In an ongoing effort to post more content onto the blog, I’ve decided to begin posting up reviews of all manner of hobby products. Expect these to range from models, to hobby supplies, podcasts, books, and more. As I’ve just recently picked up the new Fyreslayers Battletome for Age of Sigmar, I decided this would be a good starting point for my reviews.
I am going to discuss my opinions on several aspects of the book, assigning a score to each aspect, and then culminate with my overall thoughts and rating. Each rating will be assigned on a 5 point scale, with 5 being the highest score and 0 being the lowest.
Continuing in the tradition of 8th edition army books, this Battletome comes in hard cover and features 128 pages of full color content. The pages themselves are of a high quality, and there appears to be no issue with the binding. In reading through the book I found two typos. While this is not the most egregious example of GW’s poor editing, it does remain somewhat of a deterrent for me.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Artwork and Photographs:
There are very few units and characters in the Fyreslayers range, meaning only a small portion of the 128 pages are devoted to rules. GW has used this additional space to provide customers with a wealth of artwork and photographs. Most of the artwork falls into two categories: battle scenes and portraits. In general, the artwork is of a high caliber and interesting to comb through, especially when you catch glimpses of new/re-envisioned races. The battle between Fyreslayers and Orruks on pages 4-5 is a real highlight for me.
Not all of the artwork is stellar, but taken as a whole it is quite good. Additionally, the artwork provides fantastic inspiration for collecting a themed army. There are different banner and shield icons displayed, as well as the associated color schemes and tattoo patterns for the different lodges. Lodges are essentially different clans of Fyreslayers. Each is led by a Runefather and has its own magmahold based in one of the different realms. Lastly, there are intricate runes that border many of the pages and add a lot of interest to the book. It is a shame that there is very little variation in these background pieces, however.
As with the artwork, there are many pages devoted to photographs. While nice, the photographs do tend to get a bit redundant as you make your way through the book. With so few units to showcase, you end up seeing many of the same models in the same sorts of pictures. On the positive side, some of the photographs portray alternative color schemes to match a few of the lodges.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
This is the first Age of Sigmar book I have purchased. As such, I had not read a single line of background, or fluff, for the game prior to reading this Battletome. I should make it clear that I was always a big fan of the background for Warhammer. I got tons of entertainment and inspiration for my hobby endeavors by reading through the background in the army books. From time to time I would even pick up a Black Library novel based upon the army I was currently painting. While I recognized most of this writing to be pretty weak and predictable, I nevertheless loved learning all about the army I was collecting.
Unfortunately, the background written for the Fyreslayers Battletome is weaker than the standard GW fare. This may very well be attributed to the fact that both the Age of Sigmar setting and the Fyreslayer army are brand new. Therefore, there is a dearth of source material for the writers to draw upon. However, I was really hoping for something better than what is presented in this book. The background goes on a very straight path, detailing the creation of the Fyreslayers and the many battles they have fought since their inception. The background is completely devoted to stories of war, with absolutely no discussion of Fyreslayer culture or how they interact with the other races, or even the other Duardin. The stories of combat and descriptions of fighting style are interesting enough, but leave the reader with a very one-dimensional impression of the Fyreslayers. In a more general sense, I was disappointed with the blatant sexism that GW continues to promote in the new Warhammer Universe. Females are only mentioned twice in the entire book! One is a Magmadroth (gigantic lizard character mount) and the other is a villain in one of the Battleplans (scenarios). This villain is a Vampire Lord who, annoyingly, is portrayed in an unnecessarily sexualized manner in the artwork.
It is little wonder why there are so few female gamers in this particular hobby. It would have been absolutely fantastic if there were female Fyreslayer models. I could carry on with this particular critique for a long time, but perhaps I could save that for a future blog post.
Lastly, I am not enthusiastic about the general approach to Age of Sigmar background/fluff. I was always most strongly attracted to the low fantasy side of Warhammer, which does not appear whatsoever in Age of Sigmar. Everything in this new universe is the most powerful, chaotic, destructive, unbelievable, magical, and fantastic. It does not provide the reader with any characters to which they can relate. In Warhammer, the humans were more or less the same as they are on Earth. Sure, some of them studied magic or received blessings from the Gods, but most were ordinary people. They were easy to relate to, something that is necessary for any good story, but especially those with fantasy or sci-fi settings.
Rating: 1.5 / 5
The Battletome contains the rules for twelve Warscrolls, four Warscroll Battalions, and three Battleplans. I am not qualified to comment on how effective these models are in the game. My initial impression is that they all seem to be fine and playable, but are probably a tad below average. Nevertheless, GW has done an outstanding job in creating rules for the Fyreslayers that perfectly reflect the descriptions given in the background/fluff. The best example of this is the Grimwrath Berzerker. He is a character that has been infused with so many runes that he has come slightly unhinged. These rules, as you can read in the image below, feel very true to the spirit of the character.
I was equally impressed with the Battleplans. Each one is presented with several pages of background, followed by the rules for a scenario in which you can recreate the battle. Each of these scenarios contains unique twists to the game play and I am excited to try them out. That being said, they would still be woefully unbalanced if they were to be played without using a comp system.
Rating: 5 / 5
The Battletome costs $49.50, which is a fairly hefty price for a book. However, it is not a cost that I mind paying given the high production value.
Rating: 4 / 5
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Although I have several complaints of varying size, I am impressed with the Order Battletome: Fyreslayers. It has definitely increased my enthusiasm for Age of Sigmar and convinced me to purchase the Fyreslayer models.