Welcome to this review where we’re going to look over the new Warcry release, Nightmare Quest. I’ll give a quick overview of what’s in the box, we’ll go into detail with the two warbands, and at the end, I’ll talk about the future since this box is the capstone to the Gnarlwood season.
This is the fourth box in this season format for Warcry. It started with the Heart of Ghur, which was a full starter set, and then continued with quarterly releases of scenery, two warbands, and a narrative campaign. So this box of Nightmare Quest does not include the core rulebook, tokens, or full decks of mission cards, although it does have a small selection. There are 6 deployment cards, 12 terrain layouts, 6 victory cards, and 6 twist cards. So although they aren’t fully-fledged decks, you could use them for missions or, if you do have the decks that came from the Heart of Ghur, add the new cards in for more variety. The terrain cards are notable as some, I think half, are just the terrain from this box, while the others add terrain from other gnarlwood boxes for variety.
The terrain from this set has 2 trees with platforms, 2 walkways, a Realmshaper Engine (that big pyramid in the middle), and some scatter terrain. You also get the board which is a heavy card and has a different texture on each side. Warcry doesn’t necessarily need a lot of terrain to make for a good game, but it is nice to have. This box has an adequate amount of terrain, but I think it was really intended to be the final part of a growing collection, which at this stage should be pretty impressive. The trees have been a constant feature throughout this season, and while they are very flavorful for the Gnarlwood, I’ve heard multiple people advise caution when moving models, as the trees have a nasty habit of catching on clothes. I will say I think the Realmshaper is a little disappointing from a gameplay perspective. As you can’t balance anything on the sides, it’s really just a big cube. If the steps of that pyramid were a little bigger, so you could actually place a model, that might have helped. To be honest, that’s only a minor gripe. I think I was hoping for more Seraphon-styled scenery at this point so you could build a proper temple. It looks good and it gets the job done.
Along with the box, we get the Might and Madness book. This has lots of story info like the random name and background tables. There are some narrative quests for the warbands, some special scenarios, and so on. Of particular interest, there is a 2-player campaign arc of 3 games called the Storm of Madness. In this, the Questor Soulsworn are looking to draw the power from the shaper engine, while the Royal Beastflayers simply seek to destroy it. There is also a version for a larger campaign with more players split into two groups. I’m a big fan of these structured campaigns, especially when you can play it with the factions in the box.
We have two warbands in this box. The Soulsworn Questors, who are a group of Stormcast heroes who have teamed up to save the day. Against them are the Royal Beastflayers, insane ghouls who think they are noble knights on a quest to slay monsters. Sixteen models in total, 6 Stormcast and 10 ghouls of varying kinds.
We’re going to look at the Soulsworn Questors first. One of the unique things about this warband is that everyone has the Hero runemark. They have a special rule that allows them to include fighters with the Soulsworn Questor and Hero runemarks as regular fighters. So, they don’t get to recruit a hero from another warband as a fighter, but they can have them as allies, just like normal. This also means that this box offers a ton of options for other Order warbands, as any of these fighters can be used as allies.
This kit differs from the ones we’re used to in Warcry. Instead of fixed models, there are numerous options here. It comes with three base models, which you can see based on their legs and tabards. Then you have a bundle of weapon options to choose between. There are also options for arms, heads, and shoulders to give some variety.
We receive two sets of these three sprues. The first can be built as a Questor-Prime or an Errant-Questor with either a Grandaxe or a Grandspear. The second can be built as a Knight-Relictor or an Errant-Questor with either a Grandblade or a Grandhammer. The last one can be built as an Errant Questor Duellist with Twinblades or an Errant-Questor with either a Grandhammer or a Grandaxe.
I haven’t personally had the chance to try this box myself, so I’m basing my review on the one from https://taleofpainters.com. However, it does seem like you can mix and match the sprues. The body stances are all quite similar, and the connection points for the arms also look alike. Therefore, if we decide to build a Knight-Relictor, we should be able to use the leftover Grandblade in one of the other kits. At worst, it appears feasible with some minor conversion work.
Taking an overall look at the warband, it’s oddly consistent. The points range between 165 and 170, with everyone having 4 movement, 20 wounds, and 5 toughness. The damage range is relatively tight, with melee damage ranging from 5 to 6.5.
Let’s start by taking a look at some of the abilities that any of the fighters in this warband can use. First is the reaction, Swift Retribution. I quite like this ability. If a melee attack would kill your fighter, and that fighter still has an action to take a reaction, then you can give another friendly fighter a move or attack action. Since you can only use this ability if you were going to die, you’re essentially saving one of the two activations you have for this turn. What’s crazy about this ability is that it has no target restrictions, so you can target anyone on the board, something particularly great if you have something super scary in your warband.
Thundering Strikes is another interesting support action. The double lets you give another friendly fighter within 6 inches a move action. This game is all about action efficiency, and getting an action for a double is amazing. However, you need to be careful with this. Often, you want to move to a target to bring your damage to bear, but your opponent will get to act next. So, preferably, you’ll want to use this ability to move up to a target that has already acted.
We also have the Double ‘You Won’t Slow Me Down,’ which is an ability in the line of ‘Blood for the Blood God.’ Again, this is about action efficiency. You do need to get a kill, but the fighters in the warband are all capable of dealing decent damage, and Swift Retribution and Thundering Strikes provide ways to set this up by getting the fighter beside their target.
Since all these fighters have the Hero runemark, the Universal Triple ‘Inspiring Presence’ can be used by any of them. Unlike the others, this ability does not give you action efficiency, but chaining two fighter activations together can be incredibly effective. Among other things, it can let you deal extra damage to a target and take it down before it has a chance to activate, which can be key.
The first fighter we have is the Questor-Prime, and remember, all of the fighters in this warband are heroes, so any one of them could be your leader. All the fighters are between 160 and 170 points, so this is one of the more expensive fighters, but that doesn’t mean much. The profile is pretty standard for a Stormcast, although arguably low for a hero. The average damage against T4 is 5.33, which is good, and a reach of 2, which is great.
What’s notable about this fighter is the triple Searing Light, which will do 3 damage to enemies within 3 inches. It shouldn’t be too hard to get 2 or 3 targets, which would add up to a decent amount of damage, effectively worth an extra attack.
Next up, we have the Soulsworn Knight-Relictor. It costs 165 points, with all the same core stats as the Questor-Prime. The average damage is just slightly lower but still healthy at 5 against T4. There is also a ranged attack option. Interestingly, if you have to move to melee, getting two attacks with the ranged attack does slightly more damage. For comparison, the Kharadron Gunnery Sergeant costs the same and does 4 damage at ranged. So, this is pretty healthy even if it isn’t competing for the top spot. What makes this fighter really interesting is the Translocation ability. Now, this is a Quad, and the best advice I can give is to completely ignore Quads. You can’t rely on them, and often Rampage is the best pick. That said, this is a teleport that lets you place a fighter anywhere on the battlefield as long as they are 4 inches away from all enemies. Remember, as this doesn’t say “visible,” you can always use the ability on this fighter.
Moving over to the Errant-Questors, we start with the Duelist with Twinblades. This is the cheapest fighter in the warband and has a net-like AoE ability. ‘Face Me, Cowards!’ is a Triple that forces enemies within 3 inches to either remain where they are or come closer to the Duelist. Net effects are usually great, and this automatically works and does so with an AoE. That’s pretty impressive. The downside, of course, is that the effect stops working if the Duelist is dead. So, if the first locked fighter is able to get a kill, then any fighters that activate later are no longer caught. That said, this is a 5 toughness, 20-wound model, so there’s a lot of killing to do. The damage is a little higher than the previous two, just under 6 average damage versus T4, but as the weapon is Strength 4, that means it’s super effective against T3 with an average damage of 7.5 and weaker against tough fighters with 4.17 against T5.
Here we have the heavy hitters. So you have a few different ways to build the Errant-Questors. We’ve already seen the Duelist, and the two here are the two-handed weapons with short range: the Grandhammer and the Grandblade. I quite like these two options as they present a legitimate choice. The Grandblade does better average damage against T4 and under, but the Grandhammer with its strength 6 does better damage against the T5 and T6 targets. So, if you’re expecting mostly T4, then the Grandblade will be your go-to, but if you’re seeing a trend towards higher toughness in your metagame, then the Grandhammer might be the better option.
Both have the Destroyer Runemark, which gives them access to the Double ‘With the Force of a Thunderbolt,’ providing a bonus attack action if you’re within 1 inch of 2 or more enemies. This is definitely an incentive for the enemy to stay spread out, as getting a bonus attack for a double is incredibly powerful. You can’t combo this with Swift Retribution or Thundering Strikes, as ‘With the Force of a Thunderbolt’ occurs during another fighter’s activation. However, if you were already planning to move and you have the option to engage 2 fighters in base contact, then it’s a great bonus.
The other two options are the Grandaxe and the Grandspear. The damage drops by about 1, but you do gain reach. Unfortunately, the double ability does require being within 1 inch, forcing you to choose between using the ability and staying at a safe range. The spear option does cost 5 more for that 3 range and loses the Destroyer runemark, but you probably weren’t using that anyway.
Alright, so this is the basic setup: one of each special character on the top and what I would consider the better option from that same sprue. The Grandsword has the highest damage in the warband, the Grandhammer is similar but better against high toughness, and lastly, the Grandaxe is slightly better than the Grandspear due to the runemark.
If we have the opportunity to play around a little, then getting another Grandblade would be nice, giving us a pretty deadly melee warband.
Too many points! The list come to 1005.
Alternatively, we can go with an all-reach list. Here, we have two Grandaxe and two Grandspear which we should be able to build from a single box. Everything in this list can attack from outside 1 inch, which is nice. That forces your opponent to take an extra action if they want to engage in combat.
One last thing to think about is allies, and with this warband, that works both ways. Here, we could take the Duelist and Grandhammer in any other Order warband, which would give the Duelist an AoE net and the Grandhammer for some punch. Notably, both of these fighters have access to the Double Thundering Strikes, allowing them to use a double to give a friendly fighter a move action. That can be great if you have some big hitters like the Kurnoth Huntmaster or Gorgai, whether you’re adding those big fighters to the Questor warband or taking those Questor heroes into another warband.
So overall, we have a lot of fun stuff going on. The fighters in this warband are all mid-range, which isn’t the best space to be in. However, the abilities are really focused on action efficiency, which is one of the most important elements of the game. So I definitely think this is a competitive warband that will be a lot of fun to play. Additionally, the models look great and offer mix-and-match options, so you could get two boxes of this and still keep everything looking unique. In addition, you also have the option to use these fighters as allies in other Order warbands.
Alright, let’s head over to the Royal Beastflayers. This warband is interesting as it’s arguably quite similar to the existing Flesh-Eater Courts. I mean, it is just a bunch of Ghouls after all…
There are 9 fighters in total: the leader, the Royal Flaymaster; the second, the Beastflayer Baron; the two Offal Hounds; and 2 sets of 3 Ghouls, the first being the Gore-Squires and the second set being the trackers.
Damage is pretty broadly spread among most of the fighters in the band, with each fighter close to the average line. Wounds are similar, although the leader might have a slightly low count for his points. Nothing stands out as particularly notable just on the numbers.
There are two abilities that anyone from the warband can use. The reaction deals D3 damage to a nearby target who disengages. It is directly comparable to the universal Strike Them Down which is similar but only works 50% of the time. Trading an action for an average of 1.5 damage might not seem great, but for a cheap fighter, it provides reliable damage. However, it can be quite tricky to execute. You have to get into melee, your opponent has to take an action to disengage, and you need to have an action available to use the reaction. It’s probably not something that will happen frequently, especially as it’s often easier to simply kill cheap fighters. This ability would be more useful in a narrative campaign where you can use your Renown to trigger reactions.
The double ability is Feed the Hounds, which can only be triggered with a kill, but it provides an AoE heal. Since it’s just a double, it’s not too difficult to roll double 6 on this, which could have a significant impact. Of course, you have to kill the target, which can be a little trickier. Fortunately, all your fighters will have this ability, so it doesn’t matter who gets the kill in the end. Interestingly, this ability isn’t locked into the warband, so if you’re taking a Royal Flaymaster ally in another Death warband, it’s still effective.
This is the Royal Flaymaster, the leader of this warband. In many regards, this fighter is similar to the Abhorrant Ghoul King, with 10 more points, slightly higher damage, and a reach of 2, which is very nice. The Flaymaster has two unique abilities.
First is the triple ability Pack Tactics, which deals straight damage. This ability is fixed and controllable. If you see an enemy with 6 wounds left, you know that you just need to get 3 fighters close to them, and this triple will kill them.
The other option is a Quad ability called ‘No Rest Until Our Quest is Done’. It has a 6″ radius, which is actually a little bigger since it starts at the edge of the base. It grants everyone +2 strength, which can be a significant boost for low-strength fighters. However, keep in mind that it’s a Quad ability, so it’s not something you can rely on.
Next up is the Beastflayer Baron. The damage is decent but not great. With a movement of 5, the Baron is fast like the other Ghouls. The Brute runemark gives access to the Double ability Sound the Hunt, which is significant. In the worst case, you roll a double 1 and can only move one fighter 1 inch. In the best case, you roll a double 6 and can move three fighters 6 inches each. That’s massive. Since it’s just a double, getting high numbers is possible, and getting two of them isn’t crazy. You get one of these in the box, but you’re not limited to that. Triggering two high doubles with this ability would give you an insane amount of action value. The Beastflayer Baron is definitely a star of this warband.
Let’s briefly go back to the cheapest model in the warband, the Ghoul Tracker, which has the same stats as the Crypt Ghoul from the Flesh-Eater Courts. This is a cheap, fast fighter that you can get in bulk. An average of 2 damage versus T4 isn’t amazing, but it all adds up, and being able to roll good numbers really helps.
The Ghoul Gore-Squire is a step up from that. It costs 40 points more, nearly double the price, but you get 4 more health, 1 more toughness, and 1.33 more damage. Are we better off with 2 Ghoul Trackers instead? Maybe. However, there is an ability for the Ghoul Gore-Squire called Unleash the Hounds. We’ve seen this kind of ability before; the Orks have it with Waagh, and the Cities of Sigmar have it with Swift as the Wind. It’s good, and this ability comes at a pretty cheap cost. Keep in mind that it’s a triple, so you can only expect to use it once per turn.
Next up, we have the Offal Hounds. They cost 130 points, which is over double the cost of the basic Ghoul. The damage is exactly double that of the Ghoul, and they have slightly more wounds at 18. The big advantage of these hounds is their movement of 7. Unfortunately, due to the Beast runemark, they can’t carry treasure or open doors. However, they do have access to a double ability called Clambering Horrors, which allows them to ignore vertical distance when climbing. Depending on the battlefield, it could be cool, but I’d probably keep the double for something else. This fighter is quite similar in some ways to the Fell Bat Thrall, as they are both fast and cost 130 points. The bat loses a dice in damage and has 6 wounds, but it gains fly and 3 more movement. More crucially, the Death Thralls don’t have the Beast runemark, so they don’t suffer from those limitations.
And that’s it. The box totals up to 1000 points. It includes 1 Flaymaster, 1 Baron, 2 Hounds, 3 Gore-Squires, and 3 Trackers. There are no options, so you have what you have.
If we wanted to play around with this, we must have the Flaymaster as he’s the only leader option. The Baron’s ability is so good that we take 2 of them. I’ve added an Askurgan Exemplar here, but really anything big and nasty works well. We round it out with Ghoul Trackers. This totals to 11 fighters in total, all of them fast, and with those two Barons, they can be even faster. Dropping a Baron and a few Ghouls will open up room for another big fighter, so there are a few fun things you can do. Although I’ve dropped them here, the Hounds and Gore-Squires do have a place depending on what you need. Right now I’m super excited about the Baron’s ability, but if that doesn’t work out we know the Gore-Squire’s ability has bee tried and tested with many successful warbands.
So, what do we have? Well, this warband is similar to the Flesh-Eater Courts in that it has a ton of Ghouls. The Beastflayers have a few more variations, but the key part is having the Ghoul Trackers, which have always been the backbone of the Flesh-Eater Courts. The Barons are fantastic, and bonus moves for a double are great. It’s a shame there’s only one in the box, but it’s the sort of thing you could easily kitbash from another Ghoul. Similarly, the Trackers and Gore-Squires, while unique sculpts themselves, are still Ghouls, so you could get away with a little mix and match with normal Ghouls as long as it’s clear for your opponent. I do think you want something scary to add to the mix. Death doesn’t have a great list of big damage heroes, but there are Vampires, Abhorrants, and Infernals that should get the job done.
Overall, this books looks like a pretty good capstone to the Gnarlwood season. I was hoping for a little bit more with the scenery, especially as we’ve just had the Seraphon release, but the Realmshaper Engine is still cool. Maybe I just need to add another two Realmshaper Engines from the Age of Sigmar line to get the look I was hoping for.
As a two-player set, the warbands do look good and should mix well with their respective Grand Alliances. As I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t have any of the tokens, etc., but if we look over at the upcoming roadmap…
This was the spring release, and we’re 99% sure that the summer release of a starter set is going to be the Stormcast of Xandire’s Truthseekers versus the Crimson Court Vampires. Since those are bladeborn fighters, they fit perfectly with the warbands from the Nightmare Quest box, adding some extra options. So Nightmare Quest is actually a great place to start if you’re interested in Warcry. Assemble and paint the models and by time you’ve done that, you’ll be able to pick up the Starter set.
We’re not really sure what’s going on with the roadmap after that. I had hoped we’d be moving into a new season with a different theme, maybe some city terrain, but it looks like GW might have pulled back from the season idea, which is a shame in some ways. Kill Team followed the same approach, and getting the same scenery over and over has not been great.
We just saw Ashes of Faith for killteam, which essentially has two teams to face off against each other in a box with no scenery. So maybe that’s what we’re going to see for Kill Team. At worst, this could be reboxes of the Underworld models as small Warcry teams, but it could potentially be oversized warbands with big narrative campaigns included. Personally, I’m very excited about the possibility that all these Order warbands might be connected to the upcoming Cities of Sigmar release in autumn for Age of Sigmar.
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