Steelheart’s Champions are the bread and butter of Shadespire. With incredible durability and good offensive capabilities, they make for a stalwart and unyielding warband that requires proper coordination and no shortage of good luck to take down.
While they may be a force to be reckoned with in the streets of Shadespire, today we’ll be looking at how you can make your warband just as effective on the tabletop in your games of Age of Sigmar.
The Pitched Battle Profile of Steelheart’s Champions is probably the most impressive yet.
They sit at 100 points and so they cost the same as a standard unit of Liberators, while losing only two models.
The only downside is that they are not Battleline, but they share this feature with the rest of Shadespire’s warbands when taken to the tabletop.
Getting into the numbers, Steelheart’s Champions have a significant advantage over their fellow Stormcast Eternals.
A unit of five Liberators has, at best, eight attacks either from hammers or swords on a 4+/3+ and a 3+/4+ respectively.
They also have three attacks from the Liberator Prime, either with a Grandhammer or a Grandblade with the same hit and wound profiles as the weapons above, but with the added advantage of -1 rend and damage 2.
Steelheart’s Champions bring a significant amount of hurt to the board. Angharad, being the classic shield-bearing Liberator, offers three attacks at 3+/3+ with no rend and damage 1.
Obryn the Bold offers two attacks, with a profile of 4+/3+, rend -1 and a staggering damage 3.
Steelheart himself has three attacks at 3+/4+ with a rend of -1 and damage of 2.
Looking purely at total damage output, a unit of Liberators can throw out six wounds at -1 and eight with no rend, while Steelheart’s Champions can throw out a whopping twelve wounds at -1 and three with no rend.
Not only do Steelheart’s Champions have the higher damage output, but they also have more rend to go around.
The two warscrolls share the same special rules with Lay Low the Tyrants providing an excellent bonus against tough enemy models and the Sigmarite Shields allowing rerolls of a 1 on saving throws, with the exception of what Angharad and Steelheart bring to the table.
Steelheart re-rolls failed hit-rolls against units that consist of more than five models, and Angharad gives the unit +1 to its saving throws on a turn in which it is charged, though this bonus does not stack with cover.
At first glance, this makes the unit an effective defensive unit – the bonus to their saving rolls is excellent, and with some objective-based scenarios requiring five or more models to hold an objective, Severin is right at home cleaving them away from points you want to control.
Just like in Shadespire, these warriors are flexible and lend themselves to different styles of play.
Like the other Shadespire Warbands, Steelheart’s Champions cannot be taken in place of Liberator units in most conventional Warscroll Battalions as these units specifically target Liberators rather than their keyword.
However, this does not mean they are without help.
The Stormcast Eternals Battletome opened up the option to take numerous different Stormhosts in grand battalions that add a number of rules as well as great flavour to your Stormcast Eternal armies.
One thing to note when selecting Steelheart’s Champions is that, while they are represented as Hammers of Sigmar, unlike Neave Blacktalon it is not a requirement for them to be represented in such a way on the tabletop. As such, this opens up a whole lot of opportunities for you in terms of how you want your army to play, and what role you want Steelheart’s Champions to take up in it.
For me, there are two Stormhosts that are immediate and obvious choices.
The Knights Excelsior are a Stormhost that form unyielding shield walls, standing side-by-side their fellow warriors to bolster their defenses in battle. The Warscroll Battalion for the Knights Excelsior comes with two special rules that are of great benefit to Steelheart’s Champions.
The first is The Chain Unbroken which adds one to the save rolls of a Knights Excelsior unit if they are within 3″ of two or more units of the same Stormhost. If they are armed with Sigmarite Shields – as Angharad is – then they instead at two to their save rolls. With being such a small unit, Steelheart’s Champions are easily slipped into a gap in your lines where they can benefit from this rule.
If they are charged, they will also benefit from their Heroic Guard special rule which will give them a quite scary +3 to their saving throws with a reroll of 1s to wound.
The only thing that is going to be chewing through this unit is something that can spill out Mortal Wounds (Such as Garrek’s Reavers!) or those rare units that have -2 rend on their weapons, which even then only takes them to a 3+ save! What’s more, the second special rule of the Knights Excelsior, Victory Absolute, means that if the hard-hitting blows of Steelheart’s Champions destroy a unit they will be healing d3 wounds!
Not to mention there is a fantastic kit out there for converting your models to represent the Knights Excelsior, which would look great on these models!
The second Warscroll Battalion that provides an obvious buff to this unit is perhaps one of my favourites.
The Hallowed Knights (Only the faithful!) add a good mix of durability and speed to a Stormcast Eternals army. Aside from looking fantastic, these rules also help with one of the Stormcast’s greatest weaknesses – magic.
Only the Faithful gives Hallowed Knights units a chance to ignore the effects of a spell on a roll of a 5+, which is instrumental in keeping your Champions alive as each one of them brings a significant buff to the unit.
Additionally, the extra range on their charges and run moves granted by Holy Crusaders means that this unit will be getting across the board even faster, almost a must for a small unit of two wound models.
Now that we’ve looked at battalions, there are several other ways to further increase the durability or offensive prowess of Steelheart’s Champions through the use of buffs added by other models in your army.
Starting right at the top, the first and most obvious of these might be the Lord-Celestant on foot.
The Lord-Celestant’s command ability, Furious Retribution, adds one to the hit rolls of Stormcast Eternals in the combat phase.
With so much rend and damage coming out of Steelheart’s Champions, keeping them close to your Celestant is almost a must. The benefits of having Steelheart and Angharad hitting on a 2+ with Obyrn hitting on a 3+ are astounding, and that is even before Lay Low the Tyrants comes into effect.
If you want throw down even more hurt, the Bless Weapons prayer available from Lord-Relictors and Lord-Veritants has excellent mileage on Steelheart’s Champions.
Thanks to these buffs you can recreate those fantastic pieces of artwork wherein the outmatched Stormcast bring down foes many times their size – hitting a Bloodthirster on a 2+ with extra attacks being granted on a 4+ is enough to scare just about any unit in the game.
If you’re more of a defensive player, then the Lord-Castellant is brilliant hero to compliment the already powerful defences of Steelheart’s Champions.
The Warding Lantern provides a +1 to their saving throws, and compliments their Heroic Guard ability nicely.
A Knights Excelsior unit of Champions with a Castellant nearby can benefit from an utterly improbable +4 to their saving throws. Nothing short of mortal wounds is going to touch Steelheart or his companions!
Steelheart’s Champions bring a good balance of durability and offensive power to the game.
At the same points cost of most heroes, these warriors can throw out a lot of damage with the liability of being three separate 2 wound models. You will want to protect these warriors as best you can in order to maximise your damage output and staying power, and this means holding them back until the right moment.
Like all other Stormcast Eternal units they can opt to deploy in the Celestial Realm which is naturally the safest place for them to be and the +1 to their charge rolls granted by the Hallowed Knights makes an alpha strike all the more likely, while the bonus saving throws from the Knights Excelsior gives them a good defence against shooting.
We hope that you found this in-depth review of Steelheart’s Champions useful. Comment down below with how you might use these mighty heroes in your games of Age of Sigmar – better yet, show us your Knights Excelsior and Hallowed Knights! Extra points if they are your warband painted in the respective colours.
Warscroll Wednesday will be on hiatus for a few weeks until then, keep your eyes open for something scuttling in the dark…