Thursday, September 23, 2021

REVIEW: Orruk Warclans

The first of the 3rd edition Battletomes are here in the form of the Orruk Warclans and the Stormcast Eternals. Today I'm delving into the green menace of the mortal realms in the form of the Warclans, but I will also be review format and rules changes in general with the two book and the transition to a new edition.

The transition to a new edition is always exciting! We get new lore, new rules, new rules formats, and new design changes to our beloved Battletomes. All of those things are present here with the Orruk Warclans. The first, fairly obvious change is the cover. We now have a snazzy red "bar" at the top with the AoS logo, and a "gold" bar at the very top and bottom. Besides that, the general layout seems the same. It seems like AoS3 is bringing back the Warhammer Red that was a staple in Fantasy Battle. I get it, it's iconic for the system, but I kind of liked that AoS was doing its own thing. I thought the white that was used in 1st edition, and a lot in 2nd edition, was very classy. I don't hate the red at all, and I'm sure I'll get used to it over time. The red also runs down the spine of the books now. The actual artwork for this cover is good. I'm not surprised to see a Kruleboyz orruk front and center as they are the big push for the orruks this edition. We still get Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz in the background as well, so everything is represented. Having said that, I think the cover for the previous version of Warclans from 2nd edition was one of the absolute best pieces of cover artwork that AoS has ever had.

Once you crack it open the layout of the lore section is pretty much the same. When we transitioned from 1st to second we had quite a few changes here. The font got smaller, and it went from two columns a page, to three. As far as I can tell it's more or less the same from 2nd to 3rd edition in that respect. We still have the art columns along the very sides of the page too. The one major addition I've noticed are random little quotes in the margins, or beneath pictures. This is something they started doing in 9th edition 40k as well, so I'm not surprised to see it here.

The lore opens up with a general overview of the orruks, with the addition of the Kruleboyz. Not much has changed here, and I'll get more into the lore of the Kruleboyz in a moment. The biggest change actualy come with the next section, which is the timeline! The way it's laid out is the same, but it's been moved up to be before any of the subfaction lore. Previously the timeline would come right before the bestiary. One big change I noticed in the timeline is the introduction of the Ironjawz. Maybe it's my own fuzzy memory, but I swear in the 1st edition Ironjawz book it stated that they didn't develop as a society until the Age of Chaos. That it was the constant fighting during those centuries that made the orruks that would become Ironjawz as big and strong as they are. Now its saying they came about well before then in the Age of Myth. Maybe this is something they changed in the last Warclans book already, but I don't remember it. The Kruleboyz also make their appearance right near the end of the Age of Myth. Their lack of presence in the storyline so far is explained as them hiding in the swamps. It's only the arrival of Kragnos that has made them bold enough to go on the offensive again.

One of the things that I'm always excited to find out about in timelines is what new events have transpired since the last story advancement. Here we see the siege of Excelsis from the Kragnos book, but what's most exciting to me is what happened with Gordrakk afterward. After failing to take the city and getting fairly beaten up during the process (though he still gave those 'umies a good krumping), Gordrakk feels the need to prove how tough he is still. To that end he tracks down the giant worm/godbeast creature that houses the realmgate to the Eightpoints in its mouth that we last saw all the way back in the Godbeasts book. He tricks it into following him to a canyon filled with arachnarok spiders, who then trap it in their webs. Gordrakk then beats it into submission and forces its mouth open. He figures, what better way to prove how tough he is then to lead an invasion into the Eightpoints and take on Archaon himself. I love this development. Archaon will now be fighting off both Gordrakk and Katakros on his own home turf. 

After this we delve further into the culture and organization of each of the three main orruk sub-factions, the Kruleboyz, Ironjawz, and Bonesplitterz. The new kids on the block get center stage, and also the largest portion of the book to themselves. Where as the Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz each get six pages total, the Kruleboyz get at least double that. They're the newest faction with zero pre-explained backstory, so I get it. They're also the focus of this new book. Presumably Warclans would not have gotten an update this early in 3rd edition if it wasn't for them. Their last book isn't that old yet.

The Kruleboyz are the sneakier side of the orruks. They primarily worship Mork and see the value in tactics and underhanded schemes over brute force. They're also particularly vicious in temperament, and seem a bit like grots in that regard. They call the the swamps of the realms their home and lead raiding parties out of the boggy grounds. They also like to lure their victims into the swamps to fight on their own home turf. The iconic scareshields they carry were crafted to scare off the beasts and monsters of the realms, but when coupled with the psychoactive fumes of their shamans and the swamps themselves, they do a good job of striking fear into opposing warriors as well. Kruleboyz hold their shamans in high regard and they play a large role in leading their society. There's also a good bit in here where it talks about how they deal with enemy fortresses or cities. One way is to wait until it gets so big that it must expand, as with the Dawnbringer Crusades, and then strike at the less defended outposts. The other, and in my opinion, more amusing way, is to trick something bigger into cracking open the defenses, like a Mega Gargant, and then going in for the kill afterward.

It also goes over how they organize their warclans, which are broken down into smaller tribes. They group up pretty easily, with the melee stuff, the shooty stuff, the enslavers, the beast tamers, and the auxiliaries, or grots and hobgrots, each in their own tribe. The hobgrots are worth mentioning as well as they're the intermediaries with the chaos duardin. They trade the slaves that the Kruleboyz capture to the duardin for armor and weapons, which are then traded back to the orruks. Neither of the two wants to directly interact with the other, so the hobgrots are more than happy to oblige. They're also more militaristic and organized than the rest of the Kruleboyz.

The Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz haven't really changed at all from the last iteration of the book, so you can read about them in my last review here.

I'm happy to report that we still have a traditional bestiary, or unit section, with the new 3rd edition battletomes. This was something I was a bit worried about since the 9th edition Codexes for 40k diverged a bit in that regard. Each unit still gets its own unique entry here. Gobsprakk was one that I was very interested to check out, as he seems to be the counterpart to Gordrakk. Once Kragnos was released from his prison, Gobsprakk went and sought him out. Through some miracle of Mork, he could understand what Kragnos was saying, even though no one else speaks his language. He formed an alliance with the earthquake god and brought him back to the Kruleboyz. Since he's the only one who can understand him, Gobsprakk has now become his herald to the rest of the orruks tribes. All of the Kruleboyz stuff is pretty interesting to be honest, and I'm excited to see where else they might expand the range in the future. The Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz come after, and has been stated before, not much has changed on their end except for the progression of Gordrakk's story.

This is followed by the gallery section, where the Kruleboyz get most of the attention again. Their scenic photos are awesome and I really like the drab, brown, swampy backgrounds used for them. It's perfectly fitting for their favored choice of home. The Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz get two pages each, which actually means that a lot of unit and color scheme variations don't get shown off for them, which is a little sad. The painting guides section has the tips from the last edition of this book, plus a bunch of new ones for the Kruleboyz. I really love these sections in the Battletomes as they tend to have some really good paint recipes. I've used several hobby tips from Battletomes in the past on other projects.

Now we're onto the rules. I know I say this every time, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time here. There are lots of people who cover this sort of stuff way more thoroughly than I do. Especially with the edition change, almost everything has at least been tweaked in some way. We now get little colors coded banners on the edge of the pages like in 40k, so you can tell what type of rules you're looking at fairly quickly. Army wide rules have a brownish red banner, narrative play has green, and matched play has purple.

The orruks have four main sub-factions, the Kruleboyz, Ironjawz, Bonesplitterz, and the Big Waagh! You have to pick one of these for your army. The first thing I noticed is a lot has been streamlined. In the past you might have three different artifact tables for one sub-faction, each with six artifacts to pick from, then a bunch of command traits, and so on. The truth is, half of these were almost never taken anyway. Now everything has been reduced a bit. Each of them now only have a handful to pick from for each. Kruleboyz for instance only have three command traits and three artifacts. Ironjawz and Bonesplitterz each have a bit more, as their's is also split between wizards and non-wizards.

The Kruleboyz have access to Venom-Encrusted Weapons, which does mortal wounds on a hit of a 6 for all Kruleboyz Orruks. So, no Hobgrots sadly. They also have Dirty Tricks, which lets them pick from one of four different dirty tricks they can use at the start of the game. These range from enemy units all being -1 to wound in the first battle round, to the Kruleboyz playing picking a number of the enemy units to be put in reserve. Each sub-faction also has its own version of a Waagh! special rule. The Kruleboyz one lets the general and two units within range fight first that round of combat, one after the other, but is a once per game ability. I like the Supa Sneaky command trait, which lets you pick one of your units before determining who has the first turn and redeploy them anywhere on the table more than 9" away from an enemy unit. Beastkilla Slop is a devastating artifact which can potentially do up to 12 mortal wounds to an enemy monster within 3" once per battle.

The Ironjawz still have Mighty Destroyers, which is a command ability that lets you pick an Ironjawz unit in your hero phase and either move them, charge them, or pile them in depending on how close they are to an enemy unit. They also still have Smashing and Bashing. If one of your Ironjawz units wipes out an enemy unit in the combat phase, then you can immediately pick another unit to fight. This can potentially keep on chaining in other Ironjawz units if you do well enough in combat. The Ironjawz Waagh! adds 1 to all charge rolls and improves melee rend by 1 army wide for the whole turn, but is also once per battle. I like Hulking Brute as a command trait as it essentially give the general impact hits when they charge. Destroyer is a great artifact which lets you add 3 to the damage of one of their melee weapons once per battle for that whole combat phase.

The Bonesplitterz have their Warpaint which gives them a 6+ ward save. The Spirit of Gorkamorka makes hits rolls of 6 count as two hits as long as they have five or more models, and Tireless Trackers allows half of your Bonesplitterz units to move up to 5" before the game begins. Their Waagh! turns the Warpaint ward into a 4+ for the round. Sadly, the Bonesplitterz seem to have lost all of their monster hunting rules. I like the streamlining overall, but that was also such a big part of their lore, and is especially relevant with how important monsters are now. I like Great Hunter as a command trait, which extends the Tireless Tracker move to 8", and Glowin' Tattooz for an artifact which increases their ward by 2. So, on a turn where you use their Waagh!, your hero will have a ward of 2+.

The Big Waaagh! uses Venom-Encrusted Weapons, Mighty Destroyers, and Warpaint, since it allows all three types of orruk. It also has 'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go!, which is a heroic action that gives you another way to generate Waaagh! points. This leads into the Power of the Waaagh! You generate Waaagh! points each turn through a variety of ways, and the give you cumulative bonuses. If you have 8 points, then you can add 1 to run rolls. If you have 10, then you add 1 to charge rolls on top of that, and so on. You can basically get your orruks up to +1 run, charge, casting, dispelling, unbinding, hit, and wound if you get enough points. At 24 points you can spend all of your points for the WAAAGH! ability in the combat phase, which also gives you +1 attack as well, but at the end of that phase you lose all your bonuses and Waaagh! point and have to start generating them again. Lastly, there is a mount trait table, with six traits to pick from. Mean 'Un makes your Monstrous Rampage do D6 mortal wounds instead of D3, which is a favorite of mine. What proper orruk doesn't like doing more damage?!

The Kruleboyz, Ironjawz, and Bonesplitterz all have their own spell lore to, but each of these only has four spells to pick from. To be honest, all of the Kruleboyz spells seem pretty good. Black Pit gives you a good tool for dealing with hordes, Choking Mists can debuff a key enemy unit, Sneaky Miasma lets you move one of your monsters for free, and Nasty Hex deprives an enemy unit of any ward saves! Ironjawz still have the most important spell of all, Foot of Gork. Funnily enough, in the lore for the Wurgog Prophets of the Bonesplitterz it specifically mentions them casting this spell, but they have no access to it since it's Ironjawz only. Gorkamorka's Warcry for Bonesplitterz seems pretty good, making an enemy unit fight last in combat.

Each of the three factions also have three warclans to pick from. These are equivalent to Stormhosts for Stormcast, or chapters for Space Marines. In the past, these would have had a unique rule, command trait, artifact, and command ability. Now they've all been simplified down to one unique rule. It's a bit sad, as there's a lot of flavor in some of the old ones, but I also really like the slimming down on the rules.  The Grinnin' Blades for example, the red shielded Kruleboyz, are not visible to enemy units if they're more than 12" away for the first battle round. Big Yellers gives a buff for shooting, while Skulbugz has the potential to debuff an enemy unit in the combat phase. The Ironjawz have the Ironsunz, Bloodtoofs, and Da Choppas, while the Bonesplitterz have Bonegrinz, Icebone, and Drakkfoot. I like the Bloodtoofs for Ironjawz which lets your Gore-Grunta units either pile in again, or move or charge at the end of the combat phase, making them super fast. Drakkfoot is cool for Bonesplitterz since they ignore all enemy ward saves, but I suspect we'll see a lot of Bonegrinz, which adds 1 to the attacks of Arrowboys.

The Path to Glory section is much expanded from how it was in 2nd edition. It's now much more similar to how Crusade in 40k works, and it looks like each army will be getting its own special rules in their Battletomes for it. When you start your army you have to pick with sub-faction they are. If you do any of the ones besides Big Waaagh! you can still include other units, like Ironjawz in a Kruleboyz army, but there are restrictions. You can also spend glory points to call a Big Waaagh! which lets you use the special rules for Ironjawz units in your Kruleboyz army for instance. Orruk armies also can't upgrade territories, they ransack them instead. They have four unique quests, one of which is to ransack a territory. The other three are all themed around the three sub-factions. 

They also have their own list of Veteran abilities to pick from. This includes three "generic" ones, and three related to the specific sub-factions for six total. The Kruleboyz one for example is Backstabberz, and allows the unit to fight immediately after another friendly unit has fought within 12" once per battle. There's also a way to upgrade your Killaboss into a Killaboss on Great Gnashtoof, and then onto a Corpse-rippa Vulcha using Heroic Upgrades. The same goes for a Megaboss getting a Maw-krusha. The orruks also have six unique territories they can roll for including things like a Duardin Mine, or a City of the Dead. When they ransack the territory each one gives them a different bonus. The Duardin Mine gives them D6 extra glory points, plus glory points equal to that territory's tally. The City of the Dead on the other hand gives you 3D6 glory points and one hero who is not your warlord 15 renown points. All of these things are in addition to what they can normally pick and choose from in the core book. Lastly, there are two Path to Glory battleplans, Tornado of Destruction and Monster Hunt. Interestingly, there isn't one themed around the Kruleboyz.

This section also include the old warscroll battalions and there has been quite a change. With the Ironjawz for example, it appears that you can no longer just take an Ironfist battalion on its own anymore to get a bonus. Instead the bonus, adding 1 to the attacks of units that charge while within 3" of another unit from this battalion, is only unlocked if you take an Ironjawz Brawl, which was formally the mega battalion. The Brawl contains the Ardfist, Brutefist, Gorefist, Ironfist, and Weirdfist. So to take this, at a minimum you will need to take 1 Warchanter, 1 Weirdnob, 9 units of Brutes, 4 units of Gore-gruntas, and 2 units of 'Ardboyz. These are all for narrative play only, but I'm a bit disappointed to see the smaller warscroll battalions going away. The Kruleboyz have something similar with their Klaw, and the Bonesplitterz with their Big Rukk.

What that we move onto the Matched Play section. This is something entirely new for this edition with the introduction of Grand Strategies, Battle Tactics, and Core Battalions. Both this book and the Stormcast one have unique versions of these, so I think it would be safe to assume that every army will be getting their own eventually. There are five Grand Strategies to pick from, one for Kruleboyz, one for Ironjawz, one for Bonesplitterz, a generic one that any Warclans army can use, and one that requires your army to have Kragnos, Gordrakk, or Gobsprakk. The Kruleboyz one is about having units lefts alive, the Ironjawz one is about your general killing heroes, and the Bonesplitterz one is about controlling territory, so they're all themed around each army's lore. The generic one, Waaagh!, is completed if your general or a battleline unit is wholly within enemy territory, while the last one is completed if fewer than 3 enemy units are left on the battlefield.

There are six Battle Tactics to pick from, with three of them again themed around the sub-factions. There's also one themed around Kragnos, a generic one, and a Big Waaagh! one. Lastly we have three Core Battalions. The Ironjawz Fist gives you the Slayers bonus, and can have 2-5 Ironjawz units that aren't a leader, behemoth, or artillery. The Kruleboyz Finga gives the Strategists bonus and requires you to have a leader with 10 or less wounds, and at least 2 troops units with the Kruleboyz keyword. You can also take one additional troop and a unit of Hobgrot Slittaz if you want, but I don't see why you would add the Hobgrots in since Strategists just gives you an extra command point once per battle. The Hobgrots can still use that command point whether or not they're in the battalion. Lastly, there's the Bonesplitterz Rukk, which give you the Swift bonus and has a leader with 10 or less wounds, and 2-5 troops units. These are nice additions and I'm all about adding more unique flavor into armies.

The Warscrolls themselves have all changed in one way or another, so I'm not going to go through them here. In general, things have been streamlined. Extra rules have been dropped and weapon profiles have been lumped together. For example, the Boss Klaw and Brute Smasha on the Brutes boss no longer has any special rules associated with it. Most warscrolls only have one or two specials rules on it now. I'm definitely a fan of simplifying things down. Some warscrolls near the end of 2nd edition had a ton of extra rules on them. I think it's a positive thing as long as what made that unit unique is either maintained or changed in some way that still reads as true for that unit. The new Kruleboyz stuff seems like a lot of fun to, and they definitely have a play style that is unique to them when compared to the other orruk stuff. There are 36 warscrolls in total in this book, so there's definitely a lot to work with. 

Overall I really like this book. I think it did a good job of introducing the Kruleboyz into the orruk culture, without taking too much away from the Ironjawz or Bonesplitterz. Their lore is fun, and I'm excited to see the storyline continue to advance for characters like Gordrakk. As a harbinger of what 3rd edition battletomes will look like I'm pretty optimistic. I like the layout and overall look of everything, and streamlining the rules will hopefully make the game move a bit faster. This does come with the trade off of some universal enhancements which won't be in your army's battletome, but since they've managed to get all of that into the General's Handbook in an effective manner, I don't think that's too much of a hassle.

Like I said last week, this will be my last review that I'm 100% certain I was going to do for 2021. I won't be doing a review on here of the Stormcast one, it's just too massive. If more Battletomes come out before the end of the year there's still a chance I'll do a review of it. It'll just depend on the circumstances at the time the book comes out.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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