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WHFB: Tomb Kings Army Review

8 Minute Read
May 13 2011
The Tomb King book got released last week and I want to run by a quick review of the army book. Lets go!

One of the greatest things to note about the army book is that it’s incredibly balanced.  I never thought GW is capable of such a thing, but I think the book is right where it needs to be in terms of fluff, power and cost effective units.  After all the power creep we saw in 7th Ed., I’m super happy to report that 8th Ed. is off to a good start with its army books.

First, some things that stood out for me:
  • Believe it or not, Settra is now playable in 2K point games.  Even though he’s not as godly as before, he’s still rock solid for his point cost.  He’s got a awesome number of special rules, my favorite being that his My Will Be Done spreads to every unit within 6″ of him.  That means everyone within 6″ of him will have WS7, which also means normal WS3 troops will be hitting things on 5s.  You add in his 4+/4++ save and his S6 weapon that ignores armor saves and permanently reduces his target’s chance to hit by -1 for the rest of the game and you’ve got yourself a winner.  I know if I was playing TK, Settra will be at the head of my warhost.  He’s awesome, he’s iconic, he’s fluffy and he’s balanced.
  • The Herald Nekaph is also pretty good.  He’s slightly more expensive than regular fighty heroes but he adds awesome special rules.  The always issue and accept challenges might be a little bad, but his Herald of Despair and Flail of Skulls is pretty awesome.  Enemy units in base contact with him roll an additional dice for fear tests, discarding the lowest.  And Flail, well, is still Flail of Skulls that does 2 wounds on top of him being S6 in the first round of combat.  He can be paired up with a normal TK to do some pretty ridiculous combos with Golden Mask.  Taking a unmodified leadership on a fear test using 3 dice, discard the lowest is just… not fair.
  • Grand Hierophant Khatep.  For about a hundred more than a normal Lv.4, you’re paying for a Loremaster of the TK lore and a godly magic item.  The Liche Staff allows him to re-roll any casting roll per turn and combined with Loremaster, this puts him at a very comfortable purchase price.  However, I can see that many people will argue that a Lv.4 High Priest costs a hundred less and can take Death or Light depending on what you want.
  • As for normal lords and heroes, these are the ones that caught my eye:  The Tomb King is a good buy because he can spread his WS6 to whatever unit he joins.  Throw him in a big TG unit with FC and you’re pretty much good to go.  You can build him killy if you want or just do what I do:  Give him a GW, Glittering Scales (WS6 will hit you on 5s), and Golden Death Mask of Kharnut.  I really think Golden Mask is ridiculously OP vs. some armies.  For 60 points, you cause Terror and enemy units within 6″ of you cannot use their general’s leadership or their BSB’s re-roll.  Let that soak in for a minute.
  • OK, let’s keep going on the Golden Death Mask.  Imagine all the ridiculous combinations you can pull off with this item.  Most high leadership armies are Ld.8 and Ld.9.  TK also have access to the Death Lore and thus Doom and Darkness.  Now throw in some SSCs that forces a panic test at -1 with Skulls of the Foe and you’ve got armies panicing off the board with very little you can do about that.  I don’t know about you guys, but I play High Elves.  Most of my stuff is Ld.8 with some Ld.9 exceptions.  A giant unit of Spears (or White Lions!) panicking away is 300 points not doing anything for a round while his army advances on my flanks.  This is huge.
  • Liche High Priests are pretty cheap Lv.4s and will make you happy for very little points, a little more with magic items.  Tomb Princes are cool because for a moderate cost, you can spread his WS5 to whatever units and can throw down some Great Weapon/Flail action himself.  You can also mount him in a Chariot and buff up the killing potential of your improved Chariots.  I’m not really feeling the Tomb Herald but he is a pretty decent buy because he can take a Halberd and offer up a free wound for your Tomb King.  Depending on how much protection (armor/ward) you have on your TK, you can choose to take him or not.  He’s really cheap.  Liche Priests at a really affordable price is a bargain considering how most lists are going to rock a Lv.4 and a supporting caster.
  • Speaking of magic, let’s talk about the TK lore really quick.  I was a little upset at first that the TK lore now functions like everyone else, and I think they lost a little bit of their individuality because of that, but I’ve accepted this.  Their lore compliments the army really well and its extremely flexible at different casting levels.  It’s just as supply and demand as the magic from last edition, but now you have the flexibility to go big if you want to or to cast out cheaper spells to bait out dispel dice.  Now that the entire TK lore is cheap enough to augment whenever they want and apply different effects such as movement, Killing Blow and extra attacks at different power scales, I see it as a great and balanced lore.
  • Now, Necrotects are something I want to talk about.  They’re pretty cheap for the ability to make the unit you’re in Hatred.  I just find it ridiculous that they put a Egyptian guy with a whip in the game lol.  Protected category much?
  • As for the rest of the units the book, I’m fairly pleased.  4 point Skeleton Warriors who can be given Light Armor and can hold the line vs. anything while your improved Chariots crash into the enemy is a godsend.  I look at the VC Skellies who costs twice that and you just laugh, considering that your TK/TPs give them a permanent Crown of Command while adding their attacks to the combat res as well.  Archers are good still because they always hit on a 5, Horseman make for good misdirects because of their 8″ move and Vanguard, and Skeleton Archers can Scout move with Fast Cav rules.
  • Chariots got improved because their crew have Hand Weapon, Spear and Bows, and they now hit enemies with increased damage and improved ranks.  They can rank up in 3s now and for each additional rank adds +1 strength to their D6 Impact hits.  That’s just really solid.  People can opt to take these in big units with a TK to improve their WS or take them as smaller scale flankers.  Either way, I can see these guys totally worth the points.
  • Tomb Guard are now down to ridiculously cheap prices and that’s all you need to know.  With KB, Light Armor/Shield standard, they can be given Halberds but who really cares. You can take a block of 6×5 of these dudes for the cost of one of my Spear units and if you add Halberds, you’ve got yourself a solid army center.  This is rock solid and with the TK’s ability to give them 5+ KB or Hatred (with Necrotect) or WS6/5, these guys are your super stars when it comes to killing heavy infantry.  In fact, they’re just all-stars all around.
  • Necropolis Knights are pretty good and Tomb Scorpions are still pretty good for their points.  Where the Necropolis Knights are great flank chargers because of their 7″ move and good # of poisoned/KB attacks, the Tomb Scorpions are now more roadblocks more than anything.  They can no longer come out and charge whatever they want, but they can come out and move in front of a vital charge or misdirect accordingly.
  • As for the bigger monsters, like the Warsphinx and the Necrosphinx, I don’t really see a everlasting place for these models.  Yes, the Warsphinx rocks infantry regiments in close combat with its uberstomp and the Necrosphinx can chop a Hydra in half, but a cannon or two will still put these down before they can do anything.  Even the Necrosphinx, who can fly, can’t really dodge a cannonball because it can’t march.  If I was to take one, I would take the Necrosphinx because of its greater threat range and its HKB vs. bigger monsters.  Besides, I think it looks cooler.  I guess I can mention that the Hierotitan is pretty good too.  It gives raises the casting values of nearby wizards by +D3 and it’s the same price as a Hydra.  However, it is T6 which is fair game to Bolt Throwers.
  • This leaves us with the Casket of Souls.  This thing needs to be taken in every, single game.  It’s a Warmachine with T10 and gives you +D3 PD per turn for dirt cheap.  It practically pays for itself (Bound 5) with its average of 2 dice and gives your magic phase extreme flexibility.  It’s really a no-brainer, take it in every list.  If the Light of Death goes off and bounces around expensive models like Chaos Knights, Blood Knights or Dragon Princes, bad things just happen.  Oh, and if you IF, it doesn’t matter because it’s an innate ability.
  • I guess I should mention that taking a single Screaming Skull Catapult is meh.  It’s more expensive and Stone Throwers now allow armor saves so it’s not as good.  However, if you take two of these and whip out the Golden Death Mask, then things get extremely interesting to any and all units trying to support the main battle.
  • Oh, and the Neferra’s Scrolls of Mighty Incantations is pretty overpowered.  You throw PD dice and it adds more dice equal to your casting wizard’s level for free and it IFs on any doubles.  Yeah, this is going to get banned soon in my area (just like Power Scroll, Teclis and BoH for me).
The verdict:
Overall, I give the book a solid 7/10 in terms of power and potential.  This rating is a combination of flexibility, viable units, cost effectiveness and general strength of those units.
Now, this might look low at first, but this is exactly where every army needs to be.  Every book needs to be flexible enough that multiple builds can come out of it.  Furthermore, these builds need to maintain the feel of the army while being viable enough for competitive and casual play.  In terms of the Tomb Kings book, the characters feel well balanced and within the cost range they’re designed to be and so are the units.  The lore is extremely flexible and compliments the army very well without having any “ridiculous” spells like the main rulebook.  A lot of people complain about TK not being able to spam out spells like they could last edition, but people need to wake up and smell the coffee.  Your units got better, your characters are more playable, there’s several good choices in the book and I can see several playstyles that the new book can accommodate.  In my opinion, that’s where every book wants to be because you’re smack dead in the middle of the herd instead of being viewed as overpowered or weak.

Have a great one gang, and watch out if you find yourself on the burning sands of the Old World.  What’s your take so far on the Tomb Kings?

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