Monday, April 25, 2016

The Strange Case of the Seraphon Battletome

Today I would like to talk about the strange case of the Seraphon Battletome. What do I mean by that, well when you start comparing it to every release for AoS before and after you start noticing something that makes it a little different then everything else.

When AoS launched we got the Stormcast Eternals and Khorne Bloodbound Battletomes right away, which made sense since they were the starter set armies. The Stormcast were of course a completely new army, with completely new models and no ties to Warhammer as we knew it. The Bloodbound shared some models with the old line, but for the most part were a completely new entity. Everyone was wondering what was going to happen to the armies they knew and loved from Warhammer 8th edition.

Then we got the Seraphon book, the third army battletome released. It was the first chance to take a look at how an old race, in this case the Lizardmen, fit into the new lore of AoS. Almost every model from the old Lizardmen line got carried over into the new one minus a few random things like Jungle Swarms and got new rules to go alongside it. The entirety of the race essentially survived, although rebranded as the Seraphon. The book itself was a little light on creative content, but had a ton of great artwork, and warscrolls and battalions galore. There were no new models released, and the entire Lizardmen line got reboxed and rebranded for AoS with round bases and everything.

Everyone looked at this as the way things would be handled. We all expected the next army to get updated with it's own full length, hardcover battletome, albeit with it's identity slightly tweaked to fit the new aesthetic. We all expected the entire range of models for that army to get reboxed with round bases, and hopefully get a new model or two. Then we got the Grand Alliance Chaos book, followed swiftly by Death, Order, and now Destruction, and have come to realize how wrong we were. The rest of the old races got broken up into a multitude of different, smaller factions. Some of them factions so small that there is no way they could ever support their own Battletome in the future, like the Thunderscorn (Dragon Ogres) for example. The Seraphon survived with their collective race still under one keyword and one book. The Skinks didn't become separate from the Saurus, from the larger beasts.

Only a smattering of the core line for Chaos got updated with round bases. For Death it was only the End Times releases, and for Order it was nothing. None of this is necessarily bad, in fact I love the Grand Alliance books and think they are a great idea, it just makes the Seraphon release look very odd in comparison. I half doubt that a lot of the factions in the Grand Alliance books will see any sort of updates with new models. At best I think half of them will get their own Battletome in the future. I think the Grand Alliance books are there to set the forces in stone and clear the range of kits they wanted to get rid of. We have seen Clan Pestilens get it's own battletome since the Chaos Grand Alliance, so who knows. I believe the way forward for GW is completely new armies, new races, and new battletomes. I don't know how much interest they have in rehashing some of their older stuff.

It just makes you wonder, why did the Seraphon make it through unscathed. Why are they one of the single largest armies out there besides the Stormcast? The Seraphon book and release was generally met with a collective "meh" at best and some pretty negative reviews by others. You can read my own review of the book here. It almost makes me wonder if the Seraphon release was GW testing the waters, and due to the negative reaction they switched gears and went for what I assume is a much less costly and time consuming option with the Grand Alliance books. Could there have been a Slaves to Darkness battletome in the works that got scrapped? I kind of doubt this though due to how far in advance GW typically plans out their release schedule as well as the time it takes to make, produce, and print a book.

This just makes the Serpahon book and release even more strange to me. Again, none of this is negative really, just odd. Why were they the exception to the rule when they have played a pretty minimal role in the story so far compared to other races.

What do you think made them switch from Army Book sized battletomes for the older armies, to the Grand Alliance books with numerous smaller factions? Was this all planned out this way from the start or was it them reacting to the market? If it was planned out, then why keep the Seraphon whole, and not the Vampire Counts for instance? Do you like the Grand Alliance book format better then the old Army Book format?

I apologize if this article looks like it was directed by J.J. Abrams, raising more questions then answers, but it's a curiosity that has been peaking my interest lately. With the last Grand Alliance book coming out this weekend it will be interesting to see how the new releases are handled. Brand new armies and models like the Ironjawz as well as small faction Battletomes like Clan Pestilens with no new models for the older armies?

Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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