Warhammer/Tactics/8th Edition/Tomb Kings
Why Play Tomb Kings
Besides all the bling and skull accessories with options for colors other than red?
For one, almost the entire army is just skeletons. Thus with some greenstuff, bits, and a box of redshirts, you can avoid paying $16 for a generic character or $55 for ten slightly more armored troops than the $40 for 16 core. Furthermore the customization freedom is amazing.
Tomb Kings are a pretty fragile army and unforgiving one as they have sat on the bottom of the power rank totem pole for awhile, with many exceptions and special rules to keep in mind while playing, so it is not recommended for beginners who are just learning the ropes.
Like their Egyptian parallel, Tomb kings are reliant upon light infantry blocks, regiments of archers and skirmishing light cavalry, with a heavy reliance upon magic for supporting and debuffing (according to myth anyway). Unfortunately, armour is a rare sight in the Tomb king army with only two units having natural saves greater than 5+, so your troops being numerically superior to your opponent's while supporting each other is a recommended position to take.
A point to note; many other armies take having troops on standby to flank for granted, but flanking is necessary for Tomb king victory as virtually all Tomb king units are inferior to their counterparts in other armies. With this in mind, you must be very careful when maneuvering troops and know that battlefield tactics (both yours and your opponent's) are crucial to victory or defeat.
A few points about this army that do not apply to other mortal (and sometimes immortal armies). Every unit has these special rules: Unbreakable, Unstable, Fear, and Nehekharan Undead. Nehekharan Undead is just used to distinguish Tomb Kings from Vampire Counts (which simply use "Undead") for the purposes of spells, and to identify the unit for spells that specifically apply to Undead units. If playing with End Times rules, the last simply becomes "Undead" even if you aren't mixing models from the 'other' Undead army. This tells us that every Tomb king unit is reliable, fragile but reliable. A unit will not break and run because of a bad dice roll, so there is little to fear about losing a combat. However, because of Unstable, a unit will lose the number of Wounds equal to how many points it lost a combat by (if it has lost combat) and while not so troubling when it happens to a large block of skeletons, it is a great concern for Monsters, small elite units, and lone characters. Finally, because of Fear, it is perfectly possible to bring a unit down a peg in combat against any unit in the Tomb king army if the opponent makes a bad dice roll. There are also ways to increase the chance of a failed leadership test. NEVER forget to make your opponent take that Fear test, as its one of your key strengths.
In addition, there are special rules that only apply to Tomb Kings. These are: Animated Constructs, Arrows of Asaph, and Entombed Beneath the Sands (EBTS). Animated constructs identify the unit as a magical automaton made of bone/stone/metal/tar etc. that is not a skeleton. This includes the likes of the Ushabti and Warsphinxes, and by having this special rule a unit suffers one less Wound due to Unstable and automatically has a 5+ Armour Save (note it does not specify that this is a scaly skin save, nor does it imply that it is given by any kind of armour thus making things that "ignore armor" still have to make this roll). Arrows of Asaph applies to every unit in the army with a ranged weapon, and it essentially states that the unit will never benefit form bonuses or suffer from penalties when shooting, allowing a unit to move, fire directly into cover, fire though a unit, fire at long range etc. all without suffering penalties like other armies. EBTS allows the unit to enter play from reserve anywhere on the board (those familiar with the 'other' Warhammer can think of it like deepstriking) with the ability to Move (but not Charge) on the turn it arrives, although the downside to this is the high potential for scattering away into terrain since it doesn't arrive exactly where you choose, and the 1 in 6 chance of rolling a misfire on the artillery dice with another 1 in 3 chance of killing of the unit (the other 2 options are not so bad). Finally, Rob Cruddace has seen fit to completely remove any ability for a Tomb King unit to make a normal March move for absolutely no good reason, and kept the restriction from the previous Army Book that limits their Charge reactions to just Hold, meaning Skeleton Archers cannot Stand And Shoot. So altogether the army as a whole will be very slow and inflexible in comparison to other armies who are perfectly capable of moving twice their Move distance with their respective units.
Tomb king units, like Vampire Count units, can reliably resurrect Wounds and models in units from casting buffing (AKA Augment) spells in the Lore of Nehekhara, allowing for many units in the Tomb Kings army to Tarpit another, pricier unit and still sustain the combat for a extended period of time as long as they receive magic support.
Like Vampire Counts, Tomb Kings have a leader character. Called the Hierophant, he is the highest Wizard level character who MUST be in the Lore of Nehekhara. Models in his unit have Regeneration (6+), which is nice, and if he dies your army starts to Crumble which means each turn your army takes a Leadership Test unit by unit, taking Wounds by the amount they fail it. Unlike the Vamps, you cannot replace the Hierophant; once it dies, you're on a short time limit to win before the metaphorical Deathstar finishes blowing up. Not fun by any measure.
The Battle Standard Bearer lets any units within 12 inches take one less Wound of damage from Unstable or Crumble, so keeping the troops near Old Glory is a big advantage.
Think all the above sucks? Well, in the End Times, the Tomb Kings learned to march! (If they are within 12" from the General (much like Vampire Counts)), no longer Crumble with the death of Hierophant, and the Hierophant is not even really needed anymore. And no, those are NOT optional rules, they officially override older rules. Rejoice!
This, however, only applies if you're fielding Undead Legion although almost any Tomb King army can just say it's one and work totally fine. The exception is if you absolutely insist on fielding Settra or Arkhan the Level 5 Wizard-neither of which can be fielded in an Undead Legion. So you'd have to use the old Tomb King rules.
Lords & Heroes
Under the current edition of WHFB, Named Characters tend to be overpriced. That being said, the following Named Characters do have certain wargear, or a combination of different wargear that are unique to them, as well as a few Special Rules. You could take another model and emulate one of the Characters from scratch to save you a few points. Just remember, if you really need to field a Named Lord/Hero, you can go right ahead, but be sure you're getting your points worth.
For Tomb Kings, contrary to most armies, the special characters offer some flavor and options that are not possible to emulate with normal characters. Some even find the army hard-pressed to compete without them.
Tomb Kings, Tomb Princes, Settra the Imperishable, High Queen Khalida, and Arkhan the Black have the "The Curse" special rule. Kings, Princes, and Settra have "My Will Be Done".
The Curse causes the unit or units that killed the character to take D6 S5 hits as shooting, S4 for Princes.
My Will Be Done causes non-mount non-character modelsin the same unit to use the royal's WS if higher than their own.
- Settra the Imperishable: Sporting a magnificent beard at 475 points, Settra represents the pinnacle of Tomb King special characters, a good thing too as he was the first of the priest kings of Khemri after years of strife between the desert tribes (in other words, the first true Tomb King), and since then his only undefeated enemy was time itself. Supreme leader of all Tomb Kings.
Settra must be the Army General, no two ways about it, and in addition (due to his one Wizard level) he can also be the Hierophant if you so desire. In terms of mobility, Settra must be fielded upon The Chariot of the Gods and may never be taken on foot (however he may be dismounted should the chariot be destroyed), and the chariot itself possesses a reasonable movement value of 8", four basic Skeletal Steeds (note this makes his base width 4"), a statline with five across, and Flaming and Magical applied to all of its Impact Hits. Regarding casting, he's only level one with his only option for a spell lore being the Lore of Nehekhara.
In melee, Settra shines however, with a powerful statline of WS7 and five S6 Attacks (note, same I3 as any other Tomb King) with the added benefit of his Blessed Blade of Ptra ignoring Armour Saves, giving him Flaming Attacks, and a permanent To Hit for Shooting and Close Combat debuff of -1 should a Character or Monster be hit by it.
In terms of a support role, his Inspiring Presence has a range of 18" and his My Will Be Done is a 6" bubble thanks to his Crown of Nehekhara that provides WS 7 to all Tomb King units that are not mounts. In addition he also has a Magic Resistance of 1 that is conferred to the unit he is in plus a personal 4+ Ward Save from the Scarab Broach of Usirian.
Settra rolls the roles of caster, melee DPS and support into one package, and a mobile one at that. All of this does come at a cost however; Settra is fragile compared to some armies special characters, only sporting Light Armor and mounted status to provide an Armour Save of 5+ and the 4+ Ward and Magic Resistance buffing his Ward Save to 3+ against spells. Furthermore, while his T5 will resist some of the S3/4 hits you will take, his large base size will ensure that he will receive a load of those attacks. A good and fluffy general, recommended in larger games for his Ld and MWBD bubble, along with an ace model.
- High Queen Khalida: Hail to the Queen, baby. Killed by her cousin, the first vampire, she prayed to the snake god to be cured and died a paladin. Now she's back as the #2 supreme Tomb King to slaughter vampires and keep leading her people in worship of sneks.
A radical change from her old incarnation, she is now significantly cheaper at 365 points and arguably better for it. She retains much of her old statline with WS6, BS3, S4, T5, W3, and a LD of 10. Unique in the army for being fast with M6, five Attacks, and ASF on top of I9 making her the fastest Tomb King character available and able to even bonk an Elf before it can react, which coupled with her Poisoned Attacks makes her a very formidable melee character against basic troops.
Her T5 and Light Armor are not enough to protect her against other characters or monsters, especially since she lost Regeneration. However Khalida is the posterchild of Tomb King archer lists everywhere, as her MWBD has been altered to grant her BS3 rather then her WS6 to any unit of Archers she joins in addition to granting their Shooting Attacks Poisoned, ramping up the damage output of the unit. Two minor notes, Khalida also has Hatred against Vampire Counts and a Enchanted item which inflicts 2D6 S4 hits against a unit within 24" following the rules for Magic Missiles.
She makes a good general for archer-heavy lists, but a fragile one so if you take her, keep her in a unit, preferably buffed with some form of protection (like Incantation of Neru). Coupled with Sepulcheral Stalkers, she'll ensure you have the damage to wipe out a good amount of the opposing force before they reach you.
- Prince Apophas: A complete douchebag who killed the entire royal family and declared himself king, leading to a rebellion against him and a lulzy divine punishment of being not allowed to die until he claimed the soul of someone who's soul is equal to his own (something that is impossible).
A very odd character, he appears to be an assassin except that normally an assassin in Warhammer hides in a unit until the most appropriate time, ready to be whipped out right under the opponent's nose to gank another character with a ludicrous amount of damage items and ASF/high Initiative. Apophas on the other hand cannot join units, ever, and has the option to appear using EBTS. There is a downside however, as he is unable to Charge on the turn he appears, but can move, which makes the inevitable wall of lead or iron pelted his way a little easier to deal with.
On the point of moving, Apophas can Fly, has a universal Strider special rule and causes Terror, allowing him to port around the battlefield at will and potentially threaten light units with Terror checks, and if that fails he is certainly capable of dealing with any small units like Dire Wolves or Pistolers in combat.
That being said, there is not much else he can do but threaten warmachines, as his stats are pretty poor, with WS4 S4 T3 W4 I1 A5. As you can see he isn't going first against anything but Zombies and Steam Tanks, and the T3 excludes him from any combat against elite or large units although he does have a 4+ Regeneration save to at least keep him from being killed by a stray flying rock.
In addition, he has two special abilities that are quite useful in a pinch, the first being Soul Reaper which allows Apophas to reroll failed rolls To Hit and wound against a character chosen before the game during combat (the character Apophas is there to kill in the first place), and the ability to use a S2 Breath Weapon once per game either in template form or close combat auto 2D6 hits form which also has every unit within 2D6 of Apophas, immediately after he has been slain, take 2D6 hits as shooting.
As you can see Apophas is less of a assassin character and more of a scout hunter, wizard slayer and warmachine buster. If you take him, use him carefully and then only if you have the points to spare.
- Ramhotep the Visionary: A sneaky little git that circumvented the natural process of being interred in the pyramids he builds by masquerading as another necrotect overseeing the construction until the time comes to commit ritual suicide, it is only then that the "other" necrotect suddenly finds himself force fed the poisoned elixir while Ramhotep makes a hasty escape. A little bit proud and vain, he has become quite pissed seeing his "masterpieces" falling into ruin, or falling into the greedy grasping hands of lesser civilizations.
Cheap for a named special character at 110 points, but ludicrously expensive in comparison to the normal Necrotect (only 60 points) and whether the increase in cost is worthwhile is up for debate.
In addition to the normal Necrotect special rules, Ramhotep grants Frenzy to the unit he is with, and while this does increase the initial damage output it will only last until you lose combat, and the odds are simply based on the army that the unit will lose to anything competent in combat no matter how many upgrades the unit has (since he can't join a unit of something that can actually win a combat). In addition, a random Animated Construct unit is given the ability to reroll failed Armour saves, which immediately provokes the thought of a unit of Necropolis Knights with their 3+ Armor saves as standard being re-rollable; however, do no forget only one unit and the unit is selected at random so it may just as easily be a single Sphinx instead unless you only have one candidate. It is worth noting that Ramhotep is very fragile at T4 and W2 with only Light Armor for a save. Take him only for a very buffed construct to do the heavy lifting, although the 50 point upgrade for a large unit of Necropolis Knights or maybe an important Sphinx is indeed worth it.
- Arkhan the Black: Once one of Nagash's lieutenants during the reign of Nagash until he took a spear to the heart, and has since been resurrected as a Lich upon Nagash's return. As the plan to resurrect Nehekhara didn't work out as planned, Arkhan buggered off for a couple of hundred years, and it is only relatively recently he has returned, hiring his services and armies out like some sort of mercenary corporation to anybody who pays the right price.
At 360 points, he is a Level 5 Death Wizard that can be your army's Hierophant. 5 Spells with a +5 to Cast/Dispel. The Tomb Blade also works as a localized Restless Dead whenever he makes a kill in close combat, raising one wound of his own unit for every one he causes (make note, he has a reasonable statline for dealing with footsloggers but only has T5 to protect himself). His final piece of equipment(not counting the book) is staff of Nagash, a arcane item that can store up to three dispel dice in your opponents magic phase and converted to power dice in your own magic phase. Arkhan must take the lore of death, but has the added benefit of having the option to be the Hierophant, as a result, this is the only way to avoid the steaming pile of crap that is the lore of Nehekhara. He also comes with the option to ride a chariot, then the option to upgrade that chariot with he ability to fly and/or take two additional steeds for extra close combat attack output. In conclusion, Arkhan is a solid anti monster and debuff caster, while Tomb blade may be a bit "meh" and the staff of Nagash dependent on the outcome of the magic phase, he also fields a strong statline for personal protection and a superior casting/dispelling bonus above almost all other wizards. A good wizard but a Glass Cannon. Keep him away from the front lines or in a big unit.
- Grand Hierophant Khatep: The Grand Hierophant during the reign of Settra, Khatep was banished from the kingdom after Settra's resurrection for withholding the secrets of the priests from Settra, and has since been cursed to wander the world in search for a solution to Nagash's curse. A level 4 wizard that has the loremaster of Nehekkara, Khatep is the casting alternative to Arkhan at a similar price of 330 points. while being forced to use the lore of Nehekhara, he makes up for the limitation by having access to all of the spells, allowing him to be a versatile switchblade when it comes to magic, capable of resurrecting troops, increasing movement speed(otherwise known as marching), buffing friendly units with buffs for both offensive and defensive situations(including a situational can opener that allows simple skellies to harm heavily armoured troops), slowing down a opposing unit which also acts as a direct damage spell, debuffing opposing units and to top it off with a ghastly cherry, a AOE damage spell. The crowning jewel of Khatep is certainly his staff, which allows him to reroll all of the dice in a single casting attempt once per turn, allowing risky moves to be pulled with marginally less fear, and unlucky fails or miscasts to have a second chance. A final point would be the scroll of the cursing word, which is a one use item that ends all further casting attempts for one turn on a single wizard if they fail a strength test, and D3 automatic unsaveable wounds if they fail it on a 6. In case this wasn't clear enough, the item is incredibly unreliable, and highly situational. Yet Khatep can be an acceptable choice; he fills the role of a wizard who has to know the lore of Nehekhara, freeing your other priests to use the Lores of Death and Light, and gives you access to all of the spells. Just keep him in a big unit with a protective buff get some value from him.
- The Herald Nekaph: Bodyguard of Settra and herald of Settra. The character is mediocre, as he's wasted potential. Very mediocre statline of WS5 S4 T4 W2 I3 A3 LD8 for a 120 point undead combat hero with KB. The problem is he only has light armour to save him from wounds, immediately discounting any use his Sworn Bodyguard special rule may have as he is so fragile. He is also is "supposed" to challenge opposing characters as something of a mini assassin. Ideally, he must challenge where he gains a 5+ ward save and has his KB activate on a 5+, which effectively renders the flail of skulls he uses as his weapon moot. Yet he will usually endure a barrage of hits from his opponent first, and the aforementioned stats and armour leave him little chance against most enemy equivalents; his only hope lies in the 5+ Ward save. The flail of skulls, a relic from the past in both fluff and crunch, it essentially acts as a flail which has the multiple wounds (2) special rule. Why do I call him wasted potential? Because his special rule Herald of Despair is so good, and it is wasted on a character who must challenge, and most likely get himself killed at the first opportunity. It forces your opponent to take fear tests on 3D6 like the vampire counts banner, discarding the lowest result, which is exactly what Tomb kings need in greater quantities. A situational character, take him only if you can spare the points or are playing a fluffy game.
- Tomb Kings/Prince: Both of these will be looked at together, since they're pretty similar. Tomb Kings are not mandatory (despite the name of the book), but in most cases you will take one as a General. They have high Toughness, a fine number of Wounds, and good Leadership, but (as you might expect) a low number of attacks and a pitiful Initiative. However, he is no melee beatstick; his true purpose lies in his rules, especially My Will Be Done. Essentially, any non-mount model in his unit gets to use his Weapon Skill. This provides a major boost to the survivability of your models in combat and helps with the low average WS of the army. Of course, your Tomb King (and Princes) can't be everywhere at once, so you should form a priority list of who should get it. Units that are already fairly decent should probably be on top; Tomb Guards, for instance, benefit immensely from MWBD, whereas the rule is generally a waste on basic Skeleton Warriors. His other special rules are interesting but not particularly important. When the Tomb King (or Prince) dies, his killer takes a few Armour Ignoring hits from The Curse. Unfortunately, this only activates if you lose the Tomb King, which you don't want to happen. It will make your enemy think twice about setting an elite character-killer on him, though. The Tomb King is also Flammable, being a mummy. This is quite unfortunate, as most enemy heroes will have Flaming Attacks to deal with Regeneration. Both levels can be taken down in two Flaming Attacks, which makes their high(ish) level of Wounds a moot point (bring Dragonbane Gem or the Dragonhelm and give those flaming attacks the middle finger). Finally, a Tomb King on a chariot can join units of chariots. However, outside of a chariot, the Tomb King is severely limited in equipment options. He cannot take a "regular" mount, he cannot take non-magical heavy armour, and he cannot take non-magical paired weapons. As such, he must invest heavily in magic items, which many other races do not have to do.
- Liche Priest/Lich High Priest: fairly cheap for a caster yet still on the expensive side of cheap, the Liche priest is a essential component of your army, this is because the army requires one caster to be the hierophant(the loci of necromantic magic that keeps the army from falling apart). Unfortunately, the hierophant must be the wizard with the highest level in the army and must also be taking the lore of Nehekhara, these two factors severely limit the flexibility of the Liche priests when choosing their spell lores, which is very frustrating when both alternative options, lore of light and lore of death, are both superior(in my opinion) to the lore of Nehekhara. In addition, in keeping with the mass unit buffing theme, the hierophant provides a 6+ regeneration save to every model in the unit he is in, which kind of offsets the penalty if the lich priest croaks, as if that occurs, every unit in the Tomb king army must pass a leadership test, or lose a number of wounds equal to the amount they failed, once every player turn. A bummer, I know right.
- Tomb Herald: Cheap combat characters, far cheaper than tomb kings, inferior stat line all round aside from attacks and strength, replacing MWBD and TC for killing blow and bodyguard(more on that later) and the option of carrying the battle standard banner and being mounted(Yayyy). The character is underwhelming, it is simply undeniable, it lacks the unit buffing abilities which makes the tomb king and necrotect so viable, and the combat potential is poor, with low initiative and Weapon skill forcing you to compensate with the use of magic items in order to compete with the faster, stronger hero choices of other races. the option for a banner is wasted as the benefits for the Tomb king army are minor in comparison to other races, even though the cost is identical. and the ability to be mounted is wasted due to a lack in quality of the army's cavalry units. The one niche where the herald really shines, is acting a s a living shield for the Tomb king( I did say he was underwhelming). The bodyguard rule allows the Tomb king player to reallocate one random wound directed at the Tomb king onto the herald per phase before saves are taken, therefore allowing the Tombking to allocate valuable magic item allowance to big swords with which to cut people up without worrying about having his head caved in. Note that the wound is allocated before saves are taken, so if you wish to load the herald up on magic armour and nearly double his cost to mitigate that one wound per phase, no one will frown at you.
- Necrotect: The necrotect is a raw support character with severely limited combat capabilities and a reasonable price tag. The necrotect comes with hatred(everything) and provides that special rule to any unit he joins, effectively turning them into dark elves. he packs a little bit of combat potential, at S and T are 4 with two attacks and paired weapons, he might be capable of taking out a few minions. Finally, any animated construct within 12" gains a 6+ regeneration save.
- Skeleton Warriors: These guys are your basic infantry. And yes, they absolutely suck as much as their statline would suggest. Luckily, they're also among the cheapest infantry in the entire game. They're also Unbreakable and can heal with the Lore of Nehekhara. On the other hand, these guys really, really fear Unstable, since they don't get a benefit from Steadfast and they almost definitely won't win a combat, meaning they'll all just crumble away. Don't even think about giving them spears, either: you add 25% to their cost for a few more pitiful attacks. It's always better to load up on more bodies. Also, don't bother putting a Tomb King or Prince in the unit; My Will Be Done will not help them. The only reasonable way to use them is to field them in hordes. Then field hordes of hordes. Generally speaking, they aren't as good as Archers or Chariots, but they will give you a numerical advantage (albeit a partially-negated one, as you get no benefit from Steadfast).
- Skeleton Archers: You get the basic package, for a cheap price, with the same statline as your skeleton warriors including the BS of 2. However they benefit from the Arrows of the Asp special rule, meaning they will not suffer negative modifiers when shooting (and they need it! Being BS2 is already low enough without all the modifiers they might get e.g long range shots, move and fire ext), allowing the unit to fire into cover, fire on the move, fire under the effects of spells etc. which is quite helpful in placing strain upon a opponent who is looking to shelter units away from a ranged barrage.
- Skeleton Horsemen: Originally labeled heavy horsemen, but that has been revised to the more appropriate title of horsemen in this current edition, because there is nothing heavy about this unit. Unfortunately the unit is stuck in a void of not knowing what it want's to be, it has the vanguard special rule, obviously for either hitting an opponents warmachines or moving into flanking position, but it also possesses the same statline as a normal skeleton with the addition of a mount, spear and shield, which makes the unit entirely unsuitable for combat, especially when the price for each horseman is twice the price of a fully geared skeleton and there are currently no combat bonuses for charging cavalry aside from +1 strength on the spear. The only niche this unit falls into is flanking to deny steadfast, as all other units in the tomb king book that can reliably get a flank charge are either unable to form ranks, or are ludicrously inefficient when they do so. a small block of 10 cavalry on the other hand can get the charge, and stay around long enough to disrupt the opposing unit. all for the "meager" cost of 120 points.
- Skeleton Horse Archers: A more suitable cavalry unit, horse archers replace the shield and spear for a bow at 2 additional points, in addition too also possessing the fast cavalry special rule and scout special rule, making the only unit to my knowledge to posses both vanguard and scout at the same time (Ogre Maneaters can also do this). Like skeleton archers, horse archers never count bonuses or penalties when rolling to hit, which is quite useful when they're Bs 2.Unfortunetly they only carry standard bows, which renders their damage output pitifully low, hence they are normally used to redirect charges and hunt for warmachines.
- Skeleton Chariots: Now permanently as core choices, chariots have been, and will be, the mainstay of many Tomb king armies, and for very good reason, they are widely considered the shock troops of the Tomb king army, they pack a plethora of small bonuses to aid in their role. Chariots are toughness 4 basic, the crewmen are Ws 3 and have 2 attacks each(2 crewmen per chariot in addition to also carrying spears and bows. The only issue with the unit is the excessive cost, at 55 points each a unit of chariots is a valuable and expensive asset that must be committed carefully, It must be stressed that it is always to your advantage if you charge chariots in the flank against a unit that has lost steadfast, rather then charging chariots directly into the front of a unit. Ensure the unit you charge will be damaged beyond combat capability with the impact hits, and tidy up whatever is left with the crew attacks, thus reducing the damaged returned to the chariots and potentially routing the unit and running them down. Charging a horde of chaos warriors head on is never a good idea. If you feel it necessary, you can make an exception to the normal rules in the warhammer fantasy rulebook and join a character mounted on a chariot, to a unit of chariots in order to increase the damage output or survivability.
- Tomb Guard: The elite infantry choice of the Tomb king army book, and a clear step above skeletons, with a higher WS, S, T, I and LD in addition to also possessing killing blow and light armour as standard. This huge boost is reflected in the increase to points cost, standing at 11 points each, a unit of tomb guard is normally a large points sink. Normally a tomb guard unit is the center of attention when it comes to buffing units with a tomb king/necrotect/augment spells etc, and rightly so for such buffs are not wasted, especially when the unit can be given halberds to boost their strength to 5 to further increase their damage output, but do note that this costs a additional 2 points, making the unit very expensive.
- Necropolis Knights: While skeleton horsemen are the medium cavalry of the tomb king army, necropolis knights are the heavy cavalry. monstrous mounts sporting a fearsome statline, the defining feature of this unit is the 3+ armour save, which is the highest basic save any unit in the tomb king army can posses, giving this unit a relatively high level of staying power. Even though it posses such a save, it excels as a flanking unit in support of a large block of skeletons or tomb guard, and even though it is in direct competition with chariots, necropolis knights are more than capable of competing for a place in a army list. The rider is a buffed tomb guard, with the same statline aside from WS 4 and A 2, who also packs a spear and the killing blow special rule. The mount on the other hand has Ws3 S5 T4 A3 W3 and I3 allowing it to churn out enough damage to quickly earn it's points back in short order, especially when we also factor in a stomp attack. Obviously, the necropolis knights favor a prolonged combat whilst a unit of chariots depend upon breaking a unit on the charge, but in addition to flanking, necropolis knights also make a reasonable unit for hunting monsters, as the high strength of both the rider and mount on the charge means that many monsters will be wounded on 5s if not 4s and the poisoned attacks of the mount should also help in sneaking one or two extra wounds. Finally, for a additional 5 points, a unit of necropolis knights can be deployed in reserve and enter play though EBTS, allowing you to push your opponent on two fronts with two fairly strong lines(that is if you don't get a spell of bad luck)
- Tomb Scorpion: The Tomb scorpion has lost the crown for EBTS king and has unfortunately been relegated to a distraction role. The issue with the tomb scorpion lies in the high points cost to wounds ratio and a unreliable system to deliver several scorpions in one place to threaten the rear of a unit, a problem necropolis knights have solved by being able to field a large number in a single unit. As a result, scorpions are best used to menace warmachines or force an opponent to redirect one of his units to clear the lone monstrous beast running around behind his lines, as it does not matter what unit charges another units rear, the combat bonus is still the same. That being said, the scorpion is perfectly capable of surviving one round of combat in the rear of most units with a toughness of 5 and 3 wounds, and it may even cause a few casualties itself as it possesses Ws4 S5 I3 A4 with poisoned and killing blow. Oh and as a side point, it also has magic resistance 1, carried over from the previous edition.
- Ushabti: A major tragedy, for the miniatures look beautiful and capture the concept of animated statues perfectly. Previously, Ushabti were THE shock troopers of a tomb king army, now they have fallen into the gap of uselessness that occurs when newer units can do the same job but be better at it. The Ushabti has lost the basic strength of 6 and has instead received a generic monstrous infantry statline of Ws4 Bs2 S4 T4 I3 A3 W3 Ld8 and a armor save of 5+, which now comes with the option of taking a great weapon, paired weapon or great bow for free. Unfortunately the cost was decreased from 7th edition to 8th edition but no more then that, leaving us with a 50 points per model unit that is outperformed by tomb guard or necropolis knights at whatever you intend for them, and certainly underwhelming when compared to the monstrous infantry of other armies. The only niche now seen by many tomb king players, is a heavy ranged unit, as great bows are strength 6 and as Ushabti do not benefit from bonuses when shooting or suffer from penalties, the law of averages state that one in three shots per turn will hit, which therefore (theoretically) allows you to allocate a single S6 hit on any unit in 30" so it might be useful for picking off knights or dropping the wounds on a monstrous creature, but for 150 points, they are certainly not an efficient unit at their task.
- Swarm: Like the Tomb Scorpion, scarab swarms are not necessarily combat units, but offer more utility to an army that fields them, as they also possess the EBTS special rule, which means they too can pop up behind the opponents line to cause mischief .They are normally favored over scorpions to kill warmachines, as they are significantly cheaper to field en masse, and are less likely to die to a point blank cannon shot. Finally, it should be noted that Tomb swarms possess the poisoned attacks special rule, which combined with their 5 attacks and 5 wounds, opens up possibilities for nibbling at lightly armored monsters, this is because with their S and T of 2, most infantry will be wounding the swarm on twos or threes, which puts the high strength of the monster to waste when hitting swarms. Note, do not reliably expect to kill monsters with Tomb swarms, but don't immediately dismiss the thought.
- Carrion: Unfortunately, with the changes to the flyers special rule, Tomb king flyers don't really have the fly special rule outside of General's range, so most of the time they basically have hover special rule, which immediately curtails the possibilities for carrion, as it will most likely take twice as long to reach a point on the board when compared to the fliers of other races unless assisted by magic. Other than that, Carrion have a fairly decent statline for their cost in points at Ws3 S4 T4 W2 A3 I2 for 23 points. However, it should be noted that carrion do not posses armor, so they should not be expected to engage with combat units and come out unscathed, instead it is advisable to use them to clean warmachine hunters and light cavalry that slip past your lines, or harass a ranged unit that is a little too close to the front.
- Khermrian Warsphinx: A new unit to the Nehekharan army, keeping in line with the monster craze currently in running though GW head office at the moment. Immediately obvious, the warsphinx is designed to soak up elite units and other monsters that pose a threat to your lines,with a statline of Ws4 S5 T8 W5 A4 I1 you can see anything short of a shaggoth with a great weapon is going to need a 6 to wound, and if mass light attacks do manage to accumulate enough 6s to pose worry, a 5+ armor save should stop some of them. In addition, the warsphinx comes with a howdah carrying 4 Tomb Guard with spears, who also posses killing blow. It should be noted that these Tomb guard are immune to damage, and are treated like riders on a cavalry mode, so when a initiative test is forced upon the sphinx, you will take it a the highest(I3 of the Tomb guard) of the combined profile. The warsphinx also has a unique attack(only against units smaller then monstrous infantry) in the form of the Thunder crush, which essentially trades all of your normal attacks for one attack that, if it hits, acts like a direct impact from a stone thrower, allowing you to place the small blast template anywhere touching but not overlapping the sphinx, and anybody under the center takes a strength 9 hit with multiple wounds D3 and everybody else under the template takes a strength 3 hit. Obviously, this is very useful for taking huge chunks out of hordes, but due to the WS 4 of the sphinx, you must gamble with your damage output. On a final point, it is possible to upgrade the warsphinx to have poisoned attacks and/or a S4 breath weapon.
- Sepulchral Stalkers: Another unit designed to enter the board though EBTS, however, rather than acting as a flanker, the stalkers possess a unique offensive ability more suited for hunting heavy armor and monsters. Each stalker has a shooting attack that hits automatically with a number of shots equal to the roll on a artillery dice, however if you were to roll a misfire, the stalker in question will suffer D3 automatic wounds with no armorr saves allowed. After determining the number of shots, you treat each like a strength 1 ranged attack that ignores armor, the positive point of this, is that you will roll to wound using your opponents initiative rather then their toughness, allowing many monsters and heavy infantry to be wounded on 5s and even 4s with no chance of their armor saving them. Obviously, this ability is very handy for dealing with monsters, but do not forget that EBTS does not prevent you from shooting, thus allowing you to deliver the unit anywhere and set them upon anything, allowing a far greater freedom of choice when using the unit. If you so wish it is possible to have your stalkers engage in close combat, and as long as the unit in question is light/facing the other way and engaged/ or half dead, and still come out on top with a fairly healthy profile with Ws2 S4 T4 W3 I3 A2 and halberds in addition to their stomp for being monstrous beasts, they cannot survive in a general brawl all by themselves no, but it is perfectly acceptable to deliver a rear charge in order to break an enemy unit.
- Necrolith Colossus: The renamed and (upcoming) reimaged bone giant, the colossus is a incredibly cheap monster in relation to it's statline, with a multitude of weapon options that allow you to tailor it's role in your army. coming in at 170 points, the colossus sports a basic statline of Ws3 Bs2 S6 T6 W5 I1 A4, as you can see, it has sacrificed Weapon skill, initiative and attacks in order to sport both strength 6 and toughness 6, allowing the colossus to definitely compete in a one on one situation with other monsters that lack a auto hit/wound attack mechanic(giants in particular). The weapon options available can either compensate for the low number of attacks by taking two hand weapons(5 points), or maximize strength by taking a great weapon(10 points). One odd, and, in my opinion, worthless option, is the Bow of the Desert(20 points), which gives the colossus a Move and Fire bolt thrower that has all of the basic bolt thrower stats( S6, rank pierce, ignores armour, D3 wounds) obviously this choice is designed for defensive lists who still wish to take a sturdy offensive unit, and it would not be so bad if the colossus wasn't Bs 2 and the bow was not so expensive/applied a close combat benefit. Obviously whoever just wrote that forgot about Arrows of the Asp (which is a special rule that the *entire* Tomb Kings army has, meaning that the bone giant will always hi on a 5+, regardless of any modifiers, meaning you get a mobile bolt thrower for 20 points. Odds are, you will hit two or three times per game with he bow IF your giant does not engage in close combat, but the most likely scenario will be a turn three engagement, rendering the bow effectively useless for the rest of the game(and for much of the game leading up to turn three). Ultimately I would advise selecting the close combat weapon option that would best suit the target of your colossus. Finally we have the defining trait of this monster, and quite a entertaining one at that, as when the colossus charges and engages in combat, every successful unsaved wound caused in that one combat round grants a additional attack, allowing for a vast quantity of wounds to stack up if you are particularly lucky. With this ability, it is perfectly possible for a colossus to break a engaged unit by smashing into their flank though the here amount of wounds churned out, so it is advised to hold one next to a tarpit until you can get a opponents unit locked into combat.
Give this model weaponskill 10 with the spell from the lore of light and watch as he crushes through rank and file troops like they're made of butter. He'll pump out so many attacks that will hit because of the WS10 that his special ability will keep allowing you to attack over and over. Throw in Bjona's Timewarp as well and watch enemy units evaporate at base contact.
- Hierotitan: A magical support variant of the colossus with a identical statline aside form -1 attack, the hierotitan, while being passable in close combat, it's strength lies in the two bound items it carries and it's passive buff. At face value, the bound items are of little note, one contains Shem's burning gaze(3+ to cast), and the other contains spirit leech(4+ to cast) at relatively low casting values, not enough to be reliable on one dice, but low enough to warrant consideration should they be in range, as it is perfectly possible to drain a few wounds from a monster heading towards your lines.In addition, the Hierotitan makes an excellent support unit for any unit containing a Liche Priest. Place a caster (high or low) in a unit of skeleton spearmen (preferably in horde formation) and put a Hierotitan on the flank. Not only does this make the unit a bigger threat but the additional +D3 to cast for your wizard is a big bonus. Also a devastating combination if you can fit a Casket into your list which makes for a nasty magic phase - when done with a L4 mage this tactic (mage, hierotitan, and casket) has been playtested to give an advantage in winds of magic 80% of the time and also gives the occasional +7 to casting attempts.
- Necrosphinx: Advertised as a monster killer, the necrosphinx is one of the few units currently in existence that carries a natural attack with heroic killing blow special rule, giving it the potential to wipe almost any monster out on a lucky dice roll at a modest price of 225 points. An important point to note is the statline, being a variant of the warsphinx, the necrosphinx shares the toughness 8, allowing it to remain locked in combat with almost any monster without much fear of losing, this is coupled with 5 attacks and strength 5 to clean up almost anything currently present. A note on the HKB, every turn you must nominate one attack before rolling to hit to strike at strength 10 and have the HKB special rule, this is obviously your primary source of damage against other monsters(it should be stressed this is only one attack with 50% of hitting most things that have a Ws higher than 3), while against infantry sized models, you also posses killing blow on your normal attacks. In addition, the necrosphinx has the ability to fly, which is awesome.
- Screaming Skull Catapult: The primary "conventional" artillery of the Tomb king army, the screaming skull catapult brings vital ranged unit crushing ability coupled with the potential to deliver a high strength package to any monster anywhere on the field, all for a nifty price of 90 points. In terms of damage output, the screaming skull catapult is identical to any other normal stone thrower, with the same small template, same strength 3 and the same strength 9 under the hole with D6 wound multiplier. However, the hits also have the Flaming Attacks and Magical Attacks special rules for dealing with treemen and hydras,in addition to it's pinnacle selling point, the ability to force a morale check on any unit who has taken at least one casualty exactly as though they have been reduced by 25%, this is obviously a effective combo with doom and darkness, allowing you to force a vital unit into retreat, or better, off the board. Alternativly to using spells to reduce the opponants leadership, you can upgrade the catapult to inflict a -1 leadership penalty on any unit taking a morale check from the catapult.
- Casket of Souls: Powerful rare choice and reasonable for the points cost. This is most effective in static armies and can provide a major magic boost (making it attractive in a TK army). The bound spell can be nasty, making an enemy unit take a leadership test on 3D6. They then take the amount of wounds they fail by, on a three plus it bounces to another unit with 6". Just ensure that it is aimed at an enemy with friends. For the points value, it may even edge out the Screaming Skull.
Building Your Army
Buying Your Army
The Battallion is a great way to start. It comes with a unit of all the core or you could build the archers as warriors and make some archer horseman with the bows. It's better to equip your 40 skeletons as warriors so you'll have a sizeable hordish unit although you'll then have to make horse archers. From there it depends what build you want but obviously you need a priest or some other wizards.
Now that you're ready to march to war with the Undead Kings of Ages Past, it's time to think about which of the Undead Kings (or Queens) you're marching with. One of the biggest selling points of Tomb Kings is how well the army can do in a multitude of different configurations. There's no "Set" list (just a "Settra" one) that is deemed the best- they all have merits, and one or the other might work better for you based on your local meta and playstyle.
- The Unending Horde: Pretty simple, really. Skeletons. Lots and lots of Skeletons. Multiple units of 100+, big blocks of Spearmen and Tomb Guard, backed up by the Banner of the Undying Legion and Nehekharan Augments and Light Magic Buffs, invariably with Tomb Kings or Tomb Princes leading the way with My Will Be Done. Turn those cheapo Skittles into killing machines, and keep coming back for more even when the enemy outmatches you. There's a couple of variants on the Horde, as well. You will need a good deal of magic support with TK hordes as you will need to keep up your numbers and buffs.
Another approach with this is using a lot of small skelleton warriors units. No one will break in combat, gives you an advantage in the deployment fase and it's so damn annoying for your oppononent. I used this approach several times and my oppononents were always doubting which small unit of warriors to charge. Flank charges were my easiest and best friend. Throw in a some warsphinxes between the small units and your opponent doubts as hell. Steadfast is lost on TK hordes so might as well give it a try.
- Khalida/Archer Spam: What it says on the canned ham. Instead of footslogging Warriors, take Archers, and pincushion the enemy to death. With Khalida, that's a lot more arrows hitting the target, and Poison is just the icing on the cake. Try spell 3 of LoN.
- TombStar: The Tomb Guard deathstar. Usually consists of a blinged out Tomb King, Necrotect, and Battle Standard Bearer Tomb Herald at the forefront of a massive block of Tomb Guard. It will kill anything it touches. The trick is getting it into combat. Do not try this against elves/VC or any other magic heavy army, as they will drop everything the have on it and crumbling is bad.
- And the Tomb Kings Rode to War: Chariots. Oh Ancient Gods, Chariots. Also known as the more evocative "Bone Train", this army features units of 3 to 6 strong Chariots running everything over front and center, often supported by Settra or Arkhan.
- Action Figure Tomb Kings: This list essentially boils down to "How many Animated Constructs can we get in the list?" and features blocks of
Ushabti, Necrolith Colossi, Hierotitans, Sepulchral Stalkers and Necropolis Knights as the main damage dealers. If you have an army like this and don't bring at least one Necrotect, you're more hollow in the head than a Screaming Skull.
- Snakes!: Utilizing one or two 6 strong units of Necropolis Knights backed up by Light magic. Is shown to deadly effect in multiple Tourneys.
- TombKittens: Tomb Kings can fit 7, 8 or even more Toughness 8 Sphinxes in a list, with 3 Warsphinxes, 2 Necrosphinxes, and both Kings and Princes riding the giant stone cats. Sure, you'll lose 1 a turn to an opponent with a cannon- but you have more Cats than the game has Turns (except if you are able to field that many cats your opponent can (and will) field more than 1 cannon (expect 3min against any army which can have cannons).
- Entombed: Similar to a Spess Mahrine Drop-pod list, but from the other direction, and, you know, actually cool. Uses naturally Entombing units, as well as the Banner of the Hidden Dead to ensure that almost all your army emerges wherever the hell you want it to on the board.
Those are just a few of the more 'thematic' lists out there- many more feature a hybrid of these, or unique strategies altogether. Again, the beauty of Tomb Kings (aside from Khalida) is the versatility of the army.
Tomb King magic items- a checklist of the ups and downs.
- Destroyer of eternities: Aimed at giving footsloggers a fighting chance against monsters, and no forcing the Tomb King to strike last, what more could you want? Well we could actually do with a little extra points to spend on something to, well... keep that 270 point lord alive. With little access to armour and no mount, 20 points is very little to spend on protection, especially since the glittering scales are 25 points, a tomb herald can potentially take some of the fire but it can only soak one wound per turn. Other than that the tomb king can wallop away with a one handed S7 sword that dices monsters for lunch.
- Blade of Antarhak: A defensive magic weapon, this expensive god-send can keep a flimsy tomb king alive for those vital few turns at the cost of a potential strength boost, useful when gearing a Tank King.
- Golden Death Mask of Kharnut:The Death mask is quite a expensive item for what it does, an it's 60 Pts. cost makes it unusable by Tomb Princes, but this item is vital for breaking through a opponent line and into his rear, as it prevents a unit from using the general's "Inspiring presence" and the BSB's "Hold your ground", thus rendering a unit horrifically vulnerable to failing a LD test and subsequently run down. It is because of this, the Death mask is a favored item to equip a Tomb King mounted on a chariot, who can ensure that the unit of chariots he is leading will break and run down any unit they charge.
- Cloak of the dunes: It wouldn't be so bad if you could join flying units and perhaps move more than 10' a turn, the flyby damage is nothing more than a gimmick due to the low number of low strength hits which are only really useful against light units, which you should be avoiding with solo characters in the first place.
- Neferra's Scrolls of Mighty Incantations: An instacast item for 50 points which is only really effective on high level lich priests, however a higher level also increases the chance of a miscast, if you need something to happen so badly that it's worth causing your Lich priest to combust, chances are it's a one trick pony and shouldn't be considered in the first place.
- Enkhil's Kanopi: Not a bad curveball for 25 points but highly situational so more often than not it's a waste of points.
- Standard of the Undying Legion: Expensive and a competent opponent will never let it activate (which means it's ridiculously useful).
- Banner of the Hidden Dead:A little bit tricky since you have a better chance with EBTS, however unless you are running an EBTS army, those points are better spend elsewhere
Tomb Kings have access to three lores: Nehekara, Light, and Death. Since you're required to take at least one priest with the lore of Nehekara (specifically your highest level wizard [in case of tie you can have one be another lore]). Use Light and Death depending on the opponent. Lore of Death is useful for extra power dice and character sniping. You can use the spell to make your skeleton warriors cause terror, for example if they were versing Ogres. Purple Sun of Xerus is a hit or miss power. If it ends up among your troops, their usually low initiative will see it backfire horribly. Lore of Light is a better choice. Speed of Light is excellent, especially on Sphinxes, as they go from Initiative 1 to 10, and it makes their Thundercrush/Decaptiating Strike more likely to hit them before they hit you. Bjona's Timewarp is great as it give you ASF, an extra attack and double movement, off-setting your inability to march and your low initiatives (unless your versing elves). For example, use Lore of Death against Orcs and Goblins, use Lore of Light against Vampire Counts or Warriors of Chaos.
Lore of Nehekara
allows you to regenerate d3+1 wounds to a unit that successfully receives one of your augments. Any construct will only get one wound back per magic phase. Bummer. That being said it's basically the only way to survive in a game. Keep spamming augments on your tomb guard or whatever else and you can win any war of attrition.
Signature Spell This spell is Tomb Kings version of marching. It allows friendly undead units within 12" (24" if boosted) to take a free extra move. You can't charge but it is still useful especially if you have lots of slow foot soldiers.
Spell 1 Short range augment that grants killing blow to a unit OR if the unit already has KB then it works on 5's and 6's. This spell is usually only ok but if you're playing against lots of knights or other sick armor save units its particularly useful. Fun Fact: if you cast this on chariots their impact hits get KB and that can get STUPID. This is the only augment that cannot be made to hit multiple friendly units.
Spell 2 Gives a unit a 5+ ward save. This is the best way to protect those poor bastard sphinxes with only a 5+ armor save and really everything else in your army. Combined with the lore attribute this can reallllly draw out a combat.
Gives a unit 1 extra attack per model and also the multiple shots (2) special rule for the ranged units. This works on mounts, each rider of a sphinx, etc. and can really dish out some pain. People claim that a unit of Bowshabti with this can become very powerful but I have never seen it.
Also it works for your catapults. Also it has the largest bubble range at 24". Yes that means every friendly units within 24" of your priest get bonus attacks and models back. It works with the Necrolith Colossus' Giant Bow, making it potentially useful (it hits on 5's, but being able to shoot twice can help mitigate that, and if you hit both times, that can really put the hurt on enemy monsters).
That's it for augments so the last three don't benefit from the lore attribute.
Spell 4 subtracts D3 movement from an enemy unit and forces them to take dangerous terrain tests even on open ground. Occasionally very useful but usually not so great. In theory this is good on footslogging hordes because if you use it with khalida archer spam, that 200 block of zombies- M1
Spell 5 subtracts 1 from an enemy unit's strength and toughness. This spell can really mess up your opponent hard. Watch the Ogre players face when he finds out your halberd tomb guard are hitting on 3's (with prince/king) and wounding on 2's against their ironguts. This can be boosted to subtract d3 from S and T but -1 is usually enough to do the trick since you will be seriously risking a miscast if you boost this one.
Spell 6 Generic vortex. Not really worth it.
See army composition for some builds, otherwise you want to keep your casters and general alive as you will suffer hugely from the lose of ether of them (crumbling is bad). Beyond that you will want plenty of fodder to soak up hits from magic and warmachines as well as giving you some ware to put your heroes. Protect your Hierophant, by giving them at least a Ward save. Also keep them in a unit unless you have no choice.
Take what advantages you can. When augmented, some Tomb Kings units can be devastating, though un-augmented Tomb Kings are a mid-to-lower tier army. A few of your advantages over other armies include units of chariots, EBTS units (when they work) and the ability to ignore negative modifiers when shooting. For the Lore of Nehekhara, focus on the augmenting spells to heal your troops.
Like vampire counts you will need some solid numbers unless you are fielding a lot of constructs. Also units should be big enough to soak at least one round of lost combat and still be effective otherwise a good sized unit of knights or a fast moving block of heavy troops can ruin your day very quickly. Remember, you are undead, you are unbreakable and scary, use that mercilessly against your enemy.