Generals Handbook 2017 – an outsiders view

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generals handbook 2017So, the weekend has been full of leaks from the Generals Handbook 2017 and Games Workshop weren’t lying when they said it was game changing!

Now before I begin procrastinating, I will say that I’ve not got a review copy or a special line to anybody with a review copy.  This post is based purely on third-hand information and leaked images.

Matched Play Warhammer Community Post

The Generals Handbook 2017 contains a massive 24 new Battleplans (6 for matched play and the others spread across Open and Narrative), a host of allegiance abilities and artefacts for some factions and a couple of new battalions.  Oh, and updated Pitched Battle profiles 😉

This lot sounds very similar to what we had last year, but we’ve seen some sweeping changes in points which will very much alter the lists we’re seeing pretty much across the board.

Allegiance Abilities

I would say that almost without a doubt the biggest winners are the factions that have been given allegiance abilities and artefacts.  This includes Seraphon, Fyreslayers, Slaanesh, Slaves to Darkness, Soulblight and Ironjawz to name a very few!  I’m happy to say that Ironjawz are one of the factions who have also had Battalions added.

This means that these factions will be able to bring a lot more flavour to games and all being well will run at a similar level to the other armies released this year.

What is interesting is that Nurgle hasn’t received any Allegiance Abilities, heavily suggesting that it’s due a new Battletome soon (and conversely the ones that have received it aren’t getting a Battletome in the next six months).

Changed Warscrolls

This one has been a bit of a turn up – Grundstock Thunderers have received a heavily changed warscroll!  The ability to equip each of them with the same special weapon has been removed and they can only use one of each special weapon.  Additionally, the phenomenally good Mortar has been changed and brought into line with the rest of the special weapons.

It goes without saying that this change has gone down like a lead balloon with Overlord players.  Personally I think it’s a good move, it reflects the contents of the box for a start and prevents what people largely felt was an exploit.  I think it’s also a warning shot for players of other armies, if you spot an option that you’re heavily kit bashing or converting to use, don’t expect it to last forever.


New battleplans for all!  We’ve had one shown on Warhammer TV last week which I managed to use for a 2000 point game yesterday – and what a tense game it was!  It went right down to the last turn and felt from both my and my opponent’s view to be really balanced and offer up a lot of possibilities.  It does mean that each player ideally needs three objective markers rather than just two.

Ben Curry has confirmed that a couple of the battleplans have rules for objective control for units with more than 20 models in (a simple Objective Secured style mechanic), so I’m quite excited to see what else we’re going to get.

Pitched Battle Profiles

Most of us were expecting a few tweaked profiles here and there – we were wrong!  Around two-thirds of units in the Generals Handbook 2017 have been tweaked in price, numerous new Battleline options added and a new mechanism for horde style units.

Point increases appear to be based on a few things.  Every Battalion appears to have gone up by 100 points, making Battalions significantly less appealing than previously.  It looks like some units that reliably generate Mortal Wounds have received a bit of an increase so Bloodletters have gone up by ten for example and Skullreapers increased by 40.  We’ve also seen point increases for a number of undercosted units such as Kurnoth Hunters.  Kunning Ruk has been reduced in its potency by the increase in Battalion points and a cap of 30 models on the archers.

Massive Regiments

This is a new mechanic for the Generals Handbook 2017 and appears to be designed to encourage people to take “horde” style units at maximum size and offers a points discount.  So for example, a unit of 30 Bloodletters will only cost 270 points under the new points, whereas 3 units of 10 would be 330.  Anybody who likes Skeleton Hordes will love this rule!


With the new handbook we now see the ability to compose up to 20% of our army using allies.  These are units from outside our chosen allegiance/faction and won’t break the allegiance.  So for example in my Khorne army, I could include some Slaves to Darkness units but still run using my Khorne Allegiance Abilities.

First Impressions of Generals Handbook 2017

I will say, this early on that I think it’s a little early to make a hard and fast call on if the Generals Handbook 2017 is positive or negative for the game.  They’re implementing a lot of changes all at once, so it’s going to take a while to settle and us to work out exactly what we’re doing once the book actually lands (as I said above I don’t have a copy yet).  Personally having seen the leaks I’m slightly concerned on a few items, but really optimistic on others.

Broadly putting it, we’re seeing an increase in points of some specialist units, a huge leap in Battalions but a big reduction in horde units.  This means that our games are naturally going to increase in size with larger units being fielded in lists.  For me this has two implications, firstly games will be slower – we’re talking finishing on turn two or three rather than four or five which will have a huge impact on some armies who take a couple of turns to get into position.  Secondly, it’s the first step on returning to the old days of big army battles.  One of Age of Sigmars appeals is that smaller armies are equally viable to large ones, my concern is that we’re raising the bar even more to new players.  I’m not going to start ringing a bell and self-flagellating that it’s the end of the game – I certainly don’t think that.  But I do worry that Games Workshop are trying to push horde armies very hard with this iteration.

As a counterfoil to this the new Battleplans appear to be just what the doctor ordered.  The one I tried out yesterday was pretty tense and wasn’t decided until the very last turn – exactly what most people are looking for when playing a game.  Allies does add an interesting new angle although I do worry about some of the combinations we may see may cause a issues.

I do think we all need to take our existing army lists, scrap them and start again.  New points, allies and battleplans means that we need to look at what we’re running in a different way.  An army that worked really well using the old matched play battleplans may really struggle with the new ones.

Regardless of what your own opinion is and how the Generals Handbook 2017 will effect your own army, it’s certainly going to be on the “must have” list for this years releases!

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