Age of Sigmar Spotlight – Sylvaneth: Part 2
In part one, Tyler shared his thoughts on why, with all the Mortal Realms to choose from, he selected a sylvaneth force. This week he shares his tactical thoughts on some of the heroes of the Woodland Realms:
Heroes of the Radiant Wood
Welcome to part two! We’re going to explore in-depth the six distinct heroes of the sylvaneth, their roles on the battlefield, and some of the ways you can command them to their fullest potential. Get settled in!
Alarielle the Everqueen
Alarielle the Everqueen is mother to all sylvaneth, embodied through her ability to heal your entire army. In your hero phase, Soul Amphorae heals D3 wounds to each Sylvaneth model within 30″ of her. This is especially significant with Treelords, Treelord Ancients, and Kurnoth Hunters.
One of the best combos with Soul Amphorae, though, is a Spirit of Durthu using Solemn Guardian within 6″ of the Everqueen (or a Sylvaneth Hero generally). On a 4 or more, a wound inflicted on her can be redirected toward the Spirit of Durthu, who can then make a normal save. This makes her phenomenally durable, allowing her to redirect wounds while healing her protector through Soul Amphorae in each of your hero phases.
If you really want to show off the sylvaneth’s healing, you can also make a Spirit of Durthu your general, give him the command trait Gift of Ghyran to heal 1 wound per in each of your hero phases (or D3 if he’s within 3″ of a Sylvaneth Wyldwood), along with the artefact Seed of Rebirth, which restores D3 wounds to the bearer after they’ve lost their last wound. Imagine restoring him with Seed of Rebirth and reaching your next hero phase to heal him with Gift of Ghyran, Soul Amphorae, and the Regrowth spell for good measure (D6 wounds to a Sylvaneth model within 18″ of the caster). Just envision the thrill of having an almost fully-healed Spirit of Durthu next to Alarielle, continuing to serve as her Solemn Guardian…
In combat, Alarielle is usually outstanding versus horde units. Most of her damage comes from her Wardroth Beetle’s Great Antlers, which has 5 attacks hitting on a 3 or more against enemy units with 5 or more models, doing 5 damage per wound (…oww). On the other hand, she’s vulnerable to powerful heroes and monsters, and elite units with less than 5 models, since her Wardroth will only be hitting them on a 4 or more. She’s also quite vulnerable against mortal wounds, without any save of her own.
As a wizard, she can cast up to three spells. If picking abilities, a great spell for her from the sylvaneth’s Deepwood Spell Lore is Throne of Vines, which on a casting of 5 or more will add D3 to her future casting and unbinding rolls until she next moves. This pairs particularly well with her Metamorphosis spell: on a casting of 5 or more, you pick an enemy within 16″ of her and roll a number of dice equal to the casting roll, with each 4 or more causing a mortal wound. What’s more, if Metamorphosis kills the last model in that unit, you can set up a Sylvaneth Wyldwood in its place!
Overall, Alarielle is an imposing force, especially with a Spirit of Durthu close by. She’s multi-dimensional, but be careful about overextending her.
The self-titled Queen of Outcasts is another multifaceted weapon. She’s defined by her unpredictable temperament, in the form of her Mercurial Aspect ability: At the start of each battle round, after rolling to see who goes first, you roll a dice to learn whether she’s enraged or embittered.
If enraged, she becomes pretty terrifying in combat, and her shooting attack Colony of Flitterfuries can re-roll 1’s. If embittered, she’s more resilient and her Swarm of Squirmlings attack can also re-roll 1’s. This erratic nature does make her a little unpredictable, but awfully fun!
Unfortunately, Drycha’s renowned penchant for unbridled destruction includes sometimes harming herself with her Colony of Flitterfuries attack (a model is always within range of itself). You can choose whether she’ll have Colony of Flitterfuries or Swarm of Squirmlings, so you’ll likely want to stick with the latter. It’s powerful in its own right: a 19″-equivalent shooting attack (10″ range + her 9″ movement) that can devastate large units. When she has 8 or more wounds, each model in one enemy unit will suffer a mortal wound on a 3 or more from the swarm, so on average, e.g., she would kill 20 out of 30 Bloodletters. Khorne would be so proud!
Another lively aspect is her kinship and synergy with Spite-Revenants, her fellow Outcasts. Her Song of Spite ability enables any Spite-Revenants to re-roll wound rolls of 1 when within 10″ of her, as they channel her ferocity.
Drycha is a compelling choice in matched play. Sylvaneth can struggle against large armies, so her capacity to wreck a horde unit with Swarm of Squirmlings is invaluable. She can also alphastrike* with the Dreadwood Wargrove battalion (more on this later in the series), or she can threaten a sizable enemy unit early by just deploying through the Forest Spirits battle trait within 3″ of a Sylvaneth Wyldwood and 9″ away from any enemy.
If you’re playing at an event with the option of a second list or sideboard** (like LVO, for example), she’s an especially good choice for either to help you cripple big units.
Spirit of Durthu
A Spirit of Durthu is one of the most terrifying combat units in Age of Sigmar – as long as he has 10 or more wounds left. His Guardian Sword has 3 attacks (+D3 more if he’s within 3″ of a Sylvaneth Wyldwood), hitting on 3’s and wounding on 3’s at -2 rend, with each wound doing 6 damage. However, if he’s suffered more than 2 wounds, that 6 damage becomes D6 – a world of difference. He’s still powerful, but a lot more random.
Since you can take one Order Wizard through the sylvaneth’s Gnarlroot Wargrove battalion, an awesome tactic is to run him with a Loremaster, who on a casting value of 5 can cast Hand of Glory, enabling one model within 18″ to re-roll all failed hit rolls and wound rolls. Re-rolling hit and wound rolls on a sword with -2 rend doing 6 damage each? Sign me up!
A Spirit of Durthu only moves 5″, so you’ll want to consider running a Free Spirits battalion, enabling him and three units of Kurnoth Hunters to make an extra normal move of 5″ in your hero phase. This often works incredibly well in tandem with the sylvaneth’s Wyldwood Groves battle trait, which allows you to set up a free Sylvaneth Wyldwood prior to deployment and after all other scenery has been placed. If you deploy this Sylvaneth Wyldwood in the middle of the board, it can give you an advantageous “checkpoint” in round 1 for your Free Spirits, forcing your opponent to make a tough choice: do they charge you in the Sylvaneth Wyldwood, stay put and take your charge, or try to get far enough away to avoid you?
In addition to his combat prowess, a Spirit of Durthu has a formidable shooting attack in Verdant Blast. At 6 attacks, hitting on 4’s, wounding on 3’s, -1 rend and D3 damage, it’s just about the equivalent of a unit of 3 Kurnoth Hunters with greatbows. You can also channel his life-force to intensify its power, giving you 2 extra attacks with it for the rest of the turn, but suffering D3 mortal wounds in return at the end of the shooting phase.
Finally, if you make a Spirit of Durthu your general, a popular command trait is Gnarled Warrior (allowing him to ignore -1 rend when making saves), but don’t sleep on Lord of Spites. It lets you re-roll the first failed hit roll made for your general in each phase – akin to a mini-Loremaster. You could re-roll the first failed hit roll for Verdant Blast, and more importantly, for his Guardian Sword. That’s potentially outstanding.
Treelord Ancients are the leaders of the sylvaneth enclaves. They’re an exceptional choice for your general, with arguably the best command ability – Heed the Spirit-song – in the faction, enabling you to re-roll any save rolls of 1 for Sylvaneth units if they’re within 10″ of the Ancient.
Heed the Spirit-song also works especially well with Kurnoth Hunters, who can be vulnerable to shooting before reaching combat, since their ability to re-roll failed saves, Tanglethorn Thicket, only applies in the combat phase. What’s more, Envoys of the Everqueen allows Kurnoth Hunters to always be in range of a Sylvaneth Hero’s command ability; and even more, all Sylvaneth units within 8″ of Kurnoth Hunters are also always in range.
Along with having an excellent command ability, Treelord Ancients are remarkably diverse in what they can do, making them a constant in most sylvaneth armies. They can call forth a Sylvaneth Wyldwood in your hero phase (on a 4 or more), move around the battlefield quickly through Spirit Paths, cast spells and awaken Wyldwoods to inflict mortal wounds and dish out considerable damage with both shooting and melee attacks.
Allegiance-ability-wise, Gnarled Warrior (ignore -1 rend) and Oaken Armour (+1 to saves) in tandem make Treelord Ancients tough to harm outside of mortal wounds. Briarsheath (-1 to hit) is also a good choice, making them -2 to hit in combat if their Groundshaking Stomp goes off.
In terms of Deepwood spells, Regrowth is great for an Ancient, along with the Reaping, since they’ll often be in combat. Casting on a 6, the Reaping causes D3 mortal wounds to all enemy units within 3″ (sweet Christmas).
Since they’re a Wizard, they also have the option of taking a sylvaneth arcane treasure. Moonstone of the Hidden Ways is a brilliant option in that regard. Once per game, instead of moving the bearer in the movement phase, you can remove them from the table and place them anywhere more than 4″ from the enemy. This opens up a ton of tactical possibilities, such as alphastriking an enemy unit you may want to take out early on.
Another tactic is to field an Ancient as part of a Household battalion, which has an ability – Discipline of the Ages – that prevents enemy units from choosing to retreat if they’re within 3″ of a Household unit. An Ancient is often the perfect unit to lock in place a key enemy piece for a few turns.
The Treelord Ancient is a personal favorite. You’ll find it’s emblematic of the entire faction in the broad variety of playstyles you can experience.
Branchwyches are another mainstay of a sylvaneth force. They’re terrific value at 100 points, especially as part of a Gnarlroot Wargrove battalion, enabling them to cast an extra spell per round. They’re also one of the better wizards in combat when within 3″ of a Sylvaneth Wyldwood, with 2 attacks from their scythe hitting and wounding on 3’s doing 2 damage.
They can take a wide range of useful artefact-and-spell combinations. A frequent favorite is Ranu’s Lamentiri (+2 when casting Deepwood spells and +1 to other spells), which shines when you absolutely must cast a Deepwood spell successfully, such as Verdant Blessing. Verdant can be cast on a 6 or more and allows you to set up a new Sylvaneth Wyldwood within 18” of the caster, but not within 1″ of any other models or terrain.
If you aim to misbehave with synergistic shenanigans, look no further.
Multiple factors make Branchwraiths deceptively interesting in matched play. One of the clearest is the Blessings of the Forest ability: hit rolls against them are at -1 when they’re within 3″ of a Sylvaneth Wyldwood. This often makes opponents second guess trying to snipe them early.
The real kicker is the fascinating ways they can be used in a Forest Folk battalion, along with 3 units of Dryads. In your hero phase, the Forest Folk can disappear along the spirit paths once per game. You remove all of the models in the battalion from play and re-set them up anywhere within your territory, or 3″ of a Sylvaneth Wyldwood, and at least 9″ from the enemy.
This presents some standout possibilities. As one example, you could give the Branchwraith the prior combination of Ranu’s Lamentiri and Verdant Blessing. In your first turn, you can use the Forest Folk’s ability to traverse the spirit paths, re-setting them up within 3″ of the Sylvaneth Wyldwood you’ll have set up prior to any deployment – ideally near the middle of the battlefield. Afterward, your Branchwraith will then be in a fabulous spot to immediately cast Verdant Blessing and set up a new Sylvaneth Wyldwood. You might even be able to place it onto one of your opponent’s objectives deep in their territory, maybe even before they’ve had a chance to move!
Take a close look at the Branchwraith. She presents unique options.
We’ll delve into each warrior of the forest: Treelords, Spite-Revenants, Tree-Revenants, Dryads, and the ever-so-charming Kurnoth Hunters.
Part 3 will be along soon.
The Warhammer Community Team will also be attending AdeptiCon this year, running seminars for those of you that can make it, and broadcasting the action from some of the games via Warhammer TV for those of you who can’t.
* Alphastriking refers to when a unit can move really fast, in this case, when the sylvaneth move through the Wyldwoods.
**A ‘sideboard’ is a separate selection of units that a player can choose from before a game to better tailor their army to what their opponent has brought. Both players will have the chance to see what their opponent has brought to the table, and then – after a roll-off – they can swap warscrolls from their primary army list with warscrolls from their sideboard.
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