I have Blood Bowl to paint. I still even have Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower to paint…
— Circus of Paint ☠️ (@Sharkey2112) February 27, 2017
As the follow-up from last year’s excellent Silver Tower, this naturally is very similar in many ways – namely the bulk of the core rules (albeit tweaked and added to) as well as all the Heroes and Adversaries being cross-compatible between both games. More on that later!
What’s the mean difference then? Why should anyone pick this up when Silver Tower still exists? Well, Silver Tower is a wholly co-operative game, whereas Shadows over Hammerhal takes that co-operative mentality and pits it against an extra player, the Gamesmaster! One of the main criticisms I’ve seen of Shadows over Hammerhal online is that the GM is an essential part of the experience, you can’t play the game without him. Whilst I understand this, Silver Tower still exists as a current GW product for those that still want that pure co-op experience (or uncooperative, depending on your gaming group). 😉
The GM’s role (unsurprisingly) is to run the game – controlling the various Adversaries as well as placing the dungeon chambers, according to whichever Dungeon the adventurers are currently battling through. Those who can remember the Roleplay Book from the original Warhammer Quest (ah the 90’s!) will get some real nostalgic kicks out of the dungeon campaign included in the Adventure Book. Enemies, traps, danger and glory ahead! Lots of variation between the various floors of the dungeon, considering the limited varieties of Adversaries included in the box. Lots of inspiration for making your own fiendish dungeon designs!
Speaking of Adversaries, another debated part of the set. In Silver Tower, we were treated to a whole tightly-themed collection of Tzeentch Daemons and Disciples. Whereas in contrast, Shadows over Hammerhal has a more eclectic range of minions picked across the spectrum of Chaos gods; Putrid Blightkings for Nurgle, Bloodreavers for Khorne and (returning from Silver Tower) Kairic Acolytes for Tzeentch. To top those off is the Chaos Sorcerer Lord, reimagined as a Slaaneshi follower.
Whilst at first glance these are a rather disjointed collection of chaotic kind, at the back of the Guidebook is a two-page spread for every hero and Adversary group – combining both a simple yet effective painting guide as well as some background information on what their places are in the setting of Shadows over Hammerhal. It’s these little background tidbits that help to sell the idea that these otherwise-opposing factions would work together, temporarily bonded together by the scheming of the Sorceror Lord Redomir.
I mean, I’ve not even starting reading the 30+ pages of new background material – setting the scene for the city of Hammerhal and of the twisting depths underneath. There’s a lot of new background material to soak in, really mixing the “shiny” fantastic look of the Mortal Realms with the seedy underbelly markets and taverns that encapsulated the Old World so well. I’ll probably post more on that when I’ve actually read it!
Back to Adversaries, rules are included for the following;
Chaos Sorcerer Lord (Redomir) – now as an Adversary rather than a hero. Sorcerer Lord vs Sorcerer Lord? Why not!
Putrid Blightkings – A fan favourite from the End Times. Same old, same old.
Bloodreavers – Their Weight of Numbers rule can be deadly, so don’t let that happen by them ganging up on your heroes.
Karin Acolytes – Pretty much same as in Silver Tower, except….
Since Shadows of Hammerhal uses full multi-part sprues instead of the single-piece models from its predecessor, the Adversary group now number up to 2d6 (ten models maximum per group). Returning Tzeentchian culprits like the Acolytes have been updated to account for this, as well as full rules options for all the various standard bearer and musical options. It’s almost like they want your Shadows over Hammerhal collection to be compatible with mother game Age of Sigmar. As a friend put it, it’s like Games Workshop are trying to get your to buy more models of the starting point of this set. Obviously, and it works!
Exotic Adversaries are back too! New ones include;
Blood Warriors – Their No Respite rule means they fight on until the end of their phase, even if they are killed!
Wrathmongers – The somewhat strange red-skinned brutes return with their Wrath-flails(!). They whip up a frenzy for nearby models – friend or foe! Blood for the Blood God!
Plaguebearers – Daemons of Nurgle, their strength comes in several attacks and abilities which can stun nearby heroes. I can imagine that getting frustrating fast!
Tzaangor – Same as in Silver Tower, but with updated group numbers and options for Icon Bearers and Brayhorns
Tzaangor Skyfires – Identical to the rules in the most recent White Dwarf mag (at time of writing). As this has already been covered in such publication recently (along with the Tzaangor Shaman (hero) and Tzaangor Enlightened (Adversaries) , I would of preferred something new instead.
The best thing about all these thematic variety of miniatures and the more open-narrative in Shadows over Hammerhal, is that one could easily add their own Adversary groups to the mix with existing Age of Sigmar models! Whilst any sort of low-level Chaos seemed to fit the bit nicely, with a bit of imagination one could easily substitute Chaos for something entirely else; Orruks and Gross, Zombies, Fimir, Ogors, Deathrattle Legions etc….
This is one of the definite selling points of Shadows over Hammerhal for me. It makes me want to add some of my other collection to the mix. In fact, I’m in the process of writing my own rules for various Skaven critters to give a go and test one day. Having a lot of existing Chaos / Destruction / Death heroes for Silver Tower makes it a lot easier to write Shadows over Hammerhal Adversary rules for them. I might share them with out sometime…
I’m going to stop for now – still lots to delve into and even more to paint in the meantime, Thanks for reading, and let me know your thoughts as always!
(Ps I’m on Twitter – catch me there by searching for “Circus of Paint ☠️” or click the embedded link at the top!)