Monday, January 19, 2015

REVIEW: The End Times - Thanquol

The End Times comes even closer to its conclusion with the release of The End Times: Thanquol this past weekend. As Archaon marches south the vile ratmen pour out from their underground lairs to bring the Old World to the brink of destruction.

Thanquol continues to benefit from the fantastic production values being put towards the End Times series. The cover art is great and the slipcase really makes it seem like a high quality book that anyone would want to display on their shelf. The only thing that looks slightly odd is the weird forest green color they chose to use on the binding. This may be a personal opinion, but I dislike this color the most out of any they have chosen so far. I understand that green is associated with the Skaven due to warpstone, but I would have gone with something a little more toxic looking. It is important to note that this is the first End Times hardcover release that didn't sell out within the first day and they also released the softcover version to stores at the same time. It looks like Games Workshop learned from their mistakes with the past books and upped the production run for this one.

Book one of course contains the story that is the meat of the series. Thanquol reminds me a bit more of Nagash, with the storyline veering across several conflicts and locations. Where as Glottkin and Khaine were more streamlined and isolated conflicts, with the Skaven uprising we get to see a much broader and epic cross section of the story. It starts with the invasion of Lustria in a truly epic fashion, goes to Karak Eight Peaks, on to more of the Dwarf holds, to Nuln, then to Middenheim before heading back to Lustria and the Dwarven realms to wrap up those stories.

The artwork is great again, but this time we see a few more recycled old pieces instead of newer art. Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic pieces of art that are brand new to Thanquol, including a truly epic battle with the Lizardmen, a two page spread of the Skaven mustering their horde and a very ominous parting shot at the end that doesn't bode well for the forces of order. Despite this we also see a lot of recycled pieces from army books and even past End Times books.

Artwork from the old Lustrian campaign also makes an appearance, and if you were wondering why Valten faces off against Archaon at Middenheim yet again, it's so they can reuse the art from the Storm of Chaos campaign. None of this really detracts from the book, I was just hoping to see more new art. I think Nagash spoiled us in that regard.

The army profiles before each major battle look like they were done by the same artist that drew them in Khaine. Like I said in that review, I feel like this artist brings a lot more to the book then whoever they had for Nagash and Glottkin.

I particularly like the look of the Lizardmen in it, they really look like predatory creatures. Valten, Archaon and Golfag are some of my other favorites.

Like previously, Book two has all of the new rules, units and scenarios, but there are a few major changes this time out. First off, there is no new army list. This is pretty big considering everyone thought there would be a new "legion" army list in each book to start moving us towards the combined factions rumor we hear for 9th edition. In its place though we have the return of Battlescrolls. These are very similar to Dataslates for 40k, and we had them occasionally for Fantasy in the past, but GW seemed to have given up on them. Now they are back though, and with some cool new rules that I am very excited about. There are two formations for the Skaven; one for Thanquel and one for Queek Headtaker. There is also one formation for the Dwarfs, one for the Lizardmen and one for the Empire featuring Valten. Each of these are themed around a specific battle and event from the storyline with special rules that help reflect what happened better. You are required to take a certain selection of units, which are specified in the Battlescroll, to get access to the special rules. The coolest thing for me though is the special rule they all share, Core Formation. This makes it so you do not have to take any more Core choices in your army beyond what is in the formation. The possibilities these open up are amazing. I really hope the continue this trend and start releasing Battlescrolls for all of the armies. I would happily pay the four dollars or so they would most likely charge for it if they came out with something cool for my Tomb Kings like a Chariot themed Battlescroll or something with a bunch of constructs.

There are also a set of rules on how to fight battles in the jungles and temple cities of Lustria. This is primarily for use with the scenarios included, but it could be used for any game you wanted. This is a fun little addition like the city fighting rules from Glottkin or the underground rules from Nagash. Nothing game changing, but a fun way to shake up your games of Warhammer and add some extra narrative elements. I believe these were originally released as a digital supplement back when the Lizardmen book came out, but since I haven't read those I don't know if they changed them at all for Thanquol.

Another new addition is a set of rules on how to run a narrative campaign called the Lords of Battle Campaign system. It provides you with the framework to make your own campaign including some Strategems that you would pick for each game. They also give you an example campaign based off of the events of Thanquol called The Doom of Belegar. Again, this is nothing game changing and the tournament players may shrug with indifference, but I really appreciate additions like this. You know that the game designers at GW HQ play their games like this, forging the narrative as they like to say.

The new characters and units have their own rules and fluff included in here as well. This time we get rules for the new version of Thanquol and Boneripper, Screech Verminking and the other Verminlord variants, the Stormfiends, and a new empowered version of Ungrim Ironfist, the Slayer King. Each of these has a great illustration as well and some very atmospheric photos of the models.

Last but not least are the narrative scenarios for Thanquol. There are six scenarios that span the length of the story, one from each of the chapters. The only notable exception is a lack of a scenario for the battle at Middenheim. I have to admit, I am a little disappointed since I would have liked to have seen Valten face off against Archaon on the tabletop. It's doubly strange sine Valten has his own Battlescroll formation. As you may know from past reviews, I am a fan of these scenarios. I would really like to play all of them, so does someone want to lend me their armies?

Once again this is an extremely solid addition to the End Times from GW. The story is enthralling and well written and the additional rules provided help spice up the game a bit. We now only have one book left in the series. Whose ready for The End Times: Archaon?

Final Score: 5/5

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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