Age of Sigmar: Nighthaunt First Impressions
We got our hands on the new Nighthaunt Battletome and managed to get a game in, too. Here’s some first impressions.
The new Battletomes for the Nighthaunt and Daughters of Khaine are up for pre-order this weekend. Games Workshop sent us a couple of review copies and I just so happen to be a Nighthaunt player myself. It’s actually the army that got me interested in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. So I was excited to see what they could do. I got to spend a little time with the book this past week before I filmed my initial reactions.
After that video I also took a few of my assumptions about how the army would play and put it to the test in a game against the new Daughters of Khaine. I learned a few things, confirmed a few theories, and also discovered more new things. Let’s chat about the new Nighthaunts.
Nighthaunt: A Better Battletome
This new book is much better than the previous Battletome. Considering the age of the previous book and the fact that this new book is designed for 3.0 that should be a surprise to anyone. There are some fundamental changes to the army that really benefit them. The first and probably most impactful change is the new Wave of Terror rules.
Games Workshop showed this one off and we talked about it before. The Nighthaunt army feels a lot less like a slot machine and now has a more consistent way to impact your foes with this rule. I really like this change! Do I miss the out of sequence attacks? Yes. But this version is cleaner than before. It also plays into another theme of the army which is this stacking of buffs and debuffs across the board. More on that below.
The next biggest changes are to Ethereal and Discorporate. You’ve probably seen these already so I won’t get into them too much. But the key call outs are the fact that your armor saves don’t get modified, you can retreat and charge, and the army can spend a command point to make a unit have a 5+ ward instead of a 6+. All great changes — but again, nothing you don’t already know.
One rule that I don’t think has been mentioned by Games Workshop is the Frightful Touch ability. This is an army wide rule that basically says any unmodified 6s to hit automatically wound. This impacts a few units like Spirit Hosts more than others as they lost their ability to cause Mortal Wounds on 6s to hit. But now the whole army auto wounds on 6s to hit so…trade offs.
Except for Nagash. He doesn’t have the Nighthuant keyword. You can still take him and the army gets to use their allegiance abilities — he just doesn’t benefit from them. Trade offs.
Many of the warscrolls changed. So many, I’m not going to cover them here. It’s like GW took the old book and just decided to tweak everything. Even the units from the Arena of Shades box got an update. Some of them just got a points increase, but hey, it’s a change!
Lessons Learned From Battle
So let’s talk about a few things I learned from an actual game. First up, list building changed wildly. The new Processions certainly added some new possibilities that didn’t exist before. I’m looking a lot harder at The Scarlet Doom just because it makes Bladegheist Revenants Battleline and also gives them a chance to cause Mortal Wounds on the charge. I’ve always liked this unit (the ghosts with greatswords) and this makes it so you can run an entire themed army around them.
Ironically, my Bladegheist Revenants never made there charges all game. Whomp-whomp. That sure would have been handy if they had! Still, they hit hard, consistently, and can do some solid damage. I want to give them another spin.
That’s not the only thing I learned about list building, however. The army itself can really benefit from it’s Heroes. They can provide a bunch of interlocking buffs to your units or debuffs to the enemy. I had my heroes positioned so that I was regularly getting both a +1 to hit and a +1 to wound. That helped tremendously with the damage curve. You could try and build a buff fort for your army if you wanted to go that route.
Another thing to consider is more of an MSU style list where you’re just getting off as many charges as you can with the army and stacking those debuffs. The To-hit mod might cap at -1, but the -1 to the armor save doesn’t have a cap. And it only takes 1 unit to tag an enemy with strikes last so that all those other units get to swing first. Oh and don’t forget the Heroes charging in also get a roll on the Wave of Terror table. So it’s worth tossing them into combats AS your MSU style units for the debuffs.
It’s All About The Charges
If there’s one main takeaway I learned from my game with the Nighthaunt it’s that getting the charges off is paramount. This army’s power shifts drastically when they can dictate the charges. On the flip side, they aren’t squishy either. The majority of the army has a 4+ armour save that can’t be modified. So, statistically, 50% of the attacks should just bounce. On top of that, you’ve got a 6+ ward save, too. This army is tankier than you might expect — but they aren’t invincible. They aren’t exactly packing on the wounds stats so when you do fail saves, that going to be models getting pulled.
That said, they do have some ways to regen models. So that’s a big help! Ideally, if your Nighthaunts get charged and survive, they can retreat and counter-charge. Then the ball is back in your court as those debuffs start to stack. Getting two or three units into a single target is a big help.
Oh and bring a Black Coach if you have one. It’s just as good if not better than before.
I’ve got so many more list ideas bouncing around in my head now for the Nighthaunt. I think this army has some options for a lot of different builds now and that has me excited to give them a run. It’s really refreshing to have options once again and give them chance on the tabletop to see what works and what doesn’t. If you want to run a very hero heavy list you can do that. If you want to run a bunch of big blocks of ghosts that could work, too! I would suggest picking a theme or concept for your lists and lean heavy into that. If you try to do the swiss army knife approach you might have issues fitting all the pieces together.
Overall, I think the book is going to be good. I have a feeling that for the first couple weeks folks are going to think it’s busted. But that’s also because it’s a 3.0 book and the majority of armies haven’t got their updates yet. As more books come out I think it’s going to fall more into that “solid but not busted army” category. It’s going to compete. Especially if you get some hot dice on your charges or armor saves. It’s a more consistent army than it was in the previous version and it’s got a lot of potential. I can’t wait to get some more games it with it!
The Nighthaunt Battletome is up for pre-order this weekend!