Off the bat I gotta say, I was pretty disappointed with this release. Malign Portents has been promoted the hell out of for the past month or so. We’ve had teaser trailers, short cryptic stories, insider interviews and even a website, but the final result was lacking.
In my honest opinion, the website was actually more informative regarding the Time of Tribulations in the Realm of Shyish. There was a developer interview posted on there somewhere, along with the travellers guide to the Mortal Realms that really fleshed out all the information I think Age of Sigmar (AoS) has been lacking since its inception. It’s been a snag that’s slowly being sorted, and it’ll take time, of course. This video resolved a lot of those problems, and answered a lot of the questions many of us had regarding the leftovers from the World That Was, and its inhabitants.
Unfortunately for the Malign Portents book, none of this information was included, nor were any of the short stories that lead up to the release date. There was the usual blurb, the background info about Sigmar and the Sigmarines, a little bit about the Chaos Gods and then some information about the Harbingers. There’s a couple of pages regarding Shyish and…that’s about it. Not really the big catharsis we’ve been led to believe it would be. Whilst it’s an interesting read, it came short. And unfortunately the fluff was plagued by GW’s typical ‘send in the Sigmarines’ staple, which I’m sure many of you have grown tired of by now. We all know what’ll happen there, don’t we?
…and then we’ve got the Harbingers. A bit of a mixed bag. The models are pretty cool, though I feel they’re a little bit too specialist to make the cut in everybody’s army. I can’t see the Darkoath War-Queen being added to my Maggotkin army, for example. I know they’ve tried to make them more inclusive by giving extra buffs to the Prophecy Points thing, but really…I’m not fussed.
Speaking of Prophecy Points, for me the real strength of AoS is that it’s such a simple game to pick up and play, and whilst there are a few extra rules thrown in depending how you like to play, it’s fairly streamlined. There’s not really any particular army that stands out as being bullshit (other than Ironjawz). The rules work, the game is fluid and the army books contain loads of synergy to make armies interesting on the tabletop. One of the main things I really hate about the current edition of 40k is the stratagems, so when I heard about Prophecy Points I groaned.
It just feels like bloating, and whilst the rules are optional, the rules now exist and it worries me about the route AoS will take in the years to come. It also struck me that these are pretty much the only rules in this book. There’s a few confusing rules about Shyish which I probably wont bother with/remember, and then pages of stratagems. I do really hope they don’t pull a 180 with AoS and try to make it more like 40k. It didn’t work for 40k with the release of 8th edition, and it wont do AoS any good either.
I like the inclusion of new scenarios, but I’m pretty sure somewhere they said it was to be a Campaign book release(?) There’s certainly no Campaign of any sort presented here, which again is a massive oversight. It could’ve possibly pulled me back towards an ambiguous opinion regarding Malign Portents, but alas, it was not to be. All in all, a very lazy release from GW that’s had tonnes of promotion thrown at it and not much else.
A massive let down, save your money.