That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the long years of wandering aimlessly in the desert, praying for a new army book to appear on the horizon are finally over. We are starting to get our first glimpses of the new miniatures and more rumblings about rules. And the best part is, I’m gonna be getting my grubby mitts on some black box minis 😀
The Tomb Guard look suitably badass. Much beefier than skellies, and very fitting for the army. I can see a lot of people converting these guys into archers/generic skeletons, making nicer cavalry, etc. Hopefully the box isn’t prohibitively expensive… but it will probably cost the same as Greatswords.
So what does the black box include? If you believe the interwebs, and it’s after April 1, so we can probably start to take things seriously again, the black box will likely contain the Sphinx kit and either Tomb Guard or Knights/Stalkers. The first two are kits we should be at least vaguely familiar with. The Sphinx has been rumored for a long time, as this iconic Egyptian creature surely would find a home in the Khemri army book sooner or later. Well, I’m not sure what people were expecting, but I think the Sphinx isn’t going to disappoint.
A member of the same weight class as the Stegadon, the Sphinx will boast several different variants and will be a mount option for Princes/Kings. The big difference here is that the Sphinx seems to be purely a combat build, with options for some upgrades like breath weapons and poisoned attacks. Other than that, no apparent upgrades for bows, catapults, or anything like that. Between Thunderstomp and a breath attack, these things will dish out a ton of damage in combat. Add in a crew of Tomb Guard (presumably with magical Killing Blow-inducing Tomb Blades) and they should be able to take on just about anything. I’m not sure what real benefit you’d see putting a Prince on a Sphinx. Tomb Guard have good stats and those lovely blades, so you are sacrificing a lot to put your boss up there. Depending on the other options in the book, you have to wonder if keeping him on foot or leading a unit of chariots might be a better option. I definitely think the metal characters look a little bit better than this guy as well … but he’s definitely a nice source of conversion bits for units. Time will tell how this will fare as a character mount. Definitely makes it easier to spam these things if you are so inclined!
The real question with these guys is what the hell is their “special Thundercrush attack” all about? Some kind of uber-Thunderstomp? Possibly something that works against larger models like cavalry or monstrous infantry?
The other interesting thing about this kit is the alternate build you can do with it. Like the Screaming Bell/Plague Furnace, Warp Lightning Cannon/Plagueclaw Catapult, Stegadon/Engine of the Gods, you will be able to build an altogether different kind of beast with this kit. Instead of having a howdah full of KB goodness, you can apparently opt for a Necrosphinx that promises to be a truly nasty customer in his own right. Rumor mongers are claiming that, like the Araknarok Spider, this guy has one special attack that he gets to make in combat… with Heroic Killing Blow. That kinda makes sense, as the Sphinx scenery piece from the main rulebook can grant this ability if you answer its riddle.
If my memory is accurate, this is the third army book option for Heroic KB. The previous two owners being Demons (Skulltaker) and Bretonnians (the virtue or whatever the heck it’s called, I’m too lazy to get my army book off the shelf 5 feet away from my desk).
This guy is definitely stylish as well, not only is he sporting the superior studio paintjob of the two variants, but he’s got a very cool scorpion theme going on with the tail and the pincer shaped wrist-blades. I’m kinda hoping that the wings are purely ornamental and this guy won’t actually be able to fly. That just seems wrong… but then again the Storm Raven can fly so why not a 20 ton marble statue covered in armor?
Finally, we have the Sepulchral Stalkers/Necropolis Knights. These guys are kinda interesting… the Stalkers appear to be snake-like burrowing Ushabti and the Knights are… skeletons riding snake skeletons. The rules are probably better than the models. Again, burrowing for sneak attacks, but once again ridden by Tomb Guard to get the combination of posioned and KB attacks with their split profiles. Should be very interesting to see the special rules, upgrades, etc. for these fellas.
The Knights I’m not really sold on yet. Similar theme to the Stalkers, but goofier looking models. We’ll see how their rules work, if they’re a good alternative then I’m sure I’ll end up putting magnets in the back of the Stalkers to allow the option of mounting the riders on their shoulders. Not quite true WYSIWYG but who cares :p
Personally, I can envision an army of constructs, with a Necrosphinx, a block of Ushabti and some Stalkers for all the heavy hitting units. Backed up by archers and maybe a few tarpit units of skellies, and I think you could have a decent basis for an army. If they have rules for Sehenesmet, the Liche Priest entombed in a Bone Giant, I will be in heaven. Can’t wait to see what they come up with for a revamped Bone Giant kit in a later wave of releases.
So what do we know about the army design as a whole? According to the author, the word “Legion” best describes the armies of the Tomb Kings. You have warbands, armies, hordes and then there’s bona fide Legions. I am hoping that this translates to some serious points drops for skeleton-based units in this army book. Archers and spearmen were way too much before, and Tomb Guard had some serious limitations as well. A bit pricey, and formerly capped at 25 for unit size meant they had very limited use on the battlefields of 8th edition. You can surely expect a slight points drop and the removal of the size cap. I can see 10pts for hand weapon/shield, and 1 point each for upgrading to halberds or great weapons. That sounds about right.
And with the advent of many new types of constructs, many of which should be fairly hefty in terms of points cost, having cheap troops to fall back on will be an excellent thing. As Orc & Goblin players can attest to with their new book, adding any of the shiny new gribblies like Araknaroks takes a giant chunk out of your horde status. Khemri, with their much crappier basic troops, will simply hope for their skeleton speedbumps to tie up the enemy long enough for support units to be brought to bear on them. With the current rules for crumbling due to CR, you will need pretty massive units to hold up large (especially horded-out) units of superior opponents. If skeletons get cheaper, this will make loading up on heavy hitters a lot easier.
If all that wasn’t enough to digest in one sitting, then here’s a pic of the Chaos Dwarfs spotted recently. Signs are pointing to Warhammer Forge possibly doing a complete army of the evil little bastards in the very near future. I am surprised that it’s coming to that so quickly, but am very excited at the same time. These guys look mean. I am currently working on Dwarfs and Empire, which will soon switch to Dwarfs and Khemri. I really want to add a contingent of Chaos Dwarfs to my Tzeentch WoC army later this year. I think that would be a lot more fun than painting another pile of Marauders or plastic Warriors…
I just might post another article on Warhammer Forge and the Chaos Dwarfs once we have more info on them. That’s enough for today!