Spire of Dawn may just be the Island of Blood starter set from 8th edition with a new name and a bit of a facelift, but that doesn't stop it from being an exciting release for AoS. Alongside bringing back some great miniatures, we also got some new warscrolls, battalions and a bit of new background to go along with it.
The whole deal comes in a box about the size of a Start Collecting! box, which is a nice slim down from the much larger box Island of Blood came in. I guess that's what you're able to do when you eliminate the rulers and other templates that came with the starter set. I love the box design for this. It manages to take the older models we all know and insert them into a setting that looks fantastical and perfectly fitting with AoS. It also updates it into a fresher, more engaging style. Sorry, as a graphic designer awesome packaging like this really interests me.
The box is absolutely packed full of content with sprues of miniatures, the booklet, and both round and square bases for everything. The minis and sprues are exactly the same as they were in the Island of Blood. Even though these models are more than five years old now the quality definitely holds up. I'm pretty sure they included the square bases simple because they had them and had no other use for them. I doubt they are encouraging using these models in other game systems that utilize squares, but more likely are there for people who have square based armies and don't want to rebase to round.
The booklet for Spire of Dawn is fairly thin, but that's not too surprising. Inside we get a quick intro, a bit of background lore for both the Skaven and Aelf forces involved, warscrolls for every unit involved, two new battalions, and Pitched Battle profiles for everything.
The Skaven and Aelfs both get two pages of background a piece and it's presented as more of a narrative story. On the first page before this we get a bit of background for the Transient Isles and the Dawnspire where the battle takes place. I'm pretty sure this is our first look into Hysh, the Realm of Light. It's a nice little peak, although I'm unsure how much this reflects on the realm as a whole. For the most part it seems fairly pleasant there. The story we're given over the combined four pages of lore is pretty engaging and well written. To be frank I wanted to read more about what happens since it's just setting up the battle and doesn't give you the conclusion, but that's just a testament to the quality of the story. I really liked it though and it was nice to have some Aelf's in an official AoS story.
After that are some pages with some nice photography of the models. Nothing new here, but as always it's nice to see the 'Eavy Metal paint jobs for inspiration.
Now one of the most exciting parts of this, the rules. All of the warscrolls for the existing units are exaclty the same, but it's nice to have them all reprinted here for convenince. The Aelfs get a few new ones though in the form of the High Warden, Spireguard, and Reavers, who had all previously only been part of the High Elf compendium. Now they have new warscrolls, which for the most part are the same as they were previously, but now with the Swifthawk Agents keyword. The High Warden's command ability also gets the Swifthawk Agents keyword, really fleshing out that faction and probably making it one of the most robust Aelf faction at the moment. Not only that, but we get two warscroll battalions, one for each of the forces. The Aelf one gives the Mage and Swordmasters the Swifthawk Agents keyword allowing you to take it in a pure Swifthawks army, as well as other bonuses for the whole force. The Skaven one is pretty good as well with some cool ambush mechanics included. To top it all off everything is given official Pitched Battle profiles, including the new Aelf scrolls and the battalions. The Spireguard are battleline for Swifthawk Agents, strengthening that faction even more. This is the first boxset that comes with a warscroll battalion where the battalion got points for Matched Play. I hope this is a trend that continues, because I would definitely like to see the Start Collecting! boxes' battalions get points as well.
All in all this is mostly just a great way to get ahold of the Island of Blood models again, but the extra content we get is great too. I really enjoyed the booklet that came with it. All of the rules are in the App for free incase you already have these models already, but the story here is enjoyable and does a great job at setting the scene. I wouldn't buy the box for just the booklet, but it's definitely a nice bonus. At only $80 Spire of Dawn is an absolute steal too. Each of these armies is close to 1,000 points so they are a great start to a new army. My friend and I are splitting this box, essentially meaning it only cost $40 for a 1,000 point army. If you are on the fence about getting this and want a Skaven or Aelf army then I think it's a smart move to get it. It appears to be a limited run item, and is currently sold out on the US store, but it has an "Email Me" button on it meaning that it will be coming back in stock at some point.
Spire of Dawn was a smart move by GW, bringing back some great models at an absolute bargain price and with a nice bit of AoS lore injected into it. I expect we'll see quite a few new Skaven armies centered around this (like mine) as well as a resurgence of Swifthawk Agents armies. Add in some Skycutters, chariots, and Shadow Warriors and you could easily bump it up to 2,000 points have a nice themed army.
Until next time,