Hot on the heels of the new Battletome for the Stormcasts, the forces of Khorne get a revision too. So, let’s crack open the cover and see what’s what.
(If you want to see lots of piccies - and some of the text will make more sense with them - hop along to: https://ttgamingdiary.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/review-battletome-blades-of-khorne/
The first thing to note is that this book does not just cover the mortal Bloodbound, as the previous edition did. Like Disciples of Tzeentch, this volume covers all Khorne-based armies, from the Bloodbound, through daemons, to Khorne worshipping Slaves to Darkness.
A word about the art… it is fairly awesome…
I have noticed some debate on forums of late regarding art in recent Age of Sigmar books, with suggestions that some of it is bad. Umm, no. Some art is better than the rest, but there really is no bad art in these books. Put that one down to Internet Stress.
As with Disciples of Tzeentch, the book kicks off with an overview of Khorne and what it is to be in his armies. Being Khorne, there is not a great deal of nuance here (‘aaargh, I am really angry!’), though it does lay out why Khorne has such a massive issue with Slaanesh.
That said, the writing does a good job of putting you in the right frame of mind to control an army of Khorne – or what it might be like to face one.
Veterans of Warhammer will know all about the eight hosts of Khorne, and where the Bloodthirsters fit into them. A nice touch is that the First Host specifically lists Exalted Bloodthirsters, which is a good nod to the renaming of the models from Forge World (of which I have just become a proud owner and, as soon as the Exalted Bloodthirster gets a lick of paint, I’ll post piccies!)
We have all become familiar with the suggested paint schemes in Battletomes, and there have been comments that they are a little poor, art-wise, being rather flat and ‘coloured in’. I am actually okay with this, as it gets the point across without any confusion, which is the last thing you need when trying to settle on a new colour scheme for your army. Both mortals and daemons are covered, though the range of colours for Bloodletters is always going to be limited (though bone coloured Hellblades are a nice idea…).
I am a fair fan of the double page spread of weapons and their descriptions that have started to pop up in Battletomes, but there is something else I would have liked to have seen these pages used for, and I’ll come back to that in a moment…
Another nice touch…
Lord Korghos Khul is still a thing, and while he managed to achieve daemonhood in our own campaign, it is good to see he is likely to appear in future GW
The ‘timeline’ spread is limited to two pages, and this one is really more of a history of what has gone by, mostly before the Realmgate Wars. However, the last event suggests Khorne is somewhat put out by the successes enjoyed recently by the Stormcasts. Expect retribution…
Following what is becoming the traditional format of Battletomes, unit descriptions follow, with entries for every Khorne model currently available. Even the likes of Karanak get healthy coverage.
Veterans may be tempted to skip past this bit, but I would caution against it, as this is probably the most in-depth overview we have ever had for Khorne in Age of Sigmar. It even differentiates between the different Heralds of Khorne – Bloodmasters, Skullmasters, Blood Thrones and Skulltaker himself.
Next up, the ‘hobby’ section, with lots of photographs of pretty miniatures. Lots of them. In fact, at 22 pages, I think this is the most space that has been given to these photographs in any Battletome – perhaps not a surprise, given the size of the Khorne range.
Next up are the rules, and let me now welcome all of you who skipped the review to reach this point!
There has been a fair bit of chatter on forums already about the Blood Tithe table used in the Battle Trait for all Khorne forces – in a nutshell, you get a Blood Tithe point for every unit (friend or foe) destroyed during the battle. These may then be spent (sometimes in your enemy’s hero phase) to use additional command abilities, unbind spells (automatically!), have a brass skull meteor lobbed onto the battlefield, or summon new Khorne daemon units (and yes, Skarbrand will most certainly count!).
Command Traits, like those for Tzeentch, are divided between mortal, daemon and hardcore mortals (the Bloodbound in this case, in the same way as the Arcanite Acolytes represented for Tzeentch).
Plenty of artefacts follow, with tables divided between mortals, daemons, and Bloodbound specific forces. Like the Stormcasts, there are also tables specifically for totems and prayers, and I foresee Bloodsecrators and Slaughterpriests becoming (even) more prominent in Khorne forces.
Again like recent Battletomes, there are two Battleplans (one for daemons, one for mortals) and regulars will know what I am going to say at this point – please GW
, give us background stories for these Battleplans like you used to do, and advance the storyline as you go! Some of us really like the context this background gives to our battles on the tabletop!
Both Battleplans are simple in their approach (as befits Khorne), with one focussing on shedding as much blood as possible and the other having armies seek worthy skulls (also as befits Khorne).
Path to Glory campaign tables follow, and I think I would be quite comfortable with Khorne forces. The odd Bloodthirster aside, there are no units included here that will simply crush all opposition. And you can deal with the odd Bloodthirster.
Until you get to the Battalions, of course. Up to now, the additions to Khorne forces have been flavourful, interesting and of some small benefit to Khorne players. Now we come to the part of the Battletome that will really make Khorne forces fly.
Take the Daemon Legion of Khorne, for example:
This is actually two Battalions, as it includes the Blood Host of Khorne. Minimum cost, 1260 points (ten Bloodletter units, and a pint-sized Bloodthirster). So, in a 2,000 point tournament army, you have plenty of room to add more units and finesse existing ones (increasing Bloodletter units to 20 or 30 models would be a good start, to get those lovely mortal wounds – add a Herald to get even more). However, for your points, you are now getting pile ins/attacks during the hero phase, along with a bonus Blood Tithe point every round, and if any unit is destroyed in a combat phase, every Battalion model gets +1 Attacks to every melee weapon.
Not good enough for you? Well then, let me introduce you to the Murderhost. You just need one Bloodletter Hero and 3-8 daemonic units (you’ll go for 8), and you get a bonus 2D6
″ for every unit close to the Hero at the start of the game. Have the full 8 units, and you get that in every hero phase. You no longer have a problem reaching enemies before they shoot you to pieces.
Existing Battalions have been revised, with the Brass Stampede getting some new bonuses (and the Bloodcrushers get an equivalent Battalion too now).
My only bugbear here? The big Bloodbound Warhorde mega-Battalion still has the Gorechosen in addition to the Heroes of the other Battalions. And it just ain’t supposed to be that way – there are supposed to be eight Gorechosen, full stop, with each leading a portion of the warhorde. Not eight Gorechosen sitting on top of other Heroes who then lead the others.
Yeah, I know, that is a small concern, but it has been bugging me since Battletome: Khorne Bloodbound…
Finally, you get Warscrolls and Pitched Battle Profiles. I would recommend that veterans do not skip this section either as, like the Stormcasts, there are some small tweaks. The biggest (in effect) is probably with the Bloodreavers, who now get Save 6+. Other generals might guffaw at that, but this is a Big Deal to a Bloodreaver, who can now take advantage of cover…
Bloodreavers now also only respond to Khorne Totems, and I have a feeling in the last edition they got excited around any Totem.
Overall, this is a worthy addition to the Age of Sigmar line and while there will be some complaints that Khorne did not need this volume before Nurgle got his, there are plenty of Khorne players who will appreciate it (and, I have a feeling, some new Khorne players will be joining them). I don’t begrudge them that, and there is plenty in this book for them to get their teeth (and axes) into.
In addition to the Battletome, GW
also released some handy Warscroll cards that cover every Khorne unit.
Regular readers will know of the font issue that plagued the Stormcast card deck, so did GW
make suitable changes for Khorne?
I don’t think so!
This Skulltaker card is entirely representative.
Now, to be fair, this approach does make a degree of sense for the likes of Skarbrand:
But not for other units.
To put a further nail in the coffin, take a look at that Skulltaker card… then look at the Skulltaker entry in the Battletome a little further up the page.
They have done the same thing in the book!
This is officially Not Good. Can’t help thinking it may be a push towards PDF Warscrolls (which tend to be just fine) or the Age of Sigmar app.
So, final-final conclusion: Get the Battletome, leave the cards.