Wednesday, July 27, 2016

REVIEW: Bonesplitterz Battletome

With the Ironjawz we have already seen the disciplined, highly armored orruks, but what about their more feral cousins? The Bonesplitterz are here now with all of their manic energy and a brand new Battletome continuing on in the style of the Sylvaneth. That means Allegiance Abilities, Magic Items, new spells, and fantastic new lore!

I know I talk about how much I love the cover art on a lot of the book, but I mean, come on, this one is just plain awesome. The feral orruk charging headlong through the dusty plains of Ghur just perfectly encapsulated the Bonesplitterz. I really love how tough this guy looks. He's so stocky looking I can definitely imagine him living out in the wild. The colors just work fantastically on it as well with the bright green skin contrasting with the orangey hues of the background. I also really like how the war paint on him looks like it is coming off, as it would be for an orruk who doesn't care how he looks. I fear my list of favorite Battletome covers is just going to keep getting larger and harder to narrow down as time goes on.

I found the lore for the Bonesplitterz to be really interesting and very well done. Instead of just being the more primitive orruks they are really more of their own sub-section entirely. You see, every single Bonesplitta is a little bit crazy. They have all become infected with the spirit of Gorkamorka in some way. Some of them were hit too hard, others stood out in a lightning storm for too long, and a bunch of various other reasons. Every one of them started out as just a normal orruk, part of an already existing orruk clan or army. Once they become infused with the spirit of Gorkamorka though they just wander off into the wilds, presumably losing their clothing along the way. All of these Bonesplitterz are drawn to the Wurrgog Prophets, who are basically the head shamans of the tribe. These Prophets are said to speak directly to their god and so their word is followed without question.

Central to the Bonesplitterz belief is the idea that the spirit of Gorkamorka must inhabit a great beast. They wish to free his spirit so have made it their quest to hunt down and kill every monster they can find. They also think that the true power of each monster resides in its bones and so when they kill one they take their bones to make them into weapons or trinkets. By doing this they believe that they are harnessing the spirit of that dead monster, making themselves stronger. I personally love the idea of this and think it gives them a very unique look and feel. I also find it to be completely believable and think it fits perfectly within AoS. They even get creative sometimes with what they think of as bones, such as stone being the "bones" of the mountain. All of their fellow orruks regard them as somewhat strange, but some of them envy the life of the Bonesplitterz, since they just get to fight all the time, and try and join them by hitting themselves on the head to hard or something. This never works though, they have to be chosen by Gorkamorka to become a Bonesplitta. I also think it's really cool how large of a role their shaman's play in their culture and army. Unlike other orruks, the shamans are ahead of the bosses in rank, and in fact, the bosses tend to just lead the smaller contingents of the army, or Rukks.

They style their army off of a monsters skull, with various Rukks fulfilling various roles. The Kop Rukk is the skull itself, and contains most of their shamans, or Wardoks in this case, as well as the Morboyz, the craziest and strongest of the Bonesplitterz on foot. Then there are the Gob Rukks, the Brutal Rukk and the Kunnin' Rukk. These make up the skull's jaw and are the principle contingents of the army. Here you will find all of your standard Savage Orruks and Boarboyz, as well as the Bosses that lead them. Closely associated with these are the Teef Rukks which house the Big Stabbas, those giant spears that require two orruks to use. These are used to bring down the largest monsters and many of the spears are ancient relics and highly revered by the orruks. Lastly we have the Snaga Rukks, which are the curling horns of the monster. These are filled with the Maniak Shamans and Boarboyz, the craziest of the lot and the flanking portion of the army. It's really quite cool and very well thought out.

Besides the standard timeline thing that we are used to, there is also an alphabet of sorts for the Bonesplitterz. This shows you all of their icons they paint on as tattoos and what they mean. I love stuff like this since it allows you to really customize your army and actually have a purpose behind the designs. It just makes it all feel that much more real.

We also get a look at the different potential paint schemes for the orruks, just like in all the other Battletomes. The main focus is on the Bonegrinz, the largest and most important tribe of Bonesplitterz, but we get a few others in there as well like the Icebones, which I think look quite cool.

After that we move onto the individual unit descriptions. This is presented through the different Rukks, except for the Wurrgog Prophets who have their own entry since they are above the organization of everything else. There is a ton of detail explored in all of these and they really feel like they have a purpose beyond just fighting on your tabletop. The whole book definitely makes it feel like a functioning society, albeit a functioning society by orruk standards. I could definitely see myself doing a small army of these guys with as many different shamans as I can fit in. Magic is what drew me to Fantasy in the first place, so magic heavy and central armies like this really appeal to me.

All of the artwork in this book is again great, with my favorite being the orruks taking down the gigantic beasts that I have no clue what they are. It's so fantastical I love it. There is also an army section showing off the studio's army and the 'Eavy Metal models.

The first Battleplan in the book has the Bonesplitterz facing off against the Seraphon. The lizards had actually just finished cleansing an area of Khornate warriors when the orruks showed up looking for a fight. I really love the story for this scenario because the Bonesplitterz have always wanted to take the bones from the Seraphon's monsters to harness their spirits, but of course the Seraphon just turn into starlight when they die and go back to Azyr, much to the orruk's annoyance. It a fantastic idea and combines the two armies quirks perfectly. I can just imagine how frustrated the orruks must be that these giant monsters they put a ton of time into killing just disappear before they can get the bones. The battle itself is fun and entertaining to read about and I really enjoyed how the Seraphon were portrayed in this as well. There is an interesting little side box in here where it mentions that if the orruks can't get the bones from the battlefield they will just have to find out where the Seraphon come from. I don't know if anything will come of that, but it lends itself to some interesting story hooks and further exploration of the lizards themselves.

The scenario itself has the orruks hunting down some big monsters. The real creativity of this battleplan is in how the armies are selected. The monster player can put down two other units for each monster they deploy, ensuring that there are plenty of monsters. The orruk player then gets to put down three units for each monster their opponent deploys. This ensures the focus stays on monster hunting. The monster player has most of the board to deploy, with the orruks coming from around the sides, as if they were hunting. To win they have to kill all of the monsters, for the opponent to win they have to kill all of the orruks. It's a pretty straight forward scenario once you get past the army selection, but it looks fun and definitely plays to the Bonesplitterz theme.

The second Battleplan has the Bonesplitterz clashing with some Khorne Bloodbound. The Bloodbound are a little upset that someone has been killing all of the biggest monsters and claiming the skulls for themselves. Fed up with the orruks stealing their glory they have followed them through a Realmgate and ambushed them. Seemingly outgunned, the Wurrgog Prophet lets out a massive Waaaagh! that rallies nearby Bonesplitterz to them. It's a fun scenario and a fun premise, with the Bloodbound being upset and all.

The scenario has the orruks set up in a small bubble around their prophet's lair, which should be a Realmgate if you have it. The opponent sets up along one of the long edges. Both armies only have three units set up at the start, with reinforcements coming on for both sides each turn. To win the opponent must kill the Bonesplitterz general and for the Bonesplitterz to win they must outnumber their opponent two to one. I like how this one escalates as you go on and seems to me like it would be a pretty hard battle for the orruk player, especially if the other player has a lot of fast units. To do well I feel like the Bonesplitterz army would need to keep all of their fast units in reserve and deploy some massive blobs of Savage Orruks at the start to soak up damage. The general does get a little bit of extra protection if they stay within their lair though.

Continuing on with the theme of the Bonesplitterz wanting bones from creatures they can't get them from we get the orruks versus a Stormcast Extremis Chamber. Lord-Celestant Imperious is on the march through Ghur with his entire chamber, but they are marching on a starlight road high above the ground. The Wurrgog Prophet can sense them though and using his magic, causes a volcano beneath their path to erupt, sending the road crashing down. The fighting is a lot of fun and there were some particularly funny moments in there. These include orruks dancing around in the lightning of dying Dracoths as they are sent back to Azyr, hoping to absorb some of their beastial might, and a Boss head butting a Stardrake. The latter is particularly good, eliciting a bemused response from the Stardrake itself.

The scenario has you reenacting the tactics used by the orruks, called the Horns of the Beast. They attempt to lure the opposing army in with the bulk of their force and then send their Snaga Rukks around the flanks. The table is split in half and both armies deploy as normal. The Bonesplitterz player can keep any Snaga Rukk units off the board though and say they are coming in off of the right or left flank. At the start of the second hero phase they come in, with no restrictions to how close they can be to the enemy. This means you can literally come on the board right next to an enemy unit. The victory conditions are the same as the standard ones from the core rules, including Sudden Death. To win I feel like the orruk player will have to heavily invest in Snaga Rukk units. It looks like fun since you get to use one of the Bonesplitterz signature moves, but could definitely be a challenge.

Just like the Sylvaneth we get unique allegiance abilities for the Bonesplitterz. To gain access to them everything in your army must have the Bonesplitterz keyword. The army wide traits are a special save from your tattoos, essentially giving you an extra 6+ save against any wounds you take. The other is a table you get to role on each time a unit kills a monster, granting them some extra bonuses. There are also six different command traits your general can chose from, all properly orruky. The spell lore in this is particularly cool. Besides just having a bunch of fun spells, every spell gives you an extra bonus if you roll doubles when casting. This is to represent them tapping into the raw magic of the Waaaagh! You also get six different magic items to chose from for a hero from your force, or arcane items if you are giving it to a wizard. For every battalion you take you get to pick one more magic item as well.

The battalions are structured around the different Rukks, so there is a Kop Rukk, Brutal Rukk, Kunnin' Rukk, Snaga Rukk, and Teef Rukk battalion. Each of these seems pretty easy to collect the minimum amount of units for, which is essential to its viability in my opinion. I am much more likely to collect towards a battalion if I think it's achievable. There is also the mandatory battalion that contains all of the other battalions. These all seem fairly good, and are definitely flavorful towards the army.

We then get three different Warclans you can collect, the Bonegrinz, the Icebonez, and the Drakktoofs. Each of these has at least one required battalion you need to take, with a few modifications to it, and allows you to take every other battalion and any other models you want. In return you get additional bonuses that help theme your army around what each Warclan is about. The Icebonez for example have boars that can run a lot faster then other boars, where as the Drakktoofs are magically inclines so have an extra spell. One cool thing I want to mention about the Draktoofs is that they live in Aqshy and their red warpaint is actually blood from old Khorne blood pits. It's a pretty cool idea and if I were to paint some Bonesplitterz up I would be tempted to do them just so I can use Blood for the Blood God for tattoos.

Lastly we have the warscrolls themselves, which just like the Sylvaneth book, are bereft of unit pictures and more condensed, allowing them to fit more on each page. I prefer this format I think, it looks more Army Book-ish. Although there are only two unit boxes for the army the Boar box makes two different units, while the regular Savage Orruks box makes four. There are also four different heroes, three of them being wizards. If I were to collect this army I would definitely go wizard heavy. It looks like a real fun army to play, and rewards you for playing against monster heavy armies. Almost every unit has some bonus against monsters. The whole thing finished up with the four pages of rules and that's that.

Overall I loved this book. It took a faction I always just thought of as orruks in the jungle, and made them into something fantastic and interesting. I love the idea of a bunch of primitive, half crazy orruks roaming around the realms killing every monster they can find. Once again, I am tempted to start a new army, or at the very least paint up a shaman model for fun. If you are a Destruction fan, orruk fan, or just love good AoS lore then this book is for you. Be warned though, you'll probably want to start a Bonesplitterz army after reading it.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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