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EFTW – A deeper look at Tomb Kings (part 1)

Holy crap, has it really been a week since I last posted? Doesn’t seem like it, I apologize for the wait :)

So as many of you know, I’ve been building and painting Khemri figs haphazardly for a while now, and making up a few army lists as well. Been a lot of fun, and while my efforts haven’t been terribly focused so far (I’m definitely still in that glorious “everything is shiny and distracting” phase), I can honestly say that I think they did a bang-up job on this new book. Let’s break it down, shall we?

The (shiny new) Models

As has been the case with every new army book lately (except maybe Beasts of Chaos boring old Beastmen), there are plenty of shiny new plastic kits to drool over.

The War Sphinx/Necrosphinx kit is very mighty and impressive looking. Builds pretty easily, with a minimum of fuss or mould lines to worry about. Not a helluva lot of options for assembly, which is my only gripe about it. Your pose options include one foot slightly off the ground or all feet firmly on the ground. Overall, I rate it a very solid Anus. That’s short for A- by the way. But I prefer saying anus. So I will continue to do so.

The Sepulchral Stalkers/Necropolis Knights kit is definitely getting way more mixed reactions than the other ones right now.

Sexy sentient snakes slither silently, stalking the sands... and sepulchres... lots of "s" words.

Much like the GK Dreadknight kit, I completely understand this. The Sepulchral Stalkers option is pretty gorgeous. It’s basically a cross between the metal Slaanesh boobworm and an Ushabti, both of which are some of my favorite models from their respective ranges. My plans to build a unit of 18 Ushabti, and never ever field it as such, should tell you how I feel about them. Very very pretty :D

The Necropolis Knights, on the other hand, are a bit dodgy. The riders, in keeping with the new Tomb Guard design, look really good on their own. The command options are pretty solid, with a nice banner that reminds me of the standard from Conan the Barbarian and a shiny death mask for the champ (or more likely your Tomb King with the Golden Deathmask magic item). The musician’s gigantic trumpet I could do without. Undead always have giant brass wind instruments, which astounds me since they have neither lungs nor lips.

Anyway, the issue with the Knights is the snake itself. They look nowhere near as good as the artwork, which is actually pretty solid. If the hoods were smaller and the heads were integrated into the neck instead of having the giant collars, it could definitely work better. Another concern with these guys is their sheer size. They are about 3″ tall, without the rider and without the unit standard. They will be incredibly awkward to transport if you give them the full command upgrades. Battlefoam, please design trays for this army and I will buy them…

A small gripe that I had with these models, and I know Ward did too, was the mould line on the snake tail. Along all of those dozens and dozens of ribs is a mould line that takes forever to clean. I highly recommend building up sand around the tail, which is both realistic and excellent at hiding any stray plastic that you miss :p

I rate the Stalkers an A and the Knights a B-. Overall that leaves the kit somewhere around a B+. The price is entirely reasonable as well, which is nice. 3 Stalkers will run you a decent ~150-175 points (I don’t want to get in trouble by posting the exact cost) and 3 Knights with full command will cost you an extra 75 beyond the cost of Stalkers. A 3:1 ratio of points to dollars is pretty fair for most units and these guys are well within that range.

Next up are the Tomb Guard. I really like these guys a lot. I definitely want to do a unit with up to 40 models, they are expensive in game so they might not always make it that big, but it will pay to have lots in case you want a horde with halberds to make the hands-down most killy infantry unit you can make with the army. The regular skeletons don’t even come close. Against reasonably tough opponents with 4+ or better armor saves, they will be very good to have in your list.

Note: The musician is converted with parts from the old Khemri sprue and the skull shaped end of the new trumpet.

The models come with either halberd and shield or hand weapon and shield. The halberd option is new, and according to most people building army lists, it’s probably worth it almost all the time. 5+/6++ parry is not much of a save, and if you just want to tie up an opponent you are better off using standard skeletons for that. Halberds, while expensive, give you a more defined role for the unit. And frankly they look better, too. As a bonus, you end up with a ton of extra khopesh style hand weapons to equip your basic skeletons with. This will look much better (and more uniform) than the mix of axes, swords and flails that are in that ancient plastic kit they are still keeping around.

Command options for the kit are limited but nice. Just the one kind of banner to use, but you have the option of that nice zombie vulture to throw on there for variety. The death mask and slightly more fancy weapon arms for the champion are decent, but not overwhelming.

In my opinion, the only thing holding this model kit back is the sheer cost of it. $49.50CDN / $41.25US / £25.50 is a lot for 10 figures. Probably too much. Luckily there is fierce competition within this army book for Special units, so you won’t be tempted to get more than one unit. Unless you’re Ward, in which case you are tempted to use these models for every skeleton in your army. Good luck with that buddy, I’ll be buying VC Skeletons for 60% the cost and using leftover parts from the Sphinx, Tomb Guard and Stalker kits for conversions. Obviously the Khemri upgrade sprue from the old Khemri skeleton box will be your only option for archers… lucky for me I have a few of these old boxes from back in the day so I’m covered :)

Overall, I rate the Tomb Guard as an Anus (A-) as well, same as the Sphinx. I am extremely confident that everyone buying Tomb Kings will want at least one of each of the new plastic boxed sets. If nothing else, just for variety and a massive collection of conversion bitz for the rest of the project.

Unfortunately, that’s about it for new models right now. The army book has pictures of Apophas, the Prince made out of bugs and the Ushabti with bows. But with the rumors swirling around about the discontinuation of all metal production, who the hell knows if/when they’ll be released, or for how long they’ll remain available. Apophas and the Ushabti with bows are both getting mixed reviews as well. Personally I like Apophas (Anus/A- from me) and the Ushabti are just okay (B). The faces on the studio ones look dodgy (could be the paintjob?) and the legs look good but appear to be exactly the same… which is odd. To me that suggests a mail order only release, with one set of legs and variant torsos. But that’s all pure speculation at this point.

Rumors persist of plastic Ushabti (with command?) and a plastic Colossus/Hierotitan in the second wave (or even the 1.5 wave that happens shortly afte the main release). I would definitely be on board with that. I really, really want a Hierotitan for doing a variant army build with extra magic. +D3 to priests within a foot and some bound spells of his own when you happen to roll high on the Winds of Magic? Plus, he’s still a S6/T6 monster. Not too shabby… they just need to come out with a model already :D

Fun with conversions

As I have a pretty gigantic (and diverse) bitz box, I was able to start making some fun conversions for the army as well. I made these two models out of old pewter figs. The one on the left is based on Ramtut III from Bloodbowl, and the one on the right is an old VC Mummy with the head swapped out for the plastic deathmask taken from the Necropolis Knight unit champion.

Heralds from the front ...

... And the back.

I had a lot of fun building these guys. Still not 100% sure what to count them as in-game, but I’ll figure it out. My initial impression is to use the big one on the left as a basic Herald with hand weapon and shield. Likely will have some minor protective gear, or the Ironcurse Icon to give him, his unit and his prince a 6++ ward save against war machines. He might also see use as a Prince/King on foot… but since I have each of the metal Prince models, I doubt it. For conversion parts, his axe and shield came from the Necropolis Knight champion and the cobra headdress icon thingy came from the Sphinx.

The one on the right might actually get used as the Herald Nekaph, Settra’s personal Emissary, once in a while. This special character has some nifty special rules, ie. Nekaph forces enemy to take fear tests on 3d6, picking the two highest, and he gets 5++ ward save and an upgrade to 5+ killing blow in challenges. He also carries the Flail of Skulls, which causes Multiple Wounds (2) and benefits from his Killing Blow ability. He even gets WS5 instead of a regular Herald’s WS4. To top it all off, he barely costs more points than a generic Herald with his full magic item allowance. Overall, I think he’s a steal of a deal, and will probably be one of the most commonly used special characters in the book once people start to get familiar with the list.

Closeup to emphasize basing texture. Yes, that's a 40x20mm base on the left. He's too damn big for a 20x20!

More importantly, they were fun to build and will look cool on the battlefield. Can’t wait to paint them up, but I have a little bit of greenstuff work to do first. Nekaph’s scale mail flaps need to be extended upwards to attach to his helmet, and a teensie bit of greenstuff work can be done on the big guy’s snake helmet. Not a huge deal.

Summary

Once again, the prospect of losing all the metal options for this army is terrifying. The Ushabti, Princes/Kings, and the Casket of Souls are all gorgeous and pretty vital to the army list. The Catapult, Scorpion and Carrion are still pretty solid kits, luckily not as in the new book. Priests and Icon Bearers/Heralds definitely could use new models. The metal ones were never quite up to par with the rest of the metal range.

A big “thank you” to Games Workshop (West Edmonton Mall) and Warp 3 (Mill Woods Town Centre). The Black Box preview minis were a blast to work on.

5 comments on “EFTW – A deeper look at Tomb Kings (part 1)

  1. Just wanted to quickly say that I did my greenstuff work on the Heralds and got another batch of guys ready for primer. Hoping to have the first Stalker painted by Friday, so I can have him sit in Warp 3 for the release weekend. I’ll drop off the Tomb Guard as well, so people can see them all built and ranked up in the… well maybe “in the flesh” isn’t the right term. Hehe :D

  2. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the tweaks to existing choices in the book.

    How do you feel the new Casket works?

    What is your take on skeletons? (as in, how do you plan on equipping them)

    • I have an article reviewing the army list and basic tactics in Draft form. It’s currently about 2500 words or something and I didn’t quite finish it on the weekend :-)

      Re: Casket, I love its rules but wish the crew were S4 T4 Tomb Guard as before. Right now they have stats and rules halfway in between skeletons and Tomb Guard, which is very odd to me.

      Re: Skeletons, I plan on making 40 with LA, HW and Shield, plus 30 with bows for starters. LA is a dodgy upgrade, as you need these guys to be cheap and plentiful, but I will try it for two reasons.

      1. I have to paint 25% fewer skeletons this way.
      2. Each save you make likely saves a skeleton due to crumbling. 2 for 1.

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