Age of Sigmar Dawnbringers: A Review of Harbinger's Heroes
The next chapter in Age of Sigmar’s narrative has now been brought to the forefront, in the form of Dawnbringers. Like Malign Portents at the end of 1st Edition, this is clearly a way for the Games Workshop team to prepare the playerbase for 4th Edition, easing us into new ideas & rules as a celebration of how amazing AoS 3.0 was. As someone who’s played Warhammer since 2011, I can soundly say that Sigmar’s 3rd Edition is among the most polished, fun versions of any game Games Workshop’s produced, up there with 5th Edition 40k. On that note, through various sources, the rules for the four new plastic Heroes released in Dawnbringer’s first book, Harbingers have been made public, and I thought some initial thoughts would be worthwhile, as we delve into this brand-new narrative era. So, without further ado, let’s review Dawnbringers: Harbingers‘ heroes.
First up is the brand-new Harbinger of Decay, for which the book is named, and he earns that role with his warscroll. Priced at 190 points, this hero sports a disgustingly tough chassis, with 7w/8”/3+/8b (That’s 7 Wounds, 8” Move, 3+ Save, and 8 Bravery), alongside the classic Nurgle 5+ Ward and healing during your Hero Phases. The most important thing this unit brings to the table comes with its keywords: It is a Priest, the first that Nurgle can take without allying someone in. That opens the doors for Nurgle to utilize the standard Prayers, like Curse, but the Harbinger also comes with his own prayer, Omens of Decay. Omens has an AV of 3, and is a scaling Bravery debuff depending on battle round, which pairs with the Harbinger’s other tools, Shudderblight, and optionally, Toll of the Doom Bell. Being relatively fast, by Nurglitch standards, Shudderblight turns off commands in either Combat or Battleshock, meaning you can devastate low-Bravery hordes like Gitz or Skaven by combining debuffs, damage, and denial of Inspiring Presence. While you can only apply either Disease Points or Mortals via Curse with a singular 6, this model likely finds a home in Nurgle’s arsenal, as extra Dispels for Endless Spells, and various ways to handle low-bravery troops that Elite Nurgle lists can struggle with.
Next up is the Rabble-Rowza, a strange little package for the Gloomspite Gitz, priced at 100 points. It has a standard Gitz statline for small heroes, at 5w/5”/4+/5b, with a slight edge towards durability, due to its 4+ Save and additional 4+ Ward while more than 6” away from any enemies. The Rowza’s claim to fame is its ability to give Monsters Run & Charge, via Get Goin’, Ya Gitz!, which is especially strange given Moonclan (its core keyword) only has Mangler Squigs as monstrous options. Instead, I think the Rowza’s role is likely as a way to expedite the movement of Dankhold Troggoths towards the enemy, as part of a small Moonclan package in an overwhelmingly Troll-focused list. The other benefit this 100 point package provides is similar to the Knight-Vexillor we see spammed in some lists, doling out 1d3 Mortals to 3 different units within 12” once per battle; while this is cute, the damage here is really only significant if you’re on ~3 or more Rabble-Rowzas, which isn’t a terrible price to pay, but this unit on the whole is unlikely to be an army mainstay.
The most disappointing model of the bunch is without a doubt the Grimhold Exile, priced at 140 points for a confusing mess of abilities. Statted as most Fyreslayers heroes are, the Exile has 6w/4”/4+/9b, with an additional 4+ Ward while within 3” of a friendly unit with 3+ models. That’s a tanky chassis, for sure, but where it falters is the rest of its kit. By calling Honour to Grimnir!, the Exile gives all friendly unmounted Fyreslayers units wholly within 6” Run & Charge once per battle, but due to how the army works, this is quite the tone-deaf condition. Fyreslayers live & die based on their 30man blobs of Vulkite Berserkers, and even more elite 15man units of Hearthguard are difficult to fit wholly within 6” beyond the opening turn. Finally, the Exile can expend its attacks once per battle to deal Mortal Wounds to an enemy equal to (on average) half of their Wounds characteristics, rolling a 4+ for each Wound on the profile. I’m not really sold here; it gives the army a way to deal with Gargants, something it had occasional struggles with, but the rest of its kit is surpassed by the Runesmiter, via Magmatic Tunneling. On the whole, you can give this mediocre Duardin a pass.
Finally, we have the unit I’m most excited to talk about, the 115 point Marrowscroll Herald. This is a Flesh-Eater Courts Courtier hero that’s priced to move, with a respectable 5w/6”/5+/10, and the FEC 6+ Ward. The most exciting aspect, however, is its unassuming ability: Don’t Shoot the Messenger. The Herald is Invisible while within 6” of 5+ FEC models, meaning this is a shockingly sticky hero for a faction sorely lacking them. FEC needs heroes around its core units to function, providing Feeding Frenzy, their Wards, and various other boons, but by making the Herald your general, you can even give it the Blisterskin Command Trait Hellish Orator, and the artefact Eye of Hysh, generating CP & providing cover from ranged fire with 0 recourse from an opponent. The model also has the funny ability to offer the opponent Command Denial, or being fought-first against, but in truth you’re likely better served by keeping the Herald far back, safely benefitting from whatever he’s carrying. In lists that aren’t taking Royal Beastflayers in-list, this unit is a must-have, but if you do feature that wonderful Warcry unit in your non-summon ranks, you’re still better served by taking a Crypt Haunter Courtier, for the Muster ability.
On the whole, I think this roster of new heroes is going to bring play to a lot of armies that have been sitting on the sideline recently, especially in the case of Flesh-Eater Courts & Nurgle. Both the Harbinger & Herald are fantastic role-players for their respective factions, and bring new possibilities to the table! The other vital component in these scrolls is what they imply: Each of the foot heroes, between the Rowza, Exile, and Herald has a way to protect themselves via Wards or Invisibility, which to me reads as Galletian Champions not existing for the rest of 3rd Edition. Having those foot heroes be slightly less flimsy in the current GHB has been nice (as a Beasts of Chaos player, I’ll miss it), but it’s likely we’ll see this trend of conditionally tanky foot heroes going forward. If I had to grade these models at a glance, I’d say the Harbinger gets a B+, being slightly overcosted, the Rowza gets a B- (potentially spammed like Vexillors), the Exile gets a C, and the Herald gets an A, being a near-autoinclude in many FEC lists.
That’s a wrap Harbinger’s heroes! What sorts of lists do you want to try with the new warscrolls? What other armies do you think might receive new models for this narrative line? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so go ahead and leave a comment below!