General's Handbook Andtor: To Cast or Not to Cast?
The new season is finally upon us, and with that, a new land: Andtor. Andtor is the southern region of Ghur, famed for its wild magic, and blistering blizzards, but more than anything, it represents a shake-up for the metagame of Age of Sigmar. Unlike prior seasons, where the seasonal mechanic has options for-and-against that you could splash into, here, it’s a simple dichotomy. If you have Wizards, regardless of whether they meet the season’s criteria of 9 or fewer Wounds, you’re locked out of Nullstone Adornments, but if you lack Wizards entirely, you can take one for free. This article is going to dive into the possibilities some factions might have to completely give up magic, despite their prior performances with it, and why it could be worth considering cutting your Wizards in the season themed around spellcasting.
First off, it’s important to talk about the Nullstone Adornments themselves, specifically the two noteworthy picks, being the Hand-Carved Nullstone Icon, and the Pouch of Nullstone Dust. For armies that have beefy heroes who are going to stick to the midboard, and stay within 30” of their foes, the Icon provides potentially limitless denial capability, giving you an Unbind/Dispel, giving you an extra if you succeed. This Adornment is perfect for things like Stormcast heroes, or mounted leaders that you can trust to survive. In contrast, the Pouch is single-use, letting you potentially Dispel all onboard Endless Spells, and making casting far more dangerous for your opponent during their pivotal turn. This is a great pick for hero-light armies, or those who just need to stop the opponent for one turn before they close in.
There is also the last Adornment, the Polished Nullstone Pebble, but in comparison to its kin, boy howdy it underwhelms. It can provide protection & deflection against magic, but unless you’re Sons of Behemat exactly, 99% of the time you’d be better served by the Nullstone Icon. Even in the cases you’d want to keep a buffed-up Gatebreaker healthy, because Adornments cannot be worn by models with an Artifact, it’s doubly tough to fit in Sons. Just stick to the first two, you’ll thank me.
The downsides to going castless, however, are clear: You’re missing out on a few Battle Tactic opportunities, potentially, as well as the season’s other main gimmick of Wild Magic Dice (at least for casting). That said, in turn you’re given a relatively free Grand Strategy option, greater difficulty in being scored against, and quite a lot of freed-up points.
In terms of factions that could go castless with relative ease, there’s the ‘freebies’, ie Khorne, Kharadron Overlords, Sons of Behemat, who lack native casters anyway. The edge cases are where it gets more interesting, with special note being given to Beasts of Chaos, Nurgle, and Idoneth Deepkin. Each of these factions has reasonable magic, but don’t require it to function, so there’s greater interplay in terms of being able to cut your Wizards.
First, let’s talk Nurgle: It used to be quite difficult to pitch a truly castless Nurgle army that wasn’t just Pusgoyle spam, but now with the updated Harbinger of Ruin, it’s far more appealing. Nurgle has several options for castless leaders that still provide a ton of benefit, such as the aforementioned Harbinger, but can even take Priest allies from Skaven Pestilens, something we saw quite a bit early-on in the prior GHB. By leaning into Heal & Guidance from your pox-ridden Priests, and giving the Nullstone Icon to a tanky leader, you can put a ton of hard to shift pressure in the midboard, and deny magic with tremendous efficiency.
Next, we have Idoneth, who only have two Wizards in their army list, neither of which is an autoinclude. Idoneth has had it quite rough recently, being outpaced by other armies that do similar things, but going castless and trying to be difficult to score against could be an avenue to victory! You could give your Aspect of the Storm an Icon, and keep him midboard as a frightening countercharge piece, or put the Pouch on a Soulscryer, and suicide him in with some ambushed aelves, using Pouch to secure a crucial turn before High Tide. At this point, Idoneth need to be trying everything they can, and removing what little magic they have could be a great start.
Finally, there’s Beasts, my pride & joy. I’ve been testing a castless list this season to roaring success, being a combined 12-1 at my store and across an early season RTT. My theory for this season has been to cut as much of the fat as possible, playing a thin hero lineup, and even thinner amount of Battleline. Instead, I’ve chosen to put my points into Tzaangor Enlightened on Foot, and Bullgors, two units that form a perfect complement. The Bullgors are an expensive but brutally effective missile, that I’m able to point via Beastial Cunning at any one target, and have relative surety that both will die. Then, I can stagger out my TEoF onto the board, cleaning up and out-trading anything left, coupling their debuffs with my Morghurite Spawn to handle any deathballs. The castless part is mostly a mechanism for me to pay as little for heroes as possible, using the Pouch here to make sure my Alpha Strike turn has as little setup enemy casting as possible, hopefully dissuading buffs or debuffs before I come in for the kill. The list certainly isn’t pretty, but it is gorgeously efficient in how it operates.
I think that in casual circles, you can go castless even beyond the recommended factions in this article; I’d love to see what a castless Slaanesh or Stormcast might look like, given the success of magic-heavy variants prior. This is a season where I feel the balance between gimmick & counterplay is perfect, and I’ve yet to play a game against my teammates that’s not a blast. All in all, try cutting Wizards, and thank you Games Workshop for the awesome take on AoS’s first double-length season!
There’s a brief overview on going castless! Have you tried cutting Wizards in factions that normally consider them? What other armies do you think could work without magic? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so go ahead and leave a comment below!