There's no better representation of the breadth and variety of armies available for play in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar quite like the two Battletomes we're taking a look at today. First, there's the Nighthaunt, the spectral undead, floating ghosts who wander the battlefield swinging massive swords in hues of sickly blue and green. Then there's the Daughters of Khaine, a group of gladiator-style killer aelf women, who delight in the glory of battle and relish the feeling of their foes' blood on their skin. Different strokes for different folks, for sure! We previewed how these two armies clash in our coverage of the Arena of Shades box set, and now Games Workshop provided us with the official battletomes (aka big army-centric rulebooks) for each army! So join us as we take a quick look at both Battletomes to see what's in store for these two (very different) armies.
Warhammer Nighthaunt Battletome
The newest Warhammer Nighthaunt Battletome dives deep into the lore of these ghastly soldiers. But who are the Nighthaunt? The new Battletome describes the fate of these unfortunate souls as "hideous gheists cursed by Nagash to an eternity of suffering." Nagash is the Undying King, the lord of the undead who helped shape and give form to terrible necromancy. Now, he punishes spirits who he feels have slighted him, stolen from his source of souls, or otherwise earned his ire. The Nighthaunt, therefore, are both his army and his victims, raining down terror on all in their path. Along with general Nighthaunt information, their battletome also describes how gheists are created, how they inspire fear in their victims, the founding of the realm of death known as Shyish, a map of the realms of the undead, the different Evercursed Hosts of the Nighthaunt (essentially factions), and a timeline breaking down major events as they relate to Nagash and his Nighthaunt legions.
From there, the Battletome dives into a gorgeous array of showcase photographs showing painting schemes for the different Nighthaunt Hosts, as well as a handy painting tips and tutorial section for getting the most out of your hobby time with the army.
Warhammer Nighthaunt Battletome Rules
The rules section of the Warhammer Nighthaunt Battletome offers plenty of options for your ghastly game. It starts with allegiance abilities: command traits and special abilities available to all Nighthaunt models. The biggest update here comes from their Ethereal ability. Previously, Ethereal simply ignored all modifiers (positive and negative) to their save rolls for attacks. Now, Ethereal says that Nighthaunt models still ignore modifiers as before, but also have a ward of 6+, and can retreat and charge in the same turn. They also have the Frightful Touch ability, which says an unmodified hit roll of 6 automatically wounds its target. Along with other abilities we won't dive into here, there are also command traits for Nighthaunt leaders that do everything from expanding the aura of dread that Nighthaunt give off, to making a commander cloaked in shadow (meaning they can only be targeted for an attack by 1 enemy unit per phase).
There are also a wealth of powerful new artefacts, treasures, and weapons of the damned for the army, as well as special rules benefits you gain for choosing one of the Evercursed Hosts. As pictured above, choosing the vengeful Scarlet Doom Evercursed Host for your army means dishing out serious punishment for enemies who choose to charge you. There are also rules for the Nighthaunt Path to Glory, which is a narrative campaign you can play out with your Nighthaunt army. All of this together paints a pretty scary (good) picture of the Nighthaunt, and the battle scroll profiles at the back of the book include rules and stats for all currently available Nighthaunt options, including the terrifying Nagash himself, his generals, and troops. This Battletome also comes with a sheet of tokens relevant to the special abilities of the Nighthaunt, one of the first we've seen to come packed with a book like this. All in all, this is an incredibly solid new Battletome, and the changes and improvements to the army really turn Nighthaunt into a force to reckon with.
Warhammer Daughters of Khaine Battletome
Moving away from the moans of the undead and onto the sound of blood splashing against the cold hard ground, let's look at the Daughters of Khaine Battletome. The Daughters of Khaine are the bloodthirsty, nearly all-female band of aelves who dedicate themselves to the newly risen goddess of war, Morathi-Khaine. These zealots are dedicated to the mastery of their weaponry, and as their Battletome describes, "For them, combat is a sacred ritual and the sensation of an enemy's hot blood splashing across their skin a holy offering." Yikes! Known for being completely brutal and extremely graceful on the battlefield, the Daughters of Khaine seem to dance through the fray. The lore the makes up the first half of this Battletome speaks to their origins, how the goddess Morathi-Khaine was freed from the belly of the Chaos god Slaanesh, how Morathi carved a bloody path in her quest for power, the realms of the Daughters of Khaine, a timeline of important events in their history, and the various Covens of Blood (essentially factions, like the Nighthaunt's Evercursed Hosts) you can choose for your army.
After a truly robust section of lore around the Daughters of Khaine, there is - like the Nighthaunt Battletome - a dedicated visual showcase showing off various paint schemes for the army, along with useful painting tips and mini-tutorials.
Warhammer Daughters of Khaine Battletome Rules
The rules section of the Daughters of Khaine Battletome brings many new murderous abilities to your army. While there are a wealth of exciting allegiance abilities for the army, one I'd like to focus on in-depth is their Blood Rites ability. With Blood Rites, the army gains stacking ability buffs for each round of a battle. In the first round, they gain 1 to their run rolls. In subsequent rounds they gain 1 to their charge rolls, 1 to their hit rolls made with melee weapons, 1 to their wound rolls with melee weapons, and finally gain a 5+ ward save. Each of these ability bonuses would be impressive on their own, but to have them stack as the battle rages on is really impressive, and cements them as the aggressive, melee-focused force they are. There are also a suite of powerful command traits, artefacts, and more to customize your forces.
There are also special abilities for each of the different covens available to Daughters of Khaine, like the one pictured above. Here, the serpentine Zainthar Kai coven is able to fight once more after they've been killed, but before they're removed from play. Their Path to Glory narrative options are also detailed in the Battletome, where they treat each battle as though they're partaking in a contest of skill in a gladiatorial arena. Included at the end of the Battletome are warscroll profiles for all available Daughters of Khaine units, including Morathi-Khaine herself (and her severed second self/soul, The Shadow Queen... it's a long story), and a host of different exciting units like the Bloodwrack Shrine. Like the Nighthaunt Battletome, I'm extremely impressed with the level of depth and detail contained within the pages of the Daughters of Khaine Battletome, and I feel like this force is more aggressive and powerful than ever before.
Both of these Battletomes are available for preorder this weekend from Games Workshop.
The products used in the creation of this review were provided by Games Workshop.