Sharpen your axes and get ready to plunge into a world of blood, sweat, and tears as Garrek’s Reavers arrive on the table, ready to rend flesh and take skulls for Khorne.
Garrek’s Reavers are a unique form of the classic Bloodreaver units seen on the battlefields of Age of Sigmar ever since it was first released. They are a small, fragile unit of Khorne’s devoted warriors, dedicated to bringing more skulls to the very feet of Khorne.
Looking at their Pitched Battle profile, Garrek’s Reavers come at a not too unreasonable 60 points. Compared to the other warbands released so far, this is perhaps the biggest loss of models compared to their basic unit’s starting size where points are concerned. We’ve looked at the points values for the Sepulchral Guard and Ironskull’s Boyz who, breaking it down to a model-by-model points cost, are not too uneven compared to their lesser counterparts. Garrek’s Reavers, however, are almost the same points value as Bloodreaver units at 70 points for half the number of models.
At first, this may seem rather daunting. Bloodreavers are more versatile a unit, with the ability to take a banner and hornblower and a healthy mix of weapons from Reaver Blades to Meatripper Axes, and you have more models to throw those attacks down. Garrek’s Reavers come with the following attacks
- Three attacks from Garrek’s Blooddrinker Axe at 4+/3+ -1 d1
- D3 attacks from Karsus’ Chained Axe at 4+/4+ d1,
- One attack from Saek’s Meatripper Axe at 3+/4+ -1 d1
- Two attacks from Arnulf and Targor’s Reaver Blades at 3+/4+ d1, rerolling ones to hit.
In a regular unit of ten Bloodreavers you either get eleven attacks with Reaver Blades or Meatripper Axes, while Garrek’s Reavers only get a maximum of nine attacks.
Both warscrolls have the same special rules and keywords, but Garrek’s Reavers do not have the Battleline role – what they do have are two special rules, which we’ll look at in a moment. Looking at these comparisons, it almost seems a waste to spend points on Garrek’s Reavers when Bloodreavers are (on average) just as effective, have more bodies and can have their points reduced by taking them in Massive Units. So what makes Garrek’s Reavers so special?
Just like the other warbands in Shadespire, Garrek’s Reavers cannot be taken in any of the standard battalions in place of Bloodreavers. There are, however, two battalions within the Blades of Khorne Battletome that do allow these fearsome warriors to be taken and improved upon.
The first of these is the army of Khorgos Khul himself, the Goretide. While this is often taken to buff up your Mighty Lord of Khorne, the second ability – Hot-Headed Conquerors – provides the Bloodbound with an even quicker means of getting across the board, allowing them to move an extra d6 inches in place of running or retreating and still allowing them to charge.
For a small unit like Garrek’s Reavers this is a wonderful addition, as it allows these warriors to come to grips with the enemy much faster than they otherwise would, and is optimal when taken against armies with more ranged support like Sylvaneth, Stormcast Eternals or Clan Skryre.
The second battalion that is a valid choice for these warriors is the Skullfiend Tribe battalion. Like the Goretide, this battalion allows any Khorne Bloodbound unit to be taken in addition to the units required.
Where the Goretide gives your warriors more movement, the Skullfiends capitalise on your ability to get a few extra hits in on enemy heroes and monsters. If a model from this battalion is within 3″ of either such units at the start of your Hero Phase, they are allowed to make a single attack with a weapon of their choice. For a unit of five Bloodreavers this may not seem like a tremendous buff, but we’ve yet to reach the reason why Garrek’s Reavers can be so deadly. Below are the two reasons that we take Garrek’s Reavers in our armies;
The man himself, Garrek Gorebeard, has the potential to become a powerhouse if let off his chain. Arnulf, Targor, Saek and Karsus are ablative wounds that, while dishing out their own attacks (and a considerable number under the right circumstances) are there to keep Garrek Gorebeard standing.
In Layman’s Terms, Garrek is a mini-Retributor (a unit most reviled in my local store – (not by me Ed!)) with the ability to pulp out Mortal Wounds on a hit roll of a 6+, and there are ways of increasing his Mortal Wound output such as the Skullfiend Tribe that does not take away from the rest of your army all that much. The first and most obvious choice is one that is an almost must-have in every Bloodbound list – the humble Bloodsecrator.
Combine Frenzied Devotion with the Portal of Skulls‘ Rage of Khorne ability and you have an extra two attacks for each model in Garrek’s Reavers. While this significantly pumps up the number of attacks from the unit, it also brings Gorebeard’s total attacks to five. Five chances of dealing Mortal Wounds, six if you’ve managed to get him in combat against a hero or monster and he’s lived into his own Hero Phase.
This is a significant number for a unit that cost you 60 points, and it almost makes this unit a priority target before it gets into combat with your opponent’s general. Even heroes like Megabosses and Lord-Celestants need fear the axe of Garrek, for their excellent saving throws are no barrier against Mortal Wounds.
But we can get killier.
If you feel like taking an Aspiring Deathbringer as your general, the Slaughter Incarnate Command Ability gives your models an additional attack. Six attacks from Garrek Gorebeard, six rolls for Mortal Wounds.
Now he’s not only threatening heroes, but also small, durable units such as Liberators and Ardboyz. Since they’ll be stood next to your Aspiring Deathbringer, it means your opponent will have the difficult choice of either trying to cut down Garrek before his Mortal Wounds come in or your general to keep his buffs from the rest of your army. If you can make your opponent think, you’re already on the right track.
There are more ways to buff Garrek’s Reavers as well, with my personal favourite being the Slaugherpriest. With a little prayer known as Killing Frenzy, we’re able to not only get Garrek up to six attacks, but he’s also dealing those Mortal Wounds on a 5+ now.
Use the other members of Garrek’s Reavers to chip wounds off enemy characters so that Gorebeard can come in and land the killing blow, and if you end up in the middle of a ball of heroes you might just be able to get Garrek up to eight attacks!
If all else fails, however, Garrek’s Reavers are not completely useless in death. After all, Khorne cares not from whence the blood flows, such is the nature of the Blood Tithe.
Garrek’s Reavers make an excellent hammer with the right buffs, enabling them to cut their way through much hardier units that would otherwise not be intimidated by a unit of five Bloodreavers. If you’re afraid of them being shot to bits while advancing, Bronzed Flesh is a good prayer to get off to give them just that little bit more survivability.
Was this analysis useful? Let us know how you might utilise Garrek’s Reavers on the battlefield, and tune in next week when we finally reach the pinnacle of all that is just and holy, with an in-depth dive into Steelheart’s Champions. Until then…
Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!