Kings of War/Tactics/Empire of Dust
Why Play Empire of Dust
Empire of Dust is the second undead army to choose from, being more Egyptian in flavor than the regular undead army. They do share a lot of units in common, however, so feel free to try both to get the feel you prefer. This list is the Mantic equivalent of Tomb Kings, so if you have that army already most of your units have an analogous unit here. Another draw to our Pharaonic Friends is the ability to absolutely abuse the shit out of the Surge spell. Because many of the heroes have Surge (8) or (10), and because many troop choices can purchase a cheap as fuck Casket of Souls, many times you won't actually declare a charge on the unit you want to fight in melee, instead shooting them with catapults, Behemoth catapult shots, or Enslaved Guardian Archer arrows, before having a High Priest or Pharaoh surge the soldiers you want to fight into melee last, letting you soften up the enemy before risking your expensive soldiers in melee. Compared to the other Undead army, Empire of Dust also has a lot of healing. In addition to the Lifeleech (1) that every troop you can get has, High Priests can also buy Heal for 15 points, or swap out Surge for it (Which you should never, ever do, but it IS technically an option), making your army expensive but hard to permanently put down, slowly grinding out the opponent with constantly regenerating and healing soldiers that wont Die.
- An important point to realize when playing this army is that all units (except the pharaoh) hit on 4+, which makes them unreliable when hitting hard, there is a 45 points object that can enhance their melee to hit 3+, perfect for a Revenant horde or Enslaved Guardians horde.
Army Special Rules
- Casket of the Damned: Any unit with this special rule has a Casket of Souls. Once per game when the unit is targeted by a Surge spell, you may add 5 dice to the spell roll and add those results to your Surge result.
- Evil Dead: All units in this army have Lifeleech (1) unless otherwise noted.
- Ahmunite Pharaoh: Your combat hero who also have Surge (8). These rulers are pretty strong with Crushing Strength (2) and hitting in melee on a 3+, but like a lot of these type of hero units there just aren't a lot of attacks on this one. If you want a source of Surge,could be useful to help a mobile army, but not as effective as a high priest. If you want a combat hero, choices are kind of rough none of them have a particularly large amount of attacks. That being said though, throwing on Wings of Honeymaize makes for an excellent mobile command base, giving out inspiring and Surge spells, and being quite difficult to kill with most shooting. A winged Pharaoh almost always has something to do, and is rarely useless points.
- Ahmunite Pharaoh on Royal Chariot: Your Ahmunite Pharaoh on his personal pimp mobile. He's got 2 more attacks and speed. He also gains Thunderous Charge (1), for what it's worth. Its not as useful as a pharaoh on foot, but with the Nimble rule and 8 Mov, not being shambling , it can threaten a flank or command a combined flanking attack. it also has the regeneration rule, which can be enhanced with a magic object to regenerate 4+, holding a monster or unit.
- Cursed High Priest: Your dedicated spell caster. Comes standard with Surge (10), which is exactly the sort of spell you want, but can also buy Heal (4) and Wind Blast (5). You can also mount your priest on a skeleton horse. You can also buy a Breath Attack (12) and Vicious together, which isn't terrible but you'll probably be using them for Surge and not shooting. One of the better caster heroes available and a perfect fit for the army.
- Idol of Shobik: Your living legend hero. This is a living statue with a pile of special rules that costs a pile of points. It gives every friendly, non-allied unit within 6" Iron Resolve, plus it also has Crushing Strength (4), Heal (6), Shambling, Strider, and Very Inspiring. This thing hits harder than any other unit in the game, always wounding on a 2+ against everything. It's also going to be healing your nearby units between the Heal spell and Iron Resolve. This idol of stone is really good and worth the points, but does require a steep investment to use.
- Mortibris the Necromancer (Destiny of Kings): Your new living legend hero in the Destiny of Kings campaign book. He comes with Bane Chant (2), Heal (5), Individual, Inspiring, Lifeleech (1), Lightning Bolt (4), Regeneration (5+), Stealthy, and Surge (10). He can also buy the Hero of Renown upgrade, allowing his Inspiring to inspire allied units as well as core army ones. He also gives all non-allied friendly units within 6" the Stealthy rule. Solid choice, but like many living legends you're probably only paying these prices for narrative games or very large games.
- Revenant Champion: The budget combat hero. Crushing Strength (1), Individual, and Inspiring (Revenants only) on a decent stat line for less than 100 points. Not great, but not terrible. You don't have a lot of options if you really want that combat hero and you can buy one of these and an Undead Army Standard Bearer for less than an Ahmunite Pharaoh.
- Revenant Champion on Worm: The large cavalry version of the Revenant Champion. Adds Thunderous Charge (2), 1 point of speed, and 3 attacks for 50 points. Not a good deal at all. If you want to buy some gaudy hero, stick with an Ahmunite Pharaoh on Royal Chariot. Your pharaoh is more useful, has better abilities, and actually hits harder. Neither choice is great, but you got to have some standards. Something to consider, the Revenant on worm is NOT an individual, so you can net yourself some nice flank/rear attacks if you play it smart.
- Undead Army Standard Bearer: Your standard issue standard bearer. Sadly you cannot put one on chariot, but you'll probably be running a few regardless. Stick them behind your lines and get that Inspiring bonus.
- Mummies: Your most elite infantry unit. Crushing Strength (2) and Regeneration (5+) on a decent stat line. Your opponent will target these guys mercilessly, but they are hard-hitting and will heal back lost wounds in melee and movement quickly. They have a decent nerve too,18, could mean combined with regeneration a unit which can hold and hit if two regiments of them are taken,12 attacks per unit crushing strenth 2 . These guys could be used as troop, being also useful, 10 attack per unit to catch a flank with surge or going in front of your hordes.
- Revenants: The more elite infantry formation. They're a point better in melee and defense than Skeleton Warriors. They can also switch out their shields to gain Crushing Strength (1) at a cost of 1 point of defense. They are nearly a must in the army, a defense 5 horde with 24 nerve, can hold nearly anything helped by priests with Heal or Drain Life.
- Skeleton Archers: The cheaper ranged skeleton unit. They have the same range as Skeleton Crossbowmen, but don't have Piercing (1). They can also move and shoot, unlike their more expensive brethren, which is huge. If you take them, don't bother with a Casket of the Damned as you don't want them in melee. Do remember though that you can shoot and then have a someone cast Surge on them to move them forward. Best in troops as chaff or regiments, not the best shooting option anyway.
- Skeleton Crossbowmen: The more elite ranged skeleton unit. They have the same range as Skeleton Archers, but gain Piercing (1) at the cost of Reload! While Piercing (1) is a nice boost, you are paying more points for them and they can't move and shoot. If you take them, don't bother with a Casket of the Damned as you don't want them in melee. Do remember though that you can shoot and then have a someone cast Surge on them to move them forward. Combinee with enslaved guardians and maybe the +1 to hit a regiment could attract attention,while wounding here and there.
- Skeleton Spearmen: Phalanx formation skeletons for you. Slight point bump to cancel out Thunderous Charge. You'll have to judge your local meta as to whether you need this or not.Not bad for their point cost, a wall to throw against anything in front to just block and let others do the dirty work.
- Skeleton Warriors: Your basic infantry formation. You don't have Zombies in this list, so this is your spam melee unit. They're good for a tarpit horde when that's what you need and not terribly expensive on that front.Same as Spearmen but without phalanx.
- Enslaved Guardians: Empire of dust's knockoff Ushabti, with a twist. Compared to mummies,as they are very similar, you have to consider if Wind Blast 5, 18 attacks,nerve 17 and mov 6 is better than regeneration,nerve 18 and mov5. An horde is 245 points while a mummy regiment is 170, they are probably the best hitting unit in your army, pushing with wind blast froma side a unit to let other units charge with surge a unit that couldnt be charged in the first place because it was too far away and then charging themselves another unit. As said before, the +1 to hit object comes in handy to make them crush enemies quickly. or using them as regiment to use wind blast to annoy.
- Enslaved Guardians Archers: A must.The Enslaved Guardian's big brothers. For the same points cost as guardians, you get crappier melee hit rolls but the same number of attacks at 36" range and piercing (2), making everything within three feet their bitch. Even better, because they're height two they can shoot over most friends or enemies without fail making them excellent for picking off banner bearers and wizards hiding behind the meaty regiments and hordes of the enemy. If you have the points throw on the Brew of Keen-Eyeness and watch as your opponent cries softly while you pick off their elites easily. However, they lack the sheer number of shots to threaten high nerve hordes, like Ratmen or Goblins, so try to aim them ONLY at the elites, or you're wasting your fire. Just make sure to keep them safe, because they're about as cheap as a solid diamond tank.
- Scavengers: Cheap vultures to fly around and harass war machines, Scavengers are notable for actually being ALIVE. That's right, they can waver, and don't have shambling, making them an interesting flanker and rather independent becuase they don't rely on Surge to get around everywhere. Not as killy as the Scorpion Husk, they have a much better chance of getting behind enemy lines to annoy the opponent than the Bone Dragon, and with Lifeleech (2) if they take some hits getting to the backline they have can heal up surprisingly well. Lastly, if you're feeling lucky or know you'll be facing serious warmachine fire, you can buy The Fog magic item for them, and make it that much harder for the enemy to put them down with shooting.
- Swarms: Flat troops to plonk in front of your skeleton archers, to allow the archers to shoot over them. Cheap, crappy and fast, the only real thing going for them beyond the price is their vanguard, which means they can rush up and threaten the front lines alongside a Scorpion Husk, but you're probably better off not trying to start a big chunk of your army halfway up the field, leaving you open to easy charges.
- Skeleton Archer Cavalry: The shooty cavalry option. They gain bows and lose Thunderous Charge (1). They're also slightly worse in melee and defense than regular Skeleton Cavalry. If you want a shooting unit, stick with Skeleton Archers. If you want a cavalry unit, stick with Skeleton Cavalry..They could be an annoying flanking shooting unit, with the +1 shooting object.
- Skeleton Cavalry: The chargey cavalry option. They have a pretty standard Cavalry stat line and Thunderous Charge (1). They are fairly cheap for cavalry, which is nice. They're not going to hit as hard as the large cavalry options, but they're not bad as flak units. They can move almost twice as far as Mummies, but won't hit nearly as hard. If you got the points, Mummies are the better unit for these tasks, but they do require more points and more support to Surge them into foes early game.Not really useful,not worth points cost with usefulness
- Revenant Chariots: The cheaper of your large cavalry units. These guys have a point less defence then the worm riders, but also gain a 24" ranged attack. Offset somewhat, they have less attacks overall then worm riders and instead of Crushing Strength (1) and Thunderous Charge (1), they have Thunderous Charge (2), making them weaker against Phalanx units. They are also Shambling, unlike the riders, but this also means they can take a Casket of Souls. If you're taking advantage of Surge with these guys, they're potentially better then Worm Riders, but if you are looking more for a unit to flank hard, stick with the riders instead. Now with mov8 and better nerve could be an option, but as most chariots in this games, there are far better options worth spending points.
- Revenant Worm Riders: The more expensive large cavalry unit. They're faster and aren't Shambling, plus they have more attacks then Revenant Chariots. They do not have a ranged attack, but they are not as hurt by Phalanx as their wheeled compatriots. Being faster then the chariots allows them to be used more effectively for getting flanks in on your foes, but remember they get nothing from the use of Surge your army is strong at so don't use them in the same way you would your Shambling undead friends. These should be the hard hitting unit, but the mov6 makes them nearly useless, they arent going to hit much, or when you need them, cavalry having more mov or being stuck by anything with more movememt. Too pricey.
- Bone Dragon: Bone Dragons are expensive but not the best option. A def4 monster, no regeneration and 4+ hitting in melee, no shotting ability, other monsters could do a better job protecting flanks. they're fliers and are shambling so they can join in all the shooting-charging that is Empire of Dust's signature style(shooting wth a unit and then hitting with the dragon using surge on the same unit). Flap over an enemy and turn around, and then Surge into their rear for a serious threat, or simply harass their Banner Bearers, heroes, and war machines. Best of all, if you get a large and imposing enough miniature to represent it, the foe will overcommit to killing the monster, making for a pricey but effective DISTRACTION CARNIFEX.
- Bone Giant: A typical giant, with random attacks, brutal, and Strider. Pretty good all things considered, with shambling thrown in because it's undead. Great nerve as well meaning that ol' Boney can take a few hits before going down too. If you're looking for a monster that can put out the hurt, and aren't looking for something flashy like the Bone Dragon and don't need the flying, the Bone Giant is the way to go. Problbly the best option to hold the line or protect a flank from some flier dragon or such, turn round, surge and hold them forever, well invested points.
- Giant Undead Scorpion: Pretty cheap for a monster, with vicious, vanguard, and crushing strength, but few attacks and a mediocre nerve. Decent flanker, but it doesn't have any particular staying power if it gets charged or your opponent commits any real shooting to killing it. If it gets in the back lines it can tear shit up, but so can any half decent monster, and the scorpion's got shambling so it has a hard time getting around without being babysit by a Surge source.
- Reanimated Behemoth: A decent monster with an interesting upgrade, it has decent and unremarkable killing stats, with hitting on 4+, Crushing Strength (3), and nine attacks.The big bonus the Behemoth has is that it's got a 6+ save, which makes it quite durable, and the lower nerve than the Giant or Dragon generally doesn't matter with such a high save. Also, for 20 points more, you can slap a tiny catapult on its back and turn it into a mobile shooting platform. The nice upside to this is that you're getting about half a Balefire Catapult for about 1/5th the price, and slapping it on a mostly defensive but unimpressive combat-wise monster body to protect it, making for a pretty interesting unit overall. In general, a good jack-of-all-trades monster that isn't the combat monster the Bone Giant is, nor the flying threat the Dragon is, but can make for an occasionally-threatening ranged beast and a solid anvil with its great save.
- Balefire Catapult: The undead war engine. It hits on a 5+, like your standard war engines, and cannot move and shoot. It does have Shambling though, so you can Surge it around and still fire with the damn thing. If it does hit, you get Blast (D6+2) and Piercing (2), so with some luck it might pay for itself. It does make a good DISTRACTION CARNIFEX even if it doesn't hit anything since a movable shooting platform seems to scare the shit out of most players. Best taken in threes, to maximise the possibility of hitting, expensive(3 of them are 300 points), but in two hits capable of bringing down a dragon. As it is indirect fire you ignore cover, could be useful too.
- Monolith: A spell boosting living legend war engine. This non-mobile monument has Advanced Deployment and Inspiring, but it's really interesting ability is that it boosts all spells cast by your non-allied units within 6" by 2 dice. It also has a rout value of 18, which is pretty solid for 80 points with these abilities. Definitely something you want to consider.
- Soul Snare: Another living legend war engine. This one is a little odd. It has Heal (4), Lightning Bolt (6), Reload, and Stealthy. This makes it something of a mobile shooting platform, only it shoots both an attack spell and a healing spell. It is much more expensive than your other options though. If you are planning to take this thing, you need to have a vision for it. Otherwise you're going to have to try and move it, negating your spells for a turn or two while it gets into position.
Tomb Kings- I mean, Empire of Dust is a very, very slow army. It has limited access to flying and the cavalry is generally best as a supplement to your blocks of bones. Even the dwarfs and their abyssal cousins are faster, because of their ability to actually march, as well as better and more core cavalry. This is compensated by very easy access to surge, as well as a cheap unit upgrade that makes for even stronger clutch surges. Empire of Dust also struggles with many basic units being slightly overcosted, with very few army choices being efficient for their points cost. That does not mean that the army is bad, but that you'll need to get the most out of units, and one of the greatest losses EoD can have is losing a block of infantry or a monster to shooting without gaining any real value from it. Because of this, the primary power of Empire of Dust is shooty-charging. Instead of charging the enemy unit in your face, instead walk up close, then shoot the unit to pieces with Enslaved Guardian Archers, Balefire Catapults, or spells, and end the shooting phase by surging your combat unit in for a softened target. With this method, you can take out units that outskill yours in combat much more easily.
EoD also is heavily designed around Hammer-and-Anvil attacks, defending with mummy or skeleton hordes, then charging flanks or rears with bone dragons, worm riders, Behemoths, giants, or whatever else. EoD is a reactive army, and needs to be played like one. Charging up the field or maneuvering aggressively will probably result in you getting picked to pieces. Position your armies so that your shooting units have clear firing lines, something helped by placing blocks of height 0 scarabs in front of your archers or crossbowmen, and height 1 mummies in front of your height 2 Enslaved Guardian Archers.
Speaking of Enslaved Guardian Archers, EGA are one of your strongest army choices. without support a unit of 3 can pick off small flankers and hurt annoying fliers, and a horde of 6 can wipe out whole hordes of cavalry on their own. In addition, Mummies are hands-down the strongest and most durable unit in KoW, for the price. A block of them can take practically any charge, and survive, and even have a decent chance of surviving multicharges. Nest is your Cursed High Priest, who surges your blocks where they need to go. There is essentially no army list that wouldn't be made better without a CHP, who can be customized in a number of ways, either taking heal (In addition to surge, NEVER replace surge with heal) to keep your units healthy, or adding in a breath attack to help deal with enemies who've gotten to close. Taking all three is an excellent base for any army, but alone they can't win a battle, as both of them lack the number of attacks to threaten large hordes and aren't maneuverable enough to deal with pesky fliers or irritating nimble cavalry. It's up to you how to fill out your army from there, either with a flying Pharaoh for a highly mobile command threat, or a block of chariots or worm riders to flank charge and act as hammer units. A bone giant makes an excellent distraction, as well as a hard-hitting monster if it somehow survives, and various war engines such as Balefire Catapults or the Soul Snare make for good additions to your shooting lineup, and the Monolith is great for boosting your spellcasters if you've invested enough points into them.