Warcry – Castelite Hosts


Welcome to Optimal Game State.

This week we’re going to look at one of the big releases from last year, both for Age of Sigmar generally and Warcry specifically. The new Cities of Sigmar. Before this big release, we did have rules and models for the Cities of Sigmar, but they were mostly the Empire models from the old world. This is less of a range refresh and more of a reimagining. We have all new sculpts for models that never existed before which is pretty exciting.

As of the most recent FAQ the old profiles are are no longer legal. That old list was a big mix of human, dwarf, and elven profiles and you could pick and mix to put together your perfect list. Then you selected a specific city and used the warband abilities for that specific city. It was a bit strange but let us play all the old models which was fun.


The new version is closer to the Warcry we’re used to. There are now 3 warbands, the Dispossessed for the Dwarfs, the Darkling Covens for the Dark Elves, and the Castelite Hosts for the humans which we’re going to look at today. This did mean the Wood Elves and the High Elves have quietly written out, but on the plus side hopefully we’ll see the models re-released for the old world soon enough.

At some point Games Workshop uploaded a new PDF for these warbands but never actually had an article about it. At best, there was a small mention of it at the bottom of a Warhammer Community article and a note in the FAQ, so for a lot of people I think this probably went under their radar.


Everything on this page now has rules in Warcry. These basically are all the new fancy releases minus the special characters like the Pontifex, Thalia, and the Great Cannon. A few of the older models have stayed, the box of Flagellites for example and the Battle Wizard but I wouldn’t be surprised to see new models for those over the next year.


Going over to the plot, we can see a good spread as this is a big warband with 22 profiles in total. From the damage plot, we can see the Flagellant and Whisperblade have pretty competitive values and are close to the step of their points bracket. The Arch-Knight and Marshal are both in that weird mid-cost area where damage has flattened off but they do look decent all the same. Wounds for the most part seem decent. There are a few low points that we’ll keep and eye out for. Thankfully the Steelhelm has decent health to go along with it’s fine damage, thematically this should be the core fighter for the warband and they arrive in boxes of 10 so we’ll want to check them out.


Unlike other warbands where we have a few core abilities, the Cities of Sigmar only have 2 abilities that anyone in the warband can use. A quad, which we’ll see in a minute and this Reaction. Any fighter can trigger this reaction if they’re being attacked but before dice are rolled and while they’re within 3 inches of either a Bulwark or Elite fighter. If the nearby fighter has Bulwark the defenders gets plus one toughness. If they have Elite, the defender gets a slightly boosted counter. Counter normally does 1 damage on a miss, and 2 if they roll a 1 but this version does 2 damage on any miss. If the nearby fighter has both, then both trigger which is pretty nice. To peak ahead, the Steelhelms have Bulwark, the Fusiliers have Elite, the Marshals can be build with one or the other, and the only model to have both is the Fusil-Major on Ogor Warhulk. The Elite or Bulwark fighter can be an ally, so you can look for Order fighters with the Elite runemark. Unfortunately, there aren’t any options with both runemark but the Gorgai and Vulkyn Runefather are all good Elite fighters.

As with all reactions, you have to consider the cost of giving up an action to use it. While plus toughness can help to try save the fighter, the extra damage from that booster counter is a lot more interesting. It’s probably not something I’d focus on, but can help.


The Quad is For the Dawn! Which will add 2 to the move and attacks of a fighter, but this cannot be used by a fighter with the hero runemark. A quad would normally get you a move and attack, so you’d need a very specific profile to have this ability do more for you. If all you wanted to do was move move and the Quad value was less than 4 then this would be better than Rampage. If you wanted to double attack and already was in combat and your fighter has 3 attack dice or less, then this would be slightly better than Rampage. Pretty specific situations, especially when you factor in the hero restriction but it’s not completely useless.


We’ll start with the Fusil-Major on Ogor Warhulk. Coming in at 245 points this is pretty expensive.  The damage is good but isn’t amazing, that melee profile is worth about 160 points. The ranged damage is a nice bonus but not really why you’d take this fighter. At 6 toughness though and 35 wounds, that’s an incredibly hard fighter to take down. As we already talked about already, this does let nearby fighters trigger the reaction at maximum effect which is nice. 

We also have two abilities. The first is Castelite Formation a double that will give 2 toughness to your friendly Castelites within 3 inches. That will include this fighter and as we’ll see later the Steelhelms start at 4 toughness so with some decent positioning you can make it very hard for your opponent to do damage.

The second ability is a Triple Take Aim! Which will add 1 to the range crit damage of nearby Cities Elite fighters, so that’s mostly Fusiliers. In theory you could stack this across multiple fighters if you had multiple triples but you’re still hoping for crits and these fighters only have 2 dice at ranged so more likely than not this ability will do nothing.

Overall a pretty interesting fighter. It can power up defensive reactions which is interesting, in a perfect case the Warhulk gets to use Castelite Formation and the nearby fighters get to react for a net +3 toughness doing 2 damage when your opponent misses.


Next lets look at are the Freeguild Cavalier-Marshal and the Freeguild Cavalier Arch-Knight. Basically the same fighter at different points costs. 205 for the Arch Knight and then 50 points to get +2 wounds and a almost +3 average damage. The points are pretty chunky, but that’s typical for cavalry fighters that have lots of movement and wounds. I do think the damage of the Arch-Knight is a little too low for the points. Yes this is a fast unit, and it’s broadly consistent in line with similar units but the damage is very low. The wounds are consistent with the points cost, so you’re essentially paying for the high movement by halving the damage. The Marshal is a much better deal even if you are spending a bit more on it.

Both have the same ability, For Sigmar, Charge! this is a double version of Inspiring Presence but you can only apply it to another Cavalry model. So here you can double up with two Cavalry fighters and get a pretty devastating double damage. That will of course depend on what the average damage for our next fighter.


The freeguild cavalier is a pretty straightforward fighter, no special abilities or anything strange, just 9 movement doing 4 average damage. I think this does show part of the problem with the previous Cavalier Arch-Knight, we’re down just half a point of average damage and 40 less points. Again the wounds are consistent with the points, so the speed is paid for with a damage reduction. 5 Toughness and 20 wounds is still decent, but unfortunately there’s nothing particularly exciting. If it did more damage the combo with the Charge ability might be worth it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Outside of Allies, these cavalry options are the only fighters above movement 4 in this warband. So even if you’re not seeing a ton of damage from it, you definitely could justify an inclusion in the warband.


Moving away from the Cavalry, we have three options for the Freeguild Marshal which we will go through now. The first version is a double handed weapon with no shield. Here we have it built as a hammer but the kit can also do a sword or even two weapons. This is a pretty great profile with the wounds and damage both over what you’d expect for this points cost. 

We also have a decent ability, the double Rousing Speech which will add +1 dice to nearby fighters. The wording says Other which means it doesn’t apply to this fighter. I think this is a change in the wording templates, as previously abilities like this would have said visible which did cause some confusion as fighters not being visible to themselves is a weird rules technicality that seems funny when you look at your own hands.


The other option is to go for the Shield. Damage has dropped by almost 2, but toughness has increased by 1 and other fighters can now target the marshal for the toughness reaction. It also opens up the double to increase toughness of nearby fighters by 2 which is really nice. 

This is how I built my own Marshal before the rules came out came out, and I think I’d be happier with the Heirloom weapon. Notably, you can also build this kit with two shields for maximum tanking.


The last option is the duelist, which is a ranged fighter. I do think it’s nice to see the melee attack lower than the ranged, that suggests actual investment in the ranged attack. We always end up comparing ranged fighters against the Kharadron Overlords who are the kings of it. If we filter out the move three fighters though, we can see this Marshal is comparable to the Demolisher with Flamehurler from the Horns of Hashut who is a very good fighter. This Marshal is 25 points more but does nearly double their wounds for that. So yes I do think this is a pretty good fighter. In addition, the duelist has the Elite runemark which means nearby fighters can get that counter reaction as an option which is pretty big. This kit is very flexible, I’d suggest building it however you like the look of it but if you wanted to optimise it you could go for one melee weapon and one ranged weapon to cover both those options and just let your opponent know in advance. As I’ve already built the Shield version, I think I might try my luck saying the sword is a heirloom sword but outside of casual play that would be something I’d need to check ahead of time with a tournament organiser.


Next up we have the Alchemist Warforger. Again we’re seeing the ranged attack better than the melee which is nice. So with this fighter you’re want to get them into position and not move relying on that average 3 damage across two seperate attacks to do damage. Wounds are pretty good for the points and the ranged attack is decent.

We do have an Triple ability Blazing Weapons, which unfortunately isn’t great. You pick a target and their Crits are increased by 2. Pretty simple, essentially it’s a .3 per attack dice bonus for your target. So you really want to find a fighter with the most number of attacks and maybe give them a few extra dice by using Onslaught as well.

Unfortunately you can’t do this on allies from outside this warband, so you’ve got a hard cap on the targets based on the fighters in this warband. It also only applies to the next melee attack, so it’s a really limited ability and looking through the options at best you’re targetting a 4 attack dice fighter and the bonus is a flat 1.2 extra damage which isn’t great for a triple.


The battlemage is almost identical to the Alchemist Warforger which does make sense as the Warforger is basically a mage specialisting in metal magic. The general battlemage is slightly cheaper losing 1 toughness but gaining reach and apart from that is very similar. The ability is quite similar in that is boosts the attacks of nearby friendlies but unfortunately it a quad rather than a triple.

While I don’t like either of the abilities of these two fighters, the ranged attack is actually decent and they have a good number of wouinds.


The next few fighters I’m going to look at are part of this Freeguild Command Corp box. I mention this because all but the Arch-Knight are normal fighters so you could in theory take an entire warband full of them. To do that though, you would have to pick up multiple copies of this box. It is a pretty great kit, the minis are all full of character and can actually be built in a couple of ways but I think at best you’re gonna get two distinct models for each profile. So keep that in mind.


The first is the Arch-Knight. An absolutely amazing looking model. For the profile, this is basically the Marshal with Heirloom weapon but 35 points cheaper, losing 2 damage and 5 wounds. Wounds and damage are both slightly above what you’d expect for the points. Unfortunately, there’s a weird thing about this points cost, there are fighters that do similar damage for about half the points. From about 80 to 120 the top damage doesn’t really change. So often when you’re looking at models like this you’re asking for a little more. To be fair, that double Rousing Speech is actually great, you’d normally expect an ability like this to be on a Triple. If you had a Marshal and an Arch Knight that means you could give +2 attack dice to any fighters within 6 inches of both which could be pretty great. 

So yes, this is a mid-range fighter which is worrying, and the ability only benefits Castelite fighters so you don’t get to boost an ally and the warband doesn’t have any big damage units, that said, this could be a great fighter to build around to stack bonuses.


Next up we have the Great Herald, although I’d imagine you could also use the banner bearers out of the Steelhelm boxes which I guess are just average Heralds. Damage is good for the points and the wounds are a little above average. The ability is interesting. Abilities that boost movement can be great. In this case on turn one you could move your Great Herald first, keeping just in that 6 inch range then trigger the ability. Then the rest of that Battle Group get a free move. 

Now, I had initially thought that you had to make the bonus moves towards the herald, but the Warcry discord has corrected me and pointed out that as long as the fighers moving end up 0.1 of an inch closer than they were when they started then it’s valid. So this is a lot better than I initially thought. 


The base size for the herald is 28mm, so the radius of the bubble is around 6.5mm which only needs clip a friendly model to give them the bonus move. That’s pretty generous. Since triples tend to be one a turn, it’s likely just one Great Herald is enough, but having two of them would give you more options. As such, I’ve been reliably informed the Great Herald is an auto include.


Third in the box is the Whisperblade who I absolutely love. Damage and wounds are well above what you should get for 80 points. The ability is a quad and all it does is waste your opponents saved dice, I suspect you’ll get a lot more work done using that Quad on another ability but going into turn 4 while your opponent has no saved wild dice could be significant.

There’s nothing really fancy about this fighter, it’s just some nice numbers and is the most efficient damage per points you can get in this warband,


Next up we have the Soul Shepherd which is a very weird profile. Great wounds for the points but the damage is terrible even if you have the ranged option. Weirdly this is the best target for the Alchemite Warforger as adding 2 damage to crits will definitely help when you’re able to roll a total of 10 dice across two ranged attacks.

The ability then is where this comes into play. You spend a triple to roll dice equal to the number of your fighters that have taken a wound or died. Then on a 4+ you get a wild dice. I guess this is a way to save up for a big turn, maybe you use this at the end of turn 2 to get a 3 or 4 wild dice and go into your turn 3 with lots of abilities or with the Initiative (or maybe both). Remember, you can’t make a double out of two wild dice and you can only improve a group with one wild dice, so no making quads from a double. I honestly thought know how good this would be. I have been told the God-Speaker for the Darkoath Savagers who has a similar ability to add bonus wild dice isn’t great. There might be a way to leverage it but I’m not yet convinced.


Then we have the War Surgeon, 60 points is relatively cheap and the profile is decent for it, damage is maybe a little low but wounds are high for the points. The key part here is the ability which is a double restoring D6 wounds to a nearby target. Normally we see abilities like this baked into a fighter so they have to use it themselves to get some healing. In this case we could have a scarier target in front for our enemy to attack while the surgeon patches them. It might depend on the scenario or how your enemy plays, but if they decide to go for the  Surgeon then they’re not going after you’re good stuff so that’s kind of a win, especially if you’re near an Elite and can use the counter reaction which is likely to do more damage than the Surgeon actually attacking.

I like this fighter a lot!


Last in the Command box we have the Mascot Gargoylian. Again you only get one of these in the box although arguably you could take one of the the random Gargoylian’s that are scattered across the Cities of Sigmar kits intended to be added to the bases of models. They might look a bit weird with tiny Gargoylian on big bases but it could be fun. As they are beasts, you could also make a case to proxy in some dogs from Hexbane’s Hunters or the Wildercorp Hunters. It would certainly look the part although these creatures are slower and tougher.

The only thing special about this fighter is it’s so cheap. It does actually have great wounds for the points, and it still has 4 move where many of the cheaper fighters are only 3 move. There are a few fighters that push that damage to 2.5 or even 3 with the Grave Guard, but overall this is pretty decent.


We’re done with the command box and moving on. Now we’re more into the units for the Cities of Sigmar starting with the Fusil-Sergeant the leader of the Fusiliers. These do have shields but not the bulwark rune unfortunately, more importantly they do have the Elite rune which will open up the counter reaction for nearby fighters. As we’ll see in a second, this fighter is almost identical to the normal Fusilier but costs 20 points more for the ability Take aim! I guess the goal of this is to have all your Fusiliers in a clump and give them all a nice damage bonus but because they only have 2 dice each, this ends up being a tiny damage increase of about .4 for each Fusilier. 


Moving on to the Fusiliers, this is an appropriately costed fighter but part of that is a massive tax for the range 15. Add to this an extra little for the 5 toughness and you end up with some pretty expensive fighters. I’m a little bias I think as I don’t really like the models for these, but it does make for an interesting set up. Lets say you get 4 for 480 points and split them into two different battlegroups. Assuming they can position well early, each group can do 10 damage to any target they can see up to the 15 inches which is basically half the board. If an enemy closes, they can react due to their buddy and do damage back to the target everytime they miss against the 5 toughness. That could be a good starting point for a list, then you have the remaining 520 points to play around with. 


Moving back to melee we start with the Prophet who is the leader of the Flagellents. He’s pretty straight foward, decents for the points and good damage. No special abilities although he is going to die up your hero slot. Similar in many ways to the Whisperblade, although a little more expensive and with a more reliable damage profile even if it averages out the same.


Next we have the Flagellents. There are rumours we are due to see a new box for these which would explain why they were included. The current box which is from the old world is pretty crazy with lots of options and definitely looks like a customisers dream kit. 

Looking at the profile, they have good wounds and damage for the points. We’re going to look at the Steelhelms soon enough, but in comparison these are slightly more damage for less toughness and no runemarks. Could be a decent chaf unit if you wanted to.

Fingers crossed those new kits, if they ever come, will look good.


Next up we have the Sergeant-at-arms which is the leader for the Steelhelms. Damage is a little low for the points, we would have liked 4 but the wounds are pretty much bang on. The numbers are decent and the key part here is the ability. This is the cheapest hero we have with this ability so if you do want to tank up with a battlegroup this is a decent option.


Also part of the Steelhelm box, we have the Battlepriest which featured recently in https://overthinkingwarcry.com list of most underrated fighters. They key part here being the battle priest is a super cheap ally for any other Order warband.

Looking at the profile, the damage is pretty much as expected for the points but the 12 wounds are significantly higher than you would expect for the points and for 65 you should be getting around 8 wounds. No abilities though, so this is just numbers and not much else.


Last we have the core troop for the faction, the Steelhelms. Great wounds for the points, damage is fine, we’re looking for 1 average damage for every 25 points. We do have the Bulwark runemark which means we can let nearby fighters get plus toughness as a reaction although realistically it’s probably going to be these fighters doing the reacting.

Like the Flagellants and I guess the Gargoylian, they’re cheap chaf that will hopefully be able to stand around and not die, or at least die slowly. 

I do think the models are great and the transfers for the various cities on each of the shields all look great.


Okay, we’ve gone through every fighter in this warband. There are a few different ways you can approach list building with this warband. I think it all comes down to these 3 abilities and how you approach them. Not listed here are the Great Herald’s ability and the War Surgeon’s ability both fighters I think are already well costed and have a great ability, so I’d be tempted to include at least one of each in every list. The decision for list building them comes down to these three abilities.

First the reaction, and when I’m talking about the reaction really I’m just looking at the Elite version for the counter. This can make taking the cheap fighters really dangerous as they end up doing more damage as a reaction than they would as an attack.

Second is the Castelite formation. This increases the toughness of nearby fighters by two. That’s a big jump and even with the small 3 inch range you should be able to get this bonus onto a chunk of fighters.

Then we have the more offensive double Rousing Speech which will give +1 attack dice to your fighters within 6 inches. It does stack, so two doubles could make for a very good turn.

Unfortunately this means you’re very hungry for doubles, so do keep that in mind.


There are three fighters I would probably start any list with. The War Surgeon, the Great Herald, and the Whisperblade. All have decent or great stats, the Great Herald ability is amazing and the War Surgeon ability can be useful and is on a cheap fighter. So I think we start any list with these three and think hard if we want to remove them,


For the Elite runemark to allow others to trigger the reaction we have a few options in faction. The Ogor, the Marshal with pistols, or the Fusilier. I’ve left out the Fusilier leader as I don’t think the ability is great and the normal Fusilier gives you everything else but for cheaper. We can of course go outside the faction and look for other Order heroes with the Elite runemark, here we have the Gorgai who is fast and has tons of damage. There are also a few others of interest. 


The +2 toughness ability requires both the Bulwark trait and the Hero trait, for that we have 3 options. The Ogor again who is the only fighter with Bulwark and Elite, the Marshal with Shield, and the Sergeant-at-Arms. Defensive abilities aren’t always that popular but they do have a place so this might be the option you drop but there will be a game eventually where you wish you had it.


Then we have the Rousing Speech which requires the destroyer runemark. This does not require a leader but unfortunately the only fighters with it are leaders. That Marshal with heirloom weapon is fantastic, so he does feel like a solid inclusion. The Arch Knight is the discount version of the Marshal as such makes a decent inclusion when you’re trying to save points and hero slots.


Then we have the cheap chaff fighters which will probably make up the bulk of your warband. The Steelhelm, the War Surgeon, and the Flagellant are all 60 points. The Steelhelm is a little tougher and has the bulwark runemark for others to trigger off of, the War Surgeon has that heal ability, and the Flagellant has a little more damage. If you’re like me you’ll run Steelhelms as that’s what we get in the box but that might change once we see updated Flagellant models. I’ve also included the Whisperblade here who is a little more expensive at 80 but does great damage for the points, and we’ve also got the Gargoylian who is the cheapest option at 50.

Alright, so lets look at how we can pull all this together.


In this first list we’ve gone for the Warhulk with the goal of getting him into the middle of the battlefield. Given his 50mm base size that’s about a 4inch radius bubble around which any of your fighters can react to get +1 toughness and counter. That herald should help us get the Ogor into place early and later in the game will give us free moves to get our fighters into base to base with the enemy. Then we can use the Marshal and Arch-Knight to stack some attack dice and hopefully we can dish out some serious damage. Relatively straight forward, we have a game plan and we hope for the best.


In this second list we’ve gone for a totally different approach. Again we are focusing on the counter reaction but this time we’re setting up two battlegroups as firing platforms while the third moves in position to take objectives. Again, a relatively straight forward setup, we have all the moving parts we need. The Fusiliers might be vulnerable if engaged so we will probalby want to screen them with the Steelhelm, keeping them close enough so the Steelhelm will benefit from the Elite runemark. Shooting lists are always going to have touble when they can’t fire into combat, but I’d image there will usually be a target the 4 Fusiliers can target with that 15 inch range.


In this third one we’ve gone for one of those three abilities in each group, on the hope that we can pull them all together. I do quite like the Duellist as an ally for this list as he does have the Elite runemark and has a net effect which always is useful. EDIT: He actually has Champion not Elite! My bad. The tricky with this of course is going to be getting the right elements in the right places,  but if we do manage to clump it all together then the we can boost toughness by 2, attacks by 1 and give everyone that awesome counter reaction.


In those three warbands there are a bunch of fighters I didn’t touch on. The mounted troops aren’t amazing but without them this warband only moves 4 inches. I haven’t included the Soul Shepherd but it is a model I would like to test as with all the abilities this warband is pretty dice hungry and it might allow for a big end turn at the end of game. I’ve also favoured the Steelhelms as I prefer the models but the Flagellants might be the better option for extra damage.

Overall, I do think this is a fantastic warband. As it’s, for the most part, a brand new range you have a ton of fantastic models to pick from and paint up. That command box in particular is full of character and is great in the game. It does end up a bit expensive though, as you’re basically buying an Age of Sigmar army and then using a handful of models from it. 

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