Age of Sigmar/Tactics/Old/Death/Deathrattle

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These are the rules for Deathrattle prior to the release of the Legions of Nagash Battletome, and as such are no longer matched play valid.

Why play Skelingtons Deathrattle?[edit]

Deathrattle are one of the few Death armies that look like an actual army (sans support units like skirmishers, siege weapons and other non-combat personnel... unless you have some Tomb Kings lying around such as a Screaming Skull Catapult or Skeleton Horse Archers). Maybe you have a surplus of bone paints. Maybe you like the rusted and mold aspect of the armors. Maybe you played "Skeletons+Necromancers+Corpse Carts/Meat Wagons" in Warcraft III and wanted to repeat the strategy in AoS. Whatever the case, Deathrattle is a surprisingly effective army for being a bunch of bones. Their elite units can deal more damage on 6s and their basic skeletons can launch a surprising amount of attacks if the unit is big enough. It's not an army to take lightly.

Also, maybe you wanted to play many Khemri units with a non-legacy list.

Allegiance[edit]

Sadly, Deathrattle doesn't have Allegiance other than Grand Alliance: Death (until the second edition of Legions of Nagash comes out, at least). However, this shouldn't discourage you, as there are useful bits there.

Battle Traits[edit]

  • Deathless Minions: Negate wounds, mortal or otherwise, on units at 6" of your general or a DEATH HERO on a 6+. The same ability the Infernal Standard does, but at closer range and ALL your Heroes have it. This can make you less dependent on the standard and include more hacking things with a Black Axe; or extend the buff to all your army for free. Either way, Deathrattle benefits greatly from this.

Command Traits[edit]

  • Ruler of the Night: The general increases their Deathless Minions effect to 12". Now you can step over the whole Infernal standard. However, take into account that both buffs the effect range greatly increases (up to 44" more or less in a straight line) and can easily cover your entire army. It depends on how much you value the "negate wounds on 6+".
  • Predator of the Shadows: +1 to hit & wound if in cover. Situational at best, as the cover is not the usual place for a Wight King to be hanging out in if there are skellingtons to lead (unless they're in cover too).
  • Death Incarnate: Your general drops a morale bomb each Hero Phase by rolling 2 dice, and if the value equals or exceeds the Bravery of an enemy unit within 3" of the general, the unit chosen is smacked with D3 Mortal Wounds. Not advisable in a lot of circumstances. It's risky enough for your HQs to be within 3" of the enemy, and the units that have a low enough Bravery to set the ability off are not that common.
  • Master of the Black Arts: Becomes a WIZARD with all that jazz. This is fairly useful, as Arcane Shield is a welcome boost to the skeletons of all kinds. Not only that but because you've become a DEATH WIZARD, you can summon units to the battlefield which opens a whole world of possibilities for you. Ever wanted a Death Knight?
    • Take into account that you can only cast one spell per turn, so the turn you're summoning, you're not Arcane Shield-ing one of your bony bois.
  • Red Fury: On a 5+, pile in and attack again. This can be useful if you want to fight with your bonny underlings, but be aware that your Kings are not the biggest fishes around, so don't get overconfident.
  • Supernatural Horror: The number of enemy models that flee during Battleshock within 12" of your general is doubled. This is useful if you want your Wight King to accompany the killy units in your army, as doubling the fleeing is doubling the killing. It's especially helpful against large blobs of low Bravery chaff, as a poor morale roll can carve huge chunks out of units such as these. Useless against Heroes, monsters and single-model units, though.

Artefacts[edit]

  • Cursed Book: Any model targetting you within 3" of the bearer of this artifact must subtract 1 from all hit rolls, as long as they lack the DEATH keyword. This is a good "leader" item, as with all the buffs to survivability your dudes have, another layer doesn't hurt.
  • Sword of Unholy Power: Hoo boy. A sure-fire summon spell is always welcome, especially in this faction because it doesn't require the bearer to be a wizard (even if your King can be one). You have almost all the DEATH range to choose, so use it when your chosen unit is going to do de most damage. Make sure to have enough points left beforehand or plan accordingly.
  • Black Amulet: Once per game, you deal mortal wounds equal to the battle round to an enemy unit within 12" This is VERY situational, if not outright bad. You can only do 5 mortal wounds at most at 12", and that in the last turn. While it's true that this can kill a common hero or a damaged monster in one strike if by then your victory depends on that strike you should rethink things.
  • Tomb Blade: Each wound roll of 6 deals a mortal wound. This could be interesting to make your King more durable while dishing mortal wounds. Acceptable if you want to get messy with your King (especially with Red Fury).

Wargear[edit]

  • Shields: Deathrattle shields provide +1 to their save, so long as there is no rend. This gives your skeletons an "all or nothing" level of durability.
  • Banners: No longer the must take Nagash sent game breakers they once were. They now only grant a -1 Bravery penalty to nearby enemy units, still objectivly good but no longer essential.


  • Musicians: You ALWAYS have at least a 6" charge, so long as the musician is alive in the unit. A pretty solid option for ensuring you don't roll a double 1 at the worst time.

Warscrolls[edit]

The common keywords of these warscrolls are: DEATH, SKELETON and DEATHRATTLE.

Heroes[edit]

  • Wight King with Baleful Tomb Blade: With a solid stat line, and a sword deals d3 wounds if he rolled a 6 to wound, and a 3+ save he makes a solid beat-stick. He Can also get a Skeletal Steed for more speed (or if you wanna run him with some black knights). And can opt to take the Infernal Standard, which allows you to roll a dice every time a Death model within 9" (18" if the Wight King didn't move) dies: on a 6, it survives. All of this is also helped by a pretty amazing command ability, which gives a single deathrattle unit +1 attack for each of their weapons.
  • Wight King with Black Axe: A more stabby version of the previous wight king. though he has less attacks, he ALWAYS deals d3 damage, and if he wounded a model but didn't kill it, at the end of the combat phase he rolls a d6. if the roll is higher than the remaining wounds on the model, then the model is slain. This means that, for the most part, you've got a 1/3 chance to outright kill most heroes if you can manage at LEAST one wound. On top of all this, he can cut incoming damage in half, rounding up, thoughe he has a worse save compared to the 'normal' wight king.

Troops (ALL SUMMONABLE)[edit]

  • Skeleton Warriors: Your bread and butter unit. crappy save, crappy attacks, but they are dirt cheap and get MUCH better in hordes. When they are near Death Heroes they get a +1 to hit, and get extra attacks the larger the squad is (up to 2 extra attacks at 30 or more models). They can take shields, and have access to banners and horn blowers. Like most undead units, they can be summoned.
  • Grave Guard: Better than skeletons, but also more expensive. They have a better save, and 2 different loadouts: sword and shield (2 attacks, 3+/4+/-1/1) or great swords (2 attacks, 3+/3+/-1/1). Both loadouts inflict double damage on a '6' to wound, and just like the skeletons can be summoned, and have banners and horns.
  • Black Knights:Your bog-standard cav unit. Fast and hits hard on the charge. Nothing to write home about.

Battalions[edit]

Legion of Death[edit]

4 extra inches of movement in the hero phase and +1 model to the banners regeneration. It takes 3 units of skelletons, one unit of graveguard and one unit of black knights led by a wight king to use this formation. (Same as the deathrattle horde formation) Best used in larger point values.

Army Building[edit]

Start with a BIG unit of skeletons, around 30 should do the trick. Yes, this may sound nuts but at that number they are a surprisingly effective either tarpiting people or in the offensive by the sheer volume of attacks. Afterwards your *first* Wight King. Remember that one of the great aspects of Deathrattle is their regeneration of models, so the Infernal Standard is Great for it, since it helps making the skeletons even moar durable (in a "ignore any wound on 6 and each turn you recover 1d6 guy"s kind of durability). This is a good start and not even that expensive.

From there is what hits your fancy, but I recommend having both a unit of 5 Black Knights and 10 Grave Guards at first. They're both useful in roles that the skeletons could have problems with. With these 3 units and King is a nice start, and you can develop them the way you want. Personally I recommend that for each model of BK/GG you buy, buy the double in skeletons; and that with 2/3 Wight Kings you have more that enough. Deathrattle is an army that revel in numbers, so numbers is a great way to build them.

Just a reminder: for every new unit you include, ALWAYS include the command group. Always.

Allied Armies[edit]

As for the GHB 2017 Deathrattle can have these allies: DEATHWALKERS, DEATHLORDS, DEATHMAGES and SOULBLIGHT.

First off, unless you're doing something very fluff-heavy, there is no reason to take an allied force of Deathwalker (zombies) or Flesh-Eater counts. Both of these are horde armies, for the most part, and have even weaker hordes. So there is no reason to put a tarpit in front of your tarpits. If you're thinking of doing this, just use more skeletons instead. Nighthaunt could be a viable combination. But most Nighthaunt units are putting out mediocre attacks while absorbing decent damage, which sounds suspiciously like a bunch of skeletons with a banner. Deathlords are a decent option, but are very expensive and really cut down on the number of skeletons you can bring out. But in a large game, say, 1500 points or more, this is a pretty solid combination. But what you really want is... Soulblight. Going back to their Vampire Counts days, a vampire lord or two will be a great addition. With their strong casting and solid fighting, they could be used in place of a Wight King. Use these guys more for summoning, and let your opponent drown in bones. Put the vampire lord on a zombie dragon and use him to fly around to wherever your skeletons are looking weak. Chomp some enemies, summon some more skeletons, and that should hold them off for a while. In matched play, you will obviously need to be a little more conservative with when and where you summon the skeletons, but holding a couple in reserve for the Vampire to summon is still a pretty good idea. Put the vampire lord on an objective, summon a unit of skeletons for tarpitting and reinforcements, and revel in the butthurt. Deathmages are a cheaper version of Soulblight when used with your deathrattle. They have none of the actual fighting capability, but being a good deal cheaper you can take a few more skeletons (or another necromancer). With their Dance of the Macabre, they can really boost a unit of skeletons. Place a few necromancers behind a horde of 30 skeletons with a banner and you can chew straight through most common enemy troop units. With their already high number of attacks that are improved by the necromancer, this unit is especially effective against enemy tarpits. Throw in their shields which will give a nice save bonus against the kind of weak, rend - attacks that an enemy horde is probably throwing at you, and the banner to revive some of your fallen troops and you should be set.

External links[edit]

Rules are here

Wight King with Tomb blade(old)

Wight King with Black axe

Skeleton Warriors

Grave Guard

Black Knights