With a faint rustling of the trees as a seemingly harmless wind blows by, the Sylvaneth Battletome emerges. Having suffered a setback due to reasons that are simply too superfluous to go into in this article, Sylvaneth players can finally rejoice in the arrival of new rules for their tree folk. Do these rules have the Sylaneth blossom into a mighty, healthy grove? Or does it barely go beyond a sapling?
With the new Sylvaneth Battletome, the faction are brought in line with most of the other playable factions. This means Endless Spells, Artefacts, Battle Traits, the whole deal. There’s a particular addition that I find notably interesting; the introduction of Glades.
Glades act similarly to other sub factions of other battletomes. Where the Khorne forces have Slaughterhosts and Idoneth have Clans, Sylvaneth have Glades. They allow you to use rules specific to certain sub factions within the Sylvaneth. This gives players a good sense of variety in their forces. It even helps to add a sense of breadth to a faction where the unit count is rather low.
Each Glade has unique abilities and artefacts that set them out from the others to further emphasise a sense of individuality. Sadly, many of the rules fall safely within familiar patterns of other battletomes and some certainly feel uninspired compared to others. Some abilities or traits have units ignore wounds on a 6+ save reminiscent of the old Feel No Pain tropes.
Some abilities have your Sylvaneth leader safely leap out of combat after resolving their attacks. Most are fun and help each Glade to stand out in their own regard. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of Age of Sigmar some aren’t particularly striking.
One of the core elements that I approached the Sylvaneth Battletome with was a sense of unease. In my previous games against Sylvaneth I found large swathes of the battlefield effectively cordoned off as death zones that my models should avoid at all costs. These were the Wyldwoods of the Sylvaneth. Wyldwoods were terrain pieces resembling clumps of trees that ferociously murdered enemy models that dared trespass.
Wood You Believe It?!
In the old days of Age of Sigmar the rules were less stringent regarding terrain, especially faction-specific terrain. Despite some confusion and befuddlement, the rules are far more concise in this edition of Age of Sigmar. However, the updated rules and models for the Awakened Wyldwoods still leave me unnerved. If anything, the threat they pose is made all more apparent and vicious.
The Sylvaneth Battletome has your army initially limited to fielding one set of Awakened Wyldwoods. You can, however, summon some later in the game with certain units or spells. You can even begin the game with two sets on the board if you take the impressive Wargrove battalion. What further exacerbates this is that one set of Wyldwoods is comprised of 3 to 6 of the individual models set up in a ring. Should you wish to get the biggest bang for buck out of them, you’d want to acquire a total of 12 of the models. This means at one point you could have two sets of the Wyldwoods taking dominating a very sizeable chunk of the board.
What benefits do the Wyldwoods add this time round? Well, they automatically block line of sight for non-flying models, cutting down ranged possibilities substantially. Units can even teleport from one set of Wyldwoods to another using certain abilities, allowing models to cover tremendous ground. You can still summon additional units from the Wyldwoods, too.
These powerful examples combined with their size mean that these will form the core of any Sylvaneth army worth its weight in bark. Should you be a Sylvaneth player seriously seeking victory, the Awakened Wyldwoods will be a big part of that. This is another case of faction-specific scenery becoming less supplemental for Age of Sigmar and more of an unspoken essential should you wish for victory. I certainly attest to this after my experience with the Blades of Khorne and their prayers with the Skull Altar.
The Seeds of Story
The early parts of the Sylvaneth Battletome are reserved for background, and lore. They also help in bringing the reader up to speed with the Sylvaneth and their present role in the Mortal Realms. It does this succinctly and certainly helps to spin the grim-dark threads throughout the faction and its presence. There are plenty of instances of trees springing to life, impaling threats and those who would do harm.
There’s even a brief attempt to clarify the confusion between Nurgle and Alarielle, despite their parallel love of all life. This whole section of the book fruitfully sells the core values of the faction and genuinely fleshes out how they got here and why they matter in the setting.
It likely goes without saying, but the book is laden with wonderful artwork, army photographs all with unquestionable quality throughout. There’s even a fairly informative section on how to paint Sylvaneth. With the models being quite intricate, this would certainly help to quell any sense of foreboding for new painters.
There are a handful of things to mull over after leafing through the Sylvaneth Battletome. Whilst the army has a somewhat limited number of units, there are numerous options to personalise your armies and make them more individual. Glades are a particular testament to this alongside the new traits, abilities and artefacts. Yes, there are some cookie-cutter abilities and traits from other battletomes, but I can only imagine how difficult it is balancing a game this expansive. Better safe than sorry, as it were. In the short term, the Sylvaneth Battletome brings the army up to speed with the other forces in Age of Sigmar in fine fashion.
However, in the grander scheme of things, some parts of the new book paint something of a perturbing picture for Age of Sigmar as a whole. Some of the most powerful models are zero-cost to include in your armies, the only barrier is the actual financial cost. If you take winning seriously then faction-based terrain is becoming more or less a necessity in each army. The Sylvaneth verify this as these roots run deeper and deeper, soon to be entangled throughout the Mortal Realms themselves.
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