Monday, January 7, 2019

REVIEW: Battletome Gloomspite Gitz

Out of all of the Destruction factions, I think the Moonclan were one of the most deserving of their own Battletome, and one of the most anticipated and requested as well. With Gloomspite Gitz we get all of that, plus even more. So, what secrets does the gloomy dank of this book hold?

The cover on this one is pretty cool. It's not my absolute favorite, but I still really like it. It's illustrated very well, and has plenty of the new quirkiness that has been injected into this army, but I wish the main grot on the cover had the traditional black robes and pointy hood. That's just an iconic look for the Moonclan, who are definitely the central focus of this book, even though the Spiderfangs and Troggoths are included as well. That's a small gripe though, since they still manage to get across a lot of the vibe of the army with the copious amounts of mushrooms and moon symbols.

The book opens with a general overview of the Gloomspite Gitz, giving a quick look at all three sub-factions of the Moonclan, Spiderfang, and Troggoths, as well as why they would be working together. It also goes over their shared object of worship, the Bad Moon. The Bad Moon is an actual astral body that traverses the skies of the mortal realms. It's path is erratic, and it's almost impossible to predict where it will arrive. The Moonclan believe that Gorkamorka attempted to eat it during the Age of Myth, but just cracked his teeth on it instead and imbued the moon with some of his godly essence. The Spiderfang see it as a giant egg sac, which will one day crack open and rain untold spiders down upon the mortal realms. The presence of the Bad Moon also imbues the grots with something they call the "gloomspite." This is roughly equivalent to the Waaagh that their larger orruk cousins experience. It's a lunatic, frenzied energy that compels them to kill and swarm out of their lairs. The lands bathed in the light of the Bad Moon also quickly become dank and clammy, with entire fungal forests sprouting up.

As the Bad Moon crests the horizon it drives regular mortals to madness, some sprouting fungi and spewing nonsense. The grots are emboldened by it though and seek to usher in something called the Everdank. This would be a period of perpetual twilight with the landscape plunged into a fungal, wet apocalypse. Every grot boss seeks to be the one to usher this in, and some claim to feel the "Clammy Hand" upon them, meaning they are chosen by the moon. I really love this type of language and you can tell they had a ton of fun writing this. The grots of the Gloomspite refer to the sun as Glareface Frazzlegit for example. Out of all of the grot bosses, Skragrott the Loonking feels the Clammy Hand upon him the most. He now gathers those driven mad by the Bad Moon and imprisons them in his asylum where he tries to glean information on where the Bad Moon will appear next from their mad ravings.

The Necroquake and the Soul Wars have played a part in the recent rise of the Gloomspite. With the magics unleashed by Nagash's ritual, the Bad Moon has started to appear more frequently. Driven into a frenzy by the moon, the grots of the Gloomspite Gitz became more active throughout the mortal realms. Where other armies laid siege to fortresses, or lead their forces into the thick of the fighting, the majority of the Gloomspite instead struck at the now lightly defended cities bereft of their armies. Typically groty of course. They mention how some of the greater commanders in the realms attempted to divine where the Bad Moon would appear next, or in one of my favorite bits, how the Skaven of Clan Skyre planned to blow it up with a giant rocket. They say it has been done before. This is a great little wink and nod to the End Times.

The different environs that the Gloomspite make their homes is covered here as well. The Moonclan, unsurprisingly, make their homes in the caves of the mortal realms, called lurklairs. From here they can stay hidden until they're ready to strike, often bringing troggoths from the even deeper, more inhospitable reaches of the underground or the fetid swamps of the Fellwater Troggoths. In contrast, the Spiderfang live in nests, thick spider webbed enclaves often found in ancient ruins, deep crevasses, or shadowed forests. A particularly cool bit is the Evercrawl, an area in Shyish which is basically the afterlife of the spiders of the realms, primarily the Arachnaroks. This area is highly revered by the Spiderfang and is home to the Skitterstrand Arachnaroks, arcane spiders who are able to create their own miniature realmgates which they use to ambush victims throughout the realms before dragging them back into their Shyishian lair to feed. The most infamous of all of their Gloomspite lairs is Skrappa Spill, the fortress kingdom of Skragrott himself.

The timeline section of the book has some really cool and fun snippets of story. Everything is covered from the origins of the Moonclan and Spiderfang, through the Age of Chaos, and into the Soul Wars. One of my favorite stories is of a Kharadron Overlord fleet which is overrun by the Gloomspite hordes when they attempt to find plunder amongst their ancestral Karak. The grots then fly this hijacked fleet back to the skyport of Barak-Khazzar, crashing the ships into the port and offloading the Gloomspite hordes into the streets. The Kharadron begin to fight back, but are overrun once a fleet of Grotbag Scuttlers arrive to assist their Gloomspite cousins. The skyport is now named Da Moon City and is now a floating Gloomspite fortress. I also like that the Grotbag Scuttlers are mentioned again, twice actually. There's hope for them to appear sometime in the future still! Another great bit is a Trogghorde that barges its way right through a city's walls, killing and destroying all in their path, only to keep going straight through the other side of the city and right into the sea. Rumors persist that a number of troggoths appeared on the other side of the sea, lumbering out of the waters.

We then get a look at the basic ways a Gloomspite horde may be organized, with Skragrott's own horde as a specific example. A couple of other famous Gloomspite hordes are fleshed out a bit, like Claggit's Smotherers, an enclave of Gloomspite in Aqshy who hate fire and will go out of their way to extinguish it. This makes Fyreslayers, Enginecovens of Clan Skyre, and Tzeentchian cults frequent targets for them. The Spiderfang tribes get some love as well, with the Frazzleshun in Hysh who block out the sun with their spiderwebs from their flingers on their Arachnaroks when they attack, or the Glintfang in Chamon who feed their spiders any metal they can find to make their webs as strong as steel.

Next we go into the individual unit descriptions, organized into Moonclan, Spiderfang, and Troggoths. The Gobbapalooza is a collection of mystics and shamans who act as advisors to their Loonboss, the leader of the Gloomspite Horde. The Scaremongers dress up as Glareface Frazzlegit to herd the grots into battle, while the Shroomancers animate the fungi around them in accordance to their own psychedelic visions their having from ingesting toxic mushrooms. The Sneaky Snufflers go out ahead of the army when the Bad Moon looms to harvest the fungi that grows in its light with the help of their snufflesquigs. They then dole these mushrooms out in the midst of the battle to their grot allies to enhance their lunacy. The Spiderfang tribes are led by their Webspinner Shamans who then appoint Scuttlebosses to keep the rank and file in line. These Scuttlebosses ride gigantic spiders and purposefully expose themselves to numerous venomous spider bites which enhance their strength and make them more spider than grot over time. The troggoths don't have much going on upstairs, and generally just get pointed in a direction and rampage until they're stopped. The most powerful of the troggoths are known as the Dankhold Troggoths. They often sleep within their caverns for years at a time and will either grow or shrink to fill that space, explaining how we have a Dankhold Troggoth the size of the regular kit and also one as small as Mollog the Mighty. Last, but not least, the Aleguzzler Gargants often find themselves in the dark caverns of the Gloomspite while trying to sleep off a bad hangover and are bribed into battle by copious amounts of fungus brew.

The gallery section is pretty awesome, with some really gripping scenic shots. They've really captured the look of fungal filled caverns with the armies spilling forth. I'm a sucker for these scenic shots since it really shows off the army in their element. The 'Eavy Metal spotlights are great too, especially since there are so many new models to look at. There are a few variant color schemes presented as well for the Moonclan Grots, like the Moon City Murderboyz. There is an example army at the end of this as well, like we typically see. I really enjoyed the text accompanying it, as it describes each units background in this particular army, like the Sporesplatta Fanatics known as Da Expendabul Whirlin' Nutterboyz, or the Dankhold Troggoth named Umm.

The painting section also contains some quick guides for painting different parts of the army, like the black robes or green skin of the Moonclan. It also goes into a few more specific things, like the yellow moons, or the crystals on the rocks of the Rockgut Troggoths.

Now we get to the rules. The allegiance ability for the Gloomspite Gitz revolves around the Bad Moon. At the start of the battle, after deployment but before the first turn, the Gloomspite player picks a corner of the board for the moon to start on. Then starting from the second turn on they roll to see how the moon acts, with a 1 being no move, a 2-5 having it move one space, and a 6 having it move two. There's a map that shows how it moves diagonally across the board, with their being five spots for it to be, including the starting location. When the moon is in the middle of one of the quarters it affects all Gloomspite models in that quarter, when it's in the center it affects the whole board, and at the corners it does nothing. Once it moves off the board it's gone. The moon does a couple of things. First off, you get to pick one enemy unit and roll a dice, if the roll is equal to or less than the number of models in that unit then they suffer D3 mortal wounds from moon meteors. All Gloomspite wizards add 1 to their casting rolls, while enemy wizards subtract one, and your Gloomspite general receives an extra command point that turn as well. This is, of course, only if those units are in the part of the board affected by the moon. The army is then broken down a bit more, with Squigs getting to run and charge, Moonclan Grots getting to re-roll hit rolls of 1, Spiderfangs causing mortal wounds from their Spider Venom on 5s and 6s, and Troggoths getting a bonus to their healing abilities.

Both the Command Traits and Artifacts are broken down into four categories. The Command Traits are either for a Loonboss, a Moonclan Wizard, a Scuttleboss, or a Dankhold Troggoth hero, while the artifacts are for a Loonboss, a Madcap Shaman, a Spiderfang Hero, or a Dankhold Troggoth hero. There are several good choices in all of them, with a few that stand out, like the Clammy Hand command trait for your Loonboss which allows you to use the Moonclan Lair scenery rule from the Loonshrine twice in your hero phase. I also like the Glowy Howitz for the Troggoths which lets you roll a dice each time you suffer a wound or mortal wound, and on a 4+ ignore, but if you roll a 1 the troggoth eats it instead and you can't use the artifact again.

There are two spell lores to choose from, one for the Moonclan and one for the Spiderfangs. They each have six spells to choose from. The Moonclan can cast the Hand of Gork, which allows you to move a friendly unit around, or Call da Moon and bring down meteors upon your enemy's heads. The Spiderfang can heal friendly units, or force en enemy unit to always fail attacks and saves on a 1 and 2 with Curse of da Spider God. There are a bunch of cool options in here. One thing I'm not able to go over a whole ton either without just retyping it all here, but the names and descriptions for all of these spells, artifacts, and command traits are pretty fun and groty too.

Lastly, the Gloomspite get to use the Bad Moon Loonshrine, a scenery piece similar to the Herdstone. Besides granting an immunity to battleshock if Gloomspite units are close enough, it allows you to bring back on slain Stabba or Shoota units at half their strength each turn. Like all the battletomes out there, there is also a cool narrative scenario and some Path to Glory rules as well. The scenario recreates a siege, utilizing the siege rules from the core rulebook, as the Gloomspite Gitz follow the Bad Moon right into an enemy fortification.

The army gets access to 10 different Warscroll Battalions, with most of them being fairly easy to collect and field. Sometimes the battalions use so many models that it's either super expensive to collect, or cost so many points that it's hard to use them in a standard Matched Play game. I can even see some of the "super" battalions seeing regular use. For example, the Moonclan Skrap, at a minimum, requires you to take a Loonboss, a unit of Sneaky Snufflers, and a Skulkmob Horde. This grants you battleshock immunity when affected by the Bad Moon. The Skulkmob Horde, the other battalion you have to take in this one, at a minimum requires 3 units of Stabbas or Shootas, and 3 units of Fanatics, either Loonsmashas or Sporesplattas. This battalion allows you to return a unit at full strength instead of half strength through the Loonshrine. The Squig Rider Stampede requires you to take two to three units of Squig Hoppers or Boingrot Bounderz at a minimum, and lets you re-roll their random moves. All of this is easily collectible, and at the very least, grants you an extra command point and artifact.

I can also see the Spiderfang Stalktribe super battalion being taken in Matched Play fairly easily. The Moonclan and Spiderfang each get one super battalion and three smaller ones. Then we also get the Troggherd and the Squigalanche. I really like the Troggherd. It's a great fit for any Troggoth centered army and grants you an additional point of damage on an unmodified wound roll of a 6 in combat.

There are 40 different warscrolls in this army consisting of 23 Moonclan scrolls, 5 Troggoth scrolls, 7 Spiderfang scrolls, the Gargant, and 4 Endless Spells. I'm not going to spend a ton of time going over all of the different rules, since you can see all of these Warscrolls for free in the App. The Moonclan has a ton of synergy between all of its units, with the Gobbapalooza, Sneaky Snufflers, and Sporesplatta Fanatics all granting some kind of buff to the other Moonclan units. We have several new units, including a Loonboss on a Mangler Squig, but also a few returning ones. The old Skarsnik model is still around as a Loonboss with a Giant Squig and the Giant Squig riding Loonboss is still around as well. The standard Stabbas and Shootas are there as the core of your army. I think it's pretty cool, that outside of demons, I'm pretty sure the Moonclan are the first army to get new models for existing units since AoS launched. The Squigs, Sguig Hoppers, and Mangler Squigs all got new sculpts, with a few variants thrown in as well.

The Spiderfang didn't get any new models, but they do have a few new units. You can now take Webspinner Shamans on foot, as well as on an Arachnarok. The Arachnarok now has different warscrolls for the Shaman version, war party version, flinger version, and a brand new one called the Skitterstrand Arachnarok. Each of these has its own points value now too, really opening up what you can do with them. The Skittertrand are the coolest to me, since they can essentially ambush. I'm most excited about the new Troggoth stuff, with the Dankhold Troggoths able to both soak up the damage and dish it out. The models for them are amazing to boot. The Rockguts also got some new models, but we did lose the Sourbreath Troggoths to the mists of time. I think this is the first AoS army to get 4 Endless Spells instead of 3 as well. The Scuttletide is great looking for the Spiderfang and is basically like a souped up Spirit Host, dishing out mortal wounds on 5s to units nearby. I really dig all the mortal wound output by the Spiderfang and was super tempted to start collecting them the first time I read their new rules.

The book ends with the points values, which takes up two pages since there are so many units. This army can ally itself with Bonesplitterz, Gitmob Grots, and Greenskinz, though I personally think the Gloomspite Gitz has almost everything you could need to field within its own book. If you're a Moonclan or grot fan in general I'm sure you're over the moon about this battletome. I think it's definitely been one of the most anticipated books and it really fleshes out the Moonclan and other Gloomspite units in a super fun, yet still in character way. I love the lunacy of the army and it has a real fantastical feel to it. I would say that the Moonclan have been a core staple of AoS and Warhammer Fantasy's aesthetic and world and now they have their own Battletome to wield on the table. There are so many different army builds you can get out of this book I expect we'll see a bunch of variance on the tables, which can only lead to good things. I think one of the biggest successes of this army is that it feels unique, like it's been part of the mortal realms and not a carry over from the Old World, but still retains a lot of the character of the old Night Goblins. If you're a fan of all things weedy and green, or just want to read some of the most fun lore in AoS then this book is for you.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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