The image of a Tomb Kings army is enough to put the chills in even the bravest of warriors; countless skeletal bodies rising from the ground at the will of ancient Liche Priests and under the command of deadly Tomb Kings and Princes. The armies of the Undead are rightly feared by the Asrai, as they can present a tough challenge for Wood Elf generals. This article will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a Tomb Kings army and provide Asrai generals with the insight needed to defeat the foul Undead.
- 1.1 Special Rules & Terminology
As all the models in the Tomb Kings army are Undead, the following Special Rules apply to every unit in the army.
- The General and The Hierophant
A Tomb Kings army is unique in that it must at least two characters; a Mummy general and a chief Priest (known as the Hierophant) who animates the army. While the general grants his Leadership to units, it is the Hierophant who keeps the army together. If the Hierophant dies, the army will begin to crumble in the same way as a Vampire Counts army will if the Vampire General is killed.
Being Undead, Tomb King units do not feel emotion and so will never run from combat but will instead take extra wounds if they are defeated. They also cannot march and can only Hold against charges.
Arrows of the Asp
The arrows of the Tomb Kings army are blessed by the Asp Goddess. This means that Tomb Kings archery is unerring accurate no matter what obstacles are in the way. Against Wood Elves, this can be especially deadly because our usual protection is largely ignored and ineffective.
A Tomb Kings Battle Standard acts to keep the Undead warriors on their feet for longer, increasing their Combat Resolution and therefore making it especially useful against Wood Elves who rely on kills to win combat.
1.2 Tomb Kings Magic
Tomb Kings magic works very differently to that of other races. They do not use Power Dice to cast their spells but instead use Incantations, which are cast on a certain number of dice depending on the power of the Priest. This means that they can never Miscast but neither can they benefit from Irresistible Force. In a way, this makes magic defence even more important for Wood Elves because every spell can be dispelled. However, it also makes Tomb Kings magic very dangerous, as they will never run out of spells to cast.
The four Incantations are as follows:
- Sekhubi's Incantation of Vengeance
As a Magic Missile, this is dangerous against all Wood Elf units but especially so against Forest Spirits, whose Ward Save will be nullified by the magical attacks. It has a medium range so will only be a threat once combat approaches, meaning fast units such as Glade Riders or ranged units such as Glade Guard are usually safe from it.
Horakhah's Incantation of Righteous Smiting
This can be an extremely dangerous spell against any army, but particularly so against Wood Elves who are vulnerable to shooting attacks. This is especially dangerous when cast on Screaming Skull catapults, who can then use the magical shooting to gauge the range for the real Shooting phase, making this combination a deadly threat for Flammable units such as Treemen and Treekin. Two rounds of shooting from Skeleton Archers can also decimate most Wood Elf units which tend to be small and fragile.
Djedra's Incantation of Summoning
This is the primary spell for most Liche Priests, as it is vitally important for a Tomb Kings general to keep his units up to strength. As most Wood Elf units rely on causing heavy casualties, it can be important to dispel this Incantation as much as possible in order to avoid having all our hard work undone and getting our units tied down in even longer protracted fights.
Mankara's Incantation of Urgency
This is possibly the most dangerous Incantation available. The ability to magically charge is no small thing and it can be the undoing of most Wood Elf units and can force a Wood Elf generals hand before he is ready for combat. It is important to dispel this as often as possible in order to maintain superiority of the Movement phase and set up favourable combats.
2. Tomb Kings Units
- 2.1 Lord Choices
- Tomb King
One of the most intimidating opponents an Asrai warrior can face, Tomb Kings are powerful fighters and moderate magic users. The Tomb King has access to some dangerous magic items and has the ability to ride in a chariot, further enhancing his killing power.
The Tomb King also has the ‘My Will Be Done’ special rule, enabling him to use his considerable power to cast one of two Incantations (Horekhah’s Incantation of Righteous Smiting or Mankara’s Incantation of Urgency). This is a powerful addition to the Tomb Kings magic phase and increases the number of spells a Wood Elf general will have to manage. These Incantations are often less powerful than those of Liche Priests but they are no less deadly when cast in the right place at the right time.
There are several powerful combinations of magic items that increase the Tomb Kings abilities and so it would be wise to familiarise yourself with the items available to a Tomb Kings general by reading through the armybook.
The Tomb King also has two unique special rules. Firstly, as an embalmed mummy, the Tomb King is Flammable. Also, the Tomb King has a curse attached to him should he die in battle which will inflict damage on the unit responsible for his death. Against our fragile units this can be devastating.
Liche High Priest
Liche High Priests are the most powerful magic users available to a Tomb Kings general. They also have access to magic items to enhance their spell casting ability even further. A Liche High Priest may also be accompanied by a Casket of Souls, which is described further in the Rare Units section of the article.
2.2 Hero Choices
- Tomb Prince
While Tomb Princes may only be Heroes, they are still formidable fighters and have a degree of spell casting ability. Like the Tomb King, they also have the ability to ride in a chariot and have access to 50 points worth of magic items.
As a lesser noble of the Tomb King royalty, the Tomb Prince has a reduced ability to use the ‘My Will Be Done’ special rule. While this is not as powerful as the Tomb King’s ability, it can still be used to devastating effect by a cunning general.
Similar to the Tomb King, a Tomb Prince shares the Flammable and The Curse rules.
The Icon Bearer is an elite member of the Tomb Guard chosen to bear the Tomb King’s standard in battle. The Icon Bearer counts as a Battle Standard Bearer and, as such, has access to a magic banner with no points limit. The Icon Bearer has the option of riding in a chariot or being mounted on a Skeletal Steed. As a member of the Tomb Guard, the Icon Bearer has the Tomb Blades special rule, meaning he is especially dangerous against our frail characters.
Liche Priests are the Hero level magic users of a Tomb Kings army. They form the main magical strength of a Tomb Kings army and they too can be accompanied by a Casket of Souls. However, they are just as fragile as most wizards and their best protection is often to hide in a unit.
2.3 Core Choices
- Skeleton Warriors
These are the basic warriors of the Tomb Kings army. Their biggest strength is their large amount of static Combat Resolution and their numbers. They are difficult to whittle down because they can very easily be resurrected with Incantations, resulting in a protracted fight for any Wood Elf unit engaged with them.
Skeleton Light Horsemen
These are the light cavalry of the Tomb Kings army and as such are primarily used in a similar way to Glade Riders. As Fast Cavalry, Light Horsemen are more manoeuvrable than other Undead units and can easily threaten the flanks and rear of units. They are armed with bows but no armour, making them strictly ranged troops and easily defeated in combat.
A Tomb Swarm can be a dangerous unit for a Wood Elf general. They can tunnel under the ground to emerge behind enemy lines, making the whole battlefield potentially dangerous. This can be used to get the swarms to previously unreachable areas of the battlefield and so generals should be wary of this unit. However, because their tunnelling marker is placed before turns begin, this gives an Asrai general time to prepare for the emergence of whatever waits beneath the ground.
Skeleton Heavy Horsemen
These are the heavy cavalry of the Tomb Kings army but their name is deceptive. They are not particularly well armed or armoured. As such, they lack the hitting power of many other races’ heavy cavalry and are more commonly seen performing flanking manoeuvres, but they are still a threat thanks to their high Unit Strength and ability to claim rank bonuses, as well as their ability to take a magic banner.
These are the elite warriors of the Tomb Kings army and are among the best fighters available to a Tomb Kings general. They are most often seen in units of 3 or 4 to get the most from their impact hits. The ability to take them as Core units means they are a popular choice for Tomb Kings generals.
Because they are only Light Chariots, they have a reduced number of impact hits but these are still enough to seriously hurt most Wood Elf units. However, they are more vulnerable to shooting than normal chariots so this plays well into the hands of the Asrai.
2.4 Special Choices
- Tomb Guard
The elite warriors of the Tomb Kings army, these are the best equipped warriors and the best fighters in the army. Although not heavily armoured, their Tomb Blades special rule makes them dangerous to characters and Forest Spirits especially. They also have the option of taking a magic banner that can further enhance the threat they pose.
With formidable strength, Ushabti can be as deadly for Treekin and Treemen as they are for elves. Usually fielded in units of 3, 4 or 5, they are the heavy hitters of a Tomb Kings army. They are as quick as Wood Elf units and have a high number of attacks, meaning they can quickly cause damage amongst our units. However, they are not great fighters and so are only equal to the majority of our units. Their Undead Constructs special rule means that they are a tough opponent to get rid of, especially when they are near an Icon Bearer.
As a Flying Unit, Carrion can move quickly around the battlefield and threaten our rear units by Turn 2. They are poor fighters but they have a good number of attacks and wounds, making them hard to eradicate in combat.
One of the most deadly units available for a Tomb King army, these pose a serious threat to our units. With high movement and the ‘It Came From Below…’ special rule, the Tomb Scorpion can quickly get amongst our units and cause havoc. They have a large number of attacks and are equally dangerous to characters and units. Tomb Scorpions can make a mess of most of our units without taking a scratch and the Undead Constructs special rule aids their natural toughness. In addition, they are fairly resistant to magic. As a result, it is sometimes necessary to divert Treekin, Alter Nobles and other heavy hitters in order to get rid of them.
2.5 Rare Choices
- Screaming Skull Catapult
Another of the most deadly units in the Tomb Kings army, these catapults fire screaming flaming skulls at their targets. These screaming skulls are a real threat to any Wood Elf unit but especially so for all Forest Spirits, particularly Treemen and Treekin. Their terrifying ammunition can also cause units to break and run, even units with good Leadership like Wood Elves.
Bone Giants are unstoppable killing monsters constructed from the bones of desert creatures and bound together with metal and wood using the magic of the Liche Priests. They can be devastating in combat but can often be brought down early by dedicated archery. This means that a Bone Giant will often be used as a distraction in order to prevent Wood Elf generals from shooting more vulnerable Tomb Kings units.
Casket of Souls
While not strictly a Rare unit, taking a Casket of Souls with a Liche Priest or Liche High Priest does use up a Rare slot. This pseudo-Ark of the Covenant is a powerful war machine that literally sucks the souls from the living and is accompanied by a Liche Priest or Liche High Priest and two Casket Guards.
Because the Casket cannot move, this makes the accompanying Liche Priest very vulnerable to fast combat units such as Alter Noble or Warhawks and accurate shooting from Waywatchers. If the opportunity arises, taking out a Casket Priest will eradicate a powerful magic artefact, weaken the Tomb Kings magic phase and strengthen our own Magic Phase.
The Casket’s main power is the Light of Death. However, as most Wood Elf units have both good Leadership and fast movement, this means that most units can avoid the effects of the Casket.
3. Tomb Kings Tactics
- 3.1 The Undying Archer Screen
- Simply put, this involves several units of Skeleton Bowmen marching in front of the other troops in order to screen them from our formidable firepower. As Tomb King archers do not suffer penalties for shooting, they will always hit on 5+ despite moving and so can pose a large threat to our fragile units in large numbers. This is usually used with Chariots on the flanks to prevent Wild Riders and Glade Riders encircling the bowmen, and with a powerful magic contingent to keep the number of Bowmen up. Once within range, the Tomb Kings’ combat units are released. This tactic is also often used in combination with buried Tomb Scorpions and Swarms behind the Wood Elf lines in an attempt to trap the Asrai between the advancing skeletons and the buried beasties. It is important to note that the range of Skeleton Archers is the same as a magically charging unit of Chariots or Cavalry - if a unit is in range of the bows, it will likely also be in range of being charged.
While this tactic can be effective with a relatively low amount of magic, it will most often make use of heavy magic to get the most from the Bowmen standing and shooting. As such, the best way to end this tactic is to eliminate the Liche Priests. In this capacity, Eagles, Warhawk Riders and Alter and Eagle Nobles become even more important than usual. Flyers in particular excel here because of their ability to fly over the bowmen and flanking chariots and strike precisely where they are needed. The sheer amount of magic that is usually utilised for this tactic typically means that most character slots will be Priests, making Tomb Kings and Princes less common (although there must be at least one to be the general) and therefore keeping Chariot units down to a minimum. Because of this, Wood Elves should easily be able to capitalise on mobility once the Chariots are eliminated.
Because of the limitations of using this tactic, there are several ways a Wood Elf general can capitalise. Taking a shooting-heavy army will often be able to eradicate the Tomb Kings units for minimal casualties due to our superior range. The key with this is to eliminate whole units - if there are no models left in a unit, it cannot be resurrected by the Liche Priests. Focussing all firepower on a single unit will quickly reduce the amount of return fire.
Another good build is the famed ‘Sethayla-style’. By taking multiple fast units, we can avoid the worst of the shooting, get around the archer units and charge into vulnerable rears and flanks. This will often also force a change of strategy for the Tomb Kings - instead of casting Smiting every turn, the Liche Priests will be tasked with casting Urgency in order to rapidly redeploy units, reducing the amount of Tomb Kings shooting even more.
3.2 Chariot Racing
- This is almost the complete opposite of the previous tactic. It involves capitalising on the mobility of Chariots, Horsemen and Carrion as well as the customary Tomb Scorpions to threaten the enemy deployment zone. With the powerful magic of the Liche Priests, this tactic can be used to give even the Asrai a run for their money in terms of mobility. As Fast Cavalry, Chariot and Light Horsemen get a free reform each turn and so can threaten anywhere on the battlefield. In addition, Tomb King magic can propel the Chariots into charges of 24”, catching many an unsuspecting general on the back foot. This tactic is an effective way of negating the Wood Elves’ own mobility.
However, unlike Wood Elves, Tomb King units are still limited by terrain. Launching attacks from cover is especially effective against chariots, which cannot move through woods for fear of destroying themselves. Another point of consideration is that fact that any Liche Priests in an army using this tactic will either be in vulnerable positions in combat units or bunkered down in the rear of the Tomb Kings army. Precision attacks can quickly eliminate the Tomb Kings magic phase and leave units vulnerable to charges from Wild Riders, Treekin, Treemen and Wardancers. By saving several Dispel Dice (or a Scroll) for the all-important Urgency Incantation, a Wood Elf general can throw a spanner in the works of the carefully planned move by the Tomb Kings general. Dispelling the Incantation can leave the Tomb Kings unit vulnerable to several charges from Wood Elf units.
Unlike the Undying Archer Screen, this tactic really does require heavy magic to implement. As a result, eliminating Liche Priests really is the key to success. Knowing this, the Tomb Kings play will take the necessary precautions and will do his or her utmost to protect the vulnerable Priests. However, every Priest killed will severely weaken the army’s effectiveness.
Against this tactic, baiting charges can play an important role. Glade Riders, Warhawks and Eagles can drag units out of position and leave them vulnerable to charges from units like Wild Riders, Treekin and Wardancers, whose Immunity to Psychology makes them the best units to face off against the Undead in combat. Immunity to Psychology can also allow some Wood Elf units to effectively hold the charge and enable counter charges. The best units for this are Treekin and Treemen, although Wardancers can also suffice in some cases. The good thing is that if a Tomb Kings army is using this tactic, they will rarely take Archers or Catapults that would be left vulnerable in the rear meaning that Treekin and Treeman are safe from flaming attacks.
3.3 Artillery Platform
- The combination of Screaming Skull Catapults, Skeleton Bowmen and Horekhah’s Incantation of Righteous Smiting can generate a formidable and deadly barrage that can destroy any Wood Elf unit it targets. By providing the Catapults with an extra shooting attack, the Tomb Kings player can inflict twice as much damage. In addition, the Tomb Kings general will know the exact range for the second shot, making it much more likely to hit as your units have obviously not been allowed to move between his magic phase and his real shooting phase. This can spell doom for any unit, even the mighty Treemen and Treekin, and also for our highly evasive Waywatchers who are also hit on the roll of 5+ by the cheap skeleton archers - regardless of their cover or cloaks..
The usual arrangement for this tactic is to set up a missile platform towards the rear of the battlefield and bunker any Liche Priests within the archer units while combat units protect the missile troops. This tactic is often combined with a Casket of Souls because the enemy has to advance into its sights in order to deal with the missile threats. However, due to the above average Leadership of Asrai troops, the Casket is less effective against most units. Combined with the excellent Leadership of our Nobles and Highborns, the Asrai can advance safe in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be affected. In addition, the Magic Resistance that several of our units benefit from can be used to help dispel the Casket’s Light of Death and therefore save other Asrai units from taking Leadership tests. However, beware of Tomb Kings units trying to bait or block our Magic Resistant units so that they do not have line of sight to the Casket. If they do not have line of sight, they are not affected and can therefore no longer contribute their Magic Resistance to dispelling the Light of Death.
This is probably the least magically dependent tactic of a Tomb Kings army. Unlike the others, it will work just as well with low magic as it will with high. Obviously, the more magic a Tomb Kings player has, the more arrows he will be able to fire but even if heavy magic isn’t used, this can still be a dangerous tactic against Wood Elves. It will often use a barricade of defensive combat units around the missile units, requiring a Wood Elf army to break through with a frontal charge, something that Wood Elves do not excel at. As such, Flying units are at a premium here and their value is incalculable. With their ability to fly over the intervening defensive units, they can quickly tear into the vulnerable missile units behind. This can result in the defensive units turning back to help the missile units, opening a gap in the defensive line which our fast units can exploit to the maximum. Lots of Warhawks, Eagles and Wild Riders are probably the best units against this tactic.
- With a number of fast moving and tunnelling units, Tomb Kings can often hunt our mages more efficiently than most other races. Units such as Tomb Scorpions and Swarms can emerge anywhere on the tabletop and their superior killing power and sheer numbers respectively can quickly eliminate our vulnerable mages. Fast units like Carrion can also quickly close in on mages who are outside of units, which Asrai mages often are. To help combat this threat, it is often beneficial to hide spell casters in terrain such as woods or buildings, or inside 'safe' units like Archers or Wardancers to protect them without compromising their abilities.
3.5 Dirty Tricks
Tomb Kings have a large selection of magic items and can make use of some very dangerous and sneaky items.
- Icon of Rakaph
The Icon of Rakaph can be given to a unit of Tomb Guard or Skeleton Warriors and allows the unit to make a free reform at the start of the Movement phase. What makes this banner even more dangerous is that the unit can also make a charge on the turn it reforms. This can be particularly dangerous to units such as Warhawk Riders and Glade Riders who can often be found threatening the rear and flanks of ranked units such as these.
The Banner of the Undying Legion
This standard contains a Bound Spell of Power Level 3. It can be used to cast Djedra’s Incantation of Summoning on the unit with the banner, potentially returning a dangerous combat unit to full strength midway through an important fight.
Cloak of the Dunes
This cloak can be given to a character on foot and bestows the ability to Fly. A model cannot make a charge move when using the Flying ability, but this item is still useful to move vulnerable Hierophants to safer positions or killer Tomb Kings to threatening positions.
This Arcane Item is a One Use Only item that allows a Liche Priest or Liche High Priest to use an extra Incantation for one turn. This is a powerful addition to the Tomb Kings magic phase and is common in most army lists.
Flail of Skulls
This magic weapon counts as a flail but each unsaved wound becomes two wounds. This is particularly nasty against our multi-wound creatures like Treekin and Treemen.
Spear of Antarhak and Scorpion Armour
This is a particularly nasty combination that is regularly used by Tomb Kings players. The armour counts as heavy armour and also prevents the king from suffering more than one wound from combat resolution. In addition, up to half the wounds caused by combat resolution for the king’s unit can be allocated against the king himself, all bar one of which are then ignored. The Spear grants the king the ability to regain one wound for every unsaved wound inflicted by the spear. This combination is often used in conjunction with the Cloak of Dunes to allow the flying Tomb King to effectively heal himself while he’s alone.
4. Beating Tomb Kings
Overall, the Tomb Kings can present a difficult challenge for Wood Elves. However, there are ways they can be beaten by the denizens of the forest. The following section will give some suggestions on how they can be beaten, and perhaps offer ideas on how Wood Elves can gain an edge over the Undead.
- 4.1 Crushing Chariots
While these tactics excel against Chariots, they can also be used against other small to medium units in the Tomb Kings army, such as Horsemen, Tomb Scorpions and Ushabti. Due to the unique circumstances of a Tomb Kings army, normal Wood Elves tactics are not always useful so here are a few ways to negate this.
- Hammer and Anvil
The main weapon of the Tomb Kings army is the ability of all its units to cause Fear. However, half of our units are immune to Fear for one reason or another. For the other half, the Wood Elves have access to a number of unique magic items that negate these psychological effects. Elynett’s Brooch allows the wearer and their unit to re-roll failed Psychology tests and Gwytherc’s Horn grants the Immune to Psychology special rule for a turn. Also available is Gaemrath, the Banner of Midwinter, which grants a unit the Unbreakable special rule.
These items are very effective when combined with the Hammer and Anvil tactic. This involves the Anvil unit receiving and holding a charge while the Hammer unit countercharges the enemy unit. Ideal Hammer units are those which are Immune to Psychology, such as Wild Riders, Wardancers, Treekin and Treemen. Anvil units such as Eternal Guard can utilize the mentioned magic items to prevent them from fleeing Fear-causing enemies, and the presence of a Battle Standard Bearer is a useful addition in helping units stay put.
Overall, the combined attacks of the Hammer unit, Anvil unit and combat resolution will generally be enough to eliminate a small to medium sized unit such as chariots and horsemen unless the Tomb Kings player puts significant magic into maintaining these units.
Bait and Flee, or Bait and Die
Much the same as described in the Bretonnia article, these tactics do exactly what they say on the tin. Bait and Flee involves a Bait unit, typically Glade Riders and Eagles, tempting enemy units to charge them before fleeing and leaving the charging unit vulnerable. This tactic works just as much against Tomb Kings as it does with other races, and Chariots are particularly vulnerable to this tactic as their main power is when charging. This is a common tactic, however, so a lot of generals will be wary of it.
Bait and Die is much the same except that the Bait unit receives the charge and invariably dies or flees from a failed Break Test. This is used to drag the enemy unit out of position and either into combat with a carefully positioned Anvil unit or into charge range of several of your combat units. If the baiting unit is angled carefully, it can expose the flanks and rear of an enemy unit. While an enemy unit doesn’t necessarily have to pursue a fleeing bait unit, the damage is often already done by forcing the charge and baiting can leave the enemy unit in a Lose-Lose situation where it will be charged whatever it does. This allows the combat to be fought on your terms and allows you to take advantage of the enemy’s momentary vulnerability.
4.2 Mage Hunting
Tomb Kings rely heavily on magic to make their army function well, more so than any other race. As such, mage hunting is even more important than usual to shut down the Tomb Kings magic phase and should be number one priority when facing Tomb Kings. Luckily, it’s something that Wood Elves excel at.
- Move Fast, Strike Hard
The Wood Elves army is abundant in fast moving troops that are ideal for mage hunting. Alter Nobles, Eagle Nobles, Warhawk Riders and Great Eagles are all ideal units to make precision strikes against enemy wizards, whether they’re hiding in units or lurking as lone characters. Quickly moving these troops to cut off and kill Liche Priests can quickly deprive the Tomb Kings of a lot of their flexibility and manoeuvrability, giving the Asrai an edge in the later stages of the game as Tomb King generals have to be more selective with where to cast magic.
Strike From The Shadows
Precision strikes can also be carried out from range. With Waywatchers and Sniper Nobles at our disposal, Liche Priests can potentially be targeted in the first turn. With the poor saves usual of wizards, Liche Priests easily fall to a Killing Blow arrow.
4.3 Concentration of Fire
- With Arrows of the Asp, Tomb Kings Bowmen are deadly to Wood Elves. Because they ignore negative modifiers, skirmishing is no protection for Wood Elf troops. In large numbers and with the ability to replenish the dead, Skeleton Bowmen can quickly decimate our small and fragile units. In order to eliminate this threat, the units need to be totally destroyed, preferably in one turn.
However, we have the perfect tool to aid us in this – the longbow. By focussing our shooting attention on one archer unit at a time, it is possible to wipe out the unit before the Liche Priests can raise more. With only the possibility of light armour as protection, Skeleton Bowmen die easily even to Strength 3 arrows. Most Bowman units are between 10 and 20 in number so these make ideal targets for a Hail of Doom Arrow or the combined shooting of two Glade Guard units. Remember that it is often better to use more shooting than necessary rather than leave one or two models to be reinforced in the following turn.
Also, the Asrai have access to several units that are capable of dishing out a high number of casualties in combat. Wild Riders, Wardancers, Dryads and Treekin are especially good against Skeleton Archers because of this.
4.4 Dancing With The Fairies…
- Despite the fact that Tomb Kings can be very mobile with their magical movement, they are just as slow in difficult terrain as any other race. In addition, the increased use of Chariots in the Tomb Kings army works even more in favour of the Asrai. Chariots cannot enter woods without suffering significant damage so baiting or fleeing through woods can have a devastating effect on them. Glade Riders, Scouts, Waywatchers, or other units capable of making a Flee Reaction can tempt Tomb Kings units into charging them on the outskirts of a forest. By fleeing back through the trees, the fleeing Wood Elves can safely escape and rally while the Tomb Kings are stuck in the trees and, in the case of Chariots, suffering damage. While most players will be wise to this tactic, it can still be too tempting to resist and can therefore prove useful in delaying enemy units.
4.5 Mummies Unwrapped
- Tomb Kings and Princes are formidable enemies and are tougher than most other races’ characters. They bestow good leadership and add dangerous fighting ability to nearby units and are especially dangerous due to their magical ‘My Will Be Done’ ability, which can be used to further enhance nearby units. Especially beware of Kings or Princes riding in Chariots because they could be equipped with the Chariot of Fire, an Enchanted Item that not only bestows D6+1 impact hits but also counts as Flaming attacks, making them deadly for Treemen and Treekin. Couple this with the commonly-used Great Weapon and your trees will be falling like leaves.
However, the Asrai have one item which really comes into its own when fighting against Tomb Kings and Princes. While not a commonly useful item, Rageth’s Wildfire Blades suddenly become character-killers against Tomb Kings and Princes due to their Flammable special rule. For only 10 points, these blades can make easy work of an otherwise deadly character without costing the earth.
4.6 Practical Magic
- You know the saying “Fight fire with fire”. Well, with Tomb Kings, this really rings true. Taking a Spellweaver as a Lord choice gives the Asrai a hefty magical boost, adding valuable Dispel Dice but also allowing access to an extra two Lores of Magic. While Lore of Life is generally useful but partly dependent on terrain, the Lore of Beasts may have a slight edge when fighting Tomb Kings. With low casting values, the spells can easily be cast, drawing out valuable Dispel Scrolls and dice. Just remember not to take Athel Loren-specific magic items, such as Calaingor’s Stave.
- The Bear’s Anger
Granting extra Attacks, Strength and Toughness, this spell is ideally cast on Alter Nobles and Branchwraiths. Arguably our best fighting characters, Bear’s Anger will drastically increase their already prolific skills making a character under the effects of this spell ideal for combating tough enemies like Tomb Kings and Princes, as well as rank-and-file troops such as Ushabti and Tomb Scorpions. This is also useful for ensuring Liche Priests die in one turn of combat…
The Oxen Stands
An extremely useful spell in any circumstances, this is especially true against the Fear-causing Tomb Kings. Allowing a friendly unit to immediately rally, this is useful for remedying baiting manoeuvres that have gone awry, as well as retrieving troops who have automatically broken from combat with Fear-causing enemies. With our generally high Leadership, this spell is one that should only need to be cast when fleeing isn’t an option.
The Crow’s Feast
A good old magic missile, this is ideal against low Toughness/light armoured troops such as Tomb Swarms, Bowmen, Light Horsemen and Carrion. Dishing out 2D6 Strength 3 hits, small vulnerable units such as these can often be left devastated by this spell.
The Beast Cowers
Another extremely useful spell against Tomb Kings, this spell can be cast on any cavalry unit, swarm, chariot (including units of chariots) or monster (ridden or unridden) on the table, even if engaged in combat. This is extremely useful against dangerous units like Chariots and Tomb Scorpions, allowing Asrai units to carry out combined charges on the now-vulnerable enemy units, as well as denying Chariots the charge.
The Hunter’s Spear
Acting like a Bolt Thrower, the spell provides a high-strength attack that would otherwise be hard to come by in a Wood Elf army. Useful against targets such as Bone Giants and Chariots for its high strength as well as against ranked units for its ability to pierce ranks, this is a deadly addition to our arsenal.
The Wolf Hunts
With similar effects to Call of the Hunt from the Athel Loren Lore but with a lower casting value, this spell is a valuable aid in getting the combined charges that the Asrai rely on. However, it should be used with caution when used to attempt a charge as the distance might not reach and could leave units in a vulnerable position…
See the Blast of Sorcery articles for additional information and advice.
4.7 To Block Or Not To Block…
- March blocking - a commonly used Asrai tactic and one that is invaluable in defeating armies. Except Tomb Kings. The Tomb Kings’ inability to make march moves denies the Asrai one of their key tactics. As a result, several units lose one of their main roles, with Scouts, Glade Riders, Eagles and Waywatchers being denied this ability. However, instead of march blocking an alternative tactic can be used - redirection. Rather than placing a blocking unit behind or on the flank of enemy units, this tactic involves dumping a unit such as an Eagle or Glade Riders right in front of an enemy unit. The enemy unit must then either halt or charge the blocking unit. If the enemy stops then the unit has done its job and held up the enemy advance. However, it is when the enemy charges that the true value of this tactic is revealed. By carefully aligning the blocking unit so that it is at an angle to the advancing unit, the enemy unit can be redirected to expose flanks and/or rear. The blocking unit receives the charge and then flees from the resulting Break Test, dragging the enemy unit into a pursuit that will delay the unit while it gets back into position, as well as possibly leaving it vulnerable to charges from units such as Wild Riders and Wardancers. Even if the blocking unit is wiped out, the enemy unit will still be standing at an angle and possibly exposing a flank and will require to wheel to align straight forward again thus reducing a little bit more movement.
4.8 Buildings and Cover
- Buildings and difficult terrain such as woods are ideal places to shelter troops and this is especially true for the fragile units of the Wood Elves. Against Tomb Kings, woods are especially good due to the proliferation of Chariots but also are useful against Flyers, who have to use their ground movement, and ranked units who suffer from half movement when in difficult terrain. Buildings also make effective shelter as they shield vulnerable units such as Glade Guard from dangerous combat units. Units such as Chariots, both Light and Heavy Cavalry, Scorpions, Swarms and Giants cannot attack units inside buildings and Catapults cannot target units inside buildings, making buildings ideal places to set up firebases against Tomb Kings. In addition, with only unit strength 10 worth of models are able to fight against units in buildings, units like Glade Guard can often win combats against Skeleton Warriors due to their far superior combat skills and initiative.
However, the one downside is that buildings do not protect the occupying units against Skeleton Bowmen. With the magical Arrows of the Asp, Skeleton Bowmen will hit on 5+ regardless and so buildings have no effect on their accuracy. As such, Asrai units are still just as vulnerable to Tomb Kings archers as in the open field. Also bear in mind that only models on foot can enter buildings, meaning that mounted characters such as Spellsingers and Weavers cannot use buildings as protection.
4.9 Magic Defence
- In addition to mage-hunting units, most lists will make use of Dispel Dice and Scrolls in order to defend against enemy magic. Against Tomb Kings, Magic Defence is just as important as with any other race. However, the one advantage against Tomb Kings is that, because of the nature of their Incantations, every spell has the possibility of being dispelled. The choice of which spells to allow and which to dispel is especially important against Tomb Kings whose relentless magic can often stretch defences thin. As such, it is important to keep dice and Scrolls back for those spells that absolutely must not be allowed to be cast. Examples include an Urgency spell that would allow a dangerous combat unit such as Chariots to magically charge an exposed unit or a cleverly cast Smiting spell that would grant Catapults an extra shot at a vulnerable Treeman. The nature of Tomb Kings Incantations means that it is almost impossible to dispel everything every turn so players must be selective and concentrate their efforts on those spells that will do the most damage and that simply cannot be allowed to go through.
- The relentless magic of the Tomb Kings, combined with the mighty fighting ability of the Kings and Princes of Nehekhara and the skeletal soldiers and creatures available make the Tomb Kings a dangerous opponent for Asrai armies. With the ability to challenge the mobility of the Wood Elves, it is important to maintain momentum against the Tomb Kings and keep the upper hand in determining how and when combats take place. With dangerous archery, it is also important to make the best use of cover possible, as skirmishing has no effect on the unerring accuracy of the skeleton archers. More so than with most other armies, it is important to win combats by a large number to inflict additional casualties and avoid getting tied down in combat for too many turns. With the ability to raise the dead, shooting must be concentrated to completely annihilate one unit at a time in order to prevent the unit rising up again from the earth. Tomb Kings can be an extremely powerful army so don’t be afraid to fight fire with fire and utilise our own powerful units against them.
As a final note, thanks must go out to ToPaxyGourouni whose notes on the Tomb Kings armoury proved invaluable.
Written by: Beithir Seun