Akin to the Shadow Queen herself, Broken Realms has slithered into the beating heart of Age of Sigmar. Looking to advance the narrative of AoS, Broken Realms Morathi is setting the stage for some major event akin that of Malign Portents. As a huge fan of the unfolding pre-Soul Wars, I was excited to peruse the pages of this first entry. It’s notable exciting that this book focuses on the Aelven monster that is Morathi, renowned for her merciless cunning. However, does the book hold weight for all Age of Sigmar players? Or does it land with a damp thud into the laps of a small, but eager minority of players?
At the risk of repeating myself in ever article regarding a Games Workshop publication, the book is of wonderful quality. The colouring and print quality throughout the Morathi book is solid in the hands and gorgeous for the eye. The front cover is particularly striking, featuring a dominating image of Morathi herself. The pages within are adorned with beautiful shots of armies clashing in both illustrative and photographic splendor. All relevant factions feature plentifully throughout, with the Daughters of Khaine sitting a little more prominently within the spotlight.
Warning – The below segment will cover the core story beats of the book. If you wish to save these for yourself then be sure to skip ahead. Don’t stop to read until you reach the “Spoilers End Here” heading!
You have been warned.
Spoilers Start Here!
I’m sure it won’t shock you, dear reader, that Morathi is an ambitious soul and should never be trusted. The primary plot of this book is that Morathi is seeking godhood. In doing so, she and her subjects would betray the Grand Alliance of Order in her quest for ultimate power. Acquiring the final vital resource she needed during a large battle against Chaos forces alongside Stormcast Eternals. Once their personal mission is complete, the Daughters of Khaine flee back to Hag Naar.
Within Hag Naar begins a ritual to overfeed Slaanesh sacrificed souls that would somehow allow Morathi achieve ascension. By gaining access to his realm so she could feed on the ancient Aelven souls within, harnessing their power. This all unfurls whilst her Daughters of Khaine, allied with Scourge Privateers, take on forces of Slaanesh Daemons and Idoneth Deepkin to defend Morathi. The Daemons are drawn to the ritual and the ecstasy of battle. Whereas the Deepkin fought to reclaim a relic, stolen by the Khainites for the ritual.
Attempts to cease Morathi’s foul ritual are met with failure and she is able to ascend herself to Morathi-Khaine. With this she able to manifest in both of her forms at once whilst wielding incredible power. As the ritual completes, the site explodes and a comet hurtles through the sky. All the Slaanesh Hedonites abandon the fight and pursue it without a second glance.
Following this, the free city of Anvilgard soon sees the streets filled with blood and death. Despite being a city of Order under Sigmar, Aelven soldiers, guardians of the city, turn on their allies. The once-defenders now cutting down all in their way in an attempt to seize the city. A vicious battle takes place, but the Aelven insurrectionists soon overpower the Duardin and Stormcast garrisons. Not just due to their surprise attack, but thanks to the arrival of Morathi in both of her forms. Aelven victory is secured and the unforgivable betrayal is cemented.
Meanwhile, Slaanesh daemons howl and celebrate as something forms, a herald or newborn from their enslaved deity. His bonds now somewhat slackened, something now takes form within the Mortal Realms, be it an aspect of Slaanesh or maybe some form of the Prince himself.
Needless to say, the ramifications here are huge. With Morathi betraying not just Sigmar himself but also the souls of her own kin, it emphasises his driven she is in her quest for power. Since this is merely the start of Broken Realms, I’m excited to see this escalate.
Spoilers End Here
There are a smattering of new rules included in the book that allow you to recreate key battles that occur within the book. Be it the clash between Daughters of Khaine and the Slaves to Darkness within Varanthax’s Maw, or the betrayal of the Insurrectionists against Anvilgard. Whilst this permits players to live out these battles, it also feels as though it slots into a very, small niche.
Narrative players shouldn’t expect from this Broken Realms book what they received through Malign Portents. With each Broken Realms book slotting into a specific sub-narrative of the over-arching story, it means that each book will tell a small, yet impactful story. This means that players may be locked into one of each book, should they have the relevant armies. This will surely tick a few boxes for some players. Although, it feels less welcoming or enticing compared to the experience that Malign Portents offered. Especially to the wider audience of players and Age of Sigmar enthusiasts. Unless they simply want to see what happens next in the Mortal Realms, of course.
I implore that you don’t misunderstand me here. I love narrative play and am enamored with the advancement of the narrative within AoS. It simply feels a little cumbersome and maybe even a little “money-grabby” to implore players to purchase a handful of books to learn how these events unfold, as opposed to a single book. However, it would seem that this must have worked for Psychic Awakening in Warhammer 40,000. If it ain’t broke, etc…
Further honing in on the flavour of the events and battles that unfurl throughout the book, there are even special battle plans and battalions. These allow you to play each key mission and with relevant battalions for each battle. Once again, this may sit into quite a fine niche. Frankly, it’s great to see the option offered to players who would really get a kick out of this.
Unfortunately, some of the battalions feel quite half-baked. Especially the Gresh’s Iron Reapers battalion. This wouldn’t be so bad for Slaves to Darkness players who own three Chaos Chariots. However, releasing one of the Broken Realms battalion boxes to feature these guys feels so lackluster. The models may not look as outdated as some others among Age of Sigmar, but they certainly show their age alongside the newer Chaos Warrior models. This feels more like an attempt to shift old stock more than anything.
Another gripe I have with this book is that it sees no new models released alongside. Where Psychic Awakening had a slew of new models released with some of the books, Malign Portents had four of the most character Age of Sigmar models released in tandem. This not being the case during the start of Broken Realms leaves me worried that this will not be the “world-shattering” cataclysm as is being implied.
Moving on, some existing warscrolls have received updates in the Broken Realms Morathi book. Morathi, of course, sees an update with rules allowing you to field both of her forms at once. There’s an interesting weaving between the models on the table that has them mortally linked together. It feels fitting and appropriate for a being who has connived and slithered her way to godhood; defeating her should not be straightforward.
In A Strange Place
The main objective of the Broken Realms Morathi book would seem to be to advance the overarching narrative and world of Age of Sigmar. The book does this and it concludes at an exciting point that could well have massive implications on the setting.
Unfortunately, where it does that with great effect, everything else feels somewhat under-cooked. With each book being focused on small numbers of factions it’ll seem like the books are actually going to be used by a small subset of players rather than being something widely enjoyed and utilized. The fact that the book is landing with no new miniatures to coincide also leaves me feeling somewhat less than impressed.
New battleplans, battle traits, battalions and rules for the relevant models will be welcomed by those who use them. But without the weight and impact that new miniatures would bring, this feels like a a door creaking open, rather than the booming groan of a large gate swinging wide, as it wishes to be. It’s strange that I find Broken Realms Morathi very comparable to Psychic Awakening, only yet wishing that it was more like it in a handful of ways. For now, the Morathi book feels like a tepid opening for what should be a roiling and engrossing start to the next steps in Age of Sigmar.
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