The new Empire army book has arrived and I wanted to take the chance to write my thoughts about it, I know I get to post on the forums, twitter and sound off on the show but I want to start using the website more and what better way to begin. This is the first in a series of articles about my thoughts about the Empire.
So let’s take a look at the book
Continuing the awesome trend of 8th edition army, The Empire is a 96 page full-colour hardback. The first thing that is instantly noticeable is the cover art. All the hardback army books released since 8th edition landed in June 2010 have moved away from the ‘Gothic Warhammer’ of 7th Edition and gone more in the direction of the new plastic kits and wild monsters to give more of a cartoon feel to the current artistic style. The Empire cover, on the other hand, has a gritty feel yet still is clearly in the current GW art style. The one aspect that did change was the focus of the art. Since Warhammer first moved from a single rule book and into army books back in 4th Edition, the Empire cover art has always been a group of tightly packed men struggling in battle, this cover changes that and depicts a single hero front and centre manning the barricades with his army in the back ground. A change in direction of the army?
The background sections of the book are as you would expect, it runs through the history from the founding of the empire, the rise of Sigmar, uniting the tribes of men and defeating the Orc horde at Black Fire Pass. The great campaigns against the Skaven, the loss of the Solland Runfang to Gorbad Ironclaw, the Wars of the Vampire Counts and Magnus the Pious shattering the chaos invasion in very Tolkienesq fashion (the relief of Helm Deep). There is some stories of old missing, but quite a lot of new background revealed. The events following the Crowning of the Everchosen in 2519 which were played out in the Storm of Chaos campaign are glossed over. The all references to Valten have been removed, from the timeline aswell as the background of Luthor Huss and Volkmar. Upon discovering this I did some rereading of the other recent army books and the 8th edition rule book to find that the whole timeline has been reset to pre Archaon’s invasion.
The main story that has been added is the 3rd battle of Black Fire Pass. Warhammer Forge were previewing an early copy of this book at the recent Forge World open day. The conversation I had with the games developer in charge of the project said it is a new campaign book along the lines of Tamurkhan which centers around the events at Black fire Pass in 2522. An Orc invasion is met by the armies of the Empire led by Marius Leitdorf , The Mad Count and Karl Franz.
The other obvious areas where new background has been introduced is to bring in the new units types. The Demigryphs are captured from the depths of the Reikwald forest and broken to the will of their riders, while the witch hunters have always been deeply intermingled with the Empire history, putting them into the army book is a small step. The 2 new Arcane Battle Alters , the Luminark of Hysh and the Celestial Hurricanum have been portrayed as inventions of the highest minds in the respective colleges of magic, and new technology that sits nicely alongside the creations from Nuln.
There has been an awful lot of discussion about the number of items that are included in the new books, I personally don’t see an issue with it. There are 9 items in the Empire book and while I am not an Empire player I can still give a good summary of the background and attribute of each item by reading only its title. Other than the Imperial Banner or one of the items relating to Magnus the Pious I am hard pressed to think of any that are embedded so deeply in the history of the empire that they are worth a place in the list.
By far my favourite piece in the book is on page 33 and shows a Fire Mage with his cloak billowing and staff ablaze. This was a half page black and white image in the 7th edition book and has been reproduced in colour for the latest version.
So that about concludes my overview of the book itself. Overall I am very happy with the feel of the book. It’s packed with great art, background and cool pictures enough to be an excellent purchase even if you are not interested in the rules.Other new works that stand out are the images for the Luminark and the Hurricanum and the new art for Karl Franz. The old images from previous books are still included, the stand out one being the image of the Griffon riders attacking the giants from the Warhammer 8th rulebook.
If you enjoyed this article you might want to keep an eye out for my views on the New Empire models in the next article and to round out the series I will talk about the New Empire Rules.