The Warmaster attribute was introduced to AOS warscrolls with the release of 3.0 and was given to those unique characters who opitimise the God-like fury of 10,000 troops rolled into one massive tour de force of death and destruction. What's the purpose of the rule? To be able to include a unique character in a range of army lists without that character having the necessary sub-faction keyword, and also letting you maintain your sub-faction rules. Pretty cool right? So why are these models barely seeing the table anymore?
Nagash, the once proud centerpiece of 90% of death armies is almost nowhere to be seen. Archaon who was a constant crotch-punch only seems to be appearing in a small handful of lists. Kragnos never seemed to really make much of an impact on the game. The list goes on.
Is it the points? Probably in a lot of cases. These models represent the highest pointed in the game. Is it the updated warscrolls? Likely. As rules change the usefulness of a model in a specific army build can take a downturn. Is it the rest of the game? Sure. Introducing a multitude of new rules, GHB updates, battle tactics, grand strategies, mixing new and old battletomes etc etc. Some stuff just isn't fun to play. Maybe its the simple fact that you can pop enhancements on a cheaper boss model for much better synergy within your play style.
Did a shooting meta make everyone literally 'gunshy' from having their big bad shot off the table before they could impact the game? Or has the game entered a time when you just can't invest 25%-30% of your points into a single target anymore? I think this is one major contributing factor. When battleplans have multiple objectives (5 or more) its going to be near impossible to cover your bases when you're playing with such a massive deficit of bodies. The exception to this was formerly Mawtribes where Ogors counted as multiple models, followed by Sons of Behemat which has concreted itself as the only true minimum model army with the ability to play the bodies game (in battleplans with <3 objectives, to significant advantage). Keeping with the destruction theme Kragnos also has a similar function.
AOS is a game of constant swings and roundabouts (which is one of the things I love about it) and all things generally move from amazing to terrible and back again over the years. Except for Seraphon (which somehow is always viable). I'm positive we'll see the re-emergence of god-models again once they get a points reduction, or when we see a new GHB with different battleplans and base mechanics. Until that time my own Kragnos will likely sit on the shelf alongside Nagash until I feel like running a meme list like Kraggy + 30 boltboyz or Nagash + 10,000 zombies.
There is one model in AOS that I think manages to out-muscle the warmasters for popularity and endurance, and remains a staple in list-building for their faction while not really bringing amazing synergy or enhancement to the units around them, but simply has a god-model worthy gimmick that gets combined with a model range that stands on its own two feet. Reply in the comments below if you think you know who I'm talking about and whether or not you think they should be modified in some way.
What are your thoughts on warmasters in the game? Have you got an amazing list that includes one? Do you have a story of glorious victory all thanks to your god-model? Or do you think they're unviable for some other reason not explored above?