What happens if vampires would be able to control their thirst, refusing to slay unworthy humans and transform in the beast that hides within them? You would have an ancient monastic order called the Askurgan Trueblades!
Background and Lore of the Askurgan Trueblades Warband
Let’s find out where these vampires are from and why they are in the Gnarlwood!
The Era of the Beast caused stirring across every being across the Mortal Realms, especially in Ghur, the Realm of the Beast, driving to a blood-maddened frenzy even the most resolute vampires. Their transformation in insatiable beasts has been the scourge of many mortal settlements.
But there are those that refuse to give up to the blood thirst and do not enjoy the company of those fake aristocrats that hide their vices behind noble courts. These vampires made the long and perilous journey to the clifftop sanctuaries of the Askurga Renkai, a previous monastic order of vampires with the same principles mysteriously disappeared.
In the now abandoned halls, they uncovered ancient tomes that would help them master their martial prowess and placate their thirst. So the Askurgan order was revived, and they call themselves the Trueblades. They can only kill mortal in self-defence or if they are worthy opponents, but their prime targets are the monstrosities that roam freely in Ghur.
That is the only blood they are allowed to drink and for that, they are often despised by the other vampires, despite the fact that those primal energies provide them even more bestial power.
Now Nagash sent them an emissary to push them into recovering ancient artefacts hidden deep within the Gnarlwood, in Talaxis, also called the Ravening Ruin that is nothing else than the shipwrecked void-ship of the Seraphon called Eye of Chotec, that landed there long ago transforming the land around it.
Intrigued by the fact that an elder Askurgan ventured in the Gnarlwood to find a solution to the vampire inner calling, many warbands of Trueblades were sent to investigate. And if they can manage to survive the constant call for blood that is stronger in this region of Ghur than anywhere else, then they will have achieved complete ascension.
Fighters in the Askurgan Trueblades Warband
Note: if you haven’t read the basic rules for Warcry before reading this article, it might be helpful to know that the game’s abilities are activated by using 6 dice that you roll at the start of your turn.
If two of the dice show the same value, they can be used to activate a Double ability. If three show the same value, they can be used for a Triple ability, and so on.
So, when this article refers to an ability being a Double, a Triple or a Quad, it refers to this system. It might sound a bit confusing, but takes no time to get used to when you start playing
The Askurgan Trueblades warband is made of 7 different fighters, of which 1 is the leader.
Askurgan Exemplar: 205 points
The Askurgan Exemplar is the Trueblades leader. A master in all forms of warfare that was able to survive the most difficult challenges without drinking a single drop of human blood.
While he is not particularly tough (4), his 3 attacks at Strength 6 for 4/6 damage are enough to scare anyone trying to get too close. In addition he has access to 4 faction abilities and 1 reaction.
As everyone else in the warband, he can perform a bonus move or attack after taking down an enemy at the cost of a Double, that is already a powerful ability, especially for just a Double. Where things get more interesting is that, instead of this bonus action, he could use his Triple, Magisterial Poise, to add +1 to the melee attacks of all friendly visible fighters within 8″. As many vampires struggle with low number of attacks, in the right circumstance this ability becomes a must.
Another ability that he shares with the Ascetics is Perfect Strike. It also costs a Triple, but this time allows to score critical hits on a 5+ instead of a 6. You will not be able to use this and the other one, but each has its own timing and situation, and the fact that they are both available on the same strong fighter is a plus.
The Quad Worthy Foes, that he shares with Ascetics and Acolytes, add 2″ Move and 2 to the melee Attack characteristic until the end of the activation. It can be interesting on the Ascetics and Acolytes, but before using it on him you need to be sure you can’t use any of the other options, and there’s no other Askurgan that can benefit from it more than him.
The warband reaction is also available to him, Ascetics and Acolytes, and allows to increase the Toughness by 1 for a melee attack. If you encounter strong fighters with Strength 4 or 5, and you are low on Wounds, it could be a life saver. However, in all other circumstances, one of your actions is better spent in positioning yourself or getting rid of an enemy.
Askurgan Pariah: 105 points
The Askurgan Pariah was one a Curseblood that once gave up to his thirst and only with extreme difficulty he managed to partially restore his humanoid form. His relatively low cost is justified by the lowest Toughness in the warband (3) that will make him quite susceptible to enemy attacks, despite the 18 wounds.
On the other hand, when he attacks at Strength 5 for 2/5 damage, it’s scary. He has access to the Double Beast Familiar that prevents an enemy within 20″ of range from performing disengage actions for that turn.
A profile with such a cool background story probably deserved more love.
Curseblood: 190 points
The Curseblood is what happens when the inner beast takes possession of an Askurgan warrior.
It is the fastest unit in the warband with 6″ movement, most resistant (25 wounds with Toughness 4) and the one with most attacks (4 at Strength 5). What drags it down a bit is the fact that is a Beast, so it can’t open doors or carry treasures, but can guard pretty well an objective.
Its ability, for a Double, prevents enemy fighters within 3″ from performing reactions, that is extremely situational as reactions are not so powerful that you would use this ability instead of a bonus move/action after taking down an enemy.
- Askurgan Ascetic with Howling Glaive: 115 points
- Askurgan Ascetic with Charnel Mace: 115 points
The Askurgan Ascetics are those that are training hard to become Exemplars. They have still a long road ahead of them, but at least they already crossed few hurdles victoriously.
They share 15 wounds and Toughness 4, other than access to the warband reaction and Quad and the interesting Perfect Strike that allows them to score critical hits on a 5+. They have 2 weapon profiles:
- The Howling Glaive increases the range to 2″ at the cost of Strength (reduced to 5) and damage (2/5).
- The Charnel Mace is the strongest melee profile after the Exemplar: Strength 6 for 3/4 damage.
On the latter profile the use of the Triple is not that important, but the Glaive with critical damage 5 is an extremely tantalising choice.
- Askurgan Acolyte with Throat-Taker: 90 points
- Askurgan Acolyte with Bonehilt Falchion: 90 points
The Askurgan Acolytes still have to prove their worth, but the fact they made it to the Askurgan monasteries shows at least goodwill. They have access to the warband reaction and Quad and the 2 attacks more in the Falchion profile can be really interesting.
- The Throat-Taker has 3″ range that allows quite some distance from his prey, combined with 3 attacks at Strength 4 with critical damage 4 makes an interesting base unit choice.
- The Bonehilt Falchion loses range and attacks (2 at 1″) but goes up in Strength (5) and damage (2/5).
Abilities for the Askurgan Trueblades Warband
- Moment of Savagery (Double, Everyone): After taking down an enemy perform a bonus move or bonus attack.
- Beast Familiar (Double, Askurgan Pariah): Prevent an enemy within 20″ from disengaging.
- Terrifying Howl (Double, Curseblood): Prevent enemies close-by from performing reactions.
- Magisterial Poise (Triple, Askurgan Exemplar): After taking down an enemy increase by 1 the melee attacks of friendly fighters within 8″.
- Perfect Strike (Triple, Askurgan Exemplar and both Askuran Ascetics): Score critical hits on a 5+.
- Worthy Foes (Quad, Askurgan Exemplar, all Askurgan Ascetics and Acolytes): Add 2″ Movement and 2 to the melee attack characteristic.
Reaction for the Askurgan Trueblades Warband
Introduced in the new season of Warcry, Reactions are things that can be done in certain circumstances, but always during the enemy turn. They cost one action, so they can be used only by fighters that have not activated yet or are waiting. There are 3 universal reactions and one specific to each warband:
Lofty Disdain (Askurgan Exemplar, all Askurgan Ascetics and Acolytes)
- When: During an enemy melee attack action but before hit rolls..
- What: Add 1 to Toughness for that attack.
Strategy and Tactics for the Askurgan Trueblades Warband
Let’s address the elephant in the room immediately. This warband is just fine, nothing overpowered and nothing underpowered with each fighter with his own role. But that’s just it. It does not feel like you are commanding a horde of vampires able to slaughter hordes of humans blindfolded and with one hand tied behind the back.
The Exemplar is able to do some serious damage but may even fail to kill any Claws of Karanak (the warband they came out with in the Bloodhunt set) on a single attack. And with Toughness 4, he is going down as all other leaders. The Acolytes are good fighters, but they represent a tiny portion of the surviving vampires that embarked the perilous journey to reach the Askurgan monastery. They should be able to slaughter a duardin or aelf, but that is not the case. They are even slightly more expensive because of their 5″ movement.
And ok, they don’t fly because of a lore explanation. But the low amount of attacks considering they should be faster than normal mortals? And their resistance? Yes, they can increase their Toughness by 1 with a reaction. But a reaction costs 1 action, it lasts only against a single attack action, it’s only for melee attacks and does not guarantee to extend the vampire lifespan.
Once you go past this cognitive dissonance, you get a warband whose weakest point is the lack of ranged attacks that partially compensates with a faster-than-average speed (5″ or the 6″ of the Curseblood) and the Acolyte with Throat-Taker and his 3″ range.
The Askurgan Exemplar is a good damaging leader with a slightly-above-average survivability with Toughness 4 and 20 wounds. He has access to many abilities including increasing his chances to score a critical hit (on a 5+) at the cost of a Triple. His best ability, however, is the Triple Leader one, Magisterial Poise, that increases the number of attacks to all friendly fighters in range after the Exemplar takes down an enemy. The low amount of attacks is another Achilles heel of the army, so giving a decent bubble of +1 can turn the tides pretty quickly if used at the right time.
Every fighter can perform a bonus move or attack after taking down an enemy for a Double, including the Acolytes that is an interesting ability to give to low-level units that can kill and move away towards an objective.
The Quad is an ok ability: the +2″ movement is nice, but a bonus move is much stronger, while the +2 attacks is very interesting. Though it could make sense a Curseblood doesn’t have access to it, the poor Pariah is tougher to digest. He does not have access to the warband reaction either. He has lower Toughness and 3 wounds more than an Ascetic, making either Ascetic a better option almost all the time. What the Pariah offers to the table is an ability that prevents disengage at the cost of a Double. If their generic Double wouldn’t have been a bonus move, it could have been an option, but as it stands, is an ability that you would rarely use.
The Curseblood is a veritable beast: second highest damage potential in the warband (behind the leader), fastest unit (6″) and higher Wounds. On the downside part it is a Beast, meaning it cannot open doors or carry treasure and it costs almost as much as 2 Ascetics. Its ability prevents use of reactions within 3″ of it: it is both not that great, and with an extreme small range. Considering it has great chances to kill enemies, a better use of a Double on it is Monument of Savagery, for a bonus move or attack instead. If they change the way Reactions work, it could become much more powerful, but at the moment there’s not many you would want to prevent.
The choice of weapon between the two Ascetics really depends on personal preference but the Mace of course does statistically more damage until you use the Triple Perfect Strike, then things get more on the Glaive side.
Same consideration on the Acolytes: the Falchion does more damage but the Throat-Taker provides the 3″ range that greatly increase the chances of survival of an otherwise weak profile.
Overall, this warband is rich of lore and can make for an amazing narrative campaign. Its rules are not overpowered, but still competitive. It’s a fun warband, but you may not feel like playing elite vampires.
Pros and Cons of the Askurgan Trueblades Warband
+ Quick fighters
+ Strong attacks
– Few attacks
– Overall average Toughness
– No ranged abilities or attacks
Some thematic warbands for the Askurgan Trueblades
Just for fun here we present few thematic warbands, meant more for fun or narrative context than for competitive play. Note that in narrative play you need to complete a quest that allows you to recruit a Hero before being able to add him to your roster.
Out of the box: Askurgan Exemplar, 1 Askurgan Pariah, 1 Curseblood, 1 Ascetic with Howling Glaive, 1 Ascetic with Charnel Mace, 1 Acolyte with Throat-Taker, 2 Acolytes with Bonechilt Falchion.
How to buy a Askurgan Trueblades Warband
The Askurgan Trueblades were initially released in the quarterly box Bloodhunt, but they are now available in their own individual box.
A single sprue allows to assemble:
- 1 Askurgan Exemplar
- 1 Askurgan Pariah
- 1 Curseblood
- 2 Askergan Ascetics with either option of weapon
- 3 Askergan Acolytes with either option of weapon
Tips on painting a Askurgan Trueblades Warband for Warcry
The Askurgan Trueblades are vampires from the Soulblight Gravelords army, so you can use any previous colour scheme or guide you followed for your army if these are just an extension. If instead this is your first venture in the undead world, Warhammer Community has you covered with a guide on an Askurgan Exemplar, that you can use for all humanoid models, and a Curseblood.
If instead you want to try something with different techniques, including mixing oils and airbrush, Marco Frisoni from Not Just Mecha has got you covered.