White Dwarf # 459 The Tome Celestial: The Grimscuttle Tribes

An article by    Age of Sigmar Gaming Reviews        0

The Badmoon rises again with another Tome Celestial augmenting the Gloomspite Gitz. Recent issues have given us The Jaws of Mork, dedicated to Squig heavy lists and Troggherds for Troggoths. The third (and final?) Tome Celestial for the faction is centered around the Spiderfangs, giant arachnids that the Gitz lead into battle to help compensate for their diminutive size.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Lore

The lore section notes that members of the Destruction Grand Alliance have a curious ability to adopt the traits of the realms they live in, allowing them to spread more than other races. The Gitz of Shyish carve out an existence in the hellish afterlife realm by becoming predators in its dark and nefarious landscape. The Grimscuttle of Shyish worship a deity who’s true name is unknown, but goes by The Spider God, The Feaster of Beyond and the Scuttler in the Void among others. Like the Gloomspite Gitz other deities, it’s impossible to tell if this being is real or the product of too many ingested mushrooms. Regardless, the Grimscuttle Followers are a very real threat, appearing in the night under a full moon to ensare victims to sacrifice to their god.

Loonshrine Update, Spider Rider Edition

Following the same pattern as the last two Gloomspite factions, players of Gloomspite Gitz faction can swap out the Loonshrine’s ability to restore a destroyed unit of Moonclan Grots on a 4+ to instead apply to Spider Riders if their general has the Spiderfang keyword. This is the only Spiderfang unit with more than one model in it, hence why it’s much more specific this time. This is also the reason it’s not as useful, since it’s only going to apply to that warscroll.

Battle Traits

If you’re familiar with the last two subfactions released in White Dwarf, the pattern for this release follows pretty predictably. As before, this faction is focused on one specific group of units within the Gloomspite Gitz battletome, and while it doesn’t restrict you to those units, the new battle traits heavily emphasize a list that leans on them to get the most effect. In this case its the Spiderfang units who get to shine. Overall the faction, other than being dedicated to the spider theme, seems to be focused on anti-magic powers which certainly can be very useful.

Allegiance Ability: Deff Grotz of Shyish

Each time a Grimscuttle Spiderang unit is affected by a spell, you can roll a die. On a 5+ ignore any wounds inflicted by that spell. Decent, if your opponent brings a lot of magic, as it negates the whole thing rather than negating one wound for each 5+ like a Feel No Pain does, but it also focuses on a specific niche (spellcasting) rather than Mortal Wounds in general, and is all-or-nothing.

Allegiance Ability: Drawn to the Aetherglow

That’s not their only Allegiance Ability. While Deff Grotz is defensive against magic, this is your offense. With this ability, Skitterstrand (Which is only one unit, unfortunately) can reroll all hits against Priests and Wizards. Incredibly niche, but Skitterstrands can deep strike, allowing you to time their appearance just right to find an opening in your opponent’s army to hit their spellcaster.

Command Ability: Masters of Feigned Flight

This command ability allows a unit within 12″ of a Hero fallback and charge in the same turn. Ideal for repositioning if you find yourself trapped in a fight you cant win and need to move to attack an enemy unit that’s more advantageous. Alternatively, you can take advantage of a Arachnarok Spider with Spiderfang Warparty to fallback and charge again, granting mortal wounds on the charge each turn to soften them up for the killing blow.

Command Trait: Prophet of da Spider God

Your mandatory command trait for a Grimscuttle Webspinner Shaman. Once per game, during the combat phase you can activate this trait to give all Spiderfang units (on the entire field!) the Light of the Bad Moon, even if it’s disappeared from the game. This is only your guys, to be clear, and the relevant buffs for a Spiderfang list are:

  • Your general generates an additional command point in the battle phase
  • Your wizards get +1 to Casting
  • Your Spiderfangs Spider Venom will activate on a 5+ instead of a 6+.

Actually a really good trait. The Bad Moon mechanic is powerful but extremely finnicky and luck-based, this gives you a little juice when you might most need if it luck isn’t going your way and the Bad Moon disappeared too early, or even if it’s just merely on the other side of the field where you need it to be.

Artefact: Shyishan Spider-sigils

Mandatory artefact. Grants -1 Bravery to enemy units within 6″ of the Bearer and +1 Bravery to friendly Spiderfang units within 12″ of the bearer. This can be helpful for Gloomspite due to their extremely poor bravery. Spider Riders, the unit most likely to be affected by Battleshock tests, only have a bravery of 4 so every Bravery point they get is another model potentially saved.

Full Army

The Army Assembled. Credit: Raf Cordero

Battalions

We get 3 battalions this time, no super battalions trying to cheat either. They’re pretty good all around, and easy to fulfill due to the lack of variety in options for list building, you’ll likely fulfill 1 or 2 of them without even trying and at 140 points each they’re reasonably priced.

Grimscuttle Spider-Cluster

  • 2-4 Grimscuttle Arachnarok Spider units in any combination

+1 to hit rolls for melee attacks for units within the battalion. A sweet bonus and one they need pretty badly as their attacks have pretty sad To Hit rolls.

Grimscuttle Skitterswarm

  •  0-1 SCUTTLEBOSS or Webspinner Shaman
  • 3+ Spider Riders units

At the start of the first battle round you can pick up D3 units and place them within 6″ of any battlefield edge and more than 9″ from enemy units. The Skitterstrand has the ability to deep strike on its warscroll and this gives a similar ability to their little brothers to make coordinated strikes feasible. Make your opponent seriously regret their poor initial army placement. While I feel like this is almost an auto-take, I think it’s held back by being a bit swingy. You will need to fulfill the requirements of this battalion in order to fill your mandatory Battleline and Hero option, but you might end up only being able to move one unit, making the cost a bit of an ask at 140 points.

Grimscuttle Nest

  • 2-3 Skitterstrand Arachnaroks

You know how Skitterstrand can deep strike on their warscroll? This lets you do that again and again! Instead of moving normally, Skitterstrand can be removed from the battlefield and placed back on in the same turn, more than 9″ from enemy models. This can be used as a defensive tactic, to get them away from a fight that’s not going well, or offensively, to seek out Wizards, Priests or objectives your opponent foolishly left open. There’s a lot of potential flexibility in this battalion.

 

List Building

The big issue here is the units which most benefit from these is a pretty small list of options, 7 units in total if you’re being generous (two are datasheets for the same unit with a different loadout, and two are an on-foot and mounted version of a Hero):

  • Scuttleboss on Gigantic Spider
  • Webspinner Shaman
  • Webspinner Shaman on Arachnarok Spider
  • Spider Riders
  • Arachnarok Spider with Spiderfang Warparty
  • Arachnarok Spider with Flinger
  • Skitterstrand Arachnarok

Aside from the short list of units, your options are further constricted because aside from the Scuttleboss, Webspinner Shaman (on-foot) and Spider Riders, those are all Behemoths, and on a 2,000 point list you’re only allowed 4 Behemoths so you options for list building are further shortened. About the only saving grace is that the battalions are surprisingly powerful and depending on how you want to lean on your list you can build on those units strengths.

Allegiance: Gloomspite Gitz 

LEADERS 
Webspinner Shaman on Arachnarok Spider (280) 
- General 
- Command Trait: Prophet of da Spider God 
- Lore of the Spiderfangs: Sneaky Distraction 
- Artefact: Headdress of Many Eyes 
Scuttleboss on Gigantic Spider (100) 
- Artefact: Shyishan Spider-sigils 

UNITS 
15 x Spider Riders (300) 
15 x Spider Riders (300) 
10 x Spider Riders (200) 

BEHEMOTHS 
Arachnarok Spider with Spiderfang Warparty (220) 
Arachnarok Spider with Flinger (220) 
Skitterstrand Arachnarok (200) 

BATTALIONS 
Grimscuttle Spider Cluster (140) 
ENDLESS SPELLS / TERRAIN / COMMAND POINTS 
Malevolent Moon (40) 
Bad Moon Loonshrine (0) 

TOTAL: 2000/2000 WOUNDS: 142 LEADERS: 2/6 BATTLELINES: 3 (3+) BEHEMOTHS: 4/4 ARTILLERY: 0/4 ARTEFACTS: 2/2 ENDLESS SPELLS: 1/3 ALLIES: 0/400

I had to make some concessions here, largely due to the Behemoth limit which really hurts unit options. You’ll hit that Behemoth cap quick and then your only choice is to fill your list with Spider Riders, Scuttlebosses or Webspinners to taste. That said I think when taken as a whole the faction has legs, eight of them if you will.

The Webspinner Shaman can combine Sneaky Distrction with Headdress of Many Eyes making it -2 to hit him, which can make him impossible for armies with poor To Hit weapons (and close to impossible even if they’re good). The Grimscuttle Spider Cluster can make your Arachnaroks very scary to deal with, while the Spider Riders and and Scuttleboss overwhelmn them with numbers. Finally the Skitterstrand is always waiting, lurking in the background to pick off any spellcasters who leave themselves exposed.

Overall it’s not the best list, but it gives a surprising amount of flexibility for the few units it has to pick from. It’s just a shame that the games own mechanics seem to work against it to keep it from reaching its full potential.

Bonekrakka and Gobbaluk. Credit: SRM

Closing Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised by this faction. At first blush it felt very lazy, they created two factions before for the Gitz which were just focused on a specific type of unit, and this isn’t any different than that. If anything, it’s working from an even more restricted list than the last two, and with a unit type that definitely doesn’t carry the same fan fervor as a list of all Squigs would. Given the strict limits on what units can be used, they made out pretty well, and there seem to be a handful of legitimate playstyles at work depending on which of the Behemoth units a player chooses to favor.

Speaking in a larger overall sense, I’ve been very perturbed by Games Workshop’s attempt to fix the Gloomspite Gitz. I’ve said this before, but the Gloomspite Gitz are a plain bad faction. They tend to have the worst win-loss ratio in the game, largely due to suffering from extremely RNG based mechanics. Some people like that though, and if that’s your idea of a good time you are not playing the game wrong! The larger issue is that Games Workshop’s solution seems to be to try and staple on some subfactions in White Dwarf and hope that gives players options that they need to make the faction decent, but the way these subfactions exist isn’t the most healthy way to design a faction. Subfactions in the battletomes do often favor one kind of unit, but not to the incredibly rigid way that these subfactions have gone about it. The design of these subfactions ask you to basically use one unit and one unit only, and anything else is generally going to be handicap by not benefitting from anything the subfaction has to offer. This is in addition to the fact that having to carry around an extra magazine with you in order to have the rules for your subfaction is frustratingly tedious.

The faction probably needs a new battletome written from the ground up. The original was written fairly early on in Age of Sigmar 2.0’s lifespan and so the designers had not yet worked out all the kinks. It seemed, frankly, absurd to ask for a new book before but now Slaanesh is getting a new book after already getting to spend almost a year as the top competitive army, and gitz didn’t even get that. Ideally it’s something that can be worked on in the near future, whether through a new battletome or some hefty new additions in a future Broken Realms book.

While we don’t know if this is the last subfaction for Gitz, it seems like a healthy place to stop. I can’t imagine where else they could go at this point. Moonclan is about the only thing left, and those are treated as the “baseline” army in the core book so it seems unlikely they’d get a subfaction to themselves. Hopefully the next Tome Celestial can bring something more exciting.

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.