Right now we’re in the middle of a Warcry extravaganza. The upcoming White Dwarf will have rules for the 4 missing bladeborn warbands from Nethermaze. We saw an early preview from the French Warhammer Community with new profiles for the Cities of Sigmar release. And now we have rules for the new Blacktalons box.
While I’m doing my best to cover other games in the background, it looks like in the short term I’ll need to double down on some Warcry content to keep up. So today we’re getting a bonus episode and I’m going through The Blacktalons.
This is a pretty unique warband of just 5 fighters. It’s currently up for preorder due for release on the 11th of November and costs 45 points, 60 Euros, or 75 Dollars.
This isn’t actually the first arrival of the Blacktalons. Their Leader Naeve Blacktalon first appeared during the Blightwar back in 2017. She has a nice model and had her background expanded out in the book Black Talon First Mark in 2018. I suspect there were a few short stories as often seems to happen and there’s now another book upcoming.
More recently she has had her own series on Warhammer TV with 6 episodes of about 20 to 25 minutes, so essentially a small movie of about two hours. It’s from this tale that we get the characters for this new box set. They do make for an interesting mix of characters, even if 4 are Stormcast they are all different variants.
So we have Naeve who is a Knight Zephyros as swift ranged with two hand axes. Shakana is a Vanguard Raptor with a Hurrcane Crossbow and Aetherwing. Rostus is an Annilhator with Meteoric Grandhammer. I think Hendrick is an older Knight Zephyros perhaps passing the legacy on to Naeve, while Lorai is an Idoneth Deepkin Tidecaster.
Looking at the plot, we’ve got some pretty expensive fighters with everyone over 150. This is a full warband even though it’s only 5 models, so we’re expecting a lot from every fighter here. Rostus and Naeve are notable as being 10 average damage each which is actually where the Order fighters cap out. Rostus in particular looks like he’s at the step of his points bracket, so he’s probably the cheapest 10 average damage fighter Order have. Lorai does look like she’s got an impressive ranged attack, with Shakana and Hendrick looking kind of average rifhg now.When it comes to wounds, everyone is looking about right for their points. Lorai as the Elf is a little low but not at the bottom of her points cost. Naeve despite being chunky is actually a little low but that’s just because she’s very expensive.
As a unique twist, this warband acts a little like a Bladeborn one as the fighters are all actually unique characters. This means you can only have one of each in your warband. We don’t have anything mentioned about narrative rules though, so unlike with Bladeborn you can take Naeve and her friends out into the Gnarlwood and power them up or watch them die depending on the whims of the dice gods.
This warband has a reaction called Shield of Azyr. This can be triggered after they are targetted but before dice are rolled. It will turn two crits from the attack into hits. That’s pretty good if you’re close to death but we are expecting these fighters to be pretty chunky. That said, your opponent’s damage will be going somewhere and if all the damage goes into Lorai then it might be worth spending actions to save her. As a kicker, if it’s Naeve using the ability and she has any of the other stormcast near her then the 3 crits are reduced to hits. This would make a kill the leader mission incredibly hard for your opponent.
Lets start with Neave herself. She is a massive 285 points. For that you’re getting a chunky 30 wounds along with 5 toughness, you get an amazing 7 move which makes her super fast. She has two attack profiles, a fantastic melee one and a decent ranged attack. Being able to do 3 damage at range 10 is pretty nice but for 2 actions she’s able to do 10 damage to anyone within 8 inches. So the bow is a nice touch and can be handy but you want to get he rinto melee.
She does have an ability unique to her, but it is a quad so you can’t rely on it. The ability list for this warband is actually pretty slim. Everyone gets the reaction and then gets only one other ability, so you are going to be relying on universals a lot. The Quad is called Windrider and can only be used if she has just killed an enemy, you can then remove her from the battlefield and place her wherever you want. The only limitation is she must be more than 6 inches from enemy fighters but each point of the ability reduces that by one. This means a Quad 5 or 6 will put her in melee range of another target. This is a super interesting ability but typically you’ll find yourself using the quad on Rampage instead. Rampage of course has been errataed to limit the bonus move to the value of the dice, but once you make contact you are getting a bonus attack. That said, a board wide teleport is going to be useful for a ton of victory conditions.
Overall, Naeve is very very good. Although she is expensive, she’s going to be a nightmare to kill and she hits like a truck, that she’s doing it with move 7 might makes her a reliable problem solver.
The next fighter to look at it Hendrick, the Silver Wolf. This fighter is almost half the price of Naeve, half the damage, half the speed, but still great toughness and wounds. Despite the comparison to Naeve this is actually an impressive fighter with wounds you expect for over 200 points. The damage is great, although you could see similar on cheaper fighters. Whats very interesting with this fighter is him having two melee weapons, it does look like a pretty straight check where if you’re attacking toughness 3 or lower you go with the extra dice and if you’re after toughness 4 or more you go with the strength 5 option.
It’s a beautiful model and a decent profile, where he shines though is with his ability. That particular skull with start runemark is the champion runemark. This lets him use Storm of Justice as a double giving a visible Blacktalon within the range of the ability a bonus move or attack. Naeve with 7 move and 10 damage can get a lot of work done with that.
Pushing back up to 200 points we have Rostus Oxenhammer. We’ve seen the slow moving Annihilators be super popular, now Rostus is a lot more expensive than a 145 point Annihilator but he is doing 10 rather than 7 damage and does have 4 move. He loses the reach but I still think he’s got a lot going for him. His wounds are just over what I’d expect for 200 and with that 6 toughness most fighters are going to struggle to damage him.
Like Hendrick he does have the Champion runemark which let shim use Storm of Justice. Rostus is actually a fine target himself, but if he uses it he has to target someone else so we can expect Naeve to do a lot of work.
Last out of the Stormcast we have Shakana Goldenblade. From the initial plot she didn’t look particularly impressive. She has a similar base profile to the others, 4 move, 5 toughness, and 25 wounds. So all these stormcast are going to be hard to kill. Her melee attack profile is relatively poor for her points, 4 is decent but not for 180 points. Hendricks is already doing over 5 damage for 155 points. Given that, it’s surprising that the ranged attack is only averaging out around 2 damage. Yes it is 15 range but we’d expect a little more damage out of that.
We find that bonus damage with the Triple Headshot. This is unique to Shakana and adds the value of the ability to the hit and crit damage of the next ranged attack. A triple one will increase the damage very slightly from 2 to 4, a triple 3 will bring it to 6 damage, while a triple 6 will max the damage out an impressive 10. So this can be an interesting fighter but almost completely relies on access to a good value triple to get work done. That said, the option to drop 10 damage from 15 range could be game winning.
Last up we have Lorai, Child of the Abyss. The only non-stormcast in this warband is an Idoneth Deepkin. Again she’s chunky, her wounds are about right for her points. She does have 3 toughness making her the weak link in this warband but does have 5 move and fly to keep her mobile. She does have a classic knife melee attack but it’s secondary to her range 7 blast attack. That’s doing an average of 5 damage, so again we’re seeing a fighter here who can do 10 damage to anyone within 7 inches. Where Naeve is running up and hitting with an Axe, Lorai gets to stand and double attack.
In the last video, I looked at making some custom profiles for the heroes from the village of Frugelhofen. In that I felt I had to justify myself when I gave the Elf Riolta Snow a range attack doing 4 average damage. That was 15 range but she was 16 wounds and costing 185 points. So I do think Lorai’s attack is pretty amazing. She’s the cheapest fighter with a ranged attack doing 5 or more damage and the fighter’s we’re comparing her to are typically Kharadron Overlords with 3 move.
Her unique ability is a Triple Nebulous Sea-Fog. This removes 1 attack by enemy fighters within 6 inches of her. She has a nice scenic base which is nice a big, if that’s a 40mm base we’re probably looking at a 13.5 inch diameter bubble. It does mean keeping Lorai relatively central to the fight, but once the ability has been triggered it’s going to be a lot harder to kill her.
In total, this warband comes to 980 points with no options. Everyone is as equipped and each fightr can only be taken once. For a matched game, you may be able to spend those spare 20 points on a blessing but options are limited as all but Lorai are considered Elite fighters. Looking at allies is tricky, it’s a lot easier to get an expensive ally than it is a cheap one. Often you’re looking at Bladeborn fighters but that typically comes at the cost of an expensive leader. Unfortunately, Order doesn’t have any Thralls, something that I hope is addressed in the future.
The special nature of this warband makes things even trickier as you can’t shift around points, all you can do is drop a fighter and hope that gives you enough. So, for example dropping Lorai and Shakana is going to give you 260 points to work with. The go to Bladeborn warband for Order are The Starblood Stalkers. For 260 points you can get Kixi-Taka, Huachi, Tok, and Xepic which brings the warband to 7 from 5. Something like that might be worth it, but maybe not. We are due to see two new Order Bladeborn warbands in the upcoming White Dwarf with Hexbane’s Hunters and The Shadeborn which we should also keep in mind.
Overall, this is a very flavourful warband with some really powerful fighters. It is a very elite warband of just 5 fighters and it has a very narrow set of abilities, but they’re all great. This box is a more expensive than a normal warband and you do get fewer models, but it is packed with character. You don’t get fighter cards but you can print your own using the Warcry Card Creator. I’ve linked some pre-completed cards in the free patreon.
It’s possibly more noteable that GW have taken the time to make Warcry rules for Age of Sigmar models. Normally the path goes one way only, Underworlds warbands get Warcry rules, Warcry warband get Age of Sigmar rules. The reality of course is plenty of people are happy with where they are with Warcry and for whatever reason aren’t particularly interested in playing the big wargame. As I mentioned, we are due to see profiles for the new Cities of Sigmar models and maybe we’ll see some Warcry rules for the recent releases like Seraphon and Orruks. So it’s wonderful to see these new models enter the game and I’m hopeful for more in the future.
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