Thursday, June 3, 2021

REVIEW: Broken Realms - Kragnos

The final chapter in the Broken Realms saga is here, with the newest god on the block, Kragnos! This embodiment of destruction is here to break realms and chew bubblegum, and he's all out of bubblegum. What momentous events lead into the new edition of AoS? Read on to find out!

As well as being the finale of the Broken Realms saga, this book also has the distinct honor of introducing a brand new character as it's leading antagonist. As well as the conclusion of the unfolding story, this book also has rules for Kragnos himself, Sylvaneth, Gloomspite Gitz, Slaanesh, Seraphon, Skaven, Beasts of Chaos, and the Cities of Sigmar in the form of rules for one of their best cities, Excelsis! Just like with the previous books, I'm going to go over some of the story, but not all of it, as reading it is half the fun. Plus, I really think this is the best of the Broken Realms books! The writing and the story overall is top notch. So, you have been warned. As always, thank you to Games Workshop for sending me this copy of Kragnos for free to review.


This book actually kicks off with a bit of a prelude to the main action, as it comes before the introduction to act one. Here we join Alarielle and the Sylvaneth, which is really kind of a follow up to where the Teclis book left off. With the Necroquake subsided, she sees it as the perfect time for life to rebound after so much death. Invoking a Rite of Life she sends waves of life magic pouring out across the realms. To do this she has to perform a ritual while fighting off Nurgle infested Beastmen. She manages to fend them off though as she raises the Oak of Ages up and replants it within Ghyran. It's also kind of implied that maybe the forest of Athel Loren regrows around it? It's a little vague here and it might have just been Alarielle thinking of how it reminded her of Athel Loren due to the Oak of Ages. That's a pretty big deal either way though, and I'm excited to see what this could mean for the Sylvaneth in AoS3, and maybe the Kurnothi and Wanderers too! I think it would be cool to see a combined book for all of them. As the magic she unleashes spread across the realms it also manages to finally crumble the mountain prison of Kragnos, which had already been weakened by the Necroquake.

Act one takes us to the city of Excelsis in Ghur. If you're a fan of AoS fiction than you're probably already familiar with this city. It's been used in several novels as a major setting, including the Callis and Toll books, as well as several from Josh Reynolds. Due to this it has a ton of character and background to it already. The book takes a bit of time explaining and exploring the city for those unfamiliar with it. Excelsis sits on the Coast of Tusks, built around the Spear of Mallus. This is a chunk of the world-that-was that can be mined for "glimmerings" essentially slivers of it that grant prophecies. The size of the sliver denotes how potent and accurate the prophecy is and this has essentially became Excelsis' form of currency. There was also a major Tzeentch uprising in the past, the almost toppled the city (read City of Secrets for more), and the armies of the city, including the Knights Excelsior Stormcast, are always fighting off orruks as well. Lately, a cult of sigmarite fanatics has taken root in the city. They abhor magic as well as aelves, who they see as being associated with magic. These fanatics have started abducting aelves off of the street and just straight up killing them. This has drawn the eye of the Order of Azyr in the form of the ven Densts, who also enlist the help of the White Reaper, a fearsome Knight Excelsior who has a reputation for purging the unfaithful. 

As they're investigating the cult a massive Skaven assault rises up from the sewers. I really love this moment, as the way it's described I can just imagine the green warpflame explosions going up in the distance as the ven Densts look on in horror. The city then has to fight off the Skaven incursion within its own walls. While this is going on the forces of Slaanesh also use all of the aelven bloodshed from the fanatic cult to bring forth the newborn twin demons of Dexcessa and Synessa within the heart of the city, though they lay in hiding for now. Another consequence of the fanatic cult is that the majority of the aelves within the city, very understandably, leave. This included the entire Scourge Privateer fleet that usually guards its docks, leaving it very vulnerable.

Act two sees us leave the city for the wilds of Ghur and the rampaging newly released god Kragnos. He was imprisoned back during the Age of Myth by Lord Kroak and basically has no idea what's going on when he's freed. He does see his ancestral homeland off in the distance though and begins his headlong charge towards it. Meanwhile, a massive army of Destruction, led by Gordrakk and Skragrott, is on the march towards Excelsis. Gordrakk already has the skull of a massive godbeast which he has affixed to a battering ram, and Skragrott is trying to subtly guide him towards other magical artifacts that the grot has foreseen to be important to Gordrakk's quest. This doesn't go as well as he hoped, as the orruk is too impatient for it, and would rather get to the krumping right away. A bunch more goes on here, as well as some callbacks to minor character we haven't seen in awhile, but eventually the horde of Destruction runs into Kragnos in the land of Donst. There Gordrakk decides it's a good idea to fight Kragnos, as he's big, hence worth krumping. The god of Destruction has also picked up a Gargant tribe as followers on his way, and the two armies have at it. Eventually, with the magical help of Skragrott, Gordrakk manages to fight Kragnos to a stand still, at which point they essentially look at Excelsis off in the distance and shake hands as they decide there is a better opponent to fight.

This is where I'm going to leave it, but what ensues is the final climatic siege of Excelsis by the largest army of Destruction even seen in the Mortal Realms. It's truly epic and one of the best battle scenes described in AoS. Really, this is very much worth reading on your own! There are so many cool moments from it and tons of awesome confrontations. The one small piece of criticism I have about the book in general is that Kragnos is really not needed for most of the story to happen. Gordrakk and Skragrott are the driving force behind the Destruction army, and continue to be through most of the siege. Kragnos does one pretty important bit in the fight, but if they needed to it could have been accomplished by some other giant monster. I almost feel like calling this Broken Realms: Gordrakk would have been more on point. I think part of this is because Kragnos never talks. He's literally just a giant avatar of Destruction, but he has very little personality at the moment. After the main story wraps up we get little epilogues for each of the four main Broken Realms characters, Morathi, Teclis, Be'lakor, and Kragnos. I really liked the Teclis one as a Death fan, and the final one, Morathi's, has an awesome final moment that could have huge ramifications for one of the races of the Mortal Realms.

The story section is followed by a brief gallery section showing off all of the new models that came out with this book. Broken Realms: Kragnos definitely has the coolest models to come out alongside it. Be'lakor is awesome, but here we get Kragnos, Kroak, and so many more. The rules section starts off with all of the narrative goodness we've come to expect from these books. The campaign rules and Streets of Death are reprinted here, as well as new Realm of Battle rules for the Coast of Tusks in Ghur. We then get six battleplans to recreate all of the most momentous moments from the story.

The battletome updates kicks off with the main man (centaur?) himself, Kragnos. This guy is a beast with 18 wounds, and the potential to deal out 36 mortal wounds to monsters. I'm sure everyone has seen his warscroll by now, so I won't waste anymore time on it. He's definitely worthy of being the god of Destruction though. We then move on to some updates for the Gloomspite Gits. It seems like this is mostly taking the updates that were published in the various White Dwarfs last year, and printing them in an official book. The Bad Moon Loonshrine gets a bit of an overhaul with the main change being that it can now bring back squig, spider, or troggoth units depending on what your general's keyword is. I'm a big fan of this. I think they were trying to get everyone to play a more balanced army that would have standard Moonclan Grots in it anyway, but the more themed armies are definitely what I prefer. Speaking of themed armies, we then get allegiance abilities and battalions for the Jaws of Mork, which are squig based, Glogg's Megamob, which is Troggoth based, and Grimscuttle Tribe, which is spider based. The Jaws of Mork get re-rolls to the move of squigs, an ability to let a damaged Mangler Squig fight at full strength, as well as a command trait and artifact. The battalions are just the previous squig battalions with some extra flavor. The troggoths gets +1 to their regen roll, a command trait that gives you a command point on a 4+, a 5+ mortal wound ignore for your general, and a command ability that lets you ignore spells. The spiders can ignore spells on a 5+, and also get a bonus when attacking wizards or priests. Their command ability lets them pick a unit to retreat and still charge in the same turn, the trait is a once per battle ability that makes all Spiderfang units be affected by the bad moon for the turn, and a bravery buff and debuff artifact.

The Sylvaneth get a boost in the form of a redone warscroll for Alarielle, as well as the new Warsong Revenant. The Awakened Wyldwood also gets a new warscroll with it's Overgrown Wilderness ability now only blocking line of sight if you pass over 3" of the forests, and models with 10 or more wounds can see right through it always. It also doesn't affect Sylvaneth models. The Roused by Magic and Wyldwood abilities got simplified and merged into Vengeful Forest Spirits. Now if a unit is near the forest at the end of the charge phase they suffer D3 mortal wounds on a 6+, and you add 2 to that roll if a wizard or endless spell is within 6" of the forest as well. The battalion consists of Drycha and 2 Spite Revenant units and gives the Spite Revenants -1 rend.

Slaanesh gets its two new heroes in the form of Dexcessa and Synessa. Dexcessa is more about getting in close and causing damage, while Synessa is more of a support and magic hero. They also get a new battalion with the Epitome, a unit of Fiends and a units of Seekers. They get a pretty good anti horde attack which has a you pick a unit in range of the mirror and roll a dice for each model in the unit. On a 6 you do a mortal wound if they're a one wound unit, or D3 mortal wounds if they have more than 1 wound each.

One of the cities I've been waiting for is finally here with Excelsis (come on Lethis and Glymmsforge!). They get Gift of Prophecy which lets you pick a friendly unit once per phase when they fight or shoot and roll a dice. On a 1 you subtract 1 from their hit rolls, otherwise you add 1 to them. They also get a command ability that has you doing mortal wounds back to the enemy if your hero rolls a 6 for their save roll. Excelsis gets three traits, three artifacts, and three spells to pick from. I really like In the Right Place from the traits, which lets you redeploy D3 of your units before the start of the first battle round. Glimmering is probably the standout artifact which lets you choose the result of a dice roll once per battle for a hit, wound, save, run, or charge roll for the bearer. The spells looks to be either reprints or similar to the old Ghur spells from Malign Sorcery with Amber Spear, Flock of Doom, and Cower. Cities also gets two new heroes with the father and daughter duo of the ven Densts. Even though they come packaged together, they are two separate heroes. Their main thing is the ability to target endless spells with their melee AND shooting attacks. Instead of rolling to wound you roll 2D6 and if it's greater than the spell's casting value then it's dispelled. 

Lord Kroak gets a new warscroll to go along with his awesome new model. His spells and command ability seem the same, but he's gotten a bit beefier in other areas. He now has +2 to cast, monsters are counted as 5 models for his Azyrite Force Barrier attacks, and he's gone up from 9 wounds to 18. Most significantly his Dead for Innumerable Ages ability has completely changed. Now at the end of each phase you roll 3 dice and add the number of wound he's suffered that phase to it. If it's 20 or more then he's dead, or if he ever suffers 18 wounds then he's dead right away. This changed from his old rules of ignoring wounds on a 4+.

The Skaven get a bit of a refresh with the ability to hide Weapons Teams in units of Clanrats or Stormvermin, presumably allowing them to survive a bit longer before attacking. There are also mutations to pick from for Hell Pit Abominations and Rat Ogors, essentially traits. The Abominations get six to pick from and the Rat Ogors get three. They also get a new battalion with a Bombardier, a Lightning Cannon, and a unit of Stormfiends. This boosts the Bombardier slightly, and also gives the Shock Gauntlets in the Stormfiends +1 damage when they're close to him.

Finally the Beasts of Chaos get some love. Gors can now re-roll charge rolls when they arrive from ambush, Warherds do impact hits on the charge, and Thunderscorn get a healing bonus. The warscroll for the Beastlord and Jabberslythe also get reworked slightly. The Beastlord can now run and charge alongside his other Gors, the Grisly Trophy rule is an ability instead of a command ability, freeing up a command point for elsewhere. He also gets an exploding hits rule against heroes instead of re-rolls. The Jabberslythe got buffed a bit in the attacking side of things, but its Aura of Madness has been toned down a lot. They also get a battalion with a Shaman, two units of Bullgors, and a Ghorgon. The shaman's staff gets buffed a bit, but the best buff is the +1 to hit for the other units if they're within range of him.

I really enjoyed this as the finale to the Broken Realms saga. In my opinion it's the best of the four books, with some stellar writing and a really engaging story. I think if I had to rank them it would go Kragnos, Morathi, Be'lakor, then Teclis. This also had a lot more of the actual narrative elements in the story, and by that I mean the parts that read as if they are from a novel with dialogue, as opposed to the more history book part of the rest of it. Those parts really helped bring me into the story more. On the rules side I'm really excited to finally see Excelsis make it to the tabletop. Back when Cities of Sigmar came out that was one of the three cities I really wanted to see that didn't make it in. It's been such an important part of the fiction over the past few years. I'm really excited to see where the story goes from here, and the few teasers we've seen from the next edition of AoS seem super promising!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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