The Stormcast Eternals are getting a new Battletome before some armies even get their first one – what gives?!
Games Workshop has been pretty open that the Stormcast Eternals are getting a new Battletome to coincide with the release of the new Vanguard Chamber. It has a lot of folks, myself included, wondering why they are getting the attention in February and not those Duardin we keep hearing about. Well, on closer examination it’s pretty clear why: Stormcasts are the Poster-boys of Age of Sigmar.
It’s Poster-Boy Syndrome
The Stormcast Eternals are the Space Marines of AoS – it’s pretty obvious for anyone who’s picked-up or looked at AoS. To the general public, they are the “new good guys” – and why not! They have a very recognizable aesthetic (love it or hate it), are very easy to build & paint, and are relatively forgiving on the tabletop. They are the “Gateway” for new players, the army lots of folks gravitate toward as their first entry into Age of Sigmar.
If you’re a veteran GW alum, you’ve seen this before with the Space Marines. But there is a method to the Games Workshop madness. Ever notice that Space Marines are the only 40k army to get regular updates and rules? There have even been editions where the Marines basically got two codex updates before some armies got looked at! Why is that? Because they are the cornerstone of 40k, and the Stormcasts Eternals are the cornerstone of AoS.
The Cornerstone of Age of Sigmar
What do I mean by the term “Cornerstone” – well, if we’re being literal, it’s the stone forms the base of a corner of a building. It’s typically the first stone you put down and it sets the “square” for the rest of the building. All other stones are placed square to that one – if it’s off, the whole building is off. In other words, every stone is measured against that particular stone and ever other stone requires that the cornerstone be “perfect” for the building to be square.
The Stormcast Eternals are that stone – they set the tone for every other army in the game. They are the stick by which other armies are measured and designed. You can’t go to an event and expect to do well if you didn’t plan on facing Stormcasts. They have answers to most things in the game and other armies have to have a way to deal with them as well. But that also means they need the most attention. If they are off or require a tweak, it can toss everything else out of whack.
Testing Testing Testing
I noticed an interesting trend with these new Battletomes and I think it further supports this theory. Last year, before the General’s Handbook came out it really felt like GW was experimenting with their Battletomes and the Grand Alliance books. They were also cranking out campaign books that had units and missions and things like that. For awhile, we thought maybe that was their new model – it certainly seemed to be the case for 40k, too.
But recently they have shifted again and it looks they are going back to the old school army book layout. Every Battletome post-General’s Handbook is laid out similarly. Sylvaneth and Beastclaw Raiders has the same format but didn’t have the points. But ever since those came out, Games Workshop has been using that same template: Lore Section, Model Showcase/painting, Rules, and Points. It’s easy to navigate and keeps it consistent across the line. They did it with Disciples of Tzeentch as the first “true post-General’s Handbook Battletome” and they are now doing it with the Stormcasts.
“To accompany this impressive range of new models the Stormcast Eternals are also getting a brand new Battletome. This book will match the format of the recent Disciples of Tzeentch book, and will be packed with content for those who love Sigmar and his champions. The background of the book, like Chaos Battletome: Disciples of Tzeentch before it, explores the setting beyond the events of the Realmgate Wars, including Sigmar’s new cities.
Gamers will find all the current Stormcast Eternal units, as well as all the news ones in there, along with Allegiance Abilities, battleplans, magical Artefacts, Battalions, prayers and more besides. For the first time, we’ll also get specific abilities to represent the most famed Stormhosts like the Hammers of Sigmar and the Hallowed Knights (Only the Faithful!)”
We’re going to get a consolidated battletome with all the models and their rules as well as “Allegiance Abilities, battleplans, magical Artefacts, Battalions, prayers and more”. That should make anyone who plays Stormcasts weep with joy! I’m really expecting to see all the different warscrolls from across the Realmgate Wars books included because that would make life a lot easier in terms of knowing where to find things.
But they didn’t use their Poster-Boys as the guinea pigs – they used the other factions first. Once they got their magic formula down, they then applied it to the Stormcasts…Kind of like how Games Workshop treats the Space Marines.
Ever notice that when it’s time for a new edition to come out GW puts out a “bridge codex” that mostly works with the previous edition and new edition. Then typically a Xenos codex to make sure it’s all good. And THEN the Marines get a rock-solid codex that can stand up against pretty much anything. Later on down the line they also get additional supplements that help 1) tweak things for them and 2) introduce new models.
Well that was the same thing they did with the General’s Handbook, which is basically AoS 2.0. Beastclaw Raiders and Sylvaneth were basically the bridge books. Disciples of Tzeentch is the “test” book. And now This new Stormcast Battletome is the new cornerstone of the game.
Look, I’m not saying it’s like that 100% of the time, this is just a theory after-all. But looking back at the last couple of editions of 40k and seeing the parallels, it’s starting to make sense.
So What About Chaos?
They are very, very similar if you look at it. Are they widely available in starter boxes? Yes. Are they pretty iconic looking? Yes. Are they relatively easy to build, paint and play? Check, check and check. So why not them?
I’m guessing it’s a lot of reasons really – it’s probably some combination of the fact that there are 4 chaos gods, they are the bad guys and GW has been really pushing/marketing the Stormcasts on a lot of the “newbie-friendly” materials. There probably even more things to take into account, but, for whatever reason, Games Workshop decided Stormcasts are the way to go. They are deeply committed to making Stormcasts the center of the AoS universe.
It’s All In The Lore
From a lore standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. At the End of Warhammer Fantasy 8th in the End Times books, Chaos wins. At the dawn of AoS, Sigmar has launched a new war to take back the Realms from Chaos. In the previous editions it’s always felt like Chaos was the aggressor and the “Good Guys” were always on their back foot fighting an unwinnable war. Turns out that’s because they were always going to end up losing.
Now, AoS has flipped that narrative – The Good Guys are pushing back Chaos. Order is the side that needs to establish a beachhead and press the attack. Chaos is having to fight defensively. In a weird way, the Stormcasts still have this underdog vibe as their small, elite bands have to face this unending enemy. But they are winning! It’s like Games Workshop captured that feeling of rooting for Rocky vs Ivan Drago…”How is he able to do this!?” Because he’s the feisty underdog that just won’t quit. People love to root for the underdog and doubly so when that hero is the Good Guy of the story. And that’s why Stormcasts are getting all the love…enjoy it while it lasts.
I’m really hoping GW gets around to the other factions and gives them some attention too. But for now, I totally understand why Stormcasts are getting all the love.