Broken Realms Morathi Review – Warhammer Age of Sigmar – Spoilers!
For countless years, Morathi the self proclaimed High Oracle of Khaine has obsessed over godhood. Twisted into a horrific image by Slaanesh and shunned by the Aelven gods, Morathi’s bitterness and pain has grown into an all consuming craving to ascend to what she believes she deserves. In Morathi, the first part of the Broken Realms series, we learn about what Morathi has been planning, see how her quest turns for Godhood turns out, and witness the birth of something that will rock the Mortal Realms to their very foundations. Realms, will most likely, be Broken.
Broken Realms Morathi is up for pre order today, and we were very lucky to be sent a copy a little early by Games Workshop to delve into and review for you! Alongside this book is the highlight anticipated Shadow & Pain Battle Box which further expands on the content of this book. If you would like to support the site then why not order through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself 20% too!
Broken Realms Morathi is the start of a narrative series, and kicks off with a book absolutely jam packed with some pretty explosive lore developments. In order to discuss the ramifications of these I’m going to be talking about some pretty massive spoilers – so if you would rather experience the story for yourself then you may not want to scroll down any further until you have read the book! Even the gaming content features some spoilers, so thought it would be best to give you fair warning before you venture in! Still with us? Excellent, let us dive deep into Broken Realms: Morathi!
Broken Realms: Morathi
One of the criticisms of the launch of Warhammer Age of Sigmar was that it took decades of lore, threw it away and started fresh with a new cast, a new world and unfamiliar sights and sounds. Over the following years however, the Warhammer Studio have crafted a living, breathing world with deep intertwined plot threads adding flavour and exposition while also teeing up major events and vectors for plot development. The Soul Wars storyline has been running since the start of 2nd edition, taking us through the opening of the Storm Vaults, the return of Nagash’s chief general Katakros and the assault on the Varanspire by the Ossiarch Bonereapers. Woven between all this has been the imprisonment of The Dark Prince Slaanesh, and the big question of when he will escape, and what will happen when he does.
While the book is titled Morathi, it is actually a framing device for something even more exciting than her potential godhood – this is the tale of The Newborn One and it’s triumphant birth into the Mortal Realms, an event that is certain to have massive ramifications for all factions!
In addition to the lore content, we also get a huge amount of gaming content including a narrative campaign letting two players retell the story of this book on the gaming table, new warscroll battalions and abilities for the Daughters of Khaine, Cities of Sigmar, Idoneth Deepkin, Stormcast Eternals and Slaves to Darkness and even new warscrolls for a number of miniatures includng Morathi herself!
Morathi is a gorgeous book. Games Workshop have been knocking it out of the park in the presentation of their publications, and Morathi is no exception. From the cover depicting the Shadow Queen in all her sinister spender, to the evocative and epic full colour artwork featuring many new pieces. My favourite piece of art in the book is what I can only describe as the most horrific baby shower ever, and I hope that we se it on Warhammer Art for purchase soon! We also see lots of awesome new maps exploring the regions within the book, including an ace cross-section of the forge known as Varanthax’s Maw (also the setting of Warcry: Catacombs!) As always with Games Workshop books we also get some stunning miniature photography, and I really feel they have gone for a cinematic vibe here to best capture the models as portrayed by the narrative.
From a lore development standpoint, I feel that Broken Realms Morathi may well be the book with the most advances in story from any previous Age of Sigmar supplement. Alliances will be broken, things you didnt see coming will happen and all hell may very well brake loose! a good 70 pages of 120 page book are dedicated to this brand new narrative, and I really was blown away by it! Last warning everyone, we are going to be going deep into spoiler territory here!
The book opens in suitably epic style with The Prophecy of Parturition (fun fact, Parturition is the act of giving birth) a Slaaneshi prophecy detailing something that is most likely going to be very bad news to the Mortal Realms – The Dark Prince giving birth to an offspring!
When the serpent’s head splits in two beneath the glare of a crimson moon, then shall the Newborn One come forth.
At the zenith of exultation it shall slither from the belly of it’s father.
And the realms themselves shall quiver to witness its glittering magnificence.Extract from The Prophecy of Parturition
Well, that certainly doesnt sound like anything that we want to happen anytime soon…
This is a ginormous lore development right off the bat, and we’re not even into the main narrative yet! The escape of Slaanesh has been something I have been really excited to see, but there has always been the question of how exactly it was going to happen – I never for one moment thought The Dark Prince might have a bun in the oven, ready to spawn it’s offspring to reclaim it’s fathers throne and enact vengeance on those who imprisoned him…
The book moves into a recap of everything that has happened in this current story arch, from the Necroquake itself up to the siege of the Varanspire this is a nice way of consolidating the story so far and detailing in just how much trouble the Mortal Realms are at the moment. We learn that Morathi is looking for two things to complete the ritual that will allow her to ascend to godhood. Firstly Varanite, a rare form of molten realmstone that is found exclusively in the Eight Points and that is being mined by Archaon’s forces as a way of breaking the defences protecting the realmgate leading directly to Azyr. This stuff is really nasty, think liquid Warpstone that will mutate you beyond all recognition is you get as much as a drop of the stuff on you. The second artifact she needs is the Ocatian Lantern, a device used by Teclis to draw out the aelf-souls from Slaanesh that were used to craft the Idoneth Deepkin. Stolen by the fledgling Idoneth upon the realisation that Teclis wanted to destroy his failed creation, this artifact has been hidden deep beneath the waves ever since.
From here out we see a couple of parallel threads showing Morathi and her agents achieve these goals – Morathi manages to convince Sigmar to send an army to assault Varranthax’s Maw to act as a distraction while a crack strike team headed by Morathi herself head deep into the mine to teleport the Varanite into the void between realms and 100% not steal it herself for some evil scheme. While most of Sigmar’s allies quite rightly see through Morathi’s deceit, Sigmar himself resigns himself to the fact that if he does not aid then he endangers Archaon obtaining enough of the material to breach the gates of Azyr. She also specifically requests that the Anvils of the Heldenhammer are deployed away from Anvilguard in order to help in the assault. That should turn out fine, right?
Meanwhile Scourge Privateers and Shadowstalkers believe they have found the location of the Ocatian Lantern, and are deployed to steal this away from the Deep-Aelves
Over the rest of Act 1 we see how both those campaigns play out, with some great battle scenes, plenty of betrayal and the deployment of a new weapon crafted by the Gaunt Summoners with the ability to stop a Stormcast returning to Azyr when they are slain. Morathi stabs the servents of Simar in the back and steals the Varanite for herself, while her agents manage to secure the Lantern (With a united army of angry Idoneth hot on the heels)
We also meet a new character, Lord-Veritant Keiser Ven Brecht, descendant of a bloodline who have now fallen to the Curse of the Vampire. Ven Brect luckily manages to escape the battle after death despite Archaon’s new toys, his soul rushing back to Anvilguard to warn of what has transpired.
In the second act we see Morathi’s master plan put into action – As both the Idoneth and a Slaaneshi force who have tracked her from The Eight Points close in on Hagg Nar itself, Morathi puts the finishing touches to her plan and we learn what it is exactly that she wants to do – travel into the belly of Slaanesh itself and extract the souls of Elven Kings of the World that Was, and in consuming the raw power of these souls she will ascend to the godhood she most desires. It very nearly works flawlessly until the very last soul faces her, heavily implied to be Aenarion himself, the Phoenix King and partner of Morathi in a time long gone. Angered at all Morathi has done, Aenarion splits Morathi in two rupturing her very soul. Morathi has achieved the godhood she wanted, however due to the Phoenix King’s actions she has been split – one soul in two bodies – The first the graceful from of Morathi-Khaine, the self proclaimed reincarnation of Khaine and the other The Shadow Queen, all the darkest elements of Morathi’s psyche coalesced into a nightmare winged snake creature. At this very moment something even more horrific happens, Slaanesh gives birth, The Newborn ripping itself out of Slaanesh’s belly and following Morathi back to the Mortal Realms…
The forces of Slaanesh fall back from the battle around Hagg Narr, following the Newborn as it crosses through the sky like a comet, ready to meet their new infant god.
The act ends with a jubilant Morathi brokering an alliance with the Idoneth against their common enemy Teclis. We don’t learn what the ultimate decision of Akhelian High King Volturnos is at this point, but to me this seems to be a clear sign that the faction of “Order” may be about to split into smaller warring factions each with their own agenda.
In the final act we see Morathi’s first overt sign of a power grab, as Anvilguard itself falls to a combined assault both from Aelves within the city itself, who have pledged for Morathi-Khaine and the Scourge Privateers from Misthavn who are allied with her. The hero of the piece Ven Brecht manages to rally an impressive counterattack with the aid of the Duardin, but it is too little, too late with Morathi ultimately proving too powerful for them to stop. Morathi annexes the city, naming it now Har Kuron, the first part of her empire. In a genius move, the few remaining Stormcast defenders of the city are not killed, but rather captured and tortured, as a single dead Stormcast Eternal could end up back in Azyr and reveal Morathi’s hand too soon for her liking.
Interestingly, Ven Brecht is rescued at the end of the book by an unknown source – all we know is that the figure has bat-like wings. With Ven Brecht having vampiric relations spelt out earlier in the book, I wonder if this is a nod to a new Soulblight force on the horizon.
The Lore half of the book ends with thousands of Hedonites of Slaanesh, assembling before the Newborn as it begins to emerge into a great winged form and utter it’s first words to them.
While I was expecting the escape of Slaanesh to be a part of this book series, I really didnt expect to see these developments in book 1 – This is an outstanding book from a lore standpoint and I already can’t wait to see what the birth of The Newborn means for the Mortal Realms.
Broken Realms Campaign
The book also contains a full 6 mission campaign allowing 2 players to re-enact the events of the narrative. Each game along the campaign has benefits to the victor for future games in the campaign, allowing you to weave together your own version of events. While not matched play games as such, each of the missions will list the recommended number of units each side will need as well as guidelines on how to balance the armies based on what each unit can consist of. While for full effect you will want to use the forces as described in the narrative, you can easily adapt these missions using what models you have available yourself.
We get new Realms of Battle for these missions too, which are great to use for other narrative or open games of your own creation, may not really be suitable for matched play games..
A great thing about this campaign is that Games Workshop have released boxed Warscoll Battalion sets collecting together the key battalions featuring the named characters in the story and their personal forces – these look to be a great buy as you also get a massive discount on the contents too, and hope this is something that we see continued through the series.
Unfortunately with the current lockdown restrictions we have not yet been able to play through the campaign, but I am very much looking forward to it, and putting together each of the armies involved in the story!
The final section of the book includes Battletome updates, bringing some Warscroll profiles up to date and adding a number of new options for the factions covered in the book. Much like the Psychic Awakening books I imagine this is a way of updating rules “mid-season” before the next edition of Warhammer Age of Sigmar.
Daughters of Khaine
The Daughters of Khaine get a great new allegiance option in the Zainthar Kai – this is essentially the elite brutal weapon of Morathi almost entirely formed of the Scathborn, the Melusai and the Khinerai.
With Khaine’s Essence they all add 1 to their Bravery, which can go some way mitigating some of the dangers you often have with expensive elite units falling foul of battleshock tests.
Their second ability is Vault o the First Brood which allows a second Hero in your army to have an artefact of power – this has to be selected from he Gifts of Morathi table however.
Power in the Blood is a great command ability that increases the attacks characteristic of a unit of Melusai or Khinerai by 1! Now, there are a couple of ways to increase these attacks even more! between one of Morathi’s new abilities Fury of the Shadow Queen, plus the Gory Offering ability of the new Ironscale from the Shadow & Pain box you can quite easily get Melusai up to 6 attacks each!
The Zainthar Kai command trait is Curse of the Bloody-Handed which does D3 splash mortal wounds on a 5+ to any unit within 3″ at the end of the combat phase, seems like a good option for the new Ironscale who will be in the thick of the fighting!
The Daughters of Khaine also get 3 new Warscroll Battalions
Vyperic Guard – This includes Morathi-Khaine, The Shadow Queen, 1-2 Bloodwrack Medusae or Ironscales and 2-3 Blood Sisters of Stalker units. This allows a hero from the battalion use a command ability once per battle for free, which is not a bad option to get those bonus attacks on your Melusai.
Scathcoven – has to include 1 Medusa or Ironscale. 1-4 Blood Sister units, 1-2 Blood Stalker Units and 0-2 Khinerai Harpies. Units in the Battalion do not have to take battleshock. Again pretty good and can also be made from the models in the Shadow & Pain box!
Shrine Brood – Has to include 2 Bloodwrack shrines, 2 Blood Sister or Stalker units and 2 Khinerai units – this is an interesting one that lets you sacrifice your own models to restore wounds to your shrines.
We also get brand new profiles for Morathi in the form of Morathi-Khaine and The Shadow Queen. With Morathi being split in two during the events of this book you now get to use both of them at the same time on the battlefield! Both models have to be purchased together clocking in at a total of 600 points. Wounds are shared across the two essentially giving them a shared 12 wound pool and meaning Morathi-Khaine isnt removed until The Shadow Queen is also removed. To add to their survivability, the Iron Heart of Khaine retains its rules, allowing her to only suffer a maximum of 3 wounds a turn – through we get a clarification now that any wounds caused at the end of a battle round count towards the second turn of that battle round and wounds caused at the start of the battle round count towards the first turn of the battle round – which just captures any weird “out of turn” wounds she may suffer.
Worship Through Bloodshed now only effects one unit rather than two, but now has a 24″ range. Arnzipal’s Black Horror is now Black Horror of Ulgu and has the same abilities but now a 36″ range! There is a caveat to this though, previously it was range 18″, but Morathi got to double the range of all spells – this is no longer the case unfortunatly, but she does still get +1 to cast, dispell and unbind, and still has her -1 to hit rule.
The Shadow Queen
The Shadow Queen has had quite a re-work, with Gaze of the Shadow Queen now becoming a standard shooting attack with a range of 18″, a wound value of 2+, a rend of -3 and a damage of D6 making it a lot more useful
Heartrender now has 8 attacks on full profile, her Serpents get 2D6 attacks rather than 5 and her tail’s damage doesnt drop off as steeply any more, making her a much more reliable offensive unit.
Fury of the Shadow Queen works really well with some of the other new Melusai abilities seen in this book upping these attacks even more!
Cities of Sigmar
For the Cities of Sigmar we get new allegiances for cities loyal to Morathi after her grand betrayal, Misthaven a city of scum and villainy that aided with both the defence of Hagg Nar and the taking of Anvilguard. Speaking of Anvilguard we also get a new alliegence for the city after it has fallen to Morathi under it’s new name of Har Kuron.
We see a new Warscroll Battalion for Kraeth’s Shadowhost, which is one of the new boxes also up for pre order today
This requires a Sorceress on Black Dragon (Representing Kraeth) a unit of Dreadspears and a unit of Darkspears and this has a pretty cool benefit, you can subtract 1 from the saves of the infantry in order to give them an extra attack on all their weapons – this includes the ranged weapons too! Kraeth also has a unique Command Trait giving her an extra Command Point turn 1.
This is the first of the 2 new cities of Sigmar that are loyal to Morathi – this essentially allows you to place half your army in “deep strike” and deploy them outside of 9″ of enemy models at the end of your movement phase. This is bolstered by a unique Command Ability “Shadowstrike” that allows models that enter play in this way to move D6 inches! Pretty nice! They also get access to a list of one use narcotics that can be given to your heroes in addition to artefacts. These have a variety of benefits such as making the drinker able to fly or to heal D6 wounds for example.
Shadowlord allows the general to use Shadowstrike for free once per battle round – this seems pretty good to get your flanking units into position to shoot or charge
Wily Foe – This is a 6+ wound shrug
Shade Warlock – Makes the general into a wizard, or gives them an additional spell cast if they already are one.
They also get a couple of new Artefacts, one is a -1 to hit aura on that can be activated once a game, one can deny an enemy model with 3″ from being able to attack, and the last gives them +1 save.
This is the new name for Anvilguard after it falls to Morathi, and they get this new allegiance to represent this. They can only take Darkling Coverns, Order Serpentis, Scourge Priviteers and Shadowblades from the Cities of Sigmar book, but every one in four units can be taken from the Daughters of Khaine. So essentially these are old school Dark Elves! They also get a new prayer that can be cast by any Daughters of Khaine priest once a turn – this makes any unmodified hit of 6 becomes 2 hits for a target Har Kuron unit. For when you want Witch Aelves to do even more attacks! They also get a very Commissar flavoured Command Ability where instead of taking a battleshock test you can simply have a single model in that unit slain instead.
Again we get a couple of new Command Traits, one increasing the generals wounds by 1 and allowing them to heal each turn, another allowing the Incitement to Murder prayer be cast as if the general was a priest, or twice if they already are, and the final again turns the bearer into a wizard or allow an extra cast in the already are.
Artefacts are pretty good with a 36″ range mortal wound dealing weapon, a banner that offers a -1 to hit aura against missile weapons or a Nullstone that gives you a command point on a 5+ each hero phase.
They also get a spell lore offering a lot of the spells normally only available to the Daughters of Khaine
The Stormcast get a new “Stormhost” allegiance that allows you to take 1 in 4 Cities of Sigmar units as part of your army. This is a nice reversal to some of ones seen in the Cities of Sigmar book and gives the Stormcast a lot of new options! In addition if a unit is within 12″ of any Stormcast Liberators they get +1 Bravery, and any Stormcast Eternals command abilities will also effect Cities of Sigmar units.
The Stormcast get a cool new ability “Shield of Civilisation” that allows Liberators that do not move to add 1 to hits and saves
We get 3 new Warscroll Battalions for these Stormhosts:
Wardens of the Stormkeep – 1 Lord-Celestant and 2-5 Stormcast Heroes, at the start of the first hero phase roll a dice for each hero in the battalion (Adding +3 for the general) on a 5+ you get a command point
Stormtower Garrison – 1 Knight-Vexillor, 2-4 Liberators, 1-2 Paladins, 1-2 Justicar. This allows the Paladins and Justicars to use the Shield of Civilisation ability.
Stormkeep Patrol – 1 Lord-Veritant, 1 Gryph Hounds units, 2 Redeemer or Justicar units. Before the game the entire Warscroll Battalion can teleport anywhere on the battlefield 9″ away from enemy models (The battalion has to be wholly within 12″ of the Lord-Veritant)
The “Named” Warscroll Battalion represents Ven Brecht’s Black Watch – this is essentially the same as the Stormkeep Patrol but also requires a unit of Castigators, and in addition to the same redepoyment ability “Sanction” affects Chaos or Death in addition to Wizards, and the general gets +1 to hit Vampires.
The Idoneth get a lot of new stuff in this book starting with mount traits, these work in the same way as with other armies, and offer some upgrades to your mounts! Theres two lists, one for Deepmare and one for Leviadons
Deepmare Traits – Swift Finned Impaler increases the number of Mortal Wounds caused by the Deepmare Horn on a 6 from D3 up to D6, Savage Ferocity adds to the mounts attacks, and Voidchill Darkness gives it a 3″ -1 to hit aura.
Leviadon Traits – Ancient changes the rend of any -1 weapons targeting it to -, Denizen of the Deeps increases the mortal wounds caused with the new Crushing Charge ability it has gained, and finally Reverberating Carapace increases the range of it’s Void Drum.
We also see a number of profile changes to Idoneth units!
Akehlian Allopexes are now faster at movement 14, the harpoon launcher does more attacks and has gained a point of rend, while the net stops the enemy from piling in if hit by it! numbers of attacks have been rejigged with the bite now only doing 2 damage but getting 3 attacks making it a lot more reliable. In addition it gets an extra bite if the target is already damaged!
Both versions of the Eidolon have been vastly improved with the addition of a 5+ wound or Mortal Wound shrug making them much harder to kill! Aspect of the storm is now more aggressive in that his Pulled into the Depths ability now makes it +1 to hit the target unit, rather than the previously defensive ability that made the target -1 to hit. Aspect of the sea can now reroll all casting , dispelling and unbinding rather than just a single cast. Tranquility of the Abyss has also had a decent range increase to 18″
the Leviadon has also been reworked with the Harpoon now getting a massive 8 attacks, Crushing Jaws is now a flat 3 damage rather than D6 and the Leviadon has gained impact hits in the form of a Crushing Charge rule dealing D3 mortal wounds to a unit on 2+ (D6 if the target unit has 1 wound models!) Finally the Void Drum now gives +1 to save rolls to all Idoneth units with a wounds characteristic of 8 or less making this now stack with cover! It also gives Namarti units within 12″ +1 to hit!
Finally we get a Battalion for Nemmetar, an Akhelian King from the narrative – this needs 1 Akhelian King and 1-2 Allopex units, giving the sharks +1 to hit for some of their weapons and the ability to allocate wounds taken on the king on an Allopex instead on a 2+
Slaves to Darkness
The final faction represented in the book are the Slaves to Darkness, and they too get a new new Damned Legion in the form of the Idolators. This faction is heavily themed around cults led by priests, and gets some abilties that plays to this theme. All Priests get +1 to their prayer roles, and all gain the leader keyword. All Cultists can be taken as battleline and whenever they charge the lowest dice is changed to a 6! This also means you can take all of the Warcry warbands as Battleline, which is a great touch and something I will certainly be trying out! They can also give a Chaos Chariot or Gorebeast chariot the Hero and Priest keywords to make him an Idolator Lord, unlocking a unique prayer based on what mark of chaos they have! In a similar move to the recent Sons of Behemat release, Idolator units can also destroy enemy terrain features by using the Desecrate Command Ability, which can be very very powerful!
The Idolators get 6 Command traits:
Bolstered by Hate – increases the general’s wounds by 2
Lord of Terror – 6″ -1 Bravery aura
Favoured of the Pantheon – Add or subtract 2 from Eye of the Gods results
Fiery Orator – Can use 2 prayers (Can cast the same one twice)
Bane of False Idols – Can use Desecrate for free once per hero phase
Smite the Unbeliever – +2 attacks
I think it will be really fun to do a cult themed army based around the Warcry warbands supported by gribbly monsters!
Finally we get a battalion for Gresh’s Iron Reapers consisting of an Idolator Lord and 2 Gorebeast Chariots – this increases the weapon stats of the Idolator, and gives him a command trait that gives a friendly Slaves to Darkness unit +1 to hit.
So what do I think of the first instalment of the Broken Realms series? Well, I was looking forward to this book on accounts of owning most of the factions in it, but I was absolutely blown away with the narrative here! Not only does it develop the storyline of Morathi and her betrayal against the forces of Order, but also ignites some very exciting things in regards to the continuing lore of Slaanesh and what the birth of The Newborn might mean to the Age of Sigmar story going forwards. I already can’t wait to see what factions and characters are represented in future books in the series, and I am very much looking forward to absorbing all this new narrative!
As far as gaming content it is also a hefty book with a full narrative campaign and lots of fun supplementary rules for a host of factions in addition to some much needed tweaks to Idoneth Warscrolls. I feel Broken Realms Morathi has done in this book what I wanted to be done with the Psychic Awakening series by giving us both some great gaming content and a gripping story that expands on the Age of Sigmar lore in brilliant style.
Even if you don’t play the factions in the book I would highly recommend Morathi for the story alone! I have a feeling that things will never be the same for the Mortal Realms!
Broken Realms Morathi is available to pre order today.
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews with a copy of Broken Realms Morathi for review purposes.