When Warhammer 40K’s ninth edition ruleset launched in July 2020, it was accompanied by perhaps the most plush, impressive boxset of new models in the game’s history: Indomitus. Stacked with new, more visually interesting models for the omnipresent bestseller Space Marines, and a new, overhauled model range for the semi-forgotten Necrons, all in one box, together with the must-have new 9th edition rulebook, demand for the set went wild.
It sold out on the Games Workshop webstore within hours, leading to a gleeful GW, a few days later, announcing its happy task of making more boxes to order, to please the plastic-hungry masses. For months after, it enjoyed huge popularity as a starter product, or as a cost-effective bulk army expansion for the Marines or Necrons.
Fast forward just shy of one year, and we’re on the brink of GW’s flagship fantasy game, Warhammer Age of Sigmar, following suit – releasing its own luxurious, arm-achingly heavy new-edition ‘launch box’, this time bearing the spookily similar title Dominion. Its similarities with Indomitus don’t end there, either. The new AOS box also pits some sexed-up variants of the game’s poster boy faction (Stormcast Eternals) against a brand new model range for one of its more left-behind groups (the Kruleboyz Orruks).
Dominion, too, includes a special full-art cover edition of the new AOS 3.0 rulebook.
Like Indomitus, its exact pricing will remain secret until it goes to pre-order this Saturday – a week ahead of the day it drops – but a bet somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200 / £130 probably won’t go far wrong. Like Indomitus, it will very likely sell out online in the blink of an eye.
And, like Indomitus, it contains some of the most fantastic-looking model sculpts ever created for its game – like, we’re talking staggering stuff.
What remains to be seen is just how this big box lands with the Age of Sigmar community – traditionally seeming a different beast to the volatile, hyper-rules-sensitive, often competitive-dominated 40K crowd.
Will the boxset be taken as a snazzy gift for both factions, as Indomitus was? Will greenskins fans warm to the Mork-aligned, sneaky, swampy Kruleboyz? Will Yndrasta get a nerf? Will the Pot-Grot get the buff it deserves?
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For many of these answers, we’ll have to wait and see – but in this review, I’ll take a tour around the models included in the Dominion box, and share some of my thoughts about its excitements, its potential drawbacks, and who I reckon this particular box is actually for.
Fair warning: I won’t be going into detail about the Age of Sigmar 3rd edition rules here, as we’ll be taking a deeper dive into those soon. This one is more or less just about the tiny plastic people (every single one of whom, we should say, were kindly provided to us by GW, free of charge, for review).
Before I start getting all deep and meaningful, though, let’s get down to brass (or rather polystyrene) tacks, and list out exactly what you’ll get in this chunky box:
- 360-page core rulebook
- 14 warscroll cards, telling you the rules for playing with all your units
- Two allegiance ability cards, to tell you the basic army rule for each side
- Glossy lore booklet, telling you who all the units are
- Big bag ‘o’ bases
- Yndrasta, The Celestial Spear x 1
- Lord-Imperatant and Gryph-Hound x 1
- Knight-Arcanum x 1
- Knight-Vexillor x 1
- Praetors x 3
- Annihilators x 3
- Vindictors x 10
- Killaboss on Great Gnashtoof x 1
- Killaboss with Stab-grot x 1
- Swampcalla Shaman with Pot-grot x 1
- Murknob with Belcha-Banna x 1
- Man-skewer Boltboyz x 3
- Gutrippaz x 10
- Hobgrot Slittaz x 20
That’s a total of 60 miniatures included, and – as is GW’s usual modus operandi these days – you’ll be presented with every glorious grey shield, spear, bum-cheek, and elbow of it immediately upon opening the box, and removing the heavy-paper art print doing flysheet duty. Beneath them, you’ll find your rulebook, paperwork, and a packet of standard black bases.
Speaking of the box: it’s also a delight, wrought of the same reassuring heavy cardboard used for Indomitus, and the recent, star-crossed Warhammer Quest: Cursed City. There are design accents reminiscent of the latter too, with shadowy grey-black figures and battle scenes layered within the cover’s luscious, glossy red finish.
OK, OK – so the box is pretty. What about the stuff inside?
DOMINION’S STORMCAST ETERNALS
Let’s get this out of the way: if you don’t already like Age of Sigmar’s unabashedly Space-Marine-inspired armoured super-warriors, well, this new cadre of scrubbed-up, Thunderstrike-armoured examples is not very likely to change your mind.
While there is a distinctly more fluid, lifelike look to their larger-than-life human bodies, and some much more dynamic poses, these new models for Age of Sigmar’s ‘good guys’ are still chunky, plate-armoured superhumans who do the bidding of their wise-bearded-man god-king. If that doesn’t float your war galley, this box might not be for you.
With that disclaimer out of the way, though, I confess myself something of an exception to that rule. Because these folks have, in fact, somewhat won me over to the Stormcast club.
For starters, Yndrasta, the Celestial Spear is a gorgeous, beautifully designed diorama of a model, composed of elegant lines, and replete with personality – not to mention 200% easier to put together than she looks. Likewise, the Lord-Imperatant and Knight-Arcanum are full of satisfying detail, with noble poses that both befit a hero’s stature on the field, and make wonderful painting projects.
While I’m not the biggest fan of the mega-chonky Annihilators – with their giant shields, meteoric hammers and penchant for vomiting mortal wounds in all directions – I can nevertheless see their narrative charm.
The stern, defensive poses and vicious-looking, long-hafted weapons of the new Praetors and Vindictors lend the Stormcast a new-found aesthetic of drilled military discipline and formation, which all at once makes them seem more interesting to me than mere faceless hosts of immortal, teleporting angels.
But top of the pile here has to be your Knight-Vexillor. My passionate love of flags in Warhammer is very deeply ingrained, and dates back to childhood hours re-reading ancient White Dwarf issues, ogling the scratch-made, freehand-painted warrior pennants streaming behind armies of High Elves, or the Empire, in Warhammer Fantasy Battle.
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That history of longing for the most awesome-looking tabletop vexillology has led me here, to this day, and this magnificent Stormcast Eternal’s superbly sculpted banner. I think I’ll paint it purple and gold.
DOMINION’S KRULEBOYZ ORRUKS
The new box’s antagonists, and agents of Grand Alliance Destruction, these lanky, rivet-armoured swamp hobgoblins were held back as a mysterious unnamed force for a few weeks, following the announcement of Age of Sigmar Third Edition in May, with the sole clue a spooky animated teaser (loaded with The Witcher 3 Velen energy).
Now that I’ve seen them up close (and put the damn things together) I truly reckon the Kruleboyz are a more compelling breed of greenskin than AOS has offered up so far – and that’s coming from someone who’s always been apathetic about GW’s greenskin armies. Let me explain.
Conceptually, AOS factions have tended to go after original mash-ups, combining disparate concepts to make bizarre, but eye-catching hybrids (tree people, delusional ghouls, steampunk flying dwarfs, and so on). So far, though, the greenskins seem to have been left out of that.
To a casual observer, the hulking, scrap-armoured Ironjawz were basically 40K Orks without the guns. The admittedly charming Gloomspite Gitz were pretty much the old Night Goblins – amusingly weird, mystic, spider-loving grots, addicted to fantasy-psilocybin.
And the awkward middle-child, the Bonesplitterz… well, they were also there. I assume.
By contrast, the Kruleboyz have a well-defined, original concept: they’re cunning, stealthy ambushers, who use a combination of deadly ranged weapons, expertly-brewed poisons, and natural-grown bioweapons from their swamp home to dispatch enemies quickly and brutally, before superior force can be brought to bear against their squishy frames.
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It’s cool, it’s clear, it’s a little scary – and it translates perfectly into their allegiance ability, Venom-encrusted Weapons, which deals a weapon’s full damage as mortal wounds on an unmodified hit roll of a six.
Models-wise, they borrow a little bit from their chunkier brethren, in the form of their larger, muscled hobgoblin characters (and their terrifying Great Gnashtoof mounts), and a little bit from their quirky, comic-relief little siblings in the Gloomspite Gitz, inspiring utterly ingenious little character bodyguards the Pot-Grot and Stab-Grot, and your diminutive chaff-infantry unit, the Hobgrot Slittaz.
If we’re to play favourites, though, It has to be the mystical Swampcalla Shaman, and his faithful Pot-Grot, that take the podium. A beefier evolution of ultra-detailed, eccentric-looking Gloomspite Gitz characters, like Snazzgar Stinkmullett, Skagrott the Loonking, and the wonderful Gobbapalooza goblins, the Swampcalla nevertheless packs a more threatening aura. Maybe it’s his in-game ability to buff Kruleboyz units with potions for extra survivability or deadliness. Or maybe it’s the fact he’s wearing half a giant’s skull as a backpack.
Either way, whatever ‘it’ is, the Swampcalla Shaman has it. And the Pot-Grot, with his laden pack of pots, pans, ladles, and bottles – well, he’s hands down the best Warhammer model ever made. I’ve said it, and I’ll stand by it.
WHAT ARE THE MODELS LIKE?
Well, you should be able to see that they’re pretty splendid to behold. As for ease of building, however, I was surprised by the extent to which Dominion’s models pay for their complex beauty with unusually fiddly construction.
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The Kruleboyz characters, in particular, are so loaded with small, detailed extremities, which must be meshed together in such a particular, often unintuitive-feeling order, that it requires a good deal more patience and experimentation than even I, a seasoned… ahem… plastic surgeon, anticipated.
I should note that the instructions are as excellent as ever – it’s simply physically challenging to fit everything together neatly, without messing up all the detail with excess glue, or an errant digit.
With so many of GW’s newest models, including most of the aforementioned Indomitus set, having earned plaudits for achieving lovely poses, while being literal child’s play to assemble, I was somewhat taken aback by how much less newbie-accessible these chaps proved. If you’re not already a dab hand at removing mould lines and excess plastic, applying carefully-measured amounts of glue and pressure, and so on, I’m prepared to bet you’ll have a pretty difficult time building these models. You’ll end up with more than a few stubborn gaps and ugly, imperfect joins, at the very least. This box – rather surprisingly – really isn’t very well optimised for beginner modellers.
SO WHO’S DOMINION FOR, THEN?
Fundamentally, this box feels like it’s perfectly fitted for people more or less like me – experienced Warhammer 40K hobbyists and players looking to make the hop into the Mortal Realms.
The armies are bursting with fresh, fantasy character, to help them differ from your grimdark future collections – but still well clear of the more out-there, high-fantasy wackiness of, say, the Idoneth Deepkin.
The rules are closer to 40K than ever before, but still have differences to keep you on your toes – and still pack in some off-the-wall, balance-stretching unit abilities that can cause mayhem in-game (I’m looking at you, Yndrasta).
And, if you’re already a paid-up owner of one or more 40K armies, plus well-thumbed copies of all the attendant literature, then dropping a solid chunk of change on a technically-not-compulsory AOS rulebook is likely to feel a safe enough bet.
Who it ain’t for is beginners. Just as we recommended against new players going for Age of Sigmar’s Soul Wars starter set (unless they were big fans of both armies, and dead set on buying the hardcover rulebook) Dominion is not the best way into the game for newbies.
The remarkably fiddly construction, alongside early player feedback suggesting that the box’s two forces are quite strongly unbalanced in favour of the Stormcast, underscores that Dominion won’t offer a butter-smooth, accessible ride for first-time warhammerers, either on the hobby table or the gaming table.
IS DOMINION ANY GOOD?
Without knowing the final price point yet, I can’t give a definite recommendation for or against picking up this massive crate of unarguably superb fantasy miniatures. GW’s big boxsets are large investments, and they’re not for everyone – especially if you’re only dipping your toe into miniature wargaming (or into Age of Sigmar specifically, from another corner of Warhammerland).
If the price breakdown works out anything like Age of Sigmar’s current starter sets, that rulebook being rolled into the package means you’ll be paying over 20% more per model – and remember, the core rules you need to play are available for free.
Add to that the fact that, if you’ve never built Warhammer models before, you are almost guaranteed to balls up some of the most impressive minis in this box – and you’ve got quite a problematic package for beginners. I’d almost certainly recommend picking up a Start Collecting Kit for an army that takes your fancy, instead, to get the hang of things first.
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But, if either the upgraded Stormcast Eternals or the insidious, murderous Kruleboyz have captured your heart, and you’re already deep enough into the Warhammer hobby to know this ~$200 / £130 box will bring joy to your heart, well, comrade, I’m right there with you – and I can confidently say the finished models, in all their glory, will not disappoint.
Just have your pre-ordering finger ready to go, because you’ll need to be quick on the draw…