The Sylvaneth are dedicated, unswervingly, to the protection of the natural world. The Skaven are dedicated, unswervingly, to sewing chaos and pestilence in their quest for dominance. A more perfect set of adversaries you're not soon likely to meet. Which is why it made so much sense when Games Workshop released a new battle box pitting these two armies against each other with Echoes of Doom, which we reviewed recently. This past weekend, along with the release of a slew of new offerings for their Necromunda skirmish game, two new Battletomes for the Sylvaneth and Skaven to dive deeper into the rules of each army. Games Workshop provided us with sample copies of the books for review, so read on for our thoughts on both!
What Are The Highlights From The Warhammer Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth Battletome?
The new Warhammer Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth Battletome starts, as all good Battletomes do, with a detailed history of the Sylvaneth and lore about their background. From the uneasy alliances between Sigmar and these fey forest folk, to the ways the wild realm of Ghyran affects the life of a Sylvaneth, and beyond, this section cleanly details all the ins and outs of their society. They are, in essence, fiercely protective of the natural world, and do not take it easy on anyone who mistreats their realm (whether they're ally or foe). They are a tough group to partner with, but their goals do, overall, overlap with the other factions of Order in the game, so they make for uneasy allies. After about 40 pages of lore, we get into very helpful painting guides, covering everything from bark to spite-flesh.
From here the Sylvaneth Battletome goes into the special battle traits that you receive when building a Sylvaneth army. First, you choose a glade. These are overall groupings of your forces which will help determine how you model them, and a special ability they receive. There are seven different glades you can choose from, and they all offer something different. Just as a sampling, there's the aggressive warriors of the Heartwood who choose three enemies at the start of the game as their targeted quarry, and add 1 to their hit rolls against those enemies. There's also the old and sturdy Oakenbow, who's huge tree monsters (the treelord ancients and their ilk) have their variable stats effected less by wounds they suffer.
After choosing a glade, there are other boons you receive, including the new Places of Power. One of the key "tricks" to the Sylvaneth army is that they could, in previous editions, teleport from Awakened Wyldwood to Awakened Wyldwood. An Awakened Wyldwood, if you're unfamiliar, is a Games Workshop-produced ring of trees that you could purchase for use in your Sylvaneth army. Now, you can use these terrain pieces (which don't come cheap) and designate a set number of regular terrain pieces as "Overgrown Terrain" - which you can use just like Awakened Wyldwood. While there are some restrictions (You can no longer teleport right on top of enemy units) this single change makes the Sylvaneth that much more approachable. Along with these new rules, you can now set up 1, 2, or 3 pieces of your Awakened Wyldwood on the board (which traditionally had to be set up as three circling pieces).
Added to this, there are the usual spells you can choose for the Wizards in your army, including Verdant Blessing, which allows you to create a new Awakened Wyldwood. And you choose a season of war for your army. These seasons add small bonuses to your army, including giving your units within 9" of your special terrain a 6+ Ward Save, adding 3" to your units' move characteristic, and more.
There's also campaign rules in a Path To Glory which sees your army trying to reclaim spoiled land, and Warscroll battallions for the army. Finally, there are the Warscrolls for all units in the army. There are a few new additions to the army, including The Lady of Vines who lashes out with her powerful staff and whipping vines, the flying Gossamid Archers, and units riding atop flying giant bugs! Missing from this battletome, it's worth noting, is the Branchwraith.
What Are The Highlights From The Warhammer Age of Sigmar Skaven Battletome?
Like the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth Battletome, the Skaven Battletome starts out by digging (or gnawing) into the lore of the pestilent Skaven. Pushed on by their god they call The Great Horned Rat, the Skaven swarm upon their enemies with tooth, claw, and foul poison. The lore section here is robust, covering almost 60 pages talking about the various Skaven clans, their putrid home Blight City, and more. There's then a painting guide which actually makes painting their matted fur very approachable, and then we get into the rules.
Like glades for Sylvaneth, with Skaven you choose a clan and gain bonuses based on your clan. These bonuses are a bit more robust, including the Clans Moulder, which lets you upgrade your Hell Pit Abominations, and Clans Pestilens, who choose from a selection of different plagues they can inflict on their foes. Their army-wide rules include bonuses for fighting in huge numbers, heroes who get to hide behind other units (classic Skaven), and special rules that let heroes retreat when they shouldn't be allowed to. There are also clan-specific Command Traits including the horrifyingly named "Riddled with Poxes," which, on a roll of 4+, inflicts D3 mortal wounds on enemy units within 3" of your general. Nasty.
The Skaven Battletome goes on to cover spells, prayers, artifacts, campaign rules, and more in depth match play rules for the Skaven, and then includes the warscrolls for each unit available to the Skaven army, including the brand new Deathmaster.
What Are Our Final Thoughts On The Warhammer Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth and Skaven Battletome?
We are very impressed by the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth and Skaven Battletome releases up for preorder. They're both really strong entries, and feel like they do a lot of work to bring both armies into the current meta of the game. Especially with the Sylvaneth Battletome, where the inclusion of Overgrown Terrain completely changes and opens up the nature of the army. The Skaven also have a nice, streamlined approach to their clans, and their Battletome is so full of amazing lore (and it's actually a fun and funny read) that it's really easy to sink into it like a good novel.
Should I Buy The Warhammer Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth and Skaven Battletome?
If you've got (or want to build) either of these armies, then either of the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth and Skaven Battletome releases should be a must-buy, depending on the army you're working with. In my opinion, if you've got a Sylvaneth or Skaven army, you can't really skip this Battletome and lean on older editions. This is current, streamlined, and makes each army a force to be reckoned with.
Also Up For Preorder This Weekend From Games Workshop...
Also up for preorder this weekend from Games Workshop is the new General's Handbook for Age of Sigmar, which includes a brand new season of battleplans to help guide your fighting in the lands of Ghur. There's also a new Grand Tournament book full of new matched play rules for Warhammer 40k. To see everything up for preorder this past weekend (and it's been a big week) check out the link for more info.
The products used in the creation of this review were provided by Games Workshop.