AoS Shorts: Your Essential Guide to Age of Sigmar

Skaven Battletome Review (Part 2)

The new Skaven battletome has reunited the clans and is likely to prove a defining moment for the future of Warhammer Age of Sigmar.  Skaven are unique Games Workshop IP and have always been at the core of the Warhammer world (literally and figuratively). Now they have properly been brought into Age of Sigmar with all the toys of Age of Sigmar Second Edition.  As we’ll see, there have been massive changes to both Skaven units’ warscrolls and the surrounding rules and abilities. This army has so many tools available to it that you will easily see it around the top tables at events.

In this post, we break down the book, the allegiance abilities, artefacts, spell lores, battalions and potential army builds.  All while picking out our favourite bits. This will only scratch the surface of the book and I’m sure I’ll need to come back and write more on the rats.  If you want a warscroll by warscroll breakdown you can check that out here. If you are interested in the other half of the Carrion Empire box-set, you can read my Flesh-Eater Courts battletome review.

Now I couldn’t have done this review without the informed help of two local Skaven experts – Aiden Nicol (unhealthily obsessed with Pestilens) and Julien Lestat (Skryre warlock and 2017 NZ Master).

And, as always, check out Dark Fantastic Mills for great 3D printed terrain perfect for wargaming.  Its super versatile and light so worldwide shipping is inexpensive. Use the “aos shorts” discount code for a further 10% off the already decent prices.

Age of Sigmar

Overall assessment on Skaven

So up to this point, Skaven armies at events have either been full Pestilens (having the benefit of a book, plagues and buffed up plague monks) or full Skryre pop-up mortal wound explosion.  That Skryre pop-up build is gone and the army is more balanced as a whole as a result.

What does new Skaven look like? Pure Pestilens is definitely viable and has increased in power,  mixed lists will be much more common and the army will gain the benefit of its new range of 2-cast spell casters.  Masterclan (the Verminlords, Thanquol and Grey Seers) are back with a vengeance and significantly powerful. I expect Skryre will now shift to long-range and support shooting sitting behind the walls of Clanrats and Plague Monks in suitable fashion (although I hear tales of Dan Brewer and Acolytes).

There are so many options in the Skaven book that I’m sure I can only scratch the surface in this review and I look forward to seeing what experienced players like Dan and others do once they have gnawed their way through the whole book and got games in.

The key quick points to note are:

  • The book has viable single clan armies as well as viable mixed clan army builds. Unsurprisingly, the battletome does not really have viable single-drop army builds, but you can get reasonably low.
  • Skaven are expected to have a defining impact on the meta.  The combination of spell-casting, long-range damage, brutal melee damage beasts, significant anti-horde capability and large numbers of bodies themselves mean current successful armies will need to adapt, and you will need to plan to face Skaven at events. Their specific ability will be the potential to neutralise the effectiveness of small buff characters that are so important to some of the top armies (such as Hags, Necromancers, Knight-Vexillor and Branchwraiths).
  • Thanquol is now an absolute combat beast against hordes with four warpfire throwers or an effective combined-arms force multiplier with joint shooting and combat options. The difficulty will be getting him in to or close to combat with full health and power.  However, he will be a massive threat and distraction piece at 400 points.
  • The Verminlord Corruptor is stand-out amazing.  At 260 points you get a highly mobile and deadly combat character for hero-on-hero/behemoth combats, a two-cast wizard with an anti-horde spell with substantial mortal wound output.  All other Verminlords are now much better. Which is awesome given how cool the models are.
  • Warp Lightning Cannons! ZZZZZAP! Points unchanged, more wounds and increased ability to do damage at 24″ with the risk of taking D3 mortal wounds back.
  • There are certain Skaven units which are no longer in the Skaven range.  In particular, the Deathrunner and the Poison Wind Mortar – both models are no longer produced for sale and no longer have profiles.  This reflects Games Workshop’s move to make the game more accessible for new players.
  • Another product direction is that unit rules  match the options available in their plastic kit.  For instance, you used to be able to equip Stormfiends within the same unit with identical weapon options, despite only one of each being available in the kit.  This led to people paying large amounts for spare parts for popular powerful options or custom-building their own to make up for the absence of parts in the kit.  Now the Stormfiends’ rules have changed so that you can only have one of each of the various options in the kit. This is main reason for the death of the Skryre pop-up build.

Allegiance abilities

In this section, we’ll go through the extensive options of the new Skaven battle and command traits.  There is now so much choice for a Skaven general.

Battle Traits

Battle traits are divided into two sections.  The first – the Teachings of the Horned Rat – comprises 4 traits/rules that apply to all Skaventide units.  The second – the Ways of the Great Clans –   comprises 6 traits/rules, one for each of the clan, which apply just to the units with the relevant clan keyword.  

While you will need units from that clan to use the rule, many of the rules have a wider, greater impact on your army.  For example, a single Grey Seer can generate extra command points using Skilled Manipulators from Masterclan, and a Plague Furnace will bring the Echoes of the Great Plagues to buff Clanrats. Therefore, there are incentives to taking a mixed clan Skaven force.

Teachings of the Horned Rat

The Teachings of the Horned Rat provide a collection of thematic rules for Skaven armies.  

  • Lead from the Back allows Skaventide heroes (that aren’t monsters) to benefit from Look Out Sir! In combat as well as from missile weapons.
  • Scurry Away allows Skaventide heroes to disengage from combat and retreat when they are activated in combat.
  • Overwhelming Mass gives units of 20 or more models +1 to hit and 30 or more models +1 to wound as well.
  • Strength in Numbers adds 2, instead of 1, to the Bravery characteristic of Skaven units for every 10 models in the unit.

Ways of the Great Clans

The Ways of the Great Clans are available for Masterclan, Moulder, Eshin, Verminus, Skryre and Pestilens units.  They work in a similar way to the battle traits in the Beasts of Chaos book in that clan units in a mixed clan Skaven army will still have the benefit of their battle traits.

  • Masterclan “Skilled Manipulators” – every time a Masterclan model uses a command point, on a 5+ you get an extra command point.
  • Moulder “Prized Creations” – at the start of the first battle round, each Master Moulder can pick a separate Hell Pit Abomination or Brood Horror and add D3 to its Wounds characteristic.  That monster can also re-roll hit rolls of 1 for its melee attacks.
  • Eshin “Masters of Murder” – your Eshin heroes can pick an enemy hero at the start of the battle and you get to re-roll wound rolls for all attacks made by any Clan Eshin unit against the chosen enemy hero.
  • Verminus “Mighty Warlords” – you can pick 1 unique command trait for each of up to 6 Clawlords (no doubling up your picks).
  • Skryre “Warpstone Sparks” – if you have Skryre heroes, you can generate D3+3 warpstone sparks at the start of the battle.  These can be used throughout the battle to do the following, however you can only use 1 spark per phase.
  • In the hero phase – re-roll casting, dispelling and unbinding rolls for a Skryre wizard until the end of the phase (useful for crucial times).  At the end of the phase, roll a dice and on a 1, the wizard takes D3 mortal wounds.
  • In the shooting phase – pick 3 different Skryre units within 13” of a Skryre hero.  Add 1 to the Damage characteristic of missile weapons used by those units until the end of the phase.  Again roll a dice at the end of the phase and on a 1 the hero takes D3 wounds.
  • In the combat phase – re-roll hit rolls for the Clan Skryre hero.  Again on a 1, D3 Mortal Wounds.
  • Pestilens “Echoes of the Great Plagues” – the Great Plagues are bonus effects that occur if the unmodified prayer roll for a Pestilens Priest is a 6.  If you roll a 6, you can pick 1 of the following Great Plagues (to be resolved in addition to the normal effects of the prayer). Each Great Plague can only happen once per game, and you can also only have one Great Plague per turn.
  • Bubonic Blightplague – sets off a chain of mortal wounds between nearby enemy units, jumping from one to the next.
  • Crimsonweal Curse – does 1 mortal wound a turn to the target unit, slowly chipping away at a key hero for instance.
  • Redmaw Plague – allows you to take over an enemy hero in certain circumstances and use it as your own until the end of the combat phase.
  • The Neverplague – re-roll prayer rolls for all Pestilens priests for the rest of the battle.
  • Undulant Scourge – pick an enemy unit and roll 1 dice per model in the unit, 5+s are mortal wounds.

Command Traits

Skaven generals have access to 3 common command traits.  In addition. there are 3 unique command traits available to each of the 6 Skaven clans.

The shared command traits are:

  • Re-roll wound rolls of 1 for the general’s melee attacks
  • An ability to bounce wounds or mortal wounds onto nearby Skaventide units
  • +1 to the Bravery characteristic of friendly Skaventide units wholly within 18” of the general

Of the unique command traits, my picks are:

  • MasterclanMaster of Magic: once per hero phase, add 1 to casting, dispelling or unbinding rolls for the general.  Although, the command point stealing and generation abilities are also attractive.
  • Skryre Overseer of Destruction:  At the start of your shooting phase, pick up to 3 friendly weapons teams wholly within 13” of the general.  Re-roll hit rolls for those units until the end of that phase. The Deranged Inventor does something similar but you select 1 Skryre unit (of any type).
  • Pestilens – Master of Rot and Ruin: Reroll all failed prayer rolls for the bearer. Pretty neat on a Verminlord if they have the Liber Bubonicus to let them pray. Pretty amazing on a Plague Furnace with Liber Bubonicus as they pray twice and reroll all fails.
  • Verminus Brutal Fury: Once per battle, at the start of the combat phase, you can add 3 to the Attacks characteristic of this general’s melee weapons until the start of that phase.
  • MoulderMoulder Supreme: When you use the Prized Creations battle trait and pick 1 friendly Clans Moulder Fighting Beat model for this general, you can either add 3 to that model’s Wound Characteristic, instead of D3, or add D6 instead of D3.  A nice little gamble there.
  • Eshin – All are pretty thematic.  Unrivalled Killer gives re-rolls to hit against the targeted hero, Incredible Agility which allows the general to fly and Shadowmaster allows the general to be invisible to units over 6” away if the general is hugging terrain.

Building a Skaven army

The Skaven book makes heavy use of the conditional “battleline if” formula for building armies.  Clanrats are generic battleline, Stormvermin are Skaventide battleline and then there are a range of other options depending on your army build.  However, most of these require you to pick an entire army from a single clan (no issue for Pestilens, bad for Eshin) with the only allowed exception being to take a Masterclan general.

  • Moulder: Giant Rats and Rat Ogors
  • Eshin: Gutter Runners and Night Runners
  • Pestilens: Plague Monks and Plague Censer Bearers
  • Skryre: Skryre Acolytes and Stormfiends


The Skaven battletome also has 6 artefacts available for each of the different clans.  These are unique to each clan and give you a massive 36 options to choose from. Note the artefacts are just dependant on the keyword of the hero, so you don’t need to have a full Pestilens army to put an artefact on a Plague Priest or an Eshin artefact on an Assassin.  Our picks are:

  • Masterclan – Suspicious Stone: a wound and mortal wound save on a 5+ for a series of units who already have something similar, turning your average Screaming Bell into a mobile fortress. The Verminlord Warpseer will be a tank.
  • Skryre – Vigordust Injector: Pick a SKAVENTIDE unit wholly within 12”, it adds 1 to all hit and charge rolls this turn, at the cost of d3 mortal wounds at the start of your next hero phase. This bad boy is a returner with a tweak, it used to only target SKRYRE units. Now this can hit Plague Monks, Rat Ogors and even other Verminlords. Cheeky.
  • Pestilens – Blistrevous, the Living Cyst: Add 2” to the bearer’s move, and reroll all failed hit rolls. From the second battle round onwards, it shifts to any Pestilens hero within 13”, even if that hero already has an artefact. Verminlord Corruptor with Sword of Judgement being passed this little trinket by a Plague Priest at the start of turn 2? It’s more likely than you think.
  • Verminus – Rustcursed Armour: Reroll save rolls of 1 for the bearer. Furthermore, if an enemy hero within 3” of the bearer at the start of the combat phase has an artefact of power you can roll 3D6. On a 13 that artefact is destroyed and its effects are lost for the rest of the game. Neat on a Verminlord Warbringer, who will have many heroes equipped with artefacts being sent to try and manage him (regardless of how slim your chance of actually rolling that 13 is (9.7%)).
  • Moulder – Snap-Snap Snarepole: Start of each combat phase, pick an enemy model within 3” of the bearer. That combat phase they subtract 1 from hit rolls. Good for managing hero and behemoth models, just remember you can’t hit a whole unit with it.
  • Eshin – Gnawbomb: Pick a terrain feature within 6” of the bearer. Until the next hero phase it gains all the scenery rules of the Gnawhole Skaven terrain in addition to its own rules.

There are also a myriad of Realm artefacts which will be useful for Skaven armies and I’m sure many great combinations to be had. Unfortunately, given the amount of information in the Skaven book, I just haven’t had a chance to sit down and crunch through it.

Spell Lores

Skaven have a total of 9 spells available to the army, as well as 3 Skaven Endless Spells. There are 6 spells of Ruin.  These are exclusive to models with the Grey Seer keyword, while the spells of Warpvolt Galvanism are exclusive to Clan Skryre. Our picks of the bunch are:

Lore of Ruin (Grey Seers)

The Lore of Ruin is just so good it is hard to pick!  However, they are mainly short range (one at 6”, 4 at 13” and 1 at 26”) so you need to make sure your Grey Seers are in the right positions and well-protected (or able to Gnawhole away to safety).

  • Skitterleap: The iconic Verminlord Deceiver spell can now be taken by any Grey Seer, though it’s had some tweaks.  It’s cast on a 6 and you can pick 1 friendly Skaventide hero (with a Wounds characteristic of 12 or less, yes Verminlord, no Thanquol) within 13” of the caster and visible to them.  Remove that hero and re-set-up the hero anywhere on the battlefield more than 9” away from the enemy. Still so useful.
  • Death Frenzy: Cast on a 7 (not hard in Skaven).  Pick a friendly unit within 13” and, until your next hero phase, when a model in that unit dies (from anything, combat, shooting, magice etc) that model can immediately pile in and attack.  Incredibly useful for units like Plague Monks with a lot of attacks but that will die in droves due to a weak save.
  • Both Scorch (cast on a 5) and Plague (on a 7) can do great damage to hordes.  For both spells you pick an enemy unit within 13” and roll a dice for each model in the unit.  With Scorch, 6s are mortal wounds, with Plague 5+s are.
  • Finally, Warpgale (8 to cast) has a great range (26”) and allows you to do D3 mortal wounds to a unit, but more importantly any run or charge rolls for that unit are halved until your next hero phase.  AND the unit can no longer fly. Bam!

Lore of Warpvolt Galvanism (Skryre Wizard)

In the Skryre lore, my favourites are:

  • Chain Warp Lightning (cast on 6): D6 Units within 18” take 1 mortal wound. Fantastic for spreading mortal wounds across a large amount of mass units and heroes.
  • More-more-more Warp Power (cast on a 7):  If successfully cast, pick 1 friendly Skryre unit wholly within 12 of the caster that they can see.  Re-rpoll hit and wound rolls for that unit until your next hero phase. That unit takes D3 mortal wounds at the end of your next hero phase.  Great for when you really need something to die and you need your Skryre warmachine to work!

Skaven Endless Spells

As with all new books, Skaven got three race-specific Endless Spells: Vermintide (a predatory board control wall which Skaven units can ignore), Warp Lightning Vortex (mortal wounds and movement restriction) and Bell of Doom (an Inspiring Presence bubble that might occasionally do some mortal wounds).

Both Vermintide and Bell of Doom look great value at 40 points.  The Vermintide offers you a lot of movement control and some cheeky mortal wound output to enemy units (with no risk of getting hurt yourself).   The Bell of Doom covers a gap in the Clan Verminus and Clan Moulder lists by giving battleshock protection. Other clans have their own ways of mitigating bravery or are too mobile to make effective use if the Bell.  At 100 points, I had initially dismissed the Warp Lightning Vortex – however, several people I trust have suggested I reconsider. Seems it may be quite viable even at 100 points.

Generic Endless Spells

If we have a quick look at which generic Endless Spells will benefit Skaven armies.

  • Spell Portal will help with overcoming the generally short range of Skaven spells (like Dreaded Thirteenth Spell)
  • Aethervoid Pendulum is always a good pick for damage output with little downside (and thanks to casting buffs inside the Skaven army will not be too hard to cast)
  • Chronomantic Cogs will help those big blocks of Skaven get across the board quickly to establish board control.
  • Geminids complements the armies ability to threaten low wound buff models from other armies as well as the always reliable -1 to hit.


Movement in Age of Sigmar is arguably the most important of all attributes.  Gnawholes are the Skaven race-specific terrain piece and they come in threes.  They are tunnels through reality that allow Skaven units to move around the Realms, and now the tabletop. They provide Skaven with board control and presence potential.

Setting up Gnawholes

After territories have been chosen but before armies are set up, you can set up your Gnawholes:

  • wholly within 8” of the battlefield
  • more than 3” away from enemy units or objectives
  • more than 1” away from any other terrain features

If both players can set up army-specific terrain, then you roll off and the winner chooses the order that the terrain is set up.

How Gnawholes work

At the start of your movement phase, you can use one Gnawhole to transport 1 friendly Skaventide unit.  That transported unit must be wholly within 6” of the Gnawhole, and a friendly Skaventide hero must also be within 6” of the Gnawhole.  You can then set up the transported unit wholly within 6” of a different Gnawhole and more than 9” away from enemy units. That counts as the move for the transporting unit in that movement phase.

The Gnawholes also count as Arcane for Skaventide units (useful for all the Skaven casting) and also add 1 to the prayer rolls for Skaventide priests. Enemy units count them as Deadly terrain.

Making the most of Gnawholes

Given the set-up restrictions on Gnawholes, I expect we will see people using Gnawholes in their own backfield in order to support their own casting and move crucial support heroes where they are needed late game.  You could place one in your enemy’s deployment zone in order to divert some of their resources to keep it occupied. Finally, there is an Eshin artefact (the Gnawbomb) that allows you to turn another piece of normal terrain into a Gnawhole.  This would allow you to create a Gnawhole nearer to the centre of the board and objectives.

Skaven Clan Run-down

Ok, now let’s check in with each of the Skaven clans and how they are sitting with the new battletome.

Clan Pestilens

The dark mirror of Clan Verminus, Pestilens is a horde army that trades the durability and discipline of the warlord clans for total destructive power at the cost of basically no survivability. Powerful support heroes back up a swarm of cheap bodies that with the right support can put out more damage than anything else in the book. An army not for the faint of heart, Pestilens rewards a willingness to commit 100% to every engagement just as well as it punishes any attempt at restraint. The Clans Pestilens are willing to pay for their victories with the blood of every last rat to don the cloth, the Great Corruptor cherishes no soul that does not fall to him in the pursuit of bringing about the Final Rotting. A Pestilens army can take many forms, but against them one can expect to see large Plague Furnaces surrounded by Plague Monks pushing them into combat, their support Plague Priests running up alongside the rest of the army keen to bring their deadly plague magic to bear.

Clan Moulder

Skaven artwork often depicts the Skaven soldiery fighting even as they half-wade through a tide of mutated rats swarming down across the enemy. You know have the power to BE that horrifying horde of biological monstrosities. Forged in the disgusting lairs of twisted scientists freed from petty mortal constraints of right and wrong, terrible creations of flesh, blood and warpstone drag themselves from the hell-pits to lay waste to the Mortal Realms in the service of the highest bidder. A Moulder army is all about swarming the table with cheap annoying rats while your hulking abominations march across the table, whipped into battle by Master Moulders and their Packmaster subordinates who oversee their twisted creation’s devastating effectiveness in battle… from a safe distance.

Clan Moulder is now a viable standalone army should you wish to run a tide of mutated rats at the enemy.

Clan Verminus

While bravery and discipline are rarer than honor and integrity in the dark places under the earth, rats have ran in packs for longer than even the Skaven have walked on two legs. Clan Verminus make use of that self-same mentality, massing Skaven into rank and file and putting their fragile pack mentality to deadly use. Ferocious Clawlords herd ranks of ill-equipped Clanrat infantry into the enemy, goaded on by the lethal Stormvermin elite and watched for signs of cowardice by their Verminlord Warbringer masters, horrifying rat-warlords from beyond the veil of reality and sanity. An army given to large numbers of quality (as far as one expects from a rat in rusted armor) infantry, Clan Verminus fight always in close combat, their abilities favoring mass charges like the Clans Pestilens, but with a dogged sense of self preservation that will see them cut and run to more favorable engagements with the turn of the tide. Discretion as ever, is the better part of valor.

Clan Skryre

Skaven with a predilection for fearsome displays of technological supremacy, Clan Skryre are just at home spraying the enemy at range with scintillating magical fire that consumes all in it’s path as they are driving enormous weaponized wheels directly into the thick of combat. Less given to enormous hordes, Skryre’s “infantry” are hulking monsters armed with the most deadly technology possible and well armed bombardiers armed with toxic gasses. A Skryre army trades numbers for overwhelming firepower and nightmarish shock infantry. Playing Skryre is all about embracing the “shock and awe” of mad science, embracing the fact that you are likely to lay half as much devastation at your own feet as you do the enemy, with most Skryre units having the ability to massively overload their potential… with no small risk. But the lives of rats are cheap, and there is always more besides. The Skryre Arch-Warlocks know that no life (save their own) is priceless in the cause of ultimate victory and discovery.

Clan Eshin

Striking from the shadows to lay the heads of the enemy at the feet of their allies, the Clans Eshin are the masters of the shadowed way, the skitterleap, and the blades in the dark. Favoring a unique playstyle that values hit and run combat and heroes ambushing from the centre of seemingly diminutive ranks of infantry to sink as many throwing stars, knives and punch daggers as possible into the enemy general before disappearing into the shadows. An Eshin army fights on the move, hurling waves of throwing weapons and harassing the enemy until they are ready to close the distance and cut the head from the enemy army in one sweep.

Potential Skaven Army Builds

The Skaven army presents a number of viable options for budding Skaven generals – whether magic heavy, Moulder rat swarms, Pestilens Plague Monk combat and magic builds, or straight mixed arms armies which can do a bit of everything.  I’m not going to try and prescribe or pick any of these as a winner at this stage (unlike with the Flesh-Eater Courts book where I felt more comfortable to make a call). However, there are a number of viable components which we can go through.  

Skaven Battalions

The Skaven battletome has 8 battalions in it.  There is a large mega battalion for Clan Pestilens (made up of 2-3 smaller battalions) and other battalions for Skryre, Verminus, Moulder and Eshin (similar to the old large scale Clawpack battalions).  Skryre’s battalion is unique in that it allows you to choose 2-5 Enginecovens (collections of Skryre units) to unlock certain Skryre abilities. As such, the battalions are all frameworks for building armies around for players interested in (largely) focusing on a single clan.

While these battalions fit a rather large number of units, comparatively to other recent books, they are light on heroes.  And Skaven armies need support heroes to maximise the ability and efficiency of the main units. Therefore, I expect Skaven armies will be low-drop, but there won’t be any easy one-drop armies around.  One-drop armies are truly a thing of the past (just wait for the next Sylvaneth battletome).

Some likely popular battalions are Clawhorde, Congregation of Filth and the Fleshmeld Menagerie.


If you are willing to paint a lot, lot, lot of models (it’s a lot), this is for you. The quintessential Clan Verminus battalion takes a Clawlord, some Stormvermin, and more Clanrats than one could shake a Thing-Catcher at. The bonus for this is that the Clawlord’s command ability affects all eligible units within range of it, rather than just one. This battalion will turn your Verminus army from a 15 drop list to a 5 or 6 drop list, nothing to shrug at and create a solid bunker which, if equipped and marshalled properly, won’t care about battleshock.

Congregation of Filth

The mainstay Pestilens battalion before the book, and so it remains. A Plague Furnace accompanied by at least two Plague Monk units confers each unit with a 6+ ward save for staying within 18” of the Furnace. Monks need all the durability they can get, and with the Battalion specifying no limit on Plague Monk units… go wild.

Fleshmeld Menagerie

This basically allows a bold Moulder player to One-Drop their army and enhance their Master Moulder’s potent command ability.  You can use the command ability once per phase when a friendly CLANS MOULDER PACK unit is destroyed. Roll a dice and on a 5+ a new unit identical to the one destroyed is added to your army.  Set up the new unit wholly within your territory and wholly within 6” of the edge of the battlefield, more than 9” away from the enemy. In the battalion, you get a new unit on a 4+ instead.

Top Artefact + Trait combos

What follows is some combinations of units, artefacts and abilities that jump out of the page.  There are others and this is no way intended to be comprehensive. Partly this is due to familiarity.  I expect there are some awfully nasty things you can still do with Skryre and Warp-Lightning Cannons.

Verminlord Warpseer with Suspicious Stone and Supreme Manipulator

  • Has a rerollable 4+ armor save, a 5+ save against wounds and mortal wounds, and a further 5+ save against wounds and mortal wounds. Good luck getting through all that.
  • Farms command points, generating an extra one per turn on a 3+ or d3 on a 6.
  • The extra command points he earns can be spent on his amazing command ability.  At the start of the battleshock phase, you do not take battleshock tests for friendly Skaven units while they are wholly within 26” of the Warpseer in that phase.
  • Then on a rerollable 5+ he gets the command point back for other command abilities to make use of after him.
  • 260pts nets you all of the above plus his unique spell (which does mortal wounds and halves enemy run and charge rolls and prevents flying units from flying), two spellcasts, powerful close combat and a once-per-game d6 mortal wound attack.

Verminlord Corruptor with Sword of Judgement and Verminous Valor

  • Every 6 to hit inflicts 1+D6 mortal wounds, and he rerolls all fails with his command ability active.
  • 12” move undamaged means he can easily close distance to get to targets.
  • Verminous Valor ensures the enemy can’t shave him down too easily as was the case pre-battletome.
  • 260pts is a steal for the most deadly character in the game for hero-on-hero/behemoth combat.
  • Also has two casts and an anti-horde spell to stop him getting bogged down.

Plague Furnace with Liber Bubonicus and Master of Rot and Ruin

  • Prays twice, rerolls all fails.
  • Has access to all four of the prayers available to the various priests.
  • Confers battleshock immunity to nearby Skaven while enhancing them with support prayers and laying the pain on the enemy at range.
  • Ploughs into something and hits it with a MINIMUM of 5 mortal wounds.

Warpfire Throwers

One other thing that I think we will see is groups of Warpfire thrower weapons teams wrapped up in Clanrat units for a shield.  The Warpfire throwers can then get nice and close before unleashing their very powerful short range damage. Ratling guns also have a lot of potential attack output, but suffer from a bit higher price point.

Allies and Forgeworld

Finally, let’s have a look at the Skaven allies and options hidden away over on the Forgeworld website. The Clawlord on Brood Horror, Brood Horror and Wolf Rats all remain unchanged outside of receiving the appropriate keywords. The Clawlord on Brood Horror is essentially an ordinary Clawlord but with the attack profile of the Brood Horror and healing profile to boot added, making him a powerful Clan Verminus general. The Brood Horror without the rider has the FIGHTING BEAST keyword for the Moulder allegiance, which makes it potentially even MORE survivable than it was beforehand, and Wolf Rats remain their blisteringly quick and hard hitting selves. The Forgeworld Moulder units embody the lore of the clan itself, you can have the most powerful and twisted monsters to ever walk the mortal realms… for the right price.

Skaventide can take Nurgle allies if the Skaven general is from Clan Pestilens, though the efficiency of this has been somewhat clipped now that Clan Pestilens can get powerful casters simply by taking a Masterclan wizard as the general. Niche options remain like using Epidemius to enhance the effectiveness of Plagueclaw catapults, but the trade-off is not being able to take incredibly powerful wizards like Thanquol and the Verminlord Warpseer.  It seems to me that the need for allying in Nurgle units is now gone.

It has been an incredible whirlwind of two days to try and read and digest two new battletomes for Age of Sigmar.  I hope these reviews are useful and I’ll come back to revisit both these books in a few months time.

Gloomspite Gitz Review: Part 3 – Synergies

Hi all, just a quick Gloomspite Gitz post while I am on the way to CanCon – the world’s largest AoS event ever at 200+ players! When I started my Gloomspite Gitz coverage, I said I would have a series of posts covering different aspects of the battletome. Now I’ve already covered the Top 10 and Allegiance Abilites, but today I have the synergies.

Gloomspite Gitz Synergies

Last week, I joined Vince and Tom on Warhammer Weekly (the best Age of Sigmar YouTube channel) to talk all bout Gloomspite Gitz synergies, combos and army builds. Check out the show here:

I’ll return to add some bullet points about what we covered in the show after CanCon.

Age of Sigmar Second Edition Matched Play Preview Video

Hi all, today I’m lucky enough to be able to bring you an initial preview video  of Age of Sigmar Second Edition – the Core Book and Malign Sorcery.  In this video, I cover the new things that we learn about Age of Sigmar matched play from the Soul Wars Core Book and Malign Sorcery – what’s changed, what books do you need to pre-order etc.  

There are two initial provisos to give important context to the video:

  • this video was recorded on Friday 15 June and is based on the Core Book and Malign Sorcery.  I do not have a copy of General’s Handbook 2018 – which is obviously a vital tool for Matched Play.  However, there is still lots of good new information on Age of Sigmar matched play in the Core Book and Malign Sorcery;
  • there has been a deluge of content from Games Workshop, and the community, over the last few days in particular.  I couldn’t possibly cover it all in a (relatively) short video.  For a full run-down of all the key changes with Age of Sigmar Second Edition, check out my compilation page and the Facehammer podcast’s Core Rules review.

I recorded the preview at Vagabond Games in Auckland, New Zealand.  If you are a local player, check out Vagabond at, and in their central city store for all your Age of Sigmar Second Edition needs.

Given this was my first video recorded on location, there is a little bit of rustle and background noise about two minutes from the end of the video., but hopefully its not dramatic  The winds of magic must have started stirring with all the talk of Malign Sorcery.  Enjoy and let me know any feedback you have, either through the website or at @AoS_Shorts on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Initial impressions on Age of Sigmar Second Edition and Malign Sorcery

Before I dive in, I do want to give my overall impressions:

  • Aesthetic and design choice
    • Clean – removing exceptions to rules, streamlining, clarity of thought with rules
    • Maturity – coming of age – confidence

What is in the Age of Sigmar Second Edition books?

  • Core Book
    • Rules for Open Play, Narrative Play, and Matched Play Rules
    • 18 page Core Rules (also in separate book in box and available free online)
    • Battle Strategies – add VPs
    • Conquest Unbound
      • Allegiance abilities for the four Grand Alliances
      • Realms of Battle Rules for seven of the Realms – Aqshy, Chamon, Ghur, Ghyran, Hysh, Shyish and Ulgu
      • Endless Spells
  • Malign Sorcery
    • Endless Spells
    • Skirmish at the Realm’s Edge and Path to Glory at the Realm’s Edge
    • Spells of the Realms
    • Artefacts of the Realms
    • Two new pitched battle battleplans
  • General’s Handbook 2018
    • Points (although on Warscroll Builder)
    • Warscroll changes – Gaunt Summoner, Horrors, Great Bray, vortex beast, Lord Skreech, Screaming Bell, Everqueen, branchwraith etc
    • Summoning rules
    • 6 new matched play battleplans
    • 6 reprinted and tweaked GHB2017 matched play battleplans
  • Errata
    • Errata online at day 1 covering warscroll changes.

So what books do you need for Age of SIgmar Second Edition?

  • Probably all three – if you aren’t using realm rules, then you won’t need Malign Sorcery for realm spells, but you could still need it for artefacts (subject to the house rules of any event and General’s Handbook 2018).
  • Folded some in, but still a bit of a missed opportunity

The Realms – How they impact games of Age of Sigmar Second Edition

  • Realms of Battle Rules are Optional – You can pick a realm for the battle – if you are using
  • If you can’t agree, roll-off and winner decides
  • Realms also contain Regions of War (sub-areas which may have unique rules)

Realm of Battle Rules

  • Realmsphere Magic – each wizard knows an additional realm-specific spell (different from the spell lores in Malign Sorcery).
  • Realm Commands – each HERO can use the realm command abilities in addition to the command abilities they are not normally allowed to use.
  • Realmscape Features – the person who chose the realm can roll a D6 to generate the realmscape feature

Malign Sorcery Realm Rules

  • Realm Artefacts
    • After choosing the allegiance for your army, you can decide it is from a specific realm – if you do, you can select any of your artefacts from either list – THEREFORE allied heroes can’t be given a realm artefact.
  • Spell Lores
    • IF you are in a Realm, each wizard knows ALL of the appropriate realm spells!

Core Rules

  • What’s inside?
    • Rounds
    • Attacking
    • Wizards
    • Triumphs
    • Terrain (including obstacles and garrisons)
    • Rules about battleplans – OBJECTIVES
    • Warscrolls rules – characteristics, saves of -, abilities (rules of one for exploding attacks folded in)
    • Warscroll battalions
    • Realm of Battle Rules
    • Allegiance Abilities
      • Battle Traits
      • Command Traits
      • Artefacts of Power
      • Spell Lores
      • Unique Abilities
  • Rules of one folded into core rules – if you get an extra attack on a 6, you don’t generate another attack after that.
  • 6” vertical coherency
  • Cover – no cover for monsters or war machines with wounds characteristic higher than 8

Writing a list in Age of SIgmar Second Edition

  • Pitched battle chart the same.
  • Everything goes on the list.
  • Can’t nominate a new general if general dies during game.
  • Battalions
    • set up some or all at the same time – now clearer than before, but no restriction on how you drop – could drip feed and then drop all in one go.
  • Artefacts – rule of one built in.
  • Allies – clarification
  • References to 1 in 4 units vs 25%
  • Cant be general and cannot use or benefit from allegiance abilities 
  • Reinforcements can be allies
  • Mixed faction battalions – the units count as allies, but do not count against the allies limits.  So now you can’t rely on a liberator unit in a shadowhammer force as a battleline unit?  We will see.

Hero Phase

  • Command abilities – allies can use.  No limit on multiple of the same ability (unless new rule of one in GHB).


  • Magic – rule of one for spells now in core rules
  • Dynamic of dispelling and unbinding now real

Endless Spells – how do they work?

  • How paid for?
    • All wizards know the spell
    • Matched Play – Can’t have two of the same Endless Spell
  • How cast and unbound?
    • One Endless Spell cast per wizard per turn
    • If you can’t set it up it doesn’t work.
    • Can’t be affected by abilities
  • How many can you have at once on the table?
    • One of each per side
  • How dispelled in subsequent turns?
    • Dispell – no modifiers, just beat casting value – 8 for Purple Sun
    • Cross a battlefield edge
    • A method on warscroll is used to remove it from play (not all of them have a way)
    • Can you dispel yourself and cast again?
  • If dispelled can it be recast without paying points?
    • Yes
  • How do they move?
    • Start of battleround, alternate players choosing
  • Comment
    • Impact on Bravery debuff lists – LoN, Endless, Spell portals
    • Blob to protect your heros – with LoS and with spells


  • Shooting – chaffing up and shoot order is important
  • Multiple weapons – controlling player chooses order – used to be roll all at once but occurred at the same time – now is that you resolve separately

Combat Phase

  • Combat
    • Pile in – tagging on both sides and then can’t move
    • Pick or Pass
      • Pick or pass (can’t pass if eligible unit able to fight – i.e. is within 3” or made a charge – no more refusing to fight)
      • If pass – do nothing and option goes back to opponent
      • If both players pass then phase ends
    • Passing? Indicating abilities in future?
      • Hypothetically, let’s say there is a unit that has a special rule “retaliating strike”
      • They can choose to trigger it after they have been chosen as the target of an attack in the combat phase
      • the rule might say ” once per game, after the enemies attacks have been resolved, the unit can choose to immidiately attack back”
      • So having a mechanic where players need to pass makes sense
      • That is how some of the shadespire units play, and it could indicate abilities in the pipeline.

Battleshock Phase

  • Battleshock – split units – at end of turn must remove models out of coherency – go go Stardrakes and Treelords
  • New Inspiring Presence  impacts – in battleshock phase (nice tweak that doesn’t change target priority), fine for bravery effects outside of the battleshock phase.

Further Age of Sigmar Second Edition coverage



Legions of Nagash Review

Hello! In today’s show I give my initial impressions and review of Battletome: Legions of Nagash!  I hope to return to the army in a few months for a more detailed Legions of Nagash review once we have all had a chance to playtest and shake the kinks out.

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The battletome fundamentally changes the Death grand alliance and provides incremental upgrades across the board.  There are a number of changes which seem to return the Death grand alliance towards its narrative roots of strong, but fragile, characters, surrounded by an undying and regenerating rabble.

What is clear after a few days with the book, is that there are few stand-out tier 1 unit choices or army builds – there is plenty of choice here.  The army is going to reward clever list-building and generalship and, if I was to guess, sit in the tier 2 range of armies.

In this show, I’ll cover:

  • the structure of the army: the Legions
  • Allegiance Abilities
  • Gravesites
  • the Lores of Death
  • Summoning
  • the new Battalions
  • some warscroll changes and
  • some potential army builds

The Legions of Nagash

The Legions of Nagash battletome covers rules for six different allegiances:

  • Grand Host of Nagash (Nagash and friends)
  • Legion of Sacrament (Arkhan and casting)
  • Legion of Blood (Neferata and her attendants)
  • Legion of Night (Mannfred and crazy choppy)
  • Soulblight (Vamps, vamps and vamps)
  • Death Grand Alliance (the hodge podge / everything else)

Legions of Nagash

If you take Nagash, you have to run the Grand Host, he can’t be chosen in any of the other Legions.  In turn, the other Mortarchs must be the generals in their respective Legions (if you have them in the army) – no appointing a Necromancer or Wight King to deputise for them. You can run the Legions without their Mortarchs if you wish.

The Legions only include models from the Battletome.  So you won’t see any Tomb Kings, Mournguls (who are relegated to Death Grand Alliance) and Flesh-Eaters who stay with their own battletome.  Nighthaunt remain in General’s Handbook 2017.

Each of the Legions have Flesh-Eater Courts as their only ally.  If you run Soulblight, you get more choice in that you can ally with Deadwalkers, Deathlords, Deathrattle, Deathmages,  and Nighthaunt.

Allegiance Abilities

Each of the 6 allegiances have their own set of six command traits and six unique artifacts (unlike the Maggotkin of Nurgle or Disciples of Tzeentch books, there are no duplicate or shared command traits and artefacts).   As you would expect, these are all tied to the theme of the army

The Grand Host and the three Legions share two battle traits, an ability and a command ability:

  • Deathless Minions – roll a dice each time you allocate a wound or mortal wound to a firendly DEATH unit within 6″ of your general or another friendly DEATH HERO.  On a 6+ the wound is negated.
  • Magic: All wizards know an extra spell from the Lores of the Dead
  • The Unquiet Dead – the Legions get beneficial terrain called gravesites (more on these later)
  • Command Ability – choose a gravesite within 9″ of the general.  You may return a friendly Summonable unit that has been destroyed to the battlefield and set it up wholly within 9″ of that gravesite and more than 9″ away from enemy models – I suspect this won”t see much use as you still need to pay reinforcement points for the unit, but there may be some situations where this gets you out of a pinch.

Legions of Nagash

The Grand Host

With the Grand Host, Nagash can select three further spells from the Lores of the Dead.  Also, any Morghast in the Grand Host get an extra Attack for all their melee weapons.  Finally, in your hero phase, you may roll a dice for each friendly Grand Host Summonable unit on the battlefield.  On a 5+ you can heal up to D3 wounds that have been allocated to it.  For units with a Wounds characteristic of 1 return 1 slain model to the unit for each wound that would have been healed.

Grave Guard are battleline in a Grand Host army and Morghast are also battleline if you have Nagash as your general.

For each of the allegiances, I’m going to pick a few of my favourite command traits and artefacts. I won’t go through the full lists (buy the battletome for that).

Command Traits
  • Bane of the Living – re-roll wound rolls of 1 for the general for attacks against non-DEATH units.
  • Lord of Nagashizzar – add 1 attack for melee weapons of friendly Deathrattle units within 6″
  • Grave-sand Timeglass: useful for sniping away enemy heroes anywhere on the battlefield
  • Ossific Diadem: roll a dice each time you allocate a wound or mortal wound to a friendly Deathrattle model within 12″ of the bearer – on a 6+ the wound is negated.
  • Amethyst Shard: once per battle, in hero phase, fuse the shard with the bearer’s melee weapon – add 1 to hit and wound rolls for that weapon until the next hero phase.

The Legion of Sacrament

Legions of Nagash

The Legion of Sacrament is your main choice for a magic heavy army (outside Nagash).  Led by Arkhan (with his extra casting), several Necromancers and a Mortis Engine you will pump out a lot of spells.  The most beneficial battle trait is that all your wizards have +1 to cast.  You also have the possibility of returning destroyed summonable units to the battlefield.

Command trait
  • Dark Acolyte: a wizard may take another spell from the Lores of the Dead.
  • Mastery of Death: At the start of your hero phase, all friendly Death units within 6″ of the general may make an immediate move up to 3″.
  • Shroud of Darkness: subtract 1 from all hit rolls for attacks targeting the bearer in the shooting phase if the attacking unit is within 8″.  Subtract 2 from hit rolls from further away.
  • Wristbands of Black Gold:  Roll a dice each time you allocate a wound or mortal wound to the bearer in the shooting phase.  On a 4+ the wound is negated.

The Legion of Blood


Legions of Nagash

The Legion of Blood are Neferata’s court and its traits revolve around getting up close and personal with the enemy.  The main battle traits are that enemy units within 6″ of your army are -1 bravery.  You also get +1 attack for your Vampire Lords and Blood Knights.

Command traits
  • Swift Strikes: Each time you make a hit roll of 6+ in the combat phase for the general, you can make an additional hit roll for the same weapon against the same target.
  • Aristocracy of Blood: Re-roll failed charge rolls for friendly Soulblight units within 9″ of the general at the start of the charge phase.
  • Walking Death : if the hit roll for an attack made with one of the general’s melee weapons is a 6+, then the attack causes a number of mortal wounds equal to its Damage characteristic (rather than needing to roll to wound etc).
  • Sanguine Blur: Add 2″ to the general’s move characteristic.  In addition you can re-roll failed charges for the general.
  • Soulbound garments: re-roll save rolls of 1 for the bearer.
  • Orb of Enchantment: once per battle, at the start of the combat phase, you can pick an enemy hero within 3″ of the bearer.  In that combat phase, that hero may not pile in, attack or use abilities.

The Legion of Night

Legions of Nagash


The Legion of Night is Mannfred and his ambushing forces striking from Darkness. The main battle trait is that you can set up to 3 units in ambush, rather than on the battlefield at the start of the game.  At the end of any of your movement phases, you can set up any of the units in ambush wholly within 6″ of any battlefield edge and more than 9″ away from any enemy models.  The second trait is that you can add 1 to save rolls for Deathrattle units wholly within your territory (very useful for camping on your home objective).

Command traits
  • Swift Form: add 2″ to the general’s Move characteristic, and 2″ to all runs by the general.
  • Unbending will: Friendly units Legion of Night units within 12″ can re-roll failed battleshock tests.
  • Merciless Hunter: re-roll wound rolls of 1 for the general.
  • Vial of the Pure Blood: once per battle, in your hero phase, you can declare that the bearer will drink the bial.  You can add 1 to hit and wound rolls for the bearer until the next hero phase.
  • Shard of Night: subtract 1 from the hit rolls of all attacks that target the bearer in the shooting phase [no use against hero phase shooting though….].

Soulblight and Death Grand Alliance

I’m not going to spend much time delving into the last two allegiances.  Both have just been updated to deal with the Summonable mechanic and do not get to access gravesites and the other benefits of the Legions of Nagash allegiances.  Soulblight gain access to the Lore of Vampires but otherwise keep their Deathless Thralls battle trait, their bloodlines, six command traits and six artefacts.  Death Grand Alliance keeps Deathless Minions, six traits and six artefacts.  The Grand Alliance is the only way that you can mix in Nighthaunt units or a Mourngul etc.

The Lores of the Dead – Spells

The Legions of Nagash have access to two spell lores – the Lore of the Deathmages (for Deathmages…) and the Lore of the Vampires (for vampires….).  The Deathlords (Nagash and the Mortarchs) can access spells from either lore.

Both lores benefit from the Locus of Shyish – a rule that says if the unmodified casting roll for a spell is a 9+ (and the spell is not unbound) then you resolve the effects of the spell twice.   You can choose the same unit, or a different target.  Because it is the unmodified roll that counts, you won’t be building a list solely around this ability, but it will certainly be a useful boon in the 27% of rolls it goes off.  You can expect to have it work a few times each game.

Each lore has its own character.  The Deathmages lore is all about debuffing the enemy at a 12-18″ range.  Some particular standouts are:

  • Overwhelming Dread – cast on a 5 – pick a visible enemy unit within 18″, until your next hero phase that unit is -1 to hit and -1 bravery.  Very useful against anything which receives benefits on 6s to hit.
  • Fading Vigour – an enemy unit loses an attack from their melee weapons (down to a minimum of 1) and can only roll 1 dice when charging.
  • Soul Harvest (for a combat Nagash) – cast on a 7 – every enemy unit within 3″ takes D3 mortal wounds.  For each mortal wound that was allocated, and not negated, roll a dice.  On a 5+ the caster heals a wound.

The Lore of Vampires is more short range and offensive.  My current favourite is the Amaranthine Orb – you draw a straight line from the caster for 12″ and each unit under it suffers D6 mortal wounds on a 4+.  I suspect this will be a favourite on Arkhan given that he gives spells an extra 6″ range.  The Soulpike may also get some use.


As is the way with Sylvaneth and Maggotkin of Nurgle, the Legions of Nagash have their own terrain pieces which interract with the army.  For Legions of Nagash, these are gravesites.  Gravesites have benefits for both summoning and healing.

After territories have been determined, but before any units have been set up, you may pick up to 2 points in your territory and up to 2 points anywhere on the battlefield to be gravesites.   There is no set size for gravesites, but Games Workshop suggest a suitable marker (perhaps a modified base, or one of the little chapels from the Sigmarite Mausoleum kit).

First up, you have flexibility in where you place 2 of your gravesites.  Depending on the scenario, you could choose to place one or two of these:

  • in enemy territory near an objective, in order to require your opponent to divert resources to that part of the board; or
  • in your own territory if you want to maximise the defensive benefits of overlapping healing.


Instead of setting up a Summonable unit on the battlefield, you can place it to one side and say that it is set up in the grave.  You can do this with as many units as you wish.

At the end of your movement phase, for each DEATH HERO within 9″ of a gravesite, you may pick a single unit in the grave and set it up wholly within 9″ of that gravesite and more than 9″ from any enemy models.  If a unit is still in the grave at the end of the battle, it is considered to be slain.

Given the restrictions on placing models, I don’t see you leaving large units in reserve in summoning.  Much more likely to see smaller units of 10 Grave Guard or late game objective capturers such as dire wolves.  This will be especially important in scenarios where you get additional points for holding objectives in later turns.


Invigorating Aura:  At the start of your hero phase, pick a friendly summonable unit within 9″ of this gravesite.  You can either heal D3 wounds that have been allocated to it or, if no wounds are currently allocated to the unit, you may return a number of slain models to it that have a combined Wounds characteristic equal to or less than the roll of a D3.

This is likely to be the greatest benefit of the gravesites.  Four gravesites in your own territory could restore 4D3 wounds/slain models to your grave guard or skeleton units (keeping them at full size and maximum output for those skeletons).


The Legions of Nagash battletome brings a large overhaul to the summoning rules for Death.

Previously, you could set aside a number of reinforcement points and summon the units you needed when you needed them.  The ultimate toolkit to face your opponent’s army (as long as you had the models with you).

Now you have to name the units you intend to summon on your army list (and pay the points for them in your list).  The toolkit is gone.

You can also only summon units with the Summonable keyword.  These are Bat Swarms, Fell bats, Zombies, Black Knights, Grave Guard, Skeleton Warriors, Hexwraiths, Spirit Hosts and Dire Wolves.

In exchange, you no longer have to cast a spell in order to bring the unit on to the table.  You need to have a hero within 9″ of the gravesites and set the unit up wholly within 9″ of that site.

Warscroll Battalions

The warscroll battalions are themed around similar lines to the Legions of Nagash.

I suspect the First Cohort will see the most play initially.  This battalion is 160 points, and requires Nagash, a unit of Morghast and 3 units of Deathrattle.  Once you have filled out those Deathrattle units you won’t have many points left, but you do get a one-drop and abilities to transfer wounds from Nagash to the Morghast and stronger healing of your units.  The army will revolve around Nagash’s output.

The Lords of Sacrament is your main magic-heavy choice.  The battalion requires Arkhan, two Necromancers (a powerful choice) and a Mortis Engine.  Your wizards can cast an extra spell if they are within 6″ of the Mortis Engine.  You can also add 1 to save rolls for Arkhan and the Necromancers if they are within 6″ of the Mortis Engine.

The Deathmarch gives you extra movement, but includes a unit of Black Knights (which is a bit of tax).

If you fancy a crazy combat choice, try the Castellans of the Crimson Keep.


Right, on to the warscroll changes.  There have been quite a few little changes.

The largest change is that most heroes now have the Deathly Invocation ability which allows them to heal Summonable units.  The number of units that can be healed, and the range of the ability varies depending on the strength of the hero.  Nagash can heal five units anywhere on the battlefield, Necromancers are 2 units within 6″ for example.   All this healing stacks so you’ll be quickly returning large numbers of models to the table.

As a result, banners in units now don’t provide healing, but instead provide a bravery debuff to enemy units within 6″ of the banner (so expect units now to have multiple banners in them).  While large battleline units are improved by this change (and skeletons are now cheaper), units like Blood Knights can no longer be healed or returned (although they get an extra attack to ameliorate the loss).

Zombie dragons have now been brought in line with the zombie dragons in the Flesh-Eater Courts battletome.  No more confusion about which scroll is in play.

Terrorgheists have also received a significant buff to their Gaping Maw ability – Each time you make a hit roll of 6+ for this model’s Fanged Maw, the attack is automatically successful.  Determine damage normally (do not make a wound or save roll) but increase the weapon’s Damage characteristic to 6.  Try to pair this with Damned terrain and other ways to buff the hit roll.

There are two new warscrolls –  Prince Vhodrai (special character Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon) and a Bloodseeker Palanquin (combination of the existing big kits).  I suspect we will see a lot of Prince Vhodrai, as I’ll touch on more below.

Possible army builds

And finally, what are we likely to see on the tabletop.  I’m sure I’ll come back to revisit this section in the next week or so, but here are some initial thoughts:

  •  Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon – a popular choice for people who don’t want to run Nagash or Mortarchs.  14 wounds, 3+ save, can move up to 27″, fly, and decent damage output.   It also has a great command ability – allowing a friendly Death unit within 15″ to re-roll failed hit rolls until the next hero phase (very useful when paired with a Terrorgheist).
  • Prince Vhordrai – the same base as the VLOZD, a 3+ save, heals wounds, does mortal wounds… While the Prince doesn’t have the re-roll failed hit rolls command ability, he can give another unit +1 to hit and +1 to wound rolls, and also select that unit to immediately pile in and attack in the hero phase.
  • Necromancers are excellent.  I can see many people running multiple Necromancers.  While the Death army can debuff opponents well, and restore or ressurect its units, it can struggle with producing high damage output.  The Necromancer’s Vanhels ability allows you to have units pile in and attack twice.  Crazy good on a unit of 30 grave guard.
  • Grave Guard – massive damage output from a small base size, really allowing you to maximise your attacks from your large units.  The large units will be the most resilient, especially with gravesites nearby but they can also have a role in MSU style units of 10 which can be summoned into small gaps and be healed as required.
  • Morghast Harbingers – flying, rolling extra dice for charges and halberds with -2 rend and straight 3 damage.
  • Skeletons in units of 40 – lots of attacks if they stay above 30 models (which is even easier now with healing and gravesites).
  • Dire Wolves – grab objectives quickly
  • Bat Swarms – still useful if you have a strong local shooting meta (-1 to hit for shooting attacks within 12″)
Phew…. that’s a long review.
Further Reading


Maggotkin of Nurgle

Hey guys, welcome to the first AoS Shorts episode for 2018.  With such a great release as Maggotkin of Nurgle, I just couldn’t resist putting out a show.  Twitter is awash with green frothy enthusiasm and the book has been covered in detail by the great Facehammer podcast, Chris Tomlin’s on TGA and Tyler Mengel (links below), so I highly recommend you check them out.  However, as always, I think there is room for the AoS Shorts treatment.  So in the next 20 minutes or so, I hope to cover the key points you need to know – whether you intend to play Maggotkin or will be facing them on the tabletop.

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  1. First impressions – Maggotkin of Nurgle playstyle
  2. Maggotkin of Nurgle allegiance
  3. Allegiance ability – Cycle of Corruption
  4. Feculent Gnarlmaw
  5. Contagion Points
  6. Command Traits
  7. Artefacts
  8. Lore of Nurgle
  9. Warscroll Battalions
  10. Allies and Summoning
  11. Maggotkin of Nurgle Army List Predictions
  12. Which armies will do well against Maggotkin of Nurgle?
  13. Conclusion and Further Reading

First impressions – Maggotkin of Nurgle playstyle

Overall, the Maggotkin of Nurgle battletome looks internally balanced with a range of choices for Nurgle generals.  There seem to be few automatic selections and from all the chat that has been flying around, there are a lot of army list ideas out there.  This has to be the just reward of the more extensive feedback and playtesting the book went through.


In terms of playstyle, the Maggotkin are still super resilient – whether through debuffs to hit, more widespread methods for ignoring wounds and mortal wounds and through regeneration/healing.  If you don’t apply enough firepower to your target, then you will quickly find those large models will be back up to full strength.

Movement buffs to overcome Nurgle’s slow nature

Characteristically Nurgle armies have been slow and shambling, but the new book allows you a number of ways to counteract that (through the new Feculent Gnarlmaws, the Bell on the Great Unclean One and the Cycle of Contagion).  Don’t underestimate the speed with which you could have Nurgle units in your face early game.

Mortal wound output

Finally, the book is awash with mortal wound output.  Not in a Disciples of Tzeentch way, but in a steadily chipping off a small number of wounds from multiple units kind of way.  There are 2 infinite range spells that do D3 mortal wounds to multiple targets and 1 infinite range ability that does D3 mortal wounds to multiple units.  Nurgle armies will grind you down and knock out your support heroes if you don’t neuter them.

Maggotkin of Nurgle rewards good play

Now, all of these characteristics can be tailored through intelligent use of command traits, artifacts and spells.  However, in the new General’s Handbook 2017 world of higher cost battalions, you will need to make choices.  You can’t have everything, and with the prevalence of special characters in Maggotkin of Nurgle lists (who can’t take generic traits), your available slots are even more limited.

So, in short, Maggotkin of Nurgle will reward top quality list writing and game management.  This is definitely not an auto-win army but in the hands of a skilled general it will perform well.  And there is enough choice that you won’t be bored with being pigeon-holed into one particular build.

Now with that out of the way, let’s look at the battletome in a bit more detail.

Maggotkin of Nurgle allegiance

Just like Blades of Khorne and the Disciples of Tzeentch, the Maggotkin of Nurgle army is split into three factions:  Rotbringers, Mortals and Daemons of Nurgle.

Armies with the Nurgle keyword can have the Nurgle allegiance, and within that, units with the Rotbringers, Mortal or Nurgle Daemon key words can access the command traits, artifacts and spells available to those keywords.  Because the army rests on the Nurgle keyword, you can freely use Pestilens and Slaves to Darkness units that share the Nurgle keyword (or that are given the keyword).

Allegiance Ability – Cycle of Corruption

The key allegiance ability is the Cycle of Corruption – the Nurgle wheel that we first saw in the Blightwar box (so pick one up for handy in-game tracking).  The Cycle of Corruption contains 7 effects, buffs and debuffs that apply to the battlefield for that battleround.  As the Cycle applies to the battlefield, it applies equally to both armies if you are playing against another Nurgle army.

At the start of the game, you roll a dice to determine the starting point on the wheel.  Each turn the wheel moves clockwise at the start of the hero phase.  Now one of the concerns of matched play gamers after seeing the Blightwar box was the difficulty of optimising list builds around a random roll.  However, the battletome contains a number of ways that you can modify the wheel in order to get the bonus you want when you need it (in particular, the Grandfather’s Blessing command trait, and the Foul Regensis spell known by all Nurgle wizards).  Through clever use of these abilities you can have mortal wound output every single turn.

Feculent Gnarlmaw

The second aspect of the allegiance ability is that Nurgle armies come with free terrain, just like Sylvaneth armies.  At the beginning of the game, after rolling for scenario but before picking sides, a Nurgle player can set up a Feculent Gnarlmaw for free.  The Gnarlmaw is an infected wood that has an aura which causes mortal wounds to nearby non-Nurgle units and allows Nurgle units within 7″ of it to run and charge!

More Gnarlmaws can be summoned during the game by using Contagion Points (which I’ll get to) or brought onto the table by Horticulous Slimux, allowing some great board control.   I can also see them being very useful in scenarios which require heroes to hold objectives.  Put a Gnarlmaw on the objective and watch your opponent’s 5 or 6 wound heroes get chipped away by the mortal wound aura.

Feculent Gnarlmaw

If you are looking for variations or alternative models for the Gnarlmaw, check out @garrisimo’s over at Age of Hobby.  They are a similar size and volume to the Games Workshop model.  More links and pics below.

Contagion Points

So Contagion Points, Nurgle’s own mechanic similar to Khorne’s Blood Tithe.  Nurgle armies earn Contagion Points in each of their hero phases based on having:

  • units in your deployment zone
  • units in your enemy’s deployment zone
  • Gnarlmaws with no enemies nearby.

New Nurgle summoning rules

These points accumulate during the game and can be spent on summoning Daemons of Nurgle.  The summoning rules for these Daemons have changed.  You can no longer summon Daemons of Nurgle by casting spells (bye bye Plaguebearers in Tzeentch lists for instance) and can only do so by spending Contagion Points.  Because you no longer cast a spell, there is no risk of being unbound, however you still pay reinforcement points for the unit in matched play.  The summoned unit is set-up at the end of your movement phase within 12″ of a hero or Gnarlmaw and at least 9″ away from enemies.

Now, given how the points accumulate, I don’t see mass Nurgle summoning lists being popular or effective – it just takes too long to accumulate points (see JabberTzeentch‘s analysis below).  The best use of the points seems to be to put more Gnarlmaws on the board early, and then perhaps summon a small unit for capturing objectives late game (or not at all).

Expected amount of Contagion Points if both sides have models in both territories on Turn 2 and there is 1 Gnarlmaw on the Board (same numbers based on 2 Gnarlmaws are in brackets).

Turn 1: 5-7 (6-10)

Turn 2: 13-17 (18-22)

Turn 3: 23-27 (30-34)

Turn 4: 33-37 (42-46)

Turn 5: 43-47 (54-58)

Command Traits

In terms of command traits, there are three shared command traits and three unique ones for each of Rotbringers, Mortals and Daemons of Nurgle.

As others have mentioned, I suspect the most common command trait you will see is likely to be Grandfather’s Blessing which allows you to move the Cycle of Corruption one way forward or back once per battle.


There are six unique artifacts for each of the factions.  There is a lot of choice here so I’ll just touch on the most common ones you will likely see.  For me, it is always worth using command traits and artefacts to support your army’s strengths rather than accommodate for their weakness.


  • Rustfang – which when it causes a wound permanently reduces the armour save of an enemy unit for the rest of the game.
  • Muttergrub – which allows a wizard to cast an extra spell.

Daemons of Nurgle

  • The Endless Gift – In the battleshock phase the model can heal wounds taken that turn.
  • The Witherstave – Enemies within 12″ have to re-roll sixes to hit.
  • Tome of a Thousand Poxes – +1 to cast for a wizard, non wizards get a spell.

There are also some really powerful, but unreliable choices available:

  • Rotbringer: Fecund Flask – Once per game 2+ heal all wounds, 1 you die!
  • Daemons: Nurgle’s Nail – If you cause wounds with this weapon, you can roll 2D6 and on a 7 auto kill the model.
  • Mortals: The Eye of Nurgle – Once per battle, the nearest model to the bearer dies on a 2D6 roll of 7!

While these appear very powerful, the chance of rolling a 7 on 2D6 is 16.6%, or on average less than once a game if you could use it every turn.

Therefore, you will need to consider if the threat and board control of those artifacts are worth it vs something which may not be so sexy but will have more consistent and synergistic impact for your army.

Lore of Nurgle

The new Lore of Nurgle provides three spells per faction.  Each Nurgle wizard knows the Foul Regensis spell in addition to one from their lore.  This spell allows you to immediately reset the Cycle of Contagion to the stage of your choice (whether the effect goes off that turn, or simply sets you up for the next turn, will depend on the stage you choose).

High casting costs and short to mid range spells

As a general comment, the casting costs are high and the spells predominately have a short to mid range.  Therefore, if you are building an army around the spells you will need to buff the cast.  The Great Unclean One can now cast two spells and can be +2 to cast (using an artefact and the dagger), but is limited to the Daemon spells which aren’t as strong as the Rotbringer or Mortal spells.

Rotbringer spells

Rotbringer wizards can use Blades of Putrefaction which casts on a 7 and is a buff that means a unit inflicts a mortal wound as well as other damage if it rolls a 6+ to hit.  Notable mentions for Rancid Visitations and Gift of Contagion but both are more situational.

Nurgle Mortal spells

The best spell in the Nurgle Mortals lore, if not the book, is Plague Squall which on a casting value of a 6 allows you to dish out D3 mortal wounds to D6 enemy units visible to the caster (unlimited range!)

Daemons of Nurgle spells

There are notable mentions for the Glorious Afflications and Favoured Poxes debuffs in the Daemon spell lore, especially if you are playing a contain list, but now you can’t summon a wizard and then cast the spell.

Warscroll Battalions

I’m not going to go into the warscroll battalions here as I believe Chris covered everything you need to know in his TGA post.  However, I’d suggest that the most common battalion you’ll see is the Plaguetouched warband, which is in the Everchosen battletome.  I’ll discuss why shortly in the potential army build section.

Allies and Summoning

Now on to allies.  Maggotkin of Nurgle can ally with Khorne, Brayherds, Chaos Gargants, Everchosen, Monsters of Chaos, Slaanesh, Slaves to Darkness (excl Tzeentch), Warherds.

Three things to note:

  • Hellstriders of Slaanesh could be a useful addition in a stacking debuff Nurgle army due to their -1 to hit 6″ bubble;
  • you can still ally in a Gaunt Summoner with Familiars on Balewind thanks to the Everchosen keyword; and
  • while you cannot ally in Tzeentch daemons, you can of course still summon them – so if you don’t care about the lore, feel free to summon in some Pink Horrors 😉

NB: I’ll update the Chaos Allies matrix in the Resources section this week.

Summoning choices

In terms of summoning, a pool of about 120 points would work well – you could summon a Beast of Nurgle for some crucial positioning, 10 Plaguebearers, a Balewind, or a Herald of Tzeentch if you want to use the 18″ mortal wound spell.

Maggotkin of Nurgle Army List Predictions

Now I’m going to have a go at predicting some likely Nurgle army builds.  The Blightkings have been getting a lot of love online thanks to them getting cheaper and gaining an extra wound but I want to offer some alternatives.  Both of these have been proposed by local mastermind James Page – so all credit and responsibility lies with him.

“Control and sustain”

The first is a “control and sustain” build which uses Rotigus’ Deluge spell, a Great Unclean One, Glotkin, and support casters to put out a range of buffs and mortal wounds behind a safe wall of resilient troops.  I haven’t got a finished list in mind but the fundamentals are there for a solid list that will grind you down

Plaguetouched warband

The second is a Plaguetouched warband alpha-strike Chaos Knight list which can be one-drop or two.  The Plaguetouched warband contains 1 mortal nurgle hero and 7 mortal nurgle units and makes its units -1 to hit in combat, and can give some units the ability to do mortal wounds back to opponents that attack them.  Now, as we all know, Warhammer Weekly’s Tom writes all the successful lists in Age of Sigmar, and I know he has been a big fan of the Plaguetouched Warband – although I confess I haven’t seen or listened to his proposed list.

The list contains Glotkin, large units of Chaos Knights, a shrine and other support pieces.  The aim is to tie up all your opponent’s resources dealing with a buffed Chaos Knight unit which is in their face turn one.  The unit can be -1 to hit, have extra attacks for both the mounts and riders, re-rolling to wound, cause mortal wounds and be extra quick thanks to the Nurgle allegiance abilities.  With the movement buffs, you don’t need Sayl and don’t have to worry about charging from 9″ away.

One drop Plaguetouched Warband

  • Plaguetouched warband 100
  • Glotkin 420
  • Chaos Sorcerer 160
  • 14 Chaos Knights 480
  • 14 Chaos Knights 480
  • Shrine 180
  • 10 Marauders 60
  • 10 Marauders 60
  • 10 Marauders 60
  • 2,000 pts

Two drop Plaguetouched Warband

  • Plaguetouched warband 100
  • Glotkin 420
  • Rotigus 340
  • Rotbringer Sorcerer 120
  • 10 Chaos Knights 320
  • 10 Chaos Knights 320
  • Shrine  180
  • 10 Marauders 60
  • 10 Marauders 60
  • 10 Marauders 60
  • 1980 pts

This list foregoes the Plaguetouched warband buffs on the Chaos Knights but gives you access to the Rotigus Deluge spell and other mortal wound output to reach your opponent’s backline.

Check out the listbuilding show and the Masterclass podcasts to learn what to take into account when writing effective Age of Sigmar tournament lists.

Which armies will do well against Maggotkin of Nurgle?

Now which armies do I think will perform well against Nurgle?

Shut down the magic phase

Disciples of Tzeentch will of course still be strong – the army can unbind the Nurgle spells, has great chaff lines and can out duel Nurgle in the mortal wound fight (even with Nurgle’s disgustingly resilient saves).  Seraphon lists should also do well at shutting down the Nurgle magic phase.

Pure alpha strike to stop the Nurgle grind

Given the grind nature of many Nurgle lists, it seems like you need a very efficient alpha strike that can take out the Nurgle characters and support pieces before the rest of the army is buffed up.  Kharadron Overlords can achieve this, but if they don’t succeed then they will lose their own heroes very quickly and could be swamped under a green tide.

Pestilens – lovers of filth and weight of attacks

Finally, and don’t laugh, but Pestilens will actually play well against Nurgle.  The army will benefit from all the Nurgle buffs, is protected from Nurgle’s mortal wound output generally, and thanks to the Gnarlmaws could have a massive wave of Plaguemonks in combat turn 1.  If you make Nurgle take enough saves then not even the disgustingly resilient rule will save them.  If you are interested in Pestilens, I highly recommend you check out local New Zealand player Aiden’s TGA blog, the “Acolytes of the Withered Word”.

Conclusion and Further Reading

Thanks for listening – get in touch and let me know what you think.  It will be really interesting to see how the tournament meta changes over the next few months.  I expect we won’t have as long to wait as usual given how quick and easy it is to paint up a Nurgle army!

Further reading, reviews and resources

For all the information you need on Maggotkin of Nurgle, check out all these great reviews and resources.

Contact me on Twitter if you are interested in joining the WhatsApp group too.

Alternative Gnarlmaw models

Check these out if you are looking for alternative Gnarlmaw models.  You can find them here.
Gnarlmaw Gnarlmaw