This article will detail the Sylvaneth army starting from its lore, describing the main units and their roles, how the army plays and finally our personal opinion of the army.
For a complete run-down of the different armies available in Age of Sigmar, consult our Age of Sigmar army overview article.
In this article we will refer often to Matched Play and other technical terms like allegiance abilities, command points, army roles in building a list, core battalions, Endless Spells/Invocations, etc. We assume the reader will be knowledgeable with those terms, otherwise please refer to the relevant guides for more details.
Overview of Sylvaneth Army
Sylvaneth are Alarielle’s children, grown from soulpods accurately saved from the destruction of the World-that-Was. They are forest spirits whose objective is to protect nature against all form of assailants, meaning that it is not unusual to see them contrasting other forces of Order.
Their origin dates back to the Wood Elves in Warhammer Fantasy, but they lost all their elven side to give more space to the tree aspect of that army. Many models from that range survived and are recent sculpts, in addition, together with the 3.0 battletome, it was released a new set of miniatures focussing on aerial cavalry and light archers. The Kurnothi are half animal, half-aelf beings currently associated with the Sylvaneth but of which it exists only a Warhammer Underworlds warband and a hero from Warhammer Quest Cursed City, the latter not being legal in Sylvaneth armies.
In game, the Sylvaneth play really well the strike and fade tactic, as represented by the lore and the many novels. This means that the army can be anywhere all the time and hit any target avoiding retaliation. There are of course limitations and if they do remain in combat, don’t have many defensive capabilities.
Their rules are all available in the latest battletome (June 2022) that brings them to the third edition with a great book that fixes many of the problems of the previous rulesets, including the proliferation of the woods, their scenery piece. As always, consult the latest FAQ to ensure you are reading the most up to date rule set.
Cost-wise they have a great Vanguard box, being an old Warhammer Fantasy army there is a rich second-hand market and being pointed quite high, you don’t need too many models on the table. Yet, it can still be an expensive army if you don’t budget accurately.
Lore of Sylvaneth Army
Alarielle, the Everqueen, has her origin in the World-that-Was: she was once the queen of the High Elves and awakened in the Mortal Realms as the goddess of Life. Alarielle joined Sigmar’s pantheon, claiming Ghyran, the Realm of Life, for herself. While she initially wandered ecstatic to the beauty the new realms contained, she soon grew uneasy and lonely.
The Everqueen then planted soulpods carefully retrieved from the destruction of her previous world and so the Sylvaneth were reborn in the Mortal Realms. The soulpods are essential to Sylvaneth propagation as it’s the only mean they have to be raised and reborn. After a battle, the essence of the dead Sylvaneth can be harvested and replanted to make new warriors. As such, soulpods are a precious resource coveted by many races for the darkest purposes.
The Sylvaneth are a race of tree-spirits that assume different shapes but their behaviour greatly changes depending on the soil in which they are grown and the season, as they are so linked to nature that they follow its natural cycle. Independently from their shape or community, they are all linked by the spirit-song: an arcane resonance that allows them to communicate with each other and all hear the will of their Everqueen.
During the Age of Myth, the Sylvaneth spread in all realms, helping restore the natural balance and develop new cities and groves. When the Chaos forces wreaked havoc in the Mortal Realms, the Sylvaneth were the ones that suffered the most. Nurgle in particular took extreme pleasure in desecrating and fouling Ghyran, forcing the Sylvaneth in a slow but unavoidable defeat.
Once Alarielle thought that there was no more hope for her and her children, she left and hid in Atherwyld, her last secret stronghold. When the Stormcast Eternals arrived in the Mortal Realms to wage war to the forces of Chaos, they went in search of the Everqueen, hoping to rekindle the old alliance with Sigmar, their creator. In doing so, they unwillingly invited Nurgle’s forces in Alarielle’s domain, causing its destruction and Alarielle’s regression in a soulpod at the sight of such devastation.
Her soulpod was planted on the site of one of the greatest battles (and victories) against the forces of Nurgle allowing the Lady of Leaves to be reborn in her war aspect. She soon gathered her forces and waged battle to Nurgle forces on many fronts, retaking the Genesis gate (the Realmgate that connects Ghyran to the Eightpoints) and allowing the Sylvaneth to flourish once again.
The Great Necromancer Nagash schemes caused great dismay as his death energies spread across the mortal realms interfering with Sylvaneth magic. When the Archmage Teclis, god of Light, and old friend of Alarielle, delivered the final blow to Nagash, the death energies dissipated creating a vacuum that Alarielle was ready to take advantage of.
She performed a ritual of Life that, while reinvigorating life across all Mortal Realms, empowering all Sylvaneth, also caused much turmoil in the Realm of Beasts, Ghur, that awoke its primal instincts and sent all inhabitants in an ecstatic rage. At the same time, the ritual allowed Kragnos, the god of Earthquakes, to free himself from his prison and terrorize once again civilizations everywhere.
Army rules for the Sylvaneth
But how does a Sylvaneth army play on a tabletop? First let’s go through the main rules for this army.
The first choice to make in a Sylvaneth army is which subfaction you want to use. They are called Glades, and there’s quite a list:
- Oakenbrow, the fist Glade created by Alarielle, focus on Treelords and all variations. Unlocks Treelord as battleline.
- Gnarlroot, natural life-mages, Alarielle’s keepers of arcane treasures, buffs wizards.
- Heartwood, Alarielle’s vanguard, buffs against specific enemy units targeted as quarry. All Kurnoth Hunters unlocked as battleline.
- Ironbark, skilled smiths from Chamon, D3 mortal wounds on enemy units that charged.
- Winterleaf, the frozen survivors of the once great Springleaf Glade, prevents retreating and potentially teleporting.
- Dreadwood, the most malicious, grown in the darkness of Shysh and Ulgu, buffs Spite-Revenants, unlocked as battleline.
- Harvestboon, young and impulsive warriors, buffs Revenant Seekers and Spiterider Lancers, unlocked as battleline.
For what concerns the battle traits, the first one, Places of Power allows Sylvaneth players to consider up to 3 terrain pieces wholly outside enemy territory as overgrown, meaning that they are almost treated the same as Awakened Wyldwoods. Let’s see some examples where they are relevant, for units wholly within 9″ of one of either feature:
- In your hero phase, heal 1 wound to any Sylvaneth unit.
- Once per turn, at the end of your movement phase you can teleport a single unit to another feature 3″ away from all enemies (Walk the Hidden Paths).
- Once per turn, after a unit has fought and any slain models have been removed, it can teleport to another feature 3″ away from all enemies (Strike and Fade).
If you need to add more Wyldwoods, the Verdant Blessing spell is available to all Sylvaneth wizards.
The last battle trait allows you to pick your Season of War, also affected by the 9″ proximity of an overgrown terrain or Wyldwood:
- The Burgeoning provides a 6+ ward to Sylvaneth units that have not charged.
- The Reaping extends to 12″ the range to use the abilities mentioned above.
- The Dwindling allows to re-roll 1 casting, 1 unbinding and 1 dispelling roll per hero phase.
- The Everdusk reduces to 6″ the range of the abilities above but if a unit is wholly within that range, unmodified hit rolls of 6 score 2 hits instead of 1.
Finally, you can choose your command trait between two selections (one exclusive to wizards) with great options like Gnarled Warrior that transforms a general like an Ancient Treelord in ethereal (ignoring save modifiers, including rend) or Spellsinger that allows your general wizard, like a Warsong Revenant, to cast its spells from anywhere on the battlefield provided you have enough Awakened Wyldwoods coverage.
The artefacts of power follow the same division as above with examples like the Crown of Fell Bowers, that provides a +1 bonus to wound an enemy unit within 6″ of the bearer or The Vesperal Gem that allows an auto-cast once per turn with the risk of self-inflicting damage.
The final decision to take is which additional spell to provide to your Sylvaneth wizards and there’s quite a selection in the Lore of the Deepwood, like Throne of Vines that increases the caster durability healing 1 wound at the end of each phase or Treesong that increases the rend of melee weapons of the target unit.
Units and their roles in the Sylvaneth Army
Heroes in Sylvaneth
Heroes can perform Heroic Actions, in addition to the other abilities they can perform. You do it in the hero phase and you can only do one heroic action. Here is the list:
- Heroic Leadership: on a 4+ (or 2+ if your general has been slain) get a command point only that hero can use.
- Heroic Willpower: one non-Wizard hero can attempt to dispel or unbind a spell for that phase like he was a wizard.
- Their Finest Hour: can be used only once by each hero to improve save and wound rolls by 1 for that turn.
- Heroic Recovery: a disengaged hero can heal D3 wounds if he rolls less or equal to his bravery with 2D6.
Alarielle the Everqueen is now the formidable leader of this army, although for some funny reason she is not a Warmaster (extra general in your army). She is a powerful wizard, able to cast 3 spells /unbind 3 times per round and she knows the entire Lore of the Deepwood. No casting bonuses unfortunately, but her signature spell has the chance to do considerable mortal wounds and if she can kill the enemy unit, she can replace it with an Awakened Wyldwood.
She has many more abilities, the most interesting are the ability to heal 2D6 wounds every one of your hero phases, and to return back to life once per game quite reliably from the 4th round onwards. She can also summon a unit once per game (from 20 Dryads to 3 Kurnoth Hunters for example).
Her profile is quite damaging including a single shot at 24″, making her a good profile. The question is if you can afford the cost to make space in your list.
The Lady of Vines is a great addition to the army with good buffing abilities like counting as an Awakened Wyldwood for any unit within 6″ of her. With 2 spells to cast per round, her signature spell provides a 5+ ward to all Sylvaneth units within range. In addition, she can summon once per game a unit of 10 Dryads.
Even her attacking profile is good and she can improve it in the combat phase by adding a +1 to hit on her melee profile, or giving a -1 to hit to enemies targeting her.
She is a Warmaster (counts as general even when not picked) and a utility piece you should always consider in your lists.
Drycha Hamadreth is another Warmaster and another hero with a story that predates that of Age of Sigmar. She is a wizard with a spell able to do mortal wounds to low-Bravery units but her most interesting aspect is the potential damage that she can perform, both shooting and in melee.
She is able to increase every battle round either her main melee attack or her shooting attack from 10 to 20, both doing mortal wounds on unmodified 6s to hit. In melee, she is a great target for the Strike and Fade ability, allowing her to attack (24 dice!) and disappear without retaliation.
She can also buff Spite-revenants around her giving them +1 to Wound for a good all-round profile in certain type of lists.
The Warsong Revenant is an excellent support unit. Apart from being a double caster and the only one with embedded bonus (+1 but only within proximity of woods and overgrown scenery), he also buffs friendly units Bravery while reducing enemy’s Bravery.
His signature spell allows to do mortal wounds and is not extremely damaging, but combined with the +1 to cast, potentially in a Dwindling army with the ability to re-roll a casting roll (or unbinding/dispelling) and maybe the Warsinger command trait, he can reliably target almost anything on the battlefield. Attention that the FAQ removed the endless spells from the Warsinger description, meaning no more Purple Sun coming from a wood at the back of the enemy lines…
The Arch-Revenant is the first of our heroes to not be a wizard, but she compensates with the ability to add a 4+ ward to herself in the combat phase, provide a +1 to wound to Kurnoth Hunters around her (this applies in the shooting and combat phase) and a command ability that gives +1 attack in combat to the targeted Sylvaneth unit.
She is a really good support profile with the ability to throw a punch when she is attacked (or survive indefinitely with a 4+ save and a 4+ ward).
The oldest centrepiece of this army can be assembled in three different ways. Two of them are heroes. The Spirit of Durthu, a call-back to one of the eldest Treelords in Warhammer Fantasy, is a veritable melee monster with a 6-damage attack (at maximum health) that can surely scare most units in the game. Especially as it is relatively easy to bring its main attack to 2+/2+.
As it’s not a named character, you can equip it with all sort of artefacts, including the Greenwood Gladius that adds D3 attacks to its main weapon, in addition to the one it already gets when in proximity of the usual woods.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Treelord Ancient is a wizard, with the same monstrous rampage as the Spirit of Durthu that has a chance (3+) to apply strike-last effect to the targeted unit and the same ability to move through the woods instead of doing a normal move.
In addition, it can summon an Awakened Wyldwood once per game and its signature spell does some mortal wounds damage to any enemy unit close to a targeted Wyldwood.
The Branchwych is another wizard with a melee profile that improves when near a wood and a cheaper area damage spell compared with the one from the Warsong Revenant. At the right price she is an interesting model to consider.
Ylthari is technically a Thornwych, and she is from the Ylthari’s Guardians warband from Nightvault, the second season of Warhammer Underworlds. She is a wizard and her guardians can receive once per turn All-out Attack or All-out Defence for free
Monsters in Sylvaneth
Monsters can perform special abilities called Monstrous Rampages at the end of the Charge phase. Each action can be performed only once per phase therefore only up to 4 monsters can perform one at a time. Here is the current list:
- Roar: on a 3+ an engaged enemy unit cannot issue or receive orders in the following combat phase.
- Stomp: on a 2+ do D3 mortal wounds to an engaged unit that is not a monster.
- Titanic Duel: + 1 to hit rolls against another engaged Monster.
- Smash to Rubble: on a 3+ demolish a close-by terrain feature, disabling its scenery rules.
There’s quite a list of monsters in the Sylvaneth army, all but Drycha being also Behemoth.
When Alarielle performs Stomp to a unit with a Wound characteristic of 1, she does D6 damage instead.
Spirit of Durthu, Treelord Ancient and Treelord, all have their own monstrous rampage, Groundshaker, that has a chance to apply strike-last effect to the engaged enemy unit.
The Treelord is the only one in this list to not be also a Leader, but it can become a Battleline in an Oakenbrow army. It is much less scary than Spirit of Durthu in melee, but it is also much cheaper. To compensate, if it simply hits with one of its melee profile, the targeted unit cannot pile in in that phase. This is extremely interesting to prevent being surrounded but also to reduce efficiency of an already engaged unit.
Note that the hit does not need to wound, or for what it matters, not be negated, it just needs to hit with one of its 7 attacks (at top bracket) for this ability to trigger.
Battlelines in Sylvaneth
The Dryads are the most iconic of Sylvaneth battleline, and one of the oldest models in the range. They are good enough for screening purposes and there’s a couple of ways to summon them as well (Alarielle and the Lady of Vines).
While it is slightly more difficult to hit them when close to woods, do not expect them to survive any encounter.
The Tree-Revenants are one of the favourite units in this army. Not particularly because they can pile 6″ instead of 3″ or because they can be issued All-out Attack or All-out Defence once per round for free, but because they can move through woods every turn and threaten every objective left unguarded.
Their kit can be used to assemble the Spite-Revenants as well.
Conditional Battlelines in Sylvaneth
The Spiterider Lancers are one of the potential assembly options of this kit. They are one of the newest units and represent the light air squadron of the Sylvaneth, something that we haven’t seen earlier.
Their best trait is to obtain strike-first effect when they charge, meaning on your turn you choose at least 2 units before the opponent can reply. If they slain at least an enemy model they can heal back, and they can rally on a 5+ instead of a 6.
Their main use, however, is in a Harvestboon army, where they become Battleline, as that enables them a 12″ move after deployment, that is perfect for alpha-striking armies.
The Revenant Seekers are the other half of the Spiterider’s kit. They have similar abilities, including rallying on a 5+ and the after-deployment move unlocked with the Harvestboon army. However, they distinguish themselves by being able to bring back a Sylvaneth model (most likely a Kurnoth Hunter) per round quite reliably.
They are a bit bulkier than the Spiterider, resulting in less movement and attacks but greater damage.
The Kurnoth Hunters are split in three different profiles that represent the same kit with 3 different weapon loadouts. They become battleline in a Heartwood army.
The main ability that brings them together is the fact that while they are contesting an objective (they don’t need to win it, and one model is enough), any other Sylvaneth unit around the same objective treats it as an overgrown feature. In addition, they do mortal wounds to the engaged enemy at the end of the combat phase.
The Kurnoth Greatbows focus on the missile potential, with an impressive 30″ range and 2 damage. Remember the Arch-revenant can improve their to wound characteristic.
The Kurnoth Greatswords and their ability to do 2 mortal wounds on an unmodified 6 to hit, makes them mathematically a better option of the Kurnoth Scythes, although those have their own aesthetic charm.
The Spite-Revenants are the second half of the Tree-Revenants kit. They can become batteline in a Dreadwood army that also provides a single unit one free use of Walk the Spirit Path (ability to move through the woods) and Strike and Fade (attack and move away) per turn.
They are an interesting option, cheaper than the Tree-Revenants, same 2 wounds per model and decent attacks (but without rend) that can be further improved with Drycha being around (+1 to wound).
The Treelord, described in the Monster section, is a Behemoth that can become Battleline in an Oakenbrow army.
Wizards and Priests in Sylvaneth
The Sylvaneth have a good range of wizards: Alarielle can cast 3 spells / unbind 3 times per round and she knows the entire Lore of the Deepwood, The Lady of Vines and Warsong Revenant can cast 2 spells / unbind twice while Drycha, the Treelord Ancient, Branchwych and Ylthari can only cast/unbind 1 per round. Skaeth’s Wild Hunt also counts as a wizard as long as Skaeth is alive.
The only casting bonus in the army is available on the Warsong Revenant and only when in proximity of an Awakened Wyldwood or overgrown terrain.
Their spell lore is called the Lore of the Deepwood and there’s quite few interesting spells like Throne of Vines that increases the caster durability healing 1 wound at the end of each phase or Treesong that increases the rend of melee weapons of the target unit. In addition, all Sylvaneth wizards know the spell Verdant Blessing that allows to place on the battlefield an extra Awakened Wyldwood.
There’s also a set of command traits and artefacts of power dedicated specifically to the wizards of this army.
If you are interested in improving the magic potential of this army, then, as long as your wizard is within the usual 9″ from a Wyldwood or overgrown terrain, the season of war Dwindling provides a free re-roll per phase and the sub-faction Gnarlroot allows, once per turn, to roll 3 dice instead of 2 and choose 2 for casting or unbinding rolls.
There are no priests in this army, faith in Alarielle is uncontested.
Other units in Sylvaneth
The Gossamid Archers biggest miss is not being battleline. For the rest they are a skirmish archer unit, with a good mobility (12″ flying) and mortal wounds on an unmodified 6 to hit. They can also retreat after using the command ability Unleash Hell (used during the opponent charge phase when a charging unit ends its movement within range).
Skaeth’s Wild Hunt was on the starter box of season 3 of Warhammer Underworlds: Beastgrave and created quite some excitement about this new race of Kurnothi of which, for now, we have seen only them and a Cursed City hero. In a Sylvaneth army they have the particularity to be a Wizard unit as long as Skaeth is alive, and their signature spell improves by 1 the to wound characteristic of a melee friendly unit.
Endless Spells, Terrain and Start Collecting in a Sylvaneth Army
Sylvaneth have the entire set of Endless Spells, Faction Terrain and discount boxes. The most interesting of their spell is the Spiteswarm Hive that provides a buff to a single unit once per player’s hero phase (either to movement or reduce rend to an enemy attacking the target). The Gladewyrm does mortal wounds and heals units in range, so, at the right price, can be an interesting alternative. The Vengeful Skullroot is another mortal wounds dealer, that can be further buffed if the units it targets are next to an Awakened Wyldwood.
Sylvaneth’s contentious scenery piece is the Awakened Wyldwood, an essential piece for this army as most battle traits and warscroll abilities depend on the proximity from one of them. It can be set up as a small (1 tree), medium (2 linked trees) or large (3 linked trees) feature that encumbers the terrain and obstructs line of sight only to non-Sylvaneth units.
In addition, any non-Sylvaneth unit next to a wood at the end of a charge phase risks to suffer mortal wounds.
Sylvaneth can now transform existing terrain as overgrown, benefitting from their best rules without having to set up new terrain pieces. We have discussed at length in the guide above when both becomes relevant, but as quick summary, units close to either feature can:
- Walk the Hidden Paths: once per turn teleport (movement phase) from one feature to another.
- Strike and Fade: once per turn retreat to another feature after resolving the attacks (combat phase).
- Seasons of war affect in various ways the bonuses provided.
- Certain command traits, like Spellsinger, interact with these features.
- Certain spells, like Treesong, provide bonuses only if within range.
- Gnarlroot wizards can cast one spell per turn choosing 2 dice between 3 rolled.
- Several units have in their own warscrolls abilities triggerable only when close to woods, for example Dryads attacks become better.
You are allowed to set up a single wood for free but there are other ways to add more during the battle, to name some:
- Through the spell Verdant Blessing known to all wizards.
- With the artefact Acorn of the Ages.
- A Treelord Ancient can summon one per game.
- Alarielle’s spell Metamorphosis can replace a slain enemy unit with a wood.
- The Lady of Vines counts as a wood.
Sylvaneth replaced their old Start Collecting with the brand new Vanguard boxes. It costs more but removes from the equation the old sprues of the Dryads that being created with Warhammer Fantasy in mind have 8 models per sprue, meaning that each sprue you are 2 models short for a full unit.
But this Vanguard box contains the usual Branchwych, a convenient foot hero that is also a wizard and that can be useful in many lists, 5 Tree-Revenants that can alternatively be assembled as Spite-Revenants, a Treelord that can be a Treelord Ancient or a Spirit of Durthu, and 3 Kurnothi Hunters with any of the available weapon loadouts.
The box contains enough versatility that 2 boxes can be assembled entirely differently, but how many to buy is strongly dependent on how many Branchwyches you want to have.
Tactics and Final Verdict on the Sylvaneth Army
A Sylvaneth army is not easy to manage as it requires careful planning. If you a beginner, there are some options that you can take to simplify. For example the Glade Gnarlroot is good for magic users as it allows to roll 3 dice when casting/unbinding near an Awakened Wyldwood or overgrown terrain and choose the 2 that you prefer. Oakenbrow is more oriented to players that like big monsters on the table and Winterleaf has the potential to create quite some negative player experience preventing retreating but also teleporting if combined with the Everdusk season of war. However, Heartwood is, by far, the most popular sub-faction.
Speaking of seasons of war, Everdusk is a great option for beginners as it allows exploding 6s to hit, but The Reaping increases the range of most abilities from 9″ to 12″ from the woods/overgrown terrain, being more permissive in case of wrong placement of units. The Dwindling is, however, the best option for Sylvaneth wizards trying to dominate the magic phase.
In general we wouldn’t recommend Sylvaneth as your first army because of the complexity of their gameplay and the fact that they do not excel in anything in particular (there are better magic users, shooting armies or melee focussed armies) but what they do is extremely rewarding. They are one of the top armies in the 2022/23 meta for a reason.
When we talk about popular units we would be amiss if we didn’t mention the Warsong Revenant for his casting abilities and the Spirit of Durthu for its damage potential. Do not underestimate Alarielle however. Despite her high cost, she can really make a difference used in the correct way.
We have already discussed how important Tree-Revenants are to snatch unsecured objectives from the enemy, and to extend your threat potential Kurnoth Hunters with Greatbows are definitely a great option. But overall, there is no mandatory unit to take, and different lists are viable. For example Drycha could be accompanied by Spite-Revenants, or Spiterider Lancers be used to alpha-strike, the possibilities are almost endless.
The easing of Awaken Wyldwoods required to play the army is also a great improvement since past editions. You will still need a few, as most abilities require the proximity from either one of them or an overgrown terrain, forcing you to “plant” here and there few extra models. But it is less demanding than before and you can always use only one or two of the trees.
The army mixes old models with newer models, but overall there is not much difference in quality and the army looks uniform. The biggest drawback involves the Dryads, still on a 8-models sprue, making uneasy to create full AoS units. The new expansion adds an extra layer to the army, with new flying units that greatly blend with its playstyle.
To summarize, this is another great book for Age of Sigmar 3.0. If you love guerrilla playstyle, moving around the battlefield and hitting the weak points of the enemy, all while shooting the key pieces and threatening the entire area, this is a great army to play with.
If you are interested in the competitive standpoint, when we talk about statistics, a tremendous effort is done by Rob from the Honest Wargamer, Ziggy and Tsports Network! in the AoS Stat Centre with precious information, constantly kept up to date.
Really good informative material is also collected by Dan from AoS Shorts.