is pretty badass by beating one of the Biggest Damn Heroes in the entire setting in single combat.

Insta: bair_paints

We next get a short article on Fyreslayers, or as I have alternately derisively/affectionately known them: Butt Dwarfs. These are why Gotrek was on the cover, I imagine, though he doesn’t make an appearance here. These oathbound mercenary warrior-priests are hunting for ur-gold, fragments of metal that contain the essence of their war god Grimnir. They forge runes with this metal and hammer it into their skin, which is what grants them their power. That’s assumedly why they’re naked. They also ride giant fire lizards called Magmadroths and live in Magmaholds, fortresses inside active volcanoes. If you’re familiar with old Warhammer Fantasy, they’re just Dwarf Slayers taken to the nth degree. I still feel they’re a bit underbaked as a faction, and that the Slayer archetype may not have been enough to carry a whole army.

Not to spoil our Hobby Materials section yet, but we’ve got a Battle Record to roll up. This week’s focus is a Kruleboy war beast, the Marshcrawla Sloggoth. These pallid troggs are ridden by a crew of grots in a howdah, all armed with nets and mancatchers to capture their prey while the trogg smashes their enemies on the ground. The optics of goblin slave-catchers running through the swamps are weird to me, but I guess it makes them unambiguously the bad guys.

The Gitsnatchaz crew, known to their fellow orruks as “Da Biterz”, were sitting in the howdah of their Marshcrawla Sloggoth. In this brief respite between raids, the grots aboard brainstormed what inventive things they could do with their next batch of captured foes. “Oi! We could eat em!” said Golmrog, his bark louder than his grumbling belly. The drummer, Rakk, had a more kunnin’ idea: “We could hit em real hard, THEN eat em!” Porgo built on the ideas of his forebears with an even bolder, more kunnin, more brilliant plot: “We could hit em real hard, hit em again even ‘arder, THEN eat em!”
The whole crew erupted in hooting and hollering, punctuating this brief spell of regeneration for their troggoth mount. The trogg’s wounds healed and the grots’ heads full of ideas, they marched off again to another raid.

The Hobby Materials

Marshcrawla Sloggoth – Marchettus

This week we get the first parts of the Marshcrawla Sloggoth. We only have one of his two sprues here, but we do get complete construction instructions. It’s a complex model for a newcomer, with dozens of pieces, overhanging detail, options and subassemblies to contend with. Hobbyists should be able to build a few variants of the crew and monster too, should they pick up multiple. It’s a beautifully detailed model, and one that is emblematic of the Kruleboyz faction as a whole. I also appreciate the instructions telling folks to leave all the crew members off in subassemblies, as well as leaving the whole dang monster off the base. I think you could get a brush under there well enough, but leaving the crew off is an absolute must.

The Gaming Materials

Stormcast Eternals Praetor-Prime. Credit: SRM

This issue’s rules content focuses on units with mounts and degrading damage tables – basically the perfect companion rules for a model like this week’s Marshcrawla Sloggoth. However, since we don’t have the rest of the model yet, we’re going to have to leave the big bois at home for this week’s mission, Dawn of War. I feel like maybe they should let that phrase stay in 40k since it’s so bound to that setting, especially when this mission’s deployment isn’t even the typical Dawn of War deployment, but rather Hammer and Anvil. Players alternate placing terrain pieces, then the sun rises on this titular dawn and we’re off to war. Since both forces are fairly small and are just dudes on foot, it’s not great for actually teaching this week’s new rules. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just feels incongruous.

Final Verdict:

Marshcrawla Sloggoths are $60, and ours is spread out over two issues at $13.99 each. Put together that’s $27.98, and we’re saving over 50% off the MSRP, or Marshcrawla Sloggoth Retail Price. The lore section and helpful modeling guide make up an enjoyable and high quality magazine, even if the mission absolutely does not stick the landing. It doesn’t really engage with the rules content in any meaningful way, and isn’t offering people following along a particularly educational or novel gaming experience. Still, this issue is stronger than it isn’t, and I’m looking forward to getting the rest of our extremely wet troll next week.

See you next issue, warhams.

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