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The Emerald Host - Welcome to the Danger Zone

AidenNicol

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Review - The Emerald Host

 

Thanks to Mr Anthony Poole on the ole Twitter machine, I have been able to see the new Nighthaunt battalions designed to represent Lady Olynder's dark and powerful Emerald Host, lets get stuck in.

 

First Expectations

When the Emerald Host was announced I was reasonably excited. Earlier Tome Celestial releases have either been a pleasing little addition (Anvils of the Heldenhammer sub-chamber) or an overtly pushed "probably to sell a particular under-performing model" release (Syll'esske and their Host). As anyone who reads here knows, I've never been a fan of Nighthaunt WHEN COMPARED to Legion of Grief. I had hopes that this release may give Nighthaunt some edge, maybe make them a more compelling choice. And worst to worst, hopefully the battalions would be cheap so Nighthaunt could have easier access to artifacts and CP while MAYBE getting a decent ability in the mix. Was I disappointed?

Not even slightly.

 

Lifting the Veil

But you aren't here to read the faded dreams and distant longings of the local madman. You're here for substance, for something to sink your teeth into, the real meat and bones of the affair. And I would never deny you either.

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Well well, aren't these lovely. Thematic, with a delicate splash of lore to whet the whistle of those that enjoy that sort of thing (you know I do), a spice of viability at Warhost level gameplay (pour that right on) and a finishing touch of not being overpowered enough to attract undue attention (slide right under that radar baby) we have the finished product. But let's talk about each in scintillating detail.

 

The Forgotten Scions - The Gang goes Horse-Trekking

Already I'm in love. Use a command ability... for free? Well just move aside Archaon, a new Everchosen is in town. A Knight of Shrouds on Ethereal Steed is always going to be something Nighthaunt wants to take, and Dreadblade Harrows are THE unit for teleporting about in hero-centric missions and serving as a vehicle for the generic Command Abilities like All Out Attack and Inspiring Presence. 

Now take all of that and add a free spend on the Command Ability, while ALSO giving you a Command Point for taking a Battalion in the first place. KoSoES command ability is a premium tag on units that either have decent rend, or have potent on-hit effects. If only we knew a suitable unit that needs the help, and can actually keep pace with Malkor and his Lads. If only...

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The Dolorous Guard - Nobody Expects the Spectral Inquisition

Oh lord Nagash yes. This is a battalion to finally make Hexwraiths worth taking. Using Malkor's command ability on these lads will have them attacking 4 times each on the charge, that's 40 attacks from a unit of 10. To make matters even sweeter, Melkor can hang out with them on the front lines and never die thanks to them shouting "Look Out Mr President" every time harm flies his way. Good thing Mr Melkor can take a Command Trait (he isn't actually a named character) called Ruler of the Spirit Hosts to return D3 slain MODELS to a unit nearby. Yes models, not wounds. A match made in Shyish.

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The Emerald Host - Mr Melkor's Wild Ride

Yes, yes yes. No this might not be OP at Battlehost level games, but we weren't starving for a one drop option at that level anyway. What this WILL be viable at however is Warhost level, where it will be VERY viable. An amazingly cool, cavalry themed army that yields a whopping FOUR command points at the start of the game, one-drops the list (definitely take one of the two Chainrasp battalions here, Death Stalkers is a bait) and pops the ability to take the enemy general down a peg. Troubles with Katakros? Archaon up your nose? Got a Rotigus you just can't shake? Drop that armor save by 1 and watch as your Myrmourn Banshees turn Katakros into a 6+ save. 

 I do however have a very interesting notion. "Any number of warscroll battalions"... does that mean we can take zero and only need to take Forgotten Scions and The Dolorous Guard to take this? I would await an FAQ but if we can... lordy lord.

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Overview

Only one disappointment, where on earth is Olynder? The whole article talks about her history and grandiose power across the realms of death, but this battalion doesn't have a way to take her. Otherwise, I love this stuff. I'm a happy ghost. Look forward to some playtesting blogs with it.

 

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I went down the theorypath of Olynder being the General for the Dolorous Guard, thinking the Olynderbomb-of-yore could stand an update. RotSH can return more models to a single unit, and for free, but she could do 1 to any number of units for a CP. What do you think?

I love the Forgotten Scions. Makes KoSoES almost an autopick.

Edited by EnixLHQ
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1 minute ago, EnixLHQ said:

I went down the theorypath of Olynder being the General for the Dolorous Guard, thinking the Olynderbomb-of-yore could stand an update. RotSH can return more models to a single unit, and for free, but she could do 1 to any number of units for a CP. What do you think?

I love the Forgotten Scions. Makes KoSoES almost an autopick, but a unit can't be in two battalions, though, so who's the general the DG protects?

My take is that I think The Dolorous Guard is genuinely take-able by itself in Battlehost level games, with two units of at least 10 Hexwraiths each. The Forgotten Scions are EXPENSIVE, but they're also cool as ****** and really the only tax there is the extra Dreadblade.

I think in regards to your Olynder comment you're dead-on, 10 Hexwraiths basically make her a 27 wound murder-machine who can get close to the enemy without fear.

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So atm we don't know if Melkor is going to be classified as a named character or not. The fact it has it's name rather than just KoSoS on the battalion tax might mean that it is a named character, with a different command ability. We don't know yet.

Personally the fact only the KoSoS gets to use the free CP is what puts me off. I'd much rather it be any of the units on the warscroll that could use it, especially as the hexwraith battalion will only let you pass off wounds onto the general, so if Melkor is your general then the dreadblades aren't teleporting themselves and other units around the board, which makes the dreadblade tax of that battalion even worse. 

They have some merit but they are also massively underwhelming as they currently are. Maybe the WD will have more than is yet to be show in the leaks. 

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I think Melkor the Traitor Knight is as much a named hero as Crawlocke the Jailor and Liekoron the Executioner 😉

The Dreadblades aren't actually half bad when close to the KoS for the reroll 1 for wounds and both having an artefact. Give one Balefire Blade for +1 damage and let the other one hit and wound on 2+ and they deal exactly as much damage as 10 Reapers with full rerolls. Meanwhile they don't degrade when taking a little damage and are considerably stronger against heros and monsters where Reapers wouldn't get the rerolls. Allthewhile giving extra Deathless saves. In this specific configuration I don't see them as a tax at all.

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I had hopes that this release may give Nighthaunt some edge

I believe that the Dolorous Guard does accomplish that - to some degree. However, involving a KoS or indeed Malcor himself (for the double battalion combo) is a possibility, but to me not the most attractive one. Even with a relic and a +1 attack, a mounted KoS' attacks have -1 rend only: against the fairly ubiquitous 3+ save, that's not much at all. The Hexwraiths, even with +1 attack each for both raiders and mounts, still hit on 4+. Awful.  I personally think that the Dolorous Guard is not meant to be used as a hammer, but as an anvil instead. As such, Lady Olynder would be my pick...

The Emerald Host, as @AidenNicol pointed out, might be of some use in > 2000 pts games - we don't see many (any?) of those to be put forward in tournaments, though.

About the Forgotten Scions: the Command ability for free sounds real good - but it costs you 140 pts. Now, some silly comparisons for us all to ponder...

10 Bladegheist Revenants [180 pts] (on the charge) + said CA for free [140 pts] = 40 attacks for 320pts. vs:

15 Bladegheist Revenants [270 pts] (on the charge)  = 45 attacks for 270 pts. (Sure, it's quite tough to get in all 15 in one go if you have them all in one unit, but you don't have to, and you have 5 more bodies for your opponent to remove - you don't have to worry about them being wholly withing 12" of your mounted KoS either, which is key).

Or.

10 Grimghast Reapers [160 pts] + said CA for free [140 pts] = 30 attacks for 300 pts. (ok, the Bell does its on thing, bear with me). vs:

20 Grimghast Reapers [320 pts] = 40 attacks fpr 320 pts (this time you can get them all in [2" range] and again you don't have to worry about the wholly within range).

And so on. My argument: 140 pts is still a lot of points, which - if compared to what you can actually get units-wise, make the Forgotten Scions much less attractive to me. Obviously, the situation changes if you use really big units - in that case, the mounted KoS CA outperform the extra models to an extent; and yet, it's real hard to enforce your big unit wholly within 12" of our beloved Malcor. 

Keep in mind that you also need TWO Dreadblade Harrows to make the Fogotten Scions work. While one DH is a NH staple, two are very rarely seen, and for good reasons: you can only have one general (and thus one Spectral Summons command trait). So effectively you are paying 90 pts on top of those 140 pts.  Yes, you' are getting a relic and an extra CP, but if that's what we are looking for, I believe some of the Battalions we already had (Shroudguard, for example) achieve the same for less point and give you and actually useful edge (in that case, more durable units).

 

18 hours ago, EnixLHQ said:

RotSH can return more models to a single unit, and for free, but she could do 1 to any number of units for a CP.

Dreadblade Harrow (or some other unnamed NH character) as General with RotSH, screened by a single unit of 6 Spirit Hosts: potentialy 9 wounds worth of models back. Each hero phase, for free.

Olynder as General with her CA, 1 CP gone each time she goes for it, and you need three different units around her (much weaker!) to do same - albeit that's guaranteed, as opposed to the DH, as he could bring back only 3 wounds of SHs if unlucky.

However, almost never you'll have three different units in range of Olynder losing a single model each. Most likely you'll loose multiple models within one unit - hence RotSH is inherently much more efficient. I have tried both of these configurations, and I do find that Olynder as a general is a bit of a no-no. Very similar problem in LoG, in fact...

Finally, I find that, with NHs, CPs are precious things to hold on to and use only when truly needed. The fact that RotSH comes for free is too good to be ignored for me...

Edited by Thamalys

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55 minutes ago, Thamalys said:

Dreadblade Harrow (or some other unnamed NH character) as General with RotSH, screened by a single unit of 6 Spirit Hosts: potentialy 9 wounds worth of models back. Each hero phase, for free.

Olynder as General with her CA, 1 CP gone each time she goes for it, and you need three different units around her (much weaker!) to do same - albeit that's guaranteed, as opposed to the DH, as he could bring back only 3 wounds of SHs if unlucky.

However, almost never you'll have three different units in range of Olynder losing a single model each. Most likely you'll loose multiple models within one unit - hence RotSH is inherently much more efficient. I have tried both of these configurations, and I do find that Olynder as a general is a bit of a no-no. Very similar problem in LoG, in fact...

Finally, I find that, with NHs, CPs are precious things to hold on to and use only when truly needed. The fact that RotSH comes for free is too good to be ignored for me...

You're not wrong at all. Just trying to make the point cost a bit better.

Really, you could double up on the two battalions and make the KoSoES from Scions your general and then the DG just hovers near him.

But the idea is that if you drop Oly with the DG as general then even if she's only CPing back 1 unit at a time you now have 27 wounds at minimum with 2 Death saves on any wound that jumps to a Hexwraith.

Oly with 27 wounds? Wow. Oly with 27 wounds that can regenerate 2 wounds per CP, at minimum, in addition to her other abilities? Amazing.

Question is if she's worth it. While she is advancing on the enemy back line your opponent will likely target the Hexes knowing they are her lifeline (and thus deny the second Death save), but even so that's threat not on her in that moment.

But yes, very expensive to do this.

Edited by EnixLHQ
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59 minutes ago, EnixLHQ said:

Question is if she's worth it.

Well, I'm going to try this out, that is for sure. I just have to think about what to use to craft some Hexwraiths (perhaps the very only NHs models I actually loath. Why oh why didn't we get this Battalion with Spirit Hosts...), but I am going to try, perhaps with three units of 5. 30 wounds to leverage via that 2+ save... oh, the beautiful filth this is going to bring to the table!

1 hour ago, EnixLHQ said:

very expensive to do this.

As many pointed out in different occasions, one of the issues with NHs is that our models are on average quite pricey, as the Etheral saves are allegedly quite powerful. And they are - when talking big units where the dice average out. But when it's about heroes, you tipically have to deal with a selection of few high-damage attacks, and your Etheral save can most definitely let you down very easily. We all know what happens to our 5-7 wounds heroes when they are pitched against one of the very many high-damage units in the game: they are gone in one, two turns at bests - and our entire army relies on our heroes. All of this to say that, while I'm not going to claim that these Battalions are overpriced per se, they kind of are with respect to NHs, where every point we have we need to invest in actually bringing bodies/wounds into our lists. In order to be competitive, any NH Battalion has to make a solid difference to our list. I believe that the Dolorous Guard can do that - at least I am going to try. I have been waiting for a tanky NH hero for a long time - this is it, folks, it has to be.

There must be some additional support we can think of to transform said Battalion with Olynder as general into a proper murderball as well. A KoS on foot would be my first pick: very cheap, its CA gives a bubble (MODELS wholly within 12") of +1 to hit, not just one unit! And, you can stack it. Stick said KoS right behind Olynder, surround the two (un)dead lovers with 3/4 units of Hexwraiths, and wait for whatever your opponent is going to throw at you - 2 CP later suddenly, your crappy Hexwraiths don't look like lanky clowns at all (not to mention Olynder and the KoS benefit from the same CA as well - very effective usage of a CP, I daresay). Just a thought, I'm sure there are better options out there...

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