Flesh-Eater Courts: First Impressions & Predictions
Since my article last week, we’ve gotten our first preview of the rules for the upcoming Flesh-Eater Courts range release, and it’s been receiving mixed reviews on the outset! While it’s very difficult to judge an army without the foresight of its full ruleset, the army rules on the whole seem to paint a specific picture of FEC, one heavily distanced from its current incarnation. More than any other army, FEC is a finely-tuned book that’s been in play for the better half of a decade, so a full revamp is going to feel especially off-putting.
While many contest we’ve not seen any of the new FEC warscrolls, Dawnbringers Book 1 did provide an update for all three of the army’s core infantry units, as well as their new hero, and I feel the lessons Games Workshop is taking with those updates is likely to apply to the army as a whole. With that in mind, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Feeding Frenzy.
Via Warhammer Community
The most iconic aspect of Flesh-Eater Courts, by far, was that of Feeding Frenzy. Reaching its current incarnation in their 2.0 book, this gave the army on-demand Fight Twice, something that’s been removed time and time again, aside from in truly monumental heroes, like Gotrek himself. FEC was able to utilize this ability to its fullest extent, often zooming a double-reinforced unit of Crypt Flayers across the board, “screeching” out Mortal Wounds, and then tearing into whatever the most vulnerable frontline unit the enemy unwittingly left as bat-chow. While this play pattern is distinctly 2nd-edition feeling, the change has caused a lot of grumbling, for what it could have been.
In the new book, Feeding Frenzy runs off of Noble Deed Points, or NDPs, which we’ll discuss later, instead of command points, but moreover has traded Fight Twice for +1A, a steep downgrade for anything but Crypt Ghouls, currently. What’s especially mind-boggling is that Fights Twice has been widely reintroduced as “Fight, then Fight Twice in the Fights Last Step”, as we see in units like Slaangor Fiendbloods. This not only creates a tension for the unit, as it’s likely to suffer damage before the second swing, but also gives the opponent more agency in attack activation. It feels like a tremendous waste of flavor, and history, to pare-down this ability so much to a simple Attacks buff, but I wouldn’t doubt that some FEC model still grants classic Feeding Frenzy-style Fight Twice. I hope so, in any case.
On the topic of new mechanics though, is the advent of Noble Deed Points. NDPs are generated by casting spells, chanting prayers (implying FEC is getting one or more Priests, see: The newly revealed Abhorrant Cardinal), or fighting and inflicting Wounds, to a max of 6. The obvious conclusion is that, by and large, these are happening in the Fight phase, given no Hero we know of can cast 6 Spells in the Hero Phase, unless FEC is hiding Teclis in a trenchcoat. This is unfortunate news for Mustering, which has also changed, being a way for FEC Heroes to spend their NDPs at the end of the Movement Phase and resurrect that many Serfs, or half that many Knights. On the plus side, being at the end of Movement means you can tack on models to a unit and get it closer within charge distance to an enemy that may otherwise have been out of reach, but the downsides are numerous.
Instead of being a simple D6, it now runs on a resource which largely requires your model to get into combat, fight, and survive. This also means, for the purposes of new Feeding Frenzy, your Hero will need to activate first, swing, give your opponent a swing, and if they survive, pass along the buff. Adding in a secondary ‘currency’ aside from Command Points is really just muddying the waters, and takes away from the appeal of non-combat Courtiers. You’re no longer able to tuck away small Heroes in the back, and resurrect your models, instead practically mandating they have some way to generate NDPs beyond just Spells/Prayers, or be combat-oriented. If you’re playing a 1-cast Wizard, it’s going to feel pretty rough to bring back only a single model from your Serf blob each turn, without external assistance.
Via Warhammer Community
The last major reveal is that of FEC’s Courts of Delusion, which reads like a significantly better version of the Kruleboyz’ Dirty Tricks. Just before the game starts, but after deployment & turn priority, you can either give your models +1 to Run & Charge, or +1 to Save rolls while contesting an objective you control. This is just absolutely what the army needed, as Blisterskin was taken as a de facto subfaction choice for years, only due to its Movement buff. Moreover, if you know you’ll be able to stick a tarpit onto an objective, you’re suddenly able to stack it and All-Out Defense into -1 Rend attacks, giving massive blobs of Serfs shocking durability, not unlike Soulblight’s Zombies. This is going to be a piece that rewards skill expression and flexibility, and while not mechanically exciting, the numbers don’t lie: This is exceptional.
Via Warhammer Community
I feel that this release is going to be polarizing, as there’s not really a way it couldn’t be; FEC is an army that’s been a static ruleset for 5 years, yet its core design principles are at-odds with Age of Sigmar 3.0. That much can be clearly seen in the Warscrolls for Crypt Flayers, Crypt Horrors, and Crypt Ghouls. I touched on it when the rules were initially revealed, here, but to summarize, all instances of rerolls were removed, and the aura requirements for their buffs were made more forgiving. That’s slightly an oversimplification, but by-and-large, their goal was to reduce the finickiness that came with 2.0’s design ethos. I have a hunch we’ll see much the same from the new book, and it appears the faction is leaning into their role as an activation-timing army, along the lines of Fyreslayers. The skill associated with planning your melee activations seems like the crux here, and hopefully FEC gets a hero that provides the common Foot Hero text which allows for simultaneous activations with an associated Infantry. The Beastlord is just one example, but from even the newest Tome, Cities of Sigmar, we’ve seen it repeat. In FEC, due to how NDPs work, that effect would actually be quite a bit more welcome, rather than a mediocre hanger-on that’s tacked onto a squishy buff provider.
Via Warhammer Community
In some more exciting personal news, given my move to Providence and the popularity of 40k among the Warhammer players here, I’ll be taking a dive into the deep end of 10th Edition! I haven’t played 40k, aside from a few test games since 7th Edition, although I played extensively from 5th-7th. For this re-entry, I’ll be working on a massive full-conversion of Ash Waste Nomad Adeptus Mechanicus, so expect future hobby articles for Warhammer to check-in with my army progress, and hopefully keep me on schedule there!
What are your hopes for the upcoming FEC Battletome? How would you like to see Noble Deed Points generated by non-combat heroes? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so go ahead and leave a comment below!