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EFTW – A deeper look at Tomb Kings (part 2)

Be warned, this is an extremely long post. As in ~5700 words long.

Das Book

You'd be angry too if you woke up and your lands were desolate and your wang had turned to dust.

The army book is now widely available, the tactics/strategy discussions for the army are picking up, and I have painted more Khemri models in the last month than I did in the previous 9 years that I owned an army of them. Sadly that isn’t saying much, since as you may recall, I never painted any of the ~3000 pts worth of them I bought in 2002 when they first came out. All in all, it’s been a good couple of weeks and I am very much looking forward to painting Khemri (alongside my Dwarfs) in the coming months.

Today I’m going to try to give my impressions of the actual rules for the new army list. A lot has stayed (more or less) the same, but there are some very intriguing new units, and some of the old favorites have been drastically re-designed in terms of game mechanics.

To start things off, let’s look at the army-wide special rules. The Nehekharan Undead have very similar rules to Vampire Counts. They are unbreakable, unstable, cause fear, are immune to psychology, and can only hold as a charge reaction. If the Hierophant (your highest ranking wizard with Lore of Nehekhara) dies, then the army starts to crumble. You take Ld tests for each unit every turn afterwards, and whatever you fail by is the number of wounds that the unit suffers, with no saves possible. Lucky for the Tomb Kings, our units have decent Leadership (better than Vampire Counts, at any rate) so this is not such a huge issue all the time. It’s also worth noting that the general and BSB will help slow the rate of crumbling, which is very handy. Vampires on the other hand crumble once the general dies, so they hair crappy Leadership and lack of the general’s Inspiring Presence will make them crumble much more quickly.

Tomb Kings archery also retains the ability to ignore all + or – modifiers to hit. When you’re shooting at skirmishers in a forest at long range on the turn that you moved, you’ll be grateful for this ūüėÄ

The big difference remains the lack of marching in the Tomb Kings list. Even if you have a character leading the unit, they still don’t get to march. This can be a pain in the butt, but there are ways to overcome this weakness (ie. magic and lots of it).

The Restless Dead

That brings us to the next mechanic I wanted to talk about, the Lore of Nehekhara. Unlike the previous incarnation of the Tomb Kings magic phase, this new version is a standard Lore with 6 spells, a good signature spell and a very handy attribute. No more bound spells, no more hierarchy determining your casting order, just a regular old magic phase that doesn’t break the game. Some people really don’t like this change, as the old mechanic was one of the defining features of the army in the past, but I for one am really happy with this. Tomb Kings magic was just silly before, and really didn’t work in 8th edition properly.

Just like the Vampire Counts, healing up wounded units is a big part of the Tomb Kings magic phase. As your Hierophant must use the Lore of Nehekhara, you will almost certainly end up with a number of augment spells in your arsenal, and whenever you cast an augment spell from this lore on a friendly unit they end up healing D3+1 wounds worth of slain models using the¬†Restless Dead¬†lore attribute. It’s worth noting that there is a specific order for these heals, just like the Regrowth spell from Lore of Life. You heal unit champions, musicians, then top off any wounded multi-wound rank and file models, and finally start resurrecting slain rank and file models. Any unit with the Undead Construct rule (Ushabti, Sphinxes, etc.) can only heal 1W per magic phase. The attribute can never bring a unit above its starting size.

Unfortunately, there is some trouble with this lore. It will probably need a FAQ sooner rather than later, due to some confusion about healing solo monsters and characters. The Resurrecting Fallen Warriors rule in the army book specifically says that characters who join units can’t be healed, nor can their mounts (it also says that characters can’t be healed by items or spells unless they specifically say that they will heal characters). When they are inside units, the order in which you heal wounded/slain models does not specify when to heal characters. The inference that many people are making is that you simply can’t heal characters via the Restless Dead lore attribute. The only ways to heal characters would be through the Wizarding Hat (if you roll Lore of Life, that is, which is a 12.5% chance), through the Blade of Antarhak magic weapon, or through the Healing Potion available in the main rulebook. But, some people are disputing this, claiming that when characters are on their own, they are essentially rank and file models in a unit consisting of one character. I think this is quite a stretch, and many Tomb Kings players agree with me, but there are forum threads hundreds of replies deep where people simply can’t agree on this. I normally wouldn’t post all this garbage up, but this is a key mechanic for the army and it’s something that will have an impact on games I’m sure.

Let’s look at the spells themselves.

  • Signature Spell: Khsar’s Incantation of the Desert Wind. Cast on 8+/16+. Augment. 12″ area of effect/24″ area of effect. This allows the affected units to move exactly as per the Remaining Moves subphase. Obviously no marching or charging, but they can reform, move, wheel etc. as normal. No unit can move more than once per turn via this spell, but you can spam with multiple wizards to get a ton of AOE heals off at a low casting value if that’s the type of list you’re building.
  1. Djaf’s Incantation of Cursed Blades. Augment. Cast on 7+/10+, 12″/24″ range. This grants the unit¬†Killing Blow, or if they already have KB or HKB, then they trigger on a 5+. This lasts until the next Tomb King magic phase. Boosting the spell will double the range.
  2. Neru’s Incantation of Protection. Augment. Cast on 9+/18+. 12″ range/12″ area of effect. This spell grants a 5++ ward save that lasts until the beginning of the next Tomb Kings magic phase.
  3. Ptra’s Incantation of Righteous Smiting. Augment. Cast on 9+/18+. 12″ range/24″ area of effect. This spell grants both +1A and Multi-Shot (2) for models armed with bows or great bows (only Ushabti have the latter type). The really nice part is that this effects all models in the unit, including mounts, war machine crews, etc.
  4. Usirian’s Incantation of Vengeance. Hex. Cast on 10+/13+. 18″/36″ range. The target unit suffers -D3 to their movement stat (to a minimum of 1) and also treats all terrain as Dangerous Terrain (including open ground!). They must test every single time they move while this is in effect. This starts until the next Tomb Kings magic phase.
  5. Usekph’s Incantation of Desiccation. Hex. Cast on 11+/22+. 24″ range. The target unit suffers -1 to their S and T until the start of the next Tomb Kings magic phase. The boosted version will drop their S and T by D3 (minimum of 1). It’s not clear whether you roll once or separately for the boosted version, but either way this can be nasty.
  6. Sakhmet’s Incantation of Skullstorm. Vortex. Cast on 15+/25+. This is a S4 small template (or large template if you boost it). The template travels a distance equal to the wizard’s level, multiplied by an artillery die roll, in the direction of his choosing. If you misfire, you center the template on the caster and scatter a distance equal to the wizard’s level in inches.

All in all, a pretty interesting lore. The heals are very handy, and the fact that you can boost most spells to buff all units within range makes the Restless Dead attribute truly shine. Tons of heals for everybody!

The hex/vortex spells are getting a lot of criticism for being underwhelming and/or too expensive for what they do. I’m not so sure about that, as they all are reasonably effective spells. Desiccation might be a little expensive compared to Soulblight (which turns into a 24″ AOE hex when boosted) but I’m not super worried, as I don’t plan on using too many of these boosted damage spells anyway. With regards to Skullstorm being a terribly underpowered version of Purple Sun, it’s easy to see where people are getting this idea from. Purple Sun is useless against some armies (all Elves and 90% of the Warriors of Chaos units, for example), but absolutely devastating against any expensive units with I1 or I2. The fact that, with a bit of luck, you can suck up several hundred points worth of the enemy in one shot is kinda scary. S4 on the other hand is very reliable, in that it works equally well against I1 Saurus or I6 Swordmasters, but it doesn’t have that same ability to break the game wide open in a single casting.

There are some interesting synergies, however. The Tomb Kings have access to Lore of Light and Death, so they can do some sneaky things like casting Desiccation and Net of Amyntok on a unit containing the enemy’s spammiest wizard. This is often a shooting unit as well, which will give you more opportunities to get free hits on them as they struggle to move/shoot/cast spells. If the enemy unit happens to be Undead or Demons, then this spell combo will cripple them and actually do a lot of damage in a hurry as well. Another fun combo is the boosted Timewarp followed by Desert Wind. Your units within range will get +1A, ASF, D3+1 wounds healed, and they will move at double speed immediately and also during their next movement phase. That’s a gigantic boost to your army! I can definitely see dual Liche High Priests being a relatively common sight in the more magic-heavy Tomb Kings builds. Especially since there are ways to boost your magic output (which I will cover a little later in this article). Cursed Blades and Speed of Light is another fun combo, I mean who wouldn’t want 4pt infantry hordes with WS10, I10 and Killing Blow?

Like a Boss

Next up are the Hero and Lord choices. You still have your Princes/Kings and their Liche Priests, but there’s also some new types to choose from in Heralds and Necrotects.

The Princes, Kings and Priests are very similar to the previous book. The¬†My Will Be Done¬†rule has changed, however. Instead of having a bound spell, your Princes and Kings will imbue their units with their energy and allow them to use their unmodified WS. As always, expect an FAQ to clarify just how “unmodified” they really meant with this ability. Usually + or – modifiers are ignored, but items/spells/etc. that swap out stats will probably transfer the new WS to the unit. Fencer’s Blades might be an excellent purchase, if MWBD can transfer WS10 to the entire unit. The Hierophant also got an interesting boost, as he now bestows a¬†6++ regeneration¬†save on himself and the unit he is joined to.

Interestingly enough, I was proven correct when I made my predictions many months ago for this book. When nobody could figure out how MWBD was going to work, I was guessing that there would be a +1 to hit boost for the unit, kinda like Heralds in the Demons of Chaos army book. I also figured that LHP’s would grant their unit 5++ regen and LP’s would give their unit 6++ regeneration. Obviously I was a little bit off with that one, but still I’m pretty proud that my predictions were so close. I was just using pure logic, and not basing that off any rumors or whispers from staff ūüėÄ

Heralds¬†are a new and improved version of the old Icon Bearers. Heralds have decent stats (lots of 4’s and 3A) and are pretty cheap. Way less than a Prince, and just a bit more expensive than your Empire Captain, for example. These guys are also Flammable, have¬†Killing Blow¬†as a special rule (that can be combined with any mundane or magic weapon), and are¬†Sworn Bodyguards. When you bind a Herald to a Prince or King, then they gain the ability to (on a 2+) intercept one wound per phase that would have been allocated to the character they are sworn to protect. This doesn’t work when the Prince/King is wounded in a challenge.¬†The Herald still gets to make his saves as normal against these wounds, which is handy. Overall, this is pretty handy insurance if you’re worried about your general getting sniped.

You can give them 50pts of magic items, or if you are feeling extra cruel, you can just leave the Herald relatively naked and serve purely as a meatshield. Lots of people seem to be fond of putting Dragonbane Gem and the Dragon Helm on the Herald and the Prince they are bound to, since they are both going to be targeted by flaming attacks wherever possible. Alternatively, you can upgrade a Herald to be your BSB. Heralds may also be given a Chariot or Skeletal Steed as a mount.

Necrotects¬†are the artisans of Khemri. They build and maintain the temples and Undead Constructs. In game, they are Flammable, have¬†Hatred¬†and confer this ability onto the unit that they are joined to, and they also grant a¬†6++ regeneration¬†save to all Constructs within 12″. They have slightly worse stats than the Heralds (mix of 3’s and 4’s, with 2A) and can only be taken on foot. As heroes, they have the standard 50pt magic item allowance. I think these guys will either be joined to Tomb Guard to make them a bit nastier in combat, or they will skulk around in a support unit to keep them safe while granting the regeneration save to nearby Constructs.

The Special Characters for the army are basically what you’d expect from any book. You have a couple of combat goons, a Loremaster, and some really bizarre characters that people probably won’t take very often.

Settra the Imperishable¬†rides around in his slightly better than average chariot, smashing things and casting as a Level 1 wizard. He lost his magic armor and 3 wizard levels, but he dropped in points significantly and got better in combat. He is now S6, and the Blessed Blade of Ptra is flaming, ignores all armor saves, and any model wounded but not killed will suffer a permanent -1 to hit modifier for the rest of the game (both shooting and combat attacks are affected, but this doesn’t stack as the model takes multiple wounds). And, thank the Gods, he still has the Scarab Brooch of Usirian for a ward save (4++ and MR(1)). Finally, instead of getting old MWBD that affects his entire army, he bestows his impressive WS (7) to all friendly units within 6″. That can make a huge difference in a game, for sure. At the end of the day he’s only a goon in combat, and not in the magic phase as well. At least he’s cheaper. Like 150 points cheaper.

Queen Khalida¬†suffered some hugely controversial changes in the new book. She lost Regeneration, her special Poison Attacks, and the ability to cast Righetous Smiting that cannot be dispelled. On the plus side, she’s cheaper and you don’t have to pay 2pts per model for her unit to gain poisoned shooting attacks. They also get to use her BS of 3. Always hitting on 4+ is pretty cool, but let’s face it you only care about those 6’s! She can still make a good Deathstar, but you can no longer take an entire army of¬†expensive¬†as hell archers who spam poisoned shooting attacks relentlessly. You won’t be seeing her at the center of army builds nearly as often as you did in the previous book.

Arkhan the Black is back!¬†And he’s dodgy! He’s a Level 4 Wizard who always knows Lore of Death and may be Hierophant (in exception to the normal rules that say Hierophants must know Lore of Nehekhara). He has a book that specifically makes him count as level 5. Not +1 level, but level 5. So (arguably), as long as this item survives, he will remain level 5 even if he miscasts and reduces his level. He can also store up to 3 dispel dice for use in his own magic phase. He has stats that are a mix of Tomb King and High Liche Priest numbers, a Tomb Blade that heals his unit as he kills models (but not himself or his Chariot if he takes it). He can be taken on foot or on a chariot (with the option of buying extra steeds or making it fly). He’s a very strange character, indeed. Potentially a good caster and a reasonably effective combat character, but with next to nothing for protection and he can’t heal himself with his sword if he’s running around on his own. I haven’t seen a single person online or in person make an army list around him yet because his rules are all over the place.

You have¬†Grand Hierophant Khatep, a L4 wizard with¬†Loremaster¬†for the Lore of Nehekhara and a pair of mediocre arcane items. He can re-roll one casting attempt per turn and he has a funky scroll that forces the enemy wizard to take a Toughness test. If passed, nothing happens. If failed, he loses concentration. If failed on a 6, he also takes D3 wounds that can’t be saved in any way. Very random and situational, unless you nuke the Wizard’s toughness with Desiccation and/or Soulblight. Then you can almost guarantee he’ll lose concentration on his first spell, which is great if you cast it on a Slaan or similar spammy wizard on a turn where the Winds of Magic are blowing strong. Be warned, Khatep is extremely squishy with no protective gear. He’s always Hierophant, so he (and his unit) will get 6++ regeneration but that’s all.

For Hero level Special Characters, you have a fancy Herald (Nekaph), a fancy Necrotect (Ramhotep), and a fancy Prince made out of bugs (Apophas).

Apophas (the Cursed Scarab Lord) is really goddamn strange. He can never be General nor can he join units, flies, he can deploy using Entombed Beneath the Sands, he has Regeneration, he causes Terror, he has a S2 breath attack, and he gets to declare one enemy character against whom he gets re-rolls to hit and to wound. WS4 S4 T3 W4 A5 for combat stats. Probably ideal for assassinating Wizards or harassing small support units like archers or war machine crews, as he’s way too fragile for anything else. He’ll also get popped like a pinata if he tries to charge a full unit with static combat resolution backing it up. So don’t do it!

I like shiny things

Just like the Orcs and Goblins book, the choice of magic items is very limited. You have 8 items, plus the BRB’s lengthy common magic item list. The old favorites return, including the Destroyer of Eternities, Blade of Antarhak to heal the wielder as he kills (and grant 4++ regeneration if he’s already got a full complement of wounds), and the Banner of the Undying Legion.

Two of the more interesting ones are the¬†Golden Death Mask of Kharnut¬†and¬†Enkhil’s Kanopi. The Death Mask is an enchanted item that makes the user cause Terror, but also cripples the Ld of enemy units within 6″. Enemy units cannot use the BSB’s re-rolls or their general’s Inspiring Presence while in range of the Death Mask. A number of folks have suggested putting a Tomb King with the Death Mask on Sphinx to help break large steadfast units, and to maximize the effect of the Casket of Souls. Enkhil’s Kanopi is a bound spell that you can use every turn. If cast, you roll for each RIP spell on the board. On a 3+ the spell does away and the Tomb Kings army generates D3 power dice for their pool. This can be very handy for shutting down the enemy and simultaneously boosting your own magic phase, especially against Ogres ūüėÄ

We are Legion

When Robin Cruddace spoke about the book prior to release, he said that one word summed up the Tomb Kings army: Legion. Whereas most horde armies are somewhat ramshackle, he saw the Tomb Kings as having cheap, plentiful and orderly armies of troops at their command. Reliability was always a big thing with the old book, and having reliable, orderly legions of troops really is a trademark of this new army book.

The Core choices for Tomb Kings are pretty interesting. You have Skeleton Warriors, Skeleton Archers, Skeleton Horsemen, Skeleton Horse Archers and finally, Skeleton Chariots. In a lot of ways, these guys are the same as before. Just cheaper.

Skeletons are pretty straight¬†forward, expect large units of crappy troops (40 or 50+) to hold up the enemy long enough to grind them down and/or bring in heavy hitting support units, but the cavalry did change. The generic¬†Horsemen are not Fast Cavalry any longer, but they are cheaper and maintain the¬†Vanguard¬†special rule. Not a terrible tradeoff.¬†The Horse Archers are now Fast Cavalry¬†and¬†Scouts. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but that would mean that they can set up anywhere beyond 12″ from the enemy and make a free 8″ move before the game starts. That’s really not bad, and you can expect these guys to be a common harasser unit for attacking enemy war machines and the likes right from turn 1.

Chariots actually got more espensive, as they shed their old Light Chariot/Fast Cavalry rules. For a few extra points (and cheaper command options), they gain the full D6 impact hits and 2A crew. In addition, they can form ranks 3-wide now, and they gain a bonus to the strength of their impact hits equal to their current rank bonus. I can really see units of 5 or more, led by a Prince on Chariot. They would get a ton of S5 impact hits, and a bucketload of WS5 attacks from the crew. Cast Righteous Smiting on them, and they will be double-tapping with bows and doubling their attacks in combat, as well. As one of the only units in the army to get access to magic banners, I can see a unit of Chariots with the Banner of Eternal Flame being a staple in most armies.

Well, isn’t that special?

Home to most of the heavy hitters, this will probably be the meat and potatoes of many army lists.

You’ve got your Carrion, War Sphinx, Tomb Guard, Ushabti, Tomb Scorpions, Tomb Swarms, Sepulchral Stalkers and Necropolis Knights all in Special. That’s an awful lot of very useful units to choose from.

Carrion remain the same cost as before, but were bumped up to S4 and A3 to compensate for losing the ability to be super-ridiculously fast. As they can Fly, but not March, they only move 10″ at a time in 8th edition. I think these guys will be a common sight for the old school players that have the models from the previous edition. They pack more punch than before, and are still a nice flexible unit.

Scorpions got the nerf they always needed. Let’s face it, they were the only thing in the old book that was under-priced for what it did. They lost 1W and, along with all units that are¬†Entombed Beneath the Sands, they can no longer charge on the turn they emerge.

Tomb Guard are basically the same. They got marginally cheaper, and now have the option of purchasing halberds for 2pts each. I still wish they were slightly cheaper, as they are not that much better than Skeletons, but cost roughly 3x as much. On the plus side, they traded their old magical Tomb Blades for standard Killing Blow as a special rule. So they get Killing Blow all of the time and can still benefit from¬†Parry¬†if you want to stick with HW/Shield on them. I fully expect most Tomb King players to begrudgingly invest in 30-40 of them, and just pretend they aren’t costing them an arm and a leg. These guys will be your typical Deathstar unit with a couple of characters and a magic banner.¬†Banner of the Undying Legion¬†will be your best bet, as a bound spell restoring D6+2 wounds worth of models per phase is pretty sexy.

Ushabti got cheaper and can take command now, but they traded their innate S6 for S4 and weapon options. Despite being amazing sculpts and being a staple unit in the old army list, people are very torn over Ushabti, myself included. Losing S6 stomps and being able to strike on initiative hurts. Being Undead Constructs, they can only be healed 1W per phase, which also means they will be harder to keep alive than before. Great bows are an interesting option for them as they have S6, 30″ range and Volley Fire. Hit them with Incantation of Smiting for multi-shot and they will pump out a decent rate of fire… always hitting on 5+ makes them reliable but not overwhelming.

I expect units of four, ranked up 2×2 with Musician will be fairly common as they remain relatively cheap and compact support units. Musician is there for Swift Reforms. Alternatively, you could try an Ushabti Deathstar using full command, 18 for Horde formation, and just pile the augment spells from Lores of Nehekhara and Light onto them. They won’t get healed, but they can get WS10, Killing Blow, extra attacks, etc. Probably not the most¬†competitive¬†build, but it will be amusing.

Sepulchral Stalkers and Necropolis Knights are very intriguing units. They are more expensive than Ushabti, but they perform some interesting roles in the army.

The Knights themselves have interesting fluff, as the riders were the most skilled and zealous of the King’s Guard. When their zeal threatened to turn into frenzy, they would ritually sacrifice themselves to these giant serpent statues, hoping to bind their essences together in the afterlife. This would prevent them from being a liability to their king in life and allow them to continue serving in death. Pretty badass. In game, they have WS4 S4 T4 and 2A each, with spears and Killing Blow. Their monstrous mounts are WS3 S5 2A with Poisoned Attacks. Throw in 3+ armor, some S5 stomp attacks, cheap command upgrades and the ability to purchase Entombed Benath the Sands if you want it, and they are a very good unit. The only downsides are the relatively high points cost and the chariot bases that they are mounted on. These guys take up a crapload of space.

Stalkers are a personal favorite of mine. They are cheaper than Knights and come with Entombed Beneath the Sands included in their cost. Their combat stats are kinda crappy, with S4, halberds, 2A no command options and just 5+ armor to protect them, but their real benefit is their shooting attack.¬†Transmogrifying Gaze¬†turns enemies into pillars of sand. For each Stalker, you inflict one artillery die worth of automatic hits on the enemy unit within 8″.¬†These hits are S1, but roll to wound versus the enemy Initiative and allow no armor saves. Stalkers can pop out near enemy monsters and/or war machine crews, pick up a bucket of dice and basically tell them to “F*ck off and die.” Any armies with widespread I1 or I2 will also have to be wary.

War Sphinxes¬†have been discussed to death, but for good reason.¬†They are T8, 5W, 5+ armor save constructs with a lot of offensive capability. 4A for the monster, and four Tomb Guard with spears on the howdah. You get 8 S5 attacks on the charge, half of them with Killing Blow, followed by Thunderstomp. If that wasn’t enough, you can buy Poisoned Attacks and a S4 flaming breath attack for the Sphinx. There’s also the Thundercrush ability, which despite its stupid name, is pretty solid. You have to sacrifice the Sphinx’s four attacks to do it and it only works against units that can be Stomped on (ie. Warbeasts, Infantry and Swarms), but If you hit, you get to place a small template in the enemy unit and resolve in the same way as a stone thrower.¬†Against T3 infantry, the Sphinx will absolutely demolish units in a hurry. And you can put a Prince/King on there if you want. I don’t recommend it, but you still can :p

Tomb Swarms are basically the same as always: cheap, shitty, and have lots of wounds and Poisoned Attacks. They can be used as a screen, or can pop up from below to harass a bit.

Last but certainly not least

And of course we have a nice selection of Rare choices to choose from in the new book as well. Old favorites in the form of Casket of Souls, Bone Giants and Screaming Skull Catapults return with some changes, and we also get Hierotitans and Necrosphinxes to play with. More than enough big gribblies to maky things interesting.

The old Bone Giant technically got split into two units: the Necrolith Colossus and the Hierotitan.¬†The Colossus retains the old Unstoppable Assault ability, where you get extra attacks for every unsaved wound caused. You also get the option of buying an additional hand weapon, great weapon, or bolt thrower-esque weapon called the Great Bow of the Desert. The Giant is cheap, but lacks the 3+ armor save of the old book (it’s now just a 5+). S6 T6 monster is still pretty good for well under 200 points.¬†The Hierotitan is a very intriguing support unit for Liche Priests. He has most of the combat stats of the Colossus, but lacks the weapon options and Unstoppable Assault. He gives friendly wizards within 12″ +D3 to all casting values and is inscribed with enough runes and magic items to cast two bound spells of his own (Burning Gaze at power level 3 and Spirit Leech at power level 4). Note that the +D3 bonus does not stack if you take multiple Hierotitans. He’s only 5 points more than the Colossus, so once again we have a good option for under 200 pts.

The¬†Necrosphinx¬†is getting a lot of buzz, good and bad. It’s a T8 W5 monster, same as the other Sphinx, but this guy is built for taking on elite units rather than hordes. He flies, so he can intercept them faster, and has Killing Blow.¬†In addition, one of his five attacks benefits from Decapitating Strike, granting it S10 and Heroic Killing Blow. With spells such as Cursed Blades to boost his HKB to 5+, he can get lucky and kill a big gribbly monster very quickly. Or with less luck, he can grind it out, relying on his T8 to avoid the worst of their attacks. Probably a much smaller niche than the Sphinx fills, but he’s a pretty good specialist. The only upgrade avilable to him is Poisoned Attacks for a dime.

The Casket of Souls has undergone a very thorough (and necessary) overhaul from the last book. It was simply way too good when it nuked all enemy units with true LOS to the Casket. Way too damn good.

It is now a bound spell (level 5) and causes more damage to a single target (the target unit takes a Leadership test on 3d6 combined, taking wounds equal to what they fail by), then spreading from unit to unit on 3+ like Chain Lightning. It is no longer crewed by a Liche Priest, and the Casket Guards unfortunately got demoted somewhat. They still have great weapons and Killing Blow, but they no longer have S4 T4 like Tomb Guard. As a bonus to your army’s magic phase, it generates D3 free power dice every friendly magic phase. As with the Hierotitan, the bonus does not stack if you take multiple Caskets.

All in all, the Casket is still fairly cheap and effective at what it does. It’s a massive psychological threat and will force your opponent to save dice, lest he risk having the Light of Death run rampant through his army. Small support units and solo monsters remain ideal targets for the Casket. Combine it with the Death Mask magic item to stop the enemy from re-rolling or using Inspiring Presence if you want to make it a bit more reliable.

The Screaming Skull Catapult is probably going to be the most overlooked of the Rare choices. It’s still good (and cheap at under 100 pts) but since you can’t have them shoot twice per turn anymore, make people will be turned off. I still think a flaming, magical stone thrower that always causes a panic test is a worthy addition to an army, either at low points where you can’t afford giant monsters or at large points where you can take them¬†in addition to¬†large monsters.

Can I stop typing please?

To sum it all up, the book is a very good indicator of where 8th edition should be headed. The book itself is gorgeous, with 96 pages of full color and nice artwork throughout. The army has a lot of variety, but still keeps driving you back to the Core of the army, which is massive bricks of Skeletons.

The army really relies on magic, and since Priests can only take horses for mounts, they will almost always find themselves bunkered in Skeleton Archers slightly behind the main battle line. Multi-purpose support units such as the Hierotitan and Chariots will be excellent support units, and mixes of different constructs will provide the majority of the damage. Within this formula there are tons of options and combinations to keep you busy, depending on which units you want to paint or what roles you feel your army needs filled.

Thank you, Robin Cruddace, for giving us a very reasonable book to play with. There’s some minor issues to address with FAQ’s, but overall it’s a damn fine book. Doesn’t appear to be broken-good (Imperial Guard) or broken-bad (Tyranids) so I’m thrilled ūüėÄ

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3 comments on “EFTW – A deeper look at Tomb Kings (part 2)

  1. This write up is very helpful as I sit down to figure out a potential army list. So far I’m finding it really hard to get a list going I feel good about. With my shaven army for example, I immediately knew I wanted a seer on screaming bell as my lord. Here, I look at the heroes and lords and am kinda stumped!

    Same goes for core….I think I want 6 chariots, so thats a start, ut I keep reading bad things about the rest of the normal skeletons. Over in special I’ll take stalkers and a war sphinx since people have great things to say about those.But tomb guard sound awesome too and the price tag just kinda throws me ($)

    Anyway, kinda rambling, main point I guess is with other armies I have felt more confident of how to approach a decent list. Probably just have to do more reading.

  2. Make that Skaven army. Darn iPad autocorrect…

  3. I have always like the look and feel of the TK, and that just got a whole lot better. Will I ever play a TK army? probably not – purely because it is so totally unaffordable if you are starting from scratch. And that is just a sad, sad reason not to anything wargames related. Damn you GW for producing such and awesome army and then placing it out of reach.

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