Gathering Storm II: The Fracture of Biel-Tan: Review Part 1
The Gathering Storm series continues and this past weekend GW dropped their pointy eared bombshell of a book onto the Warhammer 40,000 world in the form of Fracture of Biel-Tan. The book focuses on the gathering of the Ynnari forces of Eldar, Dark Eldar, and Harlequins (known as the Aeldari) as servants to the enigmatic Eldar god of death Ynnead.
Of particular note in this book is the focus on the new "super detachment" the Reborn Warhost, which similar to the Imperial version in the first Gathering Storm book, Fall of Cadia, allows you to create a single detachment from multiple sources. Additionally there are new Ynnari Formations, Warlord Traits, Relics, the new Revenant Psychic Discipline, new Characters. The book also features the brand new Ulthwe Strike Force with specific datasheets on special Ulthwe versions of the Craftworld Eldar units including Black Guardians, Black Windriders, Black War Walkers, and Black Vypers.
This tome is chock full of nasty goodness just waiting to be unleashed on the table top. First, the Ynnari detachments and formations can be used to form battle-forged armies using the information in the book. You can't make a Ynnari Combined Arms Detachment unfortunately, but the special rules pertaining to Ynnari factions apply to their Formations and the Reborn Warhost detachment.
The Ynnari Faction:
Units of Dark Eldar, Harlequins, and Eldar are considered Ynnari as well as their respective factions, which means essentially that you can begin the game embarked on each other's transports. So Fire Dragons can ride Venoms, or the dreaded Wraithguard Raider taxi service are legal in the Reborn Warhost detachment.
Additionally, when taking the Ynnari army the units lose certain rules such as Ancient Doom, Battle Focus, Power from Pain, etc., but gain access to the Strength From Death special rule which states that if a unit within 7' of a non-vehicle unit with this special rule dies, then that unit may immediately take a "Soulburst" action which lets them either Move as if it were their Movement Phase, Make a Shooting Attack, Run or turbo-boost as if it were their shooting phase. Or immediately charge but do so at the end of the current initiative step, and thus could potentially lose their attacks. A unit can only make one Soulburst action per turn, however.
This special rule alone seems extraordinarily powerful as it can set off a chain of events over and over that can even occur on your opponent's turns. The drawback being you need to either get really close to the enemy to unlock it, or keep your own units bunched up closely.
The best use of this is obviously by using Soulburst to trigger shooting attacks as you can maximize the damage output this way. When you use it in combat, it lets you charge again, after say you destroy an enemy unit, but at the end of the current initiative step, meaning you won't get to swing again. That said, a Wraithknight could kill an enemy unit at step 5, then charge another and stomp the new unit he's engaged with at initiative step 1 which makes them even more dangerous than they were before.
While Soulburst is an amazing ability, it comes with a lot of head scratching questions as to when abilities may trigger. For example, can a unit that just arrived via Deep Strike then charge if a unit within 7" of them is destroyed? Is the distance measured from the last model in the unit removed as a casualty or from the closest model to the unit within 7"? Can Swooping Hawks use their ability to leave the board on the same turn they enter if they unlock Soulburst? Hopefully GW clears some of these questions up.
Revenant Psychic Discipline:
The new Revenant psychic discipline gives Eldar psykers a whole new set of powers to choose from, many of them quite useful. The Primaris, Spirit Hook, is quite useful especially against independent characters or for picking out annoying models in a unit like icon bearers, special weapons, or apothecaries. Of all the powers the one that stands out the most is the Word of the Phoenix which lets you target a friendly unit within 24" with the Strength From Death special rule to immediately take a Soulburst action. That can be quite useful to trigger on units like Wraithknights to let them make a Charge and get their full attacks in.
Artefacts of the Ynnari:
The Relics are all quite decent, however most of them are close combat centric, which are great for units such as Dark Eldar. The cool thing about these relics is that despite being available they do not replace other factions relics. So you could, for example, still put the Spirit Stone Remnant of Glory on a Farseer in a Ynnari detachment if you wanted to do so. Of all the Relics the best one is probably Corag Hai's Locket which allows you to restore a lost wound on a 4+ if you kill an enemy model with the bearer in assault. The rest of the relics are interesting, but not really of the same degree we've come to see with other supplement relics.
Most of the Warlord Traits in the book are decent, but the best one is probably Favoured of Ynnead which increases the range of Soulburst from 7" to 14" with your Warlord and his unit. Walker of Many Paths can be good as well as it will allow you to pick Hit and Run when he gets pinned down in assault. Warden of Forgotten Wisdom is another amazing trait as it lets you pick your psychic powers if your warlord is a psyker, letting you get Word of the Phoenix as a guarantee. A Farseer that gains that psychic power with the Spirit Stones, for example, can then cast it at WC 1 instead of 2 making it much easier to trigger. All of the Warlord Traits are decent, however.
Reborn Warhost Detachment:
This is really the meat and potatoes of the book. The detachment gives you the benefits of re-rolling your warlord trait on the Ynnari table. It also gives your units Stubborn and units within 7" of each other don't have to take Morale checks when losing 25% during a single phase. Most importantly, however, if your detachment includes 7 or more units, you can select one additional unit to make a Soulburst action each time a unit is destroyed. That becomes insanely powerful as you're popping off Soulbursts constantly throughout the battle.
The detachment has the typical CAD requirements as far as mandatory units, with choices available from all the different factions. Additionally you can choose many Formations, available from all 3 codices within the Detachment. So you could, for example, include a Ynnari Aspect Host of Warp Spiders or a Kabalite Raiding Party as part of your Reborn Warhost. You can also select any of the Ynnari Formations in the book to use in the detachment as well.
There is no Obsec ability here, which is disappointing, but with Strength From Death and the ability to trigger so many Soulburst attacks you really don't need it as this army is quite capable of wiping the enemy at a rapid rate.
The list of units available is quite extensive, but of course, does not offer any Forge World units, and no way as of yet to unlock them, so no Ynnari Hornets or Warp Hunters, but plenty of other nasty choices available here.
Three new characters are featured in Fracture of Biel-Tan; Yvraine, The Visarch, and The Yncarne. Each one of them can make a very potent addition to a Ynnari force.
Yvraine is the emissary of Ynnead. She has a rather decent statline being WS, BS, and Initiative 8 with 4 attacks, but she also comes with Strength and Toughness of 3. She does have 3 wounds however and she is Eternal Warrior. She has a 6+ save making her hard to wound with Grav but also a 4++ against any wounds she might take.
If taken as your Warlord she has the Favoured of Ynnead warlord trait, as mentioned above, allows you to extend your Soulburst range from 7" to 14" which is plenty of incentive to use her. Additionally she is a Psyker (Mastery Level 2) but is limited to Sanctic Daemonology and Revenant disciplines.
She has a Gyrinx Familiar which allows her to personally generate an extra d3 warp charge which can only be used by her in the psychic phase. She can also regain wounds on a 4+ if an Aeldari model is slain within 7" of her and if that model was also a Psyker she gains another Mastery Level (up to 4) and generates a new power immediately. In combat she isn't terrible as she has a high Initiative and is wielding a +1 Strength weapon AP3 that has Instant Death. She's a pretty great support character for your army and as units around her die, she gets stronger and harder to kill.
The Visarch is probably the least appealing choice of the 3 new characters. That being said, he is still quite a beast. He has WS, BS, and Initiative 7, Strength, Toughness of 3 with 3 wounds, and 4 attacks. He has a 3+ armor save, but no invulnerable built in. Like Yvraine, he can regain lost wounds when friendly Aeldari models within 7" die on a 4+ and if it was a character, his Attacks characteristic increases by 1.
He has Eternal Warrior, Fleet, Stubborn, Rampage, Precision Strikes and Independent Character, making him a great body guard for Yvraine as he can soak up challenges. With his Warden of Yvraine special rule, she can auto-pass look out sir rolls which must go to him instead and he automatically passes the initiative test when making a Glorious Intervention to take her place in a challenge. Perhaps more striking is that he is also able to generate a Warlord Trait and use it, even if he isn't your Army's Warlord!
His close combat attacks aren't bad either having a +2 Strength AP2 weapon that strikes at Initiative 7, with the Silence special rule which forces enemy units within 3" of him to use their unit's lowest leadership value rather than their highest, making it much easier to sweeping advance.
The Yncarne is an absolute beast with WS 9, BS 7, Strength and Toughness 6, with 5 wounds, 6 Attacks and striking blows in combat at Initiative 10! She is a Monstrous Creature (Character) with the unique rule meaning you can only take one in your army.
In addition to her monster statline, she is a Mastery Level 3 Psyker and generates her powers off Sanctic or Revenant, has the Daemon, Deep Strike, Eternal Warrior, Fleet, Preferred Enemy (Daemons of Slaanesh) and Strength from Death special rules.
It can also regain a lost wound on a 3+ if an Aeldari model is killed within 7" of her. She also gives a 12" Fearless and Feel No Pain Bubble. Most interesting however is her ability to get right in the enemy's face. She must be placed in Deep Strike Reserve but each time a unit is destroyed (friendly or enemy) you may place the Yncarne where that unit was 1" away from enemy models, but it can't charge the turn it uses the ability.
Her Sword of Souls is a user Strength AP 2 weapon with Armourbane, Fleshbane, and Soul Blaze which at Initiative 10 makes her an absolute beast in combat. She is quite capable of dropping an Imperial Knight in one round of combat.
There is a lot of great stuff in Fracture of Biel-Tan, especially for Harlequin and Dark Eldar fans as this book now makes their factions playable in a competitive environment. Soulburst will have a significant impact on the meta as a whole, there is no doubt. Especially when combined with the ability to spread the field and use board control to maximize it's use with cheap infantry options like Scatbikes or units that crank out tons of shots like Venoms.
That's it for Part 1. In Part 2 I'll cover the new Formations and units as well as the Ulthwe Strike Force, which I personally think is the true hidden gem in this book as well as some tactica on how to make the most of the Reborn Warhost in your games of 40k.
Gathering Storm II: The Fracture of Biel-Tan: Review Part 1 Reviewed by Robert Chandler on 1:29:00 PM Rating: