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. Fucking. Die.
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, the Cursed High Priest is cheaper and has a better version of Surge. If you want a combat hero, choices are kind of rough none of them have a particularly large amount of attacks. You might be better served by buying some monsters instead. 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, but 1 less defence for some reason. He also gains Thunderous Charge (1), for what it's worth. Not a very effective use of points, but if you're thinking of bringing a pharaoh on a chariot you're probably going more for style and not caring about raw effectiveness.
- 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 do have low nerve, but unless they are targeted very heavily this won't be as big a problem as it appears. These guys are what you want to use your troop slots on.
- 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. In general you're going to be better served by Skeleton Warriors as the price bump doesn't add a lot, while Mummies are a much better elite infantry unit.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Skeleton Warriors: Your basic infantry formation. You don't have Zombies (or Husks anymore, like they did in the beta list) 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.
- Enslaved Guardians: Empire of dust's knockoff Ushabti, with a twist. Three of them is ten points cheaper than a regiment of Mummies, and the comparison is pretty rough on the Guardians,with the same Crushing Strength and hit rolls, but with fewer attacks, no regen, and far worse nerve. Weirdly, they get WindBlast (5), and it's up to you whether that's a good tradeoff. The Horde of six is better in combat, but more expensive, so if you looked at mummies and asked "Where can I get more killing power, at the expense of no regen and a higher points cost?" then this is the horde for you. Generally too inefficient to be good, but in bigger games a Regiment of them could be annoying with the WindBlast.
- Enslaved Guardians Archers: 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. Also plan on using Surge on them every time you need to reposition, because of Reload!.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bone Dragon: Bone Dragons are about as expensive as a golden limousine and roughly as useful; it'll get you there, but you are probably better off with a less flashy and more reliable method. That being said, they're solid fliers and are shambling so they can join in all the wacky goofy shooting-charging bullshit that is Empire of Dust's signature style. 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.
- Giant Undead Scorpion: A use for your Tomb King scorpiion models you've had lying around. 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: Oh hey, a use for that big, expensive Khemrian Warsphinx model you had sitting in your closet. 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.
- 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-chargey bullshit. 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.
Lastly, consider allying in some units to deal with the things Empire of Dust can't, such as some Varangur cavalry for a better moble punch, or invest in some Abyssal Dwarf Decimators for a ranged option against hordes, or even a few specialized units from other armies, such as Nightstalkers' Doppelgangers. Even without allying Empire of Dust can generally pull its own weight, but struggles by being a bit more expensive than other armies, points wise, meaning that each unit needs to be protected carefully, and throwing away units incautiously will lead to definite defeat.