Thursday, October 10, 2019

REVIEW: Orruk Warclans

'Oi, da new Orruk Warclans Battletome is finally here! Gather round ya gits and take a look at da strange glyphz printed on da pages. Those squiggly lines make my 'ead hurt, but da boss sayz they mean somethin' good. As long as we can get into a good scrap!

Battletome Orruk Warclans is finally here and within it we find the combined forces of the Ironjawz and the Bonesplitterz. I really like the cover on this. Seriously, this and the Cities of Sigmar book have some super strong cover art and they both came out on the same day! I don't have anything to nit pick with this art, it's pretty much perfect for the book.

Once you crack it open we delve straight into the new lore. The opening section deals with the Orruk race as a whole. A lot of this will be familiar to anyone who knows AoS Orruks, or even 40k Orks. They're belligerent, extremely violent, and are always looking for a good fight. One thing in here that hasn't been mentioned in AoS before is how the orruks multiply. In a similar fashion to 40k, the orruks are actually a type of fungus. When they die their bodies rot and sprout new fungus, especially if the body fell in a shady area. From this fungus new orruks are born. These weedy greenskins skulk around until they grow big enough to start scrapping, at which point they'll go off and find the nearest tribe to join. Orruks only grow bigger the more they fight, meaning the older an orruk is the larger they'll be, hence why their leaders are usually so much larger than the rest.

After this overview of the race as a whole we move onto the two factions within the Battletome, the Ironjawz and the Bonesplitterz. The Ironjawz are the biggest and toughest of the Orruk clans. While other races suffered during the Age of Chaos, the Ironjawz actually thrived. The constant state of battle fueled them into becoming the best orruks around. Most of the basics have stayed the same since the last Ironjawz book. Though the Ironjawz are in all of the realms, they're most numerous in Ghur. Here they've pretty much kept Chaos in check. They've even laid siege to a Chaos fortress that has a giant statue of Archaon numerous times, defacing the statue each time before leaving the fort in rubble. Needless to say, Archaon is not happy about this. There's a bit more in here about Gorkamorka, as well as in the previous section about the Orruks in general. We get a slightly better picture of what this god was like during the Age of Myth and how the orruks revere him. There's also a section in here about how Ironjawz armies organize themselves. They're called Brawls, and everything is organized into multiples of fives because that's as high as most orruks can count using one hand. Though rumor has it that some kunnin' orruk Megabosses have managed to count all the way up to 10!

Next we get a brief look at each of the three major warclans of Ironjawz. The Ironsunz are the yellow and red ones we see the most. They're one of the largest and most powerful warclans, and they think their megaboss may even be able to challenge Gordrakk for leadership. The Bloodtoofs are all about their Gore-gruntas and are true nomads. They find great enjoyment from hurling themselves through random Realmgates and fighting whatever they find on the other side. As such, they're always just rampaging from one realmgate to the next. Da Choppas are all about vandalism. They love to destroy the buildings and monuments of the other races, and also have a lot more 'Ardboyz than other warclans. They're currently led by a Weirdnob Shaman who carries the skull of their previous Megaboss around on his staff to keep the rabble in line.

The Bonesplitterz fall on the other end of the spectrum. Where as the Ironjawz are heavily armored and elite, the Bonesplitterz wear no armor and attack in mass. They believe that the spirits of beasts hold great power and that power can be stolen by killing the beast and using their remains. They're always hunting some monster across the realms, and festoon themselves with its bones. Even their warpaint is made from the blood and mulched up remains of these beasts. There seems to be some truth to their beliefs though since their warpaint actually protects them, deflecting incoming attacks and spells. They're also mostly led by shamans instead of bosses. The Wurrgog Prophets are the leaders of the Bonesplitterz warclans and are said to be blessed by Gorkamorka. A Bonesplitter is unhinged and considered to be a bit off and crazy by other orruks. No orruk is born a Bonesplitter, instead they start as any other orruk until they start hearing voices and acting a bit kooky, at which point they'll wander off and find the nearest Bonesplitterz warclan to join up with. These crazed orruks believe that even the realms have bestial spirits, which they seek to slay and claim the power of. If they were ever to accomplish this they would truly become a threat like no other.

The Bonesplitterz are organized into Rukks, which mimic the different parts of a beast's skull. The Gob Rukks make up the bulk of the force, which are the Savage Orruks who attack straight on, while the Snagga Ruks consisting of the Boar Boyz attack from the sides like the curling horns of a beast. The three main Bonesplitterz warclans get a brief overview here as well. The Bonegrinz are the largest and most powerful of the warclans. They're the ones we see with the blue warpaint. The Icebone hail from the frozen tundras of Ghur and have a great fondness for their boars. Their ice weapons strike with an extra bite and can slow down their enemies as they slowly freeze. They also greatly admire the Beastclaw Raiders, who they sometimes follow, though on more than one occasion they've gotten too close and been frozen solid by the Everwinter. The Drakkfoot hail from Aqshy and daub themselves with blood from the gore lakes of their homeland. They take particular joy in slaying demons and ghosts, and so fervent is their belief in killing them that these ethereal beings become temporarily solid when struck by their weapons.

The timeline section has several cool story hooks. My favorite, as in most books, has to do with the advancing storyline since the Necroquake. With the opening of the Stormvaults, Godrakk has begun raiding them for relics. In one he found the skull of an ancient Godbeast which he has fashioned into a battering ram. He was last seen with a large gathering of warclans heading towards the city of Excelsis. What better way to prove you're the toughest and meanest in Ghur then by taking out Sigmar's largest city in the Realm. I'm really excited to see where this story goes. Excelsis is such an interesting city and I think a major event involving the orruks and it would be awesome.

The unit section goes into each unit in more detail, starting with the Ironjawz. A lot of this will be similar if you've read the previous books, but there are some new nuggets of information. Godrakk for instance, gets some new potential back stories. We hear about how he is thought to be a shard of Gorkamorka's knucklebone again, but there's also mention of how one of the Ironjawz warclans claims he was once one of theirs before he ascended to greatness. My favorite bit is with the Bonesplitterz Boarboyz. It mentions how much they care for their boars and harming another orruk's boar is considered one of the greatest offenses. I just love the idea of a Bonesplitter coddling its boar and petting it because he loves it so much.

The painting section shows off all of the 'Eavy Metal models, with some examples of some of the different warclans' paint schemes. There's also a hobby section that covers how to paint various things. Interestingly, I think this is the first time I've seen Contrast paint mentioned as an example. A good chunk of their step by step guides here utilize the new paint, while also using more traditional layering methods. Lastly we get a look at an example Big Waaagh! army.

Now lets move onto the rules. This book has three different sets of Allegiance Abilities; Ironjawz, Bonesplitterz, and The Big Waaagh! The Ironjawz have a couple of new rules, which will make them brutal in combat. For starters, Eager for Battle gives them all +1 to their charge rolls, and Mad as Hell is downright mean. Anytime an Ironjawz unit is wounded in any phase, if they're more than 9" away from an enemy unit they get to move D6". That means you'll really have to think twice before you shoot at them or cast a spell. Not only can they use that to move closer to you to get into combat, but they can also use it to make sneaky moves onto objectives where they need to. They could even do this to themselves with some Damned or Dangerous terrain. Smashing and Bashing is back from the GHB abilities. This allows you to pick an Ironjawz unit to fight immediately in the combat phase if another Ironjawz unit just destroyed a unit. You can easily pick off a small unit, then trigger another Ironjawz unit to fight. There's no end to this chain either if you keep destroying units. Lastly, they have two new command abilities. One of them, Mighty Destroyers, use to be an allegiance ability. This allows you to pick an Ironjawz unit in your hero phase within range of a hero and either move them normally if they're 12" away from enemy units, fight if they're within 3", or charge in any other circumstance. You can't do this to the same unit twice though, so you can't make a unit charge, then spend another command point to make them fight. Even though this costs a command point now, it's much more reliable than how it worked in the past. The last command ability, Ironjawz Waaagh!, has you roll a dice and add the number of friendly units within range of your general. If the result is 11 or less, all those Ironjawz units gain +1 attack, and if it's over 12 they get +2 attacks. So worse case scenario, you're still getting +1 attack. This is a once per game ability though, but it's still really powerful in key situations.

The Ironjawz have six command traits for Megabosses and three for Weirdnobs to pick from. Brutal Kunning seems pretty good, and lets you use the Mighty Destroyer's command ability without a command point once per battle round. Mighty Waaagh! is also good since it expands the range of your Ironjawz Waaagh! ability. They also have six artifacts for Megabosses and three for Weirdnobs. There are six mount traits for your Mawcrusha, including Loud 'Un which lets you subtract 1 from the hit rolls of nearby enemy units once per battle. There are also three Warchanter Warbeats to pick from. Killa Beat lets you pick a nearby enemy unit and add 1 to hits rolls against them on a 4+. Lastly there are six spells to pick from. De Great Big Green Hand of Gork essentially lets you pick up an Ironjawz unit and place it anywhere on the table more than 9" away from enemy units. There are a few other good ones that stand out to me here as well, so I think we'll see some variety in what spells are taken.

This is followed up by the three Warclans you can pick for your army. These are essentially "Stormhosts" and grant you extra rules, but also force you to take certain artifacts and command traits. You can pick from the Ironsunz, Bloodtoofs, and Da Choppas. All enemy units are -1 to hit Ironsunz units in the first turn, while Da Choppas can re-roll charge rolls for units close enough to terrain in the enemy territory ad they're eager to vandalize it. They each have one new ability, one new command ability, and an artifact and trait you have to take.

The Bonesplitterz Allegiance Abilities have been cleaned up a bit from when we last saw them in their first Battletome. Tireless Trackers lets you move half of your units up to 5" before the first battle round. Warpaint is still the same, allowing you to ignore wounds or mortal wounds on a 6. To reflect the fact that they're hunters of great beasts we get the Monster Hunters rule, which allows them to pick from one of three abilities when fighting monsters. They can either pile in an extra 3", add 1 to their hit rolls, or cause a mortal wound in addition to their normal damage on the unmodified wound roll of a 6. They also gain immunity to battleshock for the turn if they kill a monster. They have a unique command ability, Bonesplitterz Waaagh! which works the same way as the Ironjawz one, but for Bonesplitterz.

Just like with the Ironjawz they have separate sets of command traits to pick from. There are six for Wurrgog Prophets and Big Bosses, and three for wizards, meaning the Wurrgog Prophets actually have nine to choose from. Waaagh!-monger will probably see a lot of use since it gives you a command point each of your turns on a 4+. Their artifacts are split up similarly, but into heroes and wizards, once again meaning your wizards have nine to choose from. The Big Wurrgog Mask is back, but isn't quite as killy. Instead you pick an enemy unit within range and roll up to 3 dice and for each roll of a 3+ you inflict D3 mortal wounds on them, but for each roll of a 1 you do the wounds on your self instead. The spell lore has six to pick from, with several of the spells retaining the super powered version of the spell if you roll well enough that they had in their old Battletome. Breath of Gorkamorka for example lets you pick a friendly unit and double their move and give them Fly, but if you rolled a double to cast you can triple their move instead. I think we'll see Gorkamorka's War Cry a lot since it does damage, and makes the enemy unit fight last, which is pretty key in the current meta.

The Bonesplitterz have three Warclans to pick from; the Bonegrinz, Icebone, and Drakkfoot. Drakkfoot has caught the attention of a lot of people since it lets you ignore the Ethereal rule, but there isn't a whole lot of rend in the army to begin with, so I don't know if it will make a huge deal. Icebone have a pretty good ability with Freezing Strike, which improves the rend by 1 if you had a unmodified wound roll of 6. Both the Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz have a narrative battleplan that accompanies them. The Ironjawz one has you basically attacking everything you can, while the Bonesplitterz are all about bringing down monsters.

The last set of Allegiance Abilities is the Big Waaagh! This is a combined force of both Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz. The main ability here is The Big Waaagh! which is a set of points you collect throughout the game that let you access special abilities. You collect the points through a few ways, but a simple explanation of it is you get points for having your general alive, having certain heroes in your army, for charging, and for both heroes and unit being in combat. You can only ever have 30 Waaagh! point at any one time. There are seven different abilities you can gain, which can help boost magic, help you move faster, adding 1 to your hit rolls, and more. The ability that requires the most points, WAAAGH!, lets you use the Da Big Waaagh! command ability. This adds 1 to the attacks of your army across the entire board. If you use Da Big Waaagh! command ability you have to roll a dice to see what happens to your points. You can either lose half of them, all of them, or even lose none of them. All of these abilities are cumulative, meaning your army will just keep getting meaner as the game goes on. You also have access to another command ability 'Ere we go! 'Ere we go! 'Ere we go!, which lets you generate more Waaagh! points for having Orruks models close to the hero who is using it. As far as command traits, artifacts, and spells and such go, you just pick from either the Ironjawz or Bonesplitterz tables depending on what your general is.

Both the Ironjawz and the Bonesplitterz have one mega battalion a piece and six smaller ones to pick from. These are all amended versions of their existing warscroll battalions. The ever popular Ironfist lets the battalion's Big Boss, which is a unit champion you pick who gets an extra wound, use the Mighty Destroyers command ability as if they were a Megaboss and without spending a command point once per turn. The Kunnin Rukk for the Bonesplitterz has been toned down a bit, by limiting the max size of any unit to 20 models, meaning you won't have 30 'Arrowboyz shooting at you each hero phase. There are several good options here, and I think we'll continue seeing warscroll battalions being a staple in most orruk lists.

I'm not going to go through all of the Warscrolls because there are a lot and you can read them all for yourself in the App for free. Everything that was in the past Battletomes is back with slight tweak, plus the addition of the Ironjwaz Warhammer Underworlds warband. There has been a lot of stream lining where needed, such as with the Brute Boss' Klaw attack, which is now combined with his Smasha and just has a simple weapon profile instead of any auto-hitting shenanigans. Stuff like this just cleans up the game a lot and makes playing with and against the army easier. Gordrakk has also had some changes, with his command ability now just being a super-powered version of the normal Megaboss' ability. There's a lot of battleline if in this army as well, with most of the Ironjawz stuff being battleline in either an Ironjawz or a Big Waaagh! army.

As you can see, there's a lot for prospective warbosses to sink their teeth into here. With the three different allegiances you have a lot of different ways to play the army. Even if you only have Ironjawz models for instance, you can still play them as either Ironjawz or Big Waaagh!, you don't need the Bonesplitterz models, and vice versa. This also gives you a great reason to paint one or two other orruk units you normally wouldn't without committing to an entirely new allegiance. They've taken the existing lore that we've already had and expanded it and deepened it. It definitely feels more real to me now, in the same fashion they've done with a lot of the lore since AoS2. I think this will be a very popular book amongst greenskin general, and probably spawn quite a few new Waaaghs! too.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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