Review: Valedor

Valedor is a new Apocalypse Warzone book put out by Games Workshop, focusing on the last days of the planet Valedor, and featuring a fight between the Tyranids and the Eldar (of both Craftworld and Dark flavors) with nary an Imperial tank in sight.

Needless to say, as an avid Eldar player, I’m intrigued.

But is it good?

The Fluff:
To make a longish story short, the major thrust of the study is a former maiden world turned Imperial colony has been overrun by the Tyranids. Frustrating, to be sure, but in this corner of the universe, worlds are snuffed out with alarming regularity. The much bigger problem is that thanks to some Warp-related shenanigans on the part of the Eldar (and possibly Chaos) back when Iyanden was being eaten from the inside out, two hive fleets are about to merge and share notes.

According to the Farseers, this is bad. Very, very bad. Hive Fleet Kraken gets to share the results of eating tons of Eldar souls, and Hive Fleet Leviathan brings Ork DNA to the table. Not sure quite how that will manifest for the ‘Nids, but psychic word has it it won’t be good. So the Eldar embark on trying to stop the two hive fleets from meeting. In the process, a world is destroyed, tons of bugs are killed – as are a fair number of Eldar – the Dark Eldar are jerks of the highest order in the usual “Thanks for your help, but what’s this going to cost me?” direction, and fun is had by all.

The story manages to capture the feeling of the sheer, overwhelming numbers of a end-stage Tyranid invasion, but also nails (in my opinion) the feeling of the Eldar going to war: Swift, overwhelming strikes, elegant in their execution but vulnerable to getting bogged down if the enemy can turn things into a war of attrition. Overall, a good read, though not terribly long, a little overfond of sinister but unspecified Dark Elf agendas, and not the quality of some of the newer Forge World campaign books (in fairness, this last one is a tall order).

The Mechanics:
First, a disclaimer: I know almost nothing about how the Tyranids play. Haven’t had the chance to play against the new book, so my impression of the Tyranid formations will only be broad strokes.

Missions: I really like the missions – there’s a Eldar alpha-strike mission, a “Defend the relic!” mission, an evacuation in the face of overwhelming odds mission – definitely a lot of room for fun narrative play. No firm intuition yet on if they’re balanced or not, but to be honest, some of the most fun I’ve had with missions are those where one side is already doomed.

Formations: Not going to go through the formations in detail, but I’m pretty satisfied with the Eldar ones. Being a huge fan of the Crimson Hunters, their formation is a little disappointing – it’s all about scoring based on killing particular units, and is a “paperwork” formation, rather than one that unlocks neat little abilities because of your mass of jet fighters. Compared to some really fun looking formations, like one that makes Asurmen + some Dire Avengers get much tougher as the game goes on but start taking causalities, Massed Harlequins, or some nasty Wrathfighter combined strikes, that was a little disappointing.

Two particularly stand out for me:

  • Gemini Revenant Squad: One of the few Eldar formations that is out and out based on Forge World models, a paired set of Revenant Titans goes from “Tough to Deal With” to “Really Tough to Deal With”. Not sure they particularly needed it, but it makes two of these bad boys operating as a pair even deadlier.
  • Storm of Blades: This is one of the Dark Eldar formations, and I love it. Basically, it’s a selection of their skimmer mounted or flying units – troops on Raiders, Reavers, Scourges, etc. that take some serious penalties for touching the dirt (going to ground, disembarking, etc.) and in exchange are given the Skyfire special rule, so your Kabalites can go duel with flying Tyranid monsters. The sheer number of poison shots could be spectacular for this, and it’s also pretty evocative. Seriously considering adding this as a formation for my Eldar Corsair-themed army.

As mentioned, I don’t have a good handle on the mechanics of the Tyranids, but many of their formations also at least look fun: Groups that can move over huge distances to exploit gaps in a line, formations that allow Gargoyles to charge fliers, massed upgraded Tervigons churning out staggering numbers of new Termagants, etc.

The book weighs in at only 68 pages for $33 U.S., which while not a spectacular deal isn’t bad. I’d give it an 8/10 for Eldar or Tyranid players, as it seems likely this is going to be the Apocalypse formation book for either army. My major disappointment is the lack of any sort of formation really focusing on the Biel-Tan forces. There’s a fair number of Iyanden-themed formations, and a few general ones, but nothing that really excites me about say, Eldar grav tanks or mechanized units. Given how important those units are in the early stages of the campaign book, and how well the writers manage to capture some of the feel I was looking for in the few Dark Eldar formations that are there, it’s a touch disappointing.


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