““One Cut, One Kill”
The Splintered Fang is an aggressive, high-risk Chaos warband for Age of Sigmar: Warcry.
They are centred around their worship and imitation of snakes, and they fight dirty with poisoned blades and swift tactics that pin enemies down and then swarm them with a storm of blades.
If you like ignoring your opponent’s armor, putting your faith in the dice gods and, well, having snakes all over the place, the Splintered Fang warband might just be the right warband for you.
Background and Lore of the Splintered Fang Warband
The Splintered Fang warband hail from the Invidia jungles in Ghyran, the Realm of Life, where they worship the Coiled Ones, divine snakes that speak through their shamans, the Serpent Callers. The embodiment of Chaos they believe in is Nagendra, an ancient serpentine God-Beast that they try to find and revive.
The Splintered Fang has no honor code and fight as dirty as they can. Their poisoned blades let them kill the enemy with even small cuts, and they don’t praise individual heroics.
Every member of the Splintered Fang warband is part of it not because of her own merits, but because she has been deemed worthy by the Coiled Ones. The ritual to achieve this is described in The Eight-Tailed Naga, a shorty story in the Warcry Anthology from Black Library.
In this story, we meet the tribesman Marik, who is thrown in a pit full of snakes with his wife Jarissa. Jarissa dies from the venomous bites of the snakes, but Marik, who was otherwise never the strongest of the two, survives the venom and starts having prophetic visions of a mythical snake-beast. The Splintered Fang warband that threw him in the pit sees this as a sign that he has been chosen by the Coiled Ones, and he quickly rises through the ranks of the warband, slowly building up an immunity to all the poison he is exposed to, until at the end, his own blood can poison an enemy fighter.
A Splintered Fang warband is built around a Trueblood leader and a Serpent Caller shaman, surrounded by a host of fighters with poison-tipped blades. They are not the most durable, nor the fastest, but they attack swiftly and their poisons can take down even the most heavily armored fighters.
Overview and Points for the Fighters in the Splintered Fang 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
Trueblood: 180 points
The Trueblood is the Leader of the Splintered Fang warband. She has 4 attacks that do 2 damage or 5 critical damage, so she is not one of the top damage-dealers among the Chaos warband leaders.
However, she is one of the more tactically useful leaders. Her unique ability, the Double Ensnaring Net, lets her pick an enemy fighter within 3 inches, who is then unable to make move actions or disengage actions for the rest of the battle round. This is useful in 2 ways:
- It allows the Trueblood to take full advantage of having a 2 inch range on her melee attacks. She can move into 2 inch range of an enemy who has a 1 inch range, make a melee attack, and then use Ensnaring Net to ensure that the enemy is unable to fight back.
- The ability also lets her pin down an enemy in a vulnerable position so the rest of the warband can swarm him. Since Ensnaring Net is only a double, there is a good chance you would be able to afford another double to improve one of the fighters swarming in on the ensnared target (more on that below), which means that the Trueblood’s ability, if used well, can be a good way to set up a combo that takes out your enemy Leader or champion, for example.
Serpent Caller: 145 points
The Serpent Caller is one of the best fighters of the Splintered Fang warband. He has a 2 inch range weapon with 4 attacks that does 2 damage and 4 critical damage and an 8 inch range attack.
None of those attacks is exceptional, but his unique ability, the Triple Snake Charmer allows him to let a friendly fighter with the Beast runemark, which in his case mostly means a Serpents fighter (described below) make a bonus attack action. This means that a Serpent Caller should always be played in pair with a Serpents fighter. Think of them as something akin to a Ranger from a role-playing game, with the Serpent Caller advancing behind the Serpents with his ranged attacks, buffing the Serpents while they keep him out of harm’s way, at least for a battle round or two.
While the Serpent Caller’s long range attack doesn’t look like much with its damage of 1 and only a single attack dice, it can be used in tandem with the Quad ability Paralysing Venom which adds the value of the dice used for the Quad as damage to critical hits and, more importantly, allow you to block the target of the attack from moving or disengaging on a dice roll of 5-6.
This is a pretty expensive ability to use for this attack, but if you really need an enemy to stay where they are, such as an Iron Golem Ogor Breacher, Paralysing Venom on a Serpent Caller gives you a chance to achieve this at a much longer range than what you get from the Trueblood’s Ensnaring Net. Most of the time, though, you’ll have better uses for a Quad, so only use this tactic for emergencies.
Serpents: 65 points
The Serpents fighter doesn’t look like much. It’s only 65 points, and visually it is literally a bunch of snakes on a base, but it is one of the more interesting fighters among the Chaos warbands.
It only has 8 wounds and a ridiculous 2 in toughness, so it will go down easily, but it has 5 attacks that do only 1 damage each but a nice 4 damage on a critical hit. That’s a potential 20 damage on a 65 point model! Most of the time, you won’t do that much damage with it, but if you are lucky enough to have it in melee range at the beginning of its activation (it’s Move of 6 helps here), you can attack twice for 10 shots at rolling a critical roll, which makes it likely that you will do enough damage to more than justify the points cost of the fighter.
If, on top of that, you have your Serpent Caller within 4 inches of the Serpents, he can use Snake Charmer to give the Serpents another attack for even more chances at rolling sixes.
How successful all of this works out for you is of course very dependent on your favor with the dice gods, but at such a low points cost, it’s often worth having a Serpents in your warband.
One important thing to remember is that your Double ability Poisoned Weapon, which let’s you ignore the Toughness characteristic of your opponent, shouldn’t be wasted on a Serpents fighter. When attacking with Serpents, it’s all about rolling for criticals, and Strength vs Toughness checks don’t apply for those anyway. This also means that you should send the Serpents after enemies with high Toughness. If you don’t score any hits, you’ve only wasted a very cheap fighter, and if you score criticals, you do a lot of damage. It’s a pretty good deal.
Finally, if you have bought several boxes of the Splintered Fang warband, or if you can find stuff that looks like a bunch of snakes and glue it to a couple of bases, you can make a fun “never tell me the odds!” warband with 2, 3 or even more Serpents fighters that can swarm enemies and either do very little damage or score a ton of critical hits. It’s cheap, fun high-stakes snake fighting!
Pureblood: 125 points
The Pureblood is a simple, but effective fighter. He is on the better end of average in every way, with 4 in both Strength and Toughness, and with decent damage and critical damage for his points.
His unique ability, the Triple Relentless Killer, allows him to make a bonus attack action after taking down an enemy fighter in the same activation.
This means that the ideal use of the Pureblood is to get him into a brawl with multiple enemy fighters. He can then take out a weak enemy fighter with his first attacks and then attack another one with Relentless Killer.
If the Pureblood survives to make another activation after the enemy retaliates, consider using the Quad Paralysing Venom if you have the dice rolls for it. Since he is already in melee, the Pureblood will then have two attack actions, meaning 8 attacks in total, to roll critical hits which Paralysing Venom adds extra damage to equal to the value of the dice rolled for the Triple.
This allows for some really thematically satisfying moments where the Pureblood works as the lethal pit fighter his model portrays, entering the fray with short swords stabbing in every direction.
Venomblood with Barbed Whip: 110 points
The Venomblood with Barbed Whip is one of several options for building a Venomblood, the mid-tier Splintered Fang fighter.
It’s not clear to me why anyone would choose this specific build, though: the Barbed Whip with its 3 inch range can be useful for some situations, but the fact that this Venomblood is also equipped with a Toughness of 5 and a shield that allows the use of the Double ability Barbed Buckler, which deals damage at a 1 inch range, suggests that this model is best used in close quarters combat. The other whip-swinging Venomblood further below in this article is a more cost-effective choice if you really want that 3 inch attack.
Venomblood with Spear and Shield: 135 points
The Venomblood with Spear and Shield is the alternate build option for the Venomblood with Barbed Whip, and it’s much more focused in its stats and abilities.
Instead of the whip, it carries a spear that has one inch less in range, but a much better damage profile of 2 damage and 4 critical damage. Since this version of the Venomblood can deal solid melee damage, its 5 Toughness and the Double ability Barbed Buckler, which lets you pick an enemy fighter within 1 inch and do 1 damage on a dice roll of 3-4 or damage equal to the value of the Double roll on a 5-6, makes much more sense.
The Venomblood with Spear and Shield is the Splintered Fang warband’s best defensive option, and it is great for balancing out a warband that is otherwise relatively vulnerable to sustained melee attacks.
Venomblood with Dueling Blades: 85 points
The Venomblood with Dueling Blades functions like a cheaper version of the Pureblood: It has 4 attacks with 2 damage and a critical damage of 4, which is good for 85 points, but it only has 3 in Strength and Toughness.
The best way to improve the damage output of the Venomblood with Dueling Blades is to spend a Double on the always useful general Splintered Fang ability Poisoned Weapon, which allows you to treat the Strength of a fighter as always higher than the enemy’s Toughness for one activation, so you hit on 3s, even against heavily armored fighters such as Signifer-buffed Iron Golems. Poisoned Weapon is generally one of the best things about the Splintered Fang warband, and the Venomblood with Dueling Blades is able to punch well above his points cost when using it.
As a small bonus, this Venomblood also has a move of 5, which is great, but also fitting since he is the only representative of the fleet-footed Aelves among all the Chaos warbands. You can see how I painted this fighter at the bottom of the article – he is a wonderfully dynamic model.
Venomblood with Blade and Barbed Whip: 85 points
The Venomblood with Blade and Barbed Whip is an alternative build option for the Venomblood with Dueling Blades, and if you want some flexibility in your tactical options, it’s not a bad choice: Losing one if his swords to wield the whip, he has one less attack in melee, but gains a 3 inch range attack in return.
The whip weapon really doesn’t do a lot of damage (it’s critical damage is only 2), but it does give you a greater threat range and allows you to do damage to enemies without risking a double attack from the target in the next activation.
One way to maximize the damage of the whip is to use the Quad ability Paralysing Venom, as described under the entry about the Serpent Caller, but that should only be used if the Serpent Caller is already dead, as its more effective on his attacks.
Clearblood: 65 points
The Clearblood is the most basic fighter of the Splintered Fang warband, and it’s really not remarkable in any way: Strength, Toughness and critical damage don’t go higher than 3.
It can do pretty decent damage on a double attack action if you use Barbed Weapon to make it hit on 3s, since it’s best feature is to have 4 attacks, which is above average.
One box builds three of the standard Clearblood, and they are useful for the same tactics as the basic fighters of other warbands: They are good for pinning down or swarming stronger enemies, and they are invaluable for taking over objectives since these are taken by having the most models close to them.
If you are in a situation where an enemy has to die at all costs, and all you have is a Clearblood, the Quad ability Paralysing Venom can even be used by these basic fighters, allowing you to deal up to 9 damage per critical hit for one activation. It’s expensive, but it can turn the tide when you’re at a disadvantage.
Clearblood with Shield: 70 points
The Clearblood with Shield is a slightly more expensive version of the basic Clearblood.
It has only 2 weak melee attacks, but makes up for it with a Toughness of 4, which allows it to be, if not great, then better than the other Clearbloods at holding objectives and withstanding damage. On top of that, it gets access to Fanged Buckler like the shielded Venombloods, which is a strong ability for a basic fighter!
As it is not an alternative build option for a regular Clearblood, you don’t lose out on any melee attacks from including it in you warband if you’re only building from one box of the Splintered Fang Warband.
Abilities for the Splintered Fang Warband
- Poisoned Weapon (Double, everyone): For one activation, treat the Strength characteristic of a fighter as always higher than an enemy fighter’s Toughness (= you hit on 3s against anything)
- Ensnaring Net (Double, Trueblood only): Pick an enemy fighter within 3 inches, who can then make no move or disengages actions for the rest of the battle round.
- Fanged Buckler (Double, Venomblood with Spear and Shield/Venomblood with Barbed Whip /Clearblood with Shield only): Pick a fighter within 1 inch and roll a dice. If you roll 3-4, do 1 damage. If you roll 5-6, do damage equal to the value of the dice roll used for the Double.
- Snake Charmer (Triple, Serpent Caller only): Pick a friendly fighter with the Beast runemark (the Serpents, for example), within 4 inches of the Serpent Caller. The fighter then makes a bonus attack action.
- Relentless Killer (Triple, Pureblood only): Use this ability if the Pureblood has taken down an enemy fighter in the same activation. Make a bonus attack action.
- Paralysing Venom (Quad, Everyone): Add the value of the dice roll used for the Quad to the damage of critical hits for the fighter using the ability for 1 activation. After each attack action made by that fighter in this activation, roll a dice. On a 5-6, the target of the attack can’t move or disengage for the rest of the battle round.
Strategy and Tactics for the Splintered Fang
To play the Splintered Fang well, there at primarily 3 things to focus on:
- Poisoned Weapon lets you ignore an enemy’s Toughness. This ability really can’t be underestimated since it removes the advantages of something your opponent has probably paid solid points to include in his warband, such as a heavily armored champion. It’s available to everyone in your warband, and it’s only a Double.
- Both Ensnaring Net and Paralysing Venom let’s you turn an enemy fighter immobile. You have several ways of exploiting this: Weapons with more than 1 inch range so the target can’t counterattack, cheap fighters that can swarm the target and so on. Pick your prey, lock it down and charge it with everything you have.
- Your fighters generally don’t do great standard damage or have a lot of wounds to withstand damage, but they have loads of attacks and do average to high critical damage, so whenever you can get a double attack in, it is often worth the risk of losing that fighter to a counterattack – if you roll a lot of crits, he might not be alive to retaliate.
As such, the Splintered Fang warband should be played aggressively and with a solid stomach for high-risk gambits. If your tactics pay off, they are one of the most rewarding warbands to play, and this is probably why they have recently ranged pretty high in surveys on forums and social media about which warband is the best among the Chaos warbands.
If you are looking to play the Splintered Fang warband in a campaign or in a competitive environment where everyone builds their warbands from several boxes, the aforementioned strategy of fielding multiple Serpents, and maybe even several Serpent Callers, seems to be a popular and fun way to play them.
Pros and Cons of the Splintered Fang
+ good critical damage overall
+ strong general abilities that negate enemy advantages
+ fighters tend to have many attacks
+ good options for immobilizing enemies
– fighters have low Toughness and are vulnerable in melee
– not the best ranged options
Tips on painting the Splintered Fang
The Splintered Fang warband are, without a doubt, one of the more complex Chaos warbands to paint. Most of the models feature such diverse textures as skin, hair, metal, scales, cloth, leather and glass, and their dynamic poses create many hard to reach areas such as the inside of a cloak, eyes behind the visor of a helmet and so on. That being said, they are a lot of fun to paint, and feature some pretty outstanding models such as the Serpent Caller, the Pureblood and the aelf Venomblood.
When I first saw them, I wasn’t a fan, but as I received the box and started clipping bits off the sprues, I realized that my aversion the warband was caused by my fear of painting the color green. I just can’t get it to work well. The moral of this story is: Pick your “poison” color for you Splintered Fangs as the first thing. It should be a color you like painting, and one you know how to paint on hair, cloth – and as a glaze for showing off the venom on the tip of the weapons of your fighters. This can be done with almost any color, so use one you like.
For my aelf Venomblood, I went with a blue based on Lothern Blue and Drakenhof Nightshade, since one of my favorite schemes is contrasting orange/yellow/red with blue nuances. This allowed me to paint the snakes on the Serpent Caller a bright orange, but that’s a story for another day. On the Venomblood, I contrasted the poison blue with a bronze-ish gold on the armor, achieved by glazing the Contrast Darkoath Flesh over Retributor Armor, then a wash of Seraphim Sepia in the recesses and a highlight of Runefang Steel.
I went with the pale Rakarth Flesh/Reikland Fleshshade/Flayed one Flesh/Pallid Wych Flesh combo for the skin to emphasize the idea that the Splintered Fang are half-overdosed poison junkies, painted the leathers black and the blades Ironbreaker. The blades were then washed with Nuln Oil to look like regular steel, but with a gradually thinner layers of Drakenhof Nightshades from the tip to the middle of the blade to show the poison applied to it.
You could really paint the Splintered Fang in any combination of high-contrast color schemes, but I would encourage anyone to paint them slightly less dirty than the (otherwise awesomely executed) box art. The Splintered Fang are modeled as gladiators and look great if there’s a bit more showbiz to their outfits. You don’t have to look like you never wash just because you worship Chaos – just look at the more recent Slaanesh or Tzeentch miniatures and you’ll know what I mean.
Different build options and how to buy the Splintered Fang Warband
One box of the Splintered Fang builds
- 1 Trueblood
- 1 Serpent Caller
- 1 Serpents
- 1 Pureblood
- 1 Venomblood with either Whip and Shield or Spear and Shield
- 1 Venomblood (the aelf) With either Dueling Blades or Blade and Barbed Whip
- 3 Clearblood
- 1 Clearblood with Shield
Most of the models are easy enough to build, but play close attention to the instructions for assembling the Serpent Caller, and make sure to dry fit the snakes before you glue them. It’s an intricate model, but it looks great if you get it right.
Beware that the Barbed Whips are not only a worse than average weapon choice in many situations, but also a build option that makes your Venombloods much harder to fit in a storage case and much more likely to break. They are very thin and protrude far out over the base of the model. The one on the aelf is a bit less fragile than the one on the human Venomblood due to the way it’s sculpted.
The choices you have to make is what weapons the two Venomblood should have. The whip and shield seems like a weird, from a game mechanic, combo so I would go with the Spear and Shield on that one.
The Blade and Barbed whip has some uses, but wether you take that or the Dueling Blades comes down to your play style. Range is powerful, but so is stabbing a fighter many times.
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