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Made in gb
Jinking Ravenwing Land Speeder Pilot





The latest campaign book in the Realmgate War series came out on Saturday, and I have spent the weekend going through it. So, Balance of Power – is it any good?

As always, more piccies here: https://ttgamingdiary.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/review-balance-of-power/



By now, any player of Age of Sigmar will be aware that you do not buy these books for the rules. So, this review is going to focus primarily on the storyline and the Battleplans that run alongside it (if you are desperate for rules, there will be a short section at the end for you!).


Back to the Realm of Life
Well, at the end of the last campaign book (Quest for Ghal Maraz) Sigmar may have got his hammer back, but things had all gone rather sour in the Realm of Life. The Athelwyrd had been breached by the forces of Nurgle, and Alarielle was forced to flee.

Balance of Power kicks off with the exodus of Alarielle, accompanied by her Sylvaneth and the Hallowed Knights – the events covered by the Wardens of the Everqueen novel, incidentally. Alarielle conjures the Cascading Path which allows her dwindled force to cover a huge portion of the Realm of Life, but Nurgle’s forces (led by Torglug the Despised – keep an eye on this chap) use Skaven gnawholes to keep pace. Gnawholes are an alternative to using Realmgates that the Skaven control, allowing them passage across and between realms…

Torglug catches up with Alarielle at an ice sea and the first Battleplan, On Thin Ice, depicts their initial clash. An ice sheet covers the sea, but it can be smashed with large enough attacks (minimum Damage 2), sinking entire 2′ x 2′ sections of the table! This can drown enemy units of course (a lot of enemy units!) but gives Alarielle’s forces a chance of escape.

There is a new Time of War sheet for this region of the realm, with new triumphs, ice-based magic (four spells available to all wizards), and an ice storm table that can seriously stuff up your plans!

Torglug is not so easily dissuaded though, and while Alarielle manages to put some distance from him, the Nurgle Lord catches up with her again in The Hidden Artefact.

Alarielle, by this time, has expended all her energy and has become, literally, a seed pod. The Lady of Vines is now carrying her and must get to a good place to plant the goddess (I am parsing a lot here!) where she can adopt a new aspect (I am thinking later this year we will see a big miniature of Alarielle Unleashed, as it were). In this Battleplan, an artefact must be carried across the table, while the attacker both pursues and sends units forward to encircle the fleeing force.

So far, so normal – don’t worry though, there are some seriously cool Battleplans coming up. These two form a nice introduction to the campaign, and the storyline behind them sets things up nicely for some major events in the Realm of Life. But more on that later.


The Realm of Fire
The book then leaves the Realm of Life briefly for a look at events in Aqshy. If you were expecting to see the Fyreslayers in Balance of Power, this is where they first pop up. Skaven have tunnelled up under a Fyreslayer lodge and stolen a whole bunch of ur-gold and one of the Runesons, the latter of which is the object of rescue in Consumed, the next Battleplan. This one has shades of The Ritual, but there will be an actual model on the table (the Runeson) that you will be trying to rescue before the Skaven can complete their vile rites.

There is a Burning Catacombs Time of War sheet here with a Fyreslayers-only Command Ability (allows you to recycle units), weapons that can magically start glowing white-hot, and Realmgates that can spew out lava.

The Stormcasts then appear and manage to avoid getting their heads taken off by the Fyreslayers, and bargain for their services. The Stormcasts are off to nobble a Khorne-held fortress (quite a big one, as it happens), and they dangle enough ur-gold in front of the Fyreslayers to get them to act as guides and escort. However, the Skaven have not finished with the Fyreslayers just yet, and Uneasy Alliances is a four player game of Stormcast and Fyreslayer, matched against a Skaven and Bloodbound ambush.


Realm of Death
The story then hops to the Shyish, home to Nagash and friends. After a brief background on events with Nagash, the book focusses on Neferata and her city of Nulahmia, which is currently under siege by a massive Slaaneshi force.

This is covered in the Home Ground Battleplan, though the story goes somewhat beyond the events of the scenario. The Stormcasts show up and start helping to push the Slaaenshi guys back, as they want to see if Neferata will help them reach Nagash – for her part, Neferata sees the Stormcasts as a potential ally who will increase her own power.

Unfortunately, Nagash turns up right at the end, though we do not see the results of that.

This section is the odd duck of the book, as all the other battles link to one another in some way, even if they are in different realms (as you will see) but this one stands alone. I get the feeling that it is setting things up for the next campaign book more than anything else.

However, there is a Time of War sheet covering the city of Nulahmia, giving us the first peek of rules suitable for the Realm of Death.


Realm of Life Returns
The book switches back then to the Realm of Life, and here we get the first real curve ball in the storyline.

Alarielle runs and Nurgle pursues, but he is not the only Chaos god watching things. Khorne fancies a bit of that Life Goddess action as well, and he is not messing around – he sends Skarbrand down.


However, the Seraphon have been watching events too, and a Slann Starmaster moves to intercept in a battle that only has a sideways mention in the Wardens of the Everqueen novel, but makes a lot more sense now!

Raging Fury is the Battleplan that covers this, pitting Skarbrand (alone) against a Seraphon army that cannot have any monsters! This is on a 4′ x 4′ table, so there are not many places to run, and the Seraphon can try to tempt Skarbrand into a portal that will fling him back home rather than try to kill him outright (which won’t be easy with a bunch of Saurus Warriors and Skinks!).

The next Battleplan covers the Battle of Blackstone Summit, the final confrontation between Torglug and the forces of Alarielle. Once again they are battling over the artefact (Alarielle’s seed pod), but while Nurgle sends a Great Unclean One (or three), Sigmar sends the Celestant-Prime, guaranteeing some high-powered action!

This is most certainly a pitched battle, where the forces of Life can pass wounds inflicted upon the artefact carrier to other nearby units, but have to travel across what is effectively an 8′ table to do it.

The result of this battle will determine the fate of the Realm of Life!


To the Hot Place Once More
With the Realm of Life resolved (for now), Balance of Power takes us back to the Realm of Fire, where the combined Fyreslayer and Stormcast force is trying to bust into the Bloodkeep, a mighty fortress of Khorne.

This Battleplan is The Dilemma, and is another interesting one. On the surface, the Stormcasts get the Fyreslayers to tunnel up inside the courtyard where they can launch their attack.

However, the Bloodkeep is where Skarbrand is normally kept – he seems to have disappeared for now, and so they want to break into his prison and steal the Brass Chain, the artefact that keeps Skarbrand in check. If they can swipe this, then Sigmar can keep Skarbrand chained up, removing a powerful weapon from Khorne’s arsenal.

The problem? Skarbrand (and a whole bunch of other Khorne followers) returns halfway through the battle.

The dilemma of the Battleplan’s title is whether the Stormcasts try to push forward to the Brass Chain to get a major victory, or try to leave to get a minor victory. The trap is trying to do both and achieving neither…

This Battleplan suggests the use of an Overlord Bastion and a Magebane Greatwall, giving your Dreadhold a decent work out.

In the story, the Stormcasts are indeed driven back, but not before they bust open the Bastion, freeing a magical sigil which flutters off into the sky.

A bit mysterious? Well, that leads us to the last part of the storyline in Balance of Power…


War of Lost Time
This is set in Chamon, the Realm of Metal, and that means Tzeentch forces!

These battles take place in a weird place – inside a kind of moon-sized ball of metal where really weird things happen with both gravity and time (there is a Time of War sheet for all of that). It also serves as a prison for a very powerful Lord of Change (model coming in time for the next campaign book? Maybe? Please?) who has been working to get free – that sigil that got loosed in the Realm of Fire? That would be the last bit he needs, and it is winging its way back to him right now. Sigmar sends the Stormcasts to stop this happening.

Now, there are a lot of Tzeentchian shenanigans going on here, but the short of it is that a Gaunt Summoner has found a way to make Archaon his bitch (again, I am paraphrasing here), and his plan is about to reach completion.

That is when Archaon turns up.

To his credit, when the Everchosen shows up, the Gaunt Summoner’s first reaction is to try to blackmail him, which works about as well as expected.

So, the first Battleplan is Path of Retreat, which features the Gaunt Summoner running away from Archaon (literally) while both throw forces at the other to try to slow their prey/pursuer down. Looks like a good one!

Incidentally, there is a tiny hint in this section that as Archaon was once a good man, he could become so again. Now, we might dismiss that but, well, there is a bit of a twist at the end of this book that may make you think twice. But we’ll come to that.

The final Battleplan is Never Give Up, and it is a big mosh pit of Stormcasts versus Chaos of all stripes, led by Archaon – and this is portrayed as nothing but a last stand for the Stormcasts. In the storyline, the Stormcasts get wiped out to a man, with Vandus Hammerhand himself getting torn apart by Archaon (and there is no clue as to whether this might be a permanent death, which it well could be).

The Stormcasts can ‘win’ the Battleplan by either killing the enemy general (that ain’t gonna happen, as it will be Archaon and he effectively gets a 3+Ward for this fight) or by just having models left after six turns.

So, this book is a bit Empire Strikes Back, as it ends on a sour note for the forces of Order.

However, on the very last page of the story section of this book, there is something of a twist. I am not going to spoil it here, but if you have been following the storyline (and especially if you have been reading the novels) this may come as a genuine surprise. There is a tiny, tiny hint of it in Wardens of the Everqueen, but you don’t get to see exactly what happens, even if you are a clever sausage who spotted it on your first read through.

Anyway, page 226. But try to resist flicking forward.


Rules and Stuff
We have a bunch of Warscrolls, of course, but there is literally nothing here you have not seen before, especially if you have Grand Alliance: Chaos and Battletome: Fyreslayers. Some Stormcasts and Undead are thrown in for good measure.

The Battalion Warscrolls are unique and have not appeared before. It is good to note that they are all very much rooted in the storyline too.

For example, Torglug’s Foulblessed turns a ‘normal’ Lord of Plagues into a ‘named’ character, with an appropriate boost. Much the same happens for the Sylvaneth, Stormcasts, Fyreslayers, Skaven, Deathlords, Slaanesh, and Tzeentch.

As I say, they all tie into the story in some way – remember that Gaunt Summoner who honked off Archaon? Well, The Watcher King’s Horde is what he tried to use against the Everchosen as he ran for his life…


Conclusion
I like this book a lot, and for two reasons. First, once you get beyond the first two battles, there are some nice curved balls in here, in terms of both storyline and actual Battleplans. The one featuring Archaon chasing down a rogue Gaunt Summoner is a great idea, and I cannot wait to pit Skarbrand against a horde of Seraphon (my money is on Skarbrand!).

The second reason is that the storyline behind Age of Sigmar is building up nicely. As I mentioned before, there is a feel of the Empire Strikes Back to this book, the dark second act where everything goes wrong. The Stormcasts get smacked silly more than once, and now Archaon is loose and up to mischief. However, the seeds of a comeback may have been planted (literally, with regards to Alarielle).

If you have been enjoying the official storyline behind Age of Sigmar, I thoroughly recommend this book. If you have been on the fence, this may be the tome that pushes you over the edge.

For my part, I am looking forward to part three!

40k and Age of Sigmar Blog - A Tabletop Gamer's Diary: https://ttgamingdiary.wordpress.com/

Mongoose Publishing: http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/ 
   
Made in us
Auspicious Aspiring Champion of Chaos




I picked it up saturday to add to the Battleplan library and Time of War rules and have just started reading the narrative in it.

Its looking pretty good.

GW points don't bring balance. They exist purely for structure. You can get more balance from no points than you do from GW points. You however can get no structure in your game without points. 
   
Made in gb
Tough Treekin




The twist at the end is one of those "ooh, feck" moments - but if you go back the seeds for it have been in plain sight since at least Quest for Ghal Maraz, if not the earlier book.

What *is* interesting is that both sides seem to have a version of this trick, so definite shenanigans coming.

On a side note, I have a bet with a mate on who the first fallen Stormcast will be, and who he'll be rooting for...
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

Sounds interesting thanks for the review and info.

I still don't get why they publish these in a single book unlike the much better IMO) split of fluff and rules into two books in the End Times books and 40k Campaigns

Excited that Neferata is back - is her city just the dead or the living as well? Any of her handmaidens named?

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
Made in gb
Rampaging Carnifex






Considering the events of the audio drama I feel quite bad for the stormcast in the realm of death with nagash popping up. Still great review as always, personally did not like the end of the wardens of everqueen novel won't spoil why.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2016/02/08 14:59:54


 
   
Made in us
Regular Dakkanaut




Thanks for the review, I'm glad to read it.

But - skaven can chew through dimensions?
And Nulahmia
Nu-Lahmia
New Lahmia

Really?

And someone can feel free to PM me ending twist, since I'm not going to buy the book.
   
Made in us
Regular Dakkanaut




Can you PM me the end of book spoilers?
   
Made in gb
Jinking Ravenwing Land Speeder Pilot





Ashitaka wrote:


But - skaven can chew through dimensions?.


That is the least of what they can do

Ashitaka wrote:
And Nulahmia
Nu-Lahmia
New Lahmia

Really?
.


Better than New Lama...

40k and Age of Sigmar Blog - A Tabletop Gamer's Diary: https://ttgamingdiary.wordpress.com/

Mongoose Publishing: http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/ 
   
Made in gb
Regular Dakkanaut




I'd love a PM of the ending too - I will buy the book eventually, but don't mind knowing it in advance!
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

 shinros wrote:
Considering the events of the audio drama I feel quite bad for the stormcast in the realm of death with nagash popping up. Still great review as always, personally did not like the end of the wardens of everqueen novel won't spoil why.


Can you spoil why in a spoiler field? Please

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
Made in bg
Dakka Veteran






RoperPG wrote:

On a side note, I have a bet with a mate on who the first fallen Stormcast will be, and who he'll be rooting for...

Thostos, duh ...
   
Made in us
Dangerous Skeleton Captain




Baltimore

 shinros wrote:
Considering the events of the audio drama I feel quite bad for the stormcast in the realm of death with nagash popping up. Still great review as always, personally did not like the end of the wardens of everqueen novel won't spoil why.


Hard to say if this campaign is even in the same continuity as the audio drama, given that the Nagash in the campaign book and audio drama Nagash seem to share very little in common:
Spoiler:
In the campaign book, Nagash actively wants and needs to recollect his mortarchs in order to have generals competent enough to lead his armies against chaos, but in the audio drama one of those mortarchs literally come groveling before him, begging to be taken back, and Nagash rejects him.

In the campaign book, Nagash can possess the bodies of his mortarchs, actively possessing Neferata at one point in order to deliver a message to the Stormcasts. In the audio drama, Mannfred was not only able to leave Nagash to begin with, gaining his ire in the first place, but was then able to oppose Nagash, and flee from his very presence, which he should not have been able to do if Nagash has a 'dominate/possess' trigger on stand by.


Also, despite portions of this campaign book revolving around a couple of the vanishingly few female movers and shakers in Age of Sigmar, it seems the game still might as well be called 'Party of Sausage':
Spoiler:
Alarielle is literally objectified, reduced to a seed pod for the entire thing. It's protected by one of her forest spirits... who is slain by a chaos lord so that a Sigmarine can be the Big Hero and kill the lord to rescue Alarielle's pod.

Neferata is described as being a competent ruler who built Nulamiah and ruled it for ages, but it's all "tell don't show", because the place has already been practically destroyed by a Chaos seige before the campaign even starts, and from what I've heard from folks who've read it and seen in my brief glance through, she never does anything impressive or competent 'on screen', in a sad continuation of her uninspired treatment in the End Times. Instead, a Sigmarine has to save her when she's almost slain by the leader of the besieging chaos horde. And just as she's about to open her mouth, to maybe have a chance for her skills at manipulation to show through, she's dominated from afar by Nagash so that the big man can deliver a message to the Stormcast instead.



Then again, this is coming from second hand accounts and only the briefest flip through , so if this initial impression is mitigated by details I haven't yet picked up on, I'll be posting again later to admit my error. For now though, yeah. Kind of frustrating. I was hoping for more, especially from Neferata.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2016/02/08 17:22:21


The pursuit of knowledge requires a mind unfettered by the petty constraints of ethics, faith, or mortality.

~ Roderick Pale 
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

 Malisteen wrote:
 shinros wrote:
Considering the events of the audio drama I feel quite bad for the stormcast in the realm of death with nagash popping up. Still great review as always, personally did not like the end of the wardens of everqueen novel won't spoil why.


Hard to say if this campaign is even in the same continuity as the audio drama, given that the Nagash in the campaign book and audio drama Nagash seem to share very little in common:
Spoiler:
In the campaign book, Nagash actively wants and needs to recollect his mortarchs in order to have generals competent enough to lead his armies against chaos, but in the audio drama one of those mortarchs literally come groveling before him, begging to be taken back, and Nagash rejects him.

In the campaign book, Nagash can possess the bodies of his mortarchs, actively possessing Neferata at one point in order to deliver a message to the Stormcasts. In the audio drama, Mannfred was not only able to leave Nagash to begin with, gaining his ire in the first place, but was then able to oppose Nagash, and flee from his very presence, which he should not have been able to do if Nagash has a 'dominate/possess' trigger on stand by.


Also, despite portions of this campaign book revolving around a couple of the vanishingly few female movers and shakers in Age of Sigmar, it seems the game still might as well be called 'Party of Sausage':
Spoiler:
Alarielle is literally objectified, reduced to a seed pod for the entire thing. It's protected by one of her forest spirits... who is slain by a chaos lord so that a Sigmarine can be the Big Hero and kill the lord to rescue Alarielle's pod.

Neferata is described as being a competent ruler who built Nulamiah and ruled it for ages, but it's all "tell don't show", because the place has already been practically destroyed by a Chaos seige before the campaign even starts, and from what I've heard from folks who've read it and seen in my brief glance through, she never does anything impressive or competent 'on screen', in a sad continuation of her uninspired treatment in the End Times. Instead, a Sigmarine has to save her when she's almost slain by the leader of the besieging chaos horde. And just as she's about to open her mouth, to maybe have a chance for her skills at manipulation to show through, she's dominated from afar by Nagash so that the big man can deliver a message to the Stormcast instead.



Then again, this is coming from second hand accounts and only the briefest flip through , so if this initial impression is mitigated by details I haven't yet picked up on, I'll be posting again later to admit my error. For now though, yeah. Kind of frustrating. I was hoping for more, especially from Neferata.


Ahh hell...........and Neferata was so well depicted in her own novels...........

GW seems to be moving more and more away from female models on the tabletop - lots in the BL 40k novels but vanishingly few in AO. Not sure why........

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2016/02/08 18:00:01


"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
Made in us
Dangerous Skeleton Captain




Baltimore

They seem to be stuck in an out-of-date mindset about... well, honestly, about a lot of things, not just gendered toy marketing. Someone should tell them it isn't 1995 anymore.

The pursuit of knowledge requires a mind unfettered by the petty constraints of ethics, faith, or mortality.

~ Roderick Pale 
   
Made in gb
Tough Treekin




I think it's a little early to be claiming gender politics on this. GW have managed to get *fractionally* more subtle in their background writing, but having Alarielle turn into a seed pod to stay alive is a telegraphed piece of future development if ever there was one...
I get the impression that Ghyran is going to take an absolute kicking before it starts to recover.

Which may or may not coincide with Alarielle MK3, more Sylvaneth, maybe some Ghyran Aelves...
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

RoperPG wrote:
I think it's a little early to be claiming gender politics on this. GW have managed to get *fractionally* more subtle in their background writing, but having Alarielle turn into a seed pod to stay alive is a telegraphed piece of future development if ever there was one...
I get the impression that Ghyran is going to take an absolute kicking before it starts to recover.

Which may or may not coincide with Alarielle MK3, more Sylvaneth, maybe some Ghyran Aelves...


hmmm we used to have some interesting (if often not "nice" ) female characters: including:

Alarialle - Loyal, loving, Immensly powerful - now she is a seed pod.........
Neferata - Clever, vicious, manipulative - now she is a puppet for the hated Nagash
Morathi - deadily, scheming, Incestiously in love with her son - unknown, likely merged with him...........

We are told that the Stormcast are the great heroes (not just human either) of the current and lost world reborn - no reason that a few could not be female - even if just in the text........

All the fyreslayers are male

etc etc

Its all just a bit dull and uninspired for a Fantasy game imo

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2016/02/08 19:17:31


"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
Made in gb
Tough Treekin




Alarielle has turned into a seed pod to avoid total destruction. She'll be back.
Neferata was *always* a thrall of Nagash, she just didn't like the fact.
Morathi I haven't seen anything on so can't comment.
We've still got Valkia the Bloody too.

The Stormcast are 'remade' in Sigmar's image, but there is mention that gender and even species isn't a bar to being chosen.
The Fyreslayer's background *specifically* states they are a patriarchal society.
Yes, the big female players in AoS - and even WFB before them - are flawed. But then so is every *male* character.
Equality isn't about numbers, it's about treatment.
There are no perfect creatures in AoS. I haven't even finished reading most of the Realmgate books and the Stormcast come across as more human than most Space Marine fiction I've ever read.

BYes, it would be nice to have a few more women in the background, but IMO the ones who are there aren't out of kilter.
But anyway, waaay off topic now. Sorry.
   
Made in us
Dangerous Skeleton Captain




Baltimore

Six months into the new game isn't too early to start grumbling, imo.

Equality is about treatment, but numbers is an aspect of that treatment. And even disregarding numbers I definitely starting to feel like the treatment is rather lacking, here.

The pursuit of knowledge requires a mind unfettered by the petty constraints of ethics, faith, or mortality.

~ Roderick Pale 
   
Made in gb
Rampaging Carnifex






 Malisteen wrote:
 shinros wrote:
Considering the events of the audio drama I feel quite bad for the stormcast in the realm of death with nagash popping up. Still great review as always, personally did not like the end of the wardens of everqueen novel won't spoil why.


Hard to say if this campaign is even in the same continuity as the audio drama, given that the Nagash in the campaign book and audio drama Nagash seem to share very little in common:
Spoiler:
In the campaign book, Nagash actively wants and needs to recollect his mortarchs in order to have generals competent enough to lead his armies against chaos, but in the audio drama one of those mortarchs literally come groveling before him, begging to be taken back, and Nagash rejects him.

In the campaign book, Nagash can possess the bodies of his mortarchs, actively possessing Neferata at one point in order to deliver a message to the Stormcasts. In the audio drama, Mannfred was not only able to leave Nagash to begin with, gaining his ire in the first place, but was then able to oppose Nagash, and flee from his very presence, which he should not have been able to do if Nagash has a 'dominate/possess' trigger on stand by.


Also, despite portions of this campaign book revolving around a couple of the vanishingly few female movers and shakers in Age of Sigmar, it seems the game still might as well be called 'Party of Sausage':
Spoiler:
Alarielle is literally objectified, reduced to a seed pod for the entire thing. It's protected by one of her forest spirits... who is slain by a chaos lord so that a Sigmarine can be the Big Hero and kill the lord to rescue Alarielle's pod.

Neferata is described as being a competent ruler who built Nulamiah and ruled it for ages, but it's all "tell don't show", because the place has already been practically destroyed by a Chaos seige before the campaign even starts, and from what I've heard from folks who've read it and seen in my brief glance through, she never does anything impressive or competent 'on screen', in a sad continuation of her uninspired treatment in the End Times. Instead, a Sigmarine has to save her when she's almost slain by the leader of the besieging chaos horde. And just as she's about to open her mouth, to maybe have a chance for her skills at manipulation to show through, she's dominated from afar by Nagash so that the big man can deliver a message to the Stormcast instead.



Then again, this is coming from second hand accounts and only the briefest flip through , so if this initial impression is mitigated by details I haven't yet picked up on, I'll be posting again later to admit my error. For now though, yeah. Kind of frustrating. I was hoping for more, especially from Neferata.


Audio Book

Spoiler:
"Nah he is pretty much the same in the audio series in my opinion since he states that the Mortarch's are manfisations of his will. Plus stating his intentions to war with sigmar the thief and chaos itself he even says he will throw khorne off his throne to some effect. With mannfred he more or less views him like some misguided beast of sorts. Considering his very first line to him was "How did you find the wilderness? Did you learn anything?" Or some such and just before we was going to teach mannfred a lesson he pointed out that he bought him the stormcast which most likely won a few brownie points the "thieves" and that whole event directed more of his attention allowing mannfred to leave. Or maybe he has learned something from Tarsim's soul that made him decide to get the stormcast souls in a different way? Honestly I think GW are setting up the Death faction. Plus another reviewer who explained some of the stories said that neferata was planning to take over of his empire until as you know in the audio drama nagash is up and about again and literally made stormcast and chaos warriors explode by just appearing on the battlfield according to the reviewer of course.


Wardens of Everqueen.
Spoiler:

Honestly I was hoping for some hint of the wood Aelves but nope and Alarielle barely did anything with nagash and sigmar in the novels you always I dunno feel their presence in the audio drama nagash was everywhere even if he does nor personally speak. Plus nagash is great at monologues. Now the reason why I did not like the ending all that much was Torglug I feel was the only interesting character in the novel and then suddenly the celestant prime just appearing in the LAST chapter was silly. He pretty much comes a long and starts wrecking faces and when Torglug started to doubt and the various extracts to his past was good and after being filled with nurgle's power to get the pod. Then when he killed the handmaiden literally the audiobook was describing him just about reaching for the seed, the prime comes along and wacks him on the head literally I might add and kills him like that and the book pretty much ends like that. After they go out of the way to explain how the stormcast have been held down too long by the three GUO and considering how many times the stormcast got battered by him.

The way he lost just seemed cheap after they just went on a lengthy description on how nurgle empowered him for the final push and the various extracts to his past. The last chapter just felt like advertisting for the prime no epic duell or anything or argument or retorts about faith and fanaticism just a wack on the head and he drops dead. Now Josh Reynolds can write interesting stormcast, the human pilgrims and vampires were all interesting wardens of everqueen just felt like how can I explain it? Meh I can't put it into words.

This message was edited 7 times. Last update was at 2016/02/09 00:50:15


 
   
Made in hk
Been Around the Block




RoperPG wrote:

Which may or may not coincide with Alarielle MK3, more Sylvaneth, maybe some Ghyran Aelves...


Like this?

Spoiler:

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2016/02/09 04:22:08


 
   
Made in us
[DCM]
Ambushing Wargor




Baltimore, Maryland

I loved the ending. The artwork of the reborn Knight-Venator was awesome. Looking forward to that guy taking to the field.

Also looking forward to Alarielle's rebirth, as its said she'll be kicking ass and taking names once she is reborn. New model incoming hopefully.

It was also nice to see the Knights Excelsior take to the field, as they are the ones I'm currently painting, upgrade kits and all.

"Sometimes the only victory possible is to keep your opponent from winning." - The Emperor, from The Outcast Dead.
"Tell your gods we are coming for them, and that their realms will burn as ours did." -Thostos Bladestorm
 
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

RoperPG wrote:
Alarielle has turned into a seed pod to avoid total destruction. She'll be back.
Neferata was *always* a thrall of Nagash, she just didn't like the fact.
Morathi I haven't seen anything on so can't comment.
We've still got Valkia the Bloody too.

The Stormcast are 'remade' in Sigmar's image, but there is mention that gender and even species isn't a bar to being chosen.
The Fyreslayer's background *specifically* states they are a patriarchal society.
Yes, the big female players in AoS - and even WFB before them - are flawed. But then so is every *male* character.
Equality isn't about numbers, it's about treatment.
There are no perfect creatures in AoS. I haven't even finished reading most of the Realmgate books and the Stormcast come across as more human than most Space Marine fiction I've ever read.

BYes, it would be nice to have a few more women in the background, but IMO the ones who are there aren't out of kilter.
But anyway, waaay off topic now. Sorry.


I like them flawed but I 'd like them to actually do something in the stories or be visible in the artwork, fluff etc etc.

The Stormcast are 'remade' in Sigmar's image, but there is mention that gender and even species isn't a bar to being chosen
. So any non human non males mentioned - ever?

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
Made in gb
Tough Treekin




I'm done with the gender discussion because a) it's waaay off topic, and b) I doubt either side is going to change their opinion.

But to me the indications are a number of your concerns have had the start of their story arc laid down, Alarielle and Neferata in particular. I'll be waiting for Alarielle MK3.
   
Made in us
Dangerous Skeleton Captain




Baltimore

In the audio drama Nagash says that the Mortarchs are extensions of his will, but it's not true, because Mannfred is clearly free to act against it, leaving when Nagash didn't want him to leave, coming back when nagash didn't want him to come back, escaping when nagash wanted him to die.

Audio drama Nagash clearly has no special power over Mannfred apart from just being stronger than he is in a fight.

As opposed to BoP Nagash who clearly does have special power over Neferata.

Audio drama Nagash is all bluster and petulent whining, a child throwing a tantrum, an egomaniac who never could have believably formed alliances with sigmar or anyone in the first place. He is a completely different character from End Times Nagash, who was able to recognize when he was overmatched in strength, and switch to a strategy of guile and cunning. Likewise, he's not origin trilogy Nagash, who could recognize when warring with the Skaven was getting him no where and forge an alliance with them instead (albeit a deceitful and temporary one just to buy himself time).

Audio drama Nagash wasn't lawful, couldn't ally with anyone, his word was nothing, and his ego wouldn't even let him pretend otherwise. He was described as someone who would betray every offer of friendship the moment it was made simply out of anger over the insult of friendship being offered to him (ie, the story of the seven banshees on the bridge).

BoP Nagash hasn't really had much time to act. We'll see what they do with him. But if he was audio drama nagash he'd be no serious threat to any side in this conflict. His mastery over the dead was so weak that he couldn't hold onto even a handful of stormcast souls, even at the very seat of his power in his inner sanctum.

Then again, maybe audio drama Nagash is the cannon Nagash of Age of Sigmar, considering he apparently wasn't even able to hold onto his own Undead Legions, as the tomb kings half of the old world undead have apparently slipped from his fingers altogether, making the 'Grand Alliance of Death' not only not-very-grand, but also hardly an 'alliance' at all.

More like 'grand alliance of the vampire counts compendium and nobody else, but missing several special characters, and with only half as many formations to work with, and nothing new to speak of'.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2016/02/09 15:32:12


The pursuit of knowledge requires a mind unfettered by the petty constraints of ethics, faith, or mortality.

~ Roderick Pale 
   
Made in gb
Wight Lord with the Sword of Kings






UK

Original Nagash was an egomaniac and control freak par excellence.

It was only in the End Times he ever deigned to make actual alliances – throughout the rest of his history – you served him or you were an enemy. The nearest thing to an alliance was with the Skaven where they both call a ceasefire having battered each armies for decades.

I am interested to know if he brought back the Mortarchs or they came back another way as Neferata for one only served him because she had to – she had denied him in the past. Nagash always just wanted a land of the dead, quiet and obedient, she wanted the living as well – and their adoration……..

As she is my favourite – what’s she like in the audio drama as if it’s good I will buy? Any mention of other named vampires from the “world that was” in either the audio or the book? Thanks for any info.

Mannfred was always in the shadow of the other Mortarchs and was way out of his depth in the End Times.

"Unimaginably ancient xenos artefact somewhere on the planet, hive fleet poised above our heads, hidden 'stealer broods making an early start....and now a bloody Chaos cult crawling out of the woodwork just in case we were bored. Welcome to my world, Ciaphas."
Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Ordo Xenos

"I will admit that some Primachs like Russ or Horus could have a chance against an unarmed 12 year old novice but, a full Battle Sister??!! One to one? In close combat? Perhaps three Primarchs fighting together... but just one Primarch?" da001

www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/528517.page

A Bloody Road - my Warhammer Fantasy Fiction 
   
Made in us
Dangerous Skeleton Captain




Baltimore

Nef is not in the audio drama at all. Mannfred is in all three parts, and it's a fair representation and performance.

Arkhan is in the third part for like a minute, before the plot just straight up forgets he's there (he doesn't leave or nothing, he's just there for one scene, and then not mentioned after that), it's a decent enough representation, but the performance is all wrong - think an evil merlin or dumbledore, not at all the right portrayal for an ancient skeletal egyptian, a deep throaty voice where it should be dry, too emotive where it should be dead inside and out, very British where the accent should be Egyptian. At least the writing isn't terrible for him.

Nagash... the voice is alright - not what I imagined, but it grew on me, but the writing, what he actually says and does, in the last part is terrible, and not at all fitting with his actions or motivations in Age of Sigmar.

overall the three part audio drama isn't terrible, but it really isn't worth the price. It's extremely redundant - very repetitive between episodes. And it wastes a lot of time with tedious battle descriptions that don't advance the narrative or provide any characterization.

In general, I don't recommend it.


As for Neferata, she was great in her time of legends book, in particular because it did away with that terrible Vashanesh fluff that in the past robbed her of any import or agency in her own story. But the end times treatment was terrible - probably because she was a literal afterthought. The story of the undead in the end times was built around Nagash, Mannfred, Arkhan, and Vlad. I doubt the inclusion of Neferata had even been considered until the designer of the dual kit Mannfred/Arkhan box decided they could fit in Neferata as well.

She doesn't do anything of note in the End Times, has to be rescued by Krell repeatedly, her spy network hardly comes up at all. Her feint drawing Khalida's forces away from the defense of Khemri was good, but ends with her losing yet another one on one duel with a character who in the game could barely touch her, and after that... nothing. She doesn't even get to have an off-screen moment like Abhorash was implied to get. She just sits at home in Sylvania with Khalida until the end comes. Major waste of the character.

I was hoping for more out of her in Balance of Power, but from what I've heard it doesn't deliver too much on that front. At least her formation sounds decent? Although it involves too many large models (neferata, plus a vamp on zombie dragon, plus a coven throne, plus two units of Archai) to be reasonably fielded in most regular game sizes.

It was good enough (the throne and dragon get bonuses for being near Nef, while the archai act as bodyguards to keep the enemy from taking her out, it all works together very well) that I was actually considering picking up the models I don't have of it (all three big things, no small purchase), before the Bland Alliance of Death rumors kind of took the wind out of my sails.

The pursuit of knowledge requires a mind unfettered by the petty constraints of ethics, faith, or mortality.

~ Roderick Pale 
   
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut






Ashitaka wrote:
Thanks for the review, I'm glad to read it.

But - skaven can chew through dimensions?
And Nulahmia
Nu-Lahmia
New Lahmia

Really?

And someone can feel free to PM me ending twist, since I'm not going to buy the book.


again, sub in AoS for Star Wars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbLqiKg9JkA and again, 18 or over (foul language)
   
Made in gb
Rampaging Carnifex






Well agree to disagree Malisteen and the plot did not forget Arkhan they described him as being abosrbed by nagash's fog or some such after he lost against the unreliable vampire.

That whole scene to me that the only reason why mannfred was running about was because nagash allowed him to. He pretty much refered to him as a wandering beast in the wilderness. He was about to wreck him completely until he told him that he bought the stormcast to him. Then all his anger and power was bought on to them and tethering their souls to him. Tarsim ;( Ahem he was also noted that he was distracted in reaping the souls of the stormcast and holding down their souls.

All of mannfred's descriptions and events from the other books in call of Archeon you don't mess with nagash's stuff.

Plus he directly feels anyone who enters his realm but he can never grasp at their souls because you know sigmar's reforging. Keeps the stormcast out of his grasp hence his beef with sigmar.

Perhaps balance of power takes place after he has pretty much mutilated someone's soul(won't say who and how for the sake of spoilers) after the events the audio drama since he knows certain things now. Still I think the audio drama gave some great development to our unreiable vampire, GW I expect to see something "heroic" similar to vlad in the future.

Still most people I talked to and the reviews say they loved the audio drama honestly your the first person I have seen who have said they dislike it. Well different strokes for different folks. Oh about Alarielle she has a specfic reason to turn into a pod. The current aspect of her was ill suited to the current war. Her aspect before she was in the pod was about life, growing and peacefulness.

She is attempting to regrow into a more martial goddess that's what the whole book is about and why she needs guardians. Its not about bloody gender politics. Or GW sasuage fest.

Ending spoiler
Spoiler:
Hell the sylvaneth and stormcast that survive have to now stand around until she actually grows back

Both neferata and mannfred are out of their depth considering nagash is now the god of the dead mannfred consider's him to be insane which he is since he notes that nagash creates guards to watch other guards. He was given 8 beautfiul wives by some tribals as a show of fealty or they rebelled(can't exactly remember). Still the 8 wives were a present or offering to him and he then proceeded to kill them all anyway and enslave their souls. Oh and he turned the 8 wives into banshee's. Neferata seeks to rule his dead empire when she of all people should know he is going to come back. Hell vampires were created from nagash's manipulations they NEVER had control like they thought they had that's the irony of all of it. Even in end times when he contacted worthy undead to be his mortarch's he made zacharias brain burn from the inside for daring to bargin with him or to think he is his equal that's when he was not even a god. (He did this with his mind of all things) Hijacking an undead's body is like child's play to him now. He even cursed them to react badly to faith in sigmar he always had power over them the vampires are the deluded ones to think they are above him or think they can escape his grasp. Hence why settra is so awesome GW please bring him back.

I mean HE IS pretty much the realm of death! Que example call of Archeon bloodbound come into his realm and they begin traversing the desert soon after they get wrecked by a tomb sphinx because they did not belong in the realm. They beat them and they continue trudging through the desert with no food and each of them glaring hungrily at each other. A fight breaks out afterwards they get happy because now they have food buuut all the dead flesh dissolve away leaving only bones. With only having a small amount of muscle left. One bloodbound warrior attemps to eat it he dies as well and gets reduced to a skeleton becoming enslaved to nagash forever and they all pretty much agree they have to respect where they are and that the dead belong to nagash.

The god of spooky was always an egomaniac and a control freak hell the guy speaks in third person sometimes.

This message was edited 8 times. Last update was at 2016/02/10 01:48:50


 
   
Made in sg
Regular Dakkanaut




thekingofkings wrote:
Ashitaka wrote:
Thanks for the review, I'm glad to read it.

But - skaven can chew through dimensions?
And Nulahmia
Nu-Lahmia
New Lahmia

Really?

And someone can feel free to PM me ending twist, since I'm not going to buy the book.


again, sub in AoS for Star Wars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbLqiKg9JkA and again, 18 or over (foul language)


Exactly! Its like York ---> New York!
   
Made in se
Executing Exarch






Another great review Matt, thanks a bunch for doing these!
   
 
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