Inside Pulse 12

Tabletop Review: Order Battletome: Seraphon (Warhammer: Age of Sigmar)

Order Battletome: Seraphon (Warhammer: Age of Sigmar)
Publisher: Games Workshop
Cost: $49.50 (regular edition)/$140 (Limited Edition)/$39.50 (Digital)
Page Count: 144
Release Date: 11/07/2015
Get it Here: GamesWorkshop.com (Or your local Games Workshop retailer)

If you’re a long-time reader, you know that my three Warhammer fantasy armies are Tomb Kings, Bretonnia and Lizardmen. Although I really enjoy The End Times books, I was sad that none of my armies made more than a token appearance in the rulebooks or novels. So imagine how surprised I was to learn that, after the Starter Set armies, the Lizardmen, know called Seraphon, would be the big focus of the game. Hey, that makes me happy. I was already able to use them thanks to the free conversion PDF documents Games Workshop put out, but now they’d have their own official hardback book with new art and fluff. Color me excited. Of course, what I really wanted was for my Dread Saurian to have rules for Age of Sigmar, but it seemed doubtful that a Forge World model would get a statline in this new book. Still, it’s great to see the Lizar…Seraphon back in all their glory. I have to admit that after finishing this Battletome, this was by far the best overall rulebook I’ve seen for a miniatures game released this year, beating out my other top contenders in Kings of War, Second Edition and Batman Miniature Game, Second Edition. Let’s see why.

First up – let’s talk production values. Say what you will about the cost of Games Workshop releases – you generally get what you pay for – at least with the regular edition. I’m sure the Limited Edition is as snazzy as it sounds, but I’m not paying $140 for a single gaming tome, EVER. You get a hardcover book. With glossy embossment and incredibly well sewn bindings. That right there is impressive on its own. The pages are a super high quality glossy paper stock and it makes all the art and photographs leap off the page. Usually Warhammer, be it Fantasy or 40K is pretty grimdark in color, but the Seraphon are rich with vibrant, bright, vivid colors, and so this paper stock makes them look all the better. I’ll admit, the colors was one of the big reasons I went with Lizardmen as my first army and twenty years later, it still draws me back to them.

Artwise, the book is terrific. In fact, it’s what I would consider the best art so far for Age of Sigmar. So far the game’s art has consisted of pallet swapped SigMarines (Stormcast Eternals) and the usual Chaos followers. It’s best very similar to what we you generally see from Games Workshop. Now so with Order Battletome: Seraphon. Not only is the art style very different from what we’ve seen from Games Workshop before, but it’s also very different from the Lizardman art we had in previous versions of Warhammer Fantasy. Now the figures haven’t changed. If you look at the photos, it’s the same old Lizardmen figures we’ve had for a decade, except now they are on round bases. The actual hand-drawn art though, is so unique and fabulous, it will draw you in unless you just want to hate on GW for the sake of hating on GW (or you hate lizardfolk). What I love is that the Lizardmen are a mix of futuristic space travelers and old school jungle savagery. A good part of this is the fact Games Workshop has not made any new Lizardmen figures for Age of Sigmar. It’s just the same Lizardmen figures from before, with those aforementioned round bases and some new additions to the fluff. While I hope we see some new figures, I do feel the art and writing explain why the Seraphon look the way they do, while having some brand new characteristics that will influence play and painting style. The art in Battletome: Seraphone really makes me fall in love with my Lizzies all over again and I think I spent as much time just LOOKING at the book as I did read it.

So now that we’ve talked style, let’s get into the substance of this Battletome. First of all, it should be noted that Battletome: Seraphon starts off right where Warhammer: The End Times leaves off. The Lizardmen blast off into space leaving their world and its inhabitants to be destroyed by Archaon and the forces of Chaos. Thousands, or perhaps even millions of years pass, and the Slann, most powerful of the Lizardmen have essentially transformered into the Slann from early editions of Warhammer 40K or the Old Ones as we now call them. They are basically starbabies ala 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Slann have become so powerful, each one is essentially a god in its own, right able to warp space/time and reality around them. This means that the Slann and their Lizardmen allies can appear anywhere at anytime. Indeed, if a Lizardman dies, the Slann can resurrect him from pure memory/thoughtstuff. This incredible power the Slann now possess is essentially why the Seraphon are daemons of order. They are otherworldly immortal beings like the creations of Chaos, but they fight for good, justice, order and the like. So the Seraphon are pure anti-Chaos and if you play against them, you’ll see they play very similarly to Nagash and his ability to summon hordes of undead. The entire Lizardmen army has been massively upgraded due to this power boost and it’s no wonder the Chaos Lords now rightfully fear the Seraphon as if anyone can take them down for the count, it’s Lizardmen 2.0. Factor in the fact that some Seraphon are willing to ally and aid the Stormcast Eternals, and they tide might have turned in favor of Sigmar once and for all…at least until the new Archaon figure and its rules come out. Isn’t that always the way?

There’s a nice amount of fluff in this book, talking about what the Seraphon have been up to since the End Times. There isn’t a lot of detail about the old world, although it is subtly referenced throughout the text. You’ll learn a lot about how the Seraphon function, work together, and what their overall end goal is in regards to the Universe and Chaos. You’ll get a fluff description of each major troop type, from the Slann Starmaster down to the various kinds of Saurus and Skinks available. There is a slight color guide, although it just shows possible pain schemes via drawings rather than a fully detailed “Paint Splatter” type section. These pictures and classifications are more akin to 5/6e Warhammer where the color of your Lizardmen could designate stat bonuses in the game. Much like 7/8e Warhammer, Age of Sigmar doesn’t go that far, so don’t think making an Albino skink is going to help you much, but for longtime old school Warhammer fans, it’s great to see GW isn’t trying to shove only shades of blue down your throat for a Lizardman army.

Of course, this being Warhammer, there are a ton of high definition photos of painted Lizardmen figures. They all look fantastic, but again, it’s not like GW gave us any new figures to collect. Hopefully we will get some new Seraphon figures in the future though! After that comes three Battleplans and the fictional fluff surrounding them. It goes fluff, Battleplan, fluff, Battleplan, fluff, Battleplan, Fluff, so if you’re only looking for the actual scenarios to play in Age of Sigmar, you’re going to have to do some flipping around. The battles are all interesting ones and I’ll enjoy playing them out, even if I don’t have any of the opposing armies. I do have Stormcast and a small amount of Khorne guys from the Starter Set, but otherwise, it’ll going to be Slann vs. Nagash or the Green Knight if it comes down to just my armies.

The book ends with a ton of Warscrolls for your Seraphon army. If you have the pre-Seraphon LIzardmen PDF Games Workshop put out for free, you’ll noticed it’s almost the exact same thing. There are no new stats or powers for figures.The only changes have been to names. Now instead of Chakax being a Unique piece, the figure is simply the Eternity Warden, meaning you can have multiple ones and paint them however you want. The same is also true for Tetto’eko, who is now just one of many Skink Starseers. The attempt here is to let you create your own major movers and shakers instead of being stuck in the rarely moving metaplot, which I think is a smart move. I mean, I love the Warhammer Fluff and god knows I love a lot of name characters, but I want my OWN Tomb Kings, not just Settra and Khalida. In fact, the only “name” character left is Lord Kroak, who you can’t kill unless you do 10+ wounds to him in a single turn (not a round). Essentially that means unless he is attack en masse by Nagash and Archaon at the same time, mummy frog is not going anywhere.

There are a couple of major characters missing from the new Seraphon book without any replacements. Besides the Forge World Dread Saurian (who wouldn’t have been in here anyway), Tehenhauin, Prophet of Sotek, Oxyotl and Jungle Swarms are all missing. They’ve also been taken off of Games Workshop’s store, so it appears these are discontinued permanently. It’s a shame, but I’m also glad I picked up metal versions of each from the website before this happened. Maybe they’ll come back, maybe they won’t. If you really want them though, the third party market is the only way to get them currently.

That’s pretty much the book. As a longtime Lizardman fan, I’m very happy that Battletome: Seraphon doesn’t sweep their rich history under the rug and that in fact, it builds on all the fluff from Rogue Trader and Warhammer Fantasy to give us a fine addition to Age of Sigmar. I’m enjoying Age of Sigmar for what it is, but it is worth noting that this is head and shoulders above all the Stormcast Eternal and Khorne releases we’ve had so far for the game. It’s great to have a nice new army book for my first ever Warhammer army and even if you don’t care for Age of Sigmar, it’s still a well- designed book that is fun to read or just marvel at the art. I will probably NEVER call my Lizardmen Seraphon, but this book was a wonderful reminder of why I love the Lizardmen so much and I think a lot of Lizardmen players will feel the same if they pick this up. Highest possible recommendation. It’s even made me break out some boxes of my old metal Cold One Riders and Stegadons I never put together so that I can’t paint them Seraphon style. That’s pretty crazy.

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