16 Mar 2015

End Times: Archaon - Rules Review Part I

These are the End Times.....but they also herald the beginning of something special. There has been much controversy over this release and while I refuse to comment on the ending of the background book at this time, you can be sure that I will cover that and share my personal opinion of the matter in my next article. For now, I hope you enjoy this early look at the rules found in End Times: Archaon, including some powerful new profiles for existing and debut characters as well as a multitude of formations, an all-new army list and even one jaw-dropping change to army construction.

Due to article length, I have chosen to review only the characters in End Times: Archaon, excluding the titular villain himself. The rest of the review will be posted soon.

End Times: Archaon 

Characters and Units

Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury - Despite the added title, this is simply your bog standard Bloodthirster from the current Daemons of Chaos army book with all of the same options and wargear. Basically, you should only take this if you are strapped for points and just can't fit in or justify spending more points to take the far superior Insensate Rage or Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirsters. As any Daemons of Chaos player will tell you, the standard Bloodthirster is nasty in combat but will often find his match in similarly priced combat characters, not to mention that being a Monster with only 5 Wounds and poor saving throws makes him far too vulnerable to being destroyed well before he reaches combat. Granted, being an over-priced glass cannon is an issue all three of the Bloodthirsters have but the Unfettered Fury just doesn't provide enough damage output to really make up for that deficiency; you are always better served with either the Insensate Rage or Wrath of Khorne over this generic entry.

Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage - Of the three Bloodthirsters, this is probably my favourite simply because it is the only one that has a semi-reliable chance of successfully taking on the significantly more expensive and almost unstoppable Karl Franz Ascendant and Nagash. Having Heroic Killing Blow as a special rule rather than being tied to its weapon is simply incredible and makes up for having a great weapon that wastes the Bloodthirsters' ridiculous Initiative 9. You should always take a Daemonic Gift (or Gifts) to get a Magic Weapon, preferably one that increases the odds of the Bloodthirster hitting in combat or boosting its Attacks characteristic. The main reason you want this Bloodthirster is because it has Heroic Killing Blow on all of its melee attacks, meaning the more attacks you have as well as potential re-rolls or bonuses to hit are all the better and exponentially increase the odds of successfully landing a one-hit-knockout on an enemy model. This is what makes the Insensate Rage Bloodthirster so darned useful to have in an End Times game where power-houses such as Nagash and Karl Franz Ascendant are around and generally incredibly difficult to deal with, with the latter in particular being probably the best reason to use this death-dealing machine.

That this Bloodthirster also has Frenzy means he has 7 Attacks base and thus my recommendation for a Magic Weapon is the Sword of Strife obtained via a Greater Gift, giving it a total of 9 Attacks. Considering it is Weapon Skill 10 and Initiative 9, it will go first and average 6 hits against almost every enemy in the game outside of Nurgle's followers, meaning it should successfully deal a single Heroic Killing Blow in every phase against roughly 90% of the units it might come up against. Having what essentially amounts to a 50% chance to kill the 800+ point super-characters (Malekith aside) on a 550 point model (with the single Greater Gift factored in) is pretty good value for a Flying and reasonably survivable monster, though obviously it suffers the same glass cannon issue as the other two Bloodthirsters. Still, if you manage to get this into combat with enemy monsters and characters it will simply tear them apart while also eating rank and file units with little difficulty. An alternative build option to the Sword of Strife is to take the Sword of Swift Slaying and the Eternal Blade via a combination of one Lesser Gift and one Exalted Gift, though this is definitely more reliable it is also more expensive and relies on your opponents accepting the rules interpretation that a Daemon gains the benefits of the Eternal Blade without using it. In any case, if your Chaos army somehow struggles to deal with enemy monsters or has a more legitimate issue against the super-characters of the End Times, this Bloodthirster is pretty much tailor-made to your needs. Otherwise, the third and final Bloodthirster of the trio is undoubtedly the best overall.

Bloodthirster of Wrath of Khorne - When you compare this particular Bloodthirster to the Unfettered Rage, the comparison further emphasizes the survivability issues these models have but also how insanely more destructive the Wrath of Khorne is in almost every scenario. The base profile might be the same but the bloodshed lies with the special rules and magic weapon pairing, and boy is this thing jaw-dropping at first glance. Possessing both Frenzy and Devastating Charge in addition to stock paired weapons gives the Wrath of Khorne 8 attacks base - the sacred number of Khorne - and a whopping 9 on the charge. It has a boosted Magic Resistance (3) as opposed to Magic Resistance (2), meaning it has an awesome 2+ ward save against wounds caused by spells; given how dominating it is in close combat and even in shooting with its one-use-only breath weapon, opponents are basically forced to rely on war machines to bring it down. When taken in a Daemons of Chaos army list where Daemonic Instability tests are taken based off of Leadership, his otherwise useless Stubborn special rule actually allows it to run head-first into any enemy unit and not have to worry much at all about being bogged down by static combat resolution. Crazily, the Wrath of Khorne adds 3" to its charge distance against an enemy unit that contains one or more characters for an average charge distance of 20" and a total charge range of 25" - just make sure to remember that unit champions do not count as characters!

That it also has Hatred of all characters makes it almost as or more potent a character hunter as the Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage for an identical points cost (assuming the Insensate Rage has the Sword of Strife), being roughly equivalent against most and superior against many others. About the only time the Insensate Rage Bloodthirster pulls ahead of the Wrath of Khorne is against super-characters such as Karl Franz Ascendant and other models that would otherwise endure the Wrath of Khorne's initial barrage of attacks. Re-rolling to hit and being Strength 9 on the charge or Strength 8 in the first round of combat is generally superior to having the chance of getting Heroic Killing Blow against the majority of opponents, after all. The Wrath of Khorne's Wrathaxe and Bloodfail give it both the Extra Attack special rule and +2 Strength in the first round of each combat, combining spectacularly with the Daemon of Khorne (+1 Strength on the charge) and Devastating Charge (+1 Attack on the charge) to give the Wrath of Khorne an insane 9 Strength 9 Attacks on the charge. If anything can survive against that and still beat the Wrath of Khorne in combat for 550 points or less, I would love to see it! Perhaps the most ridiculous trait of all is the Wrath of Khorne's unique Strength 5 Breath Weapon that is both Flaming and Magical, allowing it to obliterate anything from Treemen in combat to entire units of Chaos Warriors, Elves and generally anything that isn't monstrous or has a 1+ armour save at close range. This is undeniably the most emphatic glass cannon in the game and is probably the most brutally damaging single model that can be found in Warhammer Fantasy for its points total, smashing almost anything it touches and even standing a chance against more expensive characters such as Nagash. I would skip the Daemonic Gifts on this as it is already brutal and costly enough, though if you must I do recommend the Lesser or Greater Gifts.

Skarr Bloodwrath - If you haven't figured it out already, this guy is the Wrathmonger/Skullreaper equivalent of Gutrot Spume and thus a seemingly innocuous character with surprisingly good value. Whereas Gutrot was mostly useful for being a cheap and powerful Leadership 10 General for an army, Skarr is rather expensive and is purely taken because of his Bloodborn special rule and the fact that he hits like a truck. Skarr is relatively easy to kill - even when compared to Gutrot - because he only has Toughness 5, 3 Wounds and a 4+ armour save to protect him, with his Weapon Skill 8 and lack of a -1 to-hit penalty on opponents ensuring even standard Elf warriors are hitting him on a 4+. He does handily provide both himself and his unit with a 6+ ward save against spell damage because he has Magic Resistance (1), but otherwise he is left relatively defenseless against Executioners in base contact or Lore of Death "snipes". Skarr makes up for this once he reaches combat by having 7 Attacks all the time due to 5 base plus Frenzy and Paired Weapons, all resolved at Weapon Skill 8, Strength 5 and Initiative 7. Like the Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster, however, these attacks are resolved at Strength 7 in the first round of combat due to acting as effective "super flails" meaning he has a total of 7 Strength 7 attacks in the first round of combat, plus an impressive D3 Strength 5 Impact Hits if he charges.

Heck, even if Skarr loses his Frenzy he still cares little for Fear or Terror causing enemies as he also has the otherwise superfluous Immune to Psychology special rule. Of course, the most interesting aspect of Skarr's rules and the only thing that saves him from being completely garbage (he's just too easy to kill otherwise, especially as he always has to issue and accept challenges due to the Eye of the Gods special rule) is his unique Bloodborn rule that acts as his actual defence. It acts as a tally that increases by one for each character Skarr slays in a challenge or, altneratively, each monster he kills; provided he isn't killed by Spawndom or Dark Apotheosis, he rolls a D6 each time he dies and adds the number of the Blood Tally to that roll. Even without any counters, that he succeeds on a 4+ means that he has a 50% chance to come back to life each time someone kills him; add two or three tokens to that and Skarr is almost guaranteed to come back, and he does so with D3 Wounds each time. He keeps the bonuses from the Eye of the Gods chart each time he resurrects and is unaffected by spells that were previously cast on him each time he reincarnates. Overall, this ability would be downright broken on a super fast or super durable model that could make full use of it, but for Skarr it serves as the only justification for taking him in a more competitive match. He is just far too vulnerable to death-snipes and being a Lord choice with a high cost relegates him to mediocrity, especially as he is only Leadership 8 and thus makes for a poor General. Being a regular Infantry character despite his base size means you thankfully aren't forced to pair him with Skullreapers and Wrathmongers, allowing you to hide him with Chaos Warriors or other suitable Infantry units of your choice.

Skullreapers - While much of the discussion surrounding this unit focuses on their (in my opinion) terrible models, what attention has been to paid to their rules has resulted in a generally negative reception overall. I sadly can't disagree with this as this unit shares all of the major issues Blight Kings suffer from without any of the benefits, essentially leaving it dead-on-arrival. As with Blight Kings, they are situated on monstrous infantry bases despite not actually being monstrous infantry, meaning that they are slow at Movement 4, incredibly unwieldy when run 5 wide - further compounded by infantry requiring 5 models per rank to gain rank bonuses - and not being able to make their full supporting attacks in secondary and (if in a horde) tertiary ranks. Having 5 attacks per model means little if you only get 1 supporting attack per model from the back ranks, though being Weapon Skill 6, Strength 5 (with the optional paired ensorcelled weapons) and Initiative 5 does see them inflict a lot of damage even with just the bare 5 models. However, the huge issues of frontage and being a downright pain to move are just too severe for this kind of unit, especially as it isn't even as valuable as the mediocre to good Blight Kings.

The latter unit can change its weapon options between combats and thus get fewer Strength 6 attacks or more Strength 4 attacks to fit the situation, while having Toughness 5, a -1 to-hit penalty in combat, as well as potential 3+ armour saves and 6+ parry saves to make them very difficult to kill. Skullreapers have none of those defensive benefits or the ability to switch weapons, meaning they can't deal with enemy armoured units at all well and - perhaps most painfully of all - lack the option of a musician to help alleviate their unwieldy positioning and slow movement. This unit is just too easy to bait with Frenzy and their massive base sizes, while trying to run them 3 wide or smaller is a waste as the minimum unit size is 5 while they lose out on all-important rank bonuses if run less than 5 wide. Even if it does get into combat, much less expensive - and Steadfast - combat units will smash them to bits and fully expose how bad they are no matter how you rank them up, seeing as they are incredibly expensive models and don't get to make their full supporting attacks when taken in more than one rank. The idea behind these large infantry units is nice but sadly they just simply do not function in practice.

Wrathmongers - These are in a similar boat to Skullreapers for all of the same reasons outlined above as well as being a Rare choice in a heavily contested slot (unless you use the new army-list construction rules, of course). However, these do pack on the damage and thus end up being the better unit overall with their Paired Wrath-Flails being superior to either of the Skullreapers' weapon options. Inflicting D3 Impact Hits and being Strength 6 in the first round of combat as well as Strength 5 base is very nice and makes these slightly more recommendable in a vacuum compared to Skullreapers, though you will quickly find even these are relatively worthless next to the far more valuable Rare choices you can take even just from the Warriors of Chaos book. Skullcrushers make these poor boys seem almost pathetic by comparison, while they will never match the value of something like a Hellcannon.

Isabella the Accursed - Oh how I wish this character had better thought out rules, as she may as well just be a moving paper-weight - and thus, useless - with her distinct lack of saving throws. Having the profile of a Vampire Lord with an increase of one to both her Initiative and Attacks values is very nice, as is being a Leadership 10 General option for Daemons of Chaos and even Chaos armies in general. Her Plague Chalice is a nice magic item that can be potentially devastating against Elves and Empire in particular, while she even has the equivalent of Nurgle's Rot with her Blessing of Great Nurgle. She is an Undead model in an army that otherwise entirely lacks Undead models, while also being Vampiric and having Hatred of other Undead. She gets to add Plaguebearers and Nurglings to existing units of those two when she casts a spell from the Daemon Lore of Nurgle, of which she is a Level 3 Wizard that can use that or, alternatively, her more "natural" Lore of the Vampires. In addition, any Undead unit that she deals an unsaved wound to suffers an additional D3 wounds with no saves of any kind allowed at the end of each close combat phase, billing her as the "anti-Undead" character. All that aside, in keeping with her Vampire Counts army book profile and to the utter bemusement of myself and others, she is absolutely terrible and the mind boggles that anyone could think otherwise. If you thought Skarr was easy to kill, look again; Isabella is Toughness 5 with 3 Wounds and no saving throws of any kind. That is a recipe for disaster if ever I have seen one, especially on a model that is priced at over 400 points. By the by, did anyone else notice that as Isabella is not Daemonic, she can never join Daemon units and is thus utterly horrendous as part of a Daemons of Chaos army? Yep, she's restricted to joining non-Daemonic units and her Instability works even when part of a non Unstable unit. What the f**k!? She has the Lore of the Vampires but aside from the Hexes and damaging spells, she can only use it to heal herself as all of the augment spells in the lore - including Invocation of Nehek - specify they only affect Undead units. Basically, you shouldn't bother with it except to take one spell and hope you get a helpful one just to heal wounds on her with the lore attribute, though thankfully the Daemon Lore of Nurgle is at least decent.

As a Level 3 she obviously doesn't match up to a Level 4 and she has no Dispel Scroll to speak of, meaning she is already almost worthless to Daemon armies that pay through the nose for the former and have no way of accessing the latter. Her Nurgle's Rot is nice and fluffy but the chances of it ever doing something are slim given that she is on a tiny base, especially once you consider that Chaos armies are almost entirely composed of models on 25mm or larger bases whereas Isabella comes on a 20mm base, forcing her to the side of most units and thus making her an easy target. She isn't even that great in combat with an utter lack of Vampiric Powers, Killing Blow or anything of the sort, being a Weapon Skill 7 and Initiative 8 Vampire Lord with 6 Attacks at Strength 5. Hooray? I ask this question of the rules designers; what were you thinking!? If she had the Mark of Nurgle and Regeneration (5+) or even Regeneration (4+), I could understand the utter lack of an armour save. Without either of those, I can't ever see Isabella being a competitive choice as she is just far, far too easy to kill. Sure, your bog standard Undead unit without attached characters will fall over the moment she hits combat with them but then the same would be true of a 280 point Chaos Lord with the Mark of Khorne and Sword of Bloodshed for roughly 150 points less, and that Chaos Lord is harder to kill as well! Her rule might seem nice against Undead characters but the ones that actually want to fight in combat at all will still kick her down with impunity; even a fully defensive Wight King with merely a great weapon for offence will win a duel between the two. She's a Level 3 Wizard in an army that absolutely needs a Level 4 and that can't make real use of one lore and has one other decent lore to choose from, she is a mediocre at best combat character that will get spanked even by a tooled-up Exalted Hero or Noble at half the price, while her situational anti-Undead abilities are pretty much unnecessary as the one time it matters that unit or an attached character will just kill her anyway. Outside of a themed game against Undead, avoid her at all costs and spend those 400+ points elsewhere.

Balthasar Gelt, Incarnate of Metal - After the travesty of rules design that is Isabella the Accursed, Balthasar Gelt seems like a holy savior that appears not a moment too soon. While his points cost has increased a significant 100 points over his Empire army book incarnation, in this case one can definitely say it was worth it in the end (times). His fully combined profile makes him a monstrous cavalry model with a whopping 6 Wounds at Toughness 4, while he still maintains his 3+ ward save against shooting attacks as well as a new 2+ ward save against all Flaming Attacks. If that wasn't enough considering he is a Flying model that can thus avoid combats with ridiculous ease, Gelt now permanently has Magic Resistance (3) as opposed to a variable Magic Resistance value based on the number of enemy wizards on the battlefield. These additions and stat boosts alone make Gelt worthwhile over his lesser version as outside of combat (which he can avoid with no difficulty whatsoever) he is virtually invulnerable to damage and has six Wounds to soak up whatever unsaved wounds somehow do get through. He gained a bump to his Leadership value up to 9 to make him a much improved General option, while being a Level 5 Wizard that adds +2 to all of his casting values is absolutely insane - especially if you get to use him alongside the End Times Magic rules. Loremastery of the Lore of Metal might not be quite as crazy as knowing all of the spells of, say, the Lore of Shadow, and Metal generally isn't as good of a supporting lore for Empire armies as Light would be, but it still makes for one heck of a good counter to heavily armoured armies such as Chaos forces while providing some really nice augment spells for your Demigryph Knights and Halberdier hordes.

His all new bound spell 'The Crucible' is interesting to say the least and not nearly as broken as we all thought it would be once it was confirmed it was actually an augment rather than a hex. Having a Power Level of 10 makes it a relatively high power dice investment for a bound spell, though the effect is awesome; it allows you to remove Gelt and up to D3 other units from the table and return them to play anywhere on the battlefield at the start of his next turn, with each of the units other than Gelt suffering D6-1 (so a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 5) wounds with no saves of any kind allowed. As the units and Gelt are returned to the battlefield at the start of the turn and nothing in the spell specifies that they are treated as arriving like reinforcements, this means you can use this to teleport - for example - a horde of Halberdiers with an attached Warrior Priest right behind an enemy unit and then charge it on the same turn. Being able to rotate these units to face wherever they want on the "return" is what makes this so crazy, though the D6-1 Wounds that ignore saving throws does make it iffy to use for the powerhouse units like Demigryph Knights, Steam Tanks or Inner Circle Knight buses. Still, there are some major shenanigans to be had with this spell in conjunction with a Life Wizard that knows Regrowth as they can heal the unit of its lost wounds and being able to effectively guarantee a rear charge on any units you want - you can set up as close as 1" away from enemy units! - is absolutely insane, even if the Empire doesn't quite have the true death-stars capable of truly breaking game balance via this ability. Overall, Gelt is an awesome use of the points with the only downside being his inability to threaten anything other than war machines (which he is great to use against anyway) in close combat; not that users of him will really care, of course.

Tyrion, Incarnate of Light - As far as I can tell, no character in the End Times has received new rules in two or more of the books other than Tyrion which speaks to his importance in both the background and to Games Workshop. It's not an accident that Teclis and Tyrion are not only the first ever special characters introduced for Warhammer Fantasy but also have such a dramatic impact on the End Times series, Tyrion serving dually as one of the greatest villains and heroes whereas Teclis conceived the plan that could have saved the world, even if it meant his own death. One could say that the End Times served partially as an ode to these two icons of Warhammer Fantasy with Teclis in particular being arguably the star of End Times: Archaon, though I'm not so sure Tyrion's latest rule-set is truly indicative of that. As we expected, Tyrion is not nearly as powerful as he was as the Avatar of Khaine and has even changed quite significantly from his army book rendition, leaving me confused as to how useful he truly is. He's still roughly 140 points more expensive than he was before the End Times, but he crucially lost the Heart of Avelorn - presumably as part of his resurrection - in the process. This means that his vulnerability to Killing Blow is more apparent than ever seeing as he can't just get back up on the roll of a 2+ by ignoring the wound that killed him, while he also sadly lacks his ever useful Magic Resistance (2).

However, some of the stat boosts he received as the Avatar of Khaine did carry over with Tyrion now having 5 Wounds at Toughness 4 with 5 base Attacks. Being Weapon Skill 10 and Initiative 10 with Always Strikes First earmarks Tyrion as the most skilled warrior in the Warhammer world as expected, while the return of Sunfang means he has 5 Strength 7 Attacks that re-roll 1s to-wound due to being an Elf in the Host of the Eternity King list (he has Martial Prowess, therefore he gains Murderous Prowess). He also has a Flaming and Magical Strength 4 Breath Weapon which helps him to cut through tarpit units, meaning that - much like the Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster - he has the tools to deal with most enemies in combat. His 1+ armour save and 4+ ward save make him very difficult to defeat in a straight fight, though his lack of Magic Resistance makes him more vulnerable to spell damage than before. Confusingly and unlike any other End Times character, Malhandir is still separate to Tyrion and thus adds his own pair of Strength 4 attacks that Always Strike First. I imagine this is because the rules designers noticed that Elves almost entirely lack Monstrous Cavalry - the only ones they get are Flying - and thus Tyrion would have nothing he could gain Look Out Sir from, so I can definitely understand why he remains a Cavalry character despite being on a monstrous base. Strangely enough, Tyrion still lacks the 18" Inspiring Presence he had in the High Elf book that was removed when he became the Avatar of Khaine, even despite being arguably the most inspirational leader among the Incarnates and easily its' best military commander. Of course though, what would the Incarnate of Light be without either some new-found spell-casting capabilities or a few cool bound spells to work off; oddly enough, Tyrion fits neither bill and instead gains two "innate" abilities which certainly work better than having some gimmicky bound spells.

His first ability inflicts a single Strength 4 automatic magical hit on every Daemonic or Undead model within 6" at the start of each players' Magic phase, basically giving Isabella the middle finger as an anti-Undead and anti-Daemonic model. If you don't quite understand how powerful this is, grab a model on a monstrous base and put a 5-wide and 10-deep movement tray for standard 20mm infantry in front of it. Watch your jaw drop as you realize Tyrion's ability hits 8 full ranks directly forward and between 7 and 6 ranks to the sides. If an Undead player ever tries to tarpit you with infantry not named Grave Guard, delight at their tears as you kill roughly two thirds of the unit before the combat is even fought. That it happens in both the friendly and enemy Magic phase is disgusting as it can effectively force that player into wasting their power dice on trying to resurrect all the dead models back to the unit. Heck, even units such as Grave Guard and Plaguebearers aren't safe from this - by the by, Bloodletters get eaten up by the ability - with a 30 strong unit being 6-wide and 5-deep losing roughly 10-8 models at a time. Did I mention Tyrion just happens to be a beat-stick in close combat that will kick down even Vampire Blender Lords almost contemptuously while eating units with his 7 total attacks (2 from Malhandir) and a Strength 4 Breath Weapon? It helps that this ability effectively renders Ethereal spam null and void while giving Elves yet another high value tool that makes both Daemon and Undead players cry (the other being the Banner of the World Dragon, duh).

His other innate ability is more generalist in its application though it is still hugely useful, giving each friendly unit within 12" of Tyrion a 5+ ward save against enemy shooting attacks and spells which increases to a 4+ if the source was either Daemonic or Undead. Considering the formation Tyrion is a part of and how well this gels with the extremely mobile and fragile Elf armies, this ability is similarly awesome and mitigates one of the armies' true weaknesses - if you play a combat-oriented Elf army with Witch Elves and White Lions or Executioners among others, Tyrion can be looked at as a Cauldron of Blood that provides that all important ward save in a bubble rather than just to one unit. After all, those units tend to be just fine once they reach combat but have difficulty getting there; surprise, Tyrion fixes that issue for the most part without having to also invest in a Cauldron of Blood. Ultimately, Tyrion is still a fundamentally ideal combat character that beats most equivalents one-on-one and has lost both some survivability and damage output to instead provide the army with some awesome defensive buffs as well as an absolutely brutal counter for Daemons and Undead. I personally think he is worth it, though one can't look at him in a similar light to the Avatar of Khaine; this variant can't stand up to Karl Franz Ascendant and Malekith, for example. If you want a proper counter to Undead armies, Tyrion - not Isabella - is the one you want, and he even serves as a great counter to Daemons to boot.

Grimgor, Incarnate of Beasts - As I'm sure everyone is aware by now, Grimgor Ironhide was already the deadliest combat character in the Orcs and Goblins book and one of the supreme melee combatants around in terms of sheer value and having a great mix of hitting power and durability. He is effectively the same as he was, plus some benefits and minus absolutely nothing which is just awesome. This means he is still a 1+ armoured Orc with a 5+ ward save, he has a magic weapon that provides +2 Strength and Always Strikes First, he freely upgrades one unit of Black Orcs to have Weapon Skill 5 and Hatred, and he has a stat-line more in line with a Chaos Lord than a typical Orc Warboss. Now, with all that in mind, the new Grimgor pays 105 points for; +1 Strength, +1 Toughness, +1 Wound, +1 Attack, a superior version of Da Immortulz, and the new Best of da Best special rule as well as the Locus of Ghur bound spell. This means he has an insane six Strength 9 attacks in the first round of combat due to the Choppas rule and re-rolls all failed to-hit rolls in close combat in the first round of combat, while Toughness 6 and 4 Wounds on a 1+ armoured infantry model that also has a 5+ ward save is pretty darned awesome. Grimgor no longer has to join Da Immortulz, other character can join them and they always have Hatred even if Grimgor dies, all of which is a very nice buff to his special bodyguard unit.

His nostalgic Best of da Best special rule allows him to re-roll all failed to-hit and to-wound rolls in a challenge which, considering he is Strength 8 with 6 Attacks that Always Strikes First (and Strength 9 in the first round of combat) on a Weapon Skill 8 model, makes him a damned nightmare for most opponents to face. He's not going to beat Karl Franz Ascendant, Archaon Everchosen or any of those similarly priced combat monsters but he is still a beast on a budget and that is ultimately what makes him so darned good for an Orcs and Goblins army. That's before one looks at his awesome bound spell, the Locus of Ghur, that acts as a bubbled version of Wyssan's Wildform by affecting every unit within 12" of him and giving them - but not himself (not that it matters) - a +1 bonus to both their Strength and Toughness values. If you want to run a combat-themed Orc army or want to make full use of the Beast-Waaagh! formation, the Locus of Ghur is absolutely pivotal and turns even your basic Orc boys into incredibly nasty fighters point-for-point. Yeah, Toughness 5 Ogres and Orcs is a thing now; get used to it. While I'm sure many will still swear by regular Grimgor simply because he is much cheaper and still does a lot of the same things, I do think the new Grimgor packs in the value just like regular version; this is a case of picking between apples and oranges, really, as both are simply fantastic for their points.

Caradryan, Incarnate of Fire - While I've no doubt that this character is powerful for his points and I am here to assure everyone that this is the case, I'm still somewhat disappointed with Caradryan's new rules as there are some minor omissions I wish were included. I'll get the minor gripes out of the way; I understand that being able to resurrect a combined-profile character would be crazy, but aren't we already moving towards that happening when 9th Edition hits if the End Times rules for monsters are anything to go by? I'm sure giving Caradryan the ability to come back to life with Ashtari wouldn't have been that nasty, though being fair the Mark of Aqshy can deal a lot of damage. Additionally, Caradryan may have broken his vow of silence but he stills knows his destiny; if regular Phoenix Guard are still Witness to Destiny, why isn't Caradryan? This is less of a question of good rules and more of theme than anything else, so for players looking to see if Caradryan is useful to their army list, don't bother with this initial paragraph. If you do want to know his downsides though, here are a couple; he has the Flaming Attacks special rule but can't benefit from them as he has a Magic Weapon (though usually not having Flaming Attacks is better anyway), and his Mark of Aqshy only works on a unit that kills him in close combat rather than any unit that killed him. Realistically though, these are truly minor issues to have with a character of his cost and it really puts the value of the Incarnate of Fire into the spotlight despite that Lore of Magic being generally shunned. Being at the sub six hundred point mark ensures that you can field Caradryan without worrying too heavily about wasting characters on points, especially as he is both a Level 3 (respectable but not great) wizard and a pretty darned frightening close combat beat-stick.

Now, we can finally move on to what makes Caradryan arguably the best value character introduced by End Times: Archaon; there is so much to like about the Captain of the Phoenix Guard and his trusted mount, Ashtari. The two share a combined profile that doesn't really match up to Imrik's or Malekith's but certainly draws quite near to that of Karl Franz Ascendant, having Weapon Skill 6 and Initiative 7 with 7 Strength 6 Attacks (he is Strength 5 base with +1 Strength from his magic weapon). Add to that a Strength 5 Thunderstomp and a magic weapon that multiplies all unsaved wounds he inflicts into D3 wounds and you have yourself a pretty darned terrifying fighter, even if he the profile isn't that impressive at first glance. He is also very hard to kill with 7 Wounds on a Toughness 5 model that has a 4+ armour save, a 5+ ward save and then a special 2+ ward save against Flaming Attacks. That he is a flying monster means he can choose his fights and is very difficult to gun down with most shooting attacks, especially as he even has Magic Resistance (1) to give him a 4+ ward save against non-flaming spell damage. Being on a chariot base makes him very difficult to accurately target with most war machines, especially as being a single model allows him to freely reform and pivot as much as he wants while he moves. When you consider that he has the Wake of Fire special rule and thus inflicts a variable number of Strength 4 Flaming hits that increases exponentially based on the number of ranks a unit has when he moves over them, this makes him incredibly difficult to pin down while being able to do damage in every part of the game. When he is in combat, few things - even 1+ armoured monstrous cavalry - are capable of standing up against him, while he can destroy hordes with his Wake of Fire special rule if there are no good targets to charge - a 20" move and a relatively small base size allows Caradryan to be very free with his movement.

This is made even better by the fact that Caradryan is now a Level 3 Wizard that is a Loremaster of the Lore of Fire, giving him arguably the biggest upgrade of any Incarnate when compared against his and their previous profiles. As I mentioned previously, the Lore of Fire generally isn't held in high regard but being a Loremaster of it ensures that Caradryan always gets the spells you need - there should always be at least one spell you need or want each magic phase, with the Fire-Cloack, Flaming Sword and Flame Cage being the usual star picks. The damage spells are only really good for chaff and tarpit hunting but considering Elves can have difficulty clearing the latter, this isn't such a bad thing, and an extra Fireball to ensure you win the chaff wars is always handy. Heck, even just using the augments on Caradryan himself turns him into an absolute horde-shredder and monster-hunter by inflicting 2D6 Strength 4 automatic hits on enemy units in base contact with him as well as giving a +1 bonus on to-wound rolls (this latter one is awesome for Elves in general and the Lore of Fire is often taken solely for Flaming Sword of Rhuin). After all, factoring in Always Strikes First and the free buff (most of the time) you get from the Attuned to Magic special rule (which is also the source of his 5+ ward save), he is a pretty brutal combat character all things considered and he really deals the damage elsewhere with Wake of Fire and being a Loremaster of Fire magic. Of course, the latter two of those three traits are only really suited to taking out infantry and usually poorly armoured ones at that, but Caradryan deals with well armoured targets well enough in combat for this to not be much of an issue. One also needs to remember that he even re-rolls 1s to wound in close combat for to-wound rolls due to having Martial Prowess and thus Murderous Prowess by extension, combining with Always Strikes First on Weapon Skill 6 to make for an extremely efficient and deadly combatant. He also gives you an 18" Inspiring Presence range on Leadership 9 which is admittedly slightly below average for Elves but works well for a flying general if you want to take Caradryan which, if my review has yet to convince you, is something I recommend whole-heartily. He is absolutely fantastic for his points and is sure to surprise opponents that quickly glance at his profile, see a stat-line that doesn't match up to Malekith's or Karl Franz Ascendants' and assume he isn't that scary. 

Thank you all for reading this penultimate article covering the End Times series! Archaon presents arguably the most colossal rules shift that has ever occurred for Warhammer Fantasy, offering players the oft dreaded ability to take anything and everything in their competitive and non-competitive games. However, it also gives players some awesome new formations and characters to play around with before the heavily rumoured new edition hits in the next year, even if most are more catered to "fluffy" and fun games more than anything else (which is fine!). The Grand Legion of the Everchosen is as insane as we all thought it would be and gives Chaos players more freedom to design their army than any other faction could provide. I'm generally quite happy with this release and I do recommend it to players invested in the End Times, whether for the new models and rules or for the story. 


  1. Well, it seems legit to me that after the change of Caradryan's destiny(he should have died against Tyrion on the blighted isle) he lost is witness of destiny rule...I agree on most of the other parts of the article...I am always eager to read your opinion about the new armybook so thank you for your job!!

  2. there is a quick question regarding Isabella the accursed, in the vampire Counts army book she comes with heavy armour and hand weapon standard. does archaon state she specifly loses these or have games workshop forgotten to add them. ad as for isebella crumbleing, end times:nagash states that undead units no longer suffer crumble when there is no lore of vampires/nekehara caster on the field. so that should make Isabella a bit more useful.

    1. She has no equipment in her End Times: Archaon profile for some stupid reason, my best guess is they simply forgot to give her armour.

      With reference to crumbling, she doesn't crumble as a result of lacking an Undead general, but she still suffers wounds due to the Unstable rule for losing a combat.