The foul winds of the planet Daethe whipped the Aeldari Autarch's cloak as she made her desperate sprint from the clutches of the diabolical Chaos Marines. Up ahead, she could see a small contingent of her troops rallying to intercept her. But behind, she could feel the terrible presence of the Chaos Marines plodding their way toward her. Can she send a message to her compatriots in time to head off this vicious assault? Or would the Warpsmith D'vok and his terrible Forgefiend spell her doom? These are the thrilling tales of a mighty clash between Aeldari and Space Marines found in Eldritch Omens, the newest box set for Warhammer 40,000 by Games Workshop. GW provided us with a review copy of the set, and we dove in to see what it's made of and how it plays.
What's Included in Eldritch Omens?
Eldritch Omens is a new Warhammer 40,000 box set release from Games Workshop, and it includes a swath of brand new miniatures (unbuilt on sprues), transfer sheets featuring insignia for the units included, and a booklet full of lore, unique rules, two missions, and datasheets for each unit.
The miniatures included are:
Chaos Space Marines:
- 1x Warpsmith
- 5x Chosen
- 1x Forgefiend (can be built as a Maulerfiend)
- 1x Autarch
- 5x Rangers
- 3x Shroud Runners
All of these models, save for the Forgefiend, are brand new sculpts, and each comes with its own datasheet included in the 32-page Eldritch Omens booklet. As with all Warhammer 40,000 products, these miniatures come unbuilt on sprues, and require glue and tools (which are not included in the box).
What's the Story of Eldritch Omens?
Taking place in the same area of the galaxy as the rest of Warhammer 40,000's competitive season, Eldritch Omens charts the story of a pivotal battle between the Aeldari and the Chaos Space Marines in the Nachmund Gauntlet (which we've covered with the release of the Grand Tournament mission pack, and the standalone tome Vigilus Alone). Within the swirling mass of the Nachmund Gauntlet, where Real Space meets the Warp, lies the planet Daethe. And the struggle, though wonderfully captured in the lore included in the Eldritch Omens booklet, is easy to understand. The Aeldari seek to protect the World Spirit of this planet (a collection of the souls of their dead, preserved against the hungry maw of the Chaos God Slaanesh), and the Chaos Space Marines hope to exploit the World Spirit to power their infernal Daemon machines. The story within tells of the exploits of the Aeldari Autarch Ghaelyn as she and a small contingent of warriors seek to escape the clutches of the Chaos Space Marine D'vok the Warpsmith. It's a thrilling tale, and the booklet takes those adventures right to the tabletop.
What are the Two Armies like in Eldritch Omens?
To put it simply, the Chaos Space Marines forces included in Eldritch Omens are built to hit hard and close the gap for melee combat, while the Aeldari forces are quick-striking, long-range shooters. But let's take a bit of a closer look into each unit included in the box.
The Chaos Space Marines, pictured above, are led by the Warpsmith (he's the dour looking fellow on the far right of this photo, with all the mechatendrils). This unit is a single model, and he comes absolutely kitted out with a full armory of weapons including a power axe, mechatendrils, a meltagun, a flamer, a plasma pistol, frag grenades, and krak grenades. Though none of his weapons have a range further than 12", you'll feel no fear getting up close and personal with him as he's sporting a 2+ Save characteristic. This means he can move in close, and it'll take quite a few unlucky rolls to bring him down.
His unit of 5 Champions also want to trudge up the field and get in close to deal devastating damage with their bolt guns and melee weapons, though they each sport only a single Wound, making them easy to pick off if you're not playing aggressive enough with them.
Finally, there's the hulking Forgefiend, a massive beast with Hades Autocannons, Ectoplasm Cannons (which deal blast damage), and regeneration abilities. With 12 wounds, this beast is truly difficult to take down, and can be comfortably sat in the middle of the battlefield to rain down its weapons on your foes.
Now let's speak to the Aeldari forces, led by their Autarch. The Autarch comes with a full kit of various weapons to arm her with, so there's lots of room to customize. But straight off the datasheet she's equipped with a shuriken pistol, her brutal star glaive, and plasma grenades (though the stats for a plasma grenade are not included in her datasheet). She's a nimble warrior, and can be equipped with gear that either lets her fly or use a warp strike. She also allows all friendly Aeldari around her to re-roll 1s on their hit rolls. Though the Autarch is a precious commodity on the battlefield, this leader can truly lead, strike hard, and keep morale high.
The Aeldari Rangers are sharpshooters, striking with their incredible Ranger long rifle. With a 36" range, this heavy weapon deals an extra mortal wound for each 6 rolled on the wound roll, making them the perfect snipers to plunk down in a safe position and start picking off your enemies.
Finally, what I personally consider the stars of Eldritch Omens, the Shroud Runners. Each Shroud Runner model (there are three in this unit included in the box) comes equipped with the aforementioned Ranger long rifle and a scatter laser, a Heavy 6 weapon (meaning that a unit of three models is rolling 18 dice to hit). They can move 16", have the Fly keyword, and can gain the benefits of Light Cover as if it were an infantry model. In other words, you can zip around the battlefield blasting large holes in your opponent's army from well-hidden positions.
What are the Special Rules and Missions Included in Eldritch Omens?
Points-wise, the Chaos Space Marines are valued at 17 points total, while the Aeldari are only valued at 12 points total. To make up for this power disparity, there are new rules that can be added via Eldritch Omens. Called "Goliath Down," these rules give additional benefits to a player without any Vehicle or Monster units while facing an opponent who does have a Vehicle or Monster unit in their army. These additional rules are rolled for at the start of the game, and include Tactical Ruses allowing the "underdog" unit to do things like automatically wound those large units on rolls of 6, plant mines on the battlefield, and more. There are also Equipment Uses which allow the underdog unit to signal jam the large unit (reducing its attack characteristic), upload a virus to the large unit, and more. These rules do wonders for creating a tense battle that feels perfectly balanced, and can be imported into any battles outside of Eldritch Omens that fit the "Goliath Down" criteria.
Also included are two new missions that play out the final moments of the story between the Aeldari and the Chaos Space Marines. The first mission places the Autarch in the center of the battlefield, and it's her goal to make it to her edge of the battlefield and spend her time performing a special action to transmit a call for aid. The second mission sees the Warpsmith attempting to protect devices crucial to his exploitation of the World Spirit, with the Aeldari units attempting to destroy them. Along with the additional rules included, these missions made for tight, nail-biting, down-to-the-last dice roll matches between our forces.
What are Our Final Thoughts on Eldritch Omens?
I really like the way the two forces represented in Eldritch Omens balance each other out. And each plays very differently from one another, making this set feel truly dynamic. Along with a robust book of lore describing key moments in the conflict on Daethe, the new Goliath Down rules add a fun twist to the game. But the main draw for most will likely be the models, and they are absolutely top notch. The models on display here are gorgeously sculpted, and a lot of fun to put together. As mentioned above, the standouts in the box are definitely the Shroud Runners, both for their gameplay mechanics and the look of them.
Should I Buy Eldritch Omens?
If you're looking for the newest Chaos Space Marine or Aeldari models and/or want to play out missions with small forces specifically balanced to fight fair against each other, you should definitely pick up Eldritch Omens. The amount of gameplay in this box is pretty incredible, considering it contains only two missions. We found ourselves replaying missions, switching sides, and trying different Goliath Down rules multiple times in our play-testing. However, if you're really only looking for a fuller contingent of forces for either army, this release may not contain enough models from either side for you.
The copy of Eldritch Omens used in this review was provided by Games Workshop.