Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Tactica: Tomb Kings!

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So I just finished rebasing my entire Tomb Kings army – quite a task… but an enjoyable one. There were a lot of damaged skeletons and I ended up increasing the size of a couple of units at the same time but I really like the way they look on the new bases. It’s a real contrast to the bone and I think they’re one of my nicer armies now.
Let’s take a look at both the models and some Tomb King Tactics:
The Casket of Souls is an interesting piece on the battlefield. If it is "cast" successfully it can do tremendous damage to low leadership armies... unless they roll well. In my experience, the threat of it can be as powerful as its actual effects. Opponents will hold back dispel dice to make sure it doesn't work and sometimes deploy their entire army in a terror-stricken attempt to avoid getting a look at it. The benefit to magic is that you can get through a lot of other spells that the opponent ignores while waiting for the dreaded casket.
Deploying the Screaming Skull Catapult alongside it is handy because the Liche Priest casn use his incantations to have it fire twice.
Fighting against Tomb Kings, I find the best way to battle against it is to just ignore it for deployment and movement purposes. I hold back 2 dispel dice (which added to my magic level of 4 usually does the trick). Don't forget they have sunk a lot of points into it and you can use the same amount of points to kick ass.

Ah, now the Liche Priests... The one pictured here on the left by the way is a conversion I did YEARS ago for my Mordheim warband. He looks pretty angry.

The rules for Liche Priests are the most broken rules in Warhammer. One way is in the Tomb Kings favour. The other isn't.

If a Liche Priest Hierophant is killed the entire army crumbles. And they are far too easy to kill. Put him in a unit and an enemy charger can allocate attacks against the priest with no way to avoid it. Leave them out and spells and sneakiness will generally catch them eventually.
On the other hand, because Liche Priests don't use Power Dice, unlike other armies, having more wizards isn't a limiting factor. In my 3,000 point army I have magic users: four liche priests, two princes, a tomb king, two units with bound items and a casket of souls. My opponent still only has a maximum of siz basic dispel dice. That means I can overload on magic and completely overwhelm my enemy. There's no way they can prevent even half of what I want to get through.
But that doesn't protect my Hierophant so I still get my asss kicked.

I need to be careful here or this article will be less Tactica: Tomb Kings and more Gripe: Tomb Kings. But the new edition Fear rules have terrifically undercut the power of undead armies. Seems there was a time when Fear was chiefly the province of the undying ones but nowadays Fear-causing units are cropping up everywhere. Since the Tomb King army book came out we have two new entire armies that cause fear in the shape of Daemons and Ogres. Something needed to be done I guess. Shame it went so far.
Having said that, fear is still semi-useful, forcing the opponent (if they fail; a leadership test ) to fight with Weapon Skill 1.
Here’s the tactical advice. Ready? Don’t forget to make your opponent make the fear checks. The number of times I have done that makes me cringe with shame and disgust.
We have a Tomb King here and (what I use as) a Tomb Princess below. Their incantations can be extremely useful. Tomb Kings are extremely slow. They can’t march but incantations can get them going quick enough. The thing to go for here, I think, is to remember that they are a close combat army. And they can be resurrected. Get them into combat, set up some surprise magic phase charges, and bring them back to life in a slow war of attrition. You can also get sneaky, using the movement phase for a reform and the magic phase for further movement or a good charge.

The Screaming Skull Catapult can be very very cool IF you remember the panic tests that opponents have to make if wounded (possibly with -1 to the roll if you paid for Skulls of the Enemy). As I mentioned, placing it next to magic users can get it an extra shot in the magic phase. I don’t have any but archers follow the same principle of course.

Heavy Horsemen. First problem: they aren’t all that heavy. At all. Compared to really heavy cavalry like Empire knights. They are relatively fast though so work well as flankers, giving a supporting charge on an existing combat where your otherwise crap troops can get a helping hand.
Notice I’ve got a very weird unit layout. I thought long and hard about this. Eight come in the box which is no good for a rank bonus anyway. Even if it had been ten, in my experience at least one cavalry model gets killed before combat resolution so you lose the rank bonus anyway. In that case, having a wide enough frontage to get maximum attacks seems in order with a couple of spares behind to cover casualties. Don’t forget, horses don’t get supporting attacks from the back rank, so points are a bit wasted on them if you aren’t careful.

Light Horsemen are best, I find, for doing a bit of shooting – with some extra shorts courtesy of your friendly neighbourhood Liche Priest or Tomb King. Do remember that they count as Fast Cavalry- so they get their free 12” move after deployment; and because they can shoot in two ranks it’s possible to deploy them in quite a narrow unit, as I’ve done here (also I only had six).
On a side note, look how cool that champion is, rearing up on his horse. He is actually also an old Mordheim character of mine… named Gregory if you’re interested. 

Tomb Guard are tough, and (if you don’t cheat like I did and use the armoured skeletons from the normal set) they’re lovely miniatures.
Being an expensive elite unit you need to make sure they earn their points back. With Killing Blow, going after enemy elite is the way to go here. Hit them hard and heal them back.

Tomb Swarms aren’t amazingly tough. But they are rather annoying for your opponent. Because you deploy them as a marker at first where they might turn up, like the Casket, that can be a good dose of psychological torture for the enemy. And they can charge on the turn they appear.
Having said that, on a misfire, nasty things can happen. I tend not to use them unless I have the points spare.

I do love these guys. They’re my favourite unit. I give them the self-healing banner and pop in a Tomb Princess on a chariot. The model there is a very old Undead Rhino that I’ve converted by adding a Lahmian Vampire Countess sitting side-saddle on the edge of the howdah.
The key things to remember here are the bow shots and the fact they also count as fast cavalry. This is a rule I didn’t spot for many a year but it gives a lot of freedom of movement and a nice Vanguard move at the start of the game. 

As far as deployment goes, my current tactics revolve around the following:

Stick the casket of Souls in the centre of the board and the slower units to its side. Then the faster units. The entire other side of the board is empty. By deploying from the centre outwards, your opponent won’t necessarily realise you’re using the Refused Flank.
Stick the Catapult and any archers close to the Casket Liche Priest.
Placing of the Hierophant is the trickiest bit and here I can’t help you. Roving behind the units on horseback providing magic where needed? Watch out for spells that can target any unit! Inside a unit? Watch out for charging units that don’t make challenges! If they challenge, you can hide in the back rank. If they don’t they can allocate attacks freely on your guy and pretty much win the game!

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