Starting Your Age of Sigmar Spearhead: Sylvaneth

A thank you to Games Workshop for sending us the rules as part of Fire and Jade book in the Skaventide box set. The Spearhead models used in this article were not provided.

With the arrival of Age of Sigmar fourth edition, Games Workshop is introducing a brand-new game mode, Spearhead, that uses the contents of a single “Spearhead” box (previously labelled “Vanguard”). This is a perfect opportunity to dip your toes into a new army without needing to spend hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours painting. Today we will be diving into what I consider to be the easiest Spearhead box to complete, Sylvaneth.

For Spearhead you’ll be playing each unit as they are presented on the box art, though there are many options for customization that are built into this box thanks to the way the sprues are laid out. If you’re using this as a way to start a full Sylvaneth army for Age of Sigmar, I would encourage you to look into what each unit does in the full game and build towards that over what is strictly presented on the box. This box contains ten models – five Tree Revenants (that can alternatively be built as Spite Revenants), three Kurnoth Hunters (can be built with bows, scythes, or swords), one Treelord (that can alternatively be built as a Treelord Ancient or Spirit of Durthu), and one Branchwych.

Building Your Spearhead

When building models, I highly recommend using plastic cement to glue your models. It goes on thin and dries stronger than superglue. You can also use it to hide seams by brushing it over the seam and melting the plastic over itself.

We’ll begin the building process with the Tree Revenants. These are straightforward to build, each having fewer than ten pieces in total. However, the instructions that came in my Vanguard-labelled box had incorrect numbers listed for these pieces. I was able to find the instructions online for the regular Tree Revenant kit and the numbers matched up there, so hopefully this issue has been resolved in the updated Spearhead box. Even with this slight snag, they’re easy enough to figure out with a bit of dry fitting. You don’t have to build the banner on this unit if you don’t like painting them, as banners don’t have any rules in Spearhead!

Next up we have the unit of Kurnoth Hunters. Out of all of the units in this Spearhead box I would recommend you build them as they are presented on the box. In Spearhead these are a ranged unit, and their alternative weapons are melee weapons, so it could be confusing to your opponent exactly what this unit’s role is on the battlefield at a glance. Thankfully, these are pretty easy to magnetize if you have the equipment and know-how and guides can be found here on the site. There are multiple sets of head options that are included in this kit to further customize the look of this unit as well as plastic bugs that can really make your unit look unique. The build process for these guys is pretty easy and everything can really only fit one way, just make sure to dry fit everything before gluing. They all build roughly the same so once you’ve finished your first one, the others will be much quicker.

Moving now to the hero of this army, we have the Branchwych. This model is very annoying to put together, especially the worm that sits on her back. You’ll need to really make sure you’ve got the two pieces of the worm put together just right or it will not sit into the designated spot on her back. It might be better to attach the bottom half of the worm to the body first and then glue on the top half. Other than that, there’s not too much here that will give you difficulty. There is no option for customizability built into this model.

Lastly, we’ll build the most complex model – the Treelord. This model really encourages you to build it however you want. You’re presented with three options in the build instructions, but most of the pieces are interchangeable. The model is built in two halves, the legs and pelvis as the first half, and the torso, arms, and head as the second half. You can choose to build it as any of the three models presented in the instructions or you can very easily mix and match heads and arms as suits you. Again, dry fit all the pieces before gluing, but I found everything fits smoothly and is hard to get wrong. The only annoying part is that the fingers on the left hand are attached individually. Once you’ve completed this beast of a model, you’re ready to start playing!

Painting Your Trees

Painting Sylvaneth is how I relax after painting complicated models from other armies. You can paint them in whatever scheme you wish but I will present a brief guide to paint these models quickly and offer some tips that should help, no matter what paint scheme you choose.

I started by priming my models in Krylon Ultra Flat Camouflage brown since the models will primarily be brown. Next, I drybrush Steel Legion Drab as a midtone brown and on top of that I drybrush Tallarn Sand in spots and a final highlight of Karak Stone on the upper edges where the light would catch. Drybrushing is critical here because it really helps sell the effect that this is real wood. I also use an old brush instead of a make-up brush because the bristles give a scratchy look that I like whenever I’m painting wood. This technique can be applied to any type of wood or stone you like and has been my go-to for years now. Over all of the parts we just drybrushed, I put a layer of Agrax Earthshade to blend everything together. You can also drop in other shade paints in specific areas if you wish to add variation to your wood tones. Once that is dry, you can optionally reinforce your highlights on the face and hands, so they pop.

Then you can pick out any leaves with the colors that you want. I went for a fall theme for my army, so I went with red, orange, yellow, and dark green. I would also highly recommend picking out the mushrooms on these models, because it really only takes a few minutes for the whole army. I used Pallid Wych Flesh base, shaded with a color, then quickly ran my brush over the edge of the mushroom with the Pallid Wych flesh again. This is where you’re army will start to feel unique and finished, just have fun with it!

Lastly, if you’re looking to create a spirit look like I’ve done here, base each part of the model that will be spirit-colored in Bold Titanium White. I use Pro-Acryl because it has great coverage, but any bright white will do. You’ll want an opaque base coat of this so it may take two to three layers depending on the coverage of your paint. Once that is dry give it a heavy wash of Pylar Glacier, and a final drybrush of your white, this time using a make-up brush or similar.

And that’s it! I managed to paint this entire Spearhead over the course of two days, maybe six hours total – including drying time. You can always add more, or fewer, highlights based on your own personal preference; but with how quickly this army can be painted I’d encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Experiment with colors, and really any “mistakes” just add to the realism of these models.

I had a blast painting these models and I would whole heartedly recommend them to someone who has never picked up a brush before. The satisfaction from finishing this army comes quick and the models are beautiful.

Rules Discussion

Spearhead rules for all factions are found in the Fire and Jade book in the Spearhead box. 

First, a note on construction – all of the warscrolls for Spearhead are simple with limited profiles. If you built a Vanguard box and assembled your Kurnoth Hunters with swords or scythes, there won’t be any confusion on how the models function on the table.

The Bitterbark Corpse has has two battle traits – Ley Lines that does a Heal (1) to each friendly unit within 3″ of any terrain and Strike and Fade – on a 2+ a single friendly unit within 3″ of any terrain features can be set up within 3″ of any terrain feature and more than 6″ from all enemy units.

The terrain restriction makes this a difficult ability to use but with a little planning you’ll be able to execute it. Because it can happen after using a fight ability you can set up your units so that they’re always able to get away if they’re charged.

There are two regiment abilities that you can choose from. First, once per turn in your movement phase, Walker of the Hidden Paths allows you to remove a unit and set it up more than 6″ from all enemy units. It cannot use move abilities for the rest of the phase. The second allows you to do D3 mortal damage on a 4+ to a single enemy unit contesting an objective. Walker of the Hidden Paths is the far better options for most games especially when you consider how powerful the Treelord is in combat.

Finally, there are four enhancements for your Branchwych general. There is a healing ability for single unit within 18 for D6, ignoring negative modifiers to save, an ability to add to a friendly units rend in melee, and an ability that lets your general come back on 3+.

All of these seem fine and are highly dependent on how your opponents force looks.

As for the forces themselves the Sylvaneth box has one of the smallest (by model count) Vanguard boxes. You only have four units and ten models.

Branchwych:  Your general has only 5 health and a 5+ save and a 3 attack melee profile (3/4/1/D3 damage) that isn’t going to swing any battles. The ability, to return 1 slain Kurnoth or D3 Tree-Revenants within 18″, is extremely strong so keeping this unit alive till the end is worthwhile.

Kurnoth Hunters: A three model unit with 5 health, 2 control, and a 4+ save the Kurnoth Hunters bow (18″ 2 attacks 3/3/1/2) are enough to project power on the smaller board. They are weaker in melee but should allow you to damage elite units at range. If they do get charged you should position them so they can Strike and Fade and not lose a turn of shooting

Tree-Revenants: These are a reinforceable unit with 2 health, 1 control, and a 5+ save. Each model an enchanted blade (2 attacks  3/4/1/1) and they can get a bonus to hit or save in the combat phase. Keeping them alive to hold objectives is critical since you only have four units.

Treelord: With 14 wounds, a 3+ save, and 5 control The treelord is a BEAST. It has a 10″ shooting attack that works in combat (3 attacks 3/2/1/2) that does enough to weaken elite units and two incredible melee profiles, Sweeping blows (5 attacks 4/2/1/2) and Massive Impaling Talons (2 attacks 4/2/2/3). Finally, it can make an enemy “Strike Last” in the combat phase on a 4+.

The Treelord should be the focus of your planning and attacks. Finding out if your opponent has any anti-monster abilities are critical because if you lose your Treelord early you won’t have enough output to stay in the game. Using the Regrowth or Treesong enhancements makes the Treelord more survivable or damaging and is a much better choice compared to enhancing your general.

Bringing it All Together

Overall, this Spearhead provides an appropriate taste of the Sylvaneth from a painting and rules perspective. The box doesn’t contain any unique characters, builds quickly, and has models that typically serve as the backbone of a Sylvaneth list.

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