AoS Shorts: Your Essential Guide to Age of Sigmar

Daughters of Khaine Review 2022

A new Daughters of Khaine battletome has dropped for Warhammer Age of Sigmar!  Games Workshop has sent me a review copy and I break down the book and the key competitive matched play questions here.  If there is a burning question that I haven’t covered, get in touch on Twitter or by email. 

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Daughters of Khaine 2022: Does the army feel like it should? 

For me, it is always important that a battletome encourages you to build armies that match the narrative background and pitch for the army.  If you are told that a faction is made up of fanatical murder machines without much armour then you want them to play like that on the tabletop.  

The new Daughters of Khaine battletome meets that goal.  You want to make an army that runs into combat and gets stuck in.  The Blood Rites allegiance ability and supporting abilities encourage you to power up your combat infantry and unleash high volume, efficient attacks on the opposing army.   

As with the last battletome, the Blood Rites table is a list of cumulatively acquired benefits which apply to DAUGHTERS OF KHAINE units in your army.  The biggest changes have been replacing rerolls with +1 (which is less powerful, but quicker in game) and changing Unquenchable Fervour to a 5+ ward save.  

  • 1) Quickening Bloodlust: +1 to run rolls (used to be reroll 1s)
  • 2) Headlong Fury: +1 to charge rolls (used to be reroll 1s)
  • 3) Zealot’s Rage: +1 to hit for melee weapons (used to be reroll 1s and animate Avatars of Khaine)
  • 4) Slaughterer’s Strength: +1 to wound for melee weapons (used to be reroll 1s)
  • 5) Unquenchable Fervour: friendly DOK units have a 5+ ward save (used to worsen Rend by 1 of attacks against you and do not take battleshock tests)

The battletome has multiple ways of accelerating your army, or particular units from your army, up the Blood Rites table.  All these abilities stack, so you can gain most of the benefits in the second and third battle-rounds when you are deep in combat. 

  • HAGG NAR units are always +1 to the battle round for the Blood Rites table
  • True Believer command trait: +1 to the battle round for the general
  • Sacrament of Blood prayer: adds +1 to the battle round for a target DOK unit wholly within 14”
  • Bloodwrack Shrine and the Bloodwrack Medusa both add +1 to the battle round for a friendly MELUSAI unit wholly within 12”
  • Witchbrew grants +1 to the battle round for a friendly DOK unit wholly within 12” (cannot be stacked on the same unit, but can be dished out from different sources to different units)

The other allegiance abilities include Fanatical Faith (DAUGHTERS OF KHAINE units have a 6+ ward save) and All Out Slaughter (a command ability that gives you a free Catechism of Murder). 

Is the new DoK battletome internally balanced? Are there multiple ways to play?

Early signs say yes, there are multiple ways to play and no clear stand-out build or broken units. 

So far in AoS3, Daughters of Khaine armies have largely been Morathi and the Bow Snakes.  What isn’t to like about a large unit that does mortal wounds at range in both the hero and shooting phases, supported by the game’s best tagging combat monster in the Shadow Queen?  Now the heart of this build still exists, but there are other options available too:

  • Hordes of Witch Aelves and Sisters of Slaughter backed up by a Cauldron and combat foot heroes will put out a large volume of efficient attacks and are likely to get even more useful with the new incentives coming in General’s Handbook 2022 – Season 1.
  • Combat snake builds have also been benefited by some of the new command traits and army construction rules. 

I’ll breakdown these builds further in the lists section below. 

As with all the new battletomes, the sub-faction allegiance abilities have been stripped back to a single special rule for each Temple of Khaine.  Personally, I love this change as you still get the narrative flavour of the different sub-factions while removing bloat and allowing people to build the armies that they want. 

I can see at least four of these temples seeing competitive play:

  • Hagg Nar: +1 to the number of the battle round for friendly HAGG NAR units on the Blood Rites table.  This ability stacks with other similar abilities, and several of these can be taken without compromising your army build.  If you want to do damage quick and get your army to be a great all-rounder then this is the temple for you. 
  • Draichi Ganeth:  +1 rend on the charge for the melee weapons of DRAICHI GANETH WITCH AELVES or SISTERS OF SLAUGHTER.  This ability works well with Mindrazor and the High Gladiatrix’s ability (or a cheeky ally such as the Aspect of the Sea or Chamon Battlemage).  Draichi Ganeth armies can also take a reinforced or double-reinforced unit of WITCH AELVES in addition to your usual number of reinforcement points.  So 3 x 30 infantry blocks is an option. 
  • Khelt Nar: Daughters of Khaine units can retreat and charge. Still a very useful ability on the Shadow Queen making sure she doesn’t get stuck in places that she doesn’t want to be. 
  • Khailebron: Command ability that can be used at the end of your movement phase.  Issued by a friendly KHAILEBRON HERO, received by a friendly KHAILEBRON unit.  Remove the unit from the battlefield and set it up again anywhere on the battlefield more than 9” from all enemy units.  So Khailebron have lost the -1 to hit from missile weapons which is a big blow, but the free teleport can also be game-winning in the right circumstances.  Khailebron armies can also have Khainite Shadowstalkers as battleline units. 
  • Kraith: After a friendly KRAITH SISTERS OF SLAUGHTER unit has fought for the first time in the combat phase, on a 4+ that unit can fight for a second time with the strike-last effect.  A handy ability if you are running multiple units of Sisters of Slaughter.
  • Zainthar Kai: Each time a model in a friendly ZAINTHAR KAI MELUSAI unit is slain, that model can fight before it is removed from play.  Very handy for combat snakes and it ensures that you are probably going to remove whatever enemy melee unit has come in to take your snakes off.  Great as a defensive protection for efficient trading of your units.  

As with some other recent battletomes, the number of command trait and artefact options has been trimmed back but there are a few standout choices that you will see again and again.  My picks from those items are:

  • Zealous Orator Command Trait: If the general issues the Rally command, you can return 1 slain model to the unit that receives the command for each 4+ instead of each 6.  In line with the Battlesmith ability from Fyreslayers, I suspect this command trait will be errated to only work on friendly DAUGHTERS OF KHAINE units, rather than allies as well. 
  • Crown of Woe (DOK HERO artefact): Enemy units cannot receive Rally or Inspiring Presence command while within 9” of the bearer.  In addition, if any enemy models are slain by the bearer, increase the range of this ability to 15” for the rest of the battle. NB: the artefact doesn’t require the bearer to slay an enemy model with a melee attack, so feel free to shoot or magic someone to death and get the benefit of the larger bubble.  If this is on a hero on cauldron then the Avatar of Khaine missile attack should trigger this bubble.
  • Shadow Stone (DOK WIZARD artefact):  +1 to cast for the bearer when casting Lore of Shadows spells
  • Crystal Heart (DOK WIZARD artefact): When the bearer attempts to cast a spell that summons an endless spell, the range of that spell is doubled. 
  • Khainite Pendant (DOK PRIEST artefact):: once per game, before chanting, use the pendant and prayer automatically answered. 

Lore of Shadows

  • Mindrazor is unchanged, but at an 8 to cast is harder to achieve now that Morathi-Khaine no longer has an in-built +1 to casting. 
  • Pit of Shades has been reduced from a casting value of 7 to a 6.
  • Mirror Dance has been returned to its original form (switch the places of two DOK HEROES on the battlefield (within limits). 

Endless Spells and Invocations

  • All have dropped points
  • Heart of Fury unchanged but lower. 
  • Bloodwrack Viper has added the Monster of Blood rule: at the end of the charge phase, the commanding player can count the endless spell as a MONSTER for the purposes of the Monstrous Rampage rules, but they can only carry out a Stomp or Smash To Rubble monstrous rampage with it.  It cannot be picked to be the target of a monstrous rampage. 

Prayers haven’t changed.  A lot of viable options. 

Is the new DoK battletome externally balanced?

The current Daughters book is strong and I don’t see that changing.  The battletome has a number of strong builds which will pair well in a matched play season designed to encourage and support battletline choices. 

The army has a range of tools that will help it succeed:

  • High melee damage output sufficient to meet “DPS” checks and remove stubborn units.  Rend comes from the Blood Rites table, Mindrazor, and High Gladiatrix for a nice -3 rend on Witch Aelves and Sisters of Slaughter, and that’s before you think about taking allies
  • Ranged damage in order to hit behind the lines; and
  • Reasonable mobility with the addition of some movement-phase teleports to bounce units around the board and keep your opponent honest.

Daughters of Khaine lists

So what kind of lists might you see from the new book? And how will existing lists change?

Your Battleline choices are Witch Aelves and Sisters of Slaughter. Your Battleline If choices are Blood Sisters and Blood Stakers (both Battleline in a Zainthar Kai army or with a MELUSAI general) and Khainite Shadowstalkers (Battleline in a Khailebron army). 

Allies: Cities of Sigmar, Idoneth Deepkin, Lumineth Realm-lords, Stormcast Eternals and Sylvaneth.  The ally choices give you access to some useful support heroes and neat special rules. 

Infantry hordes

  • Blender witches and sisters – hitting and wounding on 2s with several options for increased rend.  
  • Bladed Bucklers give a 5+ save and unmodified save rolls of 6 bounce back a mortal wound. Shield changes makes them a lot more tanky than they were.  Can also be backed up by a Cauldron for +1 save bubble
  • Combine with small heroes – Hag Queen, Slaughter Queen and some High Gladiatrixes 
  • Sequencing shenanigans with fight first cauldron, snakes/witches and then sisters of slaughter with the long 6” pile in mean you can have cascading combats wiping out enemy units

Morathi and the Bow Snakes

  • Morathi command ability reduced to 18” bubble, but still gives the ability to fight or shoot in the hero phase.
  • Morathi and the Shadow Queen now 680
  • No change to the Two Bodies, One Soul or Iron Heart of Khaine
  • Morathi lost the +1 to cast
  • Snakes unchanged, and easy battleline with Zainthar Kai temple (allowing you to ditch the Melusai Ironscale and use points elsewhere if you wish)
  • Zealous Orator for an easy rally option
  • This build has also got stronger because with the new battletome they have dropped out of Battlescroll: The Hunt so will no longer be giving up extra victory points. 

Combat snakes

  • Fighty snakes in Zainthar Kai. 
  •  A 15 block with Martyrs Sacrifice will put out hurt.  
  • Remove casualties so that you are out of combat (which you can do with large base sizes) and then you can Rally back on a 4+ with Zealous Orator. 

Other notes

  • Avatars of Khaine no longer need to be activated, act as a +1 chant bubble and have their own ward.  They are also MONSTERS for the purpose of the Stomp or Smash to Rubble monstrous rampage rules. 
  • The Cauldrons give nice +1 to chanting bubbles
  • Doomfires used to be only able to use Arcane Bolt, Mystic Shield and their warscroll book, but they can now cast spells from realm rules and battlepacks.  They can’t cast Lore of Shadows spells as those are limited to DAUGHTERS OF KHAINE HERO WIZARDS only. 
  • Khainite Shadowstalkers have had their scroll stripped right back to just having the teleport and have increased in points.  However, they are also now battleline in Khailebron. 
The Shadow Queen33034010
Melusai Ironscale1151150
Bloodwrack Medusa12013010
Bloodwrack Shrine19020010
Morgwaeth the Bloodied17518510
The Blade-coven000
Hag Queen1051105
Hag Queen on Cauldron of Blood25527015
Slaughter Queen11013020
Slaughter Queen on Cauldron of Blood30031515
High Gladiatrix10090-10
Witch Aelves120115-5
Sisters of Slaughter1351350
Blood Sisters1401400
Blood Stalkers1801800
Doomfire Warlocks1401455
Khainite Shadowstalkers12015030
Khinerai Heartrenders95950
Khinerai Lifetakers90900
Avatar of Khaine12015535
Bloodwrack Viper9580-15
Heart of Fury5545-10

Will you take the DoK core battalions?

I don’t think so. 

What about the DoK grand strategies and battle tactics?

Unlikely for the grand strategies. [Ed: Chris Welfare tells me I’m wrong and you will all be running Bloodthirsty Zealots]

  • Bloodbath: When the battle ends, you complete this grand strategy if all enemy HEROES and MONSTERS either have at least 1 wound allocated to them or have been slain and if all other enemy units on the battlefield have had at least 1 model slain.
    • I struggle to understand what this grand strategy requires.  Is everything after the “or” the same condition? Or does everything after the last “and” have to be achieved regardless? 
  • Conquered in the Name of Khaine: When the battle ends, you complete this grand strategy if there is a friendly AVATAR OF KHAINE or CAULDRON OF BLOOD wholly within enemy territory.
  • Bloodthirsty Zealots: When the battle ends, you complete this grand strategy if all friendly units either fought at least once during the battle or have been destroyed.
  • Naught But Destruction: If you pick this grand strategy, after deployment, pick 1 defensible terrain feature wholly within enemy territory.  If there are no defensible terrain features wholly within enemy territory, your opponent picks 1 defensible terrain feature anywhere on the battlefield.  When the battle ends, you complete this grand strategy if that terrain feature has been demolished. 
    • What if there is no defensible terrain on the battlefield?

Yes for the battle tactics.  The battletome includes DoK-specific battle tactics that receive extra victory points if they are achieved by particular units.  Even better, these are units that you are going to take anyway so I can see at least a couple of these being used in conjunction with the core battle tactics. 

  • Clash of Arms: You complete this tactic if 3 or more friendly units make a charge move this turn.  If 2 or more of those units are WITCH AELVES or SISTERS OF SLAUGHTER, score 1 additional victory point. 
    • Highly achievable
  • Cruel Delight: You complete this tactic if 2 or more friendly KHINERAI units move using their Fire and Flight ability or Fight and Flight ability this turn. 
  • Tide of Blades: You complete this tactic if there are 2 or more units from your starting army wholly within your opponent’s territory at the end of this turn.  If 2 or more of those units are WITCH AELVES, score 1 additional victory point.
    • Highly achievable 
  • Executioner’s Cult: You can pick this battle tactic only if there is a friendly HIGH GLADIATRIX on the battlefield.  You complete this tactic if an enemy HERO is slain by that unit’s Killing Stroke ability this turn. 
    • Very situational
  • Hatred of Chaos: You can pick this battle tactic only if you have a Hagg Nar or Khelt Nar army.  You complete this tactic if 2 or more CHAOS units are destroyed this turn. 
  • Unexpected Attack: You complete this tactic if a friendly KHAINITE SHADOWSTALKERS units uses its Shadow Leap ability and makes a charge move this turn. 
    • Don’t think I’d ever want to take the risk of failing the charge. 

Well, that’s about it for the initial review.  It will be interesting to see how the faction develops as players get games in on the tabletop.  Let me know anything interesting that I’ve missed or what you think are the cool ways to play the army. 

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