So the Stormcast recently got a new book and some new units, and it really shook up how people are using them! In this first article, we’ll talk about the new Battle Trait, Command Traits, and how they differ from what we have been using from the Order traits. Check the Tactics Corner for more great reviews!
The new Battletome really gave a lot of flavor to the Stormcast Eternals. The new rules really fit the lore, making them feel like avenging angels striking from the storm, led by heroes of lore. Let’s jump in to what makes them feel so heroic!
The basic trait for Stormcast Eternals is now Scions of the Storm. Instead of setting up a unit of Stormcast Eternals normally, you can set them up in the Celestial Realm, off the table. Then in later movement phases, you roll for each unit to see if they come on, anywhere on the table 9″ away from the enemy. This gives a previously slow army some very unprecedented mobility! This ability might sound a bit familiar, since it’s very similar to the core ability of the Warrior Brotherhood, though it requires a roll to come on rather than a choice.
This provides several advantages. Obviously bringing down your dudes 9″ away is awesome – most of our models are 4″ or 5″ movement, other than winged or mounted units, so getting to that distance by hoofing it can sometimes be difficult or impossible. 9″ is no easy charge, but it is a great way to get close and cut off an opponent or just position yourself for a charge the next turn (especially if you can go for the double turn and move into a better charge distance). Ranged units like our very powerful Judicators or Raptors can also use it to stay safely off the board and then come in to a defensible position while being in range of their target.
The other main advantage is the ability to perform what is called a “null deploy”. Many wargamers are familiar with this term, but for those who are not, it’s the ability to start the game with nothing on the table, giving your opponent no information to begin with. This is extremely useful, since few AoS armies have this ability, meaning you’ll more often than not be able to see your opponent’s entire army placement before putting any of your own models on the table, allowing you to react to their movements and formations. For our ranged units, this means they can never put their important Heroes out of range, and for Liberators that want to act as walls for important units, it means they can usually place themselves right in the way of the units they want to slow down.
The main downside here is that you have to roll to bring the units in. A 3+ is pretty reliable, and you can start rolling on turn 1, so it’s not too bad. However, you will definitely have games where you will roll 1s and 2s for your important unit all game long. That’s just how dice games work! The chance of a unit failing to come in all game is 1/243, or only 0.4%, but for sure you will have times where you need to bring down a certain unit and it won’t show up until 2 turns later. In this way, your full null deploy army probably needs to have lots of redundancy and focus on MSU rather than going for deathstars or huge, important models like the Stardrake, since you don’t want to be stuck in a situation where they don’t come in until 4 or 5 and you can’t do anything about it.
Compared to the current Order Battle Trait (reroll Battleshock near Heroes), this is better overall. More flexibility, more mobility, and gives you the ability to be unpredictable and scare your opponent into positioning and moving sub-optimally. Using it is pretty tricky in my book – there’s some reliability issues with the rolling, and there’s always the chance you’ll come down 9″ away and get shot to death or counter-charged. However, having it as an option feels a lot better than not having it, and no one forces you to use it if staying on the board is better. I’d say it’s an overall upgrade for pure Stormcast Eternal players!
Then, let’s take a look at the Command Traits:
- Shielded By Faith: 5+ save against Mortal Wounds.
- Very good choice for Heroes you want to keep alive and fight-y heroes. Possibly the best pick for a Stardrake general, since Mortal Wounds are their bane.
- Consummate Commander – Another Hero in your army can use their command ability as if it were your general.
- You can make two units Battleshock immune with Inspiring Presence, or you can do some tricks with two Lord-Celestants to give out +2 to hit in a bubble. We don’t have a lot of Heroes with built-in Command Traits (both versions of the Lord-Celestant and the Lord-Aquilor, only), but getting double uses can be very powerful.
- Cunning Strategist – After setup, d3 units can move 5″.
- A free move for some units, helps if you’re footslogging some important units, though overall unreliable and not super impactful. I could mainly think that it has combo abilities with big units of Dracoths plus a Heraldor, getting an extra 5″ movement and then giving them Run+Charge. Very limited use, though.
- Zealous Crusader – General gets to reroll charges.
- Minimal use, I think, though not useless. Comboed with Scions of the Storm, a 9″ with reroll gives you a 47% chance to make the charge, better than the 27% chance of just rolling a 9″. Also pretty useful for the Lord-Aquilor. If he sets up in Pursuit, a 7″ charge with reroll is 75%, relatively reliable. Though I think for fighty heroes, you’re often better off with Shielded by Faith for surviving.
- Staunch Defender – All Stormcast Eternals within 6″ of your general add +1 to their saves unless they charged (not stacking with Cover).
- This is an amazing trait, and one you’ll see quite often. Stormcast often like to be grouped up, for protection and support, so making all of your units 3+ and (almost) all of your Heroes 2+ is a big deal. Less useful if you’re playing spread out or fighting against MW spam, but for the most part it’s quite powerful.
- Champion of the Realms – one of your general’s melee weapons gets +1 attack.
- Another good choice for a fighty hero, especially as they often have pretty good attack profiles, such as the Tempestos Hammer on the Lord-Celestant on Dracoth. This is the more aggressive option compared to the more defensive Shielded by Faith or utilitarian Zealous Crusader.
So, we have a very good pick of options here – some personal traits to make your General a beast, some support options to make your army a bit more effective. Usually, with the Order Traits, you would take either Reckless for supporting your units or Legendary Fighter for boosting your General. The choice here is much of the same, depending on the focus of your army.
I think Staunch Defender will be a very popular pick. It has a nice synergy with the Skyborne Slayers battalion, so when you come down in a clump, you can have lots of 3+ units and a 2+ Lord-Celestant, plus whatever units are nearby to assist moving into the bubble as well. It combos quite well with a Lord-Castellant, since you can guarantee a +2 to save on one unit and have them healing on a 5 or 6.
However, that 6″ bubble is pretty limited, especially once you start playing the objective game and need to spread out. Shielded by Faith and Champion of the Realms will always be active, though, which may make them stronger choices in the long run, unless your plan is to continually have a hard-to-kill anvil in the middle of the table. Either of those options will give your general the ability to go off by himself and be a very powerful solo force, or a way to keep him alive while he supports nearby units, granting a bit more options.
The thing I love about this table is that all of the options are good! The only one I’m not crazy about is Cunning Strategist, but even that could be great fun in some builds. All of them have great character and there are none that seem completely throwaway. I think the three I focused on will be the main picks, but I could totally see someone picking up Consummate Commander with two Lord-Aquilors in order to jump Vanguard units around the table, or taking Zealous Crusader to focus on striking quickly.
Personally, I’m looking forward to taking a Lord-Celestant on Dracoth with Shielded by Faith! With his powerful save, he’s often nonplussed about regular damage, but MWs can cut him down quite quickly, so having a save against that can jump his life expectancy quite a bit. And once I get myself a Stardrake, I’ll be trying it on him as well!
Hope you enjoyed this article, next time we’ll be going over the new Artifact tables available to the Stormcast Eternals, and there’s quite a lot of choice there! Plenty to love for both new and current Stormcast players. And if you want to expand your army, remember that Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day! Frontline Gaming will buy your used models for cash or store credit!