I am back again with a review of the Legions of Nagash Battletome!
There has been a delay unfortunately due to quite a few reasons outside of the hobby and the postage problems we encountered with Games Workshop, but its now here!
Now this book has a huge amount of information in it for matched play gamers, so I will only be able to focus on a few areas.
I'm looking at you skeletons!
So lets get to it with the contents below
I will say again, as with my previous reviews that Games Workshop have done a fantastic job of producing an excellent book. There are a wealth of options for Death players even though there was only one new model added to the range. This book however, will definitely reinvigorate some of the older model sculpts due some great rules and thematic options. I sadly still cannot get over the size of the GW Zombies hands, so they unfortunately won't be an option I will be looking at using!
So first up is...
Background & Artwork
GW are making strides in improving the background for Age of Sigmar, I am personally not yet convinced and struggle to get into the lore but the Malign Portents website and the short stories they've released so far have been very good. So I would suggest heading there if like me, you like to be able to place yourself or your characters in a setting as there isn't a map in the Legions of Nagash battletome.
I have not seen this artwork before but it is excellent, Arkhan at the bottom of the page seemingly raising Nagash through some form of ritual is very cool.
This is background writing that accompanies the previous image on the next page. Talking about the great necromancers path from the old world to the current setting.
One thing I do hope that GW do from now on with their army books and novels is to stay in the current time period and build on it. Hopefully over time they can flesh out some parts of the realms properly, rather than jumping on again to a point in the far future.
Nagash resurgent is what i'm sure we see will built into the Malign Portents background, this book only has a brief look into the background so check out Kaelo's Malign Portents Campaign book review if your looking more information on that.
One area of the lore that I am interested in is the missing souls, feud between Nagash and Sigmar. With Keldrek the Knight of Shrouds being an Order Hero who has turned his back on Sigmar, he surely can't be the only one right? I'm sure their are others who would turn from Sigmar for personal gain.
Hopefully this is a potential avenue for future models and its one I would certainly be interested in.
I always mention the painting guide in my reviews as I think they are a nice feature. These are not written in any great depth but if you are new to painting death models like I am then these can be used with the Warhammer TV videos and White Dwarf paint splatters to achieve some great results.
The guide for the banner on here is a great addition. Although I think i'd be happy leaving it at stage four!
Now although we have only seen one new model for Death I do still feel like there must be something for them around the corner.
I'd love some new dynamically posed Vampires and Blood Knights but it looks like there is now no chance of that happening.
So I am now hoping Keldrek is the first in an elite army of death heroes that have joined Nagash from sigmar.
Just make them look like this guy and not just evil Stormcast please!
For me personally there is only maybe a third of the Death range of models that I actually like the look of. This is mainly down to how dated they are with the vampires, zombies and bats all not quite doing it for me. However, the skeletal and spirit part of the range is definitely appealing, so in the rest of the review I am going to predominantly focus on the Legion of Sacrament.
There is a lot in book though, so I by focusing on one area I can at least go into some detail.
Although I would choose Arkhan as my mortarch, I do love all of the models in this image, yes the skeletons could be as new as the sepulchral guard but they do still look great on the table.
The Necromancer has to be my favourite current death hero model too. I think building an army revolving around skeletons, necromancers and some of the bigger kits like the Mortis engine will be something I will be looking into over the next few months!
The Dissposssed are still the priority... at the moment.
Another brilliant army shot.
Playing Legions of Nagash
Well there certainly is a lot to digest in this book, as you can play as whopping six factions.
- Grand Host of Nagash
- Legion of Sacrament
- Legion of Blood
- Legion of Night
- Grand Alliance Death
No new Nighthaunt abilities like Soulblight though... potentially a battletome of their own maybe.
I am going to focus on the Legion of Sacrament as its the allegiance I would choose to go with. If you do go with this faction and you take a Mortarch then it does have to be Arkhan the Black and he has to be your general.
As always any heroes other than named ones can take one artefact of sacrament or two heroes can if you have a warscroll battalion. When you see how cheap some of them are, I think it is well worth taking one. This would also allow you to have fewer drops during deployment.
There are some pretty good command traits to choose from, having an extra spell from the lore of death could be very useful. Also if you are wanting to increase the move characteristic of your big blocks of skeletons, an extra 3 inch move in the hero phase is great if you use Mastery of Death.
Although I haven't played any games to test this out yet, Peerless Commander allows you to raise a unit from a grave site 12 inches away instead of 9 inches. This could be quite tactically relevant and you'll see why when we get onto battle traits.
Now this is definitely a new and very interesting way of summoning your units into the game! I personally really like this step from GW as it is helping to make our games thematic just like they did with the Maggotkin book. In the FAQ's it states that there just has to be a central point to these grave sites that you can measure 9 inches from, meaning these grave sites can be as big or as small as you would like them to be. I think this is also great from a narrative point of view as it will lead the way to some great scenery.
Following on from this for each death hero within 9 inches of the grave site you may pick a single unit to summon and place within 9 inches of the centre of the grave site, but they must still be 9 inches away from any enemy models.
Grave sites also have the Invigorating aura ability which allows you to in the hero phase heal a friendly summonable model within 9 inches by D3 wounds. Therefore if it is a unit of skeletons then you effectively heal D3 models back to the unit, due to them being 1 wound models.
There's is even more!
Deathless minions is back, although it isn't the 5+ save it used to be!
Next is Master teachings, whenever an enemy unit is destroyed before removing it roll a 4+. If its four or above you can pick a friendly summonable unit that has been destroyed and place it within 9 of the nearest grave site and 9 inches away from any enemy models! This seems very powerful!
Finally friendly Legion of Sacrament Wizards can add +1 to their casting rolls.
Overall some pretty incredible Battle Traits there. I don't really fully understand masters teachings as if you can summon a destroyed unit back to the table then it does seem like it could be very powerful especially if that unit was 30-40 skeletons. Being able to summon units for free without any points cost is a bit of a worry for me but again I haven't seen this army in use yet to get the full picture.
Endless Legions is yet another opportunity to raise a destroyed friendly summonable unit from the grave! They will definitely be endless!
I do love the idea of Necromancers healing and resurrecting endless hordes of skeletons however, it does seem like it could be a bit too overwhelming for armies that aren't considered top tier.
Lores of the Dead
Lets get into the Death Magic!
I'm a big fan of having more in depth magical abilities back in AoS. The Deathmages spells definitely seem to based around weakening your opponents units making them easier to destroy for their skeletal legions.
I know -1 to hit or -1 attack would be pretty devastating on my dispossessed if they were trying to clear through a horde of skeletons.
But this gets worse with Locus of Shyish as if you make an unmodified casting roll of 9+ on spells from the lores of the dead and it isn't unbound you can immediately resolve them for a second time on the same unit or a different unit!
That's -2 to hit and -2 to bravery on Overwhelming Dread. Very powerful indeed.
Next up we'll have a quick look at the Lore of Vampires...
Vile Transference caught my eye, as with the Locus of Shyish that turns into 2 x D3 mortal wounds.
So potentially 6 mortal wounds and 6 wounds healed back!
So we'll start Deaths most humblest of servants the skeletons...
Skeleton Warriors will definitely now be the go to battleline choice for any Death force. At first look their profile seems pretty poor. Their 5+ is now a 6+ save, they wound on 4+ and have no rend. However, if you take a closer look at Serve in Death and Skeleton Legion these guys are now pretty big hitters.
With a Death Hero nearby and in a unit of 30 or 40, they're hitting on 3+ and getting an extra two attacks when they're above 30!
Also -1 to bravery and always charging six inches isn't too shabby either.
This is where a few Heroes come into play...
The Wight King is a lovely model and I do like how they have now made this guy a cornerstone in any Death army involving anything Deathrattle.
He's not bad in combat with a solid 3+ save, however, his real worth comes with his Command ability and Deathly Invocation. If he adds an extra attack to a unit of 30 or 40 skeletons that's 4 attacks each!
If you're good with your positioning you could quite easily get all of the spear wielding skeletons into range with their 2 inch reach. They're definitely an extremely strong unit now, rolling a possible 160 dice at 3+ and 4+ to hit for each weapon option is scary and it doesn't stop there!
Cue the Necromancer...
Now the Necromancer does not have a great stat line, although I do love the model sculpt. His real strength lies in his summoning abilities and his signature spell.
As I mentioned with the Wight King, Deathly Invocation is a very good ability, as you can heal D3 wounds or models back to summonable units. The Necromancer himself can pick two different units and Arkhan can pick four! So that is a lot of Skeletons that can be raised back after being destroyed.
As for his magic... Vanhel's Danse Macabre means he can pick a unit and that unit can then pile in and attack twice in the following combat phase!
Cast that on a unit of 40 skeletons that already 160 attacks then you get a broken unit in my opinion, but we'll talk more on that at the end of the review.
As for any new warscrolls...
There isn't many!
Prince Vhordrai is a named character using the Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon model. With his spell Quickblood and his chalice of blood he still remains a competent in melee and tough to kill.
The main differences are his Quickblood spell and Fist of Nagash command ability. An extra pile and attack could be very useful if you were taking another strong combat hero. However, I do think there are better command abilities in the book and he would not be able to take an artefact.
Moving onto warscroll battalions. One thing that is very evident is how cheap they are compared to the newer inflated battalion prices.
Lords of Sacrament has to be my favourite, it's cheap at just 70 points and it includes all of the great looking hero models I would want to include in a Legion of Sacrament army.
Fewer deployment drops, an extra artefact, more spells and plus one to my heroes save rolls in the shooting phase seems great for 70 points!
Deathmarch is also another good battalion at 110 points, it includes a Wight King, Black Knights, Grave Guard and three units of Skeleton Warriors.
You can then return a slain model to each unit within 9 inches in the hero phase and move all of the units an extra 4 inches as if it were the movement phase.
Some pretty quick undead if you combine that with one of the Lore of Death spells!
Always one of the most interesting areas of the book for me, the points seem pretty reasonable for the most part.
The one unit I do think is under pointed are the skeletons at 80 points for 10 and then 280 for 40, they're very cheap considering how strong they now are in attack. They seem weak in defence but when you have heroes raising them back, all of the skeletons you kill could soon be back almost as soon as you have destroyed them!
The Necromancers and Wight Kings also come in at a good points value, however, there is very little change from the Generals Handbook 2017 points.
Prince Vhordrai comes in at 480, 40 points more than a regular Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon, I think I would personally stick with the later.
Other Changes include...
Morghasts can now be taken as battleline in the Grand Host Nagash, if you're looking for an incredibly low model count army there's your best option!
So in conclusion, I think it is another excellent battletome from GW with a massive amount of options for Death players. I really like the idea of having masses of skeletons being raised up by necromancers as it adds a truely cinematic feel to the army, especially if we had new zombie sculpts.
However, from a matched play perspective I do have a few worries as you have seen already. With Skeletons being powerful in large units I can see a lot of these being taken within Death armies. The enormous amount of attacks they have is a problem for a few reasons, first of all they are very cheap and will kill anything without a very good armour save. Second of all potentially rolling 160 attacks per combat phase for one unit and then having them pile in and attack again with the Necromancer, won't be fun for your opponent and I can't see matched play games finishing within the 2 hour limit.
If you then couple that with Deathly Invocation from multiple heroes, you could be potentially raising 4xD3 models back in a hero phase and an extra D3 if you're near a Gravesite. There are very few units that could destroy 40 skeletons in a combat phase, but even if they do the unit could be summoned again for no points cost as long as they are within 9 inches of a Gravesite. The Lore of Death could impact this further with a potential -2 to hit from Overwhelming Dread meaning your ability to kill the endless skeletons is even further hampered.
When this is all put together I think it is very strong, although there will be ways to defeat it. Sacrificing units to the endless hordes could be the first option, while you assassinate the heroes from a far or by dropping in behind enemy lines. The second option would be to control board space and prevent the endless legions from summoning from the Gravesites. This would be difficult with the Dispossessed, as a unit of 40 skeletons buffed up would quite easily wipe out 30 Ironbreakers with a re roll able 4+ save in a couple of turns due to their attacks. That is something very few units can do in the game.
For me the greatest asset AoS has is its variety of races and when all of those races can then be competitive we see Squig or Phoenix Temple armies playing in tournaments and even winning them! With the recent battletomes including Daughters of Khaine I think there is now a power creep which includes Stormcast and Tzeentch, so I am hoping the other older armies are not left behind. It is possible we may see more abilites added in for the older armies in the next Generals Handbook though as runes for the Dispossessed or magic for the Ironjawz would be brilliant.
Overall though a great book and I am sure anything too strong will be FAQ'd in time, I am definitely interested to see how the new Death armies do in future games. I haven't been able to play any games with the book yet so I may be hating on the Skeletons a bit too much!
Thanks again for reading, enjoy the battletome and sorry for the delayed review!