Arena of Shades, the newest Age of Sigmar release, hits the shelves next week! With some new units and a new box for players to sink their bloodthirsty or ghostly teeth into.
These battle boxes are coming thick and fast at the moment and appear to be a great alternative to the main 2 player starter sets. They continue to add more expansive variety and choice, two things which are always good in my eyes. All you really need is some dice and you will be set to go.
Arena of Shades Aelves
Within the new set is 44 models, 7 of which are brand new models. This isn’t too bad considering some of the battle boxes just come with new commanders as the sole new models. Kick-flipping into action first is the new High Gladiatrix hero for the Daughters of Khaine. She is a living conduit for Khaine’s wrath with a facial expression that alone could slay her foes. She is a whirling, killing machine, able fight in combat from 6″ instead of 3″.
This makes her perfect for hiding behind a screen of troops and staying out of range to be hit back by her enemies. She has a total of 6 attacks hitting and wounding on a 3+ but the main coupe de grace comes from her Killing Stroke special rule.
Killing Me Not-So Softly
Killing stroke allows you to pick an enemy hero within 1 inch. Roll a D3 and add the wounds allocated to that hero and if the result is equal or greater to the hero’s wounds it is slain! This takes place at the end of the combat phase, so you get a bit of extra time to pump some wounds in before the Killing Stroke kicks in, too! Additionally, she buffs nearby Witch Aelves and Sisters of Slaughter with Barbed Whips and Sacrificial Knives. Whilst not a death star combination it will certainly enemies people from getting too close.
The Khinerai Heartrenders add some much-needed range to the force whilst being able to start the game in reserve and drop down where needed. They are able to run and shoot in the same turn before then making a normal 6″ move. This unit is going to be extraordinarily difficult to pin down. Alongside these Heartranders, the Doomfire Warlocks bring some magic to the arsenal of these Aelves. This unit counts as a wizard and whilst there are 5 or more of them in a unit they can add 1 to the results of casting and unbinding rolls. With ranged, melee and magic attack options this is another unit that can fill plenty of slots and cause a massive headache if ignored by your opponent.
The Daughters of Khaine army list for the Arena of Shades boxed set comes in at 470 points. So it’s a nice, versatile cornerstone of a new force or expansion for an existing army.
Nighthaunt in Arena of Shades
Pitted against the forces of Order are the ghostly Nighthaunt. These specters are fielded with a new hero, the Scriptor of Mortis, and some much-needed ranged attacks in the form of the Craventhrone Guard.
For a start, the entire force is Ethereal and so ignores any and all save modifiers when making saves. Scriptor Mortis is potentially the biggest threat amongst the ghoulish forces due to his unique ability named “Sentences to Eternal Torment”. Selecting an enemy hero on the battlefield in each of your hero phases, if you then roll a single D6 and the number is less than the current battle round the chosen enemy hero suffers 2d6 mortal wounds! The Scriptor Mortis is sure to be everyone’s number one target, lest it starts eradicating heroes left, right and centre! However, with only 6 wounds and the ability to pass on a wound, this Hero’s 4+ save is going to be tested regularly.
Keep Your Head Down
The Craventhrone Guard are an incredible glass cannon within Arena of Shades. Each guard has two shots with their soul hunters crossbow, but they don’t need line of sight to their target and they ignore cover modifiers. With -1 rend this really cool attack is smoothed out by only doing 1 damage per wound. However each model only has one wound and only a 5+ unmodifiable save. They can however, have D3 models returned per turn. This makes them able to deal out fairly consistent damage from relative safety, but a sustained assault against them could see them topple over very quickly.
The Spirit Torments existing Captured Soul Energy rule has had a slight overhaul. It is now a flat 3 wounds healed or models who have in total 3 or less wounds. This replaces the variable D3. It also appears that if you have more than one Spirit Host there is no requirement to slay a minimum of three models any more either.
Bladeguard Revenants are the elite Nighthaunt units in Arena of Shades, able to issue their own orders on the battlefield. However, a small nerf has appeared as they have lost their Fearful Frenzy ability.
The Nighthaunt force comes in at a hefty 700 points straight out of the box. A much better place to start an army as opposed to the Daughters of Khaine. Although, no Nighthaunt battleline units are included – so it’s swings and roundabouts, I suppose!
The narrative campaign of Arena of Shades is only three battle plans long. This is a great way of learning your new forces and pushing your knowledge with them forward. In this narrative campaign we have High Gladiatrix Yelena leading her Daughters of Khaine against the Nighthaunt invaders led by Rayon a Sciptor Mortis out to claim a bounty of souls to replace those lost before.
I am really liking these battle boxes thus far. As stated before, I think they add some more variety than the traditional 2 player starter boxes. Additionally, this one has a slimmed-down version of the Age of Sigmar Core Rules included. While these boxes inevitably come out a little imbalanced to one side or the other I think the composition in Arena of Shades unfortunately pushes this even further. 470 points to 700 seems like quite the gap! I can’t help thinking that maybe if the Chainghast and the Spirit torment were removed and another Sisters of Slaughter sprue was added that perhaps it would have made this feel a little less one-sided! Alternatively, swapp the Banshees for another Heartrenders unit or Khinerai Lifetakers. This would have put it at 560 to 625 for what looks to be like a minimal difference in the cost of plastic.
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