Listbuilding is a critical part of tabletop miniature wargaming, and frankly, Privateer Press has spoiled me by keeping point levels simple. The only complication in listbuilding is Warjack/Warbeast points, and even then that’s not really a complication. Games like Warhammer 40K can be a mathematical slog when you start breaking down things like which unit is carrying special, ancillary equipment, and breaking down your detachment to make sure you’re meeting the required number of troops, elites, heavy support, and what have you. Age of Sigmar now includes things like Endless Spells, where you can pay points to get an extra spell for your wizards, and then there’s Battleline requirements to be met as well. The latest Flesh-Eater Courts battletome has made me happy though.
Well, as happy as I can be talking about horrifying cannibals under the insane delusions of a psychotic, deranged vampire. … … … Where was I going with this? Oh yes, the Battletome introduces the Grand Courts, which conceptually mirror the Theme Forces of Warmachine and Hordes, encouraging me to field specific models and giving bonuses accordingly. The idea of painting up my ghouls to match one of the mortal realms in particular has been in the back of my head for awhile now, and that alone has the creative side of my brain bubbling. What would a Court from Hysh, the realm of light, look like? How would it differ from a Court from Chamon, the realm of metal? Ghur, the realm of beasts? Aqshy, the realm of fire? There are myriad prospects, and should you choose to create your own court, you’ll have access to an assortment of delusions that your chronically insane Abhorrent Ghoul King can inflict upon his minions, or – OR – you can choose one of the four Grand Courts offered in the book.
Those who belong to the Morghaunt Grand Court are all about the unending tide, with wave after wave of ghouls surging forward to engulf their foes. Their Courtiers and Serfs work in tandem to be more effective in melee, their king inspires loyalty such that some units ignore Battleshock, and – perhaps most frighteningly – when a unit of Crypt Ghouls is destroyed, there is a 50% chance a new unit, with just as many ghouls had been in the original unit, will charge onto the board from the sidelines, reinforcing the army.
The Knights of Hollowmourne believe they are questing forever for items of power. This is the Grand Court that appeals to me most, as it focusses on Crypt Horrors. They run faster and further, reroll 1’s to hit when charging, and their king is even more lethal in combat. Also, Crypt Horrors are Battleline, meaning I could field an army of nothing but enormous, multi-wound, clawed fiends.
Blisterskin may be my favourite of the new Grand Courts conceptually. Rather than seeing themselves as noble court, the Blisterkin’s insane delusion has them seeing themselves as priests and priestesses of a sun god of sorts, striving to reach the heavens and the light. Never mind, ya know, that they’re led by vampires… Where the Hollowmourne uplift the Crypt Horrors, the Blisterskin let you field flying Crypt Flayers as Battleline troops. What’s particularly nasty is that all units in your army get +2 Speed.
Finally, the Grand Court that I feel will see the most play overall. Gristlegore Grand Courts are all about the Terrorgheists and Zombie Dragons. Why sure, I want to field three Zombie Dragons as battleline! While we’re at it, lets help the monsters do more damage, give their king a means to jump initiative in the combat phase, and never mind that this court plays directly into the Royal Menagerie theme, letting the monsters heal d3 wounds every hero phase.
The MkII Theme Forces were one of my very favourite things about Warmachine & Hords, and frankly, I’m chuffed that GW has caught on to the concept of making Gdayblokes happy. Now I just need to figure out how to listbuild for AoS, and then I need to figure out how to play. My local nerds may come to regret taking on an army full of pallid, shirtless dudes in loincloths…