Broken Realms: Be’lakor – Review

The over-arching narrative of Age of Sigmar continues to advance through the Broken Realms book. The latest of these focuses on Be’lakor, the first Daemon Prince of Chaos. Be’lakor is a master of malice and shadow, so you can expect he’s up to some serious trouble. Let’s go through the impact on Age of Sigmar from a story perspective as well as what rules are introduced in this book.

Let’s get started with the story and what unfurls in the book that will leave a mark within the Mortal Realms. Needless to say, the below will feature heavy, heavy spoilers in the book. Thus, skip down until you see the “Spoilers End Here” heading. From that point below, you’ll be spoiler-free.

Spoilers Start Here!

The story starts with the Hammers of Sigmar stormhost, following their failed assault on the Varanspire after being abandoned by Morathi and the Khainites, looking to retreat into the Jade Empire via the Genesis Gate. Gardus Steel Soul and the Hallowed Knights are on the other side of the Genesis Gate to ensure safe passage for Lord-Celestant Nihilat and the remaining Hammers of Sigmar.

Gardus and his Hallowed Knights are soon set-upon by daemons of Nurgle. During the intense battle, the Sigmar-allied Seraphon show up but stampede straight through the battle and through the Genesis Gate, not assisting the Hallowed Knights in their struggle. The Hammers of Sigmar eventually arrive through the gate and support the Hallowed Knights to victory, but not before Gardus Steel Soul is defeated, requiring his reforging.

Scaled Stampede

Meanwhile, the Seraphon charge through the Eightpoints to a Silver Tower that Lord Kroak has foreseen must be destroyed to ensure continuation of grotesquely ambiguous “great plan”. The Seraphon assault the Silver Tower and suffer heavy losses before arcane sorcery from the Gaunt Summoner within has it launch skyward, only to be assaulted by inter-realm ziggurat ships of the Seraphon. The silver tower crashes into the Chamon, Realm of Metal, only to be finally destroyed by Seraphon on the ground. This devastates thousands of miles of Chamon, causing colossal arcane destabilization throughout nearby realm gates.

From here, we learn that Be’lakor has been scheming and plotting towards this as a goal of his. Be’lakor is keen to earn the favour of the Chaos Gods to dethrone Archaon and take his rightful place as Everchosen. Be’lakor has wrought havoc and calamity, looking to spread the gaze of Sigmar thin so he may commit his plans without issue. It was he who provided the location of the aforementioned Silver Tower to the Seraphon, knowing that it’s destruction would cause tumult in the arcane energies throughout the realm gates.

Be’lakor leads his legion of daemons into Shyish and after uncovering Lady Olynders physical remains, is able to convince her to strike a temporary alliance. Together, they can sow a path of destruction to spread the forces of Order thin, allowing Be’lakor to enact a grand plan that would see Azyr cut off from the other realms. This would mean that Stormcast Eternals could not leave nor enter Azyr, even for reforging, and this would lose their immortality if these plans came to light.

A Portent Most Grave

Now reforged, Gardus is able to glance a vision of the future via some form of spiritual communion with the Seraphon. He sees vision of the city of Vindicarum under siege, with thousands Celestial Vindicator Stormcast dead at the hands of daemons. Gardus seizes this knowledge and prepares a defensive force to aid Vindicarum.

At this point, battles break out throughout Chamon with daemons and the Nighthaunt ravaging and rampaging throughout the realm. The attacks are so wide-spread that some even fear that another Necroquake is underway. A vital realm gate called “The Gate of White Gold” situated within the city of Vindicarum, was the target that Be’lakor sought. Vindicarum is a crucial city to the alliance of Order due to its connections to other realms and so is a ripe offering to the Chaos Gods in his quest for ascension.

Thus, whilst Be’lakor commanded a daemonic assault on the city, yet another maleficent scheme of his was unfurled. Be’lakor had in fact paid Clan Eshin to launch an attack on another silver tower nearby. The mission of these Skaven proves a success as they cause immense damage to it in order to push further arcane volatility through the linked realm gates nearby. This has the Gate of White Gold finally collapse and through dark sorcery, Be’lakor summons a dark rift over it. This rift storms over in the skies above Vindicarum and absorbs the souls of nearby killed Stormcast, halting their return to Azyr. This turns the tide of battle and the city defenders are soon overwhelmed.

Iron Skies

After the Sigmarite Brotherhood stormhost of Stormcast Eternals are completely annihilated, the Celestial Vindicators and Hallowed Knights supporting the city are left with devastating casualties. However, the Kharadron Overlords descend from the skies to defend the city and populace due to the monetary/trade value of the city and the aether-gold nearby. Together, along with the help of a mysterious and powerful white-bearded Duardin, Be’lakor and his daemons are driven back. Vindicarum is left in total ruin, with few survivors, and the rift above the city remains whilst increasing in size. Furthermore, reports from nearby cities and settlements reported storms brewing above them, too.

Be’lakor, disappointed in his failure, stews but accepts he has still achieved great things for the Chaos Gods. With the complete obliteration of an entire Stormcast stormhost, a main city of order destroyed and the arcane destabilization taking place in Chamon, Be’lakor feels the title of Everchosen should be his, now more than ever.

That summarises it all and there’s a lot to unpack here. Firstly, the book does a tremendous job of giving the Seraphon a sense of ancient and unknowable power as they tackle the forces of Chaos. It sells the faction very well in a way I’ve yet to see. In addition, the story here takes twists and turns as you’d expect with Be’lakor, plenty caught me by surprise. Quite possibly, my favourite little twist, is the mysterious white-dwarf who could well be Grombrindal himself! However, my knowledge of Old World dwarves is quite miniscule, so take that with some salt.

A make-shift alliance between Chaos and Death makes for an uneasy yet terrifying power-shift. Broken Realms thus far has done wonderfully with breaking from the safe and predictable, with despair being the main offering throughout. Having a stormhost of Stormcast Eternals permanently ended is a bold move along with what this could spell for Stormcast Eternals as a faction going forward. If Be’lakor’s plan hits full-scale, then this will indeed change the Mortal Realms forever.

I’ve had to summarise quite drastically with all of the above, but I strongly advise you grab the book and give it a read if you’re interested. It will give more detail and drama than I could feasibly fit into this article, of that I assure you.

Spoilers End Here!

Now that we’ve got that bit done and dusted, let’s go over some of the new rules introduced in Broken Realms: Be’lakor. You get the expected plethora of goodies here. There are new battalions, narrative battle plans to play out the clashes throughout the story along with new and updated warscrolls. As stated previously, the battalions and battle plans are, of course, very targeted to the events in the book so are quite niche for those keen to recreate these battles. Chances are, most of you guys reading this are here for the updated and new warscrolls. With that in mind, let’s start with the titular character.

Be’lakor

In a surprise that will shock absolutely nobody, Be’lakor is no mere pushover. The overly-simplified way I could describe him is a more affordable Archaon, but that may be trivializing him. At 380 points he comes in as a Wizard with 14 Wounds with Bravery 10 and a 4+ Save. The save initially seems feeble, but his Shadow Form ability means that the save can never be modified, so Rend means nothing to Be’lakor. Further emphasising his survivability, if an enemy unit within 12 inches fails a Battleshock test then Be’lakor heals up to D3 wounds. This “Lord of Torment” ability is both thematic and quite scary when mixed with the right units.

His ability “The Dark Master” allows you to potentially freeze a unit entirely once per game. On a 3+ an enemy unit on the battlefield of your choosing cannot move, shot, fight, use command abilities, chant prayers, or cast/unbind spells/endless spells. This power feels like it could certainly come in handy in a pinch.

His actual attacks are rather terrifying as well. With the Blade of Shadows coming in at an initial 8 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound with a -2 Rend and 2 damage. That’s 18 potential damage! Even halving it to be more realistic, inflicting approximately 9 damage is nothing to sneeze at.

The battle traits and artefacts all suitably mesh well with Be’lakor and his daemonic repertoire. Be’lakor is able to summon a unit of daemons via Unyielding Legions and you can re-roll hits for him if he’s within 18 inches of each troop unit for each Chaos God. This again further plays into the thematic approach of Be’lakor being a major player in the realm of daemons, as he leads his own legion of daemons into battle.

Gardus Steel Soul

The next big-hitter in the book is Gardus Steel Soul of the Hallowed Knights. Do his heroic efforts translate into his rules for the tabletop? At a glance, I’d say no. As a Lord-Celestant, he would appear to fall short when looking at his stats. At Move 6″, Bravery 10, 5 Wounds and a 4+ Save, there are some discrepancies. A nameless Lord-Celestant as a 3+ Save, for a start. At 110 points, he’s 10 points more expensive than a regular Lord-Celestant, but this is reflected in his abilities.

He’s able to negate mortal wounds on a 5+, whilst friendly Hallowed Knight units wholly within 12 inches of him can do so on a 6+. He’s also able to pile-in and fight on a 2+ after suffering an attack that would destroy him.

“Saintly Assault” is where Gardus really shines. Once per battle at the start of charging, Gardus and friendly Hallowed Knights within 12 inches may reroll their charge rolls. In addition to this, until the end of the turn, you can add 1 to the Attacks characteristics of models within these units. This paints Gardus as a buff-focused hero with abilities that actually seem very valuable for his minor points-increase over a regular Lord-Celestant. Gardus Steel Soul probably can’t go toe-to-toe with a greater daemon, but for Hallowed Knights fans I’m certain he has a place in their lists.

Recreational Realm-Splitting

The narrative battleplans included in the book all unsurprisingly allow you to recreate the pivotal battles that play out in the book. Be it the forces of the Seraphon frantically battling back Tzeentchian daemons, or even the valiant defense at the Genesis Gate. The missions all have suitable constraints to allow these battles to be thematic and truthful to the source material. As per, these will tick the boxes of what I suspect to be a niche subset of Age of Sigmar players. I’m more than sure that those who enjoy recreating these set-piece battles will have a superb time in doing so, especially in some where four players with different armies are required – those will surely prove frantic and explosive affairs indeed.

Other parts included the book are updated warscrolls for Doomseekers and Grimwrath Berzerkers, a new (albeit minor) character for the Nighthaunt, Krulghast Cruciator. There are also battalions for each faction participating in the book. The prospect of trying to run the Celestial Stampede after their accomplishments in Chamon within the book initially had me giddy to check their rules. Of course, their power is tempered for the purposes of balance, so don’t expect as many 1000-mile craters in your game as was seen in the book itself.

Broken Realms, Shattered Purpose

Having a few of these Broken Realms books under my belt now, the pattern is certainly forming. They seek to achieve a number of purposes and some come through far stronger than others, maybe even intentionally. Broken Realms looks to further the grand story of the Mortal Realms within Age of Sigmar. This, I cannot fault. Major schemes are hatching across Age of Sigmar with a number of the factions swelling in power, betraying their allies and achieving great/terrifying feats. I suspect we’ll see the Mortal Realms irreparably altered further as the months progress, likely leading up to a new edition of Age of Sigmar as a whole.

Outside of the story-focused parts of the books, the smattering of rules and new/updated units do play their part, but this feels minuscule in comparison. The Be’lakor book is no different in this regard. Whilst the new Be’lakor model and rules are likely one of the headlining features of this book, the rest of the rules, whilst thematic and making sense, just feel a little flat. As stated, a niche subset of players will likely find great joy in these segments and, to them, I wish all the best! It might simply be that due to trying to give a little bit of attention to a number of factions at once, these parts simply fail to introduce any major impact or excitement when stood beside the more prominent parts of the books.

Nonetheless, I’d advise that if you’re keen to find out what’s happening in the Age of Sigmar and what nefarious plots are afoot, you should most certainly follow the Broken Realms series. The contents of the books may not be for everyone, but if you want to learn what’s occurring within the lore and how it will impact the setting, you’d be sore to miss it. I have a feeling that whatever is going to happen could make the Necroquake feel like a gentle tremor in comparison.

Article originally written by the author for The Unrelenting Brush blog in affiliation with Boards and Swords Hobbies.

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