Friday, July 15, 2011

Tomb Kings Review: Special Choices P1



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:  (64)

Looking back on the dawn of 8th Edtion, there was a fair amount of speculation about the impact of the Special Choices on the game as a whole. With the ability to spend up to 50% of your total points on these unique and fantastic units, armies were forever changed. For better or worse I am going to dive head first into the new SC for the TK's. But I'm not alone in this venture as I share some of the thoughts that others from the vast reachs of the interwebs also have to say about the all important Special section......................... 



What can be said really? It has Toughness 8, it can buy a Str 4 Breath weapon, theres the amazing thundercrash attack against infantry/swarms/warbeasts (Small Template Str3, Str 9 under the hole, roll one dice to hit), ohhh and the 4 tomb guard(Killing Blow) riding it with a thunderstomp attack. Now these are all fantastic, but its not without drawbacks as well. Theres it being hard to heal with magic only healing one wound per spell (that could be used on unit buffs instead), it only has a 5+ armour save, it has only 5 wounds that can also be taken away if it loses combat.
With that said the Warsphinx is very difficult for any opponent to deal with and it can be a real thorn for any player. Toughness 8 makes this monster fairly resilient, so it can walk up to big infantry units and make them a big cat toy. However if the TK player throws the Warsphinx needlessly into horde units theres a fairly decent chance that the opponent can weaken the monster over several rounds of combat. Plus, while it has an amazing breath weapon attack theres only one shot, so use it wisely.
Over the weekend at the doubles tournament I found that small distraction units, small units of knights(decent armour), and chariots seem to limit the Warsphinx's impact on the game. WHAT!~!~ Knights really? Basically what happens is that the Warsphinx doesn't get to Thundercrash or Thunderstomp, leaving it with 4 Tomb guards and it's own 4 attacks that are at Str 4(TG) and Str 5(WSph) respectively. Now the Killing Blow of the Tomb Guard is nice, but unreliable; due to the Sphinx having a low weapon skill, it's unlikely to get many attacks off. There was a game where the Warsphinx was held up for 2 turns because of a luckly Tuskor Chariot charge. Sure we could have used the breath weapon, but we wanted to burn gors, not boars.... There is the option of buying poisoned attacks for the sphinx, but considering that it should be going after infantry(therefore losing its basic attacks due to thundercrash) it's a tough ability to consider.
Heres some goals/deployment for the Warsphinx
- 1-2 Warsphinx seems about right, 3 is a bit over kill unless you want a monster horde type army.
- The Warsphinx can stand up to nearly anything in the game, including my own Hellpit abomination. But the Warsphinx excells at killing basic infantry and they should be the main target
- Can be deployed in the center of the army to increase the likelyhood of getting into combat early.
-It can protect a flank well, but then you run the risk of it not making combat till later in the game, due to it's rather slow speed of 6 and no marching.-Watch out for small distraction units that might slow down the might of your Sphinx.

Check out HERO's Blog.....


There has always been something about Tomb Guard that I find interesting, maybe it's their fighting style or that I just love bodyguard units. Now the most obvious comparison for this unit is the infamous Vampire Grave Guard, but I feel that while both units are very similar they perform very different roles on the battlefield. The Tomb Guard are a bunker unit, but due to the lack of movement(unless you NEED the magic to work) they struggle to be as aggressive as the Grave Guard. This prevents them from being a significant threat on the table top. If you fail to get the movement spell off, they are crawling 4 inchs a turn. If you want to play a very aggressive TK list, then Tomb Guard aren't the unit for you. The Tomb Guard really lend themselves to a more defensive counter-attack playstyle. The obvious combos with the unit would be taking a Tomb King on foot to give the unit his Weapon Skill and using a decent magic weapon. The amazing addition of the Nercotect, will grant the unit Hatred as well.

But even with all that I really struggle to justify using the Tomb Guard. At 13pts(With Str 5 Halberds) per TG, thats roughly 3 standard skeleton warriors per tomb guard. A unit of 20 Tomb Guard will cost 260pts(with no command or characters), while a unit of 60 Skeleton Warriors will cost roughly 240pts. This unit won't be as killy as aTomb Guard or as flashy, but with a Tomb King, Necrotect and the Cursed Blades Spell, they can have WS 6 Hatred and Killing Blow attacks. Not too shaby, for basic skeletons.

Getting back to Tomb Guard though....I really like the unit and it has its place in a TK army. Effective tournament lists can be built around the Tomb Guard, it just depends on the player.

Tricks of the Trade
-With the banner of the Undying Legion, TK, Nercotect, around 25-35 TG, this unit can slug it with the best of em.
-Buff, Buff, Buff. Always cast a spell on this unit(Mostly to raise dead), if you have taken hits early on. The unit loses effectiveness if theres only 10 guys.
- Have a clear goal in mind for this unit, when designing a tournament list. If this unit isn't in combat, you won't be getting your moneys worth.
-Use units like the Warsphinx to tie up larger enemy blocks, so that this unit can get in to support the sphinx in later turns.
-This unit also makes a decent anvil unit, if you have enough Tomb Guard alive at the time.


USHABIT..ER....... USHABTI (64)....maybe :D

Now I will admit, this unit through me for a loop. With the introduction of the Great Bows(Str 6 Range 30) and the loss of base Str 6, this unit has changed significantly. But to quote a reader, Andrew Christianson

"You simply can't leave the Ushabti at home - no matter how mediocre their profile now, nothing says Nagash the sorcerer [by Mike Lee] better than 2 story walking statuary".
I would have to agree with Andrew here :D, so I decided to come up with some potentially helpful ways to field the Ushabti.........

-Go Big or Go home, a unit of 18 Ushabti with great bows,(Two ranks) boost the unit with the smiting spell and suddenly you are dishing out roughly 36 Str 6 shots at 30 inchs, "tell him its a fluffy army" Ben Curry @baddice_podcast

-Units of 3-6 Ushabti, with great weapons that support the main army with additional high strength attacks.

-Units of 3 Ushabti (unit leader as well) that are deployed alongside the flanks or beside monsters. This unit can be used as a quick speed bump to weaken a unit or at the very least re-direct one. I'm thinking this could be used as a potential counter to any annoying chariots/knights that try to slow down the warsphinx.

*This is an ever evolving topic that might be reviewed again at a later time or might even feature its own topic.



Now if you played against the Tomb Kings back in 6th edition and you happened to carry alot of warmachines you really, really, really hated this unit......Being able to fly a potential 40 inchs in a turn, and having a decent statline, made this unit more then a match for a weak machine crew. But that was the past and this is 8th edition, so do they present the same challenge as before. Unfortunately (But not in my situation :D) this unit has been nerfed to a certain extent. I'm not saying this unit is useless, but considering that flyers can only march 20 now, means the poor buzzards will be jumping 10 inchs this time around. Huge change from before, and this will affect its previous role in the army, but I still feel that it still has a place in the Tomb Kings Army. Considering that it stayed the same pts cost as before and that several of it's stats have actually went up. A unit of 3 costs 72pts.......

- Support hunters, this means if you are a small unit of fast cav, Carrion can intercept and reliably remove the troublesome unit.
- Swiftstride, can allow this unit to pick it's own fights more effectively then other TK units
-Annoying Birdys, with Strength/toughness 4 and 3 attacks, plus stomp they can be an alright unit against light armoured targets


In the Coming Weeks

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.


Make sure to check out previous articles

Tomb Kings: Core

First Look: Tomb King Impressions

Till Next Time


Adam Tremblay

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