Friday, July 15, 2011

Tomb Kings: Core



NOTE: Just a bit of a disclaimer, I will be looking at all the choices within the army book and by no means do I know or realize every combo/tactic that can be achieved with this army. The following is a "highly" opinionated review and by no means should be considered complete or the "Right Way" to build/collect/play the faction in question. Mistakes will be made so do not take everything written as complete fact. Useful/helpful User input is highly encouraged. Enjoy!! :D

My Preferred Units:  [Symbol (64)]



With the dawn of Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition, there was the re-introduction of the percentage system. One of the unique features of the percentage system was that every army required a minimum of 25% of the army to consist of core units. Now there are two schools of thought when constructing an army with this 8th edition mindset. The first and probably the most common, way is to fill up the mandatory 25%; move on to the more interesting sections of the army book, like the special and rare choices. The other method of list design is to concentrate mostly on the core of the army, going far beyond the min amount. Using the bulk of the army to tie up the opponent while the few hard hitting special/rare units break the opposing enemy line.

The beauty of the Tomb Kings book is that it caters to both extremes, allowing there to be a nice middle ground to build a take all comers list. The true advantage of 8th edition over its previous versions, is that there is basically no "Useless" units. What does this actually mean? Well with all the changes to Ld tests, Magical buffs, and Victory Points, every unit has the potential to maintain their points throughout the whole game, unless it's destroyed out right. With Magical Spell buffs every unit has the "Potential" to become a hammer. Mind you that some units are better obvious choices stats/points wise, but the basic principle can still apply to generic units. Finally every unit, regardless of their statline can act as a distraction, in one shape or form.

But with that said, how does this apply to the new Tomb Kings Core choices? Follow as I explain below......



The most basic warrior type in the entire TK book. Coming in at an amazing 4pts, these guys are the most obvious horde unit option within the book. Now because they are skeletons their stats are pretty terrible being below average. Also by being undead they can not march, meaning unless you get some magical movement off they are slothing at 4 inchs a turn. They have the option for spears and shields, but to be honest you are better off not buying them, and saving points for more skellys. Spears allow you to attack in another rank; being in hoard formation there is potential here for decent damage output, but I don't see these guys as your unstoppable unit. Being undead these guys don't run ever, so they make excellent tarpit or distraction units if you have enough of them.

I consider the TK characters to be more like unit upgrades, giving static buffs to each unit they join. A Tomb King/Prince can provide a nicer Weapon Skill to the whole unit, while a Necrotech can provide hatred as well. Finally with a liche priest casting a magic buff spell into the unit, you can see alot of potential for armies that horde up on the cheap skeleton warriors.

There are two basic ways to field the Skeleton Warriors:
-Cheap 20 man units to provide as re-directors or extra standards
-Giant 40-50 man blocks with spears to provide as an ideal Anvil unit



While the basic skeleton warrior is rather cheap and can be provided in bulk, everyone has to appreciate a similar costed unit that can provide a reliable range threat. The Skeleton Archers are only slightly more expensive then the warriors, but the power of ranged warfare can not be underestimated. The Arrows of Asaph special rule allows the Skeleton Archers to always hit on their Ballistic Skill, meaning you can screen this unit and hit the enemy with no modifiers to their dice rolls. This unit is one of the few in the game that you will always want in Horde formation. They can Volley Fire and since they are undead they won't run away from combat. In this regard they can also act as an anvil unit. Although they have next to no save and low toughness, they can hold units in place (mind you for a limited amount of time) I can see players using these over the basic skeletons, due to their versatile nature. Their lack of speed is negated due to being a ranged threat as well.

Ideal ways to deploy Skeleton Archers:
-Several small 10 man units that are used for harassment/distraction purposes
-Large 20-40 man units that are deployed in Horde, and are buffed with TK magic for multiple range attacks
-Deployed with levels of screening units to allow for character bunkers.
-Reform to provide an above average anvil unit.



Now this unit has always been a difficult one for me to understand. On one hand it's a fast moving unit that can engage other support units and warmachines. The problem though is that it requires 2 important elements to achieve that goal. It needs to be able to march so that it can surge across the table quickly and tie up those elements Asap Second it needs to be able to bring enough hitting power to kill or damage it's target. Being Undead, it obviously can't march, meaning this unit is forced to move only 8 inch a turn. Now it does have Vanguard so it can get farther up the board, but I can see this being limited on certain terrain boards. They can provide cheap standards to the army, and could be used as a mobile bunker for a liche priest. The other extreme option for this unit is to make a large unit about 15-20 and have it just flank charge an enemy unit with an anvil unit in the front, just to break ranks. I don't really rate this unit that impressive, but worst come to worst it could be used as a decent re-director.

Deployment options
-Small units of 5 to be used as re-directors or warmachine hunters
-large units of 15-20 to be used as a mobile Liche Priest Bunker or flanker/cleanup unit.



Now while the basic horsemen are a bit lackluster, the skeleton horsemen archers provide some rather interesting tactical options. Being actual fast cavarly they can Vanguard move. Also for some reason they have the Scout special rule as well, meaning they can deploy relatively close towards enemy warmachines and support units. Now they can't vanguard closer to the enemy if they start at the min distance away, but they can use the vanguard move to redeploy to a better firing location. That brings me to there best defining feature, the fact that they also have bows as well. They perform most of the functions of the standard skeleton horsemen, but with the scout, fas cav, and vanguard rules they can perform these roles better. The only role that I believe the standard horsemen do better(mind you not by much) is the flank charging of units in order to break ranks.

Deployment options
-Small units of 5 that use the Scout and Fast Cav rules to engage enemy warmachines/support on turn 2.
-Small units can be deployed practically anywhere, allowing them to be decent range harassers and re-directors
-Other then Skeleton Archers, this unit is the ideal Mobile Liche Priest bunker.



Now this unit has changed a fair bit compared to its previous versions, for a variety of reasons. TK chariots now have D6 impact hits, instead of D3. They also have 1+ strength to those hits if they have an additional rank, which also only needs to be 3 wide. Lastly they can no longer be instant killed by Strength 7 Hits, making them alot more durable compared to before. Now the reason why I would consider chariots more important in a Tomb Kings army, compared to Orcs and Goblins for instance. Is due to the fact that all TK units can not march. Therefore all their Cavalry moves relatively the same speed as a chariot, which couldn't march in the first place. Next due to the ability of a TK army to magically move their forces, a chariot is alot more maneuverable compared to other chariots. Chariots work so well in this army because of the unique playstyle of the TK. Tomb Kings while quick, aren't very aggressive due to their reliance on magic to enable them to march, therefore a TK player will need alot of ranged firepower to force the enemy to come across the board. Once this is done the TK player isolates individual units with re-directors, then engaging with large durable anvil units. Once this has occurred all the chariots need to do is flank charge the opponent and clean up the remainder of the unit.

Now alot of units in the special section can perform the same roll, but the chariots can provide a less risky investment that can have equal pay off. For instance a small unit with a Tomb Prince can deal out a fairly decent amount of damage that might not kill a unit, but at the very least greatly weaken it. So that static combat resolution from the anvil unit can win the combat.

Deployment options
-A unit of 3 chariots with the addition of a Tomb King/Prince chariot that deploys 4 wide. This units main goal is to go after support elements or small units in the enemy line so that an opening can be made for a more powerful monster or unit to flank charge alongside anvil units or the chariot unit.
-A unit of 6 chariots(TK/TP included) deployed 3 wide, that escorts the main anvil block. Setting up the counter charge once the anvil is engaged. Combining the Incantation of cursed blades the unit can gain killing blow on all it's attacks (impacts too)/ or using other TK magic Hexes or Augments to boost the chariot unit while fighting the enemy.



Now depending on what way you build armies deciding to either max out on core or taking the minimum so that you can take other things. The tournament TK army lists will vary greatly. Looking back on the core, the ability to field giant units of skeleton warriors or archers can provide a nice horde element that few armies at the moment can really match. The Skeleton Horsemen/Archers provide maneuverable bunkers, re-directors, distractions and lastly warmachine/support hunters. The chariots are able to perform a clean up/unit thinner function because they have the movement to quickly engage combats (Swiftstride) and if they enter a combat on the right turn they can potentially break enemy units. The Tomb Kings core section provides alot of flexability and reliablity that its possible to make an effective tournament list using only the core choices from the book.


Special units, and how they can be utilized in the army with the basic core.

Like always you can reach me on Twitter @ATT64 or on my email at if you thought this article was interesting or have some constructive thoughts on how the Tomb Kings currently work in tournaments.

Till Next Time


Adam Tremblay

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