Take up the Coin Malleus, Dawnbringer, and join us in today’s review of the brand new Cities of Sigmar army set, featuring 28 new models and an updated battletome with a special edition cover. In this post, we check out all the assembly options, see how the new Steelhelms stack up to previous Age of Sigmar and Warhammer Fantasy models, and see what the new book has in its arsenal.

Cities of Sigmar army set review and unboxing
This item was kindly provided by Games Workshop. Thoughts and opinions are our own.

The new Cities of Sigmar army set will be available for preorder starting Saturday, August 26, 2023, and go on sale one week after. The box contains the following:

  • A Freeguild Marshal with Relic Envoy
  • An Alchemite Warforger
  • 20 Freeguild Steelhelms
  • 5 Freeguild Cavaliers
  • 4 sheets of transfers
  • a special edition Battletome
  • a sheet of heavy cardboard tokens
  • a deck of warscroll cards of all 52 Cities of Sigmar units
  • a deck of enhancements
Cities of Sigmar army set contents
© Copyright Games Workshop Limited, used without permission

Cities of Sigmar army set review

I have missed an Age of Sigmar specific human faction the very beginning. I believe a setting needs a human faction as a point of reference, and I am very pleased that the Cities of Sigmar have finally been given their own identity. Yet, when I saw the first new Cities of Sigmar models after all the teasers, I was surprised. I had expected the models to have an azyritic flair, similar to the Excelsior Warpriest from Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower, or Emalda Braskow from Cursed City. The terrain from the current Age of Sigmar starter boxes, meant to represent Dawnbringer settlements, also shows azyritic influences.

Instead, I would describe the vibe of the new range as dark fantasy. Shields and helmets in angular, blocky shapes, chain mail, and tabards give a more medieval feel, agnostic of characteristics that indicate a particular realm. The Renaissance look of the old Empire models has been completely discarded, as if the Cities have regressed. The muted colours of the models painted by the ‘Eavy Metal team also support this vibe. After Tahra Vedra’s military coup, Hammerhall-Aqsha abandoned the blue and gold of their azyritic protectors in favour of the muted reds and oranges displayed on the studio army. The infantry makes a jaded impression, and various genders and body shapes show that everyone can accept the Coin Malleus and everyone is needed.

Freeguild Marshal & Alchemite Warforger review

The Freeguild Marshal and his Relic Envoy come on a single small sprue. The Marshal, on a 32mm base, has quite a few options: In his right hand, he can either hold a helmet, shield, or longsword, and in this left hand, a longsword, shield, or warhammer, or you can give him pistols for both hands. He can have a sheathed dagger or sword on his hip, and there is a choice of three bare heads with masculine features. The Relic Envoy doesn’t have any options, and as his head is fused to the collar and left shoulder, head swaps will be tricky.

Freeguild Marshall and Alchemite Warforger sprues from Stahly's Cities of Sigmar army set review
Freeguild Marshall and Alchemite Warforger sprues

The Alchemite Warforger’s sprue is of clampack size. The model, also on a 32mm base, is monopose with no additional bitz or build options.

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Freeguild Steelhelms review

The Cities of Sigmar army set has 20 of this line infantrymen in total, which come on two identical medium-size sprues building 10 models each. Basically, all arms, shields, and heads are interchangeable, even if the manual proposes certain coonfigurations. This allows a lot of combinations and variety, which I appreciate.

Freeguild Steelhelms sprues from Stahly's Cities of Sigmar army set review
Freeguild Steelhelm sprues, included twice

One set of sprues contains:

  • 10 bodies
  • 10 helmeted heads and 7 bare heads
  • 10 shields and shield arms
  • 10 right arms with a variety of blades and mauls (plus the arms for the characters)
  • Two head options, two left weapon arms, and a more ornate shield for the champion
  • a left arm with a banner and two banner tips, a right arm with a trumped, and a blowing head for the standard bearer
  • a right arm with a cub, and two left arms with different relic icons for the battlepriest
Cities of Sigmar Freeguild Steelhelms size comparison
Scale comparison with old Warhammer Fantasy era models and Stormcast Eternals

All in all, a remarkable infantry set. The size of the models somewhat surprised me. Games Workshop is generally known for scale creep, some of the human heroes from Warhammer Quest: Cursed City were extremely tall for example. Yet, the Steelhelms’ size on their 25mm bases is pretty much identical with their Empire predecessors from The Old World. The Cavalier’s riders, on the other hand, are much bigger. Similar to how the new plastic Kasrkin are almost a head taller than the new Cadian Guardsmen.

Frreeguild Cavaliers review

The Cavaliers span three medium size sprues and their bases are 60mm oval shapes. I’ll say it up front, this kit is the highlight of the box, and one of the most customisable Games Workshop sets in recent years. You start by building the lower half of the horses, then the upper half with the riders legs and torsos, both halves can be combined in any combination. Then, the heads, weapons, shields, and accessories are all interchangeable. Here is what you get:

  • 5 lower horse halves and 5 upper horse halves with the riders’ legs and torsos
  • 5 helmeted heads with six separate visors, which can be attached either shut or open
  • 4 bare heads
  • 5 horse faces and 5 horse tails
  • 5 right hands with a variety of close combat weapons
  • 5 shields and 5 back banners and icons
  • a specific arm, head, and chest decoration for the champion
  • a right hand with a standard, two banner tips, and a sheathed sword for the standard bearer

With the exception of the champion and standard bearer upgrade parts, all of these parts are interchangeable, which allows unlimited combinations. The only thing that could be criticised is that the riders’ legs are fused with the barding of the horses. Lots of design work must have been put into this kit, I wish Games Workshop would do this more often these days!

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Cities of Sigmar transfer sheet

The new transfer sheet, which is included four times (!), should not go unmentioned. Each sheet contains enough transfers to bestow 10 shields with the insignia of the 11 great Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhall-Aqsha and -Ghyra, Tempest’s Eye, The Living City, Lethis, Hallowheart, Vindicarum, Misthavn, Excelsis, Settler’s Gain, and Greywater Fastness. In addition, there are various heraldric motifs for the Cavaliers, as well as three different generic icons and smaller badges for Sigmarite Cults. Wow.

Cities of Sigmar transfer sheet review
© Copyright Games Workshop Limited, used without permission

Cities of Sigmar battletome & accessories

The Battletome features a matt cover, gold edging, and a ribbon bookmark, giving it a truly elegant and premium presentation. In the lore section, we delve into the origins of the Dawnbringer Crusades and the Castellite Formation developed by Tahlia Vedra, which revolutionized the strategies of the Freeguilds. All the major cities are portrayed, there’s a timeline, and an introduction to all the units and cults. The Aelven Alliances (which now only include the former Dark Elves models) and Dispossessed are also featured. Additionally, there’s a lot of new artwork and short stories. My favorite was an ongoing series of letters from a mother who left her family to join the crusade.

Battletome, cards and counters from Stahly's Cities of Sigmar army set review
Special edition battletome, token sheet, and warscroll and enhancements decks

Next comes the showcase section, where, among other things, the colour schemes of all 11 major Cities of Sigmar are displayed using a Steelhelm as an example, along with a brief six-page painting guide. The final third is dedicated to the rules section, encompassing the army rules, Path to Glory, matched play rules, as well as the datasheets and points values.

As beautiful as the presentation of the book is, the selection of units feels somewhat inconsistent. The old Empire Freeguild infantry, cavalry, and artillery have been replaced in favor of the new models, yet many old character models, as well as the steam tank and Luminark of Hyish, remain. Among the Aelf allies, all High Elf and Wood Elf models from the previous book have been removed, leaving only the old Dark Elves models. All Dispossessed units are still present. Perhaps it would have been wiser to let the army list from the previous Cities of Sigmar book live on as a digital download and start afresh with the new models in this book, rather than gradually removing old units piece by piece.

Cities of Sigmar battletome 2023 contents page

In addition to the book, there are also handy card decks containing all the warscroll and enhancement cards, in an exclusive design. There’s also a token sheet to represent the various orders.

Value

Priced at £120, the Cities of Sigmar army set falls in line with the pricing of previous army sets. For 28 completely new models, that’s a quite good deal (for Games Workshop). Plus you get one of the nicer special edition battletomes with a distinct cover and gold trim. While the exact prices for the individual models aren’t known yet, previous army sets typically offered around 30% savings compared to buying the models separately. I guess this makes this set a must-have if you’re looking to start a new style Cities of Sigmar army.

If you’re considering a purchase, it’s wise not to wait too long, as there’s a possibility that the box will sell out quickly, at least with independent retailers. I’m afraid that army sets are launch boxes and are available only while supplies last.

You can find the army set and the latest Cities of Sigmar releases at our 🇬🇧/🇪🇺 partner stores Wayland GamesElement Games, and Firestorm Games, at 🇩🇪 Taschengelddieb and PK-Pro, and at 🇺🇸 Noble Knight Games with a welcome discount of up to 20% over RRP. Using our links helps to support Tale of Painters at no additional cost to you, so thank you very much for using them!

I hope you found this review helpful, feel free to leave a reaction or comment below, or post your questions here or discuss on our Discord channel.

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8.5
Score

Pros

  • 28 all new models and a special edition edition battletome with accessories
  • Models have lots of customization options
  • Beautiful lore and showcase section
  • Four transfer sheets covering all 11 major cities

Cons

  • Lots of former Empire, High and Wood Elves units removed
  • Inclusion of older models feels more of an afterthought
Freeguild Marshall
8
Alchemite Warforger
7
Freeguild Steelhelms
8
Freeguild Cavaliers
10

Final Verdict

Finally, the Cities of Sigmar have received their own dedicated range of miniatures, no longer tied to a mishmash of old Warhammer Fantasy models. The army set includes a wonderful mix of diverse and customizable models, and I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing what other painters and collectors will create with these beautifully designed miniatures. However, owners of existing armies should be prepared for the fact that many of their units may no longer be playable.