SRM’s Ongoing Stormbringer Review: Week 23

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.

As my social media feed recommended its third consecutive pixel art roguelike soulslike metroidvania sidescroller of the day, I had the thought: why isn’t there a Warhammer one of these yet? Stormcast’s whole steez is dying and coming back for another go, so there’s even a story reason for it. Somebody get Team Cherry on the line, I’m sure they’re not doing anything important.

The Narrative Materials

Credit: Swiftblade

We open with the defining narrative of second edition Age of Sigmar: The Necroquake. Nagash, god of the dead, wanted to kill everything and everyone with a massive magic ritual centered around his black pyramid. A couple Skaven got gummed up in the works and disrupted the ritual, accidentally saving pretty much every living thing in the mortal realms. Instead, all we got was a massive uprising of dead souls, leading to the emergence of the Nighthaunt and the Soul Wars. This all sounds a smidge silly out of context (warhammer.txt), but the Malign Portents short stories leading up to this event is where Age of Sigmar lore started to really develop and gain some context. You can still find a bunch of those short stories on Warhammer Community, and they’re absolutely worth a read.

Alyria Swiftwind’s story is, for a time, on pause. At the conclusion of issue 20‘s Spearhead, she was training in Azyr for her next assignment. It’s time to switch to the Orruk point of view, joining Killaboss Golmrog City-Eata for Venom. The story begins the moment Alyria died in issue 16, with Golmrog being the one who delivered the killing blow. The interesting thing to me about this story isn’t the MurderDeathKill action or the Kruleboyz being krule, but the culture of violence these Orruks have established. Golmrog has promised a bigger boss, Skumdrekk, ten wagons of treasure, and after this battle, he’s still coming up short. Maybe he can raid his fellow tribes for more loot or do something to buy some time before his debt gets forcibly collected, and he’s in that bargaining stage when Skumdrekk shows up to collect. It sets up potential conflicts between Orruks, and also means you don’t need to read about Kruleboyz butchering innocent farmers for storm-potatoes or whatever. It’s one thing for that to be in the background or the stakes of a battle, and another for it to be the focus of a story. I’m looking forward to seeing where this one goes. It’s not a culture I’ve gotten much of a ground-eye view of.

As ever, a new unit means a new Battle Record. This week it’s the Lord-Aquilor, a Stormcast hero who rides a Gryph-charger into battle. They’re part of the auxiliary Vanguard chambers, the rangers and recon units of the Stormcast Eternals.

Stratos Hammerfist surveyed the road from his position in the treeline. He knew the Orruk raiders were coming, but fighting without knowing your surroundings was like fighting with a dull blade. In moments, he took in the roads, paths, rocks and valleys of the Garagevale countryside, delicately beautiful in its impermanent serenity. Dauntless ruffled its feathers and squawked beneath him, the Gryph-hound sensing the Orruk advance before Stratos could even see them. Among the trees on the other side of the road, flashes of skare-shields and rusted spears glinted in the mid-day sun. With a thought, Stratos Hammerfist and Dauntless rode the winds aetheric, appearing directly behind the raiding party. A long-forgotten life as a highwayman came to the forefront of Stratos’ consciousness and he shouted a challenge: “Stand and deliver!” Before the Orruks could do either, he and his steed were already among their ranks.

The Hobby Materials

Lord-Aquilor on Gryph-Charger. Credit: Michael Blatherwick

This week’s model is a Lord-Aquilor, a model I had forgotten and subsequently rediscovered on listening to Blacktalon: First Mark. My opinion of that book is lukewarm, but I’m far more enthusiastic about this miniature. The rider, heroic and loaded down with gear, the Gryph-Charger in a heraldic passant attitude, it all feels classically Warhammer in a way not all Stormcast of this vintage do. 2017 was longer ago than I care to admit, but this model looks great for that chonkier era of Stormcast design. Assembly is a little tricky, as the model has a load of overlapping detail with capes, tails, and extra gear. The only option is a bare or helmeted head, and while I like the look of the bare head and its silly topknot, you could easily swap it for any spare in your collection, and I intend to. The paint guide is somewhat frustrating, as it’s largely just “paint white and slather Contrast on it” which gets okay results, but looks unfinished to me. Cleanup is promised in future guides, and I hope we see it. Contrast is a great tool, but without some sort of highlight before or after, it feels incomplete to me.

The Gaming Materials

Swampcalla Shaman and Pot-grot
Swampcalla Shaman and Pot-grot. That Gobbo

Naturally, we get a warscroll for our new Lord-Aquilor, and he outclasses just about everything we’ve gotten before. Armed with a high fantasy TEC-9 and a mall ninja store worth of edged weapons, he’ll likely be yeeting himself across the table and cleaning up mobs of Orruks in your games. He’ll absolutely do so in this week’s mission, Surface Tension, a border skirmish between Orruks and Stormcast. The two armies are battling for Ulgu’s naturally-occurring MacGuffin, shadowstone. In a roughly 700 point battle, the two sides duke it out over three objectives on the center line, each representing shadowstone deposits. However, this magical mineral deposit projects a murky wall of fog that blocks line of sight down the middle of the board, so no ranged attacks or spells can target units on the other side. There aren’t a ton of ranged units in this mission so it might not have a huge effect, but it’s an interesting modifier to a straightforward mission.

Final Verdict:

The Lord-Aquilor is a $45 model, making this issue’s $13.99 cover price a massive bargain. However, his full rules (which lie outside of the scope of Stormbringer) mostly benefit Vanguard Stormcast, of which he is the only one in the entire collection. I also fear he may be seeing an end to his service in the coming years alongside many other first and second generation Stormcast, as he still has that old chonky aesthetic. On his own merits he’s a great miniature, and the rest of the magazine’s contents this week involve some foundational lore, fun narratives, and an interesting modifier to a simple mission. I had a grand ol time with it, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to Golmrog City-Eata next.

See you next issue, warhams.

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