Warhammer/Tactics/8th Edition/Undead Legions
The Undead Legions is an army added in the 2014 The End Times supplement/core rules update from Games Workshop to Warhammer Fantasy. It represents the myriad forces united under Nagash, who intends to both conquer the entire world and make all living beings into servants or Undead (although Nagash doesn't seem picky about what KIND of Undead you end up becoming) then take over the Realm of Chaos and consume the Chaos Gods to become the embodiment of Chaos Undivided. From that point on, it's likely he'd wage war on the multiverse (of which Warhammer 40000 is a part). As a result, this is a pretty powerful faction with some serious ambition to it, although being made up of mostly former enemies to each other and himself, infighting is prevented only by the fact nobody wants to fuck with the boss.
- 1 Why Play Undead Legions
- 2 Army Special Rules
- 3 Unit Analysis
- 4 Building your army
- 5 Magic Items/Upgrades
- 6 Magic
- 7 Tactics
Why Play Undead Legions
It is an enormous army of Undead that is trying to both conquer the world and destroy Chaos. It has almost everything found in both both the Vampire Counts and the Tomb Kings armies, making it among the single most versatile armies in the game fluffwise. You can make full-cavalry lists with Skeleton Horsemen as Core and Black Knights as Special, or convert a Necrolyth Colossus as von Carstein family statue. The options are mind-boggling! Fluff-wise, there are plenty of reasons to collect it. Because you think Nagash is awesome, prefer a world ruled by him to one ruled by Chaos, plus many of the narrative scenarios available to the ticks or the boys in bandages, this army is for you.
It's also Neutral for the sake of allying in 3+ player games, allowing Vampire Counts (previously Destruction-aligned only) to fight as allies with anyone in the game from Dwarfs to Daemons.
GW pretty much brought back the "Warhammer: Undead" army from 4th Edition, but with more models than even Space Marines... Awesome! If you are a player of Tomb Kings, then this army is a (Chaos) god(of Undeath)send; at the loss of a few characters, you lose all of the problems that make the army the weakest updated army, going straight to the top of the tier list. If you are a player of Vampire Counts, it's not as big an upgrade although there's some nice juicy Tomb Kings options (not to mention some nice nifty looking models) you now have access to.
Army Special Rules
By default, all options follow the basic rules of their original armies unless otherwise contradicted, but there are some additions.
- Undead Legions are a Neutral army like Tomb Kings, and can ally with any faction in the game for the purpose of 3+ player games.
- No crumble if your General dies. This includes undead summoned by Lore of Undeath. For that reason, the Hierophant is officially not needed for your Tomb Kings. Likewise, your VC General no longer needs to be a spellcasting model with the highest Leadership that gets forced into Lore of Vampires. The General still is the highest LD model in the army however.
- Tomb King models can March if they are within 12" of general.
- Nehekharan Undead now count as ordinary Undead for the sake of rules, and anything that specifically references "Undead" or "Nehekharan Undead" works for both (so you can take a Tomb Prince with a unit of Grave Guard, boost Necromancers with Hierotitans, or grant your Chariots kick-ass Regeneration with your Mortis Engine).
- Tomb King Constructs can only heal one wound per casting of a spell that heals friendly models, just like Characters and Ethereal models.
- Characters/Units can only take options/upgrades/magic items from their respective army books-so no Sphinx-riding Vampires, Red Fury Tomb Kings, Corpse Cart High Priests, or Chariot Necromancers.
- Combat Resolution still kills more of your troops than the enemy probably will since you are still Unstable, even if you cannot Crumble. You can reduce this greatly by fielding Nagash, Morghasts, or by packing in a War Banner (35 points).
Note End Times: Archaon removed the limits for almost all armies in regards to categories and duplicates. You may have Battle Standard Bearers in the plural, there is no Core requirement, no minimum to the number of Units you can have, and can have as many of anything you want. It is possible to make a 2000 point list made up of just two Nagash models (when you play a ridiculously high points game; use nothing but nagashes, this is now required by /tg/ law). This guide will not cover these rules, since they're a clusterfuck as it is. What bears mentioning is that as you can spend up to 420 points on Master Vampires before considering Mount options, Vampire Counts/Undead Legions is now the most elite army in the game as a list can be made entirely of just four to six models.
Lords & Heroes
Note Under End Times supplement rules, you can spend up to 50% of your points on Lords, AND up to 50% on your heroes since they have separate points spending pools. You still of course need 25% Core regardless however. When considering characters to be your General, it is important to remember that anything within 12 inches of them will be able to march.
Note: Under the current edition, named characters tend to be overpriced; you can emulate most named characters from scratch and save yourself some points. That said, many named characters do have abilities and war gear combos unique to them so if you need to have them go ahead. Just make sure you're really getting your points worth.
Nagash is a special Lord-level Monster with a crazy statline. EVERYTHING is 7 other than Move, Initiative, and Attacks which are 6 and a Leadership of 10, plus even crazier special rules. Not to mention his magic items of eternal FUCK YOU, which make Malekith and Archaon's shit look like Core gear. He is a Large Target, and is obviously a Terror-causing Undead. Death Magic Incarnate allows all friendly models within 12 inches of him to suffer two less Wounds from Unstable, which stacks with other modifiers like the Battle Standard Bearer bonus (making Nagash a great model if you're intentionally making the biggest Tarpit army possible).
Melee: Zefet-nebtar, The Mortis Blade, is a Magic weapon which gives him +1S and Multiple Wounds (D3) Special Rule. Morikhane, The Black Armour is a Magic Armor which gives Nagash a 4+ in both Armor and Ward Save. Since he's a Monster, he has the Thunderstomp ability. At this point, he's better than even Red Fury Master Vampires as he's dealing six Strength 8 D3 Wound attacks, some of which can be Heroic Killing Blow, per turn (see Alakanash, in Magic, below). Plus he doesn't HAVE to be the General of your army if you can field something else with a 10 Leadership in a large game, allowing you to throw in Nagash as your sacrificial rapetrain. Nagash can take on any non-End Times character currently in the game in melee and win, although the best suited against him are Thorgrim or a High Elf unit/character under Banner of the World Dragon. Both will have a 2+ against Nagash's attacks. In addition, a build exists for the Dwarf Daemonslayer where he gets Grudge/Might/Speed and ends up with a 40% chance to kill Nagash in Close Combat (which would be an epic death, even by Slayer standards). While not exactly a killing strategy, Dwarfs could make one of their Lords T10 with Shield-Bearers for extra Wounds which would make it extremely unlikely Nagash could land a blow on them in Close Combat, effectively Tarpitting him for the rest of the game. Good thing for Undead Legion players, Warriors don't have Harry the Hammer anymore...
Magic: He is a Level 5 Wizard with access to Lores of: Death, Light, Nehekhara, Vampires and Undeath, which when using Khaine magic means he gets a full 5 Lores. His Arch-Necromancer ability allows him to reroll Miscasts, although he must accept the second result (so the original reason Teclis was overpowered back in 7th is now Nagash's). Alakanash, the Staff of Power allows him to store up to four Power Dice from his current pool for later use in any of his magic phases, you can also discard
one any of these dice before Close Combat to give HKB to one of his attacks per dice discarded, including ones made with Zefet-nebtar (though you roll for them separately), allowing you to surpass the six Dice per spell limit.
Supreme Lord of the Undead allows any models summoned from his Lore of Undeath spells to triple in range as well as points allowed, including additional points created by Raise the Dead counters (although it doesn't triple those, merely adds to the range). That's an important rule; while other casters could at difficulty 16+ summon 150 points worth of Monstrous Infantry models somewhere in 12 inches of themselves, Nagash could summon 450 points of models anywhere in 36 inches of himself, using four more dice stored from previous turns (six if you have a character with Black Periapt from Vampire Counts) and isn't afraid of any potential Miscast. That includes options like Crypt Horrors, which puts models that refuse to die anywhere on the flanks of the enemy, and with Nagash's wizard level 5 it's only an 11+ difficulty to cast. Needless to say, Nagash tops in terms of annoyance (and how many models you're going to need to buy) making him effectively a "pay to win" option. The 9 Books of Nagash allow him to have 9 spells when using regular magic, the first always being, "Ryze, The Grave Call" from the Lore of Undeath, and he rolls the others from any selection of the Lores he knows although he does not pick them, but he can roll in any combination (similar to how Alarielle the Radiant rolls for her spells). It's worth noting that each time Nagash casts a Lore of Vampires spell, he'll restore one Wound to himself.
With the addition of the new rules in the Khaine book concerning End Time Spells, and giving every caster of level 3 or higher the equivalent of Loremaster in any lore they take, Nagash would be able to take a staggering 41 spells, 5 of which are End Times spells that cannot be dispelled. 8 spells each from the Lores of Light, Death, Undeath, Vampires, and Nehekhara added to the Summon Arcane Fulcrum spell. Add that to the new 4 dice for Winds of Magic, no more 12 die cap on the power pool, the fact that you can replicate spells on multiple characters, casting failure no longer ending the wizard's ability to cast for the turn, and the ability to repeat cast spells with a casting cost under 15+ that haven't failed that faze, and Nagash can easily fill all your magical needs.
In summary of Nagash's magic abilities; best in the entire game; see Manta.
Sweet (un)merciful fuck. Talk about bringing a Tomahawk Missile to a knife fight. Nagash is currently the most overpowered single thing in the entire vanilla game, putting everything from High Elf Banner tactics and Dwarf Cannon spam to within the "acceptable" range (although it's arguable for the Dwarftillery).
Weaknesses/Threats: Don't think that because you just put Nagash on the table, you're going to win though. There are a couple ways to kill him (although they'll only really be seen once our opponent knows you're bringing him. The Empire has a low cost magic item called Van Horstmann's Speculum that allows the character (generally it's going to be a cheap hero, like a wizard or, worse, a witch hunter) carrying it to swap most of his statline with whoever he is fighting in a challenge- but this can be avoided by having a way to avoid getting stuck in a challenge (like having a cheap unit of skellies with a champion charging whatever unit Nagash charges, and let that skeleton champ bravely accept). A cheap unit of Empire troops with a wizard bearing down on Nagash is usually a pretty good indicator of where the Speculum is. Tzeentch daemons have a special character who is sorta similar but not as good (he copies the stats, rather than swapping them). If facing another Undead Legions player you could have a Nagash on Nagash slapfight, although Neferata bearing her shank of crippling (see below) can wreck your strategy.
Like everything else in the game, Dwarf Cannons are the bane of his existence (re-rolls make it very easy to hit him, and you've got a 50/50 shot of getting through that ward save and causing D6 Wounds) so if you face that Dwarfpoleon buddy of yours you can watch Nagash get blown to pieces over the course of three turns or so (and that's IF they don't spam artillery). However, non-Dwarf Cannons are decidedly less effective. They'll need approximately 7 shots (without rerolls) since on average 1 won't hit, 1 will misfire, 1 won't Wound, and 2 will bounce off his save. If he survives then he can then heal himself using Lore of Vampires magic, but only one wound per successful spell, and if he's healing himself then he's not casting any summoning spells from the Lore of Undeath which means he loses a lot of his use (although the silver lining is that those cannons aren't shooting the rest of your army). Bolt Throwers aren't much more effective than the non-Dwarf artillery either.
One would at first glance think that Tamurkhan's ability to take control of an enemy that kills him would be the perfect trolling option. But Tamurkhan's villain override only works on Infantry or Monstrous Infantry while Nagash is of the Monster category, and in addition it only works on things that kill him in Close Combat meaning that the player controlling Naggy would simply blast it with magic instead of charging into melee anyway. And of course, spells that auto-kill victims, such as Dwellers, Pit, and Purple Sun, will still kill him on a roll of a 6. Low odds, but better than nothing.
As of the End Times: Glottkin, a new serious threat has arisen that could pretty easily take down Nagash- Karl Franz Ascendant. A flying monster with NINE Auto-Wound, Ignores Armor, Multiple Wound D3+1 Attacks swinging faster than Nagash means the Necromancer doesn't stand much of a chance barring some pretty impressive Ward Save rolls and/or a lot of help from the magic phase (such as getting ASF from a Corpse Cart, rerolls from Danse Macabre, etc). Other than KFA, the new Elven characters are also more than capable of destroying Nagash. Tyrion Avatar of Khaine has 6 attacks hitting on 3s with rerolls, Auto-Wound, Ignores Armor, Multiple Wounds D6, which on average drops Nagash in a single turn. Both versions of Malekith will also do it, the Phoenix King dealing 10 attacks hitting on 3s with rerolls, wounding on 5s, but doing D3 wounds. This will take him a couple of turns but he will outlast Nagash due to his immunity to multiple Wounds and superior WS. Eternity King version gets rerolls for Wounds as well as D3+1 per Wound, and will drop Nagash before he can lift his sword. Imrik has 10 S10 attacks on the charge, so Nagash will be squished like a bug against him as well, especially since Nagash only hits Imrik on a 5+. All of these characters (apart from the Eternity King) cost less than Nagash, and will eat through your other models, requiring assassination tactics and HEAVY use of your army increasing abilities to counter.
The new End Times spell of the Little Waaagh is also a special nightmare for Nagash (or anyone else), as it can be used to steal those sweet magic items. In addition, the Lockdown spell from the Lore of High Magic shuts down any Wizard.
- Vlad von Carstein, Mortarch of Shadow:
Out of all of the Mortarchs, Vlad is the one most likely to survive a battle despite only having 3 Wounds (though as a Vampire he can heal those and gets a bonus to do so). His ring still gives him the chance to pop back to life, and thanks to the fact he's not on a ghost horse/dragon thing he can get Look Out Sir! rolls from a Unit. As such, Vlad ties with Mannfred and Neferata as the best named choice after Nagash to actually put into play (though Vlad plays the classic VC bunker Lord list). He's had his Beloved in Death rule replaced with the Mortarch of Shadow special rule which gives everything a -1 To Hit (both shooting and in melee) against him and his unit and a -1 to the Leadership of all models nearby him, and as a Terror-causer this can be beneficial when facing low Leadership armies. The -1 To Hit makes him even better in combat which, combined with his sword makes him the hardest to kill Mortarch. Aside from his equipment and Mortarch rule he's really just a generic Wizard lvl 3 Vampire Lord, with the added bonus of picking spells like Nagash from Death, Shadow, Vampire, or Undeath (this access to multiple Lores makes him a FAR superior choice to the generic Master Vampire when using Khaine magic rules). As a Vampire, he can restore Wounds lost if he deals an Unsaved Wound against an enemy, but thanks to his Magic Weapon (which also grants him +1 Strength) he gets that Wound on a 4+ instead of a 6+. He also has a 4+ Ward Save, and a 83-84% chance to come back to life with one Wound in a Unit 12 inches near him if he's killed. So is he worth it compared to the generic? ...Yeah. The problem is he's not a level 4 caster, which isn't terrible, and he isn't Red Fury, which also isn't terrible. The generic can be kitted out to either be a best possible spellcaster or have better damage, but Vlad mixes them in an acceptable way. The primary way to use Vlad is to kit him out fully in Lore of Death, since he'll be able to survive in the range that puts the lore to the best use while you have a Lore of Vampires Level 4 Master Necromancer somewhere else. Shadows is also viable if you get Okkam's Mindrazor.
Thanks to the buffs he confers to the unit he is with he can be a total nightmare on the battlefield: he isn't a magic monster like Nagash, Mannfred or Arkhan, nor a killing machine like Neferata, but he is intended to be more of a support character, and he is one of the best in the game. Vlad in a big block of Graves Guard with the Banner of Barrows AND a Tomb King (or Prince, if you want to go cheap) is pure MURDER! Add Vlad's spells to it (Miasma, Invocation of Nehek and Soul Leech are what you're guaranteed to have, and what great spells they are indeed!) and you have just doubled the fun.
- Count Mannfred, Mortarch of Night:
Mannfred may have lost Loremaster, but he got survivability and some of Konrad's batshit insane melee action instead. A Mannfred list is one full of fast and killy options, as you want to get into combat as soon as possible and tear up the enemy without giving them a chance to reposition themselves to take what you're dishing out. His statline is pretty impressive being a Lvl 4 Wizard Vampire Lord that picks spells like Nagash from Death, Vampire, or Undeath and his mount (that he cannot be separated from) upping some of his stats to T6, W10, and A9. Mannfred is best to put into the weakest enemies first, so you can use those 6-12 Attacks (Dark Cunning gives him more attacks when he's in combat, and more magic dice when he's out of it) to rip apart the enemy and generate more Power and Dispel Dice from his sword for yourself. As for those Power Dice, you're going to be sitting on a HUGE pile of them so you'll want to bring spellcasters to use them (and lessen the burden on Mannfred in case of a miscast coming his way). His extra toughness and wounds are going to help against mass shooting and artillery which he'll attract being a Flying Monster (being a Vampire he can heal himself the usual way, which goes great with his playstyle), and the double range summoning spells mean he can be up close to the enemy and still bring in troops wherever you need them allowing you to engage enemies in the middle and Lore of Undeath something to distract the ranged models like Zombies in their faces. Overall a good unit on the offensive and defensive for both combat and magic, but still not quite worth the 650 points (though with his magic generation he comes very close) since a generic Vampire Lord and generic Master Necromancer can do the job as well if not better without being cannon bait. This changes quite a bit when Khaine magic is used; Mannfred becomes THE. SINGLE. MOST OVERPOWERED MODEL, IN THE ENTIRE GAME.
- Queen Neferata, Mortarch of Blood:
Neferata is terrifying for several reasons. One is that she is the first Monster that has Always Strikes First and Initiative 9. Unfortunately, Stomp/Thunderstomp cannot benefit from any other special rules(see Errata), so she always do Thunderstomp LAST even if with ASF. You'll be rerolling all of her eight Strength 5 Attacks which with her Weapon Skill of 8 makes her a fucking engine of destruction that can eat a unit by herself. Anyone trying to hit her in melee will be hitting her on 6's (anything trying to hit her has a -1 To Hit), wounding her on Toughness 6, and has to eat through 8 wounds, with a 6+ save just in case. Her dagger is another horror which, if it causes an unsaved Wound, drops the Strength, Toughness, and Attacks of the target by 1 for the rest of the game. This effect can only happen once per model and only works in challenges although regardless of what your opponent tries to tell you will work as many times as she can swing it against something new per game. Her Always Strikes First combined with her high Strength, Weapon Skill and Initiative and rerolls she's usually get mean she will will cripple anything dumb enough to take her in a challenge. Being the Mortarch of Blood means if she kills an enemy character in a challenge (very likely since the first wound she causes takes away some of their toughness and offensive ability) then she'll spawn an un-upgraded generic Vampire, which is not exceedingly useful unless you're playing the kind of game where you will be killing a large number of weak characters. She deals D3 extra Strength 5 hits to anything she Hexes or hits with a Magic Missile which is fairly nifty against small (expensive) Units, and is a level 3 in Death, Shadow, Vampires, or Undeath. Of them, Shadow is the best for those tasty Hexes and Vampires lets you actually heal her every time you cast a spell coupled with Invocation to keep her entourage healthy. This makes her a dedicated offensive caster on top of being the single biggest melee powerhouse you can bring after Nagash himself, and a list built around her should bring some Necromancers or Priests to provide the necessary Augments as well as enough models in the right places that you can stick Neferata exactly where it will hurt without fear of redirection or charges. Remember, that with level 3 she cannot be your main caster the way Mannfred on Arkhan are. Her main use is in countering the comeback of Herohammer the new 50% Lord allowance will undoubtedly bring, as her role in the army is that of a finesse scalpel, used to cut out the tendons of any named characters when there's an opening.
tl:dr, Neferata combines the traditional VC strengths. Defensive and offensive casting mix, Challenge god who ensures enemy characters won't be a nuisance, and eating Units with a fuckload of high Strength fast Attacks. She still works great with traditional Lahmian Leadership/spellcasting games as she is the best option there is for making LD bestowing characters die or bow out of Challenges and stop providing morale. New fluff has included a group of Ghouls who worship her that she uses, lifting fluff restrictions of "ugly" options as well as playing up her Nehekharan roots making any Undead Legion thing other than perhaps the von Carstein Vargheists and Corpse Carts fluffy ("Hail to the queen, baby").
- Arkhan the Black, Mortarch of Sacrament:
No longer a 5th level Wizard, he's now level 4, and generates his spells from the lore of Death and Undeath like Naggy, making him the only Dread Abyssal Mortarch who cannot heal himself with Lore of Vampires. Instead he can only heal in combat like a vampire, which provides him with some mighty survivability despite him being far from being as good in combat as Mannfred with 12 attacks + Thunderstomp or Neferata with her...well, absolutely ridiculous everything. Since Death would require him to be near the front of the battle, he's more or less stuck in Lore of Undeath which is awesome, since he summons double amount of points. Sure, he is no Nagash and lack of increased range hurts, but he can still pump out ridiculous amount of Undead, and his staff provides him with a nice edge in magic phase. He's a perfect substitute for Nagash in smaller games where a 1,000 point doom character is not appropriate, or if you want to avoid having such a huge target for all enemy Cannons. His playstyle is the same as Nagash's with less emphasis on melee, he's just less likely to cause your opponent to flip the table from the amount of unadulterated bullshit that Nagash can pull (like summoning 1,000 points of undead onto the board in one Magic phase and ignoring the Miscast that rightfully should have obliterated him).
Arkhan goes well with any Undead Legions army that can fit him in. In the fluff he uses both types of undead as a large army (he uses the horde, horde in the numerical sense), preferring Nehekharan but he is pragmatic enough to use whatever is available and make use of tactics. Fluffy options are Necromancers, Zombies, Skeletons, Wights and Morghasts with heavy hitters such as undead constructs/war machines when he needs them.
- Krell, Mortarch of Despair:
No horse so he can bunker and get Look Out Sir! and at only 250 points is the cheapest Mortarch. Mostly unchanged other than swapping from Kemmler to Nagash in servitude. His statline is pretty low (compared to the rest of the Mortarchs) and at LD 10 you almost NEED someone else LD 10 to make General as Krell is pretty vulnerable on his own, but he's worth every penny when supported in the right way. You will almost never use the Champion of Nagash rule because the points level to field them together is a minimum of 2500 and since he's Infantry while Nagash is a Monster it requires careful positioning to get them into the same Close Combat together. Mortarch of Despair grants Krell a Wound restored if an enemy within 12 inches of him fails a Fear, Terror, or Break test, which is very useful against low Ld armies as Krell himself of course causes Terror (and can be put in a unit with the Screaming Banner to force rerolls on any that pass). Armour of the Barrows is nice, but usually the things you want him fighting such as monsters (where he excels using The Black Axe of Krell's constant wounding rule) or other characters will be able to punch right through his armour, unless you are putting him in a Grave Guard unit supported by a Lore of Metal Vampire Lord which can be a very effective combo (and boosting his dispelling armour from 4+ to 2+) since Generals don't have to take Lore of Vampires anymore. If you want to put more eggs in that basket, add a Tomb King to make said unit have more WS, add Banner of the Barrows plus a BSB with Screaming Banner and suddenly everything melts and fails break tests against your deathstar. Krell is a good option for elite lists, made up of buffed killing models. Vlad is the preferred option with massive waves of weaker models.
Queen Neferata's cousin, oddly enough you can take her in the same team as her even though they hate each other's (lack of in Khalida's case) guts right up until the last minute before the world ended. Another relatively cheap option at 365 points, and comes with Hatred (Vampire Counts) so you can route any other players dumb enough to keep going with the inferior Undead faction.
She's unchanged from her Tomb Kings role, and unlike Tomb Princes she doesn't change in use any when put alongside Vampire Counts since they have no archers for her to buff. Her ASF rule, combined with 5 poisoned attacks at S4 make her a very formidable melee character against basic troops, but even with her high Toughness and light armour on top of being Flammable, any character with decent combat ability will hit her hard. She makes a good General for archer-heavy lists, although if you AREN'T building an archer-heavy list there's no reason to take her, but a fragile one so if you take her you must keep her in a unit, preferably buffed with some form of protection (Incantation of Neru). She had The Curse like any other Tomb King, causing D6 Strength 5 Shooting Hits against any character or unit(s) that caused her to die. She's also Flammable and Immune To Poison, but those will rarely come up (Lore of Fire being inferior to nearly every other lore and poison rarely hitting her) so you shouldn't worry about either of them. Don't forget that you can support her unit with Lore of Heavens and watch them re-roll failed To Hit and To Wound rolls of 1. Good times.
Her viability in listing only really comes down to one question. "How much dakka do I need?" She can be useful with Arkhan or Nagash (more the former than the latter obviously) as a mildly killy barrier between something nasty and them, giving you ranged support for whatever you summon onto the table.
- Prince Apophas:
Apophas is unchanged from his Tomb Kings role and still costs 130 points. Apophas has the Desert Revenant rule, meaning he cannot join units nor can he be the army General. The latter hurts him, the former doesn't.
He has the Entombed Beneath the Sands rule, can Fly and has Strider, enabling him to get into position where you want him and cause Terror checks to things he zips past. He's got a Strength 2 Breath Weapon (pretty useless, as it's unlikely to do much) and upon death causes 2D6 inches worth of 2D6 Strength 2 hits (very gambly for not much potential damage). He can re-roll To Hit and To Wound rolls against a specific character, and He also has Regeneration, keeping him in the fight just a little longer against that character. The problem is with his terrible stats, at Toughness 3 Initiative 1 he'll be killed by any character built for combat, as well as any mount that a wizard rides on (let alone how he'll get butchered against units).
Theoretically, he'd be useful against horde armies as he'd allow you to pop him right into the middle of a cluster of units and cause Terror Tests everywhere before belching out beetles to wreck all the low Toughness buggers, but since you can't count on more than 2 inches of 2 hits of 2 Strength when he dies or on him even making it where you need him in the first place, he's pretty useless. His only real uses are as an anti-warmachine or a wizard trap, but even at those roles he's questionable. He's fun no doubt, and can cause a bit of chaos for an opponent who's planning on number-crunching though.
Note: While named characters are judged against their generic counterparts, generic characters are examined based on their role in your army.
When trying to decide whether to take a Vampire Counts or Tomb Kings equivalent in the same role, give the Magic Items available to each a quick browse as a tiebreaker.
- Vampire Lord:
Brilliant stat line, a metric fuckton of upgrade options, and are neck and (exposed) neck with the Chaos Lord as the most dangerous generic combat lord in the game. They don't have to be the General anymore, and your General dying doesn't mean your army crumbles which allows you to go as wild as you want with their role. This motherfucker will likely soak up as many points as you can give, especially with the new 50% Lord limit. You're looking at 100 points worth of Vampire upgrades, 100 points worth of Magic Items, and the biggest baddest fucking mounts around. Or, if you're afraid of Cannons, then multiple Red Fury Master Vampires hiding in the line of footplodders waiting to unleash hell.
All Vampires are level 1 Wizards in Lore of Vampires, Death, Shadow, or Undeath (remember that now you don't have to take Lore of Vampires at all) plus any non-Life Lore in the core rulebook with the Forbidden Lore upgrade, and you can upgrade them up to a level 4 Wizard as well. Item selection and powers will be covered later. 220 points at base level. These bad boys became much more versatile then ever before. Just don't go too overboard and make sure you have a clear plan of what you want them doing.
- Tomb King:
At the first glance, Tomb King loses out to Vampire Lord on many accounts - lower M, WS, BS, I and A, Flammable, cannot into Magic, cannot take mundane Heavy Armor, a Lance, or an additional Hand Weapon, and severely loses in the versatility and customization departments. But that's not why you take a Tomb King. Where Vampire Lord is the perfect predator, Tomb King is the leader, focused on improving his army. He is much cheaper (170pts vs 220pts naked) and comes with at least Light Armor by default (which can be bumped with Magic Armor) and has a fantastic rule called My Will Be Done, which allows his unit to use his WS (which is 6). This would make Grave Guard even better than they were, but there's always the eggs/basket story and with this new book lords and heroes already tend to soak up lots and lots of points. He also has The Curse, punishing whatever kills him making any attempt to kill him a risky endeavor. Or you could go with Tomb Princes for a more cost effective variation, if none of the Tomb Kings Magic Items above 50 points catches your interest. Finally, scroll down to Tomb Herald below to see the main benefit to having a Tomb King over a Master Vampire. Not that it matters much, but the mummy options are all flammable remember.
- Master Necromancer:
Out of the two caster-Lords, this one is your summoner one. He costs 165 points vanilla, plus 35 for his level 4 upgrade. Unlike his mummified colleague, Mastermancer can increase a Skeleton Warrior Unit's size beyond its starting limit with Master of the Dead upgrade (although not any of the Tomb Kings Skeleton Archers or Horsemen sadly) and is 10pts cheaper with an identical statline. He can only use Lore of Vampires, Lore of Undeath, or Lore of Death.
The Master Necromancer and also can ride a variety of mounts, although the main point of these is to let him keep up with Black Knights if you are going full-cavalry. Otherwise, find him a nice big bunker full of Core to stick him in. If you want multiple casters, only take one Master Necromancer as only one can take the MotD upgrade in your army.
- Liche High Priest:
Out of the two caster-Lords, this one is your support. He's 175 points plus 35 for level 4. Compared to Master Necromancer, he has access to Lores of Undeath, Nehekhara, and Light of which the latter two provides the army with much-needed buffs. If you want numerous mages, take one Mastermancer in the back ranks and one Liche High Priest somewhere closer to the front, spamming Light-magic bubble goodness. He can be mounted on a Skeletal Steed, but this is only useful in full-cavalry armies.
- Strigoi Ghoul King:
Still a proper punch sport, but with all the options you're getting and all the possible combinations you can make this guy will probably won't see the light of day much. He's 260 points for a Regenerating (only 5+ sadly), Poisoned Attack with Infinite Hatred rapetrain that can't take Magic Armor. Dragonbane Gem is mandatory to protect him from Flame Attacks and most Magic Weapons aren't worth taking since they'll make him lose his Poisoned Attacks. He benefits a great deal from the Lore of Nehekhara Augments, and is not a bad idea if you want a Close Combat character to deal some guaranteed kills. He isn't a terrible choice, but he's got less potential for upgrades and also has got more competition now which doesn't work well in his favor. If you don't plan on kitting out your characters too much and just need someone killy to complete the set with someone else casty, Strigoi with Red Fury and Gem is the way to go.
105 points core, lower stats and half the upgrade points available as the Lord counterpart. Can take Lore of Shadow, Lore of Death, Lore of Vampires, Lore of Undeath, or with Forbidden Lore can take any non-Life core rulebook Lore. Take it if you need a killy hero (although the Wight King is cheaper for slightly lower stats), are taking a low pop army and need your Level 2 casters to be able to dish out and take in Close Combat, want a core lore and need the level 4 Wizards on more important tasks, or if you took a named character Lord and want that Coven Throne on the field. You can kit out a Vampire to Fly and launch them directly into enemy warmachines or Wizards, making them an amusing warmachine hunter.
- Tomb Prince:
Even cheaper than Tomb King at merely 100 points, but with same rules (although The Curse deals one point less in S, he gets half the Magic Item allowance, and only grants WS5 rather than WS6). With new limit on Heroes, feel free to take many Princes, greatly improving your footsloggers. WS5 Zombies? Hell yeah! If you're only interested in solo performance, the Vampire has +2M, +1WS, +1S, -1T, -1W, +1I, +1A, -2LD for 5 more points. While My Will Be Done is worth the difference, there are times when you want the higher statline. Like the Tomb King, see the Tomb Herald when choosing the TK over the VC option.
- Necromancer/Liche Priest:
See respective Lord-version entries, as barring the fact that Necro is 65 points while LP is 70 and they as usual have half the Magic Item allowance they're the same. If you have a Light Liche High Priest, Necromancers may be better options as Lore of Vampires and Death are superior to Lore of Nehekhara and the Necro can take Master of the Dead if in LoV to bolster your numbers of Skeletons.
If you're in magic heavy list : spam those lv1 Necro bastards like there's no tomorrow and apply the Heavy Magic list recipe from the tactics section and watch your zombie block tripling their size every turn then basically everything in the nehek spam bubble becomes indestructible.
- Wight King:
An awesome option in VC book, not so much here. Compared to the Tomb Prince, he has basically same statline barring -1WS and +1I, comes with Killing Blow but has no Curse, and is only 85 points. His main downside is lack of My Will Be Done. On the other hand, Wight King can take a cavalry mount, and can take Heavy mundane Armor. If you want a BSB who's cheaper than a Hero Vampire, a Wight King is useful. Oh, and he's non-flammable compared to his mummy counterpart. Also, if you want to be a dick (of course you do), take 10 with Great Weapons and stick them in a unit of Grave Guard carrying Banner of the Barrows. Watch your opponent desperately struggle to get through T5 5+ as you launch 30 S6 Wight King Killing Blows, followed by 20 S6 Grave Guard attacks which all have a +1 To Hit thanks to their awesome flag. NICE. (don't forget to stick a Tomb Prince and Necrotect into the same unit for MAXIMUM dickery - although keep in mind, no one will ever play with you again)
- Tomb Herald:
Disregard his statline (one point lower T, W, I, and LD than the Wight King for 60 points) and Banner-carrying option, they're unimportant. This guy's Bodyguard special rule allows him to take wounds for his Tomb King, allowing the Tomb King to pick Destroyer of Eternities and still be survivable. Don't forget to load this guy on Magic Armor, as wounds are transferred before Saves. Basically, you up your Tomb King's cost to Vampire levels, but in return get awesomely survivable character with 150pts item allowance (100 for the King, 50 for the Herald) and My Will Be Done. Then you remember that for a properly kitted up Vampire Lord, nothing in the game is going to hurt it anyway, as it will pulverise all comers, and cry inside. Unfortunately Tomb Heralds can only take Wounds for Tomb Kings and Tomb Princes, and each is assigned only to one character (and each can only have one assigned to them) at the beginning of the game. In addition, the Tomb Herald must be in the same Unit as them.
Very cheap at 60 points, and his statline isn't bad for it (don't expect him to survive for too long with only T4 and Light Armor with 2 Wounds, or deal much damage s WS3 S4 Attacks, but that's not bad all the same). He gets 50 points worth of Magic Items to specialize him with and he grants Hatred to his Unit via Wrath of the Creator (he's buttmad people keep wrecking his shit pulling the gems and gold out), while his 7 LD can go a long way with VC company. Stick him with Grave Guard for an enemy-melting combination. Stone Shaper grants any Constructs within 12 inches Regeneration, which can be bumped up further with a Mortis Engine allowing those adorable little Sphinxes of yours to shrug off cannonballs. No matter how you plan on using him, the screaming artist with the whip can find a place in almost any Undead Legion army.
- Tomb Banshee:
While generally useless even in vanilla Vampire Counts army, and even more so in Undead Legions, where it has to compete with Liches, Princes and Necrotects, it's main use is in the "shriek" list (see tactics), combined with Terroghests and all sorts of Ld-reducing shenannigans.
- Cairn Wraith:
See above, but these shmucks haven't even got their own tricky tactic. 60 points, isn't too bad except that you can take them as a Rare option in a group. With the increase in character allowance taking one isn't as painful, but with the new options from Tomb Kings his place is even further at the bottom. Pass, pass, pass.
Scratch that. With the Archaon rules, take a 30 of the buggers, stick them in one large unit, and have a friend bring along a high elf prince with the Banner of the World Dragon from the Aestyrion. Ethereal and 2++ vs all magical attacks. Tricky tactic right there.
Sadly, mounts cannot be taken cross-army. That does not mean however that they can't be in the same unit as each other though.
- Skeletal steed: The Black Knights basic mount, ignores terrain as they are treated as Ethereal for movement and does not get the -1M for barding if you take it. Think about that for a moment, you can charge units on the other side of buildings if you can see them. Never take a dangerous terrain test with these guys again!
- Barded Nightmare: Simple undead horse, best in a Unit of Blood Knights, and never put with Black Knights unless there's no terrain, as they'll lose their Ethereal movement. Ordinary in all regards. other then being S4 WS3 horses.
- Hellsteed: A flying Barded Nightmare, and overall a better horse. Not too expensive and still a great investment if you like running with Fell Bats or other silliness. Still, if used right it can be a scary model that's great for picking off warmachines or other small units, since arrows don't tend to have the killing power needed for a Vampire.
- Corpse Cart: Necromancer (and Master Necromancer) only, in Vampire Counts mounting up on one was none too effective. But if your list happens to be a list built primarily out of fast options, particularly those nifty Tomb King Core Chariots, then riding with your new tan buddies can be nice as every time your Lore of Vampires Necro (because if you're putting them on a Corpse Cart, that's the ONLY reason) Invocs Nehek he'll give the namesake troops ASF. Nice.
It may be possible to actually ride these inside a unit of Skeleton Chariots, see their entry in Core below.
- Abyssal Terror: Not great by any standard of a monster. Can be given Poison Attacks or Armour Piercing, has Thunderstomp (which doesn't get the upgrade abilities sadly). Fairly cheap and it flies so it's not exactly bad, but it's just beaten out by the next two usually.
- Coven Throne: This thing has a good number of abilities, but also a few downsides. You basically roll a game of the LD of the model (equal to that of the Vampire/Vampire Lord riding it) +D6 against the LD of whatever is trying To Hit it (plus D6). Depending on how much higher yours is the unit may continue on normally, freeze mid-swing, or even attack itself! It has a very large number of attacks from it's two Vampire Maiden crew plus the ghosts that function as it's steeds, and has a Bound Spell allowing it to reroll it's own failed To Hit or To Wound rolls, whichever you choose (including that of the rider, so obviously the blender lord is a very nice option). It's absolutely fucking awful against any army with high Leadership and/or siege weapons due to it's Large Target rule (so mostly Dwarfs with their army wide LD 9 or Elves with archer spam, or just any army a fair number of artillery pieces as they'll pass The Battle of Wills eventually). It's fun and helps its survivability while boosting damage a fair amount but it isn't too reliable for stopping the majority of attacks aimed at it. On the other hand, excellent in combat, you get 2D6 attacks from the ghosts hauling this thing around, the ghost horses grant it Ethereal movement so there's no troubles from terrain, a 5+ Armor Save, a 4+ Ward Save, four S5 ASF attacks from the Handmaidens, D6 S5 impact hits. Sadly a lesser vampires don't have a high enough leadership to consistently use The Battle of Wills effectively (so putting them on a shitload of points isn't a good idea), so the only thing worthwhile to put on it is a Vampire Lord, which is a lot more appealing in an undead legions list because now you can allocate 50% of your total points to Lords, so not only can he buy good equipment in 2000 points games, you can get other Lords to back him up and if he dies to a cannonball your army no longer crumbles. Don't give the rider too much equipment though because he's still a huge target.
It may be possible to combo these with Skeleton Chariots, see entry in Core below.
- Zombie Dragon: Exactly what you think it is. It's got beefy stats, can be healed massively thanks to lore attribute plus Invocation, his Pestilential Breath attack causes -3 to armour as well as causing a S2 hit and it adds that extra "fuck you" to Ogres in the form of terror. Has Swarm of Flies (ew!) which causes -1 to To Hit rolls in melee. A great time if your Vampire has the same stat line as the mount its on. Can really wreck heavy cavalries day as well as rank and file, though it will die to cannons or Heroic Killing Blow. Still a wonderful kick ass model and is our only dragon, but like most fun things, it's a magnet for artillery and mass shooting, though since losing your general no longer causes crumbling, that's not as much of an issue as it used to be.
- Skeletal Steed: Basic Undead horse. War Beast, low stats other than it's M. Use it to keep up with cavalry. Sadly, cannot be taken by Kings/Princes, so no MWBD for Black Knights.
- Skeleton Chariot: Same as the Skeleton Chariots below, but the Tomb King or Tomb Prince replace a crewmember. Useful to bolster a large unit of Core Skeleton Chariots and grant the My Will Be Done, as "And The Tomb Kings Rode To War" allows character Chariots to join units (but only Units of Skeleton Chariots). By itself however, not useful at all.
- Khemrian Warsphinx: While putting a Tomb King on one and granting it WS6 may be somewhat useful, it's not a great use of points as he'll only grant that ONE sphinx his bonus. It gains a 4+ against Shooting, with the King having a 5+ against it, but loses the 4 crewmembers cutting it's number of attacks. While this used to be good when keeping your General alive was important, it's now a sub-par option.
Tarpits extraordinaire. Vulnerable to crumbling, but that can be mitigated with the right choices. Invocation of Nehek multiplies their number quicker than other Undead so taking some with Lore of Vampires ensures you will have plenty of bodies on the field (although without some buffing from your various options, don't expect them to do anything more than get in the way of your opponent). Don't leave your Tomb/Crypt/Mausoleum/Pyramid/whatever without them. Also, keep at least 30ish models at hand - even a level 1 Undeath caster can pull off 2nd boosted Ryze, and nothing says "fuck you!" as an unexpected block of 30 zombies in the middle of the battlefield (which, of course, gets hit with Invocations right away and grows in size).
- Crypt Ghouls:
Hit hard compared to the other infantry choices, but are more expensive at 10 points a piece. They used to have the advantage of a low chance of crumbling with the loss of a General, but that's not exactly a problem anymore meaning you take them purely based on their primary strengths; having the highest stats of any Core option available to you, and two Attacks each which are Poisoned meaning you get the most durable troops with the best killing power. Can't be bumped past their starting number in any way however, although with Regeneration from a Mortis Engine they're formidable. Take them for your elite armies.
- Dire Wolves:
A good flanking unit/missile screen and good scouts/warmachine hunters in small games. They're better than Skeleton Horsemen in stats and cost plus having a special ability for the Charge, but Spirit Hosts are a better missile screen for infantry.
- Skeleton Warriors:
You know them, you love them. With the new rules, they are mostly the same from both armies. Tomb Kings skeletons are one point cheaper at 4 each, but Light Armor costs an extra 1 point. Vampire Counts skeletons come at 5 points, and come with that Light Armor free. Tomb Kings skeletons can take Spears for 1 point, Vampire Count skeletons get that Spear free but either way you DON'T want Spears since the killing power added is insignificant while losing your Parry bonus from your Shield is pretty bad. Tomb Kings skeletons have 2 more points of Leadership, but now that you don't Crumble those two points mean very little outside of a few rare spells and abilities that use Leadership. Vampire Counts skeletons can take a Magic Standard up to 25 points, but unless you actually plan on taking one then you may as well get the extra LD for free by taking the Tomb Kings skellies. Banner of Eternal Flame is better spent on something stronger since you can only take it once (Grave Guard or Black Knights are nice candidates), the Leadership boosters are inferior to just taking the Tomb Kings skeletons plus as previously mentioned LD is mostly unimportant, and while Lichebone Pennant (Magic Resistance) and Banner of Swiftness (1 more inch of Movement per turn) can be interesting they're probably too expensive to waste on your mage bunker. Since they both have the same name and are now both just "Undead", Necromancers with the Master upgrade in Lore of Vampires can bolster either past their starting numbers. You take these over Zombies when you want more durable troops. You take Zombies when all you need are a bunch of bodies on the table to give Look Out Sir! rolls to your blender lord.
As for the models? Pick what you like. They're interchangeable so long as your opponent knows if they have 5 LD or 3 LD and a magic scrap of cloth on a stick.
- Skeleton Archers
They're Skeleton Warriors with dakka. More specifically, god tier dakka that IGNORES COVER. Specifically, they never count bonuses or penalties To Hit. Their hitting power is STILL pretty low however, so you'll need to rely on a large block of troops to deal any significant damage to something important. To any Vampire Counts players, this is a big change; you now have the potential for cover fire when getting your footplodders into position. 6 points each, can take Light Armor for another point although whether to or not is more debatable; they shouldn't be in melee, if they are they are just Skeleton Warriors that cost you an extra 3 points each. On the other hand, that Light Armor will bolster their survivability so you can Invoc them if there's a Necro on hand. Generally, the larger the points limit the less effective Light Armor is going to be for you unless it's a unit with Khalida in it at which point you may want to give the unit the ability to take some more damage (and maybe pack a cheap L1 Necro). Regarding Khalida; Khalida basically makes her unit shoot better with 3 BS rather than 2, and gives their arrows Poisoned Attacks. As a result for any player favoring a ranged-heavy list, she's something to consider taking. Beware however, Undead Legion expect to fully emulate the tactics of Dwarfs with Napoleonic gunlines and cannon spam.
Compared to the previous entry, this choice is a no-brainer (pun not intended). Consider taking at least one unit of these, even if you're going for mostly VC units. Invocation won't bolster their numbers at the start (although it'll restore any lost ones), but that shouldn't be a problem since they shouldn't be in melee anyway.
- Skeleton Horsemen:
Light Cavalry ahoy! Full-cavalry lists are a thing now! The world of the living will be trampled under unliving hooves! That being said, Horse Archers are probably a better choice, as Hexwraiths and Black Knights fill all "Melee Skeletal Horseman" niches perfectly. Same statline as normal Skeletons, but with horses and Vanguard allowing them to get into position ahead of time. They cost 12 points a model, 4 points more than Dire Wolves for inferior stats barring 2 more points of Leadership. Dire Wolves have a maximum unit size of 20 while you can take as many Skeleton Horseman in a Unit as you want, but it's unlikely you'll be taking that many of either.
- Skeleton Horse Archers:
A decent choice at 14 points each, they make good Scouts (especially if they gain the ability to march, stand and shoot or both) and can soften up enemy units before you charge in with something else. There are no VC equivalents, so they are definitely worth a look. If you need some outriders, Skeleton Horse Archers are probably the way to go since for 2 more points each you'll be able to pump out some ranged attacks. You could take Khalid who is on foot in this or any other Calvary uint however this will affect your movement. In general units can only move as far as their slowest model. So they would just be overpriced archers with the minor benefits of an extra Melee atack, 6+ amour save, and M6. Imo you could spend your points more efficiently on other things.
- Skeleton Chariots:
One of the Tomb King's main advantages. 55 points each for a durable damage dealer that has Bows and can have a Tomb King with them. Even with the large amount of options, you have no excuse not to at least consider these. They only need three models wide for a rank bonus, and add their rank bonus to the Strength of Impact Hits. Units of chariots can bring the pain and be hard to put down, especially useful if you're against Elves. Very good as a flanking unit, just be careful of the Unit's footprint (large surface area of the combined bases can make maneuvering difficult).
A note on Chariots; it's currently up to debate whether Vampire Counts models in Chariots can join a unit of Skeleton Chariots. The rule that allows Tomb King Chariots to join into units is "And The Tomb Kings Rode To War..." which states that any character in a Tomb Kings army with a Chariot can join a unit. Now in Undead Legion, this could arguably mean (see discussion page) that the rule becomes "Any character in an Undead Legion army that have a chariot can join a unit of Skeleton Chariots." Whether it's intended or not is up to debate; the Coven Throne and Corpse Cart were not designed to be used in units, although the ability to sit a Necro on a Corpse Cart and heal the Chariots up while granting them ASF or getting a metric fuckload of attacks and Leadership games into that unit are unquestionably fuckwin. Ultimately, it comes down to what your group decides until GW weighs in on it via FAQ. If you can do it, then seriously consider those two options.
- Tomb Guard:
For 11 points you get a pretty good (for a skeleton) statline, Killing Blow, Magic Standard, Shield and Light Armor, with an option to swap that shield for a Halberd for 2 points. So what's not to love? Well, the Vampire Counts equivalent to them have an identical statline and options, barring the difference that Tomb Guard have 2 extra points of Leadership while Grave Guard have Heavy Armor. Since Crumble is no longer a thing to fear, that Leadership is essentially meaningless. If you happen to be a Tomb Kings player, just consider these guys to be...
- Grave Guard:
Now we're talking. Since you have average Initiative (3), that ASL from the Great Weapon won't usually be felt unless you're up against armies like other Undead, Treemen, Dwarfs or Ogres, so against almost everyone else you're getting +2S without drawback for just 1 point. Banner of the Barrows is essential for then since it buffs them with +1 To Hit. If you want elite infantry for the purpose of killing, take Grave Guard. Stick a Tomb Prince and Necrotect into the unit for maximum RAPE (have fun re-rolling your hits on 2's against almost anything). Technically, with a Tomb Prince and hand weapons/shields they can make a pretty nice bunker, but cheap core is still much better at soaking damage. You need Grave Guard to KILL things.
- Black Knights:
Black Knights are 21 points and have the same statline as Grave Guard, only instead of Great Weapons for 1 point they can take Lances for 2 points (which you want for extra damage on the Charge). You can also take Barding (which doesn't screw with their Movement) for 3 points, which is even more important to do. A good linebreaker choice, the Black Knights offer the advantages of ignoring terrain thanks to their Ethereal Movement mounts, slightly higher Armor Save and Strength on the Charge. They now have serious competition from Necropolis Knights; in their favor Ethereal Movement is more reliable and only with Black Knights will you be able to field heavy cavalry without making it the bulk of your Special section.
- Necropolis Knights:
Running/slithering/popping in in at a whopping 65 points a piece, Necropolis Knights are a versatile powerhouse. Compared to Black Knights, they have 1 more point of WS and Attacks, plus two more points of Leadership (not that the latter is important since Crumble isn't an issue now). The main difference is the mount, as the Necroserpent has substantially better stats than the Skeletal Steed, specifically 1 WS, 2S, 1T, 2 Wounds, 1I, 2 more Attacks and are monstrous cavalry, meaning they get a Stomp attack and are immune to killing blow. The have the minor downside of they move 1 inch less each turn and no Ethereal movement. Necroserpents also get Poisoned Attacks, Animated Construct (healed by Necrotects), and Stone Skin (which gives the whole model a 3+ Armor Save, rider and all). The former two are not shared by the rider, although he gets Killing Blow while the snake does not. For five points each, the entire unit has Entombed Beneath the Sands. While that can be very useful to put your heavy cavalry already behind the enemy, it's a risk as a misfire and a bad roll can destroy your entire 195+ point unit or delay it past when it's in position (as your opponent will know where it's coming from now). Unfortunately they do so on the "Remaining Moves" phase, so you can't Charge the enemy until next turn giving your opponent a turn to get ready.
If you are taking Necropolis Knights, chances are good they're going to eat up the Special points. That's not a bad thing, they're fairly useful, but that means you'll have to compensate for the usual roles (mass footplodding elites, warmachine hunters, and tarpits) in other categories. When debating the Entombed upgrade, remember that you can't stick a Necrotect in to give them Regeneration if they're in the sand, not will they likely be in position to receive Regen from a Mortis Engine, nor get healing from Invocation of Nehek. They do just as well as a large, difficult to kill force in the middle of the field as they do a force in the middle of the enemy's forces. Necropolis Knights are a high-risk high-reward unit as while Entombed has the potential to backfire, Necropolis Knights have a higher damage output than Black Knights when they do well and can deal with a wider variety of situations.
30 points a piece, and a unit maximum cap of 10. To summarize their abilities, they are Ethereal and actually run THROUGH enemy units, dealing shitloads of flaming magic damage as they do. If they get stuck in combat, they'll probably die from Combat Resolution and Magic Attacks will fuck them proper. That being said they're great trolling, as in many cases the enemy can't do shit about them. If anything joins them, they lose most of what's keeping them safe so you keep Hexwraiths among their own kind only.
They'll attract any magic damage your opponent has, especially Magic Missiles so you want to be ready to dispel a lot of you want to get these guys to pay for themselves.
- Sepulchral Stalkers:
55 points each, they have Entombed by default. They're also Animated Constructs, meaning 5+ Armor and a bonus from Necrotects if you can get close enough later in the battle (unlikely). Their stats are nothing really to write home about, but their special ability "Transmorgifying Gaze" is very neat. Within 8 inches, a target unit takes an Artillery Dice worth of automatic hits (Misfires result in D3 self-damage), and when rolling To Wound you factor against the Initiative rather than their Toughness while ignoring any Armor Saves. Against standard options, that's kind of a worse tradeoff but against most high point-cost options that's amazingly good. Dwarfs and Lizardmen, as well as all three Undead armies, are particularly susceptible army-wide. Terrogheists are their Vampire Counts opposite, which work better against low Leadership armies. But that doesn't mean that taking both is bad, especially when you're looking at armies like Skaven with loads of low LD models with a few low I big options. Or, for epic trolling, take these against Glottkin or summon them up in front of him for the lulz
- Corpse Cart:
A mediocre 90 point Chariot (which cannot join Tomb King Chariots sadly). It gets a fair number of weak Attacks, and has Regeneration, but that's not why you take it. You take this thing for the Vigour Mortis, which activates when the thing is hit by the Signature Spell from Lore of Vampires the Invocation of Nehek. It'll grant Undead around it in a large bubble Always Strikes First, which with the inclusion of the Tomb Kings is more useful than ever before. While not a 100% mandatory option for tournaments, it's still found in many tourney lists.
- Crypt Horrors:
Want something with some real staying power? Here's your models. Crypt Horrors fucking refuse to die. For some perspective, Crypt Horrors fluffwise are Ghouls (inbred cannibal hill-folk) which have drunk some vampire blood and Hulked-out enough to resist shit that would normally kill or stop them (like crosses, or cannonball) at the cost of lifespan. Their crunch reflects this as they're Toughness 5, 3 Wound and 3 Attack Monstrous Infantry. They aren't very offensive, having 4 Strength and only 3 WS but with Poisoned Attacks they still have a decent chance to kill what they hit. They have Regeneration 5+, which when bumped up with a Mortis Engine makes them ridiculously tough. They may cost 38 points each, which means if you're taking them they should be a good chunk of your Special section (12 is a good number) so you can have enough to survive combat for your Invocations from LoV to restore them. Small point about these guys though is watch the fuck out for Hordes (especially if they have spears) unless you're doing a flank charge. Combat resolution is their number one weakness and you really don't want to chance taking on anything that dish out a lot of attacks onto them, otherwise you can end up with a completely destroyed unit. Packing in a character can really help with this.
Alternative Take: If you are willing to sink the points in, you can make Crypt Horrors a VERY effective hammer unit. Due to the availability of the Lores of Nehekera and light, as well as the passive buffs from MWBD and the Necrotects WOTC, they can become a horribly effective hammer unit, as their increased attacks, as well as poison, regeneration and toughness, can allow them to pump out the hurt. Due to their status as Monstrous Infantry, but without any restriction on Wounds regenerated, they can easily become a beast of a unit. However, if you wish to use them as your hammer unit, you will be taking them AND ONLY THEM in that role, as they need all of the passive and active buffing from your lords and heroes. The rest of your army will effectively be relegated to support. However, any buffs will be multiplied to a greater degree than on, say, grave guard, due to the monstrous ranks special rule. If you team up with another faction, Lore of Life can be an absolute game breaker if you pull it off. If Lady luck is with you, a unit of 28 crypt horrors can carve down any opposition that they will ever face, and, if the spells are pulled off successfully, you can have your T10 crypt horrors, with 4+ regeneration, just sitting there waiting for your opponent to hit back.
46 points for a Vampiric model with damn good stats and Frenzy. It can Fly, and deals 3 S5 WS4 Attacks for each model. It's also 3 Wound, Toughness 4 which is pretty low for that much cost. Take care of them so they don't get gunned down early on, then let them loose into a flank for some decent damage. They lose out to Varghulfs and Terrogheists for high-damage options though, as their only advantage is the fact they have numbers which can keep them alive as a unit long enough for Incov spam on your Magic Phase. Ushabti have them beat in durability and having ranged attacks, but they require buffing to reach their full potential while Vargheists can be taken and run as-is. Varghulfs have better survival and deal more damage each, but it's easier to focus down a single target than a unit with magic and ranged attacks. Terrorgheists are just as fragile as Vargheists while costing much more points, but their damage output is the highest. Sadly you'll have to babysit 'gheists so they don't charge off at an enemy you don't want them fighting.
- Fell Bats:
16 point War Beasts, can Fly. You use these guys to hunt down Warmachines and enemy Wizards. Not much else to say, other than they now have competition from the Tomb Kings Carrion models.
24 points each, same role as Fell Bats. They have one more point of both Strength, Toughness, Leadership, and Attacks and must be fielded in units of 3 or more unlike the Fell Bats which can be 2 or more. It's up for debate as to which is better. Fell Bats can be taken in multiple smaller groups for less (which is preferable, so a few ranged shots don't save their warmachines), and you don't really need three 4 Strength hits to kill most warmachine crews (except Dwarves, where the Carrions superior strength/toughness will help them kill the comparatively tougher warmachine crews/endure handgun and crossbow fire better than Fell Bats). But Carrion are much more useful once the things are actually down, being able to nip at the flanks and do some decent damage. It may eventually just come down to personal preference.
- Bat Swarm:
35 points each for a Swarm with shit stats. Anything they get into Close Combat with gets Always Strikes Last, which is pretty good (not as good as a Corpse Cart hit by Invocation, but much cheaper). If you plan on running something with high Initiative they're great, otherwise stick to the Cart combo. The main reason to take these is because they'll rip away rerolls from any Always Strikes First foes like the trinity of Elf armies or Slaaneshi forces.
- Tomb Swarm:
40 points for a Swarm with very low damage output potential, but Poisoned Attacks (5 of them in fact). They have Entombed Beneath the Sands, which means you can more or less decide a spot on the table for them to appear letting you bring these puppies up in the midst of the warmachines although it comes with a risk of them not even appearing at all. It's a neat idea, and fun, but they're fairly expensive for an option that doesn't really have enough killing power or special use. Use them only in friendly games.
- Spirit Host:
Want to Tarpit something? Look no further. Spirit Hosts are Ethereal and will hold anything without Magic Attacks in place as long as they can, but will die from Combat Resolution. Put Nagash on the field and you can hold things with less as a result. You can have a maximum of 10 in a unit, and that 10 can hold most things in place an entire game. They are also good on the flanks of important units, as it won't matter much if they get charged if the enemy can't actually get through them. Their damage output is on par with most Core options in the game, and cost 45 points each.
- Tomb Scorpion:
85 points for an Entombed Beneath The Sands model which has Poisoned Attacks and Magic Resistance 1. It's also an Animated Construct, giving it a 5+ Armor Save. Beyond that it has fairly high stats for it's points value and can put the hurt on things while still taking some damage.
It has the same basic role as the Fell Bats and Carrion. The reason to take it instead of them is you get more than you're paying for and can pop up right next to the enemy warmachines. The problem? You can't take them in units (just multiple individuals), and it's the turn after they appear that you'll first be able to charge something. They aren't bad, but are riskier than the other warmachine hunters to use. They are superior to Carrion when the cannon crews are dead and it comes time to turn their attention to the backs of the main force though. If it's anything of a tiebreaker, they have amazing models.
50 point models that must be taken in units of 3 or more. They have something of a bad reputation, although it's not deserved. Ushtabi have similar stats to the Crypt Horror, but have bows that deal Volley Fire S6 shots with 30 inch range that ignores penalties (although with BS2, they're going to need it). They can take Musicians and Standard Bearers, and pump out very nice damage in Close Combat with three Strength 6 Attacks at WS4 (with Great Weapons default). Said Attacks unfortunately are slow as fuck with their tragic Initiative, so the Corpse Cart canceling the ASL won't help them much. As Toughness 4, 3 Wound troops with a 5+ Armor Save they're not as durable as default Crypt Horrors, and only heal 1 Wound per casting of Invocation of Nehek, but with a Necrotect in their ranks they will have the same Regeneration as Crypt Horrors, with bonus Hatred. As Constructs they also suffer less Wounds from Combat Resolution.
In the end, you wind up with very durable troops that deal great damage and get to pump out ranged support comparable to Bolt Throwers every turn they aren't in Close Combat. They WILL require buffing, as said Necrotect is all but mandatory while Lore of Light buffs will make them REALLY shine. Lore of Vampires can benefit them as well, if you can afford both. A unit of Ushtabi supported by Augments and a Mortis Engine is a sight to behold, as they will destroy almost anything you match them up against with their high Strength. While a massive unit of Skeleton Archers will deal more damage to a group of lightly armored foes, Ushtabi will bring down tough models like Steam Tanks and Great Unclean Ones faster than a Dwarf Cannon. Packing in Khalida or a Tomb King will make your unit even better. Ultimately, their best strength is their resistance to Combat Res Wounds. Since they have reduced healing from Invoc however, you want to keep them screened by chaff until you can get them in sight of their target.
The only limiting factor is their price; like Stalkers, they tend to become your Special section. Thanks to the Vamps bringing along Vanhel's from Lore of Vampires, you now have the ability to get them into CC without many Power Dice before they take too many arrows.
Their role competition mainly comes from Vargheists and Varghulfs. The latter two can restore Wounds by dealing them, and can benefit from Invoc spam while your Ushtabi only get 1 Wound back each on an Invoc. But both Varg's tend to be hammer outriders, while Ushtabi require a focused Romanesque column of advancing formation troops working in synergy. Vargheists have Fly on their side and eat up the least points, while Varghulfs can be taken individually and are the hardest hitting/best surviving option. Ushtabi are multi-purpose support and heavy damage-dealers. Terrorgheists round up as the killiest options, but also fragile and point-expensive as hell and bordering on Velveeta.
- Khemrian Warsphinx:
210 points for a Sphinx that's a Monster (so you get the ever-popular Thunderstomp). For reference, this is the Sphinx with the crew on it's back and the kitty face. It has four S5 Attacks, a whopping Toughness of 8, 5 Wounds, and a Move of 6 although it has a PAINFULLY bad Initiative of only 1. It's an Animated Construct so it has a 5+ Armor Save, although since you can't put a Necrotect in it's Unit you're going to have to keep it close to his bunker (with it's high Toughness, it certainly keeps your flank safe). Oh, and there's also the matter of the four S4 WS3 crew members with Killing Blow. It can trade all it's Attacks (not those of the crew, they get those first) for a Thundercrush attack, which is a To Hit roll against the WS of the highest model in base contact with it. If it hits, you can put a template somewhere in base contact with your Warsphinx which deals 1 S3 hit to whatever's under it plus D3 Multiple Wounds of hits for whatever is in the middle of that template at Strength 9! You probably won't be using that option as much unless you're facing troops with a lot of durability but not much actual killing power, although that S9 can really fuck a point-sink character. It has a few extra rules regarding how the crew and attacks against it work, making it unique in that the crew behave as if they're on the ground while attacks against it roll against it's WS for To Hit. Causes psych checks of course, like literally almost everything else you have. For 10 points, you can have it's 4 Attacks (not those of it's crew or the tradeoff Thundercrush) have Poisoned Attacks, while for 20 points you can give it a S4 Flaming Attack breath weapon. The 10 points is VERY worth it unless you plan on only using the Thundercrush while the 20 is almost always worth it.
What you end up with is a fantastic model, although expensive in points, which will absolutely consume large amounts of semi-elite troops. It can devastate core options as well, although against the actual killing-oriented troops many armies employ it will quickly fall (still could deal it's points worth of damage as it goes though). Use this as a road-clearer, getting rid of those nasty Nurgle foes and armored Tarpits. Save the really big shit for the other Sphinx. It's also a great distraction/missile screen from your other big and nasty units (a buffed Warsphinx is more likely to survive a ranked Ogre charge than a Coven Throne).
Giving the fucker Mortis Engine Regeneration and using Invocation of Nehek near it (Always Strikes First, plus one Wound per casting) officially makes it one of the best things in the game you can put on the field.
- Morghast Harbingers:
The new toys (pure Vamps get access to them as well however). 80 point Monstrous Infantry with Hover and Terror. Statline is not bad, ringing in with 5WS, three S5 Killing Blow Attacks, and 4 Wounds at Toughness 5. Their Initiative isn't too bad either, at 4. It has two Hand Weapons and Heavy Armor, so it's geared pretty well. This alone however isn't why you bring them when you could get a Sphinx. They have the special rule "Heralds of the Accursed One" which causes all friendly troops within 12 inches to take 1 less Wound from Combat Resolution damage. IT STACKS, and they're 2 or more to a Unit.
As a result, Morghasts have a nice monopoly on the area of making your weaker troops last longer. It doesn't matter if you're fielding a huge block of Zombies or trying to make those Crypt Horrors stay up a little longer against an enemy anvil, any Undead Legion list can benefit from having them. They aren't mandatory however, nor as useful as the Mortis Engine or Casket of Souls. But they justify their points, especially with the former option where your Undead will become way more durable than they have any right to be. Their raw stats however put them in the position of not being durable enough to take much damage, while not being killy enough to be a dedicated hammer. They're pure support only despite not being incompetent if the enemy engages them. That being said, they're not a great hammer choice nor are they something you should try to tarpit with. They're there to keep your troops alive although they can fulfill that role by discouraging flank charges. Their "more elite" version isn't actually that much different; mostly it's a choice of whether you want to spend Special or Rare points on them.
Where Colossus is slow and relies on Light magic, Varghulf is much quicker, more independent due to being a Vampire, but packs much less of a punch. Vampiric M8, Regeneration (proper one), no flanks against it, Hatred and WS5 allow Varghulf to hunt well beyond your wizards' and general's reach, which may be useful against spread out MSUs and the like. However it lacks the destructive potential of the Colossus and hasn't got the same synergy with your wizards, making the latter more welcome against regular massed rank-and-file. Don't think it's bad, since it fulfills the role of "monster away from the rest of the army".
- Blood Knights:
A great linebreaker, these guys would compete with the Necropolis Knights for that honor though they have different uses. Blood Knights are a hammer, where Necropolis Knights are a Swiss-army knife. Take them against heavily armored opponents such as Dwarfs (bring Banner of Blood Keep) and Warriors of Chaos.
- Cairn Wraiths:
With introduction of Sphinxes, Bone Giants, Necropolis Knights, hell, even Ushabti, the need for another high-strength unit, that is not a Grave Guard bus, disappeared (not that it was there in the first place). Still, since their champion is a banshee, small units of these are welcome in shriek-builds.
- Black Coach:
Combos well with Casket to absorb more dice. Not the best unit in Vampires' list, but combined with a Casket it accumulates upgrades at a terrifying rate. Still a bit random and sub-optimal, but worth a closer look.
With the new Khaine magic rules, never leave the fucking house without at least one of these in tow.
Such an awesome option in Vampire Counts army, it loses out to Nerosphinx in Undead Legions. While it has got 6+ Regen and +1W, Necrosphinx's T8, armor save, Ws4 and smaller base allow it to withstand much more punishment, while dealing much more damage in combat with KB, HKB and +1A. To add insult to injury, Sphinx gets Posioned Attacks for 5pts cheaper. Still, the Terrorgheist has its use in shriek-based list, where its powerful Death Shriek really shines and can surpass he Necrosphinx's damage output. Another Terrorgheist's strength is I3, as opposed to Necrosphinx's I1 - it isn't much, but against certain armies (Lizardmen, Dwarfs, other Undead Legions) is maybe critical. All in all, Terrogheist is much more situational.
- Mortis Engine:
Every elf army has flaming because of this unit. What is better than a T8 sphinx ravaging enemies left and right? That's right, a T8 sphinx with a crapload of Regeneration. Also very nice for chariot lists, fixing their major weakness - flimsiness. It also has two other uses. Firstly, it can replace the parry save of a model, allowing it to take spears while actually improving its protection. Secondly, with blasphemous tome, it becomes utterly ridiculous- stick it near Nagash if you don't believe me.
- Necrolyth Colossus:
Where Necrosphinx and Terrorgheist vie for the best monster-killer/all round monster title, the Colossus is the ultimate chaff murderer. It's Unstoppable Assault (Vampires' Red Fury turned to eleven) allows it to clear whole units alone. If you bring Colossus - always bring Light magic! Despite brilliant statline, its Ws and I are plain horrible, but a few select spellcasts can turn into apocalypse. As for weapon options, take second weapon - more attacks means more wounds, meaning more attacks... you get the drift. Super-high strength is mostly needed against other monsters - and you should use Necrosphinx on those, while the bow will never pay off.
Already a very powerful unit, it is made even better by synergy with Vampires' magical shenanigans. If you are going for a lot of low-level necromancers spamming Invocation of Nehek, bring one of these and bring Blasphemous Tome to one-dice Invocations.
Main monster killer. Got better now that it can fly and healing spells are more available. Can combine KB/HKB buffing spells with the Vampire re-roll wounds spell for extra monster-killing lulz. Throw in ASF and other buffs = enemy monsters suffer critical existence failure when this thing gets in contact. As a monster-killer and even chaff killer it is notably better than Terrorgheist, even though it lacks the utility of Death Shriek. All in all, Necrosphinx is a nice powerful monster in most situations.
- Screaming Skull Catapult:
A welcome choice in this army. The ability to force panic tests, let alone magical and flaming ones is not to be overlooked, and the new spells make them very easy to bring back (as long as the catapult or at least 1 crewmember is on the table the whole model can be brought back). The Skulls of the Foe upgrade stacks nicely with the army's other leadership shenanigans. They make a shooty undead army a viable and deadly prospect.
- Casket of Souls:
Worth it. Never leave the house without one. Even if you're going all-cavalry you can summon one with Lore of Undeath and it's cheap enough that you don't need Nagash or Arkhan to pull it off. Don't ask, don't hesitate, just put one in your army list. You won't regret it.
- Morghast Archai:
The new and exclusive unit. For 90 points you get a solid statline (S5 T5 W5 A3), 4+ and halberds. Rest of rules as Morghast Harbinger, including anti-crumbling aura. All in all, nice support unit to provide resilience to your unstable units, capable of surviving in melee, if need be. Take this if you want to save your Special points but want that buffing.
Building your army
Buying and designing your army
Start with the Vampire Counts Battalion, it doesn't matter who you are, the battalion has 20 ghouls, 20 skeletons, 10 Dire Wolves, and a Corpse Cart, which will do just fine for every wizard in the game because those are all good options, and they are also all options that, excluding the Corpse Cart, can be summoned relatively easily using the Lore of Undeath, and they are all good support options no matter what army you are running.
Better yet, get one of the new End Times bundles. Now normally you'd think that GW's "one click bundles" are basically a bunch of weird crap put together with no real discount. WRONG. At least the three army bundles (The Black Host, The Army of the Silver Pinnacle, and the Army of Sternieste) all have discounts than buying the items individually (and these are significant discounts, like 25%). Of all of them, The Black Host is probably the best buy, as you get the Terrogeist kit, meaning you could build it up as a Vampire Lord on zombie dragon and then turn the strigoi ghoul king into another vampire lord on foot. You also get a Wight King (although not that impressive) and 20 Grave Guard. There's also 20 skeletons, which is never a bad place to start. The Army of Sternieste is also pretty good, considering you get 15(!) Hexwraiths/Black Knights and a decent block of zombies, as well as a Necromancer and Vargheists. The only one that's kinda lackluster is the Army of the Silver Pinnacle, as it gives you 10 Tomb Guards (which the Grave Guards are superior to) and a Tomb Banshee as opposed to a more useful hero and elite troops. It does come with the mortis engine and 20 Ghouls, as well as 16 archers.
The big question when deciding to build an Undead Legions army is, 'Who is your leader?' To a very large extent, who you want running the army determines how you should build it. Become familiar with your chosen leader's rules, and then take things that supplement your leader's area of expertise.
The following are particularly good and recommended.
- Red Fury
- Master of the Black Arts
- Fear Incarnate
- Winged Horror
- Forbidden Lore
- Aura of Dark Majesty
- Dread Knight
The following are particularly good and recommended.
The Screaming Banner: For fear
/terror tests, this is a sweet magical item. (It specifies Fear tests only. The test when a Terror-causing unit charges is technically a Panic test)
Skabscarth: Worth it on a combat Vampire Lord that's not the general, just make sure you kill something with it.
Nightshroud: Granting Always Strikes Last to enemies is good, take this against elves whenever possible. Put on a Zombie Dragon riding Vampire Lord for maximum effect.
Destroyer of Eternities: Good for taking out monsters, especially if the weilder is buffed by the Lore of Light and/or Nehekhara.
Blade of Antarhak: 50 point one hander that heals one wound for every unsaved wound. Don't want to use spells to heal a specific Tomb Kings character, this is for you. Put on a Chariot riding character for maximum effect.
The Golden Death Mask of Kharnut: While the Vampire Count magic item is cheaper, this comes with granting Terror and a 6' bubble to cancel out the enemy general's LD and the Battle Standard. One reason to take a Tomb King in your army.
Enkhil's Kanopi: This went from good to great, as it can give you back power dice from dispelling friendly and enemy Remains in Play spells that can be repurposed. Eg; dispelling a Lore of Shadows spell and using the power dice to summon a new unit, for 25 points, worth it!
Banner of the Undying Legion: Only Tomb Guard or Tomb Heralds can take this; if you want someone else to have it, give this banner to a Tomb Herald and slap them in a unit. Good for healing if you're short on power dice.
The following is the general theorycraft of how your leader defines your strategy and what, then, you should build in your army to take advantage of this strategy. Obviously, since we're playing an army of Necromancers, these strategies revolve ALMOST ENTIRELY around the magic phase.
The Necromancer Actually
You need one heavy-weight caster. Nagash, Mannfred, Arkhan the Black, Vampire Lord with Level 4 casting. You could make do with a Grand Necromancer if you really hate having one of the few groups of Wizard choices that can put on armor and go out to beat down fools. I'm partial to Vampire Lords (as is obvious in the Tactics section), but they're all viable choices.
Nagash is the most vulnerable to random 'save or dies' out of Nagash and Friends (because he's so expensive and big), but he hits really hard. You want to decide the outcome of the game by Turn 3, because the longer the game goes on, the more likely it is he's going to die. And if he dies, it's a big Game Over screen for you. If you're running a Nagash army, you want a lot of fast, durable, aggressive units. Van Hel's Danse Macabre as supplied by Necromancers on Corpse Carts supplementing big blocks of Vampire Counts Infantry (Crypt Ghouls, Grave Guard, and Skeletons) can race down the board and into your opponent's face, not giving him any time to execute maneuvers. Then you take advantage of the gridlock and swoop in on the flanks with your big monsters (Hierotitans, Sphinxes, Zombie Dragons, Vargheists, etc).
Keep in mind that any competent opponent will make a beeline for Nagash with his nastiest beatstick, so be prepared to summon some infantry into his charge lines. The reason that you want to decide the game quickly is the same reason that every Mage-centric army wants to win as quickly as possible: miscasts. Nagash has some built-in protection from Miscasts but it's not perfect by any stretch. Every time you roll the dice in your Magic phase, you risk watching the game slip away because of a capricious miscast that shuts down Nagash more rapidly than your opponent's army could hope to. Make every spell count, don't get overconfident, and remember that at any time the dice could smash your face in by causing Nagash to vanish screaming into the Warp, and your chances of victory along with him.
Nagash is a very aggressive caster, and you want to immediately get into combat with your army so that he can summon undead to flank the battling forces and turn the tide in your favor. The more people there are fighting your minions, the less likely they are to be gunning for the Big Man Himself, and the more likely it is that you can keep him alive. Take lots of cheap infantry, and maybe a back-up caster with Lore of Vampires. Keep Nagash in the back as much as possible, and try to tie up any big threats like cannons or offensive spellcasters right away with your flanking troops.
Mannfred is the caster that excels at shutting down other casters. He's also the toughest of the Mortarchs (assuming you give him Lore of the Vampires so he can refill his ridiculous 10 Wounds every turn). He has two really hilarious tricks. The first is getting 12 attacks (+d6 Thunderstomp) in one turn at the cost of three of your power dice during the magic phase. However, he can immediately turn those dice into an advantage for you if he gets into combat with a big block of infantry, because if he kills five faceless grunts of the enemy army, you get five extra dice during your next dispel phase.
In other words, not only will you have more dice than your opponent during their own magic phase, you'll have a Level 4 Caster doing the counterspelling. This is Mannfred's aggressive trick, and what you're going to base your entire army design strategy around. He makes enemy spellcasters cry, and kicks ass while doing it. I personally give him nothing but Lore of the Vampires, with Invocation being mandatory and hoping for Van Hel's Danse Macabre and an offensive spell or two.
Mannfred has to be in combat with a big block of infantry for maximum effect. Therefore, he needs a large escort (I use 6 Vargheists) to act as ablative wounds and help him win Combat Resolution. Mannfred and a murder of Vargheists crashing into your opponent's Big Scary Thing on turn 1 is downright hilarious to watch, however, and is a viable tactic if you absolutely need to take the initiative. There's not much that their combined weight of Str 5 attacks won't kill, and watching your opponent's expression when your seven models wipe out an entire block of 40 infantry in one combat phase is priceless. You absolutely have to build him around an escort to get the most utility out of him in the enemy Magic phase.
His other trick occurs in late game, where he shifts from being a fighter to a magical powerhouse. He'll have taken some Wounds by this point if your opponent is competent, and what you want to do is get him out of combat, sacrifice his attacks for extra power dice, and start flinging around spells (which, if they're from Lore of the Vampires, will heal him right back up). Once his Wounds are topped off and you've summoned more zombies, healed your surviving troops, and done some damage to your opponent, you then switch back to Close Combat Mannfred for the final showdown.
Arkhan the Black is a Mini-Nagash. That's pretty much it. His magic sword is fantastic, but he's not very good with it. Bring supporting casters, especially with the lore of Light and the lore of Nehekhara. This is because once Arkhan summons some new units, the buffs from these two lores take them from good to incredible. Arkhan could summon a unit of Black Knights on the enemy's flank, then your other casters buff them with Lore of Light (eg; Black Knights with WS10 and I10), the lore of Nehekhara (eg; Killing Blow on a 5+) or both! They can also buff Arkhan himself; you can give him a 5+ ward save defensively, but it's the offensive buffs that really help Arkhan. His comparatively low WS and I becomes moot when Arkhan has been buffed with WS/I 10 from Speed of Light, +1 attack and ASF from Bijona's Timewarp and/or Killing Blow from Djaf's Incantaion of Cursed Blades. All three spells plus Arkhan's sword make him downright TERRIFYING to fight against in combat.
He's the other big Lore of Undeath user (besides Nagash), and he follows a Nagash Like strategy. Aggressive army, keep him safe so that he can summon flanking forces to win it for you. Pretty straightforward. He's squishy, even for a dude with T6 and a truckload of Wounds.
Nefereta isn't really a caster, but she gets an honorable mention for being a Mortarch. She's the most fighty of the Mortarchs, and as your off-caster with Lore of the Vampires (you really should have a level 4 caster if you run her) she can hold your troops together and heal herself quite well. Don't rely on her casting to win the game, but it's useful to have on the side. Vlad is basically the same.
Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon. Mmmmm, now we're talking. One of these bad boys, a Necromancer hero to caddy your dispel scrolls, maybe throw in a second Vampire Lord on a Nightmare with a few dedicated caster traits like Master of the Dark Arts... I get the chills just thinking about it. Go look at the Vampire Counts guide, I'm not going to write all of that again here.
Necromancers and Vampires: They're great. Make sure you always have two casters with Lore of the Vampires at all times (and both have Invocation). After that, go nuts. Make sure they're all level 2, that one point (and extra spell) makes all the difference.
Tomb Kings Casters: They're pretty sweet. More healing, more buffing. Try to keep your army confined to Two Lores or less though. If you decide to specialize in Tomb Kings casters, go look at their guide.
Well... somebody actually thought that the Undead Legion wasn't a broken idea? Let's get right to it, then.
Vampire Counts have a fantastic core army composition, but few supporting elements. Tomb Kings have a bad core army roster (except for the chariot units), but fantastic support elements. Undead Legion lets you use all units of both armies. Cherry picking the good units from both books isn't rocket science.
50% Lord and Hero allowance is a dream come true for Vampires. Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon in 1500 point games? Multiple Vampire heroes? Vampires were always obese in their character choices, and suddenly having twice as many points to put towards them is.. well, completely game changing. You might want to let the other End Times alliances come out before taking advantage of this particular change. The alternative is that all your opponents will hate you, and not in the 'ha ha friendly rivalry' way. There is really no excuse, you should have at least one level 4 caster in every game now.
Nagash and Friends are cool looking, but they're HUGELY inferior to a kitted out Vampire Lord, point for point. Yes, they have a lot of wounds. That doesn't mean shit. You could take a Level 4 Vampire Lord on Nightmare with a decent power and gear kit, drop him in a bodyguard of Blood Knights or Black Knights, and the whole thing would be about as expensive as New Mannfred. It would also have more attacks, 2+/1+ armor saves, a 4+ ward save on the Lord, and just about as many wounds. Flying isn't even an advantage for the Morties, because taking advantage of it means that they'll be ahead of the rest of your army (which is to say, dead first).
In the same vein as the above point, cheap troop spam has NEVER been more appealing. Let's be real for a moment. Two fully loaded Vampire Lords are about as expensive as Nagash, and honestly I would rather play against Nagash than 1,000 points worth of Vampire Lords. And if Legion has options like that, you're going to want to load up on lots of cheap troops to saturate the field while still leaving room for your scary Vampires. Yes, Gee Dubs wants you to play with Lore of Undeath and summon lots of undead to the field.. but y'know what? Lore of the Vampires works just fine, especially since it'll buff the TK elements of your army now too.
Why are two Vampire Lords scarier than Nagash? Two words: Target priority. Nagash is big, so killing him is straightforward. You shoot him with cannons and spells until he stops moving. While scary, he's only got a 4+/4+. Any number of horrible things could happen to him (Warhammer Fantasy is basically Horrible Things: The Game), and once he's dead, you're out 1,000 points and literally all of your magic juice. Arch-Necromancer might be nice, but if Nagash is doing all your casting, eventually you'll 'whoops' him from miscasts alone. By contrast, if you have two Vampire Lords running around, you can set one up on each flank of your army and pose two very difficult problems to your opponent, especially if one's on a Zombie Dragon.
Spirit Hosts have a new model that doesn't look like a bunch of dudes hiding under bedsheets. There's really no excuse not to take them anymore.
Tomb Kings have a lot of really nice support elements in their list that VC just doesn't have. Necrotects, pretty much the entire Tomb King Rare list, and.. Tomb Princes. Tomb Princes and Necrotects with a unit of Grave Guard will turn anywhere into a charnel house. Necrosphinxes will also be funny for killing Nagash and Friends, or whatever other End Times badasses pop out of the woodwork. (Like Glotkin!)
Speaking of murdering really expensive models, Screaming Skull Catapults are your friends. Really. They're inexpensive artillery, which is one of the glaring flaws in the Vampire Counts roster. Since The End Times seems to be all about huge-sized monsters, a couple artillery pieces will be a good investment if you want to make sure everyone else joins you in the afterlife.
The only really big drawback to Legion lists is that VC's two best casters got cut. Kemmler is out, and Mannfred's not a loremaster anymore. This means that reliable buff spells (from their loremaster abilities) are no longer on the menu (sigh) so you'll have to make up for it in list anatomy. Luckily, Caskets of Souls and TK casters are in to replace their magical edge. If you can't have quality, make up for it with quantity, I suppose. Just take several casters (two minimum, and one of them should be a Level 4) and you'll be fine.
Opinions differ on whether Lore of Undeath or Lore of Vampires are optimal for Undead Legions. Discussion can be seen in the Talk page. Similarly, there are mixed opinions on Morghasts. See Talk page as well.
Not the most popular, but quite interesting tactic, especially against low-Ld or high-T armies.
With this list Undead's innate Fear becomes hilariously powerful.
It revolves around Death Shriek and Ghostly Howl rules.
What you need:
- Terrorgheists - bring the two rare ones, and maaaybe one as Strigoi mount.
- Tomb Banshees - sure, they are sub-optimal, but with new 50% Heroes limit, you might as well take some in Hero slots. Alternatively you can grab small units of Cairn Wraiths with Banshee champions in Rare slot.
- Skabscrath - your general needs a weapon anyway and another Death Shriek is very nice.
- Casket of Souls - besides being awesome as it is, it basically follows the same mechanic, so fits perfectly.
- Golden Death Mask of Kharnut - Synchronizes very well with this list. Ideal for breaking through a opponent line and into his rear, as it prevents all enemy units within 6' 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, with causing Terror as the icing on the cake.
- Lore of Death - essential for this list. Mostly you need just one spell - Doom and Darkness, to reduce enemy's only defense. Aspect of Dreadknight and Spirit Leech are fine too, as they benefit from reduced Ld.
- Aura of Dark Majesty - another nice Ld reducing ability, and quite cheap at that!
- Mortis Engine - pretty good on itself, it also packs some banshees on board, so can do banshee howl as well.
What is nice:
- Lore of Undeath - "Khizaar - the Soul Stealer" is basically Casket in spell form and therefore is quite nice in this list.
- Lore of Dark Magic - you will need a multiplayer game for that, but "Shroud of Despair" compliments this list perfectly.
- Supernatural Horror, Fear Incarnate and Beguile - these vampiric powers shine in this list, so might as well grab some of them. They are cheap after all.
- Coven Throne - Battle of Wills is awesome as it is. In this list it is just stellar. Just mount that mind-screwing vampire lord on it...
- Curse of the Revenant - while not the best vampiric power, Death Shriek scales off user's remaining Wounds - so it maaay be useful.
- Hierotitan - another Spirit Leech and general bonus to spellcasting - what's not to like?
- Screaming Skull Catapult - Panic tests do wonders with this list.
- Krell, Mortarch of Despair - with all the Ld-reducing shennanigans and all the Terror and Panic you're likely bringing in such a list, Krell with regain health at a staggering speed.
Magic Heavy List recipe ;
You'll need : A BARREL to collect tears, an opponent to RAPE, 1 tbsp of Hierotitan, add some chopped Mortis Engine (don't forget to add salt, hum I mean the Blasphemous Tome), mix both for 3 minutes (just to watch the tears slightly rolling on your opponents cheeks) then add a Casket of souls (the last must come from your pants, unzip for maximum surprise of Raping Rapeness)
Want Nagash to cast vampire spell with +10 bonus ? Or maybe you're more the necromancer spam tournament-winner kind of guy and want to see those little lv1 bastard spam Nehek with a +6 bonus ? Either way you'll definitely lose some friends.
Balanced Vampire and TK list; 1 level 4 vamp lord with the +1 to hit you sword, ASF, WS9, Beguile, Aura, -1 to hit me armor and 4+ward. This guy never gets fucking hit and when he does it dont do shit as he's level 4 so just spell it back. 1 level 4 Liche high priest- The lore of Nehekkarra is nasty when you got a high level with either number 2 or 3 spells 1 Level 3 necromancer there now all the Lore of undeath 1 level 4 necromancer these fuckers are dirt cheap and now you got vamp support then smack two 50 man units of spear skeletons from vampire book then 1 unit of skeletal archers 1 Casket 1 Coach 4 Wraiths with a banshee 3 Spirit hosts and then sit back and watch the raping begin.