Warhammer Underworlds is one of the best games Games Workshop has released to date, but the accompanying warbands haven’t always fared as well in Age of Sigmar, but it’s always interesting to see how the designers try and tie two games together! With the exception of Morgwaeth’s Bladecoven (before her recent price hike) and on occasion Grashrak’s Despoilers, you very rarely saw them on the tabletop. Well, with the new Stormcast Eternals and Orruk Warclans battletomes out today, we have another opportunity to check out six of the game’s warbands. Let’s find out!
While we haven’t seen a Thunderstrike warband announced just yet, given Games Workshop’s predilection for new Stormcast warbands and the recently previewed Kruelboyz seemingly tying in to this new release, I’m holding my breath for a new Thunderstrike warband. As for the existing warbands…
One of the first two warbands released for Underworlds, Steelheart’s Champions is a kind of stock standard Liberator-esque warband that, now being only 90 points (down from 110), is the equal second cheapest unit of the book, tying with the Farstriders and more expensive than only Aetherwings. With the new Hammers of Sigmar rule granting a 6+ ward save, I reckon they’ve really come into their own as a near perfect backfield objective holder.
Sadly, they have had a few changes, mostly for the worse. On the positive, they can now gain the benefit of cover when they’re under the effects of Heroic Guard (+1 to saves when charged). If you end up being charged while in cover, your three Liberators now have a 2+ save! On the downside, they no longer reroll save rolls of 1 if Angharad is alive. On the upside again, instead of +1 to hit units with a wounds characteristic of 5 or more, you can now pick a unit in combat with the Champions and within 6” of an objective and, on a 4+, inflict D3 mortal wounds on it. Games Workshop really wants these guys objective camping!
The launch Stormcast warband for season 2 of Warhammer Underworlds, Nightvault, the Cursebreakers never did quite as well in Age of Sigmar as they did in Underworlds, and I don’t expect that to change much now. Stormsire’s crew dropped 50 points down to 230, and the drop is absolutely warranted. In no particular order, they’ve lost their Spirit Flask grenades, reroll 1s to hit against Chaos and Death, reroll 1s to save against missile weapons, and to add insult to injury Averon Stormsire himself lost 1” of range to his weapon. The small mercy is that his damage is flat 2 now, rather than the unreliable D3, but an arguably better Knight Incantor is only 125 points. Why would you even bother here?
Also coming out of Shadespire, the Farstriders have had a range of neat little buffs, mostly coming out of the adjacent improvements to generic Vanguard-Hunters. Their Boltstorm Pistols have gained 3” of range and an additional rend, and their weapons have been combined from a Storm Handaxe and Storm Sabre into the much more convenient ‘Stormwrought Weapons’, gaining a +1 to hit or wound (depending on which old weapon), and an additional pip of rend. On the down side, they’ve lost their ability to run and shoot, and their old deep strike ability from Astral Compass has been reduced from coming in outside of 7” of an enemy unit to within 9”. At only 90 points (down from 110) compared to the more generic Vanguard-Hunters price of 125, I can see them dropping down to menace a small unit your opponent has in their backline. Remember, as a Hammers of Sigmar unit they gain a 6+ ward when near an objective, possibly giving them just the edge they need.
Steelheart’s Champions are pretty good! You can do a lot, lot worse with 90 points for a backline objective holder, and the Farstriders may have some play dropping down to threaten your opponent’s backline. Stormsire’s Cursebreakers on the other hand… Leave them in the painting cabinet.
Sadly, this book doesn’t include the rules for the Kruelboyz Da Kunnin’ Krew warband previewed on Warhammer Community recently as the first warband revealed for season 5 of Underworlds. It’s a bit of a pain, really, seeing a brand new Battletome come out when we know for a fact it’s incomplete, but let’s move past that and see what the Orruk warbands can offer those nasty Destruction players.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, Rippa’s Snarlfangs are a Gloomspite Gitz unit, so we don’t see them here either.
Where the Farstriders and Cursebreakers warbands were simplified, the Krusha’s have been made unnecessarily more complex, with their formally single profile weapons being split in two. This is… not great, as Thugg’s Smashas have now lost a point of rend in exchange for an extra attack, which, in this world of high armour saves, is the opposite of what you want. Morgok himself lost an attack and 1” of range, which brings him in line with the Orruk Brutes Brute Boss (say that six times fast), but still a little sad.
As for factions, the Krusha’s remain locked to Ironsunz, which means they lost their -1 to be hit during the first battle round and have replaced it with a command ability allowing them to charge at the end of the enemy’s charge phase. Nifty! Sadly, I don’t think you’ll be using it much on this unit; they’re good, but they’re basically just a smaller, and very arguably weaker, unit of Brutes.
Morgok’s Krusha’s were one of the earlier Beastgrave warbands, and are the only Orruk unit I’ve yet painted. Dropping a mere 5 points to 90, their one saving grace is that a starting unit of Brutes is 160 points, meaning you’re actually getting a bit of a discount on the Krushas. On balance, they’re an alright unit, but they’re really nothing exciting.
Da Boyz also drop 5 points to 80, which is a bit rough compared to 85 points for 5 Ardboys, their closest equivalent unit. The first thing you’ll notice here is that Gurzag Ironskull has lost some of his leadership skills, leading to a -1 reduction in the unit’s bravery. The second thing you’ll notice is that someone really likes different looking weapons to have entirely different in game profiles.
Like Morgok’s Krusha’s, Ironskull’s Boyz have had their weaposn split up to be more complex than before; this really feels mostly like evidence two people with very different design philosophies wrote the Stormcast and Orruk books more than anything else. Ironskull lost his ‘Eadbutt attack and they still doubled in weapon profiles, up to four. I’m not sure anyone will say that having to roll four minimally different weapon profiles is more enjoyable than two simpler ones, but here we go.
To make up for losing his ‘Eadbutt, Ironskull gains two extra attacks, and the unit retains it’s nifty 6+ ward, with Ironskull having a 5+. Overall, though, I don’t think the 5 point difference is really enough to warrant taking these over an actual unit with Battleline, but you aren’t going to cripple yourself if you already have them and really need that last 5 points.
Finally, we get to the final warband of our two books, Hedrakka’s Madmob, for 220 points, down from 235. Hedrakka himself is a Wurgog Prophet accompanied by his Madmob, a collection of variously armed savage Orruks. Both units (which you need to buy together as a single choice) are Bonegrinz, which is, um. Bad. Only one model in the unit has any missile weapons, so the +1 attack granted by the subfaction is of minimal use.
His Wurrgog Staff has an additional attack but loses a point of rend compared to his generic equivalent, and his Gobby Mask is a boring -1 to hit this unit in melee instead of the much more interesting damage over time but at personal risk ability of a Wurrgog Prophet’s Wurrgog Mask. He can grant himself and the Madmob a +1 to hit an enemy unit within 18”, and his unique spell can deal D6 mortal wounds to a unit within 6”, but honestly, you really, really don’t want them that close; 7 wounds and a 5+ save really isn’t going to last that long. Compared to a generic prophet’s Bone Krusha spell, it really isn’t anything to write home about.
The Madmob itself exists mostly to grant a 4+ ward to Hedrakka, where the unit takes the wound on his behalf. There’s… really nothing interesting in this unit. The only real thing of note for either of these units is that they haven’t changed at all since they were released in May 2021, suggesting they were written around the same time as the battletome. The Madmob is about as much of a ‘miss’ as Stormsire’s Cursbreakers was for Stormcast.
Just like the Stormcast before, here you have two arguable units and one pretty poor one. The Madmob is a worse Prophet with some worse savage Orruks, but you’re not really losing out on anything if you take Morgok’s Krushas or Ironskull’s Boyz. Not a ringing endorsement, sure, but what do you want from me? This isn’t a Death battletome!
Underworlds warbands have always been a bit more misses than hits, but these six really seem like a fairly broad spread, which is really what I like in a book. If everything was bad it sucks that you’ll never see them, but the opposite is kind of worse; seriously, who thought Morgwaeth being 80 points was ever a good idea? Here, though, I reckon you can make quite a decent case for Steelheart’s Champions in particular, with the Stormcast coming off on average slightly better than the Orruk offerings.
Looking at Underworlds warbands sometimes you can feel that Games Workshop might not really want you to use their models outside of the game they were designed for (or, in the case of titans for 40k, use them at all). I’m not sure this is the case here; we haven’t quite reached the lofty heights of ‘excellent competitive choice’, but as a group we’re far above where they previously were. Either way, the Champions, Farstriders and Krusha’s probably deserve a real close look when building your army, especially if you’re coming over from Warhammer Underworlds. If you’re looking at this with an Age of Sigmar army in mind, hey, you should pick up the warbands anyway, and join us in the Beastgrave!