Wednesday, March 31, 2021

REVIEW: Broken Realms - Teclis

The Broken Realms saga continues, this time with everyone's favorite aelven master of magic, Teclis. Faced with the literal embodiment of death and stagnation itself, what will the twin god do?

The movers and shakers in the mortal realms all seem to be making their power plays lately, with Teclis stepping into the ring after Morathi. Here we see his story unfold as he goes up against the main antagonist during the Soul Wars, Nagash. In addition to the unfolding narrative, we also get some new rules for several armies, including Maggotkin of Nurgle, Cities of Sigmar, Flesh-eaters, Ossiarch Bonereapers, and a whole host of new units and rules for the Lumineth. Since all of these new Lumineth units are also in their new battletome, and from what I understand, there's no difference, even with the lore bits, I will be covering all the Lumineth stuff when I cover that book instead so I don't repeat myself. 

Just like with Broken Realms: Morathi I'll only be covering the story loosely because I don't want to ruin the enjoyment of you reading it yourself. This is a review, not a wikipedia article laying out the plot of a movie beat for beat. Having said that, I will definitely be covering some of what happens, so if you wan't to be completely surprised by the story, here's you warning:


This opening, essentially the prologue, is super strong and had me hooked right away. Since we didn't really get to explore Hysh at all back when the Soul Wars started we rewind the clock a bit to right after the Necroquake. The initial assault of Nighthaunts that spread across the realms after Nagash's gambit is just hitting the cities of Hysh. At Settler's Gain, a human city, they stand little chance against the ghostly army and are almost overrun until Teclis himself shows up. He single handily banishes almost the entire Nighthaunt force, with only one Deathrider making it all the way back to Nagashizzar to report on what happened. There, before Nagash and the assembled Mortarchs of Mannfred, Arkhan, and Neferata, the rider begins to explain his failure when a mote of magic appears and turns into a projection of Teclis. The god of light basically tells Nagash that he's gone too far this time and that he will stop it. It's a great little confrontation, with Nagash calling him Teclis of Ulthuan and Teclis calling Nagash Nehekharen. With that, we're off to the races.

The story is then divided into three parts. The first part deals with Teclis' invasion of the Ossiarch empire within Shyish, the second with the Mortarchs' invasion of the various realms, and lastly the final confrontation between the two gods. The Lumineth invasion of Shyish is more to teach a lesson and make a statement than to actually conquer the lands. Teclis seeks to show Nagash that nowhere is safe from his retribution. To complete this goal he sets out to destroy a symbolically important site, three massive statues raised in tribute to the Ossiarchs. With Katakros occupied in the Eight Points, it falls to his lesser generals to defend the realm. Using the magic of the mountains, the Lumineth pull giant floating islands out of the ground to more easily traverse the Realm of Death. These are eventually brought low and then the aelves are forced to defend them as strongpoints. Just as it seems the Lumineth are trapped between insurmountable numbers of Bonereapers, a reserve force of Alariths arrives from the rear, wiping out the Bonereapers and toppling the statues.

Next we get to see more of Nagash's plan. Not only did he seek to create the Shyish Nadir to pull all of the Realm of Death into its final embrace, but he sought to pull all of the other realms into it as well. To accomplish this he needs to corrupt key realmgates that connect the other realms to Shyish, essentially creating mini-Nadirs at their locations. He entrusts his top three Mortarchs to complete this, with Mannfred going to Ghyran, Neferata to Chamon, and Arkhan to Hysh. In Ghyran, not only does Mannfred have to contend with the Sylvaneth defenders, but also the forces of Nurgle that now occupy it. The realmgate he seeks to corrupt is a little too close to the domains of Horticulus Slimux, who isn't happy to see Death rearing its sterile head in his garden. Meanwhile, Neferata has to fight off both the Kharadron who stumble upon her plan, and the Lumineth who answer their distress call. Most interesting of the three though is Arkhan's invasion of Hysh. One thing that stood out to me here is how the Lumineth responded to the invasion of the Bonereapers. As they fought in the high mountain passes, the Lumineth resorted to burning all of their dead to deny the Bonereapers the bones they needed to replenish their ranks. While it sat ill with the aelves to do this, it made the Bonereapers unable to rebuild their warriors, ensuring any losses they suffered during the campaign stuck. We also get to see one of the coolest rematches ever with Arkhan versus Eltharion. If you read the End Time: Nagash, then you know that Eltharion has a bone to pick with the great necromancer's top liche. 

He is where I'll leave the story so that you can enjoy the twists and turns for yourself. One thing I noticed is that there were a lot more references to the Old World here than we see in most AoS lore. Not only are there call backs to the events of the End Times multiple times, but the three Mortarchs present got a little blurb about them that was the least ambiguous about their origins that I've yet seen. I feel like the usual lore treats the events before AoS as myth, but here it just straight up says stuff like how Neferata was from Nehekhara and was the first of the vampires, or how Mannfred pretty much brought the events of the End Times to fruition through his betrayal. Besides getting a little joy every time I see Nehekhara mentioned, this book really rewards people who are familiar with stuff from the Old World, and especially the End Times. It does enough explaining that those who aren't familiar will understand whats going on, but it definitely has an easter egg feel to it. In comparison to Broken Realms: Morathi, the story here is a lot more straight forward, which is to be expected. Morathi is the master of schemes and misdirection, while Nagash is not known for being subtle. There's also an interesting mention of Tyrion being off fighting something much more dangerous to explain his absence, which is a nice setup for something else down the road. I've always been more of a Tyrion fan than Teclis, so let's hope it's not too long before the superior brother makes his appearance. 

Now we move onto the rules section of the book. This starts out with everything we need to play through the campaign of the story. This includes the Streets of Death rules, Realms of Battle for Preatoris, Invidia, and Ymetrica, and 6 narrative battleplans to recreate the major moments from the story.

Following this are the battletome updates. This starts out with the true star of AoS, the Maggotkin of Nurgle. The grandfather gets three updated warscrolls in the form of the Sloppity Bilepiper, Spoilpox Scrivener, and the Beast of Nurgle. All three of these have been greatly improved which is fantastic since they're amazing sculpts! I have all of them painted already just because I loved the models so much, but now they'll perform even better on the tabletop. The Bilepiper now has a new Jolly Gutpipes rule, which allows him to pick from three different songs he can play. Each of these grants buffs to nearby Nurgle Daemon units, or debuffs to enemy units. You get a +1 attack buff, a mortal wound on 6s buff, and a debuff to enemy units that prevent them from piling in. You're only allowed to use one of these buffs on a unit at a time, regardless of how many Bilepipers you have. They also have amazing names like, "My Love is Like a Ripe, Ripe Fart." Beautiful. The Scrivener has a similar mechanic with his Keep Counting, I'm Watching You rule. The main difference is that the Bilepiper's rule is a bubble effect, so multiple units can be affected, while the Scrivener has you pick one unit to receive the buff. These include +1 attack, +1 rend, and +1 save. With these two guys, and the Great Unclean One, as well as some of the Locus abilities, you can now get a ridiculous number of attacks out of some units. Plaguebearers can be +3 attacks, while Plague Drones can be +4 attacks! That's 5 attacks per model with their stinger.

The Beast of Nurgle also gets a huge buff, with overall better rules, plus what are essentially impact hits. When it charges, on  2+, it does D3 mortal wounds. In addition to this, it can still retreat and charge, as well as having the Acid Slime Trail, which does D3 mortal wounds when it retreats on a 4+. This means you can charge in, do D3 mortals, then attack as normal with his much improved attack profile, then in your next turn, retreat, do another D3 mortals, then charge in again for another D3 mortals! Obviously this won't happen every time since you need to roll to see if you cause the wounds, but there's a good chance you can pull it off at least once per game. He also has +1 wounds compared to his old warscroll, so just all around a huge improvement. I really enjoyed painting my Beast so now I think I may add another one or two into my army. One thing to keep in mind though, the impact hits are worded as per UNIT, so if you want to maximize the damage on the charge, taking units of 1 may be the way to go. They also get a new warscroll battalion structured around the new boxset that came out for them with this release with two Plaguebearer units and the two heralds. The big boost here is that the first time a Plaguebearer units from the battalion dies you can bring on a new unit of 10 models. It's also worth mentioning that by buying the Invidian Plaguehost box, plus the regular Start Collecting for them give you a great start to a Nurgle demon army.

The next big rules update is for a new City of Sigmar, Settler's Gain. This one is located in Hysh, and lets you add one Lumineth unit to your army for every four units. You also get one extra artifact for a Freeguild hero or Collegiate Arcane wizard, the latter unit also receives +1 to cast. There are three command traits to pick from, with Strategic Mastermind being a good choice with an extra command point on a 4+ each hero phase they're alive. The six artifacts can only be taken by a Collegiate Arcane Wizard, and the stand outs to me are probably the ones that let you cast an extra spell, or that help keep you alive longer. They also have three spells to pick from, with Illuminate letting you pick an enemy unit within range and getting +1 to hit against them with missile weapons from your whole army until your next hero phase. Their warscroll battalion is one battlemage, one Luminark, and one Hurricanum, and it basically boosts the attack on the Luminark as well as it's Aura of Protection. 

Lastly we have a new warscroll battalion for both the Flesh-eaters and the Bonereapers. The Flesh-eaters' one is one Archregent, one unit of Horrors, and one unit of Ghouls. The units are immune from battleshock as long as they're within range of the Archregent. The Archregent can also use the Ravenous Crusaders command ability without spending a command point once per battle. The Bonereapers one is a Liege-Kavalos and two units of Deathriders. Any time you use the Rally Back command ability on a unit from this battalion you get a relentless discipline point back on a 4+. It's worth mentioning that the Cities, Flesh-eaters, and Bonereapers battalions are all tied to them having a specific keyword, such as Hollowmourne for the Flesh-eaters. The last 47 pages of the book are the updates for the Lumineth battletome, with all of the new rules, lore, and warscrolls for the new units that just came out. Since this is identical to what's in the new Lumineth book, I will cover those when I do my review of that battletome.

Overall this is a great continuation of the Broken Realms saga. Like I said previously, the story seems more straight forward than the Morathi one, but that's most likely just due to her being all about manipulation and lies. Without spoiling any of the ending, this book has major ramifications for the setting of AoS going forward and the Soul Wars plot line in particular. I'll be super interested to see what happens in the future with some of these characters. While it's a good ending for the events of this book, I do have to admit that parts of it felt a little underwhelming for some major plot lines from the last 2 - 3 years that also seemingly got wrapped up. I could also be wrong and maybe there's more to them in future books, but it felt a little too convenient. Especially since the Lumineth weren't even around for more than half of those plot lines and suddenly they're here. I also noticed that there wasn't much new artwork to accompany this book. I would have loved to see a big two page spread of Nagash versus Teclis, like how we got with Morathi's apotheosis in the last book. The rules section provides some much needed updates to the Maggotkin book and now finally my all Nurgle demon army may be competitive. It's nice to see the Cities continue to get expanded as well. I was a bit disappointed to see only Aqshy and Ghyran represented in the original battletome. Now we have Ulgu and Hysh as well. I would still really like to see rules for some of the other major cities such as Glymmsforge, Lethis, and Excelsis. It's nice that Lumineth players who already have the battletome can buy just this book to get all the updated rules, but honestly, if I was them, I would just buy their new battletome as well. It's much easier carrying around one book instead of two to play your army. If you're a fan of the AoS story then you'll definitely want to read this book.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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