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Sunday, January 18, 2015
Warhammer: Thanquol, A Look Inside
I picked up a copy of the End Times book Warhammer: Thanquol this weekend. Here's an overview of what's inside. There won't be any story spoilers in this review, it will mostly focus on what's inside the rulebook. I will say that the story book focuses on the Skaven fighting in Lustria and the Dwarf holds, so there are a lot of beautiful shots of Skaven, Lizardmen, and Dwarf armies fighting. The story book is almost as thick as the Nagash book– 232 pages (compared to Nagash's 296).
One thing that I got a kick out of is the text on the back cover. "The world is ending, though few believe it." I can't help but wonder if that has a dual meaning, also referring to the fact that we, the players don't believe that maybe this is the end for Warhammer as we know it...
I'll also point out that the infamous photo of Thanquol with the round-based Bell and Furnace in the background does not appear anywhere in these books.
The rulebook is 64 pages, and covers the following:
Realms of the Lizardmen
Like Nagash, Thanquol had some new battlefield rules, this time for fighting in ancient temple-cities and Lustrian jungles. Structures in the temple cities can contain treasure that award extra victory points in battles, but are also cursed and have an adverse affect on the unit that found it. When fighting in jungle battlefields there is a table that each player rolls on at the start of his turn to find out what the jungle has in store for him. It could be anything from charge ranges being reduced because of the humidity to units sinking in quicksand!
There are six scenarios recreating the battles fought in Warhammer: Thanquol. Some of the scenarios use a combination of battlefield rules from Nagash and Thanquol, and all of them use the Magic of the End Times rules from Warhammer: Khaine.
Lords of Battle Campaigns
These rules describe how to fight a Lords of Battle campaign– a series of linked games that follow a track through a series of "battle boxes" that describe the scenario and special rules for the battle. There is a 3-battle campaign laid out in the book, based on the clash betweenthe Dwarfs and Skaven.
Lords of battle campaigns (and these rules seem pretty complex for the three battles that are laid out in this book, so I suspect we'll be seeing more of this in future supplements) use Strategems and Stategic Charastics (the three characteristics are Guile, Planning, and Persuasion). These elements affect the battle by allowing the player to employ special rules and tactics for the game. The campaign in the book (and likely all printed campaigns) list how many stratagems can be used. The rules appear to be open enough to allow you to create your own campaigns.
The Stratagems are related to one of the three strategic characteristics. There are a few common stratagems listed in the book, and the campaign(s) have unique stratagems available as well. The stratagems are things like being able to redeploy your units, forced marching for extra movement, scouting mysterious terrain ahead of time, and affecting the stats of your own (or your enemy's!) models via potions or poison.
Seems like an interesting way to spice things up if you're getting bored with the standard scenarios. I first wondered if 9th edition might do away with the standard scenarios altogether and replace them with stratagems. Perhaps not, as the campaign battle boxes still list scenarios as part of the game.
New Armies and Units
Unlike the previous End Times books, Warhammer: Thanquol does not have a combined "legions" list. (Sorry, no combined Skaven and Chaos list!) Instead, it has Battlescrolls. These are formations that can be added to (or played instead of) a standard army. Each formation is accompanied by a few additional special rules that apply for the game.
Each Battlescroll specifies which race (army book) it is for, and has a formation of characters and units that must be included. These units do not count toward the army's allowances for troops and characters, or duplicates of Special and Rare units. All of the formations in the book specify that if they are included in your army, you do not need to spend a minimum of 25% on Core units.
The units in the Battlescroll formation are otherwise paid for out of your army points, and follow the normal rules for unit size and options. The formations don't specify how large the units need to be, only that they need to be included.
There are two Skaven Formations, one for Dwarfs, one for Lizardmen, and one for The Empire. I'm sure we'll see more formations added in the future.
The new characters and models in the book include, Thanquol and Boneripper, Lord Skreech Verminking, the four Verminlords, and Slayer King Ungrim, Incarnate of Fire.
The Stormfiends are what interest me the most– Rat ogres on 50mm bases with weapons and armor. They cost a flat amount of points per model (a little more than double the cost of a normal rat ogre). Each one can be armed with one of six weapons at no extra point cost. The model kit includes three poses, each of which can be built as one of two options. In a nutshell, the weapons are:
Grinderfists: Allows the unit to tunnel onto the board and still charge or shoot. Windlaunchers: Functions similarly to the poisoned wind mortar weapon team. Warpfire projectors: Works similarly to the warpfire thrower weapon teams. Ratling cannons: Heavier ratling guns, they roll 3 dice for the number of shots. Doom-flayer gauntlets and warpstone-laced armor: Strength bonus and D3 impact hits. Shock gauntlets and warpstone-laced armor: Strength bonus and D3 stomp attacks.
*The warpstone-laced armor gives the Stormfiend a 4+ armor save, which applies to all the models in the unit (whether they have the heavier armor of not). The "force field" effect can be negated though; if an attack targets a specific model (like a melee attack or a ranged attack that can single out an individual model in a unit) any non-warpstone-laced model uses it's regular, light armor save.
One thing I notice about these Stormfiend weapons (and Boneripper's warpfire projectors work the same as the Stormfiends') is that there is no chance that rolls of 1 or misfires can harm the unit using it. Some of them specify that the hits are directed at the closest friendly unit in line-of-sight, but if there isn't a friendly unit to suffer the hits, then nothing happens and the shot just misses. That seems oddly un-Skaveny to me. These are the first Skaven-designed weapons that don't explode when used!
Overall, the book is pretty solid. I think the campaign and Battlescrolls give a little insight into the future of the game. I really dig the Stormfiends. Although, as I suspected, some of the options are obviously better than others. Since a single kit can't build three of the same weapon, I may have to get creative with my conversions.