Monday, July 17, 2017

REVIEW: Path to Glory

The General's Handbook last year introduced us to a brand new Narrative way to play, Path to Glory, and this year it gets its very own book as it's expanded out to cover every faction. So what exactly is covered in this 88 page expansion to Age of Sigmar?

The Path to Glory book is soft cover and 88 pages long, making it slightly smaller than an average Battletome. When you consider that this used to just be a small section in the Narrative portion of the General's Handbook though, that's quite an expansion. The cover art uses one of my favorite classic pieces of artwork from the launch of the game. There's just something so cool about see the Retributor square off against the Bloodthirster, and the Celestial Vindicators' color scheme really pops. It would have been cool to see something new, but at the same time I really like what they went with.

Once you crack the book open you are greeted with a short six page narrative centered around the central ideas in Path to Glory. The Bonesplitterz Savage Big Boss Gulgaz slowly starts to gather followers, starting with hijacking the leadership of his own tribe. It's a fun little piece of lore that sees Gulgaz amass more followers from the Ironjawz, Beastclaw Raiders, Troggoths, and more as he rampages across his corner of Aqshy, beating in the face of any adversary he comes across. I particularly liked the parts where he talks to the severed heads of the two Savage Big Bosses he usurped for tactical advice. It has a definite Queek overtone to it, but it work and is suitably orruky. I'm really glad they included this in here, if just to show how this type of play fits into the fictional world of AoS, but also because I enjoy any new bit of lore. The story is left rather open ended too, so some inspired hobbyist out there can pick up the story of Gulgaz on their own and carry it on with their own warband.

This is followed by a short gallery of models in battle, most of them pertaining to the story of Gulgaz. As always, the photography is very well done, with the one of Arkhan facing off against the Stormcast being my favorite.

Now we come to the real meat of this book, the rules. It starts off by explaining how games of Path to Glory are played. There are no points here, and instead each warband starts off with a set number of followers which you can pick, and you can earn no followers after each battle. Essentially each faction will have a table of Heroes you can pick from to lead your warband, and each of these heroes have a different number of followers they get to start with. Something more powerful, like a Frostlord on Stonehorn gets zero followers to start with, while something weaker like a Tomb Banshee gets four. Each faction then has a number of tables to pick or roll followers from, most of them only taking one of your picks, but some of the more powerful stuff takes multiple picks. For instance, a unit of five Liberators only takes one of your picks, but a unit of Concussors would take two of your picks. You can also opt to not use one of your picks for a unit, and instead roll on the reward table for either your hero or a unit. The followers tables also have the option for rolling instead of picking, but the rewards tables require you to roll. So if you had a Lord-Celestant that allowed you 4 picks to start with you could do the Lord-Celestant, a unit of five Liberators (1 pick), a unit of Concussors (2 picks), and a reward for your hero (1 pick). 

Path to Glory is meant to be played as a linked campaign with a number of games. Each game you play earns you a number of different Glory points and whoever hits 10 Glory points first has a chance of winning the campaign. You also get to do one of three things after each game, either roll for an ability for your hero, roll for an ability for one of your units, or recruit new followers. Any followers that required 2 picks when you first made your warband now require your one free pick/roll you get, plus one of your glory points, so it becomes a trade off. You can get more powerful followers, but you are taking away one of the points you need to win. You can also win by recruiting 5 or more followers to your warband. You can't switch out units or heroes between games. Once you've recruited them, they're there to stay. Anything you summon during a game is assumed to have disappeared before the next game. There aren't any rules for injuries between games, but if you wanted to add that kind of depth to your campaign, I think it would be easy enough to do.

While you can play Path to Glory using any AoS scenario, this book gives you seven that are particularly suited for this style of play. Two of them we had seen before in the last General's Handbook, but the rest are all new. They all seem pretty fun, and some of them have some pretty unique victory conditions and deployments. 

After the scenarios we get the warband tables for each faction, starting with the Chaos Grand Alliance. Chaos is broken down into Slaves to Darkness, Tzeentch, Nurgle, Khorne, Slaanesh, Skaven, Skaven Pestilens, and Beasts of Chaos. You must pick one faction to be your warband's main faction, but you can later recruit followers from any faction within your Grand Alliance, you just can't roll any reward abilities for them. The differing factions have different amounts of tables to roll on, but they all have the Champion Table, which you pick your leader from. They also all have a Follower table, and most have an Elite Follower table which requires two rolls. Some also have Auxiliary Followers, Behemoths, and Elite Behemoths. Each faction also has a rewards table for the champion, and at least one for the followers. If you roll the same reward that they already have you just roll again. Chaos also has a few extra tables for gifts from the four different gods.

Order has the main factions you would think of like Stormcast, Fyreslayers, Kharadron Overlords, Seraphon, and Sylvaneth, but it also has a generic Order faction. Each of the tables in this generic faction are divided up between Human, Aelf, and Duardin. You can stay mono race within these or mix them how you want. In the Aelf tables most entries say something along the lines of 10 Glade Guard or 10 Dreadspears or 10 Spire Guard (not an actual example) so that if you're rolling you can stay within your faction if you want and aren't forced to take Wanderers within your Dakling Covens force. There's only one table for followers rewards, but there is a unique Champion reward table for each race. The Seraphon also have different Champion tables depending on whether your champion is a Slann, Saurus, or Skink. The Kharadron Overlords also have a table that's unique to their ships. You can't actually recruit any ships as you progress besides the Gunhauler, but you can start with either a Frigate or an Ironclad. Their champion options are an Admiral, and Admiral with an Ironclad, or an Admiral with a Frigate. Obviously the bigger the ship you take the less additional followers you get to start with.

Similar to Order, Destruction is divided up by Beastclaw Raiders, Bonesplitterz, and Ironjawz, and then a catchall Destruction faction covering the rest of the factions. This faction is divided up between Grots, Orruks, and Ogors, with different rewards tables for each type of champion. Unlike the Skirmish rules that came out before this, the tables in each of these Grand Alliances covers all models currently in production, including Finecast and metal models. So the Ogors have the Icebrow Hunter and Yhetees for example. 

Death is the smallest grand alliance, with only the Flesh-eater Courts and a generic Death warband. The generic one covers all the rest of the models and doesn't split them up at all between any of their factions. Being a Death player, I would have liked to see a little more here in terms of individuality, either with the followers tables or the rewards tables, but there is nothing wrong with what we are given. I don't know if I will play my Nighthaunts within the Path to Glory rules since that army is almost done, but whatever army I start next I may very well use Path to Glory to help inspire me to paint new units.

The last entry in the book was a bit of a nice surprise. The Path to Glory book lists every Start Collecting box and the warband you can play if you buy them. This lets you get around some of the restrictions in the normal warband rules, such as taking a Warchanter as your champion for Ironjawz, or Arkhan as your champion for Death, making him the only named character in this ruleset. Some of the smaller warbands are given a bonus of an extra roll on a reward table at the start of the campaign, like the Stormcast box, which is a bit underpowered compared to what a normal Stormcast warband would start at. Others, like the Beastclaw Raiders box, which is overpowered compared to a normal starting warband, are given tougher victory conditions of needing more Glory points to win. I really like that they did this since it makes it super easy to grab one of these Start Collecting boxes and get stuck right in with Path to Glory. It makes what was already an easy and great way to start a new army, even more enticing, since you can start playing games with it right away and expand your collection from there as you complete games.

Overall I really liked the Path to Glory expansion. By breaking it off into its own book instead of putting it in the new General's Handbook, they were able to make sure every army had the attention it deserved with every unit still available to purchase usable in the game outside of named characters. I think this is a great rule system for narrative gamers who want to develop a story behind their general and army as it grows, crafting your own story from game to game. It's also great for new players, allowing them to expand their army in a way that's fun and engaging. Rewarding them for playing games by getting to build their army how they want. This, of course, would also be super fun for veteran players just looking to start a new force. You can play this with a fully formed collection too, just pulling the units you want as you need them. If you're into narrative gaming or just want a little in-game incentive for building your next army then I think this is a terrific book to pick up!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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