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Avatar Rage

Noobranomicon (Beginners guide to Death)

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I love this hobby, it has a special place in my heart. Getting back into Warhammer has really helped me work through some issues in a fun and productive way. However, I have found that on a lot of forums there is a lot of assumed knowledge required to take part in discussions. So I thought I might be a good idea to make a buffer document to help newer players by breaking things down a bit for the Death Alliance. This will be by no means a complete in depth look at the inner working for our beloved Grand Alliance, but will hopefully help some people to get to know the realm of death a bit better.

This first post is going to be some house keeping and general info.

 

List of abbreviations common in the Death Grand Alliance:

Grand Alliance- GA

Legion of Nagash- LoN

Legion of Sacrament- LoS or LoSac

Legion of Blood - LoB

Legion of the Night - LotN

Flesh Eater Court - FE or FEC

Nighthaunt- NH

Generals Handbook - GH or GHB (usually followed by the year of release, eg GH2018)

Core Book - CB or CRB

Soulblight - SB

Deathrattle - DR

 

Significant Key words

Deathrattle - Skeletons

Soulblight - Vampires

Deadwalkers - Zombies and other rotting corpses

Deathlords - The biggest and scariest Death units

Abborants - these are ghouls

Nighthaunt - Ghosts and spirits

Deathmage - Necromancers

 

Contents (Special thanks to TMS for compiling the beginnings of this)

Alliances - GA: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=239881

Alliances - FEC: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=240274

Alliances - LoN: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=240815

Alliances - Soulblight: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=241328

Alliances - Nighthaunt: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=241820

Cost of collecting: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=243019

Utilising the aspects of death: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=244437

Magic: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=245901

Surviving the shooting phase: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=246875

Negating wounds: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=247410

Interesting tactics: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=247758

The dead that lurk in the dark: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=248604

Building a wall of the dead: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=248858

Know your foe – order: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=248863

Know your foe – chaos: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=249786

Know your foe – destruction: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=250168

Know your foe – death: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=252113

Theming your army: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=252119

Conversions and kitbashes: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=252531

Realm themes: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=253167

Theming around alliances - order: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=254360

Theming around alliances – chaos, destruction & misc: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=254675

Tools of the dead: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=258817

Flesh Eater Delusions: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=260584

Nighthaunt abilities 1: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=261942

Nighthaunt abilities 2: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=264493

Lore spotlight – Nagash: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=279522

Lore spotlight – Arkhan the Black: https://www.tga.community/forums/topic/18982-noobranomicon-beginners-guide-to-death/?do=findComment&comment=281637

Edited by Avatar Rage
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The Alliances

These are the armies that you will be playing with. When I post each Alliance I will also have a note for what texts you need. Each post will cover a brief outline of what the army can do as well as a little bit of lore.

Grand Alliance Death - Requires Age of Sigmar app and Core Rule Book

Starting at the top of the pyramid, the Grand Alliance Death encompasses all of the death alliances. It's usually a good place to start for those starting out in Death but unsure what they want to build towards. There are many combinations that still work in the GA but they are vastly overshadowed by the more focused alliances. Although some combinations work on the table there is usually a better option elsewhere.

As a result this seems like the best place to tackle the pros and cons of Death as a whole. Kicking things off with the pros:

  • Large, cheap mob units make up the battleline.
  • A lot of access to bravery reduction in enemy units.
  • Powerful elite units
  • The ability to summon or regenerate units.
  • Command abilities that can affect a variety of units.
  • Lots of magic.
  • High bravery.
  •  

The cons are:

  • Squishy battleline units.
  • A lot of slow units.
  • A reliance on elites and heroes.

Lore

Death refers to those who follow the Great Necromancer, Nagash. They thrive in Shyish, the realm of death but necromantic corruption stretches across all of the realms, for none but Nagash can truly beat death. Ambitious Necromancers may find that leading hordes of zombies and skeletons to be a preferable to dealing with living soldiers who are capable of treachery. Ghouls and vampires stalk the realms in search prey and nourishment to sate an unending hunger. While the spirits of the lost haunt the night in desolate and abandoned places, hanging on to what they can remember from their life. 

Ultimately all who deal in death serve their god Nagash, whether they do so willingly or not depends on the individual.  The creatures of the night aim to bring death to all the realms, ending any foothold that the foul forces of Chaos have. Death will bring peace to the realms whether they wish it or not.

 

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Flesh Eater Court - Requires Flesh Eater Court Battletome (2019)

Flesh Eaters are the least death like alliance. Unlike the other Death Alliances the Flesh Eater Court can be formed to mirror what you imagine a typical army to look like. They have access to tanky units, horde units, some ranged combat, flyers and monsters. There is a bit of everything but they are lacking in the magic department.
Ghoul Kings are the most common general. They provide a lot of stacking bonuses to a lot of different units, as well as being a spellcaster. They can be fielded on foot, on a terrorgheist or a zombie dragon. Each Ghoul King has a variation of a summoning command ability, so keep this in mind when choosing which version to build.

With the updated 2019 Battletome the Flesh Eaters have access to another powerful general in the Arch Regent. They are on foot heroes with more advanced versions of the Ghoul King’s abilities. Namely their summoning and regen abilities are double that of their on foot counterpart.
Flesh Eater Courts excel in close combat and fast attacks. With the right set up you can increase your attack and damage values to literally eat away at your opponent.  Not to mention they have access to terrorghiests and zombie dragons, powerful monster units that can dish out a lot of damage when used right (plus they look cool).

The FEC have access to a nifty combo of abilities in the form of delusions and the grand courts. So let’s kick things off with those grand courts. There are four them and are chosen when forming your army, much like the Stormhosts or Karadron port.

Each one provides a bonus for your army based around the theme of these grand court. The Morguant are the most basic, themed around using hordes of ghouls, perfect for showing off the new Arch Regent. Next up, the Hollowmorne, which allows you to field crypt horrors to be fielded as battleline. It’s your tanky, army of elites. The Blisterskin are based around speed and manoeuvrability, allowing you use crypt flayers as battle line. Finally, there is the Gristlegore, allowing to use zombie dragons and terrorgiests as battleline. Small armies of huge monsters are now a thing for Death.

Finally there are delusions, these are chosen as a part of your generals traits or can be rolled for randomly. They confer minor, situational bonuses that can give you the edge during certain battles.

Using delusions and grand courts in different combinations can provide a lot of variety in list building. Unlike many other armies you can build an army quickly and easily. Then experiment with different lists to see what fits you best. Right now I would say it is currently one of the best armies for beginners.

Lore

The Flesh Eaters are deluded creatures, neither dead or alive. Each court is lead by a Ghoul King (or queen), these are powerful vampiric beings that are afflicted by a grand delusion. While the outside world sees a horrific being with fangs and sinewy muscles the court sees an attractive, charismatic and noble leader.  All ghouls in the court share in the delusions and influence everything they do. Bones, rocks and sticks appear to them as finely crafted weaponry. Piles of rotting meat appear to be delicious feasts. Some may see themselves as noble protectors, saving towns folk from tyrannical despots, while in reality they are slaughtering the true defenders of the realm. 

Their delusions often provide them with odd allies and strange enemies. One day they may be battling against the forces of Chaos. While the next they may be lashing out against the forces of Order over an imagined slight or seeing them as invading beasts. They may be polite and civil one day and ruthless beasts the next. Unlike many Death armies they are unpredictable and even chaotic to some, but their logic is their own.

The Flesh Eaters are the closest thing to Chaos without being aligned to Chaos. Their insanity is a curse bestowed by Nagash in ancient times, yet many still worship in as a glorious god. Of course this means that their are some that will see to distance themselves from the God of Death.

 

Edited by Avatar Rage
Updated for the 2019 Battletome
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Legions of Nagash - Requires Legions of Nagash Battletome

The Legions of Nagash is actually several sub alliances in one, although they have similar feature and structures each legion can drastically change how the game is played. The legions have a unique figure head that matches their style of play, either Nagash or one of his Mortarchs. This alliance is largely considered to be the default Death alliance, favoured over the Grand Alliance. This is largely due to its allegiance abilities that are based around regenerating  units. 

All the legions have have the abilities Unquiet Dead and Deathless minions. Unquiet Dead is the meat and potatoes of this alliance, it allows you to setup gravesites on the battlefield (a token or coin will do as a physical marker).  These gravesites are the focus of you summoning, allowing you to summon units back at these locations. Additionally these gravesites allow you to recover D3 wounds to units with the summonable tag. Secondly there is the ability Deathless minions which allows you to negate wounds on a roll of a 6 when units are within 6" of one of your heroes. Finally, most heroes in the Legions of Nagash have the ability Deathly Invocation which allows you to heal D3 wound to a set number of units within a set range determined by the individual characters warscroll. Combined these the three abilities can make your disposable units into quite an immovable wall. 

The Grand Host of Nagash is the core legion of this army. It shines in its ability to regenerate troops. Masses of zombies and skeletons really shine here. There are a lot of options for regenerating units and negating wounds. You can also comfortable field an elite force of Grave Guard as battleline and a nice attack bonus to Morghast.

Generals from the Grand Host of Nagash can choose from traits and magic items that can provide bonuses to death rattle units. This makes it great for those who like skeletons. However this army can really shine with Nagash himself at the helm. He has the most powerful version of Deathly Invocation allowing you to heal 5 units anywhere on the battlefield. 

The Legion of Sacrament is the Magic focused legion. You get a neat, unique summoning ability that lets you summon a defeated unit back by beating and enemy unit. Not to mention spell casters add 1 to their casting rolls. The latter compliments the legions Mortarch, Arkhan the Black. Although Arkhan is a weaker spellcaster compared to Nagash, it should be noted that he shines in this legion, as does any other spellcaster. If you like spells and don't want to invest in Nagash then this might be the legion for you. 

The Legion of Blood is the offensive legion. Their alliance abiliities provide an attack bonus to Vampire Lord and Blood Knight units, while also reducing the bravery of units within 6" of units from this legion. These combined make them formidable against a lot of armies. This legions command abilities and magic items are focused on scoring hits and wound, as well as focusing down on certain units. Their Mortarch is Neferatta, who is similarly a hard hitter with abilities and spells that allow her and her units to hit harder. This army acts like the assassin of the legions, they hit hard and crush certain units.

The Legion of the Night is the sneaky legion. It allows you to set up units in ambush. This is obviously here for the elite hard hitters letting you set up your skeletons as bait. The Legion of the Night provides your deathrattle with a bonus to their save to prevent them from being demolished before the trap is sprung. Other than that they are a mixed bag in their magic items and command abilities. They have some that increase spellcasting power, others help your units, while others still are focused on damage. Much like their Mortarch, Manfred,  this legion is a middle ground between the others. Not as pricey as Nagash, not as quick or deathly as Neferata or as powerful with magic as Arkhan. It has its used and purpose though, mainly through its unpredictability. 

It should also be noted that there are units from the new Nighthaunt alliance can be used in the Legions of Nagash. However, these are more of a footnote that can compliment a particular army. 

The legions also get two lores of magic. The Lore of the Vampires, which is based on damage dealing and the Lore of the Deathmages which is based on debuffing enemy units. 

Lore

Nagash is the God and Supreme Lord of the Dead. All souls belong to him, not Sigmar, not the Dark Gods of Chaos. If he wills it legions of silent skeletons and moaning zombies will march forth. The dead are loyal, they serve without question or complaint. Those who may have the will to question their God will stay their hand, knowing full well that their God will punish them for their impetuousness. All who serve Nagash serve Death and by extension, true order.

The Grand Host of Nagash are his sword and his shield. But each named legion has its place and specific purpose. Arkhan's Legion of Sacrament are Nagash's researchers and architects. Neferata's Legion of Blood are the spear tip, she is one of Nagash's oldest and most deadly generals. Perfect for leading an army of vampires to crush those who stand in their way. If Neferata is the spear tip the Manfred and his Legion of the Night are the hidden blade behind Nagash's back. They strike unseen and slaughter the enemies of the Death God with both ferocity and guile. 

These are the armies of Death that march out of the their home, Shyish. A terror to all that have drawn their gaze, for none can truly escape the cold grasp of death. 

 

Edited by Avatar Rage
Made a bunch of typos, should be fixed now
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Great stuff :) bonus points for the title. 

One thing.... you've used the term 'Legion of Nagash' where I think you meant 'Grand Host of Nagash'.

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3 hours ago, Toddy said:

Great stuff :) bonus points for the title. 

One thing.... you've used the term 'Legion of Nagash' where I think you meant 'Grand Host of Nagash'.

Thanks I did not catch that right the way through typing. I'll make an edit when I am next on a computer (instead of struggling on a tiny touch screen). 

Glad you are enjoying it so far.

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Soulblight - Requires Legions of Nagash Battletome

 

The Soulblight alliance is not complete alliance with its own book (at least not at the time of writing). However you can find it in the Legions of Nagash book, complete with abilities and items. Not much to say about Soulblight though. Its armies are composed of the elite unit Blood Knights, a fast vampiric cavalry unit. It's fast and deadly, but completely lacks the sustainability of the other Death Alliances. Vargheists, fell bats and bat swarms are also soulblight but not battline. If you can field them then go ahead, if not then I suppose you will have to make do with vampiric cavalry. 

Their major advantage comes from their allegiance abilities were you may choose from four different bloodlines that will grant an extra ability to all Souldblight units in your army. I will outline these below:

Dragon Warriors - Re-roll hits of 1 on the turn you charge.

Lords of the Night - Extends the ability Deathless Thralls* across the whole battlefield

Necromantic  - Add 1 to casting and unbinding rolls. Subtract 1 from enemy bravery characteristic with 6" of soulblight unit. 

Swift Death - Add 2 to the move characteristic of the unit. Always count as flying. 

* units within 6" of a soulblight hero can roll a dice for every wound/mortal wound inflicted on them. On a roll of a 6 the wound is ignored. 

Heroes are the backbone in this army (like all death armies).  You most basic hero is a vampire lord, which isn't bad in combat or at casting. Vampire Lords can be mounted, have wings or even ride a zombie dragon. If you are looking for something more exotic consider a Bloodseeker Palanquin or a Coven Throne. I should also note that there are three named characters in Soulblight armies, Prince Vhordrai, Neferata and Manfred. This means you can actually run some battalions (rare for an alliance without a dedicated book). The battalions available are, Castellans of the Crimson Keep and Court of Nulahmia. 

At the moment it is the black sheep of the Death GA, but it is a sheep with sharp pointy fangs.

Lore

Mortal who seek eternal life often fall prey to the ambitions of Soulblight Vampires. The soulblight are among Nagash's most powerful, yet unpredictable minions. Many vampires are fuelled by ambition often causing them to make attempts against their betters. Many who have over extended their hand have been left as nothing more than a pile of smouldering dust before Nagash's Throne.

Many know the basics of vampirism, aversion to light and an unquenchable thirst for blood. Yet few know of their origins, some even believe that they existed in the World that Was, serving Nagash even before the birth of the God King Sigmar. This brings the age of vampires under scrutiny by many. Beings so old that only gods and demons can claim seniority over them. 

The balance of aged wisdom, ambition and ferocious blood thirst makes the soulblight vampires one of the most deadly combatants in the mortal realms. Human enough to blend into civilised communities, sowing seeds of doubt and intrigue. Yet they are monstrous enough to go toe to toe with even the most ferocious creatures of the mortal realms.

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Nighthaunt - Requires Nighthaunt Battletome

Nighthaunt armies are the new kid on the block at the time of writing. Their strength is two fold, they are deceptively tanky against certain armies and they use fear as their most powerful weapon. Not to mention they can have a varied battleline with some fast moving units.

The backbone of a Nighthaunt army is the ethereal ability. This negates any changes to your units saves and that includes rend. Now on the surface this may look like a double edged sword and it is. Against weaker units in large numbers it kinda sucks, as your very average saves cannot be adjusted to brush them off. But it shines against heavy hitters. That killer unit with the -3 rend is now bogged down by your ghosts. So although on paper you have a fairly average save value, you may find you opponents getting frustrated that their big hitters seem to be struggling. 

Nighthaunt armies also have a lot of abilities based on bravery. Specifically lowering your opponents. Once again this might seem underwhelming on paper but if you can get that bravery nice and low those great big units will trickle away to nothing.  However, once again this can be a double edged sword. Against units with high bravery, relying too much on bravery manipulation can be trouble some. Elite units, duradin and anything in the Death Grand Alliance can boast some high bravery values. While Skaven alliances and the Destruction Grand Alliance boast very low bravery values. Just remember this is a snowball effect strategy, you have to kill some models before they start to flee in the battleshock.

Bravery manipulation can be particularly effective when combined with the "wail" abilities of banshee like units. These can really rip apart units or straight up drop heroes based on the difference between their bravery and a rolled value. 

Their magic and combat capabilities are not as powerful as the other Death alliances. This does not mean they are bad, just that they function differently. You may find it much more prudent to pick your battles with Nighthaunt than with the Flesh Eaters of Legions of Nagash.

Lore

Nighthaunt spirits bowed to Nagash's might since time begun. Yet it was the Necroquake, a wave of death magic that shook the mortal realms, that roused many spirits from their rest. Now Nagash has brought them into the folds of this vast armies, even going so far as to crown a Mortarch to lead them in his stead, the Lady Olynder. 

The armies of spirits that form a Nighthaunt army are those who have been shackled by Nagash. Criminals whose crimes are not grim enough to draw the gaze of the Dark Gods of Chaos or folk who have not been raise up my Sigmar in a moment of holy virtue. Many Nighthaunt spirits suffer ironic punishments, twisting their deeds from life into weapons to strike out at the Great Necromancers enemies. 

Few warriors can stand against these ethereal hosts as the wails and screams of tormented spirits pierce the cacophony of more traditional battlefield noise. Weapons swish helplessly through immaterial limbs that solidify as they strike out hacking at with brutal effectiveness. Those who face off against such sights may find that they stand alone as their brothers and sisters in arms lay dead or are fleeing for their own lives.

 

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Price of Immortality - The cost of collecting

 

In this section I am going to be covering the cost of collecting various Death armies. So I am going to do the leg work for you. The potential armies here are not going to be super pro but should give you a rough idea about how much you may have to spend on an army. This section will be in British Pounds (£) using the Games Worshop prices, with more added later if there are people who would like the prices in different currencies. If kits can be constructed in multiple ways then they will be presented as such; model a/ model b. My focus will be on battleline units and box sets as these are either essential for play or are the recommended purchases.

I will also be doing a segment later about kitbashing and conversions later on during that time I will cover further how you may be able to save money while collecting your army.

 

Legions of Nagash - Battletome £25

Blades of the Blood Queen £100 - Neferata/Arkhan/Manfred, 20 Skeletons, Wight King, 10 Grave Guard, 2 Morghast

Start Collecting - Skeleton Horde - Arkhan/Neferata/Manfred, 10 skeleton warriors and 5 black knights/hexwraiths.

Start Collecting - Malignants - Mortis Engine/Coven Throne/Bloodseeker Pananquin, 3 Spirit Host, 5 Hexwraiths.

Skeletons 10 models (£15.50)

Zombies 20 models (£20.50)

Dire wolves 10 models (£15.50)

Fortunately the battleline units are quite cheap to buy. The problem is that you need a lot of them. The Skeleton Horde box is a solid start for £50 as it comes with a Mortarch. The Mortarch alone is £48 so you got yourself a powerful model. It also comes with a battleline unit, skeletons. This box makes a solid core to any army that can be padded out with a few other units of skeletons or zombies.

The Malignant box makes for a great means of expanding your army out. Once again the centerpiece costs £36 on its own. The addition of a cavalry unit and a unit of spirits makes it a good choice to pad out an army, with a lot of choices.

The Blade of the Blood Blood Queen Box is a pre built army. Using the units in here you can make a 1,000 point army and are well on your way to a 2,000 point army. Cost wise it will save you around £30 buying this box compared to buying them all separate.

Over all you will have to buy multiple kits for a Legions of Nagash army but regardless of the units you choose to build each of the kits are a great starting point for any LoN amy or Grand Alliance Death army. There is something in here that can be effectively used in your army at some point. However, you will still need to pad your army out with those battline units.

The Legions of Nagash is the best bet for people who are still finding your feet in the Death Faction. The pre-made collecting boxes are perfect for starting off an army and for expanding later on. There are a lot of choices here

 

Flesh Eater Court - Battletome £20

Start Collecting -  Flesh Eater Court (£50)- Great value kit, comes with a Ghoul King, 10 ghouls, crypt horror/crypt flayers and a terrorgheist/zombie dragon (you may also build this kit as a ghoul king riding one of these beasties)

Nightfeast Hunters (£40) - Crypt horrors/crypt flayers and 20 crypt ghouls.

These two kits together cost £90. Giving you three units of 10 crypt ghouls, two units of crypt horrors/flayers (you can also mix and match these) along with either a mounted Ghoul King or a Ghoul King on foot to lead your army. This gives you a nice mixed army that can give you a lot of variety for your smaller 1,000 point armies. The inclusion of a monster in the form of a Zombie Dragon or Terrorgheist. This is a nice place to start with plenty of room to grow in the future.

It should also be noted that all the units can be purchased for less than £30. So over all this is a really easy and fair cheap army to build. This makes the Flesh Eaters a really good stating point for people starting off. However, compared to their cousins in the Grand Alliance they can comes off as a bit bland visually, but this is a matter of taste.

 

Nighthaunt - Battletome £25

Start Collecting Malignant - Mortis Engine/Coven Throne/Bloodseeker Pananquin, 3 Spirit Host, 5 Hexwraiths.

Chainwrasp horde - £25

At the time of writing there is no Nighthaunt Start Collecting box. The Malignant box is you closest thing to it as it comes with a unit of Hexwraiths and a unit of Spirit Hosts which gives you two battleline units. The downside is the The centrepiece model which is not a Nighthaunt model. So you will have to buy a hero to bolster your army. But the Malignant box and a unit of Chainwrasps will set you back £75, you may want to pick up a banshee or cairn wraith for £9 too. That will give you a nice foundation to grow your army at £84. If you choose to get a Knight of Shrouds for £20 you can bump that price up to £95. 

Side note the £95 Soul Wars box comes with a nice central force to build you army off, but this is pricey if you don’t know anyone interested with the Stormcast side of the kit. If you can split the cost with a friend who likes Stormcast then this will give

At the moment this is not a great place to start collecting if you want to build an army fast. That being said there are more expensive armies out there and the models do look beautiful (at least to me). 

 

Soulblight (Found in Legions of Nagash Battletome £25)

Vampire £9-£15

Blood Knights £61.50 for 5 models

Just in case you can’t tell at a glance this is the worst value alliance at the moment. For a 1,000 point army you are going to need two battleline units, which will cost you £120. That’s before you buy a hero for a general or even pad out your army with extra units. This one is not for beginners but if you have the cash or like to convert and kitbash, then you can make one of these armies quite cheaply.



 

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Utilising the aspects of death

 

This section will cover some of the core mechanics of the Death Grand Alliance. Here we will be discussing those pros and cons in greater detail while covering some basic tactics that can really do a number on your opponent. These are based largely on experience and a little bit of theory crafting. Hopefully this section will clear up some of the foggier areas while also provide some ideas to build an army around.

 

Summoning - Calling forth your minions from the grave

Summonable units for many Death Alliances are a bit weird. Each alliance handles it a little bit differently but it can be boiled down into two sub-catagories. I will be referring to these as Raising and Regenerating.

Raising is the traditional form of summoning, you make something out of nothing. The Flesh Eater Courts have the most straight forward form of this. They can call forth new units with the Ghoul King’s command abilities. The Legions of Nagash on the other hand are a bit more awkward. You can only summon units that have died and only on a gravesite. Once again using a command ability to do this.

Regeneration heals and restores fallen models. Nighthaunts handle this primarily through the use of command abilities. While the Legions of Nagash thrive on this allowing models to regenerate within range of most heroes and within range of a gravesite.

I should note that the regeneration from the Legions of Nagash is a stack-able ability. So If you have a necromancer and a vampire within range of my unit of zombies you can regenerate that unit twice. Using one regeneration from each of the heroes. They can both then regenerate other units too, until they reach their limit.

I find the raising version of summoning somewhat uninteresting in Age of Sigmar. There is always a stipulation that comes with it. It’s not useless, especially if you use sacrificial dire wolves to hold up your opponent. The regeneration abilities really shine. I once held a unit of trolls at bay for 3 turns with just 20 zombies thanks to them being in range of a gravesite and 3 cheap heroes. It is the regeneration you should focus on if you want to drag your enemy down, with raising to be a kind of insurance.

 

Bravery - Using fear as a weapon

 

Bravery is one of the most important strengths of any death army. For a start your units will have a Bravery rating of 10. So even your weak little zombies may become an immovable wall against certain foes as your battleshock checks will keep your units fuller for longer. You can count the amount of units with less than 10 bravery on one hand.

As mentioned earlier there is a lot of bravery manipulation in most death armies. Even the battleline units, skeletons and zombies have access to a standard bearer that reduces enemy bravery by 1. If you can surround your foe with multiple units with fear banners then that enemy unit may suffer a -2 or -3 to their bravery. The lower you can get their bravery the better. Especially when combined with the high bravery values of your units.

Finally certain units like Banshees have abilities that deal damage based on your opponent's bravery. Usually these abilities involve rolling 2 dice and seeing if this number beats your opponent’s Bravery.

So let’s put this all into using an average bravery value of 6 for your opponent. This unit is currently fighting two units of zombies with banners. Now their bravery is 4. During your next turn you realise that your banshee is within range to use its scream ability. You roll 2 dice and get an 8. This ability deals mortal wounds based on the difference between your roll and your opponents bravery, so the banshee deals 6 mortal wounds before the unit has engaged in combat. Which means that there is an additional 4 is being added to their battleshock roll (if the models have a wound value of 1. Now even if they roll a 1 they are still removing models from that unit.

The bravery mechanics are one of the most deadly weapon in your arsenal. Looking out for opportunities to exploit your enemies bravery value. Destruction and Skaven armies are perfect targets for this kind of play. I may not be as flashy as just dealing damage but it is far more reliable.

It should also be noted that Nagash’s command ability allows you to completely ignore battleshock for all of your units. No more running away for those zombies.

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Magic - The winds of Shysh blow strong

 

The Death Grand Alliance has easy access to a lot of spell casting. The majority of heroes in the Grand Alliance have access to some sort of magic. Usually these are buffs to help bolster your units.

Then you take into account Nagash himself who can cast up to 8 spells per turn on his own. He can also cast any spells known to by death wizards on the battlefield. When utilised correctly you can have a powerful spellcaster leading your army, knowing and casting about 8 different spells per turn. Plus he can cast the endless spell from the Nighthaunt battletome.

Not to mention you get access to three unique lores of magic. The Lore of Deathmages (LoN Battletome) is focused around debuffs. The Lore of Vampires (LoN Battletome) is based around dealing damage.  The Lore of the Underworlds (Nighthaunt battletome) is a nice mix of the two.

As a nice side note there are a lot of endless spells that get a power boost in Shyish, the realm of the dead. This includes your three Nighthaunt endless spells. Granted you are not guaranteed to be playing in the realm of Shyish, but they fit thematically in a Death army. Plus the realm of death will give you certain advantages anyway.

Taking everything into account there are few armies that can match Death in terms of magical prowess. Magic heavy Order armies with a focus on the Collegiate Arcane can cause you a bit of bother as can certain Seraphon armies (never underestimate the Slan). On the Chaos side of things Tzeentch armies can also match your spells blow for blow and their new summoning rules may turn your magic focus against you.

On the flip side duradin and Khorne armies can be a threat to your magic with their easy access to dispelling, combined with their tough units. Keep an eye out for these and plan accordingly. Your best bet is going to be to distance yourself away from units and heroes who can dispel and focus them down early. Arkhan the Black's command ability can be quite helpful here by expending your spell ranges to snipe priority targets early on.

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Surviving the shooting phase - I could have been alive like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee

 

The shooting phase has always been a weakness for undead armies in Warhammer, even before Age of Sigmar. There are a lot of armies out there that can shoot a shambling horde to little bits. While our own fire power is either limited, lacking or links to a different mechanic (like bravery).

Fortunately we do have a few tricks up our sleeves to counter shooting armies. One of my favourites is the Crypt Flayers of the Flesh Eater Court. This is a decent unit in close combat, but it can also fly and has a ranged attack. Get these up close early on to draw out your enemy while you get the rest in range.

Nighthaunt, once again has the advantage of being ethereal. Which is great against cannons, but still leaves you vulnerable to barrages of low rend shots. Field these against artillery heavy armies, ignoring the massive rend of a cannonball is just wonderful. But you may find they you will get eaten up by mere militia bowmen.

The Legions of Nagash can fair pretty well against enemy bombardments and volleys when you stack up your armies regeneration abilities. This can be hard to pull off in some scenarios. If you can pull it off and with a bit of luck you mitigate most of the damage done to your units during their slow march. The idea here is too make a beeline between gravesites and keep you heroes gather near where you want to regenerate. 

Quick units like Dire Wolves, Black Knights, Hexwraiths and Blood Knights allow you to close the gap quickly. Each has its own pros and cons. Direwolves are cheap, battleline units with the “summonable” rule. So they make great units to draw fire, die and be resurrected (at the cost of a command point in a LoN army).

Blood Knights are fast heavy hitters. Lots of damage, very quick and they can take a hit. They are, however, very expensive. That being said if you can afford a Soulblight army or have these guys lying around they can close the distance and wreck some units.  

Black Knights are a nice mid ground between your dire wolves and blood knights. They can dish out decent damage, they are pretty fast and are summonable. They are not battleline though or anywhere near as powerful as blood knights.

Finally there are hexwraiths. These are my favourite fast unit. They are ethereal, so ignore rend. They can fly so you can jump over their melee line and have an ability that allows you to deal damage to units that you fly over. This neat little trick can still catch some players off guard. 

Unfortunately you can’t control what your opponent does in the shooting phase. But by being clever you can draw their fire to your faster units and scare them away from your meatier bulk.

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Negating Wounds - The dead do not fall

 

Most Death alliances have a variation on an army ability that allows you to negate wounds. In every instance it functions like this: before allocating wounds/mortal wounds you roll a d6 on the roll of a 6+ the wound is negated as long as the unit is question is within range of a hero. It does not matter where these wounds come from either. Melee, magic or shooting, all can be negated.

Each alliance has a variation specific to them, only affecting those with the same keyword. For example, a Flesh Eater army can use this ability for flesh eater units, but not it’s allied Necromancer. The only variation that will affect everything is the Death Grand Alliance version, which obviously works on everything with the Death keyword. 

In many cases this will encourage you to keep heroes close to key units. Given how many Death units gain buffs from nearby units, this ability can really get you out of a pinch. I have forgotten about this a couple of times in hectic or long games and have seen other do the same. So please don’t forget about this ability, it can really turn the tide.

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Interesting & useful tactics - A few extracts from the forbidden tomes

Bow before the power of Nagash, The Great Necromancer!

I make it not secret that I love Nagash. Even before the Mortal Realms he was a force to be reckoned with. So allow me to give you a glimpse into his unholy power with this for funsies list. First select the Grand Host of Nagash as your alliance, next add Nagash (your general), Arkhan and if you are feeling spicy a necromancer. Then you fill up the rest of your army with zombies. They are cheap, plentiful and disposable, use your remaining points to build them big. Nagah’s command ability will stop them from crumbling too soon. You should leave at least 50 points spare at the end though.

Nagash knows any spell known by Death spell casters on the battlefield. So let’s assume that you have taken necromancer. That means he knows the spells Vanhel’s Dense Macabre and Curse of Years (from Arkhan). Plus he knows the Lore of the Dead spell that each of the other spellcasters know. Next he knows 3 Lore of the Dead spells himself. So including the basic spells everyone knows you have a Nagash that knows a whopping 11 spells. He can cast 8 of these 11 spell per turn with a +3 to his casting rolls. You can gain even more spells if you invest in some Endless Spells too.

That’s not all either. Arkhan’s ability allows him to know the spells of Death Wizards within 18” of him. If you keep Nagash within 18” of Arkhan then he will know these 10 spells too. If you have kept that 50 points spare then you will have access to Arkhan’s command ability as well as Nagash’s. Arkhan’s ability allows all Death Wizards within 18” of him to increase their spell range by 6”. Put simply this gives you access to a ton of spells that can be cast at range (behind a zombie wall) every turn, including a of Curse of Years from Nagash himself (yay caster bonuses). This is not a practical list, but next time a Tzeentch players wants to say that they are the Masters of Magic, remind them of Nagash’s power.

Edited by Avatar Rage
Corrected some mistakes
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The Dead that Lurk in the Dark

 

Ambushing may not seem like an undead thing but you can make the most out of such tactics. Those familiar with the Legion of the Night will note that they have specific rules to for their ambushes but consider these to be an addition to what I am going to go over here.

You see against most Death armies, players will be focused on the bulk of your horde. After all they cannot kill what is not yet on the table. They may not suspect an attack from behind. The idea here is to lure the enemy forward into your horde and summon behind them. Legions of Nagash armies can call forth defeated units from gravesites, two of which will be in you opponents territory. Sure they killed your Black Knights that you “foolishly” left in the middle of the battlefield, but now the units is behind enemy lines and giving them a very tough choice to make.

The Flesh Eaters have multiple ways of doing this, through command abilities and through battalion abilities. Similarly the Nighthaunt armies can have units begin out of play and appear later in the battle. These methods are less of a surprise than the Legions but don’t involve sacrificing units.

So why ambush? Well it’s unexpected. You want your opponent to panic. They may turn their attention toward the ambush unit, in which case you can double down with your other units. They may also ignore it, not wanting to fall into a trap. If they ignore it then they may find their units surrounded by ghouls or ghosts.

The key to this is obviously how unexpected it is, make a bit deal about how innumerable your hordes are and keep your foes focused on that. Then spring your trap.

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Building a wall of the dead….. Their dead

The Legions of Nagash can really hunker down. Combining regeneration from heroes and gravesites can make even weak units crazy durable. This is less of a strategy and more of an example. I managed to hunker down my heroes, 2 Wight King, 1 Necromancer, 1 Vampire and Nagash. That means I had 5 points of regeneration not including my gravesites. So most units damaged during the battle could simply recover during my turn.

One point of note during this match was my unit of 20 zombies. They were unfortunately facing a unit of trolls, which brutalised them as soon as they got in combat. These zombies were in range of a grave site, a Necromancer, a vampire and of course Nagash. So they would regenerate 4d3 per turn on my hero phase. This plucky zombie unit held against this troll unit for 3 turns.

Keep in mind these are zombies, this would have played out the same in regeneration with another summonable unit. Grave Guard for example could have took this same beating and dished out it out just as well.

If you are playing LoN, then build around this feature and turn every battle into one of attrition. 

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Know your foe! 

To properly utilise any army you have to know how your opponent works. So this section is going to be dedicated to a brief description of certain factions in AoS and what kind of a threat they pose. I won't cover everything here but I will be covering the ones that can most effect your game.

Order - Order armies can be quite versatile. So an Order Grand Alliance army. Artillery can march alongside spellcasters. Armies can have a wide variety of units that cannot be easily countered.

Stormcast - High bravery, high damage units. Stormcast are pretty nasty at the moment. They have a lot of tools to combat the undead. Plus they now have access to magic now. Fortunately Nighthaunt and Legions of Nagash have a few anti-Stormcast abilities and items. Their armies are also small, focusing on numbers may the way to go.

Free guild - Cheap horde army, access to ranged units and gain buffs based on grouping units. Focus down smaller units to create a domino effect.

Dispossessed - High bravery, good in melee, access to decent ranged fighters and access to heroes who can dispel. Their units are slow moving so your fast units and ambushes are your best tool.

Fyreslayers - High bravery, powerful melee units and access to dispelling heroes. Same as the Dispossessed, they have a bit more rend so ethereal units can tip the scales.

Karadon Overlords - High bravery, decent in melee, access to dispelling heroes and very powerful ranged units. Fortunately these units a are small and can be overwhelmed by vast shambling hordes.

Sylvaneth - Mobile units, access to powerful ranged units. Beating Sylvaneth is a numbers game. They can match Death with regeneration and power. But their units lack our seemingly unending numbers.

Seraphon - Very high bravery, decent ranged units, lots of monsters, access to mobile units, powerful spellcasters and strong melee units. The Seraphon are a serious threat. They can summon, they can have numbers, they have monsters and really powerful spellcasters. Focus on your army and max out your potential. The Slaan are powerful, but are no Nagash. Skinks are plentiful, but not as much as zombies. Fortunately they lack regeneration abilities, so having a regen focus may swing the tide of battle.

Darling Coven - Large units, high damage, lower than average saves, spellcaster heroes. The bulk of these armies is their numbers and high damage. Which actually means they can pose quite a threat. To counter them you want a focused army, high damage, magic focus, regen focus, ethereal, etc. By focusing down on one aspect you can easily overcome the high damage, widespread nature of this army.

Ironweld Arsenal- not a full alliance, powerful ranged units, access to ranged rend. Ethereal units can be a big help a against canons, while summoning and ambushes can shut down these ranged units.

Idoneth Deepkin - Access to fast moving units and monsters. I don’t have a lot of experience with these guys. But from what I can gather they can be handled effectively in a similar manner to the Darkling Covens. However monster heavy units can have a lot of rend so using ethereals to counter them may be your best bet.

Daughters of Khaine - Mobile units with fast attacks, decent magic units. Fortunately their saves are not great so you overcome them with sheer number. Magic focused armies can be a help dealing with their magic.

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Really finding this guide helpful. As a completely new player it's overwhelming having to learn so much at once, so finding something broken down so simply is a godsend! 

Thank you so much, I should be painted ready for my first battle very soon and will be putting it all into practice! 

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1 hour ago, ladylusiphur said:

Really finding this guide helpful. As a completely new player it's overwhelming having to learn so much at once, so finding something broken down so simply is a godsend! 

Thank you so much, I should be painted ready for my first battle very soon and will be putting it all into practice! 

I am so glad that people like you are finding it helpful.  I remember how tough it was to start out with most guides based around high level play, it can be really confusing.

It means a lot the newer players, like yourself, can get some use out it. 

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Chaos - Chaos can be scary. There's something in the Chaos arsenal that can counter pretty much everything Death can do. Fortunately as the army is refined down into alliances they become a bit more manageable. Facing off against a GA Chaos army can be tricky due to their mutability. I suggest focusing on a single aspect of a Death alliance to deal with them. 

Khorne - Powerful melee units with rend and access to a lot of dispels. Ethereal units can turn the tables against these units. Smaller elite Khorne armies can overwhelmed by numbers in high model regeneration armies. 

Nurgle - Strong, durable units with access to regeneration. Ethereal units can once again strike down the followers of Nurgle. Alternatively you can focus on regeneration and out regen them.

Tzeentch - Access to ranged units and powerful spellcasters. You can match this army blow for blow in many magic themed armies. The difference is Death has the physical might Tzeentch lacks. Unfortunately magic based armies will help your opponent summon more units. Fortunately their units do not really excel in melee.

Slaanesh - Mobile units with a lot of attacks. No real tactic to counter them. I recommend regeneration builds normally, but I don't know how that shapes up against their new summoning rules. If all else fails you can double down on magic and blast them away.

Bayherd - fairly average but versatile units, has access to ambush abilities. You probably won't be able to out ambush them, but your potential for magic is far greater and you can field your army in larger numbers. 

Warherd - Powerful melee units, all large monsters, access to dispels. These powerful units can be overwhelmed by numbers or have their nasty rend score ignored by ethereal units.

Mortal - Mortal units are typically manageable. Fairly average bravery, typically not too fast. Reflects the attributes of their God. Breaking down their bravery can really grind down a mortal chaos army.

Demon - Very high bravery, access to a lot of monsters. Reflects the attributes of their God. High damage or regeneration based armies will do well here. Avoid relying on abilities that attack bravery values here as they will do little good against them. Magic heavy armies can eliminate their numbers. 

Skaven - regardless of the clan they have access to large units, low bravery, can potentially deal a lot of damage, access to powerful ranged units. Each Skaven clan has pros and cons. But largely you will want to break down their already low bravery, do this and watch the little rodents run.

Edited by Avatar Rage
Added underline to make it easier to read.

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Destruction- Powerful units with access to ranged units and monsters. Typically low bravery. Send your ethereal units against the tough ones with high rend. Against everything else focus on damage and regeneration. Destruction thrives on the rush of combat so drawing things out in a battle of attrition will usually end in your victory.

Beastclaw Raiders - Powerful melee units, decent ranged combat. Fortunately these armies are small. Using a horde to slow them down before finishing them off with elite units. Be careful using monsters against them though, they can chew through a zombie dragon in a single round of combat.

Bonesplitters - large units, decent damage, average saves. These guys are monster and hero killers. You can bog them down very easily with vast hordes. Keep your heroes and monsters away from their tougher units. Regeneration armies will really work a treat against them. As will bravery manipulation.

Ironjaws- Powerful melee units, good saves, lots of rend. Ethereal units can really help counterbalance the amount of rend with these boyz. You may want to tackle these with your own rend.

Gutbusters- Powerful, tanky units in both melee and ranged combat.  Even battleline units in these armies have multiple wounds. These are tricky. Your best bet is to focus down rend heavy units with  your ethereal units. You can always use magic to get the damage going too. Combine that with some bravery damage and you might just come out on top as those multi-wound models run away.

Moonclan (and other grots) - large units, typically low damage, access to a lot of ranged units and fast moving melee units. Low bravery with these little guys, so breaking their bravery is the way to go against these.

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Death - It is quite possible that you will end up fighting others within Nagash's mighty legions. I am sure you know the strengths and weaknesses of certain allegiances if you have read the previous sections of this guide. Beyond this initial section I will just be covering the what Death Alliance can best counter each of the individual Death Alliances. Keep in mind that all Death armies have high bravery so if you rely on bravery manipulation you will always struggle against your cousins in death. Fun Fact for those who include Nagash in your army, he knows the spells of any Death Wizard on the battlefield, this includes your opponents.

Flesh Eater Court - The Flesh Eaters excel in a scrap. Soulblight armies can smash through their forces with their superior strength. Alternatively the Legions of Nagash can over power the Flesh Eaters with their superior magical powers.

Legions of Nagash - Nagash's hordes are usually large in number. Flesh Eater ambush strategies can let you pick off key characters and limit their regeneration properties. Nighthaunt can similarly ambush and have the benefit of negating those high rend units.

Nighthaunt - Spooky armies that ignore Rend. Legions of Nagash can bog down their armies with disposable hordes, while blasting them with superior magic. Flesh Eaters can be capable of dealing a significant amount of damage to Nighthuant armies in close combat, especially the bog standard crypt ghouls.

Soulblight - Small armies composed of powerful elites. Nighthaunts are the way to go here, the respectable rend of Blood Knights can do little against the ethereal units. 

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Theming you army

We all want our armies to pop on the table the table and there are two ways to do this. The first is through skill, practice hard and paint your army to be golden demon worthy. The second is to make it interesting, we will be going over this method here. I am going to go over the importance of theming your army through colour and conversions. As well as whether you should think inside or outside of the box.

Colour schemes

Colour is important for any army. It’s usually the first thing that people notice when they see your models spread out and it’s the thing that people who are not into the hobby notice above all. I mean, if you stood an interesting and unique colour scheme side by side with a lore friendly one a newer player will tend to move more toward the interesting colours rather than care about the lore significance.

The basics

First off you should probably decide on what army you are collecting first. This will usually provide a basis of how and what you will be painting. Are you going for a Grand Alliance army? Then you may want everything to be tied into each other. This can be done with either a theme or just a single colour. Common colours found among Death players are cold colours. Greens and blues tend to cover the tables, as well as purple, the colour of Death in Age of Sigmar. Of course you can paint your models however you like these are just a few suggestions. 

Each scheme will require a primer, base, a layer and at least one highlight colour. These are your core colours. Ideally you should choose colours you like and have a variety of shades. This will keep it interesting and enjoyable, while allowing you to have some variation among your models. Just because you have core colours does not mean you cannot mix them up. If you use brass as your armies primary metal colour, then maybe consider gold for your heroes or silver for your elites. That way you have a means of denoting rank in a very visual way.

If you want all of your armies to look connected then you should consider having a unifying colour amongst them all. To use my models as an example, I chose purple. Purple is used on my skeleton's for their clothes, my ghoul's hair/rags, my vampire's cloaks/heraldry and is the primary colour of my Nighthaunt. When viewed separately they hold up on their own as individuals, but side by side they still look like they belong together. Not in a closely knit fashion, but like colour cousins.

I have posted some examples of a unifying scheme below.

 

 

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Edited by Avatar Rage
Added pictures

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Conversions and Kitbashes

Converting and kitbashing can be an effective way to make your army really pop.These two terms can be used interchangeably and their definition changes depending on the modelling community. The definitions I use are as follows:

Convert - Changing a model’s dynamic or combining parts from multiple kits to enhance a model.

Kitbash - Using parts from multiple kits to enhance a model or create a new model.

These are both great for Death armies. Being undead most of your army can come from dead of your foes. Got a lot of Chaos parts? Maybe your zombies can come in the from some risen marauders. If your friends collect some aelves, maybe some Grave Guard units have sprung up in your army that that use some aelf sprues. These will help to personalise and set your army apart from everyone else's.

You can also cut the cost of units with conversations. You will find this common with expensive units like Blood Knights. With the core kit being over £60, they are double the price of a lot of cavalry units.  If you have the imagination and parts then you will be able to really expand your army, with a fraction of the cost.

The joy of kitbashing and converting with the undead is that you can really play on imperfections. Remember, undead are usually freshly risen on the battlefield so limp, broken limbs and tattered robes can add to the effect of your army. So don't worry about imperfects with your shambling hordes, that can really bring your army to life (or unlife).

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