Wednesday, October 7, 2015

REVIEW: Stormcast Eternal Battletome

The first of the new versions of the Army Books is out, the Stormcast Eternals Battletome. Being a big fan of AoS and the Stormcast is particular I knew I had to pick one up and take a look.

The book itself is what we have come to expect from GW's Army Book/Codex releases. It's about 120 pages, hardcover, very well put together. The cover art is fairly decent for this one, but there are parts of it that leave me wanting a little more. Mainly something seems strange about his chest armor and the plume on his helmet. The plume looks way too much like a squirrel's tail or something and lacks the elegance of a long flowing horse hair crest. Not sure why they went that direction with it, but it's not horrible. Something that was probably missed by most people is that if you look closely you can see the Liberator-Prime's eyes through the eye holes on his mask. The Stormcast are definitely human looking underneath their armor, no more debate about that.

The beginning of the book tells you a bit more about who and what the Stormcast are. Some of this will be familiar to people who have been keeping up to date with the AoS campaign book releases, while for everyone else it's very informative. There are a few bits of new information in there though, the most interestting of which to me is the Stormhost orginization. Before we have only ever seen the organization of an individual Warrior Chamber, which are the smaller forces that comprise a Stormhost. For example, the Hammerhands, Vandus' force is a Warrior Chamber, where as the Hammers of Sigmar are the Stormhost and have many different Warrior Chambers in it.

Here we get to see that a Warrior Chamber is the standard outfit, but there is also an Exemplar Chamber, which consists mostly of Paladin units, and a Harbinger Chamber, which has mostly Prosecutor units. There are also a few other auxiliary chambers such as the Ruination Chamber and Extremis Chamber, which the book says Sigmar has held in reserve still. This gives GW the option to introduce new units in the future (come on Dracoth riders!) when they have Sigmar unleash those Chambers in the storyline. There is also a position called the Lord-Commander, which is the overall commander of each Stormhost. According to the Battletome there are no Lord-Commanders as of yet, and the Lord-Celestants need to prove themselves in battle before he promotes any of them to that position. I'm betting heavily that Vandus Hammerhand will become the Lord-Commander of the Hammers of Sigmar and at that point he will get his own unique model instead of the generic one in the starter box. I'm really excited about all of the options this army structure gives GW in the future with model releases.

After this we get the individual unit descriptions like we are use to with GW books. Each unit gets it's own page and there is a lot of retreading of familiar territory, but also a few new tid bits of information. In general this goes into more detail then we are used to from the campaign books and it's a welcome addition to the army's lore. Each entry also has an accompanying piece of artwork, about half of it new. The only exception are the Knight-Azyros and the Celestant-Prime which both have pictures of the model instead. This is a bit disappointing since I was looking forward to seeing some art of the Celestant-Prime. The artwork in this book is outstanding overall, with several new additions which are amazing.

The next section is the gallery section, showing off a bunch of pictures of painted models. Nothing out of the ordinary here and pretty much what you would expect from GW. We also get a look at different color templates for a few of the Stormhosts. After this we move onto the scenarios. There are three of them and just like in the campaign books they are framed within the context of a story. I have to admit, when I first glanced through the Battletome I was a little disappointed to see that it simply recapped the same battles we have already read about in the Realms of Fire, Life, and Metal. Upon actually reading them though I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it went into more detail on other battles that took place in those realms, not just the ones we have read before. For instance, it talks about other battles in the Realm of Fire taking place whole continents away from the Brimstone Peninsula. At the same time it does do a good job of recapping the main plot so far, covering the story of Vandus, Gardus, and Thostos. If you haven't read any of the other books then this will catch you up on all of the basics.

The scenarios themselves are tailored specifically for use with Stormcast armies and they are okay. I honestly think a lot of the ones from the big book and Ghal Maraz are better, but I will definitely give at least one or two of these a try. There really is almost no reason to play the same scenario twice anymore in Age of Sigmar.

Near the end we get all of the Warscrolls for the Stormcast compiled into one spot. There is nothing new here to differentiate these form the ones posted online or printed in White Dwarf. The real difference comes in the Battalions. We get several that we have seen already reprinted here, plus a few new ones and then what I like to call the Super Battalions. These are Battalions that consist of other, smaller Battalions. For example, the Warrior Chamber Battalion has the Heroes of the Host Battalion and then three Thunderhead Brotherhood Battalions. That's a lot of models. Each of these Super Battalions represents one of the Strikehosts that comprise a Stormhost, either a Warrior, Exemplar, or Harbinger Chamber. While I don't know if I will ever have enough stuff painted to field one of these, that fact that they give you rules to play one is pretty cool. GW's marketing strategy is already working as I look at some the smaller Battalions and find myself thinking "Well, I only need two more Paladin units to field this..." Touché GW, touché.

The last surprise addition at the very back of the book is the four page rules document. It's a nice little addition and cuts down on the amount of stuff I need to bring with me to a game. My one major disappointment with this Battletome was the lack of a Thunderstrike Brotherhood Battalion, you know, the one that's the contents of the starter set. At the moment this is the one I will use the most since I already have all of the units for it, and now I need to take at least one extra book with me besides the Stormcast Battletome if I want to use it, or pay the $1.99 to get it on my phone. Having glanced inside the Bloodbound book they get their Battalion from the starter set, so I'm a little confused on why it was left out. It's also disappointing that again the Battalions are not free on my phone when I have paid for the physical book. I really hope that they work something out to give access to these for people who prefer paper over digital versions.

All in all I really liked the Battletome, and was pleasantly surprised by all of the content it offered. I was afraid it was just going to be a complete rehash of what I had read before, but they put enough new stuff in there to keep me hooked through the whole thing. If you play Stormcast Eternals I highly recommend you buy some version of this Battletome. Remember, there's a paper version, an enhanced digital version, an ebook version, and a phone version, all with varying price points, so I'm sure you can find one that suits your needs.

Final Score - 4.8/5 (Had to take a little off for the lack of the Thunderstrike Brotherhood)

I will most likely not be picking up the Khorne Bloodbound Battletome since I don't play that army. However a friend of mine will be and if I can get my hands on it for a week or so I will try and get a review of that one up as well. If I had the funds I would be buying every AoS book release to review.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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